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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
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LXVIII

Cry for your sin, but cry over the entire Lucrine lake,

Naiads, and let Thetis herself feel the sorrow.

The boy snatched between the Baian waves has died

That Eutychus, your sweet companion, Castricus.

This boy was the partner of your cares and a charming solace,

This boy was the love, this boy was the Alexis of our poet.

Did a playful nymph see you nude under the glassy waves

And send Hylas back to Alcides?

Or rather does the goddess now neglect the effeminate Hermaphroditus

Having been stirred by the embrace of a tender man?

Whichever it is, whoever is the cause of the sudden robbery,

I pray, let both the earth and wave be gentle for you.

LXVIII meter: Elegiac Couplet

Flē tĕ nĕ|fās vēs|trūm, sēd|tō tō|flē tĕ Lǔc|rī nō,

    Nā ĭ dĕs,|ēt lūc|tūs||sēn tĭ ăt|īp să Thĕ|tīs.

Īn tēr|Baī ā|nās rāp|tūs pǔ ĕr|ōc cĭ dĭt|ūn dās

    Eū ty̆ch tŏs|īl lĕ, tǔ|ūm|| Cās trĭ cĕ,|dūl cĕ lă|tūs.

Hīc tĭ bĭ|cū rā|rūm sŏ cĭ|ūs blān|dūm quĕ lĕ|vā mēn,

    Hīc ă mŏr,| hīc nōs|trī ||vā tĭs Ă|lē xĭs ĕr|āt.

Nūm quīd|tē vĭ trĕ|īs nū|dūm lās|cī vă sŭb|ūn dīs

    Vī dĭt ĕt|Āl cī|dǣ||nȳm phă rĕ|mī sĭt Hy̆|lān?

Ān dĕ ă|fē mĭ nĕ|ūm iām|nē glĕ gĭt|Hēr mă phrŏ|dī tǔm

    Ām plĕ xŭ|tē nē|rī ||sō lĭ cĭ|tā tă vĭ|rī?

Quīd quĭd ĭd|ēst, sŭ bĭt|ǣ, quǣ|cūm quē͜ e̸st|caū să ră|pī nǣ,

    Sīt, prĕ cŏr,|ēt tēl|lūs||mī tĭs ĕt|ūn dă tĭ|bī.


 
EPIGRAM VI.68

 

SUMMARY
There are only about twenty-five obituary epigrams written by Martial. This one is to Castricus, who has lost his young lover, Eutychos. Though Eutychos means “Lucky,” the boy met an unfortunate end by drowning in waters near the Bay of Naples . Martial refers to the boy as Castricus’ Alexis, the boy lover of Vergil. This boy was said to have inspired Vergil to write some of his greatest poetry. Martial also acquaints Eutychos’ death with two well-known myths, both having to do with water. The first is one of Hercules and Hylas. Hylas was the boy-toy of the great hero and both were on the voyage with the Argonauts. Hylas went missing when he was pulled into the water by nymphs on an excursion to get fresh water. Hercules abandoned the Argo to search for his young lover, whom was never found. The other myth is of Hermaphroditus and his unfortunate encounter with the nymph at the fountain of Salmacis. The nymph there became so infatuated with Hermaphroditus that she prayed to the gods to make them as one being, and it was granted. Martial compares the death of Eutychos to these myths possibly to ease the pain of his friend, Castricus. Martial wishes for a peaceful resting for the boy, “I pray, let both the earth and wave be soft/gentle for you” (VI.68.12).

Martial’s obituary epigrams are rather conventional from his other poems, which often include obscene and vulgar topics. And because of this, they do not gain as much acclaim as the others. He uses many references to classical myths and they are meant to consolations for the bereaved. The epigrams are not meant to shock or awe anybody, but to say words of encouragement to his grieving friends. The topic of death also makes the poet face his own beliefs about the subject. In many of his poems, he mentions that he hopes to see the Elysian Fields and he asks many philosophical and rhetorical questions to inspire others to think about their inevitable death.

Skuli Johnson , “The Obituary Epigrams of Martial.” The Classical Journal, Vol. 49, No. 6 (Mar., 1954), pp.    265-272: The Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Inc. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3292856>

John William Spaeth, Jr. “Martial and Vergil.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 61 (1930), pp. 19-28: The Johns Hopkins University Press <http://www.jstor.org/stable/282791>


S. Higgins


 
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