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Wordle: Martial VI 



When you send either a thrush or a piece of cake to me,

     Whether a thigh of a she-hare or something which is similar to these things.

You say that you have sent your little bites, Pontia.

      I will not send these, Pontia, but neither will I eat them. 

LXXV Meter: Elegiac Couplet

Cūm mīt|tīs tūr|dūm vĕ mĭ|hī quā|drām|vĕ plă|cēn tǣ,

    Sī vě fĕ|mūr lĕ pŏ|rīs||sī vĕ quĭd| hīs sĭ mĭ|lē ͜est,

Būc cēl|lās mī|sīs sĕ tŭ|ās tē|Pōn tĭ ă|dī cĭs.

    Hās ĕ gŏ|nōn mīt|tām,||Pōn tĭ ă|sēd nĕc ĕ|dăm.



Gift giving was an important practice in Rome whether it was between clients and patrons or for special events, such as Saturnalia. Martial is unclear in this poem why Pontia is sending him a gift; however he seems to be suspicious. Martial begins by listing the items that Pontia has attempted to sent him. He must be displeased with the gifts because he states that he will neither send such things nor eat them.

This poem points to the idea of poisoned food. Poisoning was a popular form of murder for the Romans and the Greeks. The idea of a magician using special magic or poison was often used, although magic is not referenced in this poem. For example, Tacitus writes about Germanicus who was thought to have had his food poisoned with magical signs that surrounded the death. In the ancient world, there are various cases of female poisoners who murder either friends, family, or enemies by simply preparing a meal. ( Pharr, 1932) Pontia could have been poisoning these “bites of cake” but Martial knows better than to eat them.

Pharr, Clyde. “The Interdiction of Magic in Roman Law.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. 63 (1932): 269-295.

M. Kolodziej