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Wordle: Martial VI 



Fuscus, that guard of the sacred person and of toga-bearing Mars,                  

    to whom the camps of the greatest leader were entrusted,

was buried here. It is allowed to acknowledge this, Fortune:

    Now this stone does not fear hostile threats

The Dacian received the great collar on his tamed neck

    and the victorious ghost is master of the servile grove.

XXLVI Meter: Elegiac Couplet

Īl lĕ să|crī lă tĕ|rīs cūs|tōs Mār|tīs quĕ tŏ|gā tī,

    Crē dĭ tă|cuī sūm|mī||cās tră fŭ|ē rĕ dŭ|cīs,

hīc sĭ tǔs|ēst Fūs|cūs. Lĭ cĕt|hōc, Fōr|tū nă fă|tē rī:

    nōn tĭ mĕt|hōs tī|lēs||iām lă pĭs|īs tĕ mĭ|nās;

gr ān dĕ iŭ|gūm dŏ mĭ|tā Dā|cūs cēr|vī cĕ rĕ|cē pĭt,

    ēt fă mŭ|lūm vīc|trīx||pōs sĭ dĕt|ūm bră nĕ|mŭs.



This poem is one of Martial’s twenty-five funerary epigrams. It has a unique style because, for once, Martial is not witty but sincere. He praises Fuscus, a praetorian prefect who died nobly in battle. Martial does not end this epigram with a clever punch line poking fun at Fuscus, but rather, compliments him as well as his ghost. He also uses ordinary phraseology about death and praising the dead. With this style, the reader does not know exactly how Martial himself feels about death. According to Sculi Johnson’s article on Martial’s funerary epigrams, this particular poem can be seen by many as conventional. He argued that “there is added Roman imperiousness,” and it may often be skipped over as not one of the most interesting of the epigrams. (Johnson, 1954) Perhaps the reason for this is due to the fact that Martial’s audience loves to find a pun or criticism at the end of his pieces. 

The epigram also contains historical background and great praise toward the prefect. The concept of praise for this prefect runs throughout the poem. By adding “It is allowed to acknowledge this, Fortune,” denotes that this figure is completely worthy of this recognition and Fortune herself will agree. The final line “the victorious ghost is master of the servile grove” denotes that Fuscus will be a great leader even after death. Emphasis is placed on the idea that Fuscus has died a noble and worthy death.

Johnson, Skuli. “The Obituary Epigrams of Martial.” The Classical Journal. 49 (1954): 265-272.

M. Kolodziej