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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
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80

The ambitious land of the Nile had sent winter roses

            to you, Caesar, as novel gifts.

The Egyptian sailor laughed off the Pharian gardens,           

            as he walked into the first entrances of your city:

There was so much beauty of spring and pleasantness of fragrant Flora

            And so much glory of the Paestan countryside.

Thus, wherever that wandering one was carrying his step and his eyes,

            every route was blushing with cut wreaths.

But now you, having been commanded to yield to the Roman winter,

            Send your harvests, accept roses, Nile.

LXXX meter: Elegiac Couplet

Ūt nŏ vă|dō nă tĭ|bī, Cǣ|sār, Nī|lō tĭ că|tēl lūs

   mī sĕ răt|hī bēr|nās||ām bĭ tĭ|ō să rŏ|sās.

Nā vĭ tă|dē rī|sīt Phă rĭ|ōs Mēm|phī tĭ cŭs|hōr tōs,

   ūr bĭs ŭt|īn trā|vīt||lī mĭ nă|prī mă tŭ|ǣ:

tān tūs|vē rĭs hŏ|nōs ĕt ŏ|dō rǣ|grā tĭ ă|Flō rǣ

   tān tă quĕ|Pǣ stā|nī||glō rĭ ă|rū rĭs ĕ|rāt;

sīc, quā|cūm quĕ vă|gūs grēs|sūm que̸ ͜ŏ cŭ|lōs quĕ fĕ|rē bāt,

   tōn sĭ lĭ|būs sēr|tīs||ōm nĕ rŭ|bē băt ĭ|tĕr

Āt tū|Rō mā|nǣ iūs|sūs iām|cē dĕ rĕ|brū mǣ

    mīt tĕ tŭ|ās mēs|sēs,||āc cĭ pĕ, Nī lĕ, rŏ|sās.


 
EPIGRAM VI.80

 

SUMMARY
The epigram praises the fertility and beauty of Roman gardens in comparison to one of the most fertile regions in the world. Martial loves to write about the beauty and tranquility of gardens and the countryside, and here in particular, he can brag on behalf of Rome. The fertile region of the Nile river has sent gifts of Roses to the emperor, thinking that they would be appreciated during the winter months. Martial quickly begins to describe the superior quality of the Roman roses and finishes the epigram with the witty statement “accept roses, Nile.” The Egyptians should receive the fine quality roses from the Romans and send their other harvests.

It could have been some sort of special occasion in Rome when the Egyptian sailor came into the city to deliver the roses. He soon found that the roses he brought were not such a novelty after all.  The beauty of the flora “blushing with cut wreaths” suggests that Rome was possibly being decorated. Wreaths and garlands were used on the Kalends, Ides, and different festivals. (Lawson,1950)) The beauty of the city during this time, caused the sailor to laugh off the Egyptian gardens. By the time of the Early Empire, religious significance was diminishing and people were beginning to wear wreaths and garlands of flowers on their bodies as well. (Lawson, 1950).

It is easy to see how the roses of the Nile would not match the ones at Rome. Many classical authors have praised the Italian countryside. Italy’s climate along with the surrounding bodies of water and mountain ranges makes for beautiful fertile land. Italy is held by not only Martial, but by others such as Pliny and Vesuvius, as countryside where other regions “cannot compare.” (Cantor,1938))


Cantor, H. V. “Praise of Italy in Classical Authors.” The Classical Journal. 33. (1938): 457-470.
Lawson, James. “The Roman Garden.” Greece and Rome. 57 (1950): 97-105.

M. Kolodziej


 
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