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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
  • LATIN
  • ENGLISH
  • METRICS

82

Recently a certain man, Rufus, having diligently inspected me,

just as a buyer or as a trainer of gladiators,

When he had watched with an expression and with a finger,

He said, “Are you, are you that Martial, whose idleness and jokes, he knows

who does not in any way have a Batavian ear?"

I smiled restrained with a light nod

I do not deny to be whom he said.

“Why therefore” he said, “do you have bad cloaks?”

I responded, “Because I am a bad poet.”

So this does not happen more often to the poet,

Please send, Rufus, good cloaks to me.

LXXXII meter: Hendecasyllabic

Quī dām|mē mŏ dŏ|, Rū fĕ|, dī lĭ|gēn tĕr

Īn spēc|tūm, vĕ lŭt| ēm ptŏr| aūt lăn|ī stă,

Cūm vūl|tū dĭ gĭ|tō quĕ|sūb nŏt|ās sēt,  

'Tū ne̷͜ ēs|, tū ne̷͜͜' ă ĭt|'īl lĕ| Mār tĭ|ā lĭs,

Cuī ūs|nē quĭ tĭ|ās iō|cōs quĕ|nō vĭt,

Aū rēm|quī mŏ dŏ|nōn hă|bēt Băt|ā vām?'

Sū brī|sī mŏ dĭ|cē, lĕ|vī quĕ|nū tū

Mē quēm|dī xĕ răt|ēs sĕ| nōn nĕ|gā vī.

'Cūr ēr|go̷͜ īn quĭt 'hă|bēs mă|lās lă|cēr nās?'

Rē spōn|dī: 'quĭ ă|sūm măl|ūs pŏ|ē tă'.

Hōc nē|sǣ pĭ ŭs|āc cĭ|dāt pŏ|ē tǣ,

Mīt tās,|Rū fĕ, mĭ|hī bŏ|nās lă|cēr nās.


 
EPIGRAM VI.82

 

SUMMARY
This is a classic example of the patron-client relationship. In ancient Rome, clients would ask for things through their poetry and will directly address their patrons. (Watson) Mostly the reason for patron poems is to praise them, but sometimes poets will ask for things as well. (Jones)

In this particular poem, Martial is asking his patron for a new cloak. After Rufus diligently inspects him, he realizes it is Martial. When asked why he had a bad cloak, Martial answers, “quia sum malus poeta”. At the end of the poem, he requests that Rufus send him a good cloak. His reason for needing a new cloak is because he will write better poetry if he has a better cloak. Martial blames his bad writing on his malas lacernas. Only bad poets have bad cloaks, according to Martial. If Rufus is kind enough to send him a new cloak, he will be able to write better him better poetry.

How Martial describes how Rufus is looking at him is important as well. Rufus inspects him as if he was a buyer or trainer of gladiators. If one is buying or training a gladiator, he needs to inspect the person fully. Rufus has to fully inspect Martial before he realizes it is him. Martial could also be implying because of his lack of a good coat, he is also less distinguishable. This adds another reason for Rufus to buy him a new cloak.


Jones, Francis L. Martial, the Client. The Classical Association of the Middle West and South, 1935

Watson, Patricia and Lindsay. Martial: Selected Epigrams. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003


S. Elliott-Traficante


 
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