Hidden in Plain Sight_ Martial and the Greek Epigrammatic Tradition (Part 1).pdf - University of Pennsylvania ScholarlyCommons Publicly Accessible Penn

Hidden in Plain Sight_ Martial and the Greek Epigrammatic Tradition (Part 1).pdf

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University of PennsylvaniaScholarlyCommonsPublicly Accessible Penn Dissertations1-1-2015Hidden in Plain Sight: Martial and the GreekEpigrammatic TraditionJoseph M. LucciUniversity of Pennsylvania, [email protected]Follow this and additional works at:Part of theClassical Literature and Philology CommonsThis paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons.For more information, please contact[email protected].Recommended CitationLucci, Joseph M., "Hidden in Plain Sight: Martial and the Greek Epigrammatic Tradition" (2015).Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations.1864.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Martial and the Greek Epigrammatic TraditionAbstractMartial, perhaps the best-known author of Latin epigram, has enjoyed a resurgence of scholarly attention overthe past two decades, and much has been made of his self-professed debt to earlier Latin epigrammatists,especially Catullus. Less prevalent, however, has been discussion of how he relates to authors of Greekepigram, which may not be surprising given that Martial passes over the Greek epigrammatic tradition innearly total silence. This dissertation seeks to explain the silence. Through close readings of specific poems byMartial, both in themselves and alongside epigrams by his Greek predecessors, I argue that he has fashionedan intentionally ambivalent attitude toward the Greek tradition. Martial contends with a fundamentallyRoman literary condundrum – he must negotiate the inevitable and irreconcilable tension betweenacknowledging the importance of his Greek predecessors and asserting his own claim to superiority overthem. But Martial, I suggest, relishes such tensions, depicting Greece and Greek epigram as inconsistent andeven bipolar entities which he can then exploit as sources of humor or self-aggrandizement. I claim thatMartial’s suppression of the Greeks is willful; it in part offers a playful challenge to his educated audience tohunt for allusions, and in part contributes to his invention of a purely Roman epigrammatic tradition overwhich he himself reigns. Martial’s engagement with the Greek tradition spans hundreds of years and severalsubgenres of Greek epigram, three of which I have examined more or less chronologically in this study. Myfour chapters offer an overview of Martial’s treatment of Greek language, art, and literature within theEpigrams, and discuss how he interacts with Greek inscribed, erotic, and skoptic epigram. I ultimately revealhow Martial imagines for his audience a bipolar Greek epigrammatic tradition, deftly balancing himselfbetween the two poles: at times he respectfully embraces his participation in the rich and varied history ofGreek epigram, and at times he irreverently attempts to invert, subvert, or erase this history altogether, all forthe entertainment of his well-educated readers, for whom his engagement with the Greek tradition would no

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