90 nevertheless use inscriptional motifs to praise the deserving dead.247Equally common in the Epigramsare dedicatory poems, which describe offerings made by a plaintiff (either the poet or someone else) to the gods, among whom Domitian is frequently included.248We might also include in the number of Martial’s ‘inscribed’epigrams those which narrate (usually with comic intent) the act of setting up a tombstone (cf. esp. 9.15, on which see below), or describe dedications of a sort not found in the physical epigrammatic tradition, such as Martial’s honorary dedication of several of his books to various esteemed friends and patrons.249The versatility of Martial’s engagement with the inscriptional tradition should be apparent from the overview I have just provided, and this chapter will explore the ways in which the Greek side of this tradition, as represented both by actual inscriptions and by literary epigrams, factors into the equation. I will structure the chapter according to three ‘sub-subgenres’of inscribed epigram: sepulchral and dedicatory, both of which occur in physical and literary forms, and epideictic, which is more noticeably present in literary poems. In each section I will analyze and compare specific Latin and Greek epigrams, and in the process we will develop a nuanced understanding of Martial’s ambivalent attitude toward his Greek predecessors. I. Martial and Sepulchral EpigramMartial has about twenty epigrams framed as epitaphs written on stone. The majority of these, written mainly for friends and favorite slaves, adhere to traditional inscriptional 247E.g. Ep. 1.78, 1.101, 5.37, 6.29, 9.30, 10.26, 10.50. 248E.g. Ep. 1.31, 3.29, 6.47, 7.1, 8.15, 9.16, 10.24, 11.48. 249Cf. e.g. Ep. 5.1 (to Domitian), 6.1 (to Iulius Martialis), 12.4 (to Nerva). 8.praef. contains a prose dedication to Domitian.
91 topoi. Christer Henriksén, in an essay surveying this conventional subcategory of Martial’s sepulchral poetry (and expressly avoiding the satirical poems, which I will discuss below), enumerates some characteristics common to physical epitaphs, all of which appear in Martial’s death epigrams. These elements of Martial’s “epigraphic scheme”include identification of the burial plot (deixis), specific information about the deceased (name, age at death, social status, or brief biographical narrative), and deployment of standard formulas and motifs, such as appealing to the passer-by to stop for a moment and take pity on the deceased.250The ‘traditional’subset of Martial’s sepulchral epigrams is consistent and straightforward in its application of these tropes. The Latin standard hic situs est(often abbreviated as H.S.E. on actual gravestones) appears in two poems: Ep.6.76 (hic situs est Fuscus) commemorates a former imperial guard and soldier in the Dacian War; Ep.12.52 (hic situs est Rufus) honors the poet and orator Rufus, culminating with praise of his undying love for his wife Sempronia.