Hidden in Plain Sight_ Martial and the Greek Epigrammatic Tradition (Part 6) - 115 like Philodemus\u2019 \u03be\u03ad\u03bd\u03bf\u03c2(5 or Leonidas\u2019

Hidden in Plain Sight_ Martial and the Greek Epigrammatic Tradition (Part 6)

This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 25 pages.

115 like Philodemus ξένος (5) or Leonidas’ στείχοντες (1), would have been faced with multiple gods in a single statue and so would have needed to decide how to worship it appropriately. The difference for Martial is that the viator s choice is simple: the emperor receives the real prayers ( magnas... opes, honores 7), and Hercules (or whatever remains of him) gets only token acknowledgements ( vota minora 8). Martial, then, seems to have erased the issues raised by his Greek predecessors: in Domitianic Rome there is no such thing as a hybrid divine statue; any statue of a god is also a statue of the emperor. This section has endeavored to explore Martial s engagement with a long tradition of Greek dedicatory and votive inscriptional practices. We have seen that he embraces inscriptional tropes, but only to the extent that they are useful for his poetic goals. These goals, of course, vary from the apparently self-serving (as with his prayer to Stella s Nymph) to the invective (as with Zoilus dedication) to the panegyric (as with his wide array of Domitianic dedications). But amidst this variety we can detect a distinctive pattern: Martial continually adapts, directly or indirectly, the work of Greek epigrammatists, both inscriptional and literary, for the very different imperial Roman context within which he writes. His very awareness of the Greek tradition, as I have emphasized throughout this study, reflects a keen respect for this tradition, but he is also aware of its limitations, and in a world where emperors are gods, dedicatory epigrams can never be the same as they once were. III. Martial and Epideictic Epigram The last section of this chapter will address so-called epideictic epigrams, poems describing some object or place and surviving primarily in literary form. These were
116 popular among the Hellenistic and later Greek epigrammatists, 294 and Martial imitates and adapts them with great variety; his range, beyond the Xenia and Apophoreta , includes Priapea, descriptions of Greek artwork, and even an inscription to be displayed on a bust of Martial himself. 295 While it is especially difficult to generalize in the face of such thematic diversity, Martial s treatment of Hellenistic subjects and allusion to specific poems presents enough variation to reflect the same basic ambivalence that I have already discussed. I will begin by looking at a unique transformation from the Epigrams : Martial the poet, author of inscriptions, becomes Martial the sculpture, recipient of inscriptions. Embedded within the prose preface to Book 9 (addressed to his friend Toranius) is an epigram written to senator and poet Avitus , who has evidently displayed a bust of Martial in his library. Embedded within this epigram is yet another epigram, written by Martial to be placed beneath the bust. The embedded epigrams run as follows ( Ep.

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture