illic Penelope semper habere manum. The Trojan slaves used to masturbate behind the door whenever Hector’s wife mounted her steed, and Penelope (chaste though she may have been), once Ithaca was asleep, would always keep her hand in thatspot. Here, Martial casts aside the oblique comparisons that we have seen in the previous poems, and instead presents two vignettes on the sex lives of the main female characters from the Iliadand the Odyssey.236As with 3.76, the degree of obscenity varies according to the subject: the explicit verb masturbabanturcharacterizes the shameless Phrygii servi, while the actions of the more reputable Andromache and Penelope are euphemistically described by the phrases sederat equoand illic habere manum.237Circumlocution, however, can be even more titillating than bare obscenity, as it requires readers to use their imaginations actively in order to reconstruct the poet’s actual meaning. The effect of such titillation is not only humor, but a significant epigrammatic appropriation of Homer –we are encouraged to reread the Iliadand the Odyssey in a different mindset (“perhaps Andromache had a carnal reason for wanting Hector to stay at Troy,”“Priam and Hecuba had dozens of children –how much time did they spend in the 236The similarities between this poem and Priapea68 are indisputable and have long been noted (cf. e.g. Kay (1985) ad loc.). Questions of potential influence are inextricably linked with those of priority, and these unfortunately lie outside the scope of my current project. 237Hinds (1998) and (2007) 118-9 profitably discusses Martial’s allusion here to Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, where the praeceptor amoriswarns tall women not to ‘ride’ their men (3.777-8: parva vehatur equo: quod erat longissima, numquam / Thebais Hectoreo nupta resedit equo; “a small woman should go horseback –since she was so tall, the Theban bride never mounted her Hectorean horse”). Martial, no doubt in the spirit of playful competition with his predecessor, ‘corrects’ Ovid by suggesting that Andromache rode her horse on a regular basis. On Andromache’s apparent reputation as an especially tall heroine, cf. R. Gibson (2003) Ovid: Ars Amatoria 3.Cambridge: 393.
85 bedchamber?”238“what didPenelope do for all that time?”). In effect, Martial is rewriting Homer for a more sordid world, and in so doing he seems to assert the dominance of epigrammatic realism over epic heroism. Of course, we must remind ourselves that despite such grandiose claims, Martial is still an author of epigram, and that any attempt to ‘conquer’Homer would probably have come off as comical to his audience, I would argue by design. IV. ConclusionThis chapter has demonstrated the large degree to which Martial’s depiction of the Greeks depends on how he relates them to the Romans. Whether in terms of language, art and architecture, or literature, Martial’s invocation of ‘Greece’invites –and often demands –comparison with ‘Rome.’He places Greek script directly beside Latin text, he fashions