Mamerce, poeta videri./ quidquid vis esto, dummodo nil recites).174Further, once Martial starts to reflect on book composition later in his career, he directly (if not purposefully) contradicts his general remarks here. Turpe est difficiles habere nugas(9) is met in Book 7 by facile est epigrammata belle / scribere, sed librum scribere difficile est(“it’s easy to write a nice epigram, but hard to write a nice book,”Ep.7.85-3-4). In Book 12, he describes the difficult process of revising his previous two books, which in their unabridged form were a longior...labor(12.4.1-2) –the Martial of poem 2.86 might regard this labor ineptiarumas stultus(10). Martial ultimately does what he condemns: he has made his nugaetroublesome by arranging them into books.175Most recently, Margot Neger has identified verbal and thematic parallels between this poem and a famous epigram of Callimachus (28 Pf. ἐχθαίρω τὸποίημα τὸκυκλικόν...). These 173Sullivan (1991) 74-5. 174Williams (2004) intr. n. ad loc. For metrical play in the Epigramssee e.g. 5.24, 7.10, 9.57, 9.97. 175This is of course a very different kind of laborthan the poetic pyrotechnics he is talking about here, but the parallel language is telling nonetheless. And while we might regard the remarks from Books 7 and 12 as those of a man wearied by the burden of many prior poems, I would suggest that even as early as his second book he was fully aware of the work involved in writing epigram, and that the generalizations in 2.86 are at least partially tongue-in-cheek.
61 allusions, she suggests, establish Martial both as an “anti-Callimachus”and as an able practitioner of Callimachean poetics (a trait validated by poem 2.88).176As my arguments above should make apparent, I agree with Neger’s ambivalent reading: even independently of potential Hellenistic influences, an implicit uncertainty about the merit of Greek poetics underpins this epigram. Another approach to the tension between Greek and Latin poetry manifests in the first of Martial’s epigrams on Earinos, a much-beloved but unmetrically-named slave boy (Ep. 9.11): Nomen cum violis rosisque natum, quo pars optima nominatur anni, Hyblam quod sapit Atticosque flores, quod nidos olet alitis superbae; nomen nectare dulcius beato, quo mallet Cybeles puer vocari et qui pocula temperat Tonanti, quod si Parrhasia sones in aula, respondent Veneres Cupidinesque; nomen nobile, molle, delicatum versu dicere non rudi volebam: sed tu syllaba contumax rebellas. dicunt Eiarinon tamen poetae, sed Graeci, quibus est nihil negatum et quos Ἆρες Ἄρες decet sonare:nobis non licet esse tam disertis, qui Musas colimus severiores. Name born along with violets and roses, by which the best part of the year is named, which tastes of Hybla and Attic flowers, which smells of the haughty bird’s nest; name sweeter than blessed nectar, by which the son of Cybele would rather be called, and the Thunderer’s cup-mixer, which Venuses and Cupids reecho if you utter it in the Parrhasian palace; noble, gentle, tender name, I wanted to speak you in my not unrefined