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Themes. After the hendecasyllabics of 2.6 we return to elegiac couplets, and the topic shifts from Martial's own poetry to a critique of someone else's activities. At the same time there is thematic continuity: 2.6 speaks of Severus' impatience and ability to become easily bored, while 2.7 implicitly criticizes Atticus for the same thing, making moreover a passing allusion to the fact that Atticus has tried his hand at Martial's own art (epigrammata belle). The self-referential mode will return in 2.8.

  The central motif—dilettantism taken to such an extreme that achievement in any one field is impossible—is reminiscent of an epigram from the Palatine Anthology (A.P. 11.355; see Pertsch 1911: 35). Citing some of the same pg 45accomplishments that Martial attributes to Atticus, Juvenal associates a certain type of dilettantism with the despised Greeks: "grammaticus rhetor geometres pictor aliptes / augur schoenobates medicus magus: omnia novit / Graeculus esuriens; in caelum iusseris, ibit" (3.76–78). Colton 1991: 99–101 argues that Juvenal was directly influenced by the present epigram.

  The key adjective bellus, a diminutive of bonus, ranges in meaning from "pretty, handsome, charming" to "fine, excellent, smart, admirable" and, especially in the latter sense, is used ironically (OLD). In view of the urban and urbane world of Martial's epigrams, it comes as no surprise that he uses the term fairly often: see 1.9 with Citroni ad loc., 1.64, 2.87, 3.37, 3.63 (with a lengthy description of the bellus homo), 4.31, 5.16, 5.52, 5.77, 6.44, 7.59, 7.85, 10.46, 11.34, 11.52, 12.39 (where the key term likewise occurs repeatedly). The frequent use of this and similar diminutives may be a sign of the influence of colloquial speech (Hofmann 1951: 200).

Structure. There is a clear bipartite structure: the description of Atticus' behavior (1–6) is followed by commentary in the final couplet (7–8). This in turn is marked first by an antithesis (bene vs. belle) and then by a rhetorical question (vis dicam quid sis?) followed by a dismissive answer (magnus es ardalio) that brings home the point; see on 8 below for the technique. The epigram also exemplifies the characteristic device of cumulatio (creating a list, piling up attributes, or repeating a phrase several times in succession), for which see, in Book II alone, 2.11, 2.14, 2.27–28, 2.33, 2.36, 2.43, 2.48, 2.89. A memorable earlier example is Catull. 43.1–4: "Salve, nec minimo puella naso / nec bello pede nec nigris ocellis / nec longis digitis nec ore sicco / nec sane nimis elegante lingua." Laurens 1989: 279–281 suggests that the structure of an epigram attributed to Seneca may have inspired Martial in the present case: "Semper munditias, semper, Basilissa, decores, / semper dispositas arte decente comas / et comptos semper vultus unguentaque semper …" (A.L. 458 Riese).

  Martial's list is constructed with particular care. Each of lines 1–6 cites two activities, each of them accompanied by the adjective bellus or the adverb belle (for such repetition of individual words or phrases, see Citroni ad 1.41 and Joepgen 1967: 141–160), and the presentation of Atticus' twelve spheres of achievement is marked by the following grammatical variation:


Verbs referring to oratory, theoretical and practical (declamas, causas agis)


Nouns referring to other literary genres (historias, carmina, mimos, epigrammata)


Nouns referring to two professions (grammaticus, astrologus)


Verbs referring to two leisure activities (cantas, saltas)


Nouns referring to two further leisure activities (arte lyrae, arte pilae)

  pg 46There is a progression from one of the most respected of activities for Roman men (declamas, causas agis), to serious literary activity (historias, carmina), to less serious literary activity (mimos, epigrammata), to other intellectual occupations—one of them (grammaticus) respectable, the other (astrologus) potentially suspect—and finally to leisure-time activities liable to dismissal as trivial or worse (cantas, saltas, arte lyrae, arte pilae). There is, moreover, a pleasing variation in the use of the key term bellus, which occurs exactly twice in each line, once before and once after the principal caesura: the adverb belle (1, 3, 5) alternates with the adjective bellus (2, 4, 6). The whole sequence climaxes in 6 with the application of the key adjective no longer to Atticus' activities or achievements but to the man himself: bellus es.

  The insistent but elegant listing reflects the subject matter. Atticus does a little bit of many different things and does them with a certain degree of elegance (belle), but the very fact that there are so many such practices precludes him, unlike Martial himself in this epigram, from doing any one thing bene (cf. Hutchinson 1993: 26: the poet "is luxuriating in symmetry and the very sound of the word"). Walter, p. 102 finds a deliberately monotonous quality that reflects Atticus' lifestyle.


1 declamas belle, causas agis, Attice, belle: The first clause refers to declamation or rhetorical exercises, whether suasoriae or controversiae; the second to actual courtroom delivery. The positioning of the vocative in the second half of the first line (see on 2.5.1) is combined with the repetition of a key term in each half of the line also at 1.79.1 ("semper agis causas et res agis, Attale, semper") and 5.58.1 ("cras te victurum, cras dicis, Postume, semper"); see also A.L. 458.1 Riese (quoted above).


1 Attice: Given the invective tone, this would have been understood as a fictional name. It occurs in only two other epigrams: 7.32, where he is praised for his eloquence and as a descendant of Cicero's friend, and 9.99, where we learn nothing about him.

  Whereas the MSS of family a read Attice both here and in 5, those of family γ‎ read Attale in both verses and in the lemma; see on 5 for the peculiar problem in family β‎. As Lindsay 1903a: 20 and Heraeus 1925: 318 observe, such cases of equally possible personal names (see also 1.10, 2.18, 2.32.5, 6.88) are the hardest to decide. Lindsay himself tentatively favors Atticus because it is the reading of two families, and most modern editors have done the same. But Shackleton Bailey prints Attale and Walter 1995 follows him, observing that the name would suggest a man of servile origins, though it is not clear that the name Attale would tell us any more about the man than does Atticus. Citroni ad 1.79 refers to TLL 2.1114.65 for the pg 47name Attalus (apud Latinos nom. serv. et cogn.), but that entry cites the present epigram, along with Mart. 1.79 and 4.34, and nothing else.


2 historias: Walter 1995: 103 claims these must be anecdotes or stories rather than extensive historiographical works; but Atticus could easily have been an amateur historian.


2 carmina: The word (literally, "songs"; cf. canere) often signifies poetic texts, whether dramatic (Cic. Sen. 22), lyric (Hor. Epist. 2.2.59, 2.2.91; Stat. Silv., elegiac (Mart. 14.189.1), or even epigrammatic (Mart. 1.4.6, 2.91.4, 12.61.1; Tac. Ann. 4.34). Here, since mimos and epigrammata in the following line specify two types of "lighter" poetry, it is likely that carmina refers to such "heavier" genres as epic or lyric.


3 mimos: Improvised comic sketches originally performed on the street by clownlike figures known as planipedes were regularly presented at the ludi Florales (held annually beginning in 173 b.c.) and were given literary form by such poets as Cn. Matius and Decimus Laberius. Literary mime survives only in fragments, but it seems that its most common themes included the "rags to riches" motif, the misadventures of adulterous lovers, and trickster figures.


3 epigrammata: This is the first allusion in Book II to other practitioners of Martial's art; he does not yet reach the level of invective attained elsewhere (see on 2.71). A later epigram contains a patronizing remark applicable to someone like Atticus: "facile est epigrammata belle / scribere, sed librum scribere difficile est" (7.85.3–4).


4 grammaticus: This term indicates much more than a "grammarian" in the modern sense, just as grammatica is much more than "grammar": OLD s.v. concisely explains it as "the study of literature and language … including exegesis, literary criticism, etc., as well as grammar in the modern sense." A grammaticus, in short, was a learned man engaged in the interpretation of texts and expert on all sorts of linguistic and literary questions, of which Cic. De orat. 1.187 offers an overview: "poetarum pertractatio, historiarum cognitio, verborum interpretatio, pronuntiandi sonus." He generally taught boys in the middle of their education, after the litterator, who taught them the rudiments of reading and writing, but before the rhetor, who took them to the upper levels of rhetoric. Thus, 7.64.7 mentions, in descending order, the rhetor, grammaticus, and ludi magister. See Suetonius' biographies De grammaticis and Kaster 1988.


4 astrologus: This term indicates one whose object of study comprehended what is now called "astronomy" and "astrology," that is, both the study of heavenly bodies and the attempt to interpret and predict human affairs from them. The only other occurrence of the noun in Martial is in this second sense (9.82.1: an astrologus predicts someone's death). The present pg 48instance constitutes an interesting problem of translation, as both "astrologer" and "astronomer" are too limited, and a clear distinction between them is anachronistic. The former is the version offered by Izaac, Norcio, Ceronetti, Scandola, and Barié and Schindler (who confusingly observe in their note that "astrologus ist Astronom, nicht Astrolog im engeren Sinn"); the latter, by Ker and Shackleton Bailey.

  Study of the stars was always viewed with some ambivalence in Rome. In a.d. 11, for example, Augustus outlawed private consultations and those predicting death, and astrologers, like philosophers, were periodically expelled from Rome. In Juvenal's third satire the knowledge of motus astrorum is one of the crazes characterizing contemporary Rome that the speaker so bitterly denounces (3.41–43), and in his sixth satire astrologi Chaldaei are named among the various charlatans who enjoy women's favor (6.553–581). Yet Manilius' poem from the Augustan age and Firmicus Maternus' fourth-century treatise remind us that study of the stars came with a long and complex tradition and was taken quite seriously; see Cramer 1954, Barton 1994, Bakhouche 2002. Friedlaender explains the connection between grammaticus and astrologus in the present passage: among the many bodies of knowledge that grammatici needed to master in order to explicate literary texts was astrologia.


5 cantas et saltas: These accomplishments, too, were viewed with ambivalence by traditionalist Romans. Cicero scathingly alludes to Catiline's young male followers' expertise as nude dancers (Cat. 2.23), and the term saltator could be used as an insult (Cic. Mur. 13, Red. Sen. 13, Pis. 18). Horace's Bore boasts of his accomplishments as poet, dancer, and singer in terms that were intended to impress Horace but that had the opposite effect (Hor. Sat. 1.9.23–25). Nepos (pr., Epam. 1.2) observes that skill in singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments was in general viewed as suspect and un-Roman by traditionalists, and the elder Seneca complains that the effete youth of his day have an unbecoming interest in singing and dancing (Contr. "cantandi saltandique obscena studia effeminatos tenent"). On the other hand, a certain amount of musical education was clearly acceptable, and Quintilian makes an obvious point: "cantatur et saltatur per omnes gentes aliquo modo" (Inst. 2.17.10). See Marquardt 1886: 118–119 and Weeber 1995: 353–355.


5 Attice: The MSS of family β‎ read Attice here but Attale in 1 and in the lemma. For other self-contradictory readings and some possible explanations, see on 2.18.8.


6 arte lyrae … arte pilae: Praise of Atticus' skill at the lyre, coming after an allusion to his abilities at dancing and singing, constitutes yet another ambivalent type of flattery. For ball games along with other forms of exercise and entertainment, compare 7.32.7–10, 10.86.2, 14.45–48 with Leary ad loc., Petr. Sat. 27, and see Blümner 1911: 439ff., Harris 1972: 75–111.

  pg 49The line is an example of a pure isocolic pentameter, its two halves being identical in both meter and word shape. Compare 3.26.2 ("aurea solus habes, murrina solus habes") and (with slight deviations) 4.5.8 ("plaudere nec Cano, plaudere nec Glaphyro"), 11.73.2 ("constituisque horam constituisque locum"); and see Siedschlag 1977: 111.


7 nil bene cum facias, facias tamen omnia belle: There is probably an etymological play in the contrast bene/belle (also at 10.46.1–2); Priscian (Grewing 1998a cites the line as an example of etymological play in framing position: compare 4.67.8 (equiti/equo), 13.11.1 (mulio/mulis), 14.135.2 (teget/togas).


8 vis dicam quid sis? Martial was fond of the technique of posing a question—often vis?—and immediately supplying its answer at the end of an epigram. See Siedschlag 1977: 26, Laurens 1989: 261–262, and, in Book II alone, 2.1, 2.10 ("vis dare … ? / hoc tibi habe …"), 2.11, 2.16 ("vis fieri sanus? stragula sume mea."), 2.17, 2.26, 2.28–29, 2.39 ("vis dare quae meruit munera? mitte togam."), 2.40, 2.45, 2.56, 2.72 ("vis hoc me credere? credo."), 2.83. The technique is rare in Greek epigram and only occasionally present in earlier Latin epigram: compare Catull. 85.2 ("quare id faciam fortasse requiris? nescio.") and Calvus apud Sen. Contr. 7.4.77 ("quid credas hunc sibi velle? virum.").


8 magnus es ardalio: The noun ardalio, referring to a busybody or dabbler and here functioning as an insult (Opelt 1965: 113), is rarely attested: compare 4.78.9–10 ("deformius, Afer, / omnino nihil est ardalione sene"), CIL 4.4765 ("Aephebe, ardalio es"), and Phaedr. 2.5 ("ardalionum quaedam Romae natio … / multa agendo nil agens"). Laurens 1989: 279–281 points to the effective contrast between the preceding instances of the diminutive bellus and magnus and describes the pairing of magnus and ardalio itself as "une alliance aussi plaisante que juste."

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