Craig A. Williams (ed.), Martial: Epigrams: Book Two
Themes. We return to third-person commentary and to the figure introduced in 2.11: Selius, the hunter for dinner invitations. Here his desperate search is given a memorably concrete form as we see him trotting from one meeting place to the next in a poem notable for its combination of gentle satire and lively scenery. Comparable is 12.82, in which Menogenes frequents the thermae and balnea in order to pester people for an invitation and likewise uses the flattering image Achilleas comas (cf. Achilleos pedes, 4); see also Statius' representation of his own acquisition of a dinner invitation in Silvae 4.6 (Damon 1997: 169).
The technique of anchoring the satire in topography finds a noteworthy precedent in Catull. 55, where the poet recounts his search for a friend through pg 69the streets of Rome. In Mart. 5.44 the invitation-seeker Dento is said to have visited the public baths, theaters, and toilets (thermis, theatris, conclavibus). Epigrams 3.20 and 11.1 list many of the same places mentioned in the present epigram: the porticus Argonautarum, the buxeta of Europa, and the thermae of Titus and Agrippa in the former; the Porticoes of Pompey, Europa, and the Argonauts as gathering places in the latter. See also 1.70, 2.17, 2.57, 3.47, 5.52, 7.73, and 10.51.
Nearly all of the sites mentioned here are located in the Campus Martius, the large area enclosed by the loop of the Tiber between the Theater of Marcellus in the south and the Mausoleum of Augustus in the north. In Martial's day this area was filled with temples, theaters, porticoes, and baths, and thus was a part of the city where one could go to see and be seen, to run into friends or acquaintances. See Sullivan 1991: 151–153, Prior 1996, and Sposi 1997, and, for Martial's topography of Rome overall, Lugli 1961, Castagnoli 1993, Darwall-Smith 1996, Scheithauer 2000: 136–153.
Structure. Lines 1–16 present a detailed description of Selius' behavior; the final couplet, the poet's commentary. But the epigram's artistry is more complex than this. One might, for example, detect a chiastic structure: an outer frame is established by 1–2 (the poet's summary description) and 17–18 (his sarcastic response); within this 3–4 and 15–16 further frame the narrative of Selius' search, which begins and ends with Europa (as Laurens 1989: 234 puts it, "le retour au point de départ produit un effet de boucle ironique"); the central verses 5–13 list the various stops on his route in an easy progression marked by clear connectives (si nihil Europe fecit; hinc quoque deceptus; inde petit; nec … spernit), and 14 summarizes his failure.
The core of the epigram exemplifies a technique especially characteristic of this poet: a list or sequence of clauses or sentences is used to achieve a cumulative effect; see on 2.7. Here this is joined to a threefold pattern: statement, accumulation, conclusion (Siedschlag 1977: 43: "Aussage, Häufung, Schlußeffekt"). Compare Sp. 3, Sp. 21, 2.1, 2.27, 4.39, 4.42, 8.46, 8.59, 8.70, 11.5. Siedschlag can find no Latin predecessors for this structure, and in Greek epigram only A.P. 11.74 (Nicarchus) and 11.239 (Lucillius).
1–2: The opening couplet, as so often, succinctly sets the scene and establishes the tone. The first line, alluding to Selius' persistent attempts in hyperbolic language (nil intemptatum, nil inausum), stands in bathetic contrast to the second: it is all for the sake of an invitation to dinner. The first line has, moreover, a distinctly poetic tone, with its apo koinou structure (see on 2.2.1) and two apparent echoes of earlier poets: for nil intemptatum compare Hor. A.P. 285 ("nil intemptatum nostri liquere poetae," likewise opening a hexameter) and for nil linquit inausum compare V. Aen. pg 707.308 (nil linquere inausum, likewise a hexameter clausula). The effect can be described as comic-heroic (Laurens 1989: 228).
3 ad Europen: Martial elsewhere refers to a depiction of the rape of Europa by Jupiter in the form of a bull that adorns a public space, probably a portico, planted with boxwood trees (3.20.12, 7.32.11, 11.1.10). In 3.20 and 11.1, as here, it is identified as a meeting place, along with the Porticoes of Pompey and the Argonauts, the former housing another depiction of Europa (Plin. N.H. 35.114). Since it is mentioned only by Martial, much about this structure is uncertain: whether the depiction of Europa was a wall painting (Friedlaender) or a sculpture group (Sullivan 1991: 152); whether it was housed in a portico or some other structure with a garden; and where precisely it was located. Some identify the structure with the porticus Vipsania (also called the porticus Pollae) built by Agrippa's sister Vipsania Polla, but most imagine an independent porticus Europae (Platner 1929, Richardson 1992: s.v.). It was clearly located in the Campus Martius, but more specificity regarding the location must elude us: M. R. Russo in Steinby 1993–2000: s.v. porticus Europae lists seven different possibilities.
3–4 te, Pauline, tuosque / laudat Achilleos … pedes: The name Paulinus occurs again in 3.78. Pace Friedlaender, that epigram does not suggest that he was a well-known runner, nor does the present epigram support Friedlaender's view, taken up by Barié and Schindler, that Paulinus was renowned as a fast runner. The hyperbole Achilleos pedes is Selius' rather than Martial's, and Paulinus was probably just exercising (Sullivan 1991: 152): at 7.32.11–12 a structure adorned with a depiction of Europa and the bull is described as a place where one might run for sport. Prior 1996: 129–130 sees 3.78 as hinting that Palinurus is incontinent and Achilleos pedes in the present epigram as alluding to his "mad dash for the facilities," but 3.78 is playing on words more than anything else. Damon 1997: 157 suggests that Paulinus is "walking quickly in an attempt to shed Selius."
For Achilles as exemplar of manly strength and beauty (cf. Serv. Ecl. 3.79: "virum fortem plerumque Achillem vocamus") but also of towering wrath, see Otto 1890: 3, Sonny 1896: 53, Sutphen 1901: 126, Szelinski 1903: 472. Other mythological exempla include 2.41.14 (Hecuba and Andromache), 2.43.14 (Ganymede), 2.64.3 (Peleus, Priam, and Nestor), and 2.75.10 (the she-wolf); see Weinreich 1928: 31–32, Szelest 1974b.
For the coordinated pronominal pairings te … tuosque Achilleos pedes and te … tuam puellam (17), compare Catull. 15.1 (me ac meos amores), Catull. 30.9 (te ac tua dicta omnia), V. Aen. 4.27 (te aut tua iura) with Wills 1996: 268.
4 sed sine fine: For this use of sed, see on 2.6.6.
5 Saepta: Originally, this was a fenced-in space (also called the ovile, or "sheepfold") used for popular elections in the area just east of the Pantheon and the Baths of Agrippa and west of the Temple of Isis and Serapis. Julius Caesar began a monumental rebuilding of the structure in marble, and the work was completed by Agrippa, who dedicated it to Caesar's memory as the Saepta Iulia in 26 b.c. (see Steinby 1993–2000: s.v.). The structure outlived its original purpose when Tiberius transferred elections from the people to the Senate; thereupon, it came to be used for spectacles and shows, gladiatorial fights, mock naval battles, and the like. After the Colosseum took over most of these functions in a.d. 80, the Saepta became a public space for strolling and shopping (2.57, 9.59, 10.80).
6–10: Note the moderately learned patro- and matronymics Aesonides and Phillyrides, together with the elevated periphrases Memphitica templa (7), maesta iuvenca (8), centum pendentia tecta columnis (9), Pompei dona nemusque duplex (10).
6 Phillyrides: Chiron, the centaur son of the Oceanid Philyra and teacher of, among others, the young Achilles; the matronymic is here spelled with a double consonant for metrical reasons. The elder Pliny (N.H. 36.29) confirms that there was a sculptural group of Chiron and Achilles located in the Saepta.
6 Aesonides: Jason, son of Aeson, hero of the Argonaut cycle of myth. As with the porticus Europae (see on 3 above), there is some disagreement among scholars about precisely where this monument (probably a painting depicting Jason) was. Most likely Martial is referring to the porticus Argonautarum that he mentions elsewhere (3.20, 11.1). Platner 1929: s.v. places the structure near, or even surrounding, the later Temple of Hadrian and suggests that it was identical with the "stoa of Poseidon" mentioned by Cassius Dio and the porticus Agrippiana to which a scholiast on Juv. 6.154 refers. More recently, Richardson 1992: 340 and M. P. Guidobaldi in Steinby 1993–2000: s.v. identify the porticus Argonautarum as the colonnade that ran along the western side of the Saepta, mirroring the porticus Meleagri on its eastern side. Part of this colonnade is still intact, but as its outer wall is interrupted at regular intervals by large niches, presumably for sculpture, this probably represents a later rebuilding of an earlier structure that had been more suitable for a mural.
7 Memphitica templa: A poetic periphrasis (Zingerle 1877: 34 compares Ov. Ars 1.77: "linigerae Memphitica templa iuvencae") for what is variously referred to as the "Temple of Isis and Serapis," the "Iseum and Serapeum," or the "Temple of Isis Campensis." The principal temple in Rome dedicated to the popular Egyptian goddess Isis, it directly adjoined the Saepta Julia (Juv. 6.528–529) near the present site of the Church of S. Maria sopra Minerva.
pg 72 Tibullus (1.3.27–30) and Ovid (Ars am. 1.77, Am. 2.13.7) associate it with women and particularly prostitutes; see also Catull. 10.26, Juv. 9.22, and Mart. 10.48.1). For the possibility that Martial's phrase refers specifically to Domitian's rebuilding of the temple, see Darwall-Smith 1996: 139, 145.
8 cathedris … tuis: These are armchairs or easy chairs especially used by women; compare femineae cathedrae at 3.63.7, 12.38.1. The noun reminds us that the Temple of Isis and Serapis was especially frequented by women (see Heyob 1975), and hints that Selius seeks invitations from both sexes. Tibull. 1.3.29–30 likewise alludes to the fact that worshippers of Isis normally remained seated, an unusual practice in ancient cult (Watson and Watson; Stambaugh 1978). For the homoeoteleuton cathedris … tuis (here of the most common type, a noun and its adjective) marking the end of each of the two halves of the pentameter, see on 2.12.4.
8 maesta iuvenca: A humorously pretentious way (compare the periphrases Niliaca iuvenca at 8.82.2 and Pharia iuvenca at 10.48.1) of referring to Isis, who was often identified with Io, the mythic figure first transformed into a heifer in order to avoid Hera's detection of her affair with Zeus, and then compelled to wander all the way to Egypt. Io's sufferings, alluded to with the adjective maesta, are memorably evoked in Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound and Ovid's Metamorphoses (1.568–747). The adjective may simultaneously make reference to the famous mourning of Isis upon the death of her husband Osiris (Watson and Watson).
9 centum pendentia tecta columnis: The Hecatostylon, a portico with a hundred columns located between the Portico of Pompey and the Baths of Agrippa (3.19.1, 5.13.5, 12.30.3). The elevated periphrasis is perhaps inspired by V. Aen. 7.170: "tectum augustum, ingens, centum sublime columnis" (Wagner 1880: 13).
10 Pompei dona nemusque duplex: Yet another elevated periphrasis (Friedlaender observes that Martial elsewhere uses the more prosaic munera for dona), referring to the portico built in 55 b.c. to the east of the Theater of Pompey in order to offer shelter for spectators in case of rain and to provide space for stage machinery (Vitr. 5.9.1; Mart. 5.10.5, 11.1, 11.21, 14.29, 14.166). Martial again cites the portico in conjunction with the Temple of Isis as a good place to meet women in 11.47. Nemus duplex refers to the double groves of plane trees planted in the space enclosed by the portico (11.47.3 and Prop. 2.32.11–12).
11–12: Note the apo koinou structure of the first line (balnea modifies both Fortunati and Fausti; cf. on 2.2.1) and the variation achieved by switching from nec to -que at the end of this list. The reference is to four privately owned bathing establishments of a kind found all over the ancient city and usually known by their builder's or owner's name: compare the Stephani balnea in 11.52 and 14.60 and the balnea Phoebi at Juv. 7.233, and see Weber pg 731996: 101–117. In Constantine's day there were at least 856 such facilities in Rome, many of them occupying the ground floor of insulae (Sullivan 1991: 153; cf. Plin. N.H. 36.121). For the centrality of balnea in Roman life, see CIL 6.15258.5–8 = CLE 1499.1–2: "Balnea, vina, Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra, / set vitam faciunt b(alnea), v(ina), V(enus)." Allusions to bathhouses, both single-sex and mixed, as the site of various kinds of social interaction pervade Martial's epigrams: see Sp. 2.7, 1.23, 2.40, 2.52, 2.70, 2.78, 3.7, 3.36, 3.51, 3.72, 5.44, 6.42–43, 6.53, 6.81, 7.34–35, 7.76, 7.82, 8.42, 9.19, 9.33, 9.75, 10.70, 11.22, 11.47, 11.51–52, 11.59, 11.63, 11.75, 12.19, 12.50, 12.70, 12.82–83. See Nielsen 1990, Yegül 1992, Weber 1996, Fagan 1999 for general discussion, and Fagan 1999: 12–39 for Martial in particular.
At 1.59.3 Martial again names the Baths of Gryllus and Lupus together and refers to the former as tenebrosa. Gryllus' establishment was thus unpleasantly dark, and the phrase Aeoliam Lupi almost certainly signifies that Lupus' baths were as drafty as the cave of Aeolus, king of the winds (cf. Aeolia antra, Ov. Met. 1.262), and not, as Freidlaender suggests, that they housed a painting depicting Aeolus. As for the other two establishments, the name Faustus appears also at 11.64.1, but surely he is not the same man. The name Fortunatus occurs only here in Martial. E. Rodríguez Almeida identifies the four baths named here with the balnea quattuor to which Martial refers at 5.70.4, arguing that they constituted a cluster of small baths in the southwestern Campus Martius (Steinby 1993–2000: s.v. balnea quattuor). As nec … spernit in 11 implies and the remarks in 12 make explicit, these baths will not have been particularly desirable (Watson and Watson: "Becoming increasingly desperate, Selius visits unappealing private baths which, it is implied, the more discriminating would shun").
13 nam thermis: A linguistic distinction was sometimes (but hardly always: Weber 1996: 71–79, Fagan 1999: 14–19) made between privately owned bathhouses (balnea) and public facilities, or thermae, of which there were three in Martial's day: those of Agrippa, Nero, and Titus. Here the topographical references suggest that the thermae are the Baths of Agrippa and Nero (see next note); if so, nam marks a shift of topic from balnea to thermae (see OLD s.v. 4, "in transitions to a new subject").
13 iterumque iterumque iterumque: A challenging textual problem. The reading printed here (and also by Gilbert, Lindsay, Izaac, Ceronetti, and Watson and Watson) is that of MS family β; manuscript G reads thermis iterum cunctis iterumque, accepted by Collesso but no one since. Schneidewin in his second edition accepts Heinsius' emendation ternis iterum thermis iterumque, and Gilbert's subsequent revision to thermis iterum ternis iterumque has been accepted by many (Ker, Giarratano, Norcio, Barié and Schindler, Shackleton Bailey). The "three baths" would be those of Agrippa, Nero, and Titus (cf. 10.51.12: triplices thermae).
pg 74 Yet an explicit reference to all three public baths seems inappropriate here: while the Baths of Agrippa and Nero were located in the Campus Martius in close proximity to the other monuments mentioned here, the Baths of Titus were far away, on the slope of the Mons Oppius. Such a lengthy side trip seems unlikely; the thermae mentioned here will probably have been understood to be those of Agrippa and Nero (so also Prior 1996: 138). For other allusions to only one or two of the three thermae, see Sp. 2.7 (Titus), 3.20.15 (Titus and Agrippa), 3.36.6 (Titus and Agrippa), 12.83.5 (Nero).
The reading iterumque iterumque iterumque thus seems more likely. The triplication is, to be sure, unparalleled (a search of the PHI disk turns up only this phrase) but is certainly within the realm of the acceptable, particularly if one considers the poetic phrase iterumque iterumque (V. Aen. 2.770, 3.436; Ov. Ars am. 2.127, Met. 11.619; Cons. ad Liv. 219); indeed, Wagner 1880: 15 considers Martial's iterumque iterumque iterumque a Virgilian borrowing. An interesting parallel is Priap. 77.8–10: "ergo qui prius usque et usque et usque / furum scindere podices solebam, / per noctes aliquot diesque cesso." In both cases, the diction vividly reflects a repeated action, and here it might also humorously suggest a threefold ritual ablution (Hor. Sat. 2.1.7–8, Epist. 1.1.37; V. Ecl. 8.73; Tib. 1.2.56).
14 renuente deo: The phrase occurs only here and at Tib. 1.5.20 and Ov. Met. 8.325. For the meaning of renuo (literally, "to throw the head backward in denial," a gesture still alive in contemporary Greece) and its frequent association with divine disapproval, see Apul. Met. 6.7 ("nec renuit Iovis caerulum supercilium"), 9.1 ("Fortuna renuente"); Mart. 2.46.10 ("quid renuis?"); and contrast Mart. 2.24.7–8 ("si deus ore sereno / adnuerit"). Other references in Martial to the gods granting a man success or failure, riches or poverty, include 1.99, 1.103, 2.24.1, 4.21. As usual, the singular deus refers nonspecifically to divinity, and need not imply any particular deity, much less a monotheistic belief system.
15 Europes tepidae buxeta: A pleasing example of transferred epithet. The boxwood trees themselves would have been warmed by the sun (cf. 3.20.12: "an delicatae sole rursus Europae / inter tepentes post meridiem buxos"), but here the adjective is applied to the image of Europa. Apparently as the result of a scribe's "retransferral" of the epithet, MSS of family β read the metrically impossible Europes tepida buxeta. Though most translators render tepidae as "sun-warmed," and the parallel with 3.20.12 points in this direction, the anonymous reader for Oxford University Press suggests an alternative worth considering: the end of the day has come (cf. serum iter in the following line) and the trees are beginning to cool down (cf. OLD s.v. tepesco 1b).
16 serum carpat … iter: For the poetic serum iter, see on 2.11.2 (porticum seram). The phrase carpere iter is common enough, both in prose pg 75and in verse (Hor. C. 2.17.12, Ov. Ep. 17.34, Ov. Tr. 1.10.4, Sen. N.Q. 7.8.2; cf. carpe viam at V. Aen. 6.629). The related phrase spatia carpere is found in another of Martial's epigrams describing Rome's leisure spaces, again mostly in the Campus Martius (3.20).
17 vector lascive: A witty phrase. The noun vector ("bearer, carrier") occurs only here in Martial and elsewhere appears to have a loftily poetic tone (Sen. Her. F. 9: "per undas vector Europae nitet"; Sen. Her. O. 1907: "stelligeri vector Olympi … Atlas"; V. Fl. 1.425: "vectorem pavidae … dum quaereret Helles"; Stat. Theb. 9.858: "feri vectorem fulminis albus / cum supra respexit olor"). The adjective lascivus ("naughty, wanton") is a favorite of Martial's, occurring thirty-nine times; the juxtaposition with vector is especially effective.
18 ad cenam Selium tu, rogo, taure, voca: What exactly is Martial asking Jupiter to do? According to Friedlaender (followed by Ker, Pertsch 1911: 52, and Merli), Martial's wish is that Selius be thrown to a bull in the arena; compare 1.43.13: "tu ponaris cui Charidemus apro." Yet, as Izaac observes, there is an important difference between wild boars and bulls in that the latter do not devour their victims, which is surely the implication of ad cenam voca. Ker, Izaac, and Joepgen 1967: 79–80 thus follow Rader: Martial is sarcastically using the image of a dinner invitation in order to express the wish that Jupiter remove Selius from the world, that is, bring about his death. But this seems an unnecessarily violent interpretation of Martial's witty phrase. Shackleton Bailey, following Hirst 1950, understands a somewhat gentler point: "Give him grass to eat—or perhaps nothing at all." Another possibility is that Martial is simply hoping that Selius will finally obtain his goal of being invited to dinner—any dinner—so that he will stop pestering others. Similarly Watson and Watson: "There being no humans left in the Portico, the bull is asked to invite Selius, to put him out of his misery."
For parenthetical rogo with a named addressee, see 2.25.2, 2.80.2, 3.44.9, 3.52.3, 3.73.3, 3.95.3, 5.44.1, 5.82.3, 6.17.2, 7.86.3, 9.25.3, 10.15.2, 10.21.2, 10.41.3, 10.66.1, 12.63.6; with no specific addressee and thus having an exclamatory function, see on 2.80.1. The frequency of both types is symptomatic of the chatty, discursive nature of Martial's epigrams. For the shortening of the final vowel in rogo, see on 2.9.2.