8. praemia cum laudem ferret, at hic pateram:
this line as variously transmitted (see app. crit.) is corrupt on three counts: (i) it makes no sense in the context; (ii) it contains an intrusive reference to the first person (poteram
); (iii) it is unmetrical. Earlier conjectures involved attempts to make this line cohere with the previous one. Heraeus (1925: ad loc.)
postulated a lacuna after l. 7. This suggestion has not been universally accepted: e.g. Della Corte (1986)
prints Schneidewin's conjecture, and Birt (1930
: 305–6) expressly denies any suspicion of a lacuna, changing ferre
to fert et
and arguing that adhuc
here = insuper
(i.e. Carpophorus won praise and, in addition, a patera
Nevertheless, the case for a lacuna is strong. The sentiment required is that a victor in the emperor's games was more amply rewarded than the heroes of mythology. As the exploits involving the bear and the lion occupy a couplet each, and a trio of exempla
is customary, closure could be effected in a single couplet (hexameter + l. 8) after the completion of the couplet describing the pardus
(l. 7+pentameter); a single closing couplet would balance the opening couplet apostrophizing Meleager, with three intervening couplets containing a trio of exempla.8
A lacuna consisting of four lines, however, remains a possibility, especially if it hides another animal vanquished by Carpophorus, the tiger mentioned by the scholiast to Isidore, to whom an entire couplet could then be devoted: see on 2 'quanta est … portio', above.
Postulating a lacuna, however, is not sufficient to remove all the problems. The metrical difficulty would be solved by adopting K's ferret.
Of the emendations proposed for poteram,
the substitution of a verb in the third person (poterat/poterant
) would not contribute a pointed closure; nor would corruption to a form in the first person be easy to explain in an epigram in which all the other verbs are in the third person. Hence Heraeus, arguing that adhuc poteram
should hide a combination of adversative particle, nominative pronoun, and first-declension accusative to contrast with laudem,
picked up the humanist conjecture pateram
and suggested at hic pateram.
This is a neat solution, and it accords with Martial's habit of closing an epigram with a contrasting balance between two elements that have been juxtaposed—explicitly or implicitly—in the course of the poem (cf. Spect. 2. 12
What evidence is there that pateram
could fit the context? A patera,
the equivalent of the Greek φιάλη (a shallow, saucer-shaped dish), was primarily a cultic vessel used for libations in honour of the gods. It is frequently represented on one side of a funerary altar, balanced by an urceus
on the other. It was usually made of precious metal, often highly ornamented, and was so costly and impressive as to be considered suitable for an ambassadorial gift: see Hilgers (1969: 71–2, 242–5 = no. 282)
x/1. 692–4 (Gatti). It was also used as a drinking-vessel, especially for wine, and it could be awarded as a prize in a drinking-contest. Although a patera
is nowhere attested as a reward for gladiatorial combat, another type of precious tableware (lanx
) was awarded for success in the arena, together with the money-bags that were displayed upon it: see on Spect. 31. 6
'lances donaque'. Lanx
are cited as objects of equivalent worth: cf. Dig.
16. 3. 1. 40 'scyphum … uel lancem uel pateram'.
Pl. 24. Impression from inscribed mould found at Salona, depicting palm-fronds flanking a thraex (left) and a murmillo (right). Archaeological Museum, Split
A mould found in the necropolis at Salona in 1884 may offer a further analogy: see Pl. 24
. It displays, in mirror-image, the inscription Miscenius
with a thraex
(left) and a murmillo
(right); behind each gladiator a palm-frond stands upright. With dimensions of 27 cm × 21 cm (21.8 × 11.5 for the inscribed field) this mould is too large to have been used for manufacturing 'tessères d'invitation', as supposed by Colin (1954
: 56–7); rather, it may have been used to mould the base of glass bottles which, along with their contents, would be awarded to victorious gladiators as prizes: see Buljević (2004)
. Hence it seems legitimate to conclude that a patera
(including, perhaps, its contents) may plausibly have been offered as a costly prize.