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Introduction: This poem is the first of three prefatory epigrams introducing the Flavian amphitheatre.1 It is set first in an international context (Spect. 1): Martial conveys the status of the monument on a global scale by claiming its superiority over the Wonders of the World, a notion that was perhaps a feature of the contemporary reaction to the completed building.2 Next, it is placed in its metropolitan context (Spect. 2), and finally the scope is narrowed further to focus on the cosmopolitan audience witnessing the spectacles that are performed in it (Spect. 3).

pg 2The structure of the epigram is that of a catalogue poem, i.e. an accumulation of successive clauses with similar content culminating in a climax. This structure, usually limited in Greek epigram to three elements, is often extended by Martial to include multiple components, chiefly examples that are readily suggested by the context, or a series of mythological comparisons: cf. Spect. 2 (five features of Nero's Rome replaced by Flavian structures), 3 (nine foreign peoples represented among the spectators at the amphitheatre), Epigr. 1. 61 (eight regions distinguished by their native authors). The same technique is employed in the Priapea: e.g. Priap. 9–10 (respectively ten and seven examples of gods associated with a specific weapon), 16 (four examples of myths in which apples play a role).3

The structure of our epigram, however, is an example of a particular type of catalogue poem, to which modern scholars have given the name 'priamel' (from Latin praeambulum, 'preamble'). This structure, comprising a 'foil' and 'climax', is particularly favoured by epigram: 'its ability to sketch a large context by means of representative parts, and to give force to its "point", gives it a kind of concision which is typical of so many epigrams ... the flexibility of the priamel for expansion and contraction makes it easily adaptable for statements from two to ten lines.'4 This is one of Martial's favourite techniques. For another example in this collection see Spect. 32 (the exploits of the bestiarius Carpophorus surpass the animal-vanquishing Labours of Hercules).

Martial characteristically uses the priamel to glorify his own poetry: cf. 1. 61 (the eight regions distinguished by their native authors are eclipsed by Martial's Bilbilis), 10. 4 (two separate series of mythological themes are listed, each eclipsed by the themes of real life in Martial's verse). In our example it is not merely Wonders that are at issue, but the praise of them: Martial employs a verb to convey aborted speech in connection with the reputation of each of the canonical Wonders named in this poem (2 iactet, 3 laudentur, 4 dissimulet, 6 laudibus inmodicis … ferant). The posture of poet-as-prophet, culminating in a χρησμός‎-style prediction (8 loquetur, future tense), is a feature of priamel: cf. Anchises' famous prediction at Virg. A. 6. 847–53:

  • excudent alii spirantia mollius aera
  • (credo equidem), uiuos ducent de marmore uultus,
  • orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
  • describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent:
  • tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
  • pg 3(hae tibi erunt artes), pacisque imponere morem,
  • parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

Thus in our epigram Fama (<*fa-, 'speak') eventually gives tongue in the last line, to speak of the Flavian amphitheatre alone: now that the amphitheatre exists, the canonical Wonders will never again be mentioned.5

Martial's most immediate antecedent is an epigram ascribed to an unspecified Antipater6 citing the temple of Artemis as the greatest of the Seven Wonders of the World. It takes the form of a priamel in which a single Wonder, or a pair, is introduced in each successive line (AP 9. 58 = GPAntip. Thess. 91):

  • Καὶ κραναᾶς Βαβυλῶνος ἐπίδρομον ἅρμασι τεῖχος
  • καὶ τὸν ἐπʼ Ἀλφειῶι Ζᾶνα κατηυγασάμαν
  • κάπων τʼ αἰώρημα καὶ Ἠελίοιο κολοσσόν
  •   καὶ μέγαν αἰπεινᾶν πυραμίδων κάματον
  • μνᾶμά τε Μαυσωλοῖο πελώριον, ἀλλʼ ὅτʼ ἐσεῖδον
  •   Ἀρτέμιδος νεφέων ἄχρι θέοντα δόμον
  • κεῖνα μὲν ἠμαύρωτο‎ †δὲ κʼ ἦν ἴδε‎† νόσφιν Ὀλύμπου
  •   Ἅλιος οὐδέν πω τοῖον ἐπηυγάσατο.

Antipater and Martial employ similar strategies: the pre-eminence that Antipater claims for the Artemision at Ephesus Martial claims for the Flavian amphitheatre at Rome. Even though Antipater's list is identical with those of Philo of Byzantium (not the engineer but the paradoxographer, probably writing in the fourth century ad) and Gregory of Nazianzus (329–89), the canon of Wonders was still flexible in Martial's day.  7 Yet, while it is natural that the whole repertoire of these exempla should yield various combinations as the standard 'Wonders of the World',8 by the second century bc the number seven (as in Antipater) seems already to have been canonical. The evidence is contained in the heading ΤΑ ΕΠΤΑ Θ[ΕΑΜΑΤΑ‎] that prefaces a list of Wonders in a second-century papyrus from Abusir-el-Melek ('Laterculi pg 4Alexandrini'); only the entries for the Artemision, the pyramids, and the Mausoleum are legible.9 The canonical status of the number is endorsed by several passages of Diodorus Siculus in the first century bc (1. 63. 2, 2. 11. 5, 18. 4. 5), and by a passage of Gellius that includes the Seven Wonders among the more trivial items in Varro's multi-volumed work, Hebdomades uel de imaginibus (NA 3. 10. 16): 'haec Varro de numero septenario scripsit admodum conquisite. sed alia quoque ibidem congerit frigidiuscula: ueluti septem opera esse in orbe terrae miranda et sapientes item ueteres septem fuisse et curricula ludorum circensium sollemnia septem esse et ad oppugnandas Thebas duces septem delectos.' A graffito by a gladiator's fan at Pompeii attests the canonical number of Wonders as a cliché of contemporary popular culture (CIL iv. 1111): 'omnia munera uicisti, τῶν ἑπτὰ θεαμάτων ἐστί‎.'

Hence the question, how many Wonders are included in Martial's list? When Wonders of the World are cited for their transience, e.g. by poets claiming immortality for their work, a selection suffices: for Propertius the pyramids, the temple of Zeus at Olympia, and the Mausoleum (3. 2. 19–22); for Horace the standard example of the pyramids alone (O. 3. 30. 1–2). But when a new candidate is being submitted for designation as a Wonder of the World, the number seven is a determining factor, so that the choice is between substituting the new candidate for the seventh Wonder or adding it as an eighth. Hence it seems likely that in this epigram Martial intends Babylon (2) to represent both the Wonders associated with it (i.e. the walls and the hanging gardens), so that the Flavian amphitheatre can qualify as the seventh Wonder, leading to the punch-line that its pre-eminence renders the other Wonders superfluous (8).10 The same dialectic is employed in an anonymous Byzantine epigram on the 'Bronze Gate' at the palace of the emperor Anastasius (491–518), which is said to surpass the 'Capitolian hall', the 'grove of Rufinus' at Pergamum, the temple of Hadrian at Cyzicus, the pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Pharos at Alexandria (AP 9. 656).

To reinforce the comparison, Martial limits his list exclusively to the category represented by the Flavian amphitheatre, i.e. buildings; statues are excluded.11 If Babylon is meant to stand for the hanging gardens as well as the city-walls, this structural criterion still operates, since the term to describe the pg 5gardens, horti pensiles (Curt. 5. 1. 32, Diod. 2. 10. 1 ὁ κρεμαστὸς καλούμενος κῆπος‎), implies artificial supporting structures on the scale of a building (see on l. 2 'Babylona'). Furthermore, a dual reference in Babylon would establish an exact balance in the progression from barbarity (1–2: three examples), via the Greek world (3–6: three examples), to Rome (7–8). Rome is the only location left unspecified, which reinforces the sense of a natural progression to the obvious centre of the universe. A further embellishment to Martial's list is the alternation between proper names and common nouns as subject: Memphis (1), labor (2), Iones (3), ara (4), Cares (6), labor (7).

Detailed discussion: Weinreich (1928: 1–20), Carratello (1965b: 302–4), Ivo (1966–72)

1. Barbara … Memphis: Memphis and the Nile were the two topographical locations by which the pyramids at Giza were identified in Antiquity (Plin. NH 36. 76). Memphis (now Mit Rahina and Saqqara) was the capital of Pharaonic Egypt, and remained important under Ptolemaic and Roman rule: see D. Thompson (1988). Its epithet barbara here contrasts it implicitly with Greek Alexandria. No fixed hierarchy of Wonders is evident from the ancient sources, and so Weinreich (1928: 3 n. 7) suggests that Martial puts the pyramids first because of their prominent exemplary function in Horace's claim to literary immortality (O. 3. 30. 2).

pyramidum … miracula: for miraculum of something man-made, accompanied by the definition in the genitive, cf. Mart. 8. 36. 1 'regia pyramidum, Caesar, miracula ride', Liv. 41. 11. 3–4 'amnem … auertit. ea res barbaros miraculo terruit abscisae aquae', Plin. NH 1. 36. 24 'Romae miracula operum XVIII', TLL viii. 1054. 70–81 (Bulhart). septem miracula was the standard locution for the 'Seven Wonders of the World': cf. Val. Max. 4. 6 ext. 1 '(Mausolei) usque ad septem miracula prouecti', Mela 1. 85 'Mausoleum … unum de miraculis septem', Plin. NH 36. 30 (Mausoleum) 'opus id ut esset inter septem miracula', Amm. 22. 15. 28 'pyramides ad miracula septem prouectae'.

In the Graeco-Roman world the pyramids were regarded as an astounding if pointless feat, the monumental stone structure par excellence: cf. Plin. NH 36. 75 'regum pecuniae otiosa ac stulta ostentatio'. They were cited as a standard of comparison for the aqueducts of Rome, to the indignation of Frontinus, who regarded the analogy as a slight upon the practical value of aqueducts (Aqu. 16): 'tot aquarum tam multis necessariis molibus pyramidas uidelicet otiosas conpares aut cetera inertia set fama celebrata opera Graecorum.' In late Antiquity Philo of Byzantium expresses his awe with a suitably rhetorical flourish (De septem miraculis 2): τὰς ἐν Μέμφει πυραμίδες κατασκενάσαι μὲν ἀδύνατον, ίστορῆσαι δὲ παράδοξον ... τὰ μεγέθη τῶν τετραπέδων κύβων δυσεπινόητον ἔχει τὴν ἀναγωγήν, ἑκάστου διαποροῦντος τίσι βίαις τὰ‎ pg 6τηλικαῦτα βάρη τῶν ἔργων ἐμοχλεύθη‎. For the status of the pyramids in Graeco-Roman thought see Clayton (1988), Brodersen (2004: 21–34).

sileat: tacere is also attested—if rarely—with a direct object in the sense 'pass over in silence', but silere is the stronger word. Our passage is the inversion of the encomiastic topos neque te silebo famous from Hor. O. 1. 12. 21–2 'proeliis audax, neque te silebo, | Liber'. Cf. also Virg. A. 10. 792–3 (to Lausus)' si qua fidem tanto est operi latura uetustas, | non equidem nec te, iuuenis memorande, silebo', Liv. 27. 10. 7 (legates of eighteen Latin colonies loyal to Rome brought before the consuls in 209 bc) 'ut … recens etiam meritum eorum in rem publicam commemorarent, ne nunc quidem post tot saecula sileantur fraudenturue laude sua'. This topos is combined with the motif of 'ranking equal to the best' at Aus. Mos. 115–17 (the perch in the Moselle is as good as salt-water fish and mullet) 'nec te, delicias mensarum, perca, silebo, | amnigenas inter pisces dignande marinis, | solus puniceis facilis contendere mullis.' The reputation of the pyramids, by implication, is eclipsed by a greater Wonder.

2. Assyrius iactet ... labor: the term Assyria is used to designate different areas at different times. In the time of Herodotus it was applied to two adjacent regions: one in western Anatolia stretching as far as the Black Sea near Sinope, and the other in the Upper Tigris valley between the mountains and Ashur (Assur). By the fourth century bc the term (As)syria was the general word to describe the Aramaic-speaking areas of Mesopotamia, including the region earlier known as Babylonia: see Dalley (1994: 47), with further references. This is the general sense of the term in the Roman period also: apart from its formal use as the name of the short-lived Trajanic province and its extended uses to designate Syria and Parthia, Assyria in Latin is a general designation for the area around Babylon, together with the old Achaemenid kingdom of Assyria in the Upper Tigris region: cf. Luc. 8. 300 'murisque superbam Assyrias, Babylona, domos', Prud. Contra Symmachum 2. 550 'Assyriaeque uehi Babylonis ad arcem'.

Assyrius ... labor is a metrical periphrasis for Assyrii ... laboriosi. For a comparable personification with iacto cf. Pan. Lat. 2(12). 17. 1 'eat nunc sui ostentatrix uetustas et illa innumeris litterarum uulgata monimentis iactet exempla.'

Babylona: for the argument that Babylon here signifies two Wonders, i.e. both the double set of walls and the hanging gardens, see Introduction, above. The outer wall built by Nebuchadnezzar II (605–562 bc) was wide enough for a four-horse chariot to turn around between the buildings lining the edge on each side (Hdt. 1. 179. 3); in Philo of Byzantium this statistic is inflated to four chariots travelling abreast. On the qualifications of the walls for the status of a Wonder see Brodersen (2004: 35–46).

pg 7The hanging gardens, popularly attributed to King Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century bc, have long eluded identification. They are nowhere mentioned in the copious written sources from Nebuchadnezzar's reign, and excavations at the site of Babylon have revealed no traces of the vaulted structures and extensive irrigation system required to support them. They are frequently mentioned in Greek and Latin sources, although they are unaccountably absent from some descriptions of Babylon, notably in Herodotus, Xenophon's Cyropaedia, and the elder Pliny, who, although listing the gardens as one of the Wonders, does not mention them in his account of Babylon itself (NH 6. 123). A remarkable tour de force of scholarly detective-work by an Assyriologist has now identified them with the gardens built by Sennacherib at Nineveh on the Tigris near Mosul, which seems briefly to have been known as 'Old Babylon'; these gardens are depicted in a relief sculpture from the palace of Assurbanipal, and an inscription of Sennacherib struggles to describe in metaphorical terms the hydraulic system that he had invented for watering them (from which it appears that he anticipated the invention of the device known—unfairly, it now seems—as 'Archimedes' Screw'): see Dalley (1994: 51–8, 2002), and for an accessible and well-illustrated summary see Dalley (2006).

3. Triuiae templo: Artemis was identified with the trimorphic Hecate, who derived her epithet Τριοδῖτις‎ (Lat. Triuia) from shrines erected to her at crossroads. Triuia is first attested in a fragment of the tragedies of Ennius (363 Jocelyn = Varr. LL 7. 16), and thereafter remains confined to verse. The ancient identification of the Roman Diana as Artemis accommodates the epithet 'Triuiae' here to replace 'Dianae', which would be metrically intractable in this position. Ephesus, founded by Ionian colonists, became one of the most gorgeous cities of Asia Minor, and the city's international fame as temple-warden of Artemis is famously adduced by the grammateus who succeeded in quelling the riot caused by St Paul (Acts 19: 35): τίς γάρ ἐστιν ἀνθρώπων ὅς οὐ γινώσκει τὴν Ἐφεσίων πόλιν νεωκόρον οὖσαν τῆς μεγάλης Ἀρτέμιδος καὶ τοῦ διοπετοῦς‎; The ancient literary testimonies to the splendour of the Artemision (especially Vitr. 2. 3. 7, 10. 2. 11–12, Strab. 14. 1. 21–2) are discussed in the context of the excavated remnants by Bammer–Muss (1996). For the temple as a World-Wonder see Trell (1988), Brodersen (2004: 70–7).

An ablative of cause is common with laudare from the time of Cicero onwards: cf. Cic. Phil. 2. 69 (of Antony) 'neque rebus externis magis laudandus quam institutis domesticis', Plin. NH 7. 125 'laudatus est et Chersiphron Gnosius aede Ephesi Dianae admirabili fabricata', TLL vii/2. 1045. 19–33 (von Kamptz).

molles ... Iones: Ionia was properly the central area of the west coast of Asia Minor between the Hermos and the Cayster. It remained a conceptual pg 8entity for the Romans, even if it did not correspond to a political or administrative unit: cf. Prop. 1. 6. 31–4 'at tu seu mollis qua tendit Ionia, seu qua | Lydia Pactoli tingit arata liquor; | seu pedibus terras seu pontum carpere remis | ibis, et accepti pars eris imperii.' The Ionians were first characterized as unmanly (άσθενής,‎ 'weak') by their Athenian overlords in the fifth century bc: cf. Hdt. 1. 143. 2 πολλῷ δὴ ἦν ἀσθενέστατατον τῶν ἐθνέων τὸ ʼΙωνικὸν καὶ λόγον ἐλαχίστον‎, Thuc. 5. 9. 1, 6. 77, 8. 25. 3. Their proverbial love of luxury was often interpreted as effeminate, as in Aristophanes' characterization of Ibycus, Anacreon, and Alcaeus wearing fancy Persian hats and wiggling their behinds ʼΙωνικῶς‎ (Thesm. 163, with Sommerstein's n.). Yet the Μαραθωνομάχαι‎, while claiming the badge of αὐτόχθονες‎ (Aristophanes' τεττιγοφόραι‎: Eq. 1331), displayed an Aeschylean zest for pederasty and were captivated by μέλη ἀρχαιομελισιδωνοφρυνιχήρατα‎ (Aristoph. Vesp. 220), even though the proverb πάλαι ποτʼ ἦσαν ἄλκιμοι Μιλήσιοι‎ was already doing the rounds (Anacr. PMG 426, Aristoph. Plut. 1002).

The Romans, in their turn, included the Ionians among those eastern peoples (typically the Arabs) who were believed to have become 'soft' because of excessive luxury: cf. TLL viii. 1369. 72–1370. 25 (Buchwald). The use of mollis here corresponds to μαλακός‎, i.e. not merely lacking in physical strength (ἀσθενής‎ but morally decadent. The Romans particularly associated the Ionians with the effeminate dancing of the cinaedi: cf. Plaut. Pers. 825–6 (discussing the dance called staticulus) 'me quoque uolo | reddere Diodorus quem olim faciebat in Ionia', Pseud. 1274–5a 'ad hunc me modum intuli illis sati' facete | nimis ex discipulina, quippe ego qui | probe Ionica perdidici. sed palliolatim amictus | sic haec incessi ludibundus', Stich. 769 'qui Ionicus aut cinaedicus<t>, qui hoc tale facere possiet?' On the effeminate gestures and costume of these dancers see Jocelyn (1999: 109–12), and for the identification of κίναιδοι‎ with μαλακοί‎ on Egyptian papyri, both of them types of mime artist performing to musical accompaniment, see Perpillou-Thomas (1995: 228–9).

4. dissimulet: equivalent to sileat: the altar will 'hide' Delos' reputation in the sense of ceasing to represent its claim to fame (specifically, the claim to be the site of one of the Wonders of the World): cf. Ov. Tr. 2. 467–8 (after mentioning by name Tibullus and Propertius, now dead) 'his ego successi, quoniam praestantia candor | nomina uiuorum dissimulare iubet', TLL v/1. 1483. 25–8 (Bannier).

Delon: Gronovius' correction restores the specificity of a name to this line, just as in all the rest of the first six. This instance perfectly exemplifies the case of difficilior lectio potior, where the lectio difficilior is corrupt and the lectio facilior an interpolation: cf. Manil. 1. 422–3 'tum di quoque magnos | quaesiuere deos; eguit Ioue (Housman 1903, esurcione M, dubitauit cett.) Iuppiter ipse'.

pg 9cornibus ara frequens: the Altar of Horn on the island of Delos is called one of the Seven Wonders of the World by Martial's contemporary, Plutarch (Mor. 983 e: cit. below), and by the anonymous author of the compendium De incredibilibus in Excerpta Vaticana 2 Τὰ ἑπτά θεάματα‎ = Mythographi Graeci 3. 2 ed. N. Festa (Leipzig, 1902), who lists it in third place: ὁ ἐν Δήλῳ κεράτινος βωμός, ὃς λέγεται γενέσθαι ἐκ θυμάτων τοῦ θεοῦ μιᾶς ἡμέρας δεξιῶν κεράτων‎. The altar and the palm-tree were the only tourist attractions that Ovid's Cydippe could remember seeing at Delos (Her. 21. 99–102): 'miror et innumeris structam de cornibus aram | et te (Palmer: de codd.), qua pariens arbore nixa dea est, | et quae praeterea (neque enim meminiue libetue | quicquid ibi uidi dicere) Delos habet.'

It is hard to find an exact parallel for cornibus ... frequens, 'consisting of a mass of horns'. frequens conveys closely packed abundance, both natural and artificial: cf. Ov. Her. 16. 53–4 'est locus in mediae nemorosis uallibus Idae | deuius et piceis ilicibusque frequens', Liv. 1. 9. 9 'frequentem tectis urbem', TLL vi/1. 1299. 11–40 (U. Leo). The phrase seems to be the metrically appropriate equivalent of the poetic use of densus with the ablative especially favoured by Ovid: cf. Ov. Am. 3. 6. 14 (Medusa) 'terribili densum ... angue caput', Met. 12. 247 (a candelabrum) 'lampadibus densum ... funale', TLL v/1. 546. 68–83 (Jachmann). Hence it graphically evokes a structure displaying horns all over. Apollo is said to have 'plaited' the altar out of goats' horns: cf. Callim. Hymn 2. 60–1 ʼʹΑρτεμις ἀγρώσσουσα καρήατα συνεχές αἰγῶν | Κυνθιάδων φορέεσκεν, ὁ δʼ ἔπλεκε βωμὸν Ἀπόλλων‎. An interlaced structure composed entirely of horn is also suggested by the analogy that Plutarch draws with the halcyon's nest (Mor. 983 e = Soll. Anim. 35): οἶμαι μὲν οὖν μηδένʼ ὑμῶν ἀθέατον εἶναι τῆς νεοττιᾶς … τὸν κεράτινον βωμὸν εἶδον ἐν τοῖς ἑπτὰ καλουμένοις θεάμασιν ὑμνούμενον, ὅτι μήτε κόλλης δεόμενος μήτε τινὸς ἄλλου δεσμοῦ διὰ μόνων τῶν δεξιῶν συμπέπηγε καὶ συνήρμοσται κεράτων.‎ (Elsewhere Plutarch records the horns as coming from the left side of the goats' heads: Thes. 21. 2.) For the metaphor of the altar as a piece of weaving see F. J. Williams on Callim. Hymn 2. 63.

5. aëre ... uacuo pendentia Mausolea: this was at Halicarnassus, the tomb of the satrap Mausolus of Caria (reigned 377–353 bc), who probably began building it himself after he refounded the city in 367 bc. It was eventually finished after the death of his wife Artemisia in 351; in the ancient sources she is credited with its construction (cf. Strab. 14. 2. 16). The stone was plundered in the fifteenth century by the Knights of Rhodes, but ancient descriptions (chiefly Plin. NH 36. 30–1) have been endorsed or corrected by excavations revealing the foundations and some of the sculptural decoration. The tomb-chamber was lodged inside a high podium (30 × 36 m). Flights of steps densely decorated with sculpture led up to it. On top was a colonnade of pg 1036 Ionic columns and a pyramid of 24 steps. The summit was decorated with a chariot-group, and the total height was 47.2 m. Its architect, Pythius of Priene, collaborated with the court sculptor Satyrus to write a book about it (cf. Vitr. De arch. 7 praef. 12). For a meticulous analysis of the surviving literary, epigraphic, and archaeological record see Hornblower (1982: 223–74). On the Mausoleum as a World-Wonder see Waywell (1988), Brodersen (2004: 78–83).

The phrase 'aëre uacuo pendentia' must refer to the building's remarkable height, which gave the impression that it was poised in mid-air. For the use of pendeo to describe animate or inanimate items projecting into the air from ground-level see TLL x/1. 1036. 5–34 (Reinecke). A close parallel to Martial's usage occurs in the description of a towering structure (also a mausoleum) in the longest extant verse-epitaph in Latin, from Cillium (modern Kasserine, in Tunisia), dating from the second century ad: CLE 1552 = Courtney (1995), no. 199A. It is inscribed on a large mausoleum consisting of a podium with four steps that supports three storeys topped by a weather-cock. Cf. ll. 47–8 'et licet atsidue probet hos uaga turba d[e]cores, | lucentes stupeat pariter pendere columnas' ('and the crowd passing by can continually applaud these adornments and be amazed at the matching columns which gleam overhead', trans. Courtney).

The phrase 'empty air' in connection with elevation above the terrestrial plane or a physical obstacle is almost a cliché: cf. Spect. 13. 5 'deprendat uacuo uenator in aëre praedam', Hor. O. 1. 3. 34 'expertus uacuum Daedalus aëra', Virg. G. 3. 108–9 'iamque humiles iamque elati sublime uidentur | aëra per uacuum ferri atque adsurgere in auras.'

6. laudibus immodicis: the Carians' local pride confers on the Mausoleum praise that is immodicus, 'excessive', by comparison with the acclaim owing to the Flavians' truly remarkable amphitheatre. Literally 'exceeding the norm', immodicus possesses the transferred sense 'out of control', usually with pejorative overtones: cf. Liv. 31. 15. 6 (the Athenian assembly backs Attalus and the Rhodians against Philip in 200 bc) 'honores regi primum Attalo immodici, deinde et Rhodiis habiti', TLL vii/1. 485. 80–486. 38 (Brink).

in astra ferant: the stars represent height and immortal brilliance, hence the metaphor 'convey to the stars' to express the notion of conferring praise: see Otto (1890: §289 s. v. caelum 10). The basic phrase in caelum ferre/tollere is common in prose, including the less formal registers: cf. Cic. Att. 7. 15 'omnia, quae etiam tu in caelum ferebas'. In this idiom caelum is frequently replaced by words for the heavenly bodies. Although sidus, 'constellation' (frequently plural), is in itself common in more formal prose and in verse, its combination with this particular phrase is a verse usage: cf. Virg. E. 9. 27–9 'tuum nomen ... cantantes sublime ferent ad sidera cycni.' astra, 'stars', 'bodies pg 11strewn through the sky' (cf. sterno), belongs in verse and more elevated prose: cf. Virg. E. 5. 51–2 'Daphninque tuum tollemus ad astra; | Daphnin ad astra feremus'. stella, perhaps also related to sterno, occurs in both prose and verse, but is not regularly employed in this idiom.

7. Caesareo ... amphitheatro: at the time of its inauguration, the Flavian amphitheatre was the only amphitheatre in Rome; hence it may have been known simply as 'amphitheatrum' (see General Introduction, Section 7). The word amphitheatrum, being a prosaic formation from the Greek roots ἀμφί‎ and θέατρον‎,12 is not attested in verse authors except Martial, i.e. it is restricted to epigram: cf. Spect. 2. 5, 34. 9, Epigr. 9. 68. 7.

The adjective Caesareus, first found at Ov. F. 1. 282 'numine Caesareo', is attested exclusively in verse: see TLL Onomasticon, ii. 39. 63–40. 6 (Otto). (This word is to be distinguished from Caesarēus = Καισάρειος‎, which has a long penultimate syllable: cf. cities called Caesarēa and shrines called Caesarēum, TLL Onomasticon, ii. 40. 7–43, 41. 18–42. 72.) Adjectives in -eus, originally coined from nouns denoting material (e.g. aureus), are extended by analogy with Greek nouns of the type Νεστόρεος‎ to turn Latin names into adjectives denoting possession: see H–Sz 186–7, Leumann (1959: 148 = 1980: 163–4). Hence Caesareus here characterizes the amphitheatre as the gift of the emperor.

Statius uses the same epithet to describe the magnificent bridge against which he envisages the river-god Volturnus leaning (Silu. 4. 3. 69–70): 'maximoque | pontis Caesarei reclinis arcu'. This literary motif reflects reality: public buildings in the Roman world demonstrated the liberalitas of their sponsors, and were regarded as a personal benefaction; hence they are a key feature on the panegyrist's agenda: see Kloft (1970: 115–17). As sponsor par excellence, the emperor was commonly viewed by his subjects as directly responsible for improvements to their environment: see Nutton (1978). Hence the relationship between building and benefactor is naturally expressed in proprietorial terms. For the crucial insertion of the initial 'T' in the dedicatory inscription, whereby Titus wrested credit for the construction from his father, see General Introduction, Section 7.

cedit: the panegyric topos of pre-eminence is commonly expressed as affirmation of the lesser element giving way to the greater, or negation of the reverse: cf. Cic. Fam. 6. 18. 5 'domus est, quae nulli mearum uillarum cedat'. For this topos with inanimate subjects see TLL iii. 729. 69–730. 15 (Bannier). The motif is common in Martial: cf. 4. 55. 1–3 (the eloquence of the Spanish orator Licinianus does not allow the R. Tagus to give way to Cicero's Arpinum), 7. 28. 3–4 (Fuscus' olives are not to give way to the presses pg 12of Tartessus), 8. 28. 13–14 (the swan, the dove, and the pearl will give way to Parthenius' outstandingly white toga). An encomiast frequently demonstrates his belief in the excellence of his subject's achievements by expressing this idea as a wish or an exhortation (as with Martial's estimation of Fuscus' olives, above): cf. Stat. Silu. 3. 1. 142–3 (affirming the superiority of the games that Pollius Felix celebrated to mark the completion of his new shrine to Hercules) 'cedat lacrimabilis Isthmos, | cedat atrox Nemee', with van Dam's note on Silu. 2. 2. 60–2. By contrast, Martial's use of the indicative here presents the pre-eminence of the amphitheatre as a self-evident fact.

labor: by metonymy for the result of the effort expended; with reference to buildings (e.g. the walls of Troy) cf. Sen. Tro. 6–7 'columen euersum occidit | pollentis Asiae, caelitum egregius labor', Stat. Silu. 3. 1. 115–16 'Amphioniae ... arces | Pergameusue labor', TLL vii/2. 795. 26–34 (Lumpe). The formulation and the thought are closely paralleled at Mart. 8. 36. 1–3 (the achievement of the pyramids is eclipsed by the Domus Flavia) 'regia pyramidum, Caesar, miracula ride; | iam tacet Eoum barbara Memphis opus: | pars quota Parrhasiae labor est Mareoticus aulae?'

8. unum pro cunctis Fama loquetur opus: after the statement of the pre-eminence accorded to the amphitheatre, Martial predicts its reputation for posterity. The position of unum is emphatic: one unique World-Wonder now replaces the former canon ('pro cunctis'). For the contrast unus/cuncti (one versus the rest) cf. Plin. NH 2. 25 'ceteris quippe animantium sola uictus cura est, in quo sponte naturae benignitas sufficit, uno quidem uel praeferendo cunctis bonis, quod de gloria, de pecunia, ambitione superque de morte non cogitant', 7. 121 'pietatis exempla infinita quidem toto orbe extitere, sed Romae unum, cui comparari cuncta non possint', Stat. Silu. 2. 2. 83 (the tallest and most important room in Pollius Felix' villa) 'una tamen cunctis procul eminet una diaetis', TLL iv. 1400. 38–50 (Wulff).

A verb of unequivocal utterance (loquetur) contrasts with the silence and concealment conveyed by the verbal phrases in the first three couplets (sileat, iactet nec, nec ... laudentur, dissimulet, nec ... laudibus immodicis ... ferant): see Ivo (1966–72: 350). For loquor governing a noun that corresponds to the theme of the utterance see TLL vii/2. 1666. 23–1667. 4 (Plepelits). For the sense of 'proclaim and not allow to be forgotten' cf. Ciris 40–1 'aeterno ut sophiae coniunctum carmine nomen | nostra tuum senibus loqueretur pagina saeclis' with Lyne's note, [Sen.] HO 206 'uolucremque Iolen fama loquetur'. This is an appropriate climax to the programmatic poem in a collection that will itself help to construct a posterity for its subject by endowing it with literary immortality: cf. 5. 25. 5 'quem chartis famaeque damus populisque loquendum?'

Is it the deity Fama herself who will advertise the fame of the amphitheatre (so Weinreich 1928: 5), or simply a weak personification of fama? Sometimes pg 13the decision to employ a capital letter is straightforward: if Heinsius' conjecture at Spect. 19. 3 is correct, the apostrophe determines a strong personification. At other times, the choice is determined by the context: the personification is strongly felt at 1. 25. 5 (to Faustinus, hesitant about publication) 'ante fores stantem dubitas admittere Famam', 7. 6. 3–4 (assessing a rumour that Domitian is about to return from the northern frontier) 'certus abest auctor, sed uox hoc nuntiat omnis: | credo tibi, uerum dicere, Fama, soles', with Galán Vioque's n. In our passage the encomiastic context suggests that a deity is appropriate; as Hesiod says, the words of the many are a goddess (Works and Days 763–4 φήμη … θεός νύ τίς ἐστι καὶ αὐτή‎).

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 For the question whether all three poems were composed for the inauguration see General Introduction, Section 6.
Editor’s Note
2 Weinreich (1928: 1).
Editor’s Note
3 Siedschlag (1977: 42–3).
Editor’s Note
4 Race (1982: 109). Ivo (1966–72: 349) comments on the oppositional principle that structures this epigram in two unequal parts (three couplets + one), without explicitly identifying it as a priamel.
Editor’s Note
5 For priamel in Martial see Race (1982: 153–6).
Editor’s Note
6 Either Antipater of Sidon (fl. 2nd c. bc) or Antipater of Thessalonica (Augustan): for the difficulty of attributing the epigrams correctly, and the grounds for attributing this epigram to the Antipater who came from Thessalonica, see Gow–Page, GP ii. 20–1.
Editor’s Note
7 Roscher (1906: 188–9) tabulates the distribution of a total of twenty-two candidates attested in eighteen wonder-lists, eight complete and ten incomplete. (He does not include this epigram of Martial.)
Editor’s Note
8 Martial often cites individual examples as bywords for excellence in their various categories. These canonical exempla can either be used for encomiastic purposes (e.g. Nero's colossal statue, transformed by Vespasian into the Sun, surpasses the Colossus of Rhodes: 1. 70. 7–8) or as tools of ridicule and parody (e.g. an epitaph for a matron who was uniuira pronounces its slab worthy of the Mausoleum or the pyramids—and finally claims that it knew only one mentula: 10. 63. 1–2, 8).
Editor’s Note
9 Diels (1904). This evidence was unknown to Roscher.
Editor’s Note
10 Weinreich (1928: 7).
Editor’s Note
11 Weinreich (1928: 7) suggests that a work of art on the island associated with Helios (the Colossus of Rhodes) is replaced by a building on the island associated with Apollo (the altar of Delos), and a work of art representing Zeus (the statue at Olympia) is replaced by a building (the Flavian amphitheatre) that is associated with Palatine Jupiter, i.e. the emperor. This would certainly work for Domitian, who is known to have associated himself with Jupiter; but, if the opening trio of poems do indeed celebrate the inauguration, the inference could be intended to flatter Titus even without official encouragement of the synkrisis.
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