Christer Henriksen (ed.), A Commentary on Martial, Epigrams Book 9

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Editor’s Note35

  • Editor’s Note1        Artibus his semper cenam, Philomuse, mereris,
  • 2           plurima dum fingis, sed quasi vera refers.
  • Editor’s Note Link 3        Scis, quid in Arsacia Pacorus deliberet aula,
  • Editor’s Note Link 4           Rhenanam numeras Sarmaticamque manum,
  • Editor’s Note Link 5        verba ducis Daci chartis mandata resignas,
  • Editor’s Note6           victricem laurum quam venit ante vides,
  • Editor’s Note Link 7        scis, quotiens Phario madeat Iove fusca Syene,
  • Editor’s Note Link 8           scis, quota de Libyco litore puppis eat,
  • Editor’s Note9        cuius Iuleae capiti nascantur olivae,
  • Editor’s Note Link 10           destinet aetherius cui sua serta pater.
  • Editor’s Note11        Tolle tuas artes; hodie cenabis apud me
  • 12           hac lege, ut narres nil, Philomuse, novi.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
Philomusus the dinner-hunter (cf. 9. 14 introd.) tries to get dinner invitations by always being able to give details of the latest news in matters of lesser or greater importance to the Roman public. He knows the current situation on the unsettled frontiers of the empire, where Parthians, Chatti, Sarmatians, and Dacians pose a constant threat; he knows the quality of the African harvests, of vital importance to the corn supply of Rome herself; but he is also capable of more down-to-earth gossip, such as which lucky poet is going to win the golden olive-wreath at the Alban games and whom Jupiter is going to crown with the oak of the agon Capitolinus. There is only one snag in it: Philomusus is making it all up. In spite of this knowledge, the speaker of this poem is willing to invite him, but, like Catullus to Fabullus in Carm. 13, he dictates certain terms for the invitation, not, however, that Philomusus must bring something along to the dinner, but that he must leave his gossip at home.
The basis for this poem are pieces in which a poet invites a person of superior social standing to a humble dinner. Often quoted is Philodemus' invitation to L. Calpurnius Piso (the consul of 58 bc) in AP 11.44: Αὔριον εἰς λιτήν σε καλιάδα‎, φίλτατε Πείσων‎, | ἐξ ἐνάτης ἕλκει μουσοφιλὴς ἕταρος‎ | εἰκάδα δειπνίζων ἐνιαύσιον‎· εἰ δ‎ʼ ἀπολείψῃς‎ | οὔθατα καὶ Βρομίου χιογενῆ πρόποσιν‎, | ἀλλ‎ʼ ἑτάρους ὄψει παναληθἐας‎, ἀλλ‎ʼ ἐπακούσῃ‎ | Φαιήκων γαίης πουλὺ μελιχρότερα‎· | ἢν δέ ποτε οτρέψῃς καὶ ἐς ἡμέας ὄμματα‎, Πείσων‎, | ἄξομεν ἐκ λιτῆς εἰκάδα πιοτέρην‎.1
It is evident that Martial wants to draw a parallel to Philodemus' poem here by naming the protagonist Philomusus, a Latin transcription of the Greek φιλόμουσος‎ ('loving the Muses'), an inverted variant of the adjective μουσοφιλής‎ that Philodemus uses to style himself in his poem to Piso. This makes it possible to read the present poem as a reply to Philodemus' poem to Piso and perhaps as a crack at the typified Greek flatterer poet in general (compare the introduction to 9. 40 below).
Poetical dinner-invitations, more or less serious, are found in Hor. Carm. 1. 20 (see Nisbet–Hubbard's introduction to the poem), 3. 29 (both to Maecenas), 4. 12 (to Vergil), and Ep. 1.5 (to Torquatus). Martial's version of a more conventional invitation-poem is found in 11. 52 (also with direct allusion to Catullus in line 1: cenabis belle, Iuli Cerialis, apud me).
Editor’s Note
1 'To-morrow, dearest Piso, your friend, beloved by the Muses, who keeps our annual feast of the twentieth invites you to come after the ninth hour to his simple cottage. If you miss udders and draughts of Chian wine, you will see at least sincere friends and you will hear things far sweeter than the land of the Phaeacians. But if you ever cast your eyes on me, Piso, we shall celebrate the twentieth richly instead of simply' (W. R. Paton's trans., Loeb).
Editor’s Note
1. Philomuse: this name, which appears also in 3. 10, 7. 76, and 11. 63, was common as a slave's name (and consequently also as a cognomen of liberti; Solin 1996: 234 counts 71 instances recorded in Rome), but has been chosen here as an allusion to AP 11. 44; see above.
Editor’s Note
mereris: not 'deserve', but 'get together, receive (as one's wage)', as in 10. 74. 4 centum merebor plumbeos die toto; see TLL, s.v. mereo 802, 55 ff., OLD, s.v. 1.
Editor’s Note
3. Scis, quid: the similarity to Ovid's description of the skilled hunter in Ars 1. 45 (scit bene venator, cervis ubi retia tendat) may or may not be a mere coincidence; still, Philomusus is a crafty hunter too in his own way.
Editor’s Note
Pacorus: successor, together with Vologaeses II, of Vologaeses I, king of the Parthians, who may have been Pacorus' father (see Miller in RE xviii. s.v. Pakoros 3, 2438). Domitian did not make contact with him in terms of regular warfare, but, as king, Pacorus played a prominent part in the Parthians' support of the third false Nero, who appeared in the East about 88, when the main efforts of the Romans were directed against the Dacians. Pacorus was thus able to support the pretender at little or no risk, before unwillingly giving him up to Rome; cf. Suet. Nero 57. 2 and see Jones 1993: 157–8.
Editor’s Note
Arsacia … aula: 'in the Parthian palace'; cf. note on 9. 11. 8. The adjective Arsacius (ʼΑρσάκιος‎), derived from the founder of the Parthian kingdom Arsaces (ʼΑρσάκιος‎), does not appear in Latin prior to the present instance (which is also the only occurrence in Martial); the TLL, s.v. Arsacius 674, 30, records three more instances, but from the fifth century (Claud. IV. Con. Hon. 216, in Eutr. 1. 415, and Sid. Carm. 2. 450).
Editor’s Note
4. Rhenanam … manum: the Chatti, on whom see Introduction, 3.2.1. The adjective Rhenanus is ἅπαξ λεγόμενον‎; cf., however, transrhenanus, which is found in Caesar and Pliny and which is particularly frequent in Tacitus, with nine instances in the Histories and one in the Annals. Caesar also has one instance of cisrhenanus (Gal. 6. 2. 3).
Editor’s Note
Sarmaticamque: the Indo-European Sarmatians roamed, during the greater part of antiquity, over the region from Hungary to the lower Volga. As their western branch, the Iazyges and Roxolani, gradually moved westwards, they came to pose a real threat to Rome on the Danube (cf. Ovid's references to these tribes and their crossing of the Danube in Tr. 3. 10. 33–4, 3. 12. 29–30, Pont. 4. 7. 9–10), and various steps were taken to control them. Vespasian put much effort into strengthening the defences on the Danube, a policy which was continued by Domitian right from the beginning of his reign.2 However, in 92, Domitian was forced into military conflict with the Sarmatians, when they joined the German Suebi in the Second Pannonian War. There is also evidence of substantial concentrations of troops in Pannonia and Upper Moesia towards the end of Domitian' reign, presumably as the Sarmatians had again teamed up with the Germans to confront Rome; see further Introduction, 3.2.2.
Editor’s Note
2 Jones 1993: 135 ff.
Editor’s Note
5. verba … chartis mandata resignas: Philomusus displays such intimate knowledge of the doings of faraway kings that he could only have gained it by having a look into their secret correspondence, naturally an absurd statement. By divulging it, he metaphorically unseals the secrets entrusted to letters.
Editor’s Note
ducis Daci: the Dacian king Decebalus, with whom the Romans made contact during Domitian's First Dacian War, launched because of the Dacians' crossing of the Danube under Decebalus' predecessor Diurpaneus in the winter of 84–5 and their attack on the Romans in Moesia, in which the governor Oppius Sabinus was killed. Accompanied by his praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus, Domitian moved to the area, but the repulse of the Dacians was complicated by the appearance of the new king Decebalus, who, like his predecessor Burbista in the time of Sulla and Caesar, had apparently succeeded in uniting the Dacians (who normally lived scattered through several principalities) under one ruler. However, Fuscus managed to force the Dacians back across the Danube, but then, in the first half of 86, decided to avenge Sabinus' death by invading Dacia, with disastrous results. In the late summer, Domitian again left Rome for the Danube, but returned only a couple of months later, having strengthened the defences of Moesia with three additional legions; the real revenge for the destruction of Fuscus was not to come until the defeat of the Dacians at Tapae by Tettius Iulianus in late 88. Domitian came to terms with Decebalus at the beginning of the First Pannonian War in 89, and, after that, he was to cause him no more trouble (see Jones 1993: 138–9, 141 ff., and 150; Brandis in RE iv. s.v. Dacia 1960; ibid. s.v. Decebalus 2250; cf. 9. 101. 17 note).
Editor’s Note
6. victricem laurum: the message of victory (lauratae litterae or tabellae), which was sent by the commander to the emperor, was wrapped in a branch of laurel; cf. 7. 5. 3–4 Invidet hosti | Roma suo, veniat laurea multa licet, Ov. Am. 1. 11. 25–6 non ego victrices lauro redimire tabellas | nec Veneris media ponere in aede morer. The messenger with such litterae was distinguished by carrying a laurel on the head of his spear; cf. 7. 6. 5–6 Publica victrices testantur gaudia chartae, | Martia laurigera cuspide pila virent, Plin. Nat. 15. 133, Pers. 6. 43–4, Sen. Ag. 410 hasta summo lauream ferro gerit (with Tarrant), Stat. Theb. 12. 520, Silv. 5. 1. 92, Juv. 10. 65; cf. Juv. 4. 149 with the scholia; von Premerstein in RE xii. s.v. Lauratae litterae 1014.
Editor’s Note
quam venit ante vides: ante postpositive to quam is found in only four instances, apart from the present also in Lucr. 3. 973, 4. 884, and in Sulpicia's [Tib.] 3. 13. 8; cf. TLL, s.v. ante quam 154, 54 ff. Compare the same position of quam and ante (although not in the same sense as here) in a number of Ovidian pentameters; thus Fast. 1. 94 quam fuit ante domus, Tr. 5. 12. 22 quam fuit ante minus, Pont. 2. 1. 4 quam fuit ante locus, 3. 1. 50 quam fuit ante dedit, and 3. 1. 98 quam fuit ante minus.
Editor’s Note
7. Phario … Syene: Syene, the modern Aswan, situated in the far south of Egypt. The yearly flooding of the Nile, which is crucial to the harvest yield, does begin in the south, but Martial may be excused for not knowing that it is not due to rain in Aswan but in the Ethiopian highlands. The corn harvest of Egypt and Africa, like the weather on which its quality depended, was of vital interest to the city of Rome, as it was from there that the annona civica, the corn supply of the city itself, came (cf. Plin. Pan. 30–1). If the crops failed there, the result would be serious problems in Rome.3
Pharius is used in a general sense of the whole of Egypt, and the geographical contrast to Syene is in appearance only.4 The description of the latter as fusca is a case of enallage, alluding to the colour of the skin of the inhabitants (cf. TLL, s.v. fuscus 1654, 7 ff.). There are no comparable parallels, but the similarity of expression may perhaps support Watt's emendation of the corrupted line in Stat. Silv. 4. 2. 27 mons Libys Iliacusque nitet, multa Syene (on different kinds of marble) to simul atra Syene (alluding in that case to the colour of the stone; see Coleman ad loc.).
For Iuppiter as metonymy for imber (a phenomenon going back to Ennius), cf. 7. 36. 1 Cum pluvias madidumque Iovem perferre negaret with Galán Vioque's note, and see Cook 1914–40: ii. 1 ff. for Zeus the sky-god as god of the weather.
Editor’s Note
3 For the flooding of the Nile, see conveniently Seidlmayer in NP viii. s.v. Nil, 942; on the importance of the harvest of Egypt for the annona civica, Marquardt 1884: 233–4.
Editor’s Note
4 Cf. 3. 66. 1 Phariis … armis, 4. 11. 4 Phariae coniugis (= Cleopatrae), 5. 69. 1 Phario … Pothino, 6. 80. 3 Pharios … hortos, 7. 30. 3 de Pharia Memphiticus urbe, 10. 48. 1 Phariae … iuvencae (= Isidis); cf. Pharus metonymically for Egypt in 9. 40. 2; FOnomast, s.v. Pharus 2, 469.
Editor’s Note
8. quota … puppis eat: quotus in the sense of 'how many?' ('interdum ponitur pro quot', FLex, s.v. 2, 68); cf. 14. 218. 1 Dic quotus et quanti cupias cenare, Hor. Ep. 1. 5. 30 tu quotus esse velis rescribe. Note the resemblance to Ov. Tr. 3. 12. 32 hospitaque in Ponti litore puppis erit.
Editor’s Note
Libyco litore: Libycus in the sense of Āfrĭcānus, which cannot be fitted into dactylic verse (see 9. 6. 1 note).
Editor’s Note
9. Iuleae … olivae: the golden olive-wreath awarded the winner at Domitian's Alban games; see 9. 23 introd. and note on 9. 23. 5 Albanae … olivae. It is called Iulea, as Domitian's villa, at which the games were held, was situated in the Ager Albanus, the site of the ancient town of Alba Longa, founded by Iulus (Ascanius), son of Aeneas.5 The adjective (scanned Ĭūlēus) was coined by Propertius (4. 6. 17) and is subsequently used only by Ovid (Fast. 4. 124, 5. 564, 6. 797, Pont. 1. 1. 46, 2. 5. 49), Lucan (1. 197, 9. 995), and Martial, with the same sense as here in 13. 109 (on Alban wine), in the sense of 'imperial' in 9. 101. 15 (see note ad loc.).
The ending echoes Verg. G. 2. 85 nec pingues unam in faciem nascuntur olivae.
Editor’s Note
5 In his prophecy to Venus in Aeneid 1, Jupiter says that Ascanius, cui nunc cognomen Iulo additur, was called Ilus, dum res stetit Ilia (A. 1. 267–8). In Vergil's epic, the frequencies of the two names are more or less equal, Ascanius appearing 41 times and Iulus 35 (see Austin on A. 1. 267, Serv. A. 1. 267; Rossbach in RE ii. s.v. Askanios 4, 1611 ff.).
Editor’s Note
10. aetherius … pater: also 9. 36. 7, Stat. Theb. 11. 207, Silv. 3. 1. 108 and 186; cf. Luc. 5. 96 aetherius Tonans, Stat. Theb. 1. 704 aetherius parens, Ach. 2. 53 aetherius rector. Before the Silver Latin epoch, aetherius seems to have been restricted to things (although sometimes with a sense of divinity), for example, Cic. N.D. 1. 103 a. ignes (cf. Lucr. 2. 1098), 2. 42 locus, 2. 54 cursus, Catul. 66. 55 umbrae, Hor. Carm. 1. 3. 29 domus, Ov. Am. 2. 14. 41 aurae, Ars 3. 550 sedes. Cf. also note on 9. 3. 3.
Editor’s Note
sua serta: the wreath of oak-leaves which constituted the prize at the agon Capitolinus (see note on 9. 3. 8). Which poet was going to win the prize would reasonably only have been a subject of gossip before the games were held, suggesting spring 94 as the 'dramatic date' of this poem.
Editor’s Note
11. hodie cenabis apud me: an allusion to Catul. 13. 1, the point of which is inverted in this poem: Philomusus is invited on the condition that he does not bring anything along with him (see the introduction above). Another allusion to the same line occurs in 11. 52. 1 Cenabis belle, Iuli Cerialis, apud me (see Kay, ad loc.). For the 'future of invitation', see Nisbet and Hubbard on Hor. Carm. 1. 20. 1 (comparing, for example, Pl. Cur. 728 tu, miles, apud me cenabis, Hor. Ep. 1. 7. 71 post nonam venies, and Prop. 3. 23. 15 venies hodie).
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