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

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Attacks on sham philosophers occur throughout Books 1 to 12, the targets being principally Stoics and Cynics, although Martial generally does not explicitly refer to them as philosophers or mention what doctrine they profess (except for 4. 53, which is openly aimed at a Cynic). From his descriptions of their conduct and the attributes he gives them, it nonetheless becomes quite clear that they are men who are bald or have short haircuts (indicative of Stoics as well as Cynics; cf. Kißel on Pers. 3. 54), appearing as stern moralizers, a principal Stoic feature, finding fault with the ways of the world and holding up the ancient Roman exempla virtutis as models for the unimpeachable life, neglecting their appearance, an essential mark of the Cynics, who took pride in an ascetic life of absolute poverty, 'with the ragged cloak, staff and beggar's wallet as their badge with a complete disregard of appearances … '1 (cf. 4. 53. 3–6 and see note on 9. 47. 2). But when no one sees, the would-be Stoic indulges in vices well below Stoic dignity, and under the worn-out cloak of the filthy Cynic are found the tokens of effeminate vanity. See also 1. 24, 1. 96, 2. 36, 6. 56, 7. 58. 7, 9. 47, and 12. 42.

Like any man or woman who may be expected—on the basis of their professed opinions, profession, or way of life—to lead a morally impeccable life, philosophers who failed to live up to their doctrine were exposed to pg 116attacks from satirists as well as from those who considered themselves in a position to criticize them; Cicero says in Tusculans 2. 11–12: Quotus enim quisque philosophorum invenitur, qui sit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita constitutus, ut ratio postulat? Qui disciplinam suam non ostentationem scientiae, sed legem vitae putet? Qui obtemperet ipse sibi et decretis suis pareat? Videre licet alios tanta levitate et iactatione, ut iis fuerit non didicisse melius, alios pecuniae cupidos, gloriae non nullos, multos libidinum servos, ut cum eorum vita mirabiliter pugnet oratio. Later, they are a source of irritation to Seneca (Ep. 108. 5–6) and Quintilian (Inst. 1. pr., 12. 3. 12),2 but these instances are not directly comparable with those in Martial, as they rather deal with failure to adopt a given teaching; Martial's characters are mere hypocrites, some of whom appear not to have received any education at all, only to have grown a beard, put on tattered clothes, and gone out to complain about others. The principal attack on these would-be philosophers is, however, the opening of Juvenal's Second Satire (1–35), in which he lets fly at those qui Curios simulant et Bacchanalia vivunt (2. 3). His targets are the same as Martial's, as is the gist of his argumentation: Castigas turpia, cum sis | inter Socraticos notissima fossa cinaedos? | Hispida membra quidem et durae per bracchia saetae | promittunt atrocem animum, sed podice levi | caeduntur tumidae medico ridente mariscae (2. 9–13). Compare also the vetula of Hor. Epod. 8, who keeps libelli Stoici among her satin pillows (8. 15–16), yet is unable to keep her unchecked sexuality within bounds.

It has been suggested that the invectives against philosophers in Quintilian and Martial may to some extent be directed against a 'Stoic opposition' to Domitian, which for the opponents resulted in several exiles and death sentences and which would have made philosophers 'fair game' for satirical scorn (cf. Courtney 1980: 120). However, Austin (1948: xvi) denies this on the part of Quintilian, and there is in fact little to indicate that there ever was an opposition united by a common Stoic ideal (see Jones 1993: 119 ff.). Moreover, Martial in his epigrams on philosophers adopts and elaborates a theme found in Greek epigram; thus the present epigram is clearly modelled on AP 11. 155 (Lucilius): Οὗτος ὁ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἀδάμας βαρύς‎, οὗτος ὁ πάντῃ‎ | πᾶσιν ἐπιπλησσων‎, οὗτος ὁ ῥιγομάχος‎ | καὶ πώγωνα τρἐφων ἑάλω‎. τί γάρ‎; ἀπρεπὲς εἰπεῖν·‎ | ἀλλ‎ʼ ἑάλω ποιῶν ἔργα κακοστομάτων‎ (see Burnikel 1980: 22 ff.).3 For the theme in later Greek authors, cf. Athenaeus 13. 563d–f and Lucian. Symp. 34–5. See also Courtney's introduction to Juv. 2 and Richlin 1983: 138–9.

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1. Chreste: Gr. Χρῆστος‎, used also of a miser in 7. 55. It is a common name in Greek sources (227 instances in the LGPN) and particularly suitable for a philosopher, being derived from the adjective χρηστός‎, meaning 'good, honest, worthy, trusty', etc.

coleos: 'testicles'; cf. Petr. 44. 14 si nos coleos haberemus, 'if we were virile men'. The word was apparently less obscene than mentula; its tone is commented on even by Cicero (Fam. 9. 22. 4) 'Testes' verbum honestissimum in iudicio, alio loco non nimis. Et honesti 'colei Lanuvini', Cliternini non honesti, although the significance of this remark is uncertain. Martial uses it metonymically of libidinous men in 12. 83. 2; see Adams 1982: 66–7.

portes: usually not of parts of the body, but in this case perhaps because Chrestus carries his depilated testicles as a kind of adornment; cf. TLL, s.v. porto 51, 54 ff. (cf. ibid. 50, 40 ff.).

3. prostitutis … culis: male prostitutes and effeminates depilated the culus, just as a female prostitute or courtesan would depilate the cunnus (see Henderson 1975: 220), cf. 2. 62 Quod pectus, quod crura tibi, quod bracchia vellis, | quod cincta est brevibus mentula tonsa pilis: | hoc praestas, Labiene, tuae (quis nescit?) amicae. | cui praestas, culum quod, Labiene, pilas?, 6. 56. 4, Juv. 2. 12.

levius caput: 'a head more hairless'; for levis in the sense of 'bald', cf. Juv. 10. 199 leve caput; TLL, s.v. levis 2, 1222, 44 ff. Short hair was characteristic of Stoics and Cynics; cf. Pers. 3. 35 (with Kiβ‎el) and Juv. 2. 15.

4. nec … ullus … pilus: to remove the hair from the legs was a sign of exaggerated vanity and detestable effeminacy; cf. 2. 62 quoted above, 5. 61. 6, 6. 56, 10. 65. 8, and 12. 38. 4; compare the pun in 2. 36. 5–6. Male depilation was obviously practised in Rome already in the second century bc, as it is castigated, along with other signs of effeminacy, in a speech by Scipio Aemilianus (referred to in Gel. 6. 12); see Richlin 1983: 92–3.

5. saevae … volsellae: 'tweezers', called saevae (personifying enallage, cf. 9. 7. 8 above), because the treatment naturally hurt. The tearing out of the hairs was used alongside cutting and shaving, though such scrupulous care of the body was not regarded as quite becoming in a man (cf. 8. 47). According to Suetonius, the method was used by Julius Caesar, whom he labels as circa corporis curam morosior (Suet. Jul. 45. 2); cf. Sen. Nat. 1. 17. 2, Ep. 114. 21; Blümner 1911: 269.

cana labra: labra here 'latius de partibus supra necnon infra os sitis, quae barba tectae sunt' (TLL, s.v. 1. labrum 811, 27–35, cf. 10. 42. 6). There may, however, also be an allusion to Martial's idea, that those who practised oral sex attracted a sickly pallor (cf. 1. 77 and see 9. 95 introd.).

6. Curios, Camillos: generalizing plurals ('typisiert', H–Sz 19), as the names serve as representatives of a certain character; cf., for example, Cic. Sest. 143, Sen. Dial. 9. 7. 5, Ep. 22. 11, Gel. 14. 1. 29, and instances from Martial below.

pg 118The present is Martial's longest continuous list of exempla virtutis, models of ancient Roman virtue.4 Although the prime model was naturally Cato (see below on line 14), the Curii are those most often used by Martial in such contexts; cf. 1. 24. 3, 6. 64. 2, 7. 58. 7, 7. 68. 4, 9. 28. 4, 11. 16. 6, and 11. 104. 2. Behind the name stands M. Curius Dentatus, consul 290, 284 (suffectus), 275, and 274, who ended the Samnite War and conquered, among other peoples, the Sabines. The Camilli (also 1. 24. 3 and 11. 5. 7) owe their fame to M. Furius Camillus, who captured Veii about 396, defeated the Gauls who invaded Rome in 387–6, and was considered parens patriae conditorque alter urbis (Liv. 5. 49. 7). For similar references to the Curii and Camilli, cf. Cic. Sest. 143, Cael. 39, Pis. 58, Hor. Carm. 1. 12. 41–2, Ep. 1. 1. 64, Luc. 1. 169–70, 6. 787–8, 7. 358, Sil. 13. 723–4, Juv. 2. 153–4; see also Otto 1890, s.v. Camillus and s.v. Curius; Citroni and Howell on 1. 24. 3 respectively.

Quintios: mentioned because of the achievements of T. Quinctius Capitolinus Barbatus, consul six times between 471 and 439, and L. Quinctius Cincinnatus (perhaps the former's elder brother), who was consul suffectus in 460 and was summoned directly from the plough to the dictatorship in 458; cf. Cic. Cato 56 and see Hanslik in RE xxiv. s.v. Quinctius 24, 1012 ff., and Quinctius 27, 1020 ff. For the spelling Quint- for Quinct-, cf. Plin. Pan. 57. 5 Tantone Papiriis etiam et Quintiis moderatior Augustus et Caesar et pater patriae?

Numas: Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, presented as a model of integrity and irreproachability also in 11. 5. 2, 11. 15. 10, 11. 104. 2, 12. 3. 8, perhaps also 10. 52. 2.

Numa is mentioned only twice before the present instance (3. 62. 2 sub rege Numa condita vina and 6. 47. 3 Numae coniunx), and it is interesting to note that, in Books 10 and 11, Numa is mentioned in no less than eleven poems; apart from as an exemplum in the instances given above, also in expressions like plebs Numae (10. 10. 4, 10. 76. 4), Numae colles (10. 44. 3), denoting old age (10. 39. 2, 10. 97. 4), and as Egeria's husband (10. 35. 14). In Book 12, the frequency again drops to two instances, apart from 12. 3. 8 (above) also 12. 62. 8 urbs Numae.

It is thus quite obvious that the frequency of references to Numa in Books 10 and 11 is somehow connected with the emperor Nerva. Perhaps they reflect Martial's solution to the problem that the emperor would not have himself compared to divinities; Martial then introduces expressions like plebs Numae to compare Rome under Nerva with the reign of Numa, who to the Romans pg 119represented peace, piety, and morality, whom Livy describes as consultissimus vir … omnis divini atque humani iuris (1. 18. 1), whose mind would have been suopte … ingenio temperatum … virtutibus, … instructumque non tam peregrinis artibus quam disciplina tetrica ac tristi veterum Sabinorum (ibid. 4), and who on his accession set out to build a new Rome: urbem novam, conditam vi et armis, iure eam legibusque ac moribus de integro condere parat (ibid. 19. 1). This would have been a flattering comparison, and presumably also one to which Nerva could consent. It would also have been quite in line with contemporary efforts to present the reign of Nerva as a new age of peace and freedom; a temple was erected to Libertas ab imp. Nerva Caesare Aug. restituta (CIL 6. 472), and the coins were inscribed with libertas, libertas publica, and Roma renascens (see Stein in RE iv. s.v. Cocceius 16, 153).5 There are, it is true, still a couple of epigrams in Book 10 of satirical content, in which Numa is used merely as the image of antiquity or old age, but, in Books 11 and 12, he appears only as an exemplum virtutis and in the phrase urbs Numae. These less reverent instances may perhaps be a remnant from the first edition of Book 10, which appeared when Domitian was still emperor.

Ancos: the only allusion in Martial to Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome and grandson of Numa; cf. Cic. Rep. 2. 33, Liv. 1. 32–4, Philipp in RE xiv. s.v. Marcius 9, 1543. He is mentioned alongside his grandfather in Hor. Ep. 1. 6. 27; cf. Carm. 4. 7. 15, Juv. 5. 57.

7. pilosorum: a play on the similar sound of pilosorum and philosophorum, to whom Martial alludes here; the archetypical philosopher at Rome was hairy and wore a long beard like his Greek models; cf. 2. 36. 5–6 Nunc sunt crura pilis et sunt tibi pectora saetis | horrida, sed mens est, Pannyche, volsa tibi, 6. 56, 9. 47 (with commentary), Juv. 2. 11–12, AP 11. 156.

In this line, Shackleton Bailey prints usquam of β‎ for the umquam of γ‎.

8. grandibus … verbis: 'grandiose', in malam partem, further underlined by the turgid verb sonare (see note on 9. pr. 7 above and compare 9. 11. 15); cf. 2. 69. 7–8 En rogat ad cenam Melior te, Classice, rectam. | Grandia verba ubi sunt? Si vir es, ecce, nega, 9. 32. 5; cf. TLL, s.v. grandis 2186, 37 ff.

minax: 'threatening' but also 'severe'; cf. TLL, s.v. minax 995, 77.

9. theatris: Chrestus' problem with the theatre would have been due to two genres, the mime and the pantomime. The mime (in which the Latinus of the following epigram was active) was a burlesque farce, largely drawing on mythological subjects, but also involving a good many love and adultery scenes, which were also the chief reason for its popularity; it probably also took up many of the features of comedy, which it gradually superseded. The language of the mime was coarse and vulgar (cf. 8. pr. mimicam verborum licentiam), and the character of the play often obscene, sometimes involving pg 120actresses performing in the nude; such immoral plays, enjoyed by men, women, and children alike, were held out by Ovid to show that his Ars really was quite innocent (Tr. 2. 497–506), and Martial claims that if chaste matrons watch mimes, they ought to be able to read his epigrams without blushing (3. 86). However, the licence of the mimes was to some degree excused by the nature of the feast of Flora, at which they were mainly performed (cf. Ov. Fast. 5. 329–30). It was on one such occasion that Cato Uticensis had to leave the theatre, ne praesentia sua spectaculi consuetudinem impediret; the anecdote is related by V. Max. 2. 10. 8 (cf. Sen. Ep. 97. 8), and Martial alludes to it in 1. pr. (see Citroni ad loc.). On the mime in general, see Beacham 1991: 129–140 and SG i. 113 ff.

The pantomime, which enjoyed the same popularity as the mime, was likewise regarded as a source of moral degeneration. While the range of its themes was quite large, the commoner and also the most appreciated were love stories, often derived from mythology, such as Apollo and Daphne, Aphrodite and Ares, and the amorous adventures of Zeus. Like the mime, the pantomime often involved a substantial amount of obscenity, and the actors (the so-called histriones; there were no female actors in pantomime) developed an elasticity in their bodies, which enabled them to dance the parts of women in such a scabrous way that even real women, however voluptuous they might be, could 'learn something' from them (cf. Juv. 6. 63–4). In spite of, or perhaps rather because of, the popularity of the pantomimes, Domitian forbade the histriones to appear on stage,6 while it was still permitted for them to perform in people's homes. On the pantomime, see Beacham 1991: 140–53 and O. Weinreich, Epigramm und Pantomimus (Heidelberg, 1948).

10. draucus: the word, perhaps of Gallic origin (cf. TLL, s.v. draucus 2067, 47 ff.), may simply denote an athlete who performs in public (so 7. 67. 5 and 14. 48), but in some cases, the emphasis lies not on their athletic abilities, but on the fact that they were considered to be of extraordinary sexual ability; thus 1. 96. 12–13 spectat [sc. Maternus] oculis devorantibus draucos | nec otiosis mentulas videt labris, 11. 72 Drauci Natta sui vocat pipinnam, | collatus cui Gallus est Priapus. This view was partly due to the alleged connection between bodily strength and sexual ability, but above all to the fact that the drauci wore a fibula on the penis to prevent them from having intercourse, which would diminish their strength.7 Once the fibula had been removed, they pg 121might be expected to be more sexually vigorous than usual.8 It should be noted that fibula in this context does not refer to the usual 'safety-pin', but to a ring, which was pulled through the prepuce and joined together at the ends by a craftsman (the faber of line 12), cf. Schol. Juv. 6. 379 fibulam dicit circellos, quos tragoedi sive comoedi in penem habent, ut coitum non faciant, ne vocem perdant; on the operation necessary to apply the fibula, described by Cels. 7. 25. 2, see Jüthner in RE ix. s.v. Infibulatio 2543 ff.

Rather strange is Martial's mention in 11. 75. 1 of a fibula in the shape of a theca ahenea, a case of bronze, which obviously covered the penis and would hardly have been fastened by a faber, since it might fall off during exercise (cf. 7. 82). There is no other evidence of the fibula in the shape of a case, and so it is difficult to form any further idea of it, but cf. Kay on 11. 75. 1.

11. iam paedagogo liberatus: 'just released from the paedagogus', indicating that the draucus is a youngster. The paedagogus, often a Greek slave, was the permanent companion of the boy until he adopted the toga virilis around the age of 17 (Marquardt 1879–82: 111).

12. refibulavit: 'freed from the fibula', the only instance of this word, the opposite of which is infibulare.

turgidum penem: not 'swollen', but 'swelling' because of the long abstinence.

13. ducis: perhaps related to the expression scortum sim. ducere, attested mainly in Plautus; cf. TLL, s.v. duco 2143, 53 ff.

fari: the only occurrence in Martial of this somewhat archaic word, certainly ironical with reference to the Catoniana lingua.

14. Catoniana … lingua: Cato, the stock example of Roman virtue,9 sums up the exempla virtutis above. He is often mentioned by Martial, sometimes with a certain amount of irony, as the model of severe morality (see Citroni 1975: 11). The Cato family possessed two such exempla, Cato Censorius and his great-grandson Cato Uticensis, and it is sometimes difficult to say to which one Martial alludes. Some references are clearly to Cato Uticensis (thus 1. pr. (twice), 1. 8. 1, 1. 78. 9, 5. 51. 5 (on his eloquence, see Howell ad loc.), 6. 32. 5, 9. 28. 3, and 11. 5. 14), while at least one certainly alludes to Cato Censorius (2. 89. 1–2 Quod nimio gaudes noctem producere vino, | ignosco: vitium, Gaure, Catonis habes; cf. Hor. Carm. 3. 21. 11–12 narratur et prisci Catonis | saepe mero caluisse virtus). Cato Censorius is perhaps referred to also in 12. 3. 8, but, in some cases, no clear distinction can be made (10. 20. 21, 11. 2. 1, 11. 15. 1, and 11. 39. 15). As, some lines above, Martial has Chrestus attacking the theatre, Cato Uticensis pg 122was probably chiefly in his mind in this case (cf. note on line 9 above), which also contains Martial's only instance of the adjective Catonianus.

Martial's Epigrams consistently express disgust at acts of oral sex; worse than fellatio was perhaps only cunnilinctio. For instances in the present book, cf. 63, 67. 5, 92. 11, perhaps also 95; see Sullivan 1991: 189.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, 7 vols (Cambridge, 1962–81), ii. 490; see further note on 9. 47. 2.
Editor’s Note
2 Quintilian's hostility might have emanated from the feud between rhetoricians and philosophers concerning which educational method should be preferred (see Austin 1948: xvii ff. and notes ad loc.).
Editor’s Note
3 'This solid adamant of virtue, this rebuker of everyone, this fighter with the cold, with his long beard, has been caught.' 'At what?' 'It is not proper to say at what, but he was caught doing things that foul-mouthed people do.' (Transl. by W. R. Paton, Loeb.)
Editor’s Note
4 For Martial's use of such exempla, see A. Nordh, 'Historical exempla in Martial', Eranos 52 (1954), 224–38. Nordh observes that the selection of names is very similar to that of Juvenal, Statius (in the Silvae), Pliny the Younger, and Quintilian, indicating that 'the uniform selection of types in these authors reflects the exempla and the favourite subjects for suasoriae in the rhetorical schools' (p. 225).
Editor’s Note
5 For the comparison of Hadrian with Numa, see R. Zoepfel, 'Hadrian und Numa', Chiron 8 (1978), 391–427.
Editor’s Note
6 Suet. Dom. 7. 1, Plin. Pan. 46. 1. The pantomimi had previously been banished from Italy by Tiberius, restored by Caligula and banished again by Nero, during whose reign, though, they reappeared. Domitian's prohibition was abolished by Nerva, but renewed by Trajan, who, however, removed it in 107 (see Mooney 1930: 539).
Editor’s Note
7 Such fibulae were worn also by actors (cf. 7. 82, 14. 215, Juv. 6. 73 with the note of the scholia: nam omnes pueri vocales fibulas in naturis habent, ne coeant) and by citharoedi and choraules (11. 75. 3, 14. 215; cf. Juv. 6. 379 with the scholia cited below), as the voice was supposed to be maintained in good shape if one abstained from intercourse.
Editor’s Note
8 See A. E. Housman, 'Draucus and Martial XI 8 1', CR 44 (1930), 114–16 (= 1972: 1166–7).
Editor’s Note
9 For example, Verg. A. 6. 841, Hor. Carm. 2. 1. 24, Stat. Silv. 2. 7. 68, Juv. 2. 40; cf. Otto 1890, s.v. Cato.
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