Novius Vindex' statuette of the sitting Hercules—Hercules Epitrapezios, as it is called in the titulus of Stat. Silv. 4. 6—is the third plastic work of art to claim the reader's attention in Book 9, after the bust of Martial himself in the preface and that of Domitian in poems 23 and 24. The statuette was celebrated by Statius in Silv. 4. 6 and by Martial, who made it the subject of a pair of consecutive epigrams which, according to Lorenz's approach, marks the transition from imperial panegyrics to poetry that largely concerns the private pg 188sphere (Lorenz 2003: 576); see further Introduction, 4.1.1 Obviously, an image of Hercules, the emblem of invincibility reduced to a statuette and placed within the kindly context of a humble banquet, is ideal as a link between the officiality of the emperor and private socializing, standing as it does with one foot in both camps.
As identifiable external stimuli caused both Martial and Statius to write these poems, it is natural that the circumstances surrounding these stimuli have attracted much scholarly attention, although it is hard not to agree with Lorenz in his remark that this fact 'hat eine Ausdeutung von 9.43 und 44 als Literatur eher behindert als gefördert' (Lorenz 2003: 567). What we know, and what can be guessed about these circumstances and about the owner of the statuette is the following.
Novius Vindex is not mentioned by Martial nor by Statius prior to or later than the poems in question; there is no reason to identify him with the Novii of 1. 86 and 7. 72. 7 (see Howell on 1. 86. 1), and even though Martial might hypothetically have known of him already in 88 (if the Vestinus of 4. 73 is to be identified with his namesake and friend of Vindex mentioned in Silv. 4. 6. 94), it seems that he chose not to approach him as a possible patron. He was presumably not a senator or, if he was, he had probably retired, for in the cases of the seven senators mentioned by Statius in the Silvae, the poet never neglects to specify the senatorial post most recently held (the one exception being the retired Rutilius Gallicus); there is no such information to be found on Vindex. The only actual facts known of him are that he wrote poetry (see note on line 14 below; Stat. Silv. 4. 6. 30) and collected works of art (Silv. 4. 6. 20–31); cf. Coleman 1988: 173, and see PIR2 N 194. All in all, he does not seem to have been one of the close acquaintances of either Statius or Martial.
There is no explicit information on the reason why Martial and Statius should celebrate a work of art belonging to a man whom they addressed on no other occasion. Statius, who otherwise usually gives the circumstances of each poem in the preface of the respective book of Silvae, is reticent about Silv. 4. 6; however, in the poem itself, he says that he had been invited to dinner by Vindex and shown numerous works of fine art by Myron, Praxiteles, Phidias, Polyclitus, and Apelles (Silv. 4. 6. 25–30). But, on the table, there was the statuette of Hercules, of which Statius became particularly fond (multo mea cepit amore pectora, Silv. 4. 6. 33–4). But why did he celebrate this particular statuette in 109 hexameters, and why did Martial compose two epigrams on the same work of art?
A comparison of Silv. 4. 6 with the present poem reveals obvious similarities. First, there is naturally the ecphrasis: Hercules sits on the lion skin, pg 189which has been stretched out on a stone (line 1, Silv. 4. 6. 57–8), holding the club in one hand and a cup in the other (line 4, Silv. 4. 6. 56–7); the statuette is attributed to Lysippus (line 6, Silv. 4. 6. 37, 108–9). Then, there is the list of its previous possessors: Alexander (line 7 Pellaeus tyrannus, Silv. 4. 6. 59–74 Pellaeus regnator), Hannibal (line 9, Silv. 4. 6. 75–84) and Sulla (line 10, Silv. 4. 6. 85–88); the quiet of Vindex' home is now a welcome resting-place for the statuette, weary of the life in the great houses (9. 43. 11–12, Silv. 4. 6. 88–98). Both poets use the antithesis 'a great god in small shape' (9. 43. 2, Silv. 4. 6. 35–6), and both liken the statuette of Vindex to Hercules when staying with Molorchus (lines 13–14, Silv. 4. 6. 51), a subordinate mythological character whose inclusion would be by no means obvious.
These major similarities, which essentially appear in the same order in both poems, suggest that neither Martial nor Statius wrote spontaneously, but on some kind of given directive. The most obvious and also the most attractive explanation would be that Vindex had recently acquired the statuette and, excited about its history, gave a dinner to celebrate his new acquisition. Martial and Statius (probably like several other poets or would-be poets as well) would have been among the guests; quite obviously, neither would have failed to bestow some verses on the 'object of honour', which would also be Vindex' reason for inviting them.2 It may well be, as suggested by White (1975: 286–7), that the host proposed the statuette 'as the theme for their after-dinner improvisations'.3
In the preface of Silvae 4, Statius mentions the statuette of Vindex as Hercules Epitrapezios (cf. the titulus of Silv. 4. 6 Hercules Epitrapezios Novi Vindicis; cf. Coleman 1988: xxviii ff.). In modern times, a whole genre of statues of the seated Hercules has come to be designated as epitrapezios, owing to their similarity to Vindex' statuette.4 The basic features, from which several copies show individual deviations, are as follows: the hero sits on a rock, on which he has stretched out the lion skin; his left leg is set forward, his right foot rests by the rock, the leg being bent at a sharp angle; his arms are stretched forward, the left hand holding the club, the upper end of which rests on the ground; the right hand holds the cup, a cantharos; his head is raised to the right, his eyes gazing at the sky.5 These features correspond to pg 190what the poets tell us about Vindex' Hercules, which they assure us was sculpted by the hand of Lysippus himself. This was perhaps the case, even though a copy would seem more likely (Coleman 1988: 174). The possibility of its being the original, however, cannot be ruled out, as Floren wishes (1981: 51), on the basis of the signature reading Λυσίππου and not Λύσιππος ἐποίει, since the Greek genitive is not found in the manuscripts (see further note on 9. 44. 6 Lysippum).
Structurally, the first poem of the pair divides itself into three sections: the ecphrasis (1–6), the catalogue of previous owners (7–10), and a conclusion bringing the statuette and its new owner together by way of an elegant mythological reference to Molorchus (11–14). The fantastic pedigree of the statuette is what really makes it stand out, and, in spite of its artistic merits, probably the foremost reason for the enthusiasm of Vindex as mirrored in Martial's and Statius' poems. This has several implications. While there is really no way of knowing whether or not it is true, it is not impossible that such a statuette could have belonged to Alexander, Hannibal, and Sulla, but what matters in this context is that Vindex must have presented this as a fact. McNelis (2008: 257–9) reads the catalogue as an instance of a 'pattern that uses Greek art to demonstrate Rome's military prowess and its cultural absorbation of the Greek world'. Of course, Alexander and Hannibal are archetypical representatives of major foreign powers that Rome had subdued. It is more difficult to see, with McNelis, these particular commanders as playing 'major roles in accounts of Roman power and the concomitant acquisition and display of art' with reference to paintings of Alexander by Apelles set up in Augustus' forum or the inflow of Greek art to Rome from Syracuse and Tarentum during the Second Punic War. Sulla is neither an obvious inclusion in this list, even though he 'caps this expression of Roman military dominance through art because his conquest of eastern lands famously led to the importation of much Greek art to Rome'. The problem of putting Alexander, Hannibal, and Sulla together to form a list that conveys a uniform message is naturally due to the fact that the list is not a literary invention. The information would have come with the statuette and, false or not, with no other purpose than to add to the value of the object.
Martial makes a fairly obvious use of the statuette's history by contrasting the commanders to Vindex. But his mere treatment of the pedigree inevitably makes one think of 8. 6, an epigram that satirizes precisely that which the present one praises: an art collector who goes into great detail about the fantastic origin of his pieces: Archetypis vetuli nihil est odiosius Aucti (Eucti β) … argenti furiosa sui cum stemmata narrat, 'Nothing is more odious than old Auctus' originals … when he relates the preposterous pedigrees of his pg 191pieces of silver' (8. 6. 1, 3). This Auctus claims to possess cups from the table of Laomedon, a bowl which Rhoetus used as a weapon when fighting the Lapithae, goblets handled by Nestor and others that belonged to Achilles, a bowl with which Dido proposed a toast for Aeneas' companion Bitias. Such less scrupulous, deceitful, or perhaps credulous collectors are more than once parodied in satire or lamented by the philosophers (see Schöffel 2002: 128–9),6 and one wonders what Martial might have felt when faced with the task of writing yet another poem about an art collector with an almost unbelievably fancy object—only this time for real. Had 8. 6 been written and published after 9. 43, it would have been impossible not to consider it a comment on Vindex and his collection. As it is, there is probably no real connection between 8. 6 and 9. 43, and there is nothing in the latter poem to suggest that Martial wrote it tongue-in-cheek; but 8. 6 inevitably casts its shadow over any collectors of fantastic art that turn up in the Epigrams.
Interestingly, Brunilde Ridgway has maintained that the Hercules Epitrapezios was indeed a Roman rather than a Greek work of art.7 This view has implications particularly for the interpretation of the following epigram, of which more will be said in the proper place.
Epigrams describing works of art are common in Greek and occupy a large section of AP 16 (epigrams 32–334, nos. 90–9, 101–4, and 124 being on pictures of Hercules).
1–2. dura … porrecto saxa leone | mitigat: the statuette pictures Hercules sitting on the lion skin, which is stretched out on a rock; Statius' version reads aspera sedis | sustinet et cultum Nemeaeo tegmine saxum (Silv. 4. 6. 57–8). Leo is primarily metonymy for the lion skin (TLL, s.v. leo 1169, 41 ff.), but through the attribute porrecto, which is obviously 'stretched-out' (viz. on the stone) but just as much 'slain' (cf. Sp. 17. 7 longo porrexit vulnere pardum; OLD, s.v. porrigo 2), the killing of the Nemean lion, which Hercules slew with his bare pg 192hands (see note on 9. 101. 6), is as much present as it is in Statius. And once the image of the Nemean lion is evoked, the idea of using that beast to make anything (even a stone) soft seems quite paradoxical. For mitigo in this sense, see TLL, s.v., 1148, 4 ff.
2. exiguo magnus in aere deus: the majesty of Hercules as a god in contrast with the smallness of the statuette makes a nice antithesis; Statius expresses the same idea with emphasis on Hercules' divinity in Silv. 4. 6. 35–6 finisque inclusa per artos | maiestas! Deus ille, deus! (on which see Coleman's note).
The antonyms exiguus and magnus in juxtaposition on both sides of the diaeresis of the pentameter are found also in Ov. Fast. 6. 22 ause per exiguos magna referre modos, and the words frequently appear as contrasts; Seneca is especially fond of the juncture (for example, Dial. 5. 34. 2, 10. 1. 3, 12. 10. 5, Ep. 43. 3, 53. 11 At mehercules magni artificis est clusisse totum in exiguo, 58. 34, 76. 28).
3. quaeque tulit spectat: the mere gazing at the firmament may seem the appropriate pastime of an idler, but the reader is reminded that Hercules had actually carried it on his shoulders (while Atlas fetched for him the golden apples of the Hesperides, the acquiring of which was one of the Twelve Labours; see note on 9. 101. 4 aurea poma). The contrast between the juxtaposed tulit and spectat holds out the unsuspected power in the idle gaze, in the same way as the previous line points out the greatness of the god in spite of the humble bronze.
The skyward gaze is one of the basic features of the epitrapezios (see the introduction above).
4. laeva … robore, dextra mero: this is the usual disposition of the club (here metonymically referred to as robur) and the cup (see the introduction above). Statius makes no distinction: tenet haec marcentia fratris | pocula, at haec clavae meminit manus (Silv. 4. 6. 56–7).
calet: the verb indicates a tension in the seated Hercules, suggesting a firm grip of the club and the cup; one senses the force of the club and the ardour of the wine running through his limbs. The statue seems to be alive; this is Vergil's spirantia aera (A. 6. 847).
5. non est … caeli: Martial quotes verbatim from 14. 93. 1 non est ista recens nec nostri gloria caeli, written about a decade earlier. That distich is about pocula archetypa and continues to state that Mentor himself (see 9. 59. 16) was the first to drink from them as he made them (primus in his Mentor, dum facit illa, bibit). As the link to 14. 93, which also deals with the work of a Greek master, is undeniable and as Martial probably could expect his readers to see it, it is worth considering the meaning of the earlier poem.
14. 93 is the first in a series of distichs on cups and other utensils given as presents to the guests at a banquet. Some of these are quite luxurious pieces: a chased golden bowl (95), dishes inlaid with gold (97), gemmed cups (108), crystal glasses (111), and murrine ware (113). Of these, 14. 93 and 95 involve pg 193the name of a classical Greek artist (in the case of 95 the 4th-century engraver Mys). In his note on 14. 93. 2, Leary refers to Friedländer's remark (on 3. 41) that Mentor's name was often attached to forgeries of works of art in precious metal, which would 'account for the protestations of age and denial of Roman manufacture' in 14. 93. 1. It cannot be taken for granted, though, that Martial wanted to emphasize that the distich really was about original cups by Mentor simply with reference to the adjective archetypus in the lemma and to the insistence on non-Roman manufacture in line 1; are these not the precise arguments one would expect from a forger? It is exactly what the Auctus the fraudulent art collector in 8. 6 claims to possess (see above). In his introduction to 3. 41, Fusi notes (with reference to Pliny the Elder) that works by Mentor were kept in Jupiter's temple on the Capitol and that L. Crassus the orator had acquired two goblets by Mentor for the price of 100,000 sesterces. As an apophoretum, even in the literary context of Book 14, a gift of genuine cups (in the plural!) by Mentor is naturally bizarre. The emphasis on artist and provenance may actually be intended to suggest forgery rather than originality.
Nor is 3. 41, another monodistich involving Mentor, entirely unproblematic in this respect. The text itself is that of an ecphrastic poem (inserta phialae Mentoris manu ducta | lacerta vivit et timetur argentum, 'a lizard, inserted into a dish and driven by the hand of Mentor, is alive and the silver is feared'), but the metre is choliambic, and 'the choliambic poems of Martial are …, for the most part, concerned with abuse or bitter complaint' (Watson 2006: 288; cf. the introduction to 9. 1 above). Does the metre here suggest that the dish is a forgery?
It is possible, at least, that Martial points the reader to 14. 93 as being an epigram in which the notion of forgery must have been relatively close at hand. Unless such an interpretation is considered impossible, an allusion of this kind—as Martial would have been very much aware—inevitably casts doubts on the authenticity of Vindex' Hercules.
Fama is used of the object of fame (TLL, s.v. 217, 24 ff.), a sense relatively common in Martial, slightly more often with reference to beings (thus 7. 27. 2, 9. 28. 1 with note, 9. 71. 1, and 10. 103. 4) than to things, the latter being the case also in 8. 28. 2 (toga) and 9. 101. 2 (the Appian Way). Gloria is used in a similar way of the thing which lends glory. For gloria of artefacts, cf. 10. 89. 1 Iuno labor, Polyclite, tuus et gloria felix, Ov. Pont. 4. 1. 29; TLL, s.v. gloria 2080, 65 ff. Caelum is here primarily the chisel, and nostri caeli would be 'of Roman manufacture', but it may also refer to the sky, i.e. 'made under the Roman sky'; cf. Leary on 14. 93. 1.
6. munus opusque: picked up from Ov. Pont. 4. 1. 36, in which Ovid styles himself the munus opusque of Sex. Pompeius' guardianship. The statement is preceded by a preamble that draws parallels to several Greek artists and their works: the Aphrodite Anadyomene of Apelles, Phidias' Athena Parthenos, the pg 194horse sculptures of the Athenian Calamis, and Myron's cow at the Acropolis (4. 1. 29–34). In the same way that these works owe their existence to the respective artists, so is Ovid the 'work and gift [to the world, it may be presumed]' of Pompeius,8 and the Hercules Epitrapezios that of Lysippus. It is possible, however, to make a subversive reading of these words too, because Ovid is in fact not munus opusque of Pompeius, whatever he may say to his benefactor—perhaps, then, neither is the Hercules Epitrapezios the work of Lysippus, and the provenance again is merely held out to caress the ears of a patron.
Nobile opus is a common juncture, cf. 6. 73. 2 and 8. 6. 8 (both with the same meaning as here), Sp. 8. 2, 9. 93. 6, Prop. 2. 31. 12 (cf. Mart. 14. 3. 2), Ov. Tr. 1. 10. 30, Sil. 2. 612, Stat. Silv. 1. 2. 250–1 Nobile munus, however, is not, and here the adjective would presumably have been chosen because of opus.
Lysippi: the Greek sculptor, active during the reign of Alexander the Great, of whom he made several portraits (Plin. Nat. 34. 63; cf. Cic. Fam. 5. 12. 7, Hor. Ep. 2. 1. 140, V. Max. 8. 11. 2). He was counted among the finest sculptors of antiquity (cf., for example, Cic. de Orat. 3. 26, Prop. 3. 9. 9, Quint. Inst. 12. 10. 9) and worked mostly in bronze; famous is his 'Apoxyomenos', a copy of which is preserved in the Vatican. Hercules was, apart from Zeus, his favourite subject among the gods, and his statues of the hero comprised the colossal Hercules of the acropolis in Tarentum, which depicted him sitting on a basket, on which he, as in this case, has stretched out the lion skin. A couple of epigrams in the Planudean anthology, 4. 103 (= AP 16. 103 Geminus) and 4. 104 (= AP 16. 104, Philippus), are about another statuette by Lysippus of a sitting Hercules, showing the god without his club and lion skin, of which he had been deprived by Eros (see Lippold in RE xiv. s.v. Lysippos 6, 48 ff.).
7. Pellaei … tyranni: Alexander the Great begins the fantastic catalogue of the statuette's previous owners, who are listed chronologically but also in accordance with their importance. This is obvious also from the space allotted to each of them, with Alexander getting an entire distich, Hannibal one hexameter, and Sulla one pentameter.
Alexander has the epithet Pellaeus from his home town of Pella, the capital of Macedonia from about 400 bc (Oberhummer in RE xix. s.v. Pella 3, 341 ff.); cf. Stat. Silv. 4. 6. 59–60 Pellaeus habebat | regnator laetis numen venerabile pg 195mensis. The adjective (Gr. Πελλαῖος) appears already in Plautus (As. 333 and 397 Pellaeus mercator), but it is mostly used with reference, in one way or another, to Alexander; thus Verg. G. 4. 287, Ov. Met. 12. 254; see FOnomast, s.v. Pella 447. It frequently occurs in Silver Latin, particularly in Lucan (thirteen occurrences, some of which refer to Alexandria and Ptolemaic Egypt; see FOnomast, s.v. Pella 447, c and d); also Sil. 11. 381, 13. 765, 17. 429–30, V. Fl. 1. 365, Juv. 10. 168. Martial has it also in 13. 85. 2 (with reference to the Alexandrians); Statius also in Silv. 1. 1. 86 (with direct reference to Alexander).
8. qui cito perdomito etc.: 'who rests a victor in the empire he swiftly subdued', 'swiftly' because it took him little more than ten years to conquer his truly vast empire. Alexander's corpse was moved from the scene of his death in Babylon to Memphis and thence to Alexandria (Curt. 10. 10. 20), where it was buried in a mausoleum, resting embalmed in honey in a glass coffin. It was one of the principal tourist attractions of Alexandria; cf. Stat. Silv. 3. 4. 117–18, Suet. Aug. 18. 1; SG i. 455.
The TLL (s.v. orbis 917, 1 ff.) knows but one instance of orbis being used of the empire of Alexander (Sen. Suas. 1. 5 orbis illum suus non capit) whereas it is commonly used of the Roman empire.
9. hunc puer … iuraverat Hannibal: when still a boy, Hannibal took an oath of vengeance on Rome (see Liv. 35. 19. 3–4); the scene is depicted on a shield in Sil. 2. 426–8 parte alia supplex infernis Hannibal aris | arcanum Stygia libat cum vate cruorem | et primo bella Aeneadum iurabat ab aevo; cf. Flor. Epit. 1. 22. Statius records that Hannibal poured libations to the statuette (Silv. 4. 6. 76–8).
Iurare with the bare accusative is a common construction; see TLL, s.v. iuro 675, 46 ff. Servius A. 12. 197 calls it et ornatior elocutio et crebra apud maiores, quam si velis addere praepositionem, ut dicas 'iuro per maria, per terras'. A Graecism, it found its way into Latin during the first century bc (see Norden on A. 6. 324).
ad Libycas … aras: see note on 9. 6. 1.
10. Sullam … trucem: a singular epithet, but cf. 11. 5. 9 Sulla cruentus, Stat. Silv. 4. 6. 107 saevi … Sullae; the cruelty of Sulla (particularly in the Civil War) was almost proverbial (cf. Sal. Cat. 21. 4 Victoria Sullana and see Fröhlich in RE iv. s.v. Cornelius 392, 1548 ff.). His eastern campaigns gave much opportunity for acquiring Greek and Hellenistic art, for example, he plundered the temple of Zeus Eleutherios and stole a Hippocentaur by Zeuxis. His connection with Hercules consists in his offering a tenth of his property to the god, cf. Plut. Sull. 35. 1 and see Coleman on Stat. Silv. 4. 6. 85–8 (Statius' account of Sulla's possession of the statuette).
Martial makes an almost Statian move in having Hercules command Sulla to lay down his power. Statius' Silvae, unlike the epigrams of Martial, abound with divine interventions in contemporary human life; cf., for example, the epithalamium of Stella and Violentilla (Silv. 1. 2) and the poem on Earinus pg 196(Silv. 3. 4). It is perhaps more than a mere coincidence that a Statian feature otherwise foreign to Martial appears in a poem on a theme common to both poets. See also 9. 44 introd.
11. offensus variae tumidis terroribus aulae: double enallage for variis tumidae terroribus aulae, 'displeased with the numerous (and varied) terrors of the haughty life in great houses'; cf. H–Sz 159–60. As variae/variis and tumidis/tumidae are metrically completely equivalent, the reason for choosing the more artificial variant is a matter of speculation. Martial could have written offensus tumidis variae terroribus aulae as well as offensus tumidae variis terroribus aulae and offensus variis tumidae terroribus aulae, but the present variant is the only one which achieves alliteration between the two words in the middle and which also connects the two alliterative words syntactically; furthermore, there is possibly an assonance between these two words (i, u, s, also d-t) on the one hand and variae and aulae (va to au, perhaps also r to l) on the other.
The (rather obvious) idea that the house of Vindex will lend Hercules a welcome life of peace and quiet, as opposed to his turbulent life with his previous masters, appears in Stat. Silv. 4. 6. 89–94, which in thought is very similar to the present line: Nunc quoque, si mores humanaque pectora curae | nosse deis, non aula quidem, Tirynthie, nec te | regius ambit honos, sed casta ignaraque culpae | mens domini, cui prisca fides coeptaeque perenne | foedus amicitiae … nec bella vides pugnasque feroces, | sed chelyn.
12. habitare: the transitive use of habitare appears more often with deities than with human beings; cf., for example, 10. 28. 3 (of Ianus) pervius exiguos habitabas ante penates; compare TLL, s.v. habito 2479, 47 ff. with 2478, 63 ff.
13. placidi … Molorchi: Martial follows the legend as related by Apollodorus (2. 74–5), according to whom Hercules came to Cleonae on his way to Nemea, and was received as a guest by the day-labourer Molorchus (cf. 4. 64. 30). According to Callimachus (to whom the character largely owes its fame; cf. Aet. Fr. 103, 108, 142, 193, 250 Scm., Probus on Verg. G. 3. 19), Molorchus was a goatherd with only one goat, which he would sacrifice to Hercules as a god if he returned from Nemea victorious, otherwise to his Manes; see Pley in RE xvi. s.v. Molorchos 13–14; cf. note on 9. 101. 6 terga leonis.
Molorchus, the host of Hercules, is introduced here as a flattering parallel to Vindex, at whose table the god is now a permanent conviva. He appears also in Statius' account (Silv. 4. 6. 51, quoted in the introduction to 9. 44), with the epithet parcus; cf. Stat. Silv. 3. 1. 29 pauper M. and Theb. 4. 160 Cleonaeus M.
14. voluit docti Vindicis esse deus: Martial's only hint that Vindex was a poet (for doctus as an epithet of poets, see the note on 9. 42. 3). Statius is more explicit, saying that art was Vindex' pastime quotiens chelyn exuit (Silv. 4. 6. 30) and that Vindex will hymn the deeds of Hercules (ibid. 99–105); in the preface to Silv. 4. Statius also speaks of the honour, quem de me et de ipsis studiis meretur [sc. Vindex].