Martial [Marcus Valerius Martialis]

Gideon Nisbet (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Martial: Epigrams

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  • Fur notae nimium rapacitatis
  • compilare Cilix uolebat hortum,
  • ingenti sed erat, Fabulle, in horto
  • praeter marmoreum nihil Priapum.
  • dum non uult uacua manu redire,
  • ipsum surripuit Cilix Priapum.



Cilix,* thief and notorious kleptomaniac, decided to burgle a garden. The garden was huge, Fabullus, but all it had in it was a marble Priapus.* Since he didn't want to come away empty-handed, Cilix made off with that same Priapus.

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Editor’s Note
6.72 Cilix: 'the Cilician', a likely slave-name that points to an origin in what is now southern Turkey, an area formerly notorious for piracy (put down by Pompey in 67 bc).
Editor’s Note
a marble Priapus: the scenario of this epigram is straight out of Lucilius (AP 11.174–9, cf. 11.184) but with a Roman twist in the identity of the god whose statue is being stolen, delivering bathetic closure on the book's Priapus/orchards cycle that began at 6.16. At 8.40 Martial will threaten to burn his Priapus for failing in its duties.
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