Skip to main content Accessibility help

Martial and the City of Rome*

  • Luke Roman (a1)


This essay examines the representation of the city of Rome in Martial's Epigrams, and specifically, his references to urban topography. The city is an insistent and vivid presence in Martial's Epigrams to a degree unparalleled in Roman poetry. He fashions a Rome that is more relentlessly sordid, irregular and jagged in texture, and overtly dissonant in its juxtapositions than the literary cities of his poetic predecessors. This new urban emphasis is not only a game of literary one-upmanship. Martial's urban poetics takes shape in the context of renewed attention to the city and monumental building under the Flavians.



Hide All

1 Fowler, D., ‘Martial and the bookRamus 24 (1994), 3158. Unless otherwise specified, all translations are my own. I have, however, freely consulted commentaries and translations, especially D. R. Shackleton Bailey's 1993 Loeb edition.

2 See Woolf, G., ‘City of letters’, in Edwards, C. and Woolf, G. (eds), Rome the Cosmopolis (1993), 203–21. On approaches to Martial's city that go beyond mining for facts, see Pailler, J.-M., ‘Martial et l’espace urbain’, Pallas 28 (1981), 7987, at 80.

3 Much recent work benefits from this perspective: see, for example, Edwards, C., Writing Rome: Textual Approaches to the City (1996); Welch, T. S., The Elegiac Cityscape: Propertius and the Meaning of Roman Monuments (2005); Barchiesi, A., ‘Learned eyes: poets, viewers, image makers’, in Galinsky, K. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus (2005), 281305. The discussion of the meaning of monuments in Fowler, D., ‘The ruin of time: monuments and survival at Rome’, in Roman Constructions: Readings in Postmodern Latin (2000), 193217, is fundamental. For a critique of the idea of urban structures ‘as verbal or visual signs whose meanings can be constructed or deconstructed at will’, see Fredrick, D., ‘Architecture and surveillance in Flavian Rome’, in Boyle, A. J. and Dominik, W. J. (eds), Flavian Rome: Culture, Image, Text (2003), 199227, at 203–5.

4 Fitzgerald, W., Martial: the World of the Epigram (2007); Rimell, V., Martial's Rome: Empire and the Ideology of Epigram (2008).

5 Dyson, S. L. and Prior, R. E., ‘Horace, Martial and Rome: two poetic outsiders read the ancient city’, Arethusa 28 (1995), 245–64; Prior, R. E., ‘Going around hungry: topography and poetics in Martial 2.14’’, AJPH 117 (1996), 121–41; H. Fearnley, Reading Martial's Rome, unpub. Diss. University of South California (1998); Lugli, G., ‘La Roma di Domiziano nei versi di Marziale e di Stazio’, Studi Romani 9 (1961), 117; Castagnoli, E., ‘Roma nei versi di MarzialeAthenaeum 28 (1950), 6778; Pailler, op. cit. (n. 2); Sullivan, J. P., Martial: the Unexpected Classic: a Literary and Historical Study (1991), 147–54; Jones, B., The Emperor Domitian (1992), 79–98. On imperial map poems generally, see Connors, C., ‘Imperial space and time: the literature of leisure’, in Taplin, O. (ed.), Literature in the Greek and Roman Worlds (2000), 492518, especially 508–13, and on Martial, 511–12; note also Kuttner, A. L., ‘Culture and history at Pompey's museum’, TAPA 129 (1999), 343–73. Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), especially 181–206, examines ‘the space of epigram’. In addition to his several articles on Martial and questions of Roman topography, see now E. Rodríguez Almeida's book on the subject, Terrarum dea gentium: Marziale e Roma: un poeta e la sua città (2003).

6 Horace, Epistles 2.2.77: ‘scriptorum chorus omnis amat nemus et fugit urbem’ (‘the whole chorus of writers loves the grove and shuns the city’); cf. Tacitus, Dialogus 12. Note also Pailler, op. cit. (n. 2), on Martial's representation of city life: ‘il n’y a pas à Rome, pour le poète, de “chez-soi” veritable’ (82).

7 A useful comparison is afforded by the ‘urban pastorals’ of Jonathan Swift. The urban conditions of crowding and hygiene of early modern London in many ways approximate those of ancient Rome. Description of the grittier aspects of city life was in provocative tension with the conventional associations of poetry: see in particular his ‘Description of a City Shower’ and ‘A Description of a Morning’.

8 For an overview of the topic, see C. Edwards and G. Woolf, ‘Cosmopolis: Rome as world city’, in Edwards and Woolf, op. cit. (n. 2), 1–20. Nicolet, C., Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire (1990), especially 29–47, is fundamental. Note also Rehak, P., Imperium and Cosmos: Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius (2006), xiii, 143–6; Favro, D., ‘Making Rome a world city’, in Galinsky, K. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus (2005), 234–63. On urbs and orbis in imperial literature, including Martial, see Connors, op. cit. (n. 5), 508–13.

9 On the Flavian building programme: Darwall-Smith, R. H., Emperors and Architecture: A Study of Flavian Rome (1996); J. E. Packer, ‘Plurima et amplissima opera: parsing Flavian Rome’, in Boyle and Dominik, op. cit. (n. 3), 167–98; Jones, op. cit. (n. 5); Levick, B., Vespasian (2005), 125ff.; Flower, H., The Art of Forgetting: Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture (2006), 228–32; Newlands, C., Statius’ Silvae and the Poetics of Empire (2002), 4–17.

10 Cornell, T., ‘The City of Rome in the Middle Republic (400–100 BC)’, in Coulston, J. C. and Dodge, H. (eds), Ancient Rome: Archaeology of the Eternal City (2000), 4260, at 53–6.

11 Woolf, op. cit. (n. 2), 204.

12 e.g., Constantius’ visit to Rome in a.d. 357 as narrated by Ammianus Marcellinus (Histories 16.10.13–17).

13 Martial's testimony often contributes to modern inquiry into urban living conditions and mortality in ancient Rome: Scobie, A., ‘Slums, sanitation, and mortality in the Roman world’, Klio 68.2 (1986), 399433; W. Jongman, ‘Slavery and the growth of Rome. The transformation of Italy in the second and first centuries BCE’, in Edwards and Woolf, op. cit. (n. 2), 100–22; W. Scheidel, ‘Germs for Rome’, in Edwards and Woolf, op. cit. (n. 2), 158–76.

14 I adopt the title preferred by Coleman, K. M., M. Valerii Martialis Liber Spectaculorum (2006), xxv–xxviii. The traditional dating of Martial's book has come into question: Coleman, xlv–lxiv; Buttrey, T. V., ‘Domitian, the rhinoceros, and the date of Martial's Liber de SpectaculisJRS 97 (2007), 101–12.

15 Griffin, M.Nero: The End of a Dynasty (1984), 133.

16 Griffin, op. cit. (n. 15), 137–41; Champlin, E.Nero (2003), 205–6; Flower, op. cit. (n. 9), 230–1.

17 Flower, op. cit. (n. 9), 230.

18 Suetonius, Div. Vesp. 8.5: ‘deformis urbs veteribus incendiis ac ruinis erat.’

19 Again, Suetonius, Div. Vesp. 8.1: ‘per totum imperii tempus nihil habuit antiquius quam prope afflictam nutantemque rem publicam stabilire primo, deinde et ornare.’

20 On this structure, see F. Coarelli in Steinby, E. M. (ed.), Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae (1999), vol. 4, s.v. Pax, Templum.

21 cf. Edwards, op. cit. (n. 3), 77.

22 ‘Nec illos Capitolii aspectus et imminentium templorum religio et priores et futuri principes terruere quo minus facerent scelus cuius ultor est quisquis successit.’ I have cited C. H. Moore's Loeb translation, Tacitus: The Histories, vol. I (1925).

23 Not to mention the most shocking, and for the Flavians, propagandistically significant, incident in the Civil War: the burning of the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter. On this episode, and the use of urban topography in Tacitus’ narrative of the civil conflict of a.d. 69, see Ash, R., ‘Victim and voyeur: Rome as a character in Tacitus’ Histories 3’, in Larmour, D. H. J. and Spencer, D. (eds), The Sites of Rome: Time, Space, Memory (2007), 211–37; Edwards, op. cit. (n. 3), 74–82.

24 On Vespasian's restoration of Rome, see Levick, op. cit. (n. 9), 125–30.

25 Evidence for a Vespasianic map discussed in Darwall-Smith, op. cit. (n. 9), 64–5: ‘after Vespasian enlarged the pomerium and carried out a census in 73/4, a plan like this, to show the enlarged boundaries of the city, and the great number of people living in it, would appropriately commemorate events which could occur only in an empire at peace’. Note also Coarelli, op. cit. (n. 20), 70.

26 On map-making, see Nicolet, op. cit. (n. 8), especially 15–47, 95–114. Taub, L., ‘The historical function of the “Forma Urbis Romae”’, Imago Mundi 45 (1993), 919, draws a connection between map-making and periods of urban renewal and refoundation.

27 The ecumenical scope of Vespasian's Temple of Peace and its artworks was a theme in contemporary writers: Josephus, BJ 7.158–62; Pliny the Elder, NH 36.102.

28 On Martial's poems in praise of the Flavian Amphitheatre, see Coleman, op. cit. (n. 14), ad loc., and on the structure itself, lxv–lxxi; R. Rea in Steinby, op. cit. (n. 20), vol. 1 (1993), s.v. Amphitheatrum. On Martial's representation of the amphitheatre in the opening poems of the Liber Spectaculorum, see Edwards and Woolf, op. cit. (n. 8), 1–2; Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 116–21; Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 37–41; and on Spect. 2, Pailler, op. cit. (n. 2), 81–2.

29 It is perhaps ironic that Martial's epigram celebrating the destruction and replacement of Nero's Golden House has become a key piece of evidence for scholars attempting to reconstruct its nature and extent: Champlin, op. cit. (n. 16), 201ff.

30 Literary layering as well. Martial significantly builds his epigram overtop Ovid's commentary at Fasti 6.639–48 on the building of the Porticus of Livia on the former site of Vedius Pollio's mansion: ‘ubi nunc Livia est / porticus, immensae tecta fuere domus: / urbis opus domus una fuit’ (639–41). An allusion to Augustan literature thus calls attention to the revival of the Augustan ideology of the splendour of public building.

31 Pliny the Elder, NH 34.4; but see Flower, op. cit. (n. 9), 229.

32 Ars Amatoria 1.173–4, on Augustus’ staged battle of Salamis of 2 b.c.: ‘nempe ab utroque mari iuvenes, ab utroque puellae / venere, atque ingens orbis in urbe fuit.’

33 cf. Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 37–43, on epigram, world and spectacle; Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 7–9, on epigram, city, and world; also E. Gunderson, ‘The Flavian Amphitheater: all the world's a stage’, in Boyle and Dominik, op. cit. (n. 3), 636–58. Edwards and Woolf, op. cit. (n. 8), 5, discuss the city's metonymic representation of the world. Hinds, S., ‘Martial's Ovid/Ovid's Martial’, JRS 97 (2007), 113–54, at 153, shows how allusions to Ovid's Metamorphoses enhance the cosmic dimension of Martial's epigrammatic amphitheatre.

34 See Citroni, M., ‘Marziale e la letteratura per i Saturnali (poetica dell’intrattenimento e cronologia della pubblicazione dei libri)’, ICS 14 (1989), 201–26, at 212.

35 Markers of the city in the introductory epigram to the Apophoreta include knights, senators, and emperor; the poem that may originally have introduced the Xenia refers to the Roman bookseller Tryphon (13.3.4; cf. Quintilian praef., and Leary, T. J., The Xenia: Martial Book 13 (2001), on 13.3). Likewise the closural epigrams of both books anchor their fictions in Domitian's city: 13.127 refers to the gift of winter roses sent to Rome from Egypt, 14.223 to the resumption of the ordinary round of urban life, as children return to school and buy pastries from the baker.

36 A highly contested term in recent scholarship: Parkins, H., Roman Urbanism: Beyond the Consumer City (1997).

37 Stroup, S. C., ‘Invaluable collections: the illusion of poetic presence in Martial's Xenia and Apophoreta’, in Nauta, R. R., Dam, H.-J. and Smolenaars, J. J. L. (eds), Flavian Poetry (2006), 299313, at 307.

38 On this shift from the role of producer to that of consumer, see Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 41–2, on the Cilicians showered with ‘their own’ saffron (Spect. 3.6).

39 The cosmic element is not concealed. The introductory epigram of the Apophoreta frames the collection with a reference to Saturn's loss of celestial rule (‘caelo’, 14.1.10) to Jupiter; ‘our Jupiter’ (i.e., Domitian, ‘nostrum … Iovem’, 14.1.2) wears the liberty cap. Martial's spectacle epigrams include allusions to mythic paradigms of apotheosis and catasterism.

40 e.g., amphitheatre (14.133, 13.99, 100), theatre (14.166), Domitian's rebuilt Temple of Capitoline Jupiter (13.74), Palatine (13.91), circus (13.78), barber shop (14.36), auction (14.35), Stephanus’ baths (14.60).

41 Lehmann, K., ‘A Roman poet visits a museum’, Hesperia 14.3 (1945), 259–69, argued that Martial was referring to the collection housed in the Temple of Divus Augustus. Might not the splendid collection in the Temple of Peace equally come to mind? Two items on Pliny's list of celebrated art objects that came to be housed in the Temple of Peace and Vespasian's other public buildings (NH 34.84) — the Apollo Sauroctonos (‘Lizard-Slayer’) of Praxiteles (34.70) and the Brutus’ Boy by Strongylion (34.82) — are singled out by Martial among his artworks (14.172, 171). The fact that Martial's statues are replicas does not undermine the potential allusion: Leary, T. J., Martial Book XIV: The Apophoreta (1996), ad loc.

42 See the comments of Millar, F., ‘Monuments of the Jewish War in Rome’, in Edmondson, J., Mason, . and Rives, J. (eds), Flavius Josephus and Flavian Rome (2005), 101–28, at 110–11; note also his discussion of Martial Spect. 2, 115–17.

43 After a.d. 96, Nerva or Trajan would employ the same propagandistic gesture against Domitian, putting on display in temples artworks that had been concealed from public view in his palace: Epigrams 12.15.

44 Note again the insightful discussion of Stroup, op. cit. (n. 37).

45 Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 50–2.

46 cf. Statius, Silvae 1 praefatio: ‘subito calore … festinandi voluptate.’

47 Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 45, takes up the term from Pailler, J.-M., ‘Le poète, le prince et l’arène: À propos du livre des spectacles de Martial’, in Domergue, C., Landes, . and Pailler, J.-M. (eds), Spectacula I: Gladiateurs et amphithéâtres (1990), 179–83.

48 Martial in one instance appears to be describing, not only the monument itself, but the scaffolding (pegmata, Spect. 2.2). For the full range of possible interpretations, see Coleman, op. cit. (n. 14), ad loc.

49 Bergman, B., ‘Greek masterpieces and Roman recreative fictions’’, in HSCP 97 (1995), 79120, has elucidated the aesthetic of materialism at work in Roman wall-painting with its illusionistic representation of polychrome marble surfaces, combinations of stone, wood, metals and gems, and architectonic settings for works of art. The richly differentiated materiality of Martial's Apophoreta offers an intriguing literary correlate for this materialist aesthetic realized in paint.

50 See Darwall-Smith, op. cit. (n. 9), 73; McNelis, C., Statius’ Thebaid and the Poetics of Civil War (2006), 5–6; note also Heslin, P., ‘Augustus, Domitian, and the so-called Horologium AugustiJRS 97 (2007), 120.

51 McNelis, op. cit. (n. 50), 6. The Flavians did not imitate exclusively Augustan tendencies: in some cases — the use of public spaces to court the favour of the urban plebs, the minting of high-quality architectural coin-types — they were arguably indebted to Nero; on coins, see Darwall-Smith, op. cit. (n. 9), 40.

52 As Newlands, op. cit. (n. 9), 3–7, has argued, architectural grandeur, technology, and opulent artificiality are disfavoured in the literary ideology of the Augustans. Precisely these qualities make a dramatic return in the poetry of Statius and Martial, opening up new possibilities for the representation of the material splendour of villas, artworks, and urban monuments. On the Augustan ‘rhetoric of space’ generally, see Leach, E. W., The Rhetoric of Space: Literary and Artistic Representations of Landscape in Republican and Augustan Rome (1988), especially 276ff. For the detail and richness of Martial's urban descriptions in comparison with Horace's, see Dyson and Prior, op. cit. (n. 5). The deeper reasons behind Horace's avoidance of and disdain for urban material culture are examined in Hardie, P., ‘Ut pictura poesis? Horace and the visual arts’, in Rudd, N. (ed.), Horace 2000: A Celebration: Essays for the Bimillennium (1993), 120–39. The exceptional tour de force of ecphrastic architectural description in love elegy only underlines the more typically generic vagueness of the elegiac city; on the Propertian city, see Edwards, op. cit. (n. 3), 53–7; Fantham, E., ‘Images of the city: Propertius’ new-old Rome’, in Habinek, T. and Schiesaro, A. (eds), The Roman Cultural Revolution (1997), 122–35; Welch, op. cit. (n. 3). The avoidance of topographical specificity in pre-Ovidian love elegy coheres with a broader pattern of avoidance of explicitness and physicality: see Connolly, J., ‘Asymptotes of pleasure: thoughts on the nature of Roman erotic elegy’, Arethusa 33 (2000), 7198. On the presence of the Augustan city in Virgil, see Morwood, J., ‘Aeneas, Augustus, and the theme of the city’, Greece and Rome 38.2 (1991), 212–23; in Livy, M. Jaeger, Livy's Written Rome (1997). That there was a ‘certain duplicity’ in this Augustan programme of archaic rusticity was long ago observed by Syme, R., The Roman Revolution (1939), 452: ‘the author of the most eloquent commendations of rustic virtue and plain living was himself a bachelor of Epicurean tastes, a man of property and an absentee landlord.’

53 Henderson, J., Pliny's Statue: The Letters, Self-Portraiture, and Classical Art (2002), 51: ‘Martial's favourite idiom of the cityscape, traipsing from mud to mansion, from slum to showhome, from Subura to high court.’

54 Ars Amatoria 3.113–28.

55 A line of argument pursued by, among others, Boyle, A. J., Ovid and the Monuments: A Poet's Rome (2003), 1–53.

56 The assumption that the Augustan regime's stance vis-à-vis adultery always necessarily precluded an appreciation of cultivated amor in the private sphere can be misleading: in a cubiculum of the Villa Farnesina, probably an imperial villa of the Augustan period, the surviving wall-paintings include ‘panels with amorous scenes like those recounted in Ovid's Ars Amatoria’ (Bergman, op. cit. (n. 49), 103). The lover was a figure utterly absorbed in peaceful pursuits, a non-threat in political terms, and thus potentially useful for the redefinition of élite identity in a post-republican era. On the broader aspects of the problem, see Kennedy, D., ‘“Augustan” and “anti-Augustan”: reflections on terms of reference’, in Powell, A. (ed.), Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus (1992), 2658, especially 45–7.

57 A sophisticated discussion of Ovid's representation of Rome in the Ars Amatoria can be found in Labate, M., L’arte di farsi amare: Modelli culturali e progetto didascalico nell’elegia ovidiana (1984), 48–64 (‘la retorica della città’). On the specifically Roman setting of love in the Ars Amatoria, see Volk, K., ‘Ars Amatoria Romana: Ovid on love as a cultural construct’’, in Gibson, R., Green, S. and Sharrock, A. (eds), The Art of Love: Bimillennial Essays on Ovid's Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris (2006), 235–51.

58 This point gains strength when we observe, not only the differences between Ovid and the early Augustan poets, but also the break within Ovid's oeuvre: the Amores contain scant reference to specific places in the city, which take on a much more prominent role in his later works: see White, P., ‘Ovid and the Augustan milieu’, in Boyd, B. W. (ed.), Brill's Companion to Ovid (2002), 126, at 12, 18. On Ovid's praises of Rome from Tomis, see Edwards, op. cit. (n. 3), 123–5.

59 The fundamental treatment of the topic is Hinds, op. cit. (n. 33).

60 World-city: Fasti 2.684: ‘Romanae spatium est urbis et orbis idem’ (cited above). World-wide circulation: e.g., Tristia 3.7.51–2.

61 See, for example, the discussion of 9.67 in Hinds, op. cit. (n. 33), 128–9, and on Martial's treatment of the Ars Amatoria and elegiac amor generally, 114–29.

62 As Prior observes (op. cit. (n. 5), 126), if ‘Europa’ refers to the Porticus Vipsania, which housed Agrippa's famous map of the world, an allusion to map-making has been tacitly incorporated. Note especially the excellent discussion of Connors (op. cit. (n. 5), 511–12), who explores the connections between the myth of Europa, Agrippa's map, and Martial's poem. See also Williams, C. (ed.) Martial: Epigrams Book Two (2004), ad loc. for commentary on Martial's topographical references. Rodríguez Almeida, op. cit. (n. 5), 45–64, devotes a section of his book to arguing that Martial's ‘portico of Europa’ is to be identified as the dromos of the Iseum. The reference remains enigmatic. It is not even clear that Martial's ‘Europa’ refers to a portico rather than simply a sculpture group or some other structure, although his other references to ‘Europa’ (3.20.12, 7.32.12, 11.1.11) best suit a portico.

63 The third iterum has attracted the improvement of textual critics, but is an apt expression of Selius’ disproportionate obsession: , L. and Watson, P., Martial: Select Epigrams (2003), ad loc.; Williams, op. cit. (n. 62), ad loc.

64 Mentioned in passing at Ars Amatoria 3.640.

65 Connors, op. cit. (n. 5), 512: ‘the hard work of urban leisure’.

66 Ars Amatoria 1.67, 3.387; Remedia Amoris, 613–14. See Hinds, op. cit. (n. 33), 121. Note in general the subterranean layer of erotic associations on Selius’ route: Europa, Io, Pompey's Venus Victrix.

67 Ars Amatoria 1.77 (‘Memphitia templa’), 3.387 (‘vaccae Memphitidos aras’).

68 Selius is the antitype of the flâneur. Pailler, op. cit. (n. 2), 84–5, aptly contrasts Selius’ urgent, businesslike itinerary with the leisurely promenade suggested by Martial's poem on the rich Canius Rufus (3.20) — a catalogue which begins in literary pursuits and the schola poetarum, continues amid the city's porticos, then moves outward to the countryside and the villas of wealthy Romans.

69 Domitian completed a splendid renovation of the Iseum in the Campus Martius, and built intensively throughout this entire area, much of which appears to have been heavily damaged in the fire of a.d. 80. From the epitome of Cassius Dio (66.24), we learn that the fire of a.d. 80 under Titus burned, among other structures, the Temples of Serapis and Isis, the Saepta, the Temple of Neptune, the Baths of Agrippa, the Pantheon, the Diribitorium, and the stage building of Pompey's theatre — in other words, the general area of Selius’ circuit. On the concentration of Domitian's building activity in areas affected by the fire, see Darwall-Smith, op. cit. (n. 9), 250–1.

70 See Howell, P., A Commentary on Book One of the Epigrams of Martial (1980), ad loc.; he locates the bookshop in the approximate area of the present-day Torre dei Conti. On the Forum Transitorium, see H. Bauer and C. Morselli in Steinby, op. cit. (n. 20), vol. 2 (1995), s.v. Forum Nervae.

71 The ring-structure of 1.2 and 1.117 may not have been a feature of the original edition of Book 1. It has been argued that 1.2 belongs to a later codex edition containing multiple epigrammatic books: see M. Citroni, M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammaton Liber Primus (1970), ad loc.

72 The Sosii, Epistles 1.20.2. On the associations of Vertumnus’ location, see K. O’Neill, ‘Propertius 4.2: slumming with Vertumnus?’, AJP 121.2 (2000), 259–77. Martial's extended allusion in this group of poems on the sale of the book (1.2, 1.3, 1.117) to Horace, Epistles 1.20 potentially includes a topographical dimension if we consider that the Forum Transitorium, the landmark used to locate Martial's book, included a Janus that appears to have replaced the Janus Geminus located ‘ad infimum Argiletum’ (see E. Tortorici in Steinby, op. cit. (n. 20), vol. 3 (1996), s.v. Ianus Geminus, Aedes).

73 Alternatively, Coarelli, F., Foro Romano: periodo arcaico (1983), 41, suggests that ‘clari … Penates’ may refer to the Temple of the Penates on the Velia.

74 See the discussion of 1.70 in Damon, C., The Mask of the Parasite: A Pathology of Roman Patronage (1998), 161–2, and Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 99–101, 186. Pailler, op. cit. (n. 2), interprets such strategies of self-displacement as a kind of poet's revenge on the city that otherwise imprisons him (86).

75 The shrine of Bacchus is hypothesized to have been located in front of the Basilica of Constantine, and the tholus of Cybele may have been near the Arch of Titus: see the discussions of Howell, op. cit. (n. 70), ad loc.; Nash, E., Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1967), I.165–8, II.34f.; Jr., L. Richardson, A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1992), s.v. Lyaei tecta. These identifications would support the idea that Martial's book turns onto the so-called clivus Palatinus. On the topographical references of 1.70 generally, see the detailed remarks of Citroni, op. cit. (n. 71), ad loc. The path of the Sacra Via in particular is debated: Coarelli, op. cit. (n. 73), 1–56, and 40–1 on 1.70; Wiseman, T. P., ‘Conspicui postes tectaque digna deo: the public image of aristocratic and imperial houses in the late Republic and early Empire’, in L’Urbs: espace urbain et histoire (Ier siècle av. J.-C.–IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.) (1987), 393413, 410–11 on Epigrams 1.70 and the Sacra Via. Martial does not mention the Arch of Titus, which should be prominent on his book's path, although Howell, op. cit. (n. 70), ad loc. observes that the arch ‘must have been a much less striking feature in its original context’.

76 Geyssen, J., ‘Sending a book to the Palatine: Martial 1.70 and Ovid’, Mnemosyne 52.6 (1999), 718–38; on the Domitianic importance of the structures mentioned in 1.70, 723–8. They were either restored by Domitian (Temple of Castor), relevant to Domitian's religious emphases (Temple of Vesta, House of the Vestals), or significant elements in Flavian propaganda (the Colossus, statues of the emperor). Verbal and topographical reminiscences of Ovid's Tristia bring to mind the path to the emperor's house and the adjacent public libraries: Geyssen, 729–34; Hinds, op. cit. (n. 33), 131.

77 On the itineraries of Ovid's exilic books, see Hinds, S., ‘Booking the return trip: Ovid and Tristia 1’, PCPS n.s. 31 (1985), 1332; Newlands, C., ‘The role of the book in Tristia 3.1’, Ramus 26 (1997), 5779; on Ovid's exilic representation of the city, Edwards, op. cit. (n. 2), 116–25. On Martial's self-positioning vis-à-vis Ovid, see Hinds, op. cit. (n. 33), especially 129–36, and Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 186–90.

78 On Domitian's literary interests and support for literature, see Coleman, K. M., ‘The Emperor Domitian and literature’’, in ANRW 2.32.5 (1986), 30873115, especially 3088–3095.

79 In Tristia 1.1, he directs the book to ‘greet’ (saluta) the sites of Rome he himself can no longer visit, and in 3.7, directs his book to his stepdaughter Perilla's house (‘Vade salutatum subito perarata, Perillam, / littera, sermonis fida ministra mei’, ‘Go greet Perilla, rapidly written letter, trustworthy servant of my speech’, 3.7.1–2).

80 Howell, op. cit. (n. 70), 266. Note Hinds, op. cit. (n. 33), 131: Martial ‘translates a moment of Ovidian epistolarity … into a moment of typical-looking Martialian clientship’.

81 Three adjectives describing the book open the poem (‘nec doctum satis … parum severum … non rusticulum’; cf. Catullus, C.1, ‘novum lepidum libellum’); the metre is hendecasyllabic; and Martial, like Catullus, addresses the Muse of his nugatory poetry.

82 Richardson, op. cit. (n. 75), s.v. Lacus Orphei.

83 Pliny's house is probably not Pedo's, as some scholars have suggested, but in the same area of the Esquiline along with the houses of other Augustan writers connected with Maecenas: see the discussion of Almeida, E. Rodríguez, ‘Qualche osservazione sulle Esquiliae patrizie e il Lacus Orphei’, in L’Urbs: espace urbain et histoire, (Ier siècle av. J.-C.–IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.) (1987), 415–28. It is significant that Martial does not describe or laud Pliny's house. See Henderson, op. cit. (n. 53), 52: ‘not one word — not even swanky “Esquiline” — for consular Pliny's indubitably spanking marble mansion.’

84 The epigram's overall tone (presumably by design) is hard to pin down. Henderson, op. cit. (n. 53), 47–57, reads the exchange between Martial and Pliny as adversarial and barbed; note also Woolf, op. cit. (n. 2), 212, ‘a brilliant pen portrait of a public figure’. In the discussion of Marchesi, I., The Art of Pliny's Letters: A Poetics of Allusion in the Private Correspondence (2008), 64–8, the key point in Martial's representation of Pliny is the carefully regulated division of serious forensic work and playful neoteric leisure — a division in keeping with aspects of Pliny's epistolary self-representation.

85 The case of 10.20 is complicated: Book 10, originally published under Domitian, was revised for republication under Trajan. The references to Minerva and Jupiter Tonans bring into play well-known divine associations of Domitian, although arguably in a negative light (e.g., tetricae). The suggestion that Martial's Ganymedean book will be snatched off to the celestial Palace to enliven the convivia of Jupiter is laced with irony in a post-Domitianic setting.

86 Martial sometimes envisions sending his book to Caesar directly (5.1), in other cases by intermediary (5.6, 6.1, 7.99).

87 See Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 3, on the play on different senses of libellus.

88 On Epigrams 11.1, Tristia 3.1, and manus, see Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 188; note also Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 165–6.

89 cf. 1.118, 4.89.

90 On the adjective urbicus in Martial, see the remarks of Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 178.

91 See Hopkins, K., ‘Conquest by book’’, in Humphrey, J. H. (ed.), Literacy in the Roman World, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 3 (1991), 133–58.

92 On Auctus’ name, see Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 27.

93 Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 182.

94 The same activity is described from a different perspective in 5.22, where Martial mentions the continual freight of marble being transported to building sites on the streets of the Subura (7–8).

95 The Temple of the Flavian Gens is the probable reference, but others are possible: see Leary, op. cit. (n. 41), ad loc.

96 It is notoriously difficult to decide whether ‘Caesar’ refers to Julius Caesar or Augustus — and that may be the point: see Austin, R. G., P. Vergilii Maronis Aeneidos Liber Primus (1971), ad loc.

97 On the analogy between literary and political inheritances and genealogy in epic, see Hardie, P., Virgil's Epic Successors: A Study in the Dynamics of a Tradition (1993), 88–119.

98 cf. Coleman, op. cit. (n. 78), 3099: ‘the Flavian policy of promoting contemporary literary celebration of their exploits to compensate for their lack of historical tradition.’

99 The toga and other significant objects in Martial are illuminatingly discussed in Salemme, C., Marziale e la poetica degli oggetti (1976), 119; on materiality in Martial, note also Gowers, E., The Loaded Table: Representations of Food in Roman Literature (1993), 245ff.

100 On this structure, see F. Coarelli in Steinby, op. cit. (n. 20), vol. 2 (1995), s.v. Gens Flavia, Templum.

101 The likely candidates are the Forum Romanum, the Forum of Julius Caesar, the Forum of Augustus, and the Forum Transitorium: Richardson, op. cit. (n. 75), s.v. Ianus Quadrifons (2), also considers the Temple of Peace as a possibility.

102 Fasti 1.257–8: ‘cum sint tot iani, cur stas sacratus in uno, / hic ubi iuncta foris templa duobus habes?’ Ovid's Janus is fundamental for Martial: he is viewed as a cosmic figure, arbitrating between peace and war, city and world. On Janus, Domitian, and the Forum Transitorium, cf. Statius, Silvae 4.1. It is tempting to interpret Martial's interest in Janus, god of transitions, in light of the themes and very nature of his tenth book. Revised after Domitian's assassination for republication under Trajan, the book presents a Janus face, looking both backward and forward, and presiding over a series of transitions and changes — literary, political, architectural: ‘Caesareis … donis’ (‘Caesar's gifts’) is conveniently ambiguous. On Janus and themes of mutability and Roman power in Ovid and Virgil, see Hardie, P., ‘Augustan poets and the mutability of Rome’, in Powell, A. (ed.), Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus (1992), 5983, at 72–5.

103 e.g., 7.56, 9.3, 9.20, 9.34.

104 See Nisbet, R. G. M. and Rudd, N., A Commentary on Horace, Odes, Book III (2004), on Odes 3.30; Fowler, op. cit. (n. 3), 197–8.

105 Epigrams 10.2.12; see Williams, C., ‘Ovid, Martial, and poetic immortality: traces of Amores 1.15 in the Epigrams’, Arethusa 35.3 (2002), 417–33; Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 158, on books, monuments, readers and damnatio memoriae. Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 51–93, examines the metapoetic tension between monumentality and ephemerality in Martial's epigrams.

106 For comparable instances of a distinctly Augustan poetic immortality topos conferred on something other than poetry, see Statius, Silvae 1.1.91–4; 1.6.98–102; 4.3.155–63. Note the discussion of ‘the paradoxes that cluster around monumentality’ in Fowler, op. cit. (n. 3), 202.

107 cf. Horace, Odes 3.30.8–9 (‘dum Capitolium / scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex’); discussion and parallels in Nisbet and Rudd, op. cit. (n. 104), ad loc.

108 Richardson, op. cit. (n. 75), s.v. Gens Flavia, Templum.

109 cf. 10.63, a similarly flippant reworking of Horace, C. 3.30.

110 cf. Statius, Silvae 4.2. Modern scholarly assessments stress how the palace's architectural features were designed to create a sense of awe and ‘to widen the gulf between emperor and citizen and to remove the princeps to an unattainable, private world’ (Hales, S., The Roman House and Social Identity (2003), 79). Note in particular Zanker, P., ‘Domitian's palace on the Palatine and the imperial image’, Proceedings of the British Academy 114 (2002), 105–30. The same structure undergoes a mysterious transformation under Trajan so as to become more open and inviting: Pliny, Panegyricus 47–9. On the dominating presence of Domitian in contemporary architecture, see Fredrick, op. cit. (n. 3).

111 Fitzgerald, op. cit. (n. 4), 5.

112 Discussion of 7.61 in Rimell, op. cit. (n. 4), 24–5. Another instance of imperial order imposed on the city is Domitian's revival of the Augustan lex theatralis repeatedly lauded by Martial in Epigrams 5: 5.8, 14, 23, 25, 27, 35.

113 On the objects Mamurra fetishizes, see the discussion of Salemme, op. cit. (n. 99), 133ff., under the heading la segnicità degli oggetti.

114 cf. ‘Mamurra’ in Epigrams 10.5 and Watson and Watson, op. cit. (n. 63), 15, 99. It is tempting to read Martial's poem on the Saepta Julia as a sordidly epigrammatic rewriting of Statius, Silvae 4.6: a rather different art-collector features as the protagonist here.

115 C. 57: ‘pulcre convenit improbis cinaedis, / Mamurrae pathicoque Caesarique … morbosi pariter, gemelli utrique’ (1–2, 6).

116 9.59 and 9.61 have interesting implications for our understanding of Martial's relation to Catullus as auctor of satiric epigram: the more uncontrolled Mamurra of Julius Caesar's times required the savage libertas of Catullan invective; the harmlessly pathetic and self-damaging Mamurra who wanders Domitian's restored ‘enclosure’ is adequately punished within the confines of Martial's epigrammatic satire.

* This essay was improved substantially by the comments and suggestions of Greg Woolf and the readers for JRS. Stephen Hinds, Alexander Meyer, Carole Newlands, and Monica Roman were kind enough to read draft versions.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Roman Studies
  • ISSN: 0075-4358
  • EISSN: 1753-528X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-roman-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed