ElAnt v1n1 - Up at a Villa, Down in the City? Four Epigrams of Martial
"UP AT A VILLA, DOWN IN THE CITY"? FOUR EPIGRAMS OF MARTIAL
R.J. Baker and R.A. Pitcher, Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the preparation of a book on the Monobiblos of the elegist Propertius, involving a translation of, a commentary upon, and an introduction to, the poems in Propertius' Book I,( 1 ) there arose the idea of collaboration between R. J. Baker, the author of that book, and his colleague, R.A. Pitcher, already known for a series of articles on the epigrammatist Martial.( 2 ) The plan for this collaboration was to produce a treatment of a large selection from twelve books of Martial's epigrams, along lines similar to those informing Baker's Propertius Book.
The target readership would be the same for both books: students without knowledge of Latin who wish to read a self-contained poetry book from late first-century B.C. Rome, on the one hand, and, on the other, a representative selection from the late first- century A.D. father of the epigram in Western literature. Though both books, as virtually bilingual editions, would aim to be of some use to students of Latin, undergraduate students of Classical Literature in Translation were to be the primary target-audience of both. For this reason, accuracy of translation has been our primary aim, so as to bring our Latinless reader as close as we were able to what Martial wrote.
It did not seem to us that rendition into the rhyming couplets of, say, an Alexander Pope from an earlier age or a James Michie from our own, or into the more contemporary free-verse style of a Palmer Bovie, would offer any more faithful a guide to Martial than the sort of fidelity we were aiming for. Especially for a readership coming from a background in modern English poetry, it seemed to us that a translation which attempts to simulate the discipline and constraints of the elegiac couplets, the hendecasyllabics, the limping iambic trimeters, and so on, of Martial's original poems might have real value. It certainly offers what seems to us the distinct advantage of keeping before the eyes of students the fact (all too easily lost in Literature in Translation courses) that they are reading not only poetry - as distinct from prose - but also poetry written in obedience to very different rules and conventions from the ones they are used to.( 3 )
Baker's rendition of the dactylic hexameters and pentameters of Propertius'elegiac couplets had tried to stick faithfully to the same range of syllables as was available to Propertius. This meant hexameter lines ranging from (notionally spondaic) ones of thirteen syllables like I.1.3:
Then did / she cast / down my / looks of steadfast dis/daining
to (notionally dactylic) lines like I.19.15:
Not one of / these will in/spire in me / Cynthia / more pleasure / than your
Similarly a range of five, six or seven syllables for the first half of Propertius' pentameters was allowed, while the unchangingly regular patter of the pentameter's second half was faithfully observed.( 4 )
As the translation of the Martial in our joint project progressed, however, increasingly strict attention began to be paid to the actual scansion of Martial's elegiac couplets in any one poem. Exact metrical equivalence has now become our aim for our translation of the pieces in our selection which were written in elegiacs. So, e.g.,
Though you don't / publish / yours, you / carp at my / poetry / Laelius. Either stop / carping / at mine, or else / publish your / own. (I. 91)
Where'er I / praise your / face, when / legs and / hands I'm a/dmiring, Your custom /, Galla, 's to / say "Naked I'll / please you the / more", Yet you / always / shun a / bath that we / might take to/gether. Surely/, Galla, your / fear's not that I / shall not please / you. (III. 51)
His well- / dowered / wife's heart was / shot with the / point of an / arrow, But in / sport, by A/per. Clever at / sport is A/per. (X.15)
Bard Theo/dorus' / house and its / gods Pi/erian / are gone Up in flames. / Is this / deed Muses' will, / Phoebus, and / yours? O wicked, / what great / crime it all / is, what / charge against / heaven: That there / wasn't con/sumed master a/long with the / house. (XI. 93)
Exact correspondence in the iambic metres has been more difficult to achieve, and here we have once again often had to be content with fidelity to the range of options open to Martial. Examples of scazons are:
Our Philae/nis al/ways sheds / her tears / with just / one eye. You ask / how that / can come / about? / One-eyed / she is. (IV. 65)
With my / Apol/lina/ris, lim/ping verse, / fall in, And if / he's free / (do not / approach / if it / pester) This, such / as it is / in which / himself / has got / some part, Give him: / may cul/tiva/ted ears / first hear / this song. If you / think you / are wel/comed with / an un/lined brow, You'll ask / him to / support / you with / well-known / favour. You know / with what / great love / regar/ding my / trifles He burns: / not e/ven I / myself / can love / you more. Against / malic/ious men / if you / would be / kept safe, With my / Apol/lina/ris, lim/ping verse, / fall in. (VII. 26)
A poor / man Cin/na wants / to seem; / and he / is poor. (VIII. 19)
Why do / I of/ten go / about / with chin / plastered Or with / my heal/thy lips / all pain/ted with / white lead, Philae/nis, do / you ask? / I do / not want / your kiss. (X. 22)
Examples of the rendition of iambic trimeters and dimeters (the latter alternating with limping trimeters) are:
She gives / her oath / the hairs / she buys / are all / her own, Fabul/la does: / so, Pau/lus, is / her swea/ring false? (VI. 12)
Vero/na loves / the syl/lables / of her / smart bard; In Ma/ro Man/tua / is blessed. Apo/nus' land / is fa/mous for / its son, / Livy, For Stel/la too / , Flaccus / no less; Apol/lodorus from / the floo/ding Nile / wins cheers; For Na/so do / Paelig/ni roar; The pair / of Se/necas and / the Lu/can with / no peer The flu/ent Cor/duba / proclaims. The gay / Cadiz / rejoi/ces in / her dear / Canius, Meri/da in De/cia/nus mine. Our Bil/bilis / , Lici/nia/nus, will / boast you And will / not fail / to men/tion me. (I. 61)
In the case of the pieces in hendecasyllables, however, our aim has been pretty strict conformity to Martial's pattern, as in the following examples:
I'm the / one that you / read, the one you look for, Martial, / who's so re/nowned the whole world over For wit/ty little / books epigrammatic: Fame that / you've given / him, persistent reader, While he's / still living / and can still enjoy it, Rarely / do poets / have when once they're ashes. (I. 1)
This my / sixth little / book to you I'm sending, You who / are specially / dear to me, my Martial: If you / go over / it with ear so careful Then with / less fear and / trembling will it dare to Make its / way to the / mighty hands of Caesar. (VI. 1)
All that / used to shine / in the hall Parrhasian Now's a / gift to our / art and our religion. Full of / wonder at / gold that's tinged with Scythian Emeralds/, Jupiter's / also stunned at haughty King's play/things and his / awful self-indulgence: Here are / cups that be/fit the God of Thunder Here ones / fit for his / Phrygian chalice-bearer; But of / late (what a / shame, a shame to say so) Just like / Jove we had / all been made the poorer. (XII. 15)
Choosing epigrams for inclusion in a selection such as this is bound to be idiosyncratic, running the risk of revealing more about the persons making the selection than the poet himself. The principles followed can be categorised under two headings, firstly, to offer the reader a representative sample of the poetry of Martial, and secondly, to include epigrams which are intrinsically interesting either for what they tell us about the poetry of Martial or for their focus on Roman social life. Of all the extant Latin poets Martial is arguably the one for whom a knowledge of the social background is most important. While the Latin he uses is usually very straightforward, the situations described often require interpretation, as Martial's characteristic brevity does not allow room for background information. Accordingly, the aim of the commentary is to provide sufficient explanatory material to permit a deeper understanding and appreciation of the way in which Martial works. The focus first of all is on the unity of each epigram, in which literary considerations can be seen to be paramount, and secondly on the information needed to interpret the epigram.
The decision to work on a selection from the twelve books of epigrams rather than one complete book has been prompted by the conviction that such a selection is not only more useful for the teaching of Martial to students with or without Latin but also more generally appealing to anyone with an interest in the broader topic of Roman social history for which Martial is regularly claimed as a major source. It allows for the inclusion of epigrams which show how Martial developed over his career as a poet and how he maintained a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in these years. The range of Martial's concerns is better represented in this format,where the serious verse of Martial will be found alongside his more lighthearted lines. Examples of all facets of Martial are to be found, making this a selection which treats in as evenhanded a way as possible aspects of Martial which different ages have found unattractive or unacceptable. The flattery and the delight in the scurrilous will both be found contributing to a rounded picture of this poet and his work.
The four epigrams chosen for treatment in this article are linked by Martial's interest in the properties of his friends. III 47 and 58 make a contrasting pair, describing estates outside Rome; IV 64 and VII 73 concentrate on Rome itself. Two are praised in lyrical terms (III 58, IV 64), two are exploited for their comic effect. All four demonstrate Martial's ability to engage his audience in each situation, either at length (III 58) or more briefly (VII 73), providing a cluster of poems which give a good idea of the way in which Martial works.
Where rains the Capene Gate with drops that well quite large, And where the Phrygian Mother's knife the Almo bathes, Where sacred to Horatii the plain grows green, And where the shrine of little Hercules is thronged, Faustinus, Bassus travelled in a coach filled up, (5) Transporting all resources of the rich country. You could have seen there cabbages with noble heads And leeks of either kind and lettuces like stools And beets that have some uses for a slow stomach; A hoop there heavy-laden with fat-rich fieldfares, (10) Also a hare that had been torn by Gaul-hound's fang And sucking-pig not ready yet to crunch its beans. And not on holiday before the cart there went The runner, but to carry eggs in straw all safe. Was Bassus off to Town? No, he was farm-house bound. (15)
Martial enjoys a situation where things are not what they seem. This epigram is an example of that situation, exploiting a favourite contrast of Roman literature, that between the city and the country. In this instance Martial builds the tension in a striking manner, by providing information in the opening lines which prefigures the conclusion.
The poem falls into three sections: lines 1-6 describe the scene, lines 7-14 elaborate further, expanding on line 7, line 15 provides the concluding punch. In this epigram it is noticeable how lines 1-4 and 7-14 can all be omitted without impairing the sense at all. As will become evident, however, the effect of these lines is anything but superfluous.
1-4: The opening lines provide the epigram with a particular topographical framework, explaining TRAVELLED ibat in line 5. This fleshing out of line 5 anticipates the fleshing out of line 6 which will occur in lines 7-14. The effect of this preamble is to set a scene which Martial can expect his audience to recognise, attracting their attention with the familiar before launching into the main point of the poem.
1. THE CAPENE GATE, Capena porta : this gate in the Servian Wall led out to the south-east, towards the Alban Hills. The modern Piazza di Porta Capena at the eastern end of the Circus Maximus marks the approximate site; remains of the gate found in 1867-68 are no longer visible.
RAINS, pluit : the Porta Capena formed part of a branch of the Aqua Marcia known as Rivus Herculeanus, which accounts for the damp. See Frontinus De Aquis I.19 for the information that this branch in his time, contemporary with Martial (cf. X 58), ended at the Porta Capena. Juvenal Satires III 11 confirms the dampness of this gate, madidam Capenam .
2. THE ALMO, Almo : the Almo is a tributary of the Tiber crossed by the Via Appia about a mile from the Porta Capena. Mention of a washing ceremony at this location is found also at Lucan Pharsalia I 600 and Statius Silvae V 1.222. Two further Flavian references, Valerius Flaccus Argonautica VIII 239 ff. and Silius Italicus Punica VIII 363 may indicate a particular popularity of this rite in the late first century A.D. The significance of the Almo in this rite is connected with the story of the bringing of Cybele, the Great Mother, to Rome (202 B.C.) as recounted by Ovid Fasti IV 337-346, when the cult-image was bathed in this stream.
For the cult of Cybele at Rome, see H. Graillot, Le Culte de Cybele Mere des Dieux a Rome et a l'Empire Romain , Bibliotheque des Ecoles Francaises d'Athenes et de Rome 107, (Paris, 1912), and E.O James, The Cult of the Mother Goddess , (London, 1959), ch. 6, pp. 161-174.
3. THE PLAIN OF THE HORATII, Horatiorum campus : according to Livy I 25.14 the tombs of the two Horatii who fell in combat with the Curiatii during the contest between Rome and Alba under Tullus Hostilius (c. 670 B.C.) could still be seen in his day together with the tombs of the Curiatii slain by the surviving Horatius, nearer Rome. This contest took place about five miles from the city at a place Livy calls fossa Cluilia (I 23), to be located along the Via Appia. It is to these monuments that Martial refers here. Several surviving tomb-mounds on the right-hand side of the Via Appia Antica in the vicinity of the sixth kilometre mark are identified with these monuments as illustrated in F. Castagnoli, Appia Antica (Milan, 1956), nos.43, 48, 49, 50. See also F. Coarelli, Dintorni di Roma , Guide Archeologiche Laterza 7 (Roma-Bari, 1981), pp. 52-55. R. Ogilvie, Livy 1-5: A Commentary (Oxford, 1965), p. 113, is mistaken in thinking Martial locates the campus Horatiorum near the Porta Capena. The so-called monument of the Horatii and Curiatii near Alba described by A. Nibby, Del Monumento Sepolcrale detto volgarmente degli Orazii e Curiazii (Rome, 1834), is clearly not the monument Martial has in mind here.
4. THE SHRINE OF HERCULES, Herculis fanum : on the Via Appia, according to Martial IX 101 there was a temple of Hercules built by Domitian. See Castagnoli, op. cit., no. 62. This is no doubt the same temple mentioned also at IX 64, 65 and 101, located eight miles from Rome.
These opening four lines describe places along the Via Appia, travelling away from Rome, and set the scene for what follows.
5 . FAUSTINUS, Faustine : the reason for the itinerary just given is that Bassus is taking that route, in a laden wagon. A raeda was a four-wheeled coach used to transport people and goods; in Juvenal Satires III 10, Umbricius' belongings are piled onto one. See Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquites grecques et romaines (Paris 1877-1919), IV.2,p. 862 rheda .
Faustinus, to whom this epigram is addressed, is a close friend of Martial, one of the most frequently mentioned of all his friends and patrons. First introduced in I 25 he is the addressee of seventeen epigrams and mentioned in two others, his final appearance being in Book X 51 (A.D. 98). He may be the Minicius Faustinus named as suffect consul for A.D. 91 in the Fasti Potentini (see Annee Epigraphique , 1961, 319), though Martial's silence on this rather tells against the identification. One of his estates is described in a companion piece to this epigram, III 58, below.
6. The information that Bassus is transporting country produce away from Rome is exactly the unexpected turn Martial is going to develop in this epigram. Before explaining, he enlarges on the produce being carried on the carriage.
7. CABBAGES, caules : the choice of cabbages to head the list of produce Bassus is carrying is a deliberate indicator that everyday products are what are seen, not expensive delicacies. Describing them as having NOBLE HEADS is meant to raise a smile. Cf. XIII 17. Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. 19 41.136-144, discusses cabbages. Maybe his lacuturnenses (141) are meant here.
8. LEEKS OF EITHER KIND, utrumque porrum : namely porrus sectiuus 'cut leek' and porrus capitatus 'headed leek' .
From Pliny, Hist. Nat. 19 33.108, it is clear that these are the same plant, the one being cut when very young, the other allowed to mature. Martial XIII 18, together with Juvenal III 293, indicates that the cut leek had a pungent odour which has led to its identification with chives. Although the leek and chives belong to the same botanical family ( allium , which also includes onions and garlic) they are not the same plant. The porri capitati 'headed leeks' described by Martial at XIII 19 (cf. X 48) resemble the familiar leeks of today.
LETTUCES LIKE STOOLS, sessiles lactucas : this refers not to the size of the lettuce, but the shape: cf. Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. , 19 38.125. Martial mentions a 'sitting lettuce' lactuca sedens at X 48.9, and an unspecified variety at XIII 14.
9. BEETS, betas : beets, of which only the leaves were eaten, were notorious for insipidity, Martial XIII 13 recommending a dressing of pepper and wine, Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. 19 40. 133 suggesting mustard. The digestive qualities of beet are confirmed by Pliny, who describes the beet as leuissima 'most easily digested' ( Hist. Nat. 19 40.132). The fact that he claims doctors considered them more harmful than cabbage (19 40.133) suggests they produced their effect thanks to some trace ingredient.
10. FAT-RICH FIELDFARES, pinguibus turdis : according to Martial XIII 92.1 the turdus, the 'thrush' or 'fieldfare' was the choicest of birds, in which opinion he supports Horace Ep. I 15.41. Both Varro, De Re Rustica III 2.15 and Columella VIII 10 describe the raising of these birds for food and consider it a delicacy. Cf. J.M.C. Toynbee, Animals in Roman Life and Art , (London 1973), pp. 277-278.
At this juncture the foods listed become more luxurious.
11. HARE, leporem : mentioned along with the fieldfare as a delicacy at Martial XIII 92.2. See Toynbee, op. cit., pp. 200- 202.
GAUL-HOUND, Gallici canis : this breed of hunting dog was renowned for its swiftness and so especially suitable for hunting hares. See Toynbee, op. cit., p. 104.
The implication here is that the wild hare has a better flavour than those bred in captivity.
12. SUCKING-PIG, lacteum porcum : another delicacy, though perhaps more freely available, as pigs were widely kept. Cf. Varro II 4.3 and Columella VII 9.4, and Martial III 58.20, below. On the feeding of beans to pigs, and raising them in general, see Varro II 4 and Columella VII 9-11.
13. BEFORE THE CART, ante carrucam : the switch from COACH raeda to CART carruca here has been taken to indicate that these were practically indistinguishable. Possibly carruca is a more refined version of a raeda , one with more status, and suitable for an outing preceded by a RUNNER, or cursor , on a holiday. Martial points out here that it is not in fact such a holiday scene being witnessed ( nec feriatus ).
14. EGGS IN STRAW ALL SAFE, tuta feno oua : the runner is carrying eggs, which would be at risk of breaking if subjected to the trundling of the cart. Eggs continued to be packed and carried in straw until comparatively recent times. For a cursor as a 'forerunner' of someone important cf. Petronius Sat. 28.4, Seneca Ep. 87.9, 123.7, and Suetonius Nero 30.
15. The picture now complete, Martial can introduce the point. The question he asks, WAS BASSUS OFF TO TOWN? urbem petebat Bassus? fits with the description he has just given in lines 7-14, while the answer NO, HE WAS FARM-HOUSE BOUND immo rus ibat refers back to the opening section, where the journey described is away from the city. Thus Martial in one line leads the reader back through the epigram to expose the oddity of the situation which should already have struck the reader. Martial is not in this epigram keeping a surprise for the end, rather he sets up a situation which he can mock with characteristic brevity.
It can now be appreciated how the skeleton of the poem, lines 5, 6 and 15, which in themselves produce a punchy epigram, benefits from the provision of the additional information in lines 1-4 and 7- 14. The description of an itinerary is attractive in itself, as a means of involving an audience in a familiar scene; the description of the food splendidly amplifies the ALL RESOURCES omnes copias of line 6, and is a topos Martial employs elsewhere, for example at V 78 and X 48. Pliny the Younger also enjoys describing food, e.g. Epp. I 15. The contrast Martial introduces between the commonplace vegetables and more prized meats is intended to illustrate the very oddity of Bassus' journey of which he is making such fun.
The Baian villa, Bassus, of our Faustinus No rows arranged in myrtle-beds without produce, Nor widowed planes as well, nor clumps of well-clipped box, In unrewarding spaces of its fields sustains, But revels in a farm that's real and quite unkempt.(5) In every corner here the corn is found packed tight And crocks in plenty have the smell of old autumns; Here when November's past and winter's now nearby The scruffy pruner carries home the year's late grapes. In valleys deep there's lowing of the so fierce bulls (10) And steers with brows all hornless itch to start fighting. All on the wander are the squalid fowl-yard's crowd, The harsh-voiced geese and peacocks with their gem-trimmed tails The one as well that owes its name to red feathers, And painted partridge and the speckled Guinea-fowls (15) Also the pheasant of the Colchians steeped in crime; The Rhodian hens are treaded by the proud cock-birds; The dovecotes sound with croonings of the dove pigeons: Here moans the ringdove, there the turtle-dove glossy. The greedy pigs run after bailiff's wife's apron (20) And soft the lamb awaits its mother's full udder. Homeborn infant slaves surround the clear bright fire And piled logs shine on holidaying household gods. The wine-store keeper's not slack-sick with pale-faced ease, Nor oil-annointed wrestling-master wastes his time, (25) But sets a crafty net for greedy-eyed fieldfares, Or lands the fish he's caught on line that's still trembling Or doe entangled in his nets he brings back home. The yielding garden exercises bright town-slaves, And, playful though they are, with none to hand tasks out (30) The long-haired boys are happy to obey bailiff, And even dandy eunuch can enjoy labour. Nor comes the country visitor with hand empty: That one is bringing in its comb the pale honey And cone of cheese that comes from Sassinate woodland; (35) That one holds out some dormice that are still sluggish, This one the bleating offspring of a shag-coat dam, Another, capons forced by fate to forgo love. Their mothers' gifts are brought in wicker-work baskets Also, by honest farmers' hulking unwed girls. (40) Work done, there's invitation sent to glad neighbour; No stingy table saves the feast until next day, All eat the meal; no envy for the well-drunk guest Is known by waiter at the feast; he's too well fed. But you, suburbanite, possess a neat famine (45) And gaze upon mere laurels from your high tower; You are not nervous (your Priapus fears no thief), And feed your grape-vine dresser on meal that's brought from town And cart to that frescoed villa of yours without produce Cabbages, eggs, fowls, apples, cheese, also new wine. (50) Should this be called the country, or a house from town?
The length of this poem marks it out from the rest of Martial's work, as he does not usually deal with topics at such length. In this instance, the description of Faustinus' estate near Baiae provokes a lyrical quality which shows how Martial could turn his powers of observation from criticism to praise. Other poems reveal Martial's liking for description, most especially in relation to this poem III 47, in which Martial related to Faustinus the spectacle of Bassus leaving town with produce bought in Rome. Here the roles are reversed, and Martial delights in providing Bassus with a long description of Faustinus' productive estate. Such description is becoming popular around this time, as shown by Statius' accounts of the villas of Vopiscus ( Silvae I 3) and Pollius Felix (II 2), and slightly later by the Younger Pliny's descriptions of his villas at Laurentum (II 17) and in Tuscany (V 6). The concentration of Martial on the agricultural aspect of Faustinus' villa puts this poem into a different category, namely writing about country estates; yet it differs from the evocations of rural bliss as found for example on Vergil and Horace in that it describes not Martial's own property (cf. VI 43) but one belonging to a friend and patron. Thus it is likely to reflect Faustinus' pride in his estate as much as Martial's approval of its self-sufficiency.
1. THE BAIAN VILLA, Baiana villa : Baiae was synonymous with luxury and ease. Situated about half-way between Misenum and Puteoli at the northern end of the Bay of Naples it was a favourite resort of the Romans, especially under the Empire. See J. H. D'Arms, Romans on the Bay of Naples (Harvard, 1969), pp. 42-43 etc. Further epigrams suggest that Martial stayed with Faustinus at this villa, cf. IV 30; 44; X 57; 63.
Faustinus possessed other villas as well, notably at Tibur (IV 57) and near Trebula (V 71). The initial reaction to the information here will be that this Baian estate is for pleasure. The way in which Martial treats this assumption is indicative of his delight in weaving together expectations and reality.
2. NO ROWS ARRANGED, non ordinata : the formalised planting of trees in rows is a characteristic of Roman garden schemes. Cf. Pliny's garden at his Tuscan villa, especially the hippodromos (V 6.32ff.), and as reconstructed by Grimal in Les Jardins Romains (1943), pl. 15.
MYRTLE BEDS WITHOUT PRODUCE, otiosis myrteis : the myrtle was widespread in the region of Baiae, standing, according to Celsus Med . 2.17.1 'above Baiae', super Baias .
otiosis WITHOUT PRODUCE is appropriate for Baiae, a resort known for its leisureliness. As applied to myrtles it suggests that they are decorative rather than profitable.
3. WIDOWED PLANES, vidua platana : for the plane tree as the tree of shade and comfort, cf. Horace Odes II 15.4, with Nisbet and Hubbard's commentary, p. 245. Martial's description of the tree as 'widowed' is a variation on Horace's caelebs platanus 'unwed plane' as well as Vergil's steriles platanos 'sterile plane trees' ( Georgics II 70). Given that the plane, unlike the elm, was not normally used to support vines, Martial's choice of word here seems to be determined more by notions of uselessness or unproductivity (cf. otiosis ) than a logical connection.
CLUMPS OF WELL-CLIPPED BOX, tonsili buxeto : Pliny the Younger describes clipped box at his villa at Tifernum Tiberinum, V 6.16. An evergreen, it was, and still is, a suitable plant for this treatment.
4. UNREWARDING SPACES, ingrata spatia : UNREWARDING ingrata continues the notion of uselessness from otiosis and vidua . Cf. ager otiosus 'unrewarding field' found at X 47.4. spatia suggests open ground ideal for exercise either on foot or on horseback. Martial maybe has in mind spacious colonnades (cf. Statius Silvae III 5.90, OLD spatium 2) except that OF THE BROAD FIELD lati campi evokes a more open image. The hippodrome Pliny describes at his Tuscan villa V 6.32 ff. is perhaps a close parallel, especially since he mentions plane trees, box etc.
5. A FARM THAT'S REAL, rure vero : Faustinus' villa is thus, unlike many other villas in the area, claimed to be a productive piece of country, that is, behaving as the countryside should.
UNKEMPT, barbaro : taken along with REAL vero Martial uses this word to emphasise that the villa is not kept simply for show. It has overtones of 'unsophisticated', using it as an opposite for urbanus . In these opening five lines it is precisely that kind of opposition which Martial evokes, a sleek citified property as against a working farm. It is mistaken to interpret it, as does OLD barbarus 2 c, following Friedlaender, as 'wild' or 'uncultivated'.
6. CORN PACKED TIGHT, farta ...Ceres : the primacy given to corn reflects the importance of the grain supply for Rome. The imagery of Faustinus' corn filling up his own granaries IN EVERY CORNER omni angulo thus evokes a powerful picture of enviable self-sufficiency.
7. CROCKS IN PLENTY, multa testa : wine coming second to corn does not surprise, as it was a staple agricultural product of Italy.
OLD AUTUMNS, senibus autumnis : the linking of the wine to the past hints at fine old vintages, a commonplace of wine poetry.
8. WHEN NOVEMBER'S PAST, post Novembres : provides the hint that Martial is moving through an agricultural year, starting with the grain harvest in summer, followed by the main grape harvest in autumn.
9. LATE GRAPES, seras uuas : at I 43 late grapes ( de tardibus uitibus uuae ) are mentioned as being preserved to be served with a boar. It is evident from references such as this that grapes which were not yet ripe at the time of the harvest were left on the vine. They are then brought in by the pruner, putator , when he prunes the vines before the next growing season. According to Columella IV 23 vines are pruned after the harvest, or in early spring. The description of the pruner as SCRUFFY horridus reminds the reader that this is a REAL AND QUITE UNKEMPT farm, rus uerus barbarusque .
10. SO FIERCE BULLS, truces tauri : Martial switches from crops to animals, starting with the most powerful, the bull, and moving in the next line to the young male, the STEER uitulus . It is significant that Martial does not mention cows at all, either because they are ordinary working animals (see K.D. White, Roman Farming [London, 1970], p. 286) or because they do not carry the same symbolic value as the fierce bulls and the young male itching ( prurit ) to engage in combat to prove himself. If, as Columella recommended (VI 24), calves were not born until well after the end of winter, these would be nine months or so old in late winter/early spring, the presumed time of this description of Faustinus' villa.
12. THE SQUALID FOWL-YARD'S CROWD, turba sordidae chortis : chors , an abbreviated form of cohors , denotes an enclosed space or yard, here for various birds. SQUALID sordida continues the emphasis on the working nature of this farm.
Birds on a Roman farm can be regarded either as common poultry or exotic birds being fattened for gourmets. Columella in Book VIII makes a clear distinction between these two categories. Martial's description of Faustinus' fowl-yard recalls rather Varro De Re Rustica III 4-11, with its emphasis on the exotics.
13. HARSH-VOICED GEESE, argutus anser : the cackling of geese was famous in Roman history for rousing the defenders during the siege of the Capitol by the Gauls (see Livy V 47, 390 B.C.), a fact recalled by Columella at the beginning of his discussion of geese at VIII 13. Varro discusses geese at III 10. From these sources it is evident that geese would not be kept in the same place as other birds, showing that Martial's use of FOWL- YARD chors here is an extremely loose one, covering the whole operation of the variety of birds. Geese were kept for their down and feathers as well as their meat.
PEACOCKS WITH THEIR GEM-TRIMMED TAILS, gemmei pauones : Columella devotes a long chapter (VIII 11) to peafowl even though he says at 3 that the possession of them is not common. In Varro's day peafowl provided the highest prices, a reflection of their luxury status (III 6).
The juxtaposition in this line of peacocks and geese suggests the range of birds kept by Faustinus and hints that this farm is not quite so UNKEMPT barbarus or even SQUALID sordidus as Martial has claimed. It may be a 'working' place rather than for 'show', but it is designed to supply all the wants of a fastidioius owner rather than a simple rustic.
14. The bird which OWES ITS NAME TO ITS RED FEATHERS, is the flamingo, in Greek phoinikopteros, derived from phoinix 'purple red' and pteron 'feather'. Latin takes this name over as phoenicopterus ; cf. XIII 71.
Keeping flamingoes is not mentioned either by Varro or by Columella, though the latter probably has them in mind as the imported delicacy at VIII 8.10, Aegyptias aues 'Egyptian birds'. They were an item of specialised luxury, at least in the view of Pliny the Elder ( Hist. Nat. X 133) who reports that Apicius considered the flamingo's tongue to be a particular delicacy. Martial XIII 71 reinforces this information, and Suetonius lists flamingo tongue amongst the melange of delicacies favoured by Vitellius ( Vit . 13.2). Juvenal XI 139 mentions flamingo as the kind of dish which might be served at a luxury banquet. Faustinus is thus placed squarely within the luxury gourmet tradition, though it is equally if not more important here that he raises his own, which removes him from the ranks of those who would have to pay large sums for them in the markets.
16. PAINTED PARTRIDGE, picta perdix : described as a 'very rare bird'at XIII 65.1 the partridge is mentioned by Varro only in passing as a bird which conceives by hearing the voice of the male, citing Archelaus as his authority. It is kept here as a table bird. See J.M.C. Toynbee, Animals in Roman Life and Art (London, 1973), pp. 255-256.
SPECKLED GUINEA-FOWLS, Numidicae guttatae : Columella VIII 12.1 mentions that these birds are looked after in virtually the same way as peafowl. An earlier reference, VIII 2.2, enables the identification of these with the gallinae Africanae 'African hens' of Varro III 9.18, a recent addition to the gourmet's table. Horace, Epode 2.53 mentions the Afra auis 'African bird' as a luxury food, and Martial XIII 73 claims that the bird was not eaten by Hannibal, by which he must mean that the habit of eating it was a more recent innovation. See Toynbee, op. cit., pp. 253-254.
17. PHEASANT, phasiana : Columella VIII 8.10 implies these birds were eaten, but as an imported delicacy rather than raised on farms. Statius Silvae I 6.77 includes them along with guinea fowl and flamingoes as being released as gifts during the Saturnalia, in which case they are intended to be eaten. The context here likewise implies consumption. See Toynbee, op. cit., pp. 254-255.
OF THE COLCHIANS STEEPED IN CRIME, impiorum Colchorum : this allusion to the story of Medea reinforces the exotic origin of the pheasant, which in Latin is simply called 'the bird of Phasis'. Notice how it immediately follows the mention of Numidicae 'Numidians' i.e. guinea fowls, moving from the south to the east.
17. THE RHODIAN HENS, Rhodias feminas : according to Columella VIII 2.12 the Rhodian breed of poultry was known for its size. This is no doubt the reason Pliny Hist. Nat. X 48 claims the Rhodian cocks are the best fighting birds. In this context it is most likely that these hens are being used to produce fat birds for meat. The choice could also be influenced by the effect of adding a third exotic location to Numidia and Colchis.
PROUD COCK BIRDS, superbi galli : Columella VIII 2.12 provides the detail that these birds were of particularly fine appearance. In this, therefore, they match the splendour of flamingoes, peacocks etc. which frequent Faustinus' villa.
18. DOVECOTES, turres : as wild pigeons liked to roost high up in buildings dovecotes often took the form of towers, turres .
Both Varro III 6 and Columella VIII 8 discuss the housing and raising of pigeons. While Varro distinguishes between housing 'wild' and 'domestic' birds, Columella favours an elevated loft even for the domestic variety, III 8.2, making it difficult to be certain whether the structure Martial has in mind is for 'wild' or 'domestic' birds. In the context, these turres sound more like part of the farmyard than structures placed high on the house to provide a home for wild birds. Cf. P. Lehmann, Roman Wall Paintings from Boscoreale pp. 99ff.
OF DOVE-PIGEONS, columbarum : these are to be distinguished from palumbi 'ringdoves/wood pigeons', and are bred and kept for meat. For these birds kept also as pets, cf. Toynbee, op. cit., pp. 258-259.
19. RINGDOVE, palumbus : as indicated by Columella VIII 8.1 these birds also were kept in dovecotes for fattening. Varro does not distinguish them from columbae .
TURTLE-DOVE, turtur : these birds were most suitable for fattening in summer, around harvest, as both Varro III 8.3 and Columella VIII 9.2 inform us. They were not bred on the farm, but captured in the wild and then fattened for the table. Cf. III 60.7.
GLOSSY, cereus : it is unlikely that Martial uses this word to denote colour, which would be pale yellow. Turtle-doves are soft grey/brown in colour.
This eight-line section on the birds kept at Faustinus' villa, despite the description SQUALID FOWL-YARD, sordidae chortis establishes the level of luxury the owner enjoys. The placing of the geese at the beginning and varieties of pigeons and doves at the end serves to disguise the exotic nature of the breeds in between, chosen for their ability to adorn a table rather than produce an economic return. The whole thrust of the epigram is towards the villa's self-sufficiency, not its economic productivity, which was a concept of limited interest or importance to Romans.
20-21: the description of the animal life on the farm concludes with two lines balancing lines 10 and 11.
20. GREEDY PIGS, auidi : cf. Columella VII 10.8 describing pigs as pecus inexsatiabile 'insatiable animals'.
BAILIFF'S WIFE'S APRON, uilicae sinum : as well as being allowed to forage for themselves pigs were given additional food by hand. See esp. Columella VII 9.9, recommending a breakfast of beans etc. to prevent health problems if the animals then eat too much grass. In Varro and Columella the swine are looked after by a swineherd; here at Faustinus' villa the operation is on a much smaller scale, so it is the BAILIFF'S WIFE uilica who feeds the pigs.
SOFT THE LAMB, mollis agnus : the details provided by Varro II 2 and Columella VII 2-5 bear witness to the importance of sheep in the agriculture of Italy. Martial, however, chooses the image of the lamb to extend the pastoral idyll of Faustinus' villa. The lamb is a potent symbol of vulnerability, at risk from wolves (e.g. Tibullus II 1.20). It was recommended by Columella that lambs be kept around the farm, so they did not go out with the flock to graze during the day. Hence the description here of the soft lamb awaiting its mother's return bearing that symbol of plenty, a full udder (cf. Tibullus I 3.45-46).
22. HOMEBORN INFANT SLAVES, lactei uernae : the mention of homeborn slaves reflects the self-sufficiency of the estate and its idyllic nature. Homeborn slaves uernae are a commonplace in literature to suggest this, and are used as such by Horace Epode 2.65 and Tibullus II 1.23, who describes such slaves as the 'sure sign of a prosperous farmer' saturi bona signa coloni .
THE CLEAR BRIGHT FIRE, serenum focum : the importance of the hearth within the Roman household is another commonplace Martial employs in this passage to create an idyllic picture of life on the estate. Again, Horace Epode 2.43 and Tibullus II 1.22 exploit this idea. Cf. also Martial I 55.8.
23. PILED LOGS, larga silua : the abundance is such that a whole forest ( silua ) of logs is blazing on the hearth, shedding light on the HOLIDAYING HOUSEHOLD GODS festos lares , by which Martial means the household gods bedecked for some festival. This too is another commonplace of the idyllic rural life: cf. Tibullus II 1.22.
24. WINE-STORE KEEPER, copo : this term normally refers to a tavern keeper (e.g. III 57.1) The context here demands that it refer to Faustinus' cellarer.
PALE-FACED EASE, albo otio : for the use of albus 'pale- faced' as an indication of illness, cf. I 55.14.
25. WRESTLING-MASTER, palaestrita : the presence of this man within the household betrays the luxury of the establishment. The fact that he could be thought to WASTE HIS TIME perdit oleum strongly suggests that Faustinus was gaining enough exercise on his estate without the need to engage in exercise in the palaestra . Martial does not pass up the opportunity for verbal humour presented by the proverbial phrase perdere oleum 'to lose oil' meaning 'waste time', juxtaposed here with lubricus , OIL- ANNOINTED.
26-28: The involvement of the copo and palaestrita in the hunt demonstrates the way in which the pastoral idyll embraces not only the master but his slaves as well. For the popularity of hunting, cf.I 55.
26. A CRAFTY NET, rete subdolum : denotes a snare set to catch birds, presumably in the wild, rather than from aviaries as described by Varro III 5. Martial uses exactly the same expression in II 40.3, subdola tendentur retia 'crafty nets are being stretched' to describe the capture of fieldfares.
GREEDY-EYED FIELDFARES, auidis turdis : the insatiable appetite of these birds suggests their plumpness. At II 40.3 they are described as crassus 'fat' (with a double meaning 'dull-witted').
27. A LINE STILL TREMBLING, tremula linea : fishing by line is coupled with hunting with nets both at II 40.3-4 and I 55.8-9.
28. DOE, dammam : the identification of this animal presents problems; see J. Aymard Les Chasses romaines (Paris, 1951), p. 18. It is probably being used here as a general term for deer, the hunting of which was widespread in Italy. See Toynbee, op. cit., pp. 143-145.
ENTANGLED IN NETS, impeditum cassibus : the usual method of hunting deer was to drive them into nets. See Aymard, op. cit., 208-213 for discussion of the nets used.
At I 55 the hunt is described as relaxation for the tired city- dweller. Here it is not Faustinus who hunts, but his slaves who do it for him, so we may detect another hint of the luxury of the villa.
29. THE YIELDING GARDEN, facilis hortus : the image of the fruitful productive garden continues the idea of the bountiful nature of this estate, the perfect setting for the BRIGHT TOWN-SLAVES hilares urbanos . The unexpressed theme is that life in the city is not a happy one. Pliny the Younger Ep. IX 20.2 also mentions having town-slaves urbani with him on his Tuscan estate.
30. WITH NONE TO HAND TASKS OUT, paedagogo non iubente : from this line it is to be inferred that the overseer of the capillati , LONG-HAIRED BOYS, was called a paedagogus .
PLAYFUL THOUGH THEY ARE, lasciui : the use of this word to describe capillati provides an example of the way Martial uses double entendre. In the context it means simply 'playful' or 'sportive', in need of direction from the paedagogus . At the same time their prettiness suggests sexual licence as well ('wanton').
31. LONG-HAIRED BOYS, capillati : these are pre-pubescent slaves whose duties were either decorative or sexual. They are certainly an indication of the luxury in which Faustinus lives, even in the country. Cf. Petronius Satyricon 27.7, and see I 31 for the vow of a long-haired slave to Apollo on behalf of his master, with discussion in M. Citroni M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammaton Liber I (Florence, 1975), pp. 101-105 and P. Howell, A Commentary on Book One of the Epigrams of Martial (London, 1980), pp. 171- 173.
HAPPY TO OBEY BAILIFF, *parere gaudent uilico*: life in the country is so beneficial that these pretty boys willingly follow directions of the rustic overseer of the estate, in what Martial does not specify, though from analogy with other slaves in this section it should be some task around the estate.
32. DANDY EUNUCH, *delicatus eunuchus*: the list of slaves culminates in the one which might be considered the least fruitful of all, the eunuch, yet even he derives pleasure from his work. The word ENJOY fruitur is chosen because of its overtones of productive return DANDY. delicatus may signify nothing more than the fact that he is a favourite of the master.
The arrangement of these lines focussing on slaves 22-32 is very deliberate. It begins with the HOMEBORN INFANT SLAVES, lactei uernae , and moves on to WINE-STORE KEEPER copo , WRESTLING-MASTER palaestrita , TOWN SLAVES urbani , LONG-HAIRED BOYS capillati and finally THE EUNUCH eunuchus , progressively in closer contact with the master. The luxury involved in such an array of slaves merely extends the luxury already described within the farmyard itself.
33-44: the villa in the local social context.
33. THE COUNTRY VISITOR, rusticus salutator : the use of salutator for VISITOR here suggests the convention of the social call salutatio as practised in the city (cf. Juvenal I 95-109), except that in the country the call is paid in order to bring gifts, not carry off the dole, sportula .
34. HONEY, mella : similarly quoted as symbolic of the country at I 55.10. Here, complete with honeycomb, one is even closer to the source of production.
35. A CONE OF CHEESE, metam lactis : the making of cheese (from goat's milk) is explained by Columella at VII 8. The CONE meta here refers to the shape of the cheese.
FROM SASSINATE WOODLAND, Sassinata de silva : Martial mentions cones of cheese from Sarsina in Umbria at I 43.7. Pliny Hist. Nat. XI 241 considers this one of the best cheeses.
36. DORMICE THAT ARE STILL SLUGGISH, somniculosos glires : Varro III 15 describes not only the keeping of dormice in a special enclosure ( glirarium ) but also fattening them in jars ( dolia ) made for the purpose. Jars such as these have been found at Pompeii: see M. Annecchino, 'Suppellettile fittile da cucina di Pompei' in L'instrumentum Domesticum di Ercolano e Pompei nella prima eta imperiale , Quaderni di Cultura Materiale 1 (Roma, 1977), pp. 105-120, esp. pp. 113-114 with plate LIII. Strictly speaking, this should not be called a glirarium , a term Varro applies to the enclosure where the dormice were kept.
Martial XIII 59 refers to the dormouse hibernating, so SLUGGISH here might refer to that; if they have been fattened in jars, as recommended by Varro, they could easily be very fat and not very active. Cf. Toynbee, op. cit., pp. 203-204.
37. BLEATING OFFSPRING, uagientem fetum : as Varro De Lingua Latina VII 104 quotes Ennius using the word uagio of the sound made by a goat this will be the animal intended here. In any case, there has not so far been any mention of a goat, a common animal for the Romans. See Columella VII 6-7 and Varro De Agri Cultura II 3. Cf. Toynbee op. cit., pp. 164-166.
38. CAPONS, capones : both Varro III 9.3 and Columella VIII 2.3 include capons in their accounts of the poultry on a farm. The castrated cock could then be fattened for the table. Apicius 167 has a recipe for a minutal , a kind of relish including capon testicles, and a recipe for a stuffing suitable for this bird, at 250.
39. GIFTS IN WICKER WORK BASKETS, dona...uimine texto*: as seen in III 47 it is eggs which are carried in baskets.
40. HULKING, grandes etc. : the four heavy words of this line in Latin reflect beautifully the image of the strapping healthy offspring of old-fashioned farmers. One imagines the mothers, who mind the poultry, are similarly healthy.
41. The image of country simplicity extends to a description of a dinner at the villa. Martial has stressed how happy are Faustinus' slaves; now that happiness is expanded to include his neighbour, uicinus .
42. STINGY TABLE, auara mensa : the application of this adjective, more common to denote greed and rapacity among men, to a table, is arresting. It is as though the vices of a master affect even his furniture.
43. ALL EAT THE MEAL, uescuntur omnes : elsewhere Martial (III 60) criticises hosts who fed their guests inferior food to their own.
44. WAITER WELL-FED, satur minister : Martial concludes his description of the estate of Faustinus by drawing attention to the plentiful supply of food even for the slaves, who, it is implied, are completely contented.
45. BUT YOU, at tu : this is addressed to Bassus,who has slipped out of view since line 1. It is a signal that after the lengthy description of Faustinus' estate the conclusion is about to come.
NEAT FAMINE, famem mundam : another striking juxtaposition: mundus suggests all that is neat, refined, elegant, while fames 'starvation' suggests the opposite.
46. FROM YOUR HIGH TOWER, turre ab alta : the loftiness of a house or tower serves as an indicator of removal from reality, cf. XII 57. For towers on Roman villas, cf. Pliny Ep. II 17.12, with Sherwin-White's note.
MERE LAURELS, meras laurus : the laurel was much used in Roman gardens. Though evergreen and decorative it is not a tree which produces any return, and that is the point here. The description just concluded of Faustinus' villa, as though from a tower, is now contrasted with the view from Bassus' actual tower.
47. PRIAPUS, Priapo : a statue of Priapus as a guardian of fertility stood in gardens to frighten away thieves, cf.III 68.9-10. Martial delights in pointing out that even this as simply part of the show.
YOU ARE NOT NERVOUS, securus : living free from care would ordinarily be considered a desirable state if affairs, but Martial delights in using a word in an unexpected way.
48. GRAPE-VINE DRESSER, uinitorem : so the estate at least has some vines, but that is all in the way of agricultural production.
MEAL THAT'S BROUGHT FROM TOWN, farre urbano : the contrast between the town and country is exploited again here, to show up the lack of self-sufficiency enjoyed by Bassus.
49. TO THAT FRESCOED VILLA OF YOURS, pictam ad villam : the survival of frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum gives a good idea of the kind of decoration Bassus would have had in his villa. The eruption of Vesuvius occurred less than ten years before Martial wrote this, so the later Pompeian styles would still be in evidence elsewhere. For frescoes see M. Borda, La Pittura Romana (Milan, 1958).
WITHOUT PRODUCE, otiosus : like securus (47), otiosus .here takes on negative shades of meaning. The ideal of being free from official cares becomes the equivalent of 'idle' or 'useless': cf. line 2 above.
50. CABBAGES, holus : this covers the caules mentioned at III 47.7 (q.v.). This basic vegetable is curiously absent from Martial's description of Faustinus' villa, presumably because he deals with it on such an idyllic level. When he gets back to Bassus, then Martial is back down to earth.
EGGS, oua : cf. line 39 above, and III 47.14.
FOWLS, pullos : cf. 12-19 above.
APPLES, poma : these are not mentioned at Faustinus' villa. The effect here is to add yet another agricultural product to the battery already employed in this poem and III 47.
CHEESE, caseum : cf. line 35 above. Faustinus presumably also produced his own cheese, from the goats and maybe sheep.
NEW WINE, mustum : there is a pleasing contrast between this new wine and the old vintages enjoyed by Faustinus. Cf. line 7 above.
51. COUNTRY, rus : cf. line 5 above. At the end of the poem Martial returns to the motivation observed at the beginning. In this instance there has been an elaborate development of the theme of the country, and the reader has freshly in mind the FARM THAT'S REAL rus uerus of line 5.
A HOUSE FROM TOWN, domus longe : domus denotes a 'town-house' as opposed to uilla 'country-house'. longe 'far away' i.e. from town, neatly captures the contrast Martial has been developing. It is striking to see how the fifty lines of epigram resolve in this one simple juxtaposition.
The very length of this poem tends to obscure its affinities with Martial's shorter epigrams. An analysis of the structure reveals a basis of Martial's standard format, namely complementary statements followed by conclusion, reading lines 1 and 5 as the first statement, line 45 as the second, and line 51 as the conclusion. All Martial has done is to expand a four line epigram into fifty-one lines.
It is the way in which he has done this which demands attention. First, the opening statement is expanded by a series of negatives stating what Faustinus' villa does not possess, mirrored at the end by the description of Bassus' estate indicating it is almost precisely what Faustinus' is not. The unproductivity suggested by otiosis WITHOUT PRODUCE, uidua WIDOWED, and ingrata UNREWARDING (2-4) finds its echo on lines 46-48. Lines 49 and 50, as well as recalling III 47, form a suitably lean counterpart to the bulk of the poem, lines 6-44.
This major section of the poem, describing the villa at length after a few lines (2-4) of saying what it is not, divides into three sections which could be called respectively 'The Productive Estate' (lines 6- 21), 'The Happy Estate' (lines 22-32) and 'The Social Estate' (lines 33-44). Through the three runs the theme of idyllic country life where animals, slaves and neighbours are all happy. The sequence is studied: the farm exists to produce crops and animals for food, so that is placed first; it provides employment for slaves, second; it is a focus for the community, third.
Against this framework of rural idyll Martial sets the theme of luxury, interweaving it in such a manner that it could easily be overlooked. The countryside not only furnishes Faustinus with a range of luxury foods but also provides a healthy environment for his luxury slaves. Now, while the presence of these slaves (e.g. capillati and eunuchus ) and the neighbours coming to visit imply the presence of Faustinus, it is noticeable that he is not directly mentioned. It is much more effective to keep him as a numinous presence than provide description of his involvement on the estate, for Martial has set up this poem as a contrast between two estates, not between two people.
The contrast is enlivened by the vocabulary used for each, linking barbaro QUITE UNKEMPT (5), horridus SCRUFFY (9), sordidae SQUALID (12) and rusticus COUNTRY (33) in praise of Faustinus' villa, in opposition to mundam NEAT(45), securus NOT NERVOUS (47), urbano BROUGHT FROM TOWN (48) and otiosus WITHOUT PRODUCE (49) all used in association with Bassus and his estate. The tension is evident also in the final line, in rus THE COUNTRY (recalling rure uero FARM THAT'S REAL of line 5) and domus HOUSE, leaving this as a question to which the reader is left to provide the answer.
An epigram of this length and complexity demonstrates Martial's ability to develop themes and ideas on the broad scale. He is familiar with the tradition, happy to exploit it and adept at handling it. The framework and point, however, remain typically concise.
Heitland's discussion of this epigram, *Agricola. A Study of Agriculture and Rustic Life in the Greco-Roman World from the point of view of Labour* (Cambridge, 1921), pp.309-310, suggests Martial may be laughing in his sleeve at Faustinus, and questions whether the farm could have produced a surplus to yield a return on capital invested. There is no doubt Martial enjoys portraying city luxury in a country setting, yet any extent to which this might be interpreted as criticism of Faustinus must be set against the explicit contrast with Bassus and the undoubted self-sufficiency of the property. Heitland's comment that 'the sort of man who treated himself to a eunuch can hardly have been much of a farmer, even near Baiae' (p.310) betrays his own misconception of what Martial is attempting in this epigram, namely the description of an idyllic estate. It is doubtful whether Faustinus would have expected any 'return' on this estate over and above his own needs, so it is mistaken to deny that this estate was a practical operation. No wealthy Roman in any case would participate in the farm's activities, but that does not mean they are not serious about the farm's operations. Cf. Pliny Ep. III 19, and the comment of Garnsey and Saller, The Roman Empire. Economy, Society and Culture , (Duckworth, 1987), p. 74, 'a value system that put a premium on wealth-consumption could not at the same time promote productive reinvestment'.
The few acres of Julius Martialis (Than the Hesperids' garden more contented) On Janiculum's lengthy ridge are nestling: Widened terraces loom upon the hillsides And the flat mountain-top with gentle swelling (5) Enjoys thoroughly weather that is clearer And, when mist puts a pall on winding valleys, Shines alone with its own peculiar brightness: Gently rising up to the stars unclouded Stand the dainty peaks of a lofty villa. (10) This side you can see seven lordly mountains And take measure of Rome in all her glory, Alban hills and the Tusculan hills also, And each cool retreat lying near the city, Old Fidenae and tiny little Rubrae, (15) And the grove that takes joy from blood of maiden, Grove of Anna Perenna, and her orchard. There on highways Flaminia and Salaria Passengers full in view but vehicles soundless So that wheels do not hamper sleep beguiling, (20) Which to interrupt neither call of boatswain Nor the shout of bargemen is sufficient, Though the Milvian Bridge is so near, and the Swift gliding of the keel on sacred Tiber. This seat, or it had better be called town-house, (25) Its master recommends: you'll think it's your place, So ungrudging and with such ready welcome, With such kind hospitality it's open, You'd believe it's Alcinous' kind dwelling, Or that of the just lately rich Molorchus. (30) You who reckon now all of this is tiny, With a hundred hoes dig up chilly Tibur Or Praeneste subdue, or to a single Farmer hand over Sezza on its hillside, So as you let my preference over those be (35) The few acres of Julius Martialis.
Julius Martialis is one of Martial's close friends, as this complimentary epigram testifies. The description of the estate on the Janiculum Hill is intended to sound idyllic,without the slightest hint that Martial is in the least jealous of his friend's property (cf. XII 57).It provides Martial with an opportunity to indulge his taste for lyrical description of natural beauty, revealing a Roman awareness of the beauty of the countryside.
The area of Rome on the right-hand side of the Tiber was well- known as an area of private gardens, the most famous being those of Julius Caesar bequeathed to the Roman people. Others include the gardens of Agrippa which eventually passed to Caligula (where St. Peter's and the Vatican now are) and the Horti Domitiae nearby. These were all close to the Tiber, whereas it is clear that the gardens of Julius Martialis lie along the heights of the Janiculum, commanding extensive views, so more or less in the vicinity of the present-day Passeggiata del Gianicolo. Other gardens in the area are likely to have included those of Galba, on the Via Aurelia, which leaves the city here.
The length of the epigram is an indication of the importance placed upon it. It compliments Julius Martialis by the attention given to the description and the comparisons drawn as well as the provision of elaborate detail. Nevertheless Martial employs here the simple technique of enclosing the description within identical opening and closing lines Iuli iugera pauca Martialis THE FEW ACRES OF JULIUS MARTIALIS.
1. A FEW ACRES, iugera pauca : the Roman area of land measure was the iugerum 'iuger', approximately two-thirds of an acre or a quarter of a hectare. The sense of the poem demands that pauca is serious, not poetic understatement, but the property must run to several acres, as it includes a house as well as gardens.
2. THAN THE HESPERIDS' GARDEN, hortis Hesperidum : The garden of the Hesperids was established as a paradise by the late fifth century B.C. at least; cf. Euripides Hipp. 742-751. For details of the disputed parentage of the Hesperids and their history in literature and art see I. McPhee, 'Hesperides', in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae V.1 394-406. The most famous attribute of the garden was the tree bearing the golden apples, stolen by Hercules. Martial alludes to this garden in X 94.
MORE CONTENT, beatiora : the Latin adjective suggests happiness and ease, rather than productivity. Right from the start this comparison establishes the league in which Julius Martialis' house belongs.
3. ON JANICULUM'S LENGTHY RIDGE, longo Ianiculi iugo : the Latin iugo here echoes the iugera of line 1. This ridge of the Janiculum is a prominent feature of the view across the Tiber from the centre of Rome.
4. WIDENED TERRACES, lati recessus : properly a recessus is a sheltered or secret spot, but here its meaning is closer to that of a terrace which commands a view. It may be considered REMOTE in the sense of being difficult of access. This whole line exploits a series of unexpected twists of meaning which have caused problems for commentators. Normally it is the hills which tower over somewhere, e.g. a city, as in Vergil Aen. I 450, but here the recessus tower above the hills. The explanation is that HILLSIDES collibus denotes the high points within the garden which, we have just been told, runs along the Janiculum ridge. On these are placed vantage points for viewing the scene, so these TERRACES can be thought to tower over (or loom upon) the hillsides, as they would appear to do when approached from below.
5. FLAT MOUNTAIN-TOP, planus...vertex : having climbed the hill, the visitor comes upon almost level ground, depicted as another world altogether.
6. ENJOYS THOROUGHLY WEATHER THAT IS CLEARER, caelo perfruitur sereniore : the experience of Rome, as elsewhere, is that the higher ground is healthier, and could well be said to enjoy clearer weather. At the same time, something more is being hinted here, that this hilltop approaches Olympus, as the following lines develop.
7-8. WHEN MIST PUTS A PALL...WITH ITS OWN PECULIAR BRIGHTNESS, nebula tegente...luce peculiare : once again, an everyday observation, that mist hangs around the low-lying areas along the Tiber, suggests that Julius's estate is 'above the clouds', in the realm of Olympus.
9. STARS UNCLOUDED, puris astris : the imagery of the abode of the gods continues. For stars as symbols of loftiness and Olympus, cf. Vergil Aen. IV 322, IX 641, Horace Odes III 3.9-10.
10. THE DAINTY PEAKS, culmina delicata : these peaks of the villa are the tops of rooves and towers which take on the refinement of the owner, cf. VII 17.1.
11-24: The middle section of the poem describes the view from Julius's villa.
11. SEVEN MOUNTAINS, septem montes : the traditional identification of Rome by reference to the seven hills, regularly called mountains. >From the area of the Janiculum close to Acqua Paola there is a clear view across to the Capitol, Palatine, Aventine, Viminal, Quirinal, Esquiline and Caelian Hills.
12. ROME IN ALL HER GLORY, totam Romam : ancient Rome was confined within the area viewed from Julius's villa. Cf. Cicero De Lege Agraria II 96, Romam in montibus positam et convallibus , 'Rome placed on the mountains and in the valleys'.
13. ALBAN AND TUSCULAN HILLS, Albanos Tusculosque colles : the more distant prospect on a clear day extends to the Alban Hills in the south-east and Tusculan Hills a little more to the north.
14. WHATEVER COOL RETREAT, quodcumque frigus : beginning with this general statement Martial suggests the coolness of the hills outside Rome, including the Tiburtine hills, as the prospect moves northwards.
15. FIDENAE AND RUBRAE, Fidenas...Rubras : as the sweep continues Fidenae, on the Via Salaria just outside Rome, and Saxa Rubra, further west, across the Tiber on the Via Flaminia, come into view. It is questionable whether these places themselves could be seen from the Janiculum, but there is no doubt that their general locations were visible. Fidenae is 'old' because it was a rival of Rome which declined as Rome grew. For Rubrae=Saxa Rubra, so called from the natural red tufa, see RE IIA 307-308 Saxa rubra (Philipp).
16-17. AND THE GROVE ...ORCHARD, et quod...Perennae : Ovid Fasti III, 503 ff., describes the festival of Anna Perenna held close to the Tiber on the Ides of March each year. The Vatican Calendar provides the additional information that it took place on the Via Flaminia, at the first milestone, which means it would have been in the vicinity of the Porta del Popolo. The present gardens of the Villa Borghese occupy ground rising from the Tiber at this point, and can be seen from the Janiculum. J. G. Frazer, The Fasti of Ovid Vol. III, pp. 110-112 ingeniously explains BLOOD OF MAIDENS virgineo cruore as a reference to the sexual intercourse which took place in the grove during this fertility festival; alternatively it could be an allusion to primitive sacrificial practice to ensure fertility.
18. FLAMINIA AND SALARIA, Flaminia Salariaque : two main roads leading north out of Rome, in focus as the gaze comes back towards the centre of the city.
19-20. PASSENGERS ETC, gestator etc. : one of the attractions of a retreat such as Julius's was that the sound of the traffic did not disturb (cf. XII 57).
21-24. The noise from the Tiber, in the foreground of the view, is also far away.
21. CALL OF BOATSWAIN, nautica celeuma : the boatswain shouts to keep the rowers in time.Cf. III 67.4.
22. SHOUT OF BARGEMEN, clamor helciariorum : many goods were transported up-river on barges, towed by a helciarius from the shore. Cf. Propertius I 14 3-4.
23. MILVIAN BRIDGE, Mulvius : later more famous as the site of the battle (28 October 312) between Constantine and Maxentius, this was better known in the late first century as one of the busiest bridges across the Tiber, as three roads converged on it, Via Cassia and Via Tiberina as well as Via Flaminia. While the bridge itself may not be visible from the Janiculum, its location would be identifiable.
24. SWIFT GLIDING OF THE KEEL, lapsae...volent carinae : the Tiber was a much busier traffic route in Martial's day than now.
25-30: Praise of the hospitality of Julius Martialis.
25. SEAT, OR TOWN-HOUSE, rus, seu domus : this self- correction is a clever touch, as it shows Martial playing down the grandeur of the estate he is praising. When he wants to criticise, he will do the reverse: cf. XII 57.
26. YOU'LL THINK IT'S YOUR PLACE, tuam putabis : the surest compliment to a generous host.
29. ALCINOUS' DWELLING, Alcinoi Penates : for Alcinous, the hospitable king of Phaeacia in the Odyssey as a type of a generous host, cf Prop. I 14.24. See also Martial X 94.
30. OR OF MOLORCHUS, aut Molorchi : Molorchus was a shepherd who entertained Hercules before he slew the Nemean lion: cf. Apollodorus, Bibl. II 5 1-4; Statius Silvae III 1, IV 6.5; Vergil Georgics III 15. It is from this reference to his new-found wealth that it is presumed he was rewarded by Hercules.
31-36: the point of the epigram, as Martial addresses his readers.
31. ALL OF THIS IS TINY, omnia parua : echoes the iugera pauca of line 1, even though the estate is of some size.
32. WITH A HUNDRED HOES, centeno ligone : this suggests an estate which needs a large number of people to work it.
CHILLY TIBUR, gelidum Tibur : Tibur (modern Tivoli) was well-known as place of coolness within easy reach of Rome.
33. PRAENESTE, Praeneste (modern Palestrina) another retreat in the hills south-east of Rome which Juvenal at Satire III 190 describes as gelida CHILLY.
34. SEZZA Setium is a hill-town (hence pendulam ON ITS HILLSIDE) in Latium, known for its wine.
TO ONE FARMER:, uni colono : this suggests that Sezza is too small to be divided. If Sezza were one property it would be a very rich one, which is needed here.
35. MY PREFERENCE, me iudice : against the wealth of large properties outside Rome, which others consider attractive, Martial asserts his own judgement and priorities, that he prefers the small suburban estate of Julius Martialis.
36. THE FEW ACRES OF JULIUS MARTIALIS, Iuli iugera pauca Martialis : the repetition of the opening line reinforces the fact that it's the topic of the epigram.
It is noteworthy that in this epigram Martial gives very little information about the estate itself. It is purely its location which attracts, and the hospitality of the host. The impression is conveyed very convincingly however that the distant prospect is all part of the estate.
On Esquiline you've a house, you've a house on the hill of Diana, And on Patrician Row stands a high roof of yours too; From here bereft Cybele's, from there the temple of Vesta, This way your view's to the new, that way to old, house of Jove. Say where I might call on you, say where exactly I'll find you: Whoever dwells everywhere, Maximus, nowhere does dwell.
The topographical difficulties raised by this epigram need not detract from the effectiveness of its comment on a man who owns several houses in Rome. The epigram is composed in a manner which gives no hint in the first two couplets of the direction the poem is going to take, and it is not until the final line that this is revealed. The main body of the epigram conjures up a sweeping panorama of Rome.
The difficulties of the poem lie in the identification of the precise sites from which the named temples could be seen. Martial names three addresses for Maximus in lines 1 and 2 and then describes four views in lines 3 and 4. Matching these is by no means straightforward; the arrangement of the poem however allows a likely solution. The first two couplets need to be read together, with line 3 relating to line 1, and line 4 to line 2. Jordan, quoted by Friedlaender in his commentary on this epigram, notices this without following through.
1. ON ESQUILINE, Esquilio : the Esquiline is the easternmost of the hills of Rome, running generally north-south from the high ridge near the present Stazione Termini down to the Colosseum.
ON THE HILL OF DIANA, colle Dianae : the Aventine Hill is called Diana's because of the temple of this goddess which stood on its summit.
2. PATRICIAN ROW, patricius uicus : this street ran up the valley between the Viminal and Esquiline Hills, from the Argiletum behind the Forum of Augustus to the Porta Viminalis. According to Festus the street was so called because Servius Tullius had ordered the patricians to live there.
3. FROM HERE BEREFT CYBELE'S TEMPLE, hinc uiduae Cybeles sacraria : the temple of Cybele stood on the south-west corner of the Palatine where substantial remains of the podium can be seen. It is clearly visible from the northern side of the Aventine looking across the Circus Maximus, so hinc FROM HERE should be taken with the second of the locations mentioned in the opening line. Cybele is BEREFT uidua because her lover Attis castrated himself.
FROM THERE THE SANCTUARY OF VESTA, illinc sacraria Vestae : the sanctuary of Vesta lay to the east of the forum, along the Sacred Way as it begins to rise towards the Arch of Titus.
Being the most low-lying of the temples mentioned causes considerable difficulty in determining whence it could be seen; it would not be seen from the Aventine, nor the Vicus Patricius, leaving the Esquiline, as should be inferred in any case from illinc FROM THERE balancing hinc FROM HERE in line 1.
A house on the south-west slope (in the vicinity of S. Pietro in Vincoli) could have a view of the temple of Vesta.
Looking down the modern Via Cavour a view is obtained of the temple of Saturn seen past the Curia. Modern buildings prevent a sighting of the temple of Vesta, but this does not mean the temple could not be seen from the higher ground here in the late first century.
4. THIS WAY. . ., inde etc.: a house high on Patrician Row could command views in several directions, including the NEW and OLD houses of Jove. The 'new' stood on the Capitol, newly rebuilt by Domitian, cf. IX 1; 3 and X 51. The 'old' stood on a site along the Alta Semita, on the Quirinal.
This is admittedly some distance from the upper section of the Vicus Patricius, but this temple would have stood out above the buildings along that ridge, at one of the highest points in Rome.
5. SAY, dic : Martial uses this word on numerous occasions when seeking information, e.g. I 20, III 20; 63 etc. Its repetition in this line (cf. VI 10.9) imparts a sense of urgency, emphasised by the refining of the question. Even at this point it is not obvious how the epigram will resolve itself.
6. WHOEVER..., quisquis etc.: the generalised statement addressed to an individual is typical of Martial. The contrasting EVERYWHERE/NOWHERE ubique/nusquam provides an effective climax to the epigram.
Maxime : the name Maximus appears as the addressee in seven other epigrams of Martial. While the one person may be meant at I 7; 69 and V 70 (see P. Howell, A Commentary on Book One of the Epigrams of Martial [London, 1980], p. 124) this is not the same as at II 18; 53 III 18 and X 77. This latter would be a better candidate for this address here. There is a deliberate pun on the name's meaning, 'the greatest', appropriate for someone who needs three houses!
It is the apparent paradox of the final line which is the mainspring of the poem and allows it to be read informedly. The residences of Maximus are located on high points around the residential areas of Rome, while the temples, indicative of the religious and public side of Rome are located in the more central area. The exception to this is the old Capitol on the Quirinal, included to complete the sweep of views around Rome: note how the views move anti-clockwise, Cybele, Vesta, new and old Jove. The poem encompasses Rome in a manner reminiscent of IV 64, to match EVERYWHERE ubique , the mass of Rome which hides people, even those who boast three addresses.
(2) ' Passer Catulli : The Evidence of Martial', Antichthon 16 (1982), pp. 97-103; 'Flaccus, Friend of Martial', Latomus 43 (1984), pp. 414-423; 'A Prosopographical Note on Martial XII 57', Mnemosyne 37 (1984), pp. 454-457; 'The Dating of Martial Books XIII and XIV', Hermes 113 (1985), pp. 330-339; 'The Emperor and his Virtues: Martial IX 57', Antichthon 24 (1990), pp. 86-95; 'Martial V.78 31-32: A note', Mnemosyne 45 (1992) pp. 373-6.
R.J. Baker and R.A. Pitcher
Electronic Antiquity Vol. 1 Issue 1 - June 1993 edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington antiquity-editor@classics.Server.edu.au ISSN 1320-3606