William Fitzgerald's Martial: The World of the Epigram PDF

By William Fitzgerald

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Extra info for Martial: The World of the Epigram

Example text

24 After this preface, the description of the games themselves begins with Spec. 25 Titus, in a goodwill gesture, inflicted upon them the very exile that they brought upon others, and so deprived himself of the profit from confiscations: “You can chalk that up to the emperor’s expenses” (Spec. 2). These exiled delatores continue the circulation between native and foreign begun in the previous poem, where foreigners became Romans in and through the amphitheater: the opposite is now the case. Furthermore, the exiled Romans, for whom the arena comes to represent the deserts and beaches (arenae) to which they will be relegated, are the inversion of the Cilicians whom the amphitheater drenches with the “showers” of their native land: Turba gravis paci placidaeque inimica quieti, quae semper miseras sollicitabat opes, traducta est +getulis+ nec cepit harena nocentis: et delator habet quod dabat exilium.

As far as geography was concerned, Rome was a small point at the center of a vast empire. ”26 In Spec. 11) now expel those who had disturbed the peace into the arena, which represents the remote wastes of the empire. The amphitheater, then, is the place that stands for all others (unum pro cunctis); the place where spectators are given (back) what is their own (reddita Roma sibi; nimbis . . maduere suis), and where malefactors receive what they gave (habet quod dabat exilium); it is a place that simulates a just (re)distribution.

The relation between past and present, then, plays on the tense coexistence of (occasional) ephemerality and lapidary permanence in the character of the genre itself. In Book 1, it is also associated with the process of entering the book. It is typical of Martial to cast the reading process in material terms, and here the various layers of prefatory material put into question where the book, or our reading of it, actually begins, which is one dimension of this book’s interrogation of its own status.

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