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Martial and the World of the Epigram

Martial and the World of the Epigram

(p.1) Chapter One Martial and the World of the Epigram
University of Chicago Press

Martial is a Roman poet and a master of the epigram. His books are, in some respects, as constructed as any other books of Latin poetry. Juxtaposition is a significant urban feature of Martial's urban poetry, presenting the reader with an environment whose very interpretability is open to question and to choice. Martial's opportunistic use of language mirrors, at the same time as it polices, the social mobility he observes in his world. This book looks at Martial's chosen form, the book of epigrams, as a particular vision or representation of the world. After a brief survey of the epigram at Rome, it examines two books, the Liber spectaculorum and Book 1. It also discusses the dual capacity of the epigram to diminish and to exalt, but in the context of intertextual relations. The book takes us from Martial's Republican precursor, Catullus, to his Renaissance parodist, Johannes Burmeister.

Keywords:   Martial, epigrams, Latin poetry, juxtaposition, social mobility, Rome, Liber spectaculorum, Catullus, Johannes Burmeister

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