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Juxtaposition: The Attraction of Opposites

Juxtaposition: The Attraction of Opposites

Chapter:
(p.106) Chapter Four Juxtaposition: The Attraction of Opposites
Source:
Martial
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226252568.003.0005

Juxtaposition is the most useful term for describing the environment of Martial's books, and its effect is one of the main constituents of Martial's epigrammatic world. This chapter considers a very broad type of juxtaposition which strongly affects the character of Martial's books, namely that of panegyric and scoptic. It also looks at juxtapositions of different, in fact contrasting, forms of social status. The two categories are not unconnected, insofar as Martial's adoption of the scoptic or of the panegyrical mode affects his social pose and establishes different relations of power between him and his world. Slaves feature prominently in this chapter and particularly in connection with their polar opposite, the emperor. Is there an analytic wit behind these juxtapositions, and if so, what do Martial's juxtapositions of status tell us about the structure of his social world? This chapter shows that Martial understands the anomalous figure of the emperor by reference to a number of counterparts with whom he is juxtaposed, anomalous figures themselves, such as the slave, the author, and the lector.

Keywords:   Martial, juxtaposition, panegyric, scoptic, social status, power, slaves, emperor, author, lector

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