Pleasant Retirement

Marcus Valerius Martiâlis (c. a.d. 40-c, 102), known in English as Martial, was horn in Bilbilis, a small provincial city in northeastern Spain. After coming to Rome as a young man, he was dependent on the patronage of the wealthy and eventually established himself as a writer of short poems (epi-grammata), mainly of a satirical nature. His success is shown in the poems he addresses to the emperor Domitian, but he eventually returned to Spain in a.d. 98.

The following poem, written to a friend still in Rome called Iuvenàlis (who may be the poet Juvenal), expresses the pleasure he felt in no longer being constricted by the social conventions of the Roman capital (cf. Martial 4.8.1, page zoo).

Dum tu forsitan inquietus erras clamosa, Iuvenalis, in Subura, aut collem dominae teris Dianae; dum per limina te potentiorum sudatrix toga ventilât vagumque 5

maior Caelius et minor fatigant:

text Martial, ed. D. R. Shackleton Bailey (Loeb Classical Library, 1993) meter hendecasyllable [§m3]

dum tu I fôrsïtân | înquï|ëtûs | ërrâs clâmô|sà Iûvë|nàlïs | InSû|bûrâ

In 11.1-6, Martial supposes that his friend is performing the salùtàtiô, the formal morning call of a cliens on his patrons (patrônï), on whom his livelihood might depend. This visit had to be made in a toga, which was made of wool and not suited for strenuous walking, as Martial points out in 1.5.

The first six lines consist of four subordinate clauses introduced by dum, which is repeated in 1.4.

1 forsitan perhaps; trans, inquietus (restless) by an adverb [§G55], zf. clàmôsà ... in Subùrâ in noisy Subura, a lively and densely populated part of Rome, northeast of the Forum; the hill (collis collis m.) of mistress Diana was the Aventine in southwest Rome, where there was an old temple of Diana (domina here indicates ownership); in Martial's time, the area was largely inhabited by the wealthy; terô -ere here tread. 4ff. per limina ... potentiorum across the thresholds (limen liminis n.) of the more powerful (potentior compar. of potens (potentis)); the object of ventilât (ventilô -are/an) is të, and its subject is toga; sudatrix (with toga) sweaty—as Martial's friend enters the houses of the wealthy, his sweaty toga is flapping against his body; vagum (adj. wandering) agrees with të, the understood object of fatigant (fatîgô -are make weary); the greater and lesser Caelius are the two peaks of the mons Caelius in southeast Rome, an area favored by the wealthy.

me multos repetita post Décembres accepit mea rusticumque fecit auro Bilbilis et superba ferro.

hic pigri colimus labore dulci xo

Boterdum Plateamque—Celtiberis haec sunt nomina crassiora terris.

ingenti fruor improboque somno, quem nec tertia saepe rumpit hora, et totum mihi nunc repono, quidquid 15

ter denos vigilaveram per annos.

ignota est toga, sed datur petenti rupta proxima vestis a cathedra.

7ff. The subject of the two clauses is mea ... Bilbilis, and with it go both multds repetita post Décembres (returned to (repetö -ere seek again) after many Decembers) and aurö ... et superba ferro (proud with [its] gold and iron (aurö and ferro abl. of cause [§g48])—Bilbilis was famous for its mines); the object of both clauses is më; in the second, the verb fëcit has a predicate rusticum, trans, has made me a rustic (in contrast to the sophisticated life Martial had lived in Rome), loff. hie here; trans, pigrî (piger idle) by an adverb [§g55]; colimus pi. for sg. f§G 53J (colö -ere here visit); labore dulci abl. of manner [§G45] with pleasant toil; Boterdum and Platea were villages near Bilbilis; Celtibërîs ... terris abl. of place where [§G38] in the Celtiberian lands (an area in northeastern Spain); crassiora (compar. of crassus, here expressing a high degree [§g 54]) rather uncouth.

13 I enjoy a huge and indecent [amount of] sleep (fruor takes the ablative); impro-bus (morally unsound) is used humorously here—in his retirement, Martial enjoys rising late.

14 The antecedent of quem is somnô; nec here not even; tertia ... höra the third hour, i.e., between 8 and 11 a.m., depending on the time of year—in the Roman day, the hours of sunlight were divided into twelve hörae and hence varied in length according to the season; rumpö -ere here disturb.

I5f. tötum ... quidquid lit., all whatever, i.e., all [the time] that; repönö -ere pay back; ter dënos ... per annös over thrice ten years—Roman poets regularly use a periphrasis for larger numbers (here the distributive dënl (ten each) is used instead of the cardinal decern); trans, the pluperfect vigilaveram (vigilö -are) by the English past tense [§g64], I stayed awake—in Rome, the noise at night made it difficult to sleep, and in addition Martial had been obliged to rise early to perform the salütäriö.

I7f. ignötus unknown; petenti pres. pple., dat. after datur to [the person] asking, trans, to you when you ask (i.e., for an article of clothing); ruptä ... ä cathedra from a broken (rumpö -ere) chair (cathedra -ae f.); proxima vestis the nearest [article of] clothing—the absence of the toga and the use of a broken chair as a clothes stand indicate the lack of formality at Bilbilis and its easy lifestyle.

surgentem focus excipit superba vicini strue cultus iliceti, 20

multa vilica quem coronat olla.

venator sequitur, sed ille quem tu secreta cupias habere silva;

dispensât pueris rogatque longos levis ponere vilicus capillos. 25

sic me vivere, sic iuvat perire.

<-: Martial Epigrammata 12.18

19Î surgentem (surgô -ere here rise from bed) lit., [a person] rising, but Martial is obviously referring to himself, trans, [you] when you rise; focus -1 m. fireplace; excipiô -ere here greet; superbâ ... strue cultus fed (colô -ere) by a noble pile (struës struis f.) (instrumental abl. [§g 47] ); vïcïnï... ïli cèûfrom (lit., of) a nearby (vicinus) holm-oak grove (ïlicëtum -1 n.). 21 The antecedent of the postponed quem [§G4] is focus; multâ ... ollâ instrumental abl. [§g 47] with many [a] pot (olla -ae f.); vilica -ae f. the female associate of the overseer (vilicus), who, whether a slave or a freeman, was in charge of running a farm or estate; corônô -are crown—the verb is used here because the pots surround the fire.

22f. vënâtor vënàtôris m. a hunter, who has presumably caught some small game for the meal; ille quem tû one whom you; sëcrëtà ... silvà abl. of place where [§g 38] in a secluded woods; cupias (potential subj. [§g68]) habere you would like to have—the hunters good looks stir Martial's emotions (homosexuality is frequently hinted at or explicitly mentioned in his poems). 24f. The subject of both verbs is lëvis ... vilicus the smooth-skinned overseer (lëvis smooth—distinguish from lëvis light), smooth-skinned because he has not yet reached puberty; dispensât (dispensé -are) gives a handout (i.e., of the daily food rations); pueris dat. to the slaves; rogat longôs ... ponere ... capillôs asks [to be allowed] to set aside (lit.,put down, i.e., cut) [his] long hair (capillus -i m.)—owners allowed the hair of young male slaves to grow long; here the vilicus wants to cut his hair and so be accepted as an adult male; Martial's young overseer is another indication of his homosexual tendencies. 26 sic in this way; me ... iuvat impers, it pleases me, i.e., I want.


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