Wisecracks

JA.artial wrote many short poems whose final words give a humorous or unexpected twist to what has preceded.

a Numquam se cenasse domi Philo iurat, et hoc est:

non cenat, quotiens nemo vocavit eum. (5-47)

b Callidus imposuit nuper mihi copo Ravennae:

cum peterem mixtum, vendidit ille merum. (3.57)

c Tu Setina quidem semper vel Massica ponis, Papyle, sed rumor tam bona vina negat. diceris hac factus caelebs quater esse lagona.

nec puto nec credo, Papyle, nec sitio. (4.69)

d Quod tam grande sophos clamat tibi turba togata, non tu, Pomponi, cena diserta tua est. (6.48)

text Martial, ed. D. R. Shackleton Bailey (Loeb Classical Library, 1993)

meter elegiac couplet [§m 2]

numquam | se || ce|nasse do|mi || Philo | iurat et | hoc est non ce|nat quoti|ens || nemo vo|cavit e|um a Philo boasts that he is always being invited out to dinner; se cenasse (= cena-visse, himself to have dined (ceno -are)) is acc.+inf. [§gio] after iurat; domi (loc. of domus) at home; hoc est this is [so]; quotiens whenever; voco -axe here invite.

b Callidus cunning; impdno -ere + dat. trick; nuper recently; copo coponis m. innkeeper; Ravennae loc.—in Ravenna, a city in northern Italy, water was in such short supply that it was said to be more expensive than wine; mixtum [vi-num] mixed .[wine], i.e., wine and water; merum [vlnum] neat [wine], i.e., undiluted wine.

c Papylus always serves (pono -ere) good-quality wines at his dinner parties; Setina [vina], Massica [vina] superior varieties of wine; quidem emphasizes the preceding word, but in English we would convey this by the tone with which Setina is pronounced; Papyle voc.; rumor rumoris m .gossip; negat here forbids [us], i.e., suggests that it would not be a good idea to drink Papylus' wines; diceris 2 sg. pres. ind. pass, ^ow are said; hac... lagona with this wine bottle (lagona -ae f.), i.e., with this wine of yours; caelebs caelibis m. bachelor; quater four times—Papylus is rumored to have rid himself of four wives with poisoned wine (poisoning was more common in ancient Rome than it is today); nec puto nec credo I neither think nor believe [this]; in Silver Age poetry, the o of the 1 sg. pres. ind. act. of verbs is sometimes shortened, hence Martial has puto, not puto, here; trans, the third nec but... not; sitio -Ire be thirsty.

d Quod here introduces a noun clause and means with respect to the fact that, but trans, when; the reference is to a recitatio (cf. the introductions to "Is There Life After Death?", page 168, and "The Necessity of Writing Satire," page 202), where an author read his work to invited guests, but in this case Pomponius also gave

e

Quid mihi reddat ager quaeris, Line, Nomentanus? hoc mihi reddit ager: te, Line, non video.

(2.38)

f

Nescio tam multis quid scribas, Fauste, puellis: hoc scio, quod scribit nulla puella tibi.

(11.64)

g

Quid recitaturus circumdas vellera collo? conveniunt nostris auribus ista magis.

(4.41)

h

Nil recitas et vis, Mamerce, poeta videri. quidquid vis esto, dummodo nil recites.

(2.88)

i

Septima iam, Phileros, tibi conditur uxor in agro, plus nulli, Phileros, quam tibi, reddit ager.

(10.43)

J

Cum tua non edas, carpís mea carmina, Laeli. carpere vel noli nostra vel ede tua.

(1.91)

<s Martial Epigrammata them dinner; take grande (grandis loud) with sophos (an exclamation of admiration), a loud bravo!; clamo -are shout; turba togata toga'd crowd—on a formal occasion such as this, the guests wore togas; non tu ... lit., not you, [but] your dinner (cena -ae f.) is eloquent (disertus); Pomponi voc,—both poetry and prose of the Silver Age were permeated with the current style of rhetoric, and to be considered eloquent was the supreme accolade for a writer. e quaeris governs the indirect question [§g9i] Quid mihi reddat (reddo -ere return [in rent]) ager ... Nomentanus (adj. of Ndmentum -I N., a town near Rome); Line voc.; hoc (this, i.e., the return) is spelled out in the second half of the line: Martial was able to stay on his field, which would have been a small farm, and so not be troubled by Linus. f quid introduces an indirect question [§G9l] after Nescio but is postponed [§G4]; multis ... puellis dat. after scribas; Fauste voc.; hoc scio quod ... I know this, [namely] that..,.

g Quid why; recitaturus (recito -are recite) [when] about to recite (at a recitatio); circumdd -are + acc./dat. put [something] around [something]; vellera pi. for sg. [§g 53] wool (vellus velleris n,); collum -i n. neck—to protect the reciter s voice; convenio -ire + dat, be suited to; nostris auribus dat. our ears, i.e., the ears of the audience, who would prefer not to listen; take magis (more) with conveniunt. h vis 2 sg. pres. ind. void velle; Mamerce voc.; videri to appear; quidquid whatever; esto 2 sg. imp. of sum; dummodo + subj. provided that. 1 Septima ... uxor seventh wife; Phileros voc.; tibi is to be taken as both a dative of possessor [§G3o] (your seventh wife) and a dative of agent [§g29] (by you); condo -ere bury; in agro in [your] field; plus null! ... quam tibi to no one more than to you; reddit cf. epigram e above; ager trans, afield—Martial is suggesting that Phileros is killing his wives, j Cum + subj. here although; tua [carmina] your [poems]; edo edere publish; carpo -ere criticize; Laeli voc.; vel... vel... either... or...; noli (2 sg. imp. of nolo nolle) + inf. don't... [§g72]; nostra pi. for sg. [§G53].

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