Epicurean Postures in Martial, Epigrams 10
IU Department of Classical Studies Lecture Series
Dr. Alison Keith, University of Toronto
October 24, 2019
School of Public Health 012
Martial’s tenth book of Epigrams is prefaced by a poem explaining the collection as a second edition, containing a few previously published epigrams newly “polished with a recent file” (10.2.3), but a greater number still of entirely fresh poems (10.2.4). The opening sequence of epigrams in Epigrams 10 is carefully ordered to emphasize in turn Martial’s literary artistry (10.2), the good will of his verse (10.3, 5), and the welcome owed by a grateful populace to the guarantor of imperial stability, the new Caesar Trajan (10.6, 7). Many of the ensuing epigrams in the re-edited collection rehearse themes that are familiar from the earlier books, even if Martial characterizes the majority as newly composed for the revised edition. At the centre of the revised book, he provides a “proem in the middle” that offers a key to the Epicurean thematics of the reissued collection in a statement of his philosophy of the happy life (10.47). This paper explores the over-arching theme of Epicurean retirement in Epigrams 10 in the context of Martial’s epigrammatic poetics, politics, and philosophy.