Martial, On the Public Shows of Domitian (1897)
1. ON THE AMPHITHEATRE.
Let barbarian Memphis keep silence concerning the wonders of her pyramids, and let not Assyrian toil vaunt its Babylon. Let not the effeminate Ionians claim praise for their temple of the Trivian goddess; and let the altar, bristling with horns, speak modestly of the name of Delos.1 Their mausoleum too, hanging in empty air, let not the Carians with immoderate praise extol to the skies. Every work of toil yields to Caesar's amphitheatre; fame shall tell of one work for all.
1 There was an altar in Delos, said to have been constructed by Apollo of the horns of the stags slain by Diana, or "the Trivian goddess."
II. ON THE PUBLIC WORKS OF DOMITIAN.
Here, where the starry Colossus1 surveys the skies from nearer point than we, and where lofty scaffoldings2 now rise the midst of the street, the detested halls of a cruel king lately glistened, and one single mansion began to occupy the whole space of the city. Here, where the venerable 3 mass of the far-seen Amphitheatre now rises, were the ponds of Nero. Here, where we gaze with admiration at the Thermae, a boon so suddenly bestowed 4, a proud lawn had deprived poor wretches of their homes. Where the Claudian portico now throws its wide-spreading shadows, was the last remnant of a felling court. Rome has been restored to herself, and what were formerly the delights of the master, are now, under thy rule, Caesar, those of the people.
1 A colossal statue of himself, raised by Nero as an ornament to the vestibule of his golden house, 120 feet in height.
2 Scaffoldings, or pageants, consisting of several stories
3 Because dedicated to Mars.
4 Hastily erect by Titus. Suetonius, Titus, c. 7
III. TO CAESAR, ON THE CONCOURSE OF STRANGERS TO ROME.
What race is so distant from us, what race so barbarous, Caesar, as that from it no spectator is present in thy city? The cultivator of Rhodope is here from Orpheus' Haemus:1 the Sarmatian nourished by the blood drawn from his steed, is here. He too who drinks the waters of the Nile where it first becomes known to us, and he whose shores the surge of the remotest ocean laves. The Arabian has hastened hither, the Sabaeans have hastened, and Cilicians have here dripped with showers of their own perfume. With locks twisted into a knot, are come the Sicambrians; and with hair twisted in other forms, the Ethiopians. Though different the speech of the various races, there is but one utterance, when thou art hailed as the true father of thy country.
1 Rhodope and Haemus. Two of the highest mountains in Thrace,
IV. TO CAESAR,1 UPON HIS BANISHING INFORMERS.
That crowd, hostile to peace, and foe to calm repose; that crowd, which was ever molesting unfortunate opulence, has been handed over to the Gaetulians. The arena did not suffice for the number of the guilty:2 and the informer now suffers that exile which he sought to give to others.
The hateful crew to peace and sweet repose,
Informers, anxious wealth's molesting foes
(The lions not sufficing to destroy
The num'rous caitiffs that did all annoy),
To th'Isles and furthest Africa are sent;
And those that caused now suffer banishment
1 Who is meant? Titus or Domitian? It is equally applicable to either of them. See Suetonius, Tit 8, and Domit. 9.
2 Nec capit arena nocentes is rendered by some transistors, "and the sandy desert was not large enough to contain the number of the guilty." Others, with greater probability, suppose that the informers were exposed to the public gaze in the arena of the Amphitheatre, before they were sent into exile; see Sueton. Tit c 8.
IV. B. ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
The informer now wanders an outcast from the Ausonian city: this you may add to the other boons of our prince.
The head of Italy Caesar acquits
New days, fresh benefits.
V. ON THE SPECTACLE OF PASIPHAE.
Believe that Pasiphae was enamoured of a Cretan bull: we have seen it. The old story has been confirmed. Let not venerable antiquity boast itself, Caesar; whatever fame celebrates, thy arena reproduces for thee.1
1 See Suetonius, Nero, c. 12.
VI TO CAESAR, ON A WOMAN'S FIGHTING WITH A LION.
That the warrior Mars serves thee in arms, suffices not, Caesar; Venus, too, herself serves thee.
VI B. ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
A lion laid low in the vast vale of Nemea fame trumpeted abroad as a noble exploit, and worthy of Hercules. Let ancient tales be silent; for since thy shows have been exhibited, Caesar, we have seen this accomplished by a woman's hand.1
1 The last words are a conjectural mode of filling up a lacuna in the MSS. In some editions, these two epigrams are given as one.
VII. ON LAUREOLUS.1
As first, bound down upon the Scythian rock, Prometheus with ever-renewed vitals feasted the untiring vulture, so has Laureolus, suspended on no feigned cross, offered his defenceless entrails to a Caledonian bear. His mangled limbs quivered, every part dripping with gore, and in his whole body no shape was to be round. In short, he suffered such punishment as one who had been guilty of parricide, or who had cut his master's throat, or had insanely despoiled the temples of their hidden gold,2 or had applied the incendiary torch to thee, O Rome. This criminal had surpassed the crimes of ancient story, and what had been fabulous, was in his case a real punishment.
1 The epigram refers to a Ballet or Drama of Action, composed either by Naevius or by Ennius,—for on this point the learned disagree,—in which a certain Laureolus, a noted robber, was crucified on the stage. Usually the death was simply a steps-death, without harm to the actor. Domitian has the honour of introducing a real death—that of an unfortunate wretch already condemned "for the amusement of this detestable people."—See Gifford and Mayor on Juv. viii. 187 ; and for a curious comment, compare what Martial says of the tigress in Ep. 18.6: "Postquam inter nos est, plus feritatia habet!"
2 It was a common practice for the ancients to deposit their private property in the temples for greater security.
VIII ON DAEDALUS.1
Daedalus, while you were being thus torn by a Lucanian bear, how must you have desired to have those wings of yours.
1 A similar argument to the preceding, a criminal being compelled to act the part of Daedalus, and precipitated by the failure of his wings among a crowd of hungry bears. On the bear-fights in the arena, see below, Ep. 11; Juv. iv. 99.
IX. ON THE RHINOCEROS.
The rhinoceros, exhibited for thee, Caesar, in the whole space of the arena, fought battles of which he gave no promise. Oh, into what terrible wrath did he with lowered head, blaze forth! How powerful was that tusk to whom a bull was a mere ball!1
1 A ball covered with red cloth, used for the purpose of irritating the animals; see below, Ep. 19; B. ii. Ep. 43; B. xiv. Ep.53, in which last epigram reference, is made to the same contest between the rhinoceros and a bull.
X. ON A LION THAT HURT HIS KEEPER.
A perfidious lion with ungrateful jaws had wounded his keeper, haying dared to attack with violence the hands so well known to him. But worthy of such a crime was the offender's punishment, and he who would not submit to correction, succumbed to weapons. What should be the characters of men under such a prince, who bids the savage nature of brutes become more gentle!
XI. ON A LIMED BEAR
Whilst Bruin was rolling himself impetuously on the blood-stained arena, he lost the power of flight, entangled in bird-lime. Henceforth let glittering hunting-spears lie neglected, and their iron points be hid; no more let the dart fly forth, lanced by the exerted arm. Let the huntsman surprise his prey in the open air, if beasts are to be caught by the fowler's art.
XII. ON A SHE-BOAR, THAT BROUGHT FORTH YOUNG IN CONSEQUENCE OF A WOUND.
Amidst the terrible contests by which Caesar imitates the sports of Diana, a light spear having pierced a pregnant she-boar, one of her litter leaped forth from the wound of its wretched mother. Oh! cruel Lucina! was this a delivery? She would willingly have died wounded by more weapons, that this sad way to life might have been opened to all her young ones. Who will now deny that Bacchus owed his birth to the death of his mother? you may believe that a deity was so produced; for thus has a beast been born.
XIII. ON THE SAME.
Stricken with deadly weapon, and pierced with a mortal wound, the pregnant sow at once lost life and save it. Oh! how unerring was the hand with the well-poised dart! This I believe to. have been Lucina's stroke. Dying, she experienced the power of either Diana;1 hers, by whom the mother was delivered, and hers by whom the savage beast was destroyed.
1 Diana in her two characters; that of huntress, and that of the goddess presiding over childbirth.
XIV. ON THE SAME.
A wild she-boar, just about to be delivered of the pledge of her ripen'd womb, gave birth to her offspring, being made a parent by a wound; nor did the litter lie still-born, but ran about while its mother was falling. Oh! how great invention is evoked by sudden chances!
XV. ON CARPOPHORUS.
That which was the utmost glory of thy renown, Meleager, a boar put to flight, what is it? a mere portion of that of Carpophorus. He, in addition, planted his hunting-spear in a fierce rushing bear, the monarch in the realm of the northern pole; he also laid low a lion remarkable for its unheard-of sire,—a lion, which might have become the hands of Hercules; and he then, with a wound from a distance, stretched lifeless a fleet leopard. And when at length he carried off his prizes, he was still in a condition to engage in new combats.
XVI. ON A BULL BEARING HERCULES TO THE SKIES.
That a bull, snatched up from the midst of the arena, ascended to the skies, was a work, not of art, but of piety.
XVI. B. ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
A bull1 had earned Europa through his brother's waves; but now a bull has borne Alcides to the stars. Compare now, Fame, the bulls of Caesar and of Jove: 2 grant that they carried an equal weight, Caesar's bore it to a greater height.
1 That is, Jupiter in the shape of a bull.
2 See Juvenal iv 101.
XVII. ON AN ELEPHANT'S KNEELING TO CAESAR.
Whereas piously and in suppliant guise the elephant kneels to thee, Caesar,—that elephant which erewhile was so formidable to the bull his antagonist,—this he does without command, and with no keeper to teach him: believe me, he too feels our present deity.
XVIII. ON A TIGRESS MATCHED WITH A LION.
A tigress that had been accustomed to lick the hand of her unsuspecting keeper, an animal of rare beauty from the Hyrcanian mountains, being enraged, lacerated with maddened tooth a fierce lion; a strange occurrence, such as had never been known in any age. She attempted nothing of the sort while she lived in the depth of the forests; but since she has been amongst us, she has acquired greater ferocity.
XIX. ON THE BULL AND THE ELEPHANT.
The bull, which, lately goaded by flames through the whole arena, had caught up and cast aloft the balls, succumbed at length, being struck by a more powerful horn, while he imagined the elephant might easily be thus tossed.
XX. OF MYRINUS AND TRIUMPHUS, TWO GLADIATORS.
When one faction was calling for Myrinus, the other for Triumphus, Caesar promised them both with either hand. He could not have terminated the amusing contention in a better way. Oh, the charming wit of our unrivalled prince
XXI. ON ORPHEUS.
Whatever Rhodope is said to have beheld upon Orpheus' stage, your arena, Caesar, has exhibited to you. Rocks have crept along, and, marvellous sight! a wood, such as the grove of the Hesperides is believed to have been, has run. There was to be seen every species of wild beast mingled with flocks, and above the poet hung many a bird. But he himself was laid low, torn by an ungrateful bear. Thus, however, this story, which was before but a fiction, has now become fact.
1 Sueton. Domit. c 4. Myrinus is mentioned again, B. xii. Ep. 29.
XXI. B. ON ORPHEUS.
Do we wonder that the ground with sudden opening sent forth Orpheus? He came from Eurydice who was compelled to return to the shades.1
XXII. ON A RHINOCEROS.
While the trembling keepers were exciting the rhinoceros, and the wrath of the huge animal had been long arousing itself the conflicts of the promised engagement were beginning to be despaired of; but at length his fury, well-known of old, returned. For easily as a bull tosses to the skies the balls placed upon his horns so with his double horn did he hurl aloft the heavy bear.
1 This Epigram, which many of the books and editions omit, is very corrupt. The text followed is, as usual, that of Shneidewin.
XXIII. ON CARPOPHORUS.
The bold right hand of the still youthful Carpophorus now directs with unerring blow the Noric hunting-spears. He carried two steers on his shoulder with ease; to him succumbed the bubalus1 and the bison. Fleeing from him, the lion fell headlong among the darts of others.2 Go now, impatient crowd, and complain of the tardy delay to which you are exposed.
1 It is uncertain what animal is meant. Pliny, H. N. viii, 15, speaks of it as resembling a stag or a cow. Many suppose it to be the buffalo.
2 That is, the darts of the subsessores of liers-in-wait; those who were ready to support Carpophorus, if he should be in danger.
XXIV. ON THE EXHIBITION OF A SEA-FIGHT.
Whoever you may be, who are here a lately arrived spectator from distant lands, upon whom for the first time has shone the vision of the sacred show,—that the goddess of naval warfare may not deceive you with these ships, nor the water so like to the waves of the sea,—here, awhile since, was the dry land. Do you hesitate to believe it? look on, whilst the waves fatigue the god of war. A short interval, and you will say, "Here but a while since was the sea."
XXV. ON THE EXHIBITION OF THE STORY OF LEANDER.
That the wave in thy nocturnal journey should have spared thee, Leander, cease to wonder: it was Caesar's wave.
XXV. B. ON LEANDER.
While the daring Leander was seeking the sweet object of his lore, and, exhausted, was just being ingulfed by the swelling waves, the unfortunate adventurer is said to have thus addressed the menacing surges: "Spare me on my way; drown me on my return."l
XXVI. ON A SWIMMING EXHIBITION.
The gentle band of Nereids sported throughout the sea, and adorned the yielding waves with many an antic. There was the trident threatening with its barbs, the anchor with its curved prong: we thought that we looked sometimes on an oar, sometimes on a ship; that the constellation of the Laconian twins,1 welcome to sailors, was shining, and that wide-spreading sails were clearly swelling before ua. Who invented such arts in the liquid waves? Thetis either taught these gambols, or learned them.3
1 Probably this Epigram is not genuine. It seems made up from B.xiv.Ep. 181.
2 I. e. the constellation of Castor and Pollux, so called because their, mother Leda was a Lacedemonian.
3 The meaning is, she either learned them of Caesar, or taught them to him.
XXVII. ON CARPOPHORUS.
Had the ages of yore, Caesar, given birth to Carpophorus, barbarian lands would not have boasted of their monsters].1 Marathon would not have feared the bull, the woods of Nemea the lion, Arcadia the Mamalian boar. Had Carpophorus armed his hands, one deadly stroke would hare sufficed for the hydra; by him would the whole of the Chimaera have been stricken down at once. He would have yoked together the fire-breathing bulls without the assistance of the Colchian princess; he could hare conquered either monster of Pasiphae. Could the fable of the marine prodigy be revived, he alone would release Hesione and Andromeda. Let all the glories of the praise bestowed on Hercules be counted up; it is more to have subdued twenty animals at one time.2
1 Ver. 2 is entirely corrupt, although the sense, as given in the text, is manifestly that intended by the author.
2 The meaning is, there were only twelve labours of Hercules, whereas Carpophorus slew twenty animals on the same occasion.
XXVIII. ON THE EXHIBITION OF A SEA-FIGHT.
The task of Augustus had been to embattle fleets, and to arouse the waves with the sound of the naval trumpet. How inferior is this to what our Caesar accomplishes! Thetis and Galatea have beheld in the waves wild animals previously unknown to them, Triton has seen chariots glowing along the foaming ocean course, and thought the steeds of his master1 were passing before him; and Nereus, while he was preparing fierce contests with bold vessels, shrunk from going on foot through the liquid ways.2 Whatever is seen in the circus and the amphitheatre, the rich lake of Caesar has shown to thee. Let Fucinus, and the ponds of the dire Nero, be vaunted no more; and let ages to come remember but this one sea-fight.
1 i.e. Neptune.
2 That is, he chose a chariot drawn by sea-horses.
XXIX. ON PRISCUS AND VERUS.
While Verus and Priscus were prolonging the combat, and the valour of each had been for a long time equal, quarter for the combatants was demanded with great clamour. But Caesar obeyed his own law. The law was to fight with a stated reward in view, till by his thumb one of the pair proclaimed himtelf vanquished:1 but, as was allowed, he frequently gave them dishes and gifts.2 An end, however, was found for the well-matched contest: equal they fought, equal they resigned. Caesar sent wands to each,3 to each the meed of victory. Such was the reward that adroit valour received. Under no other prince save thee, Caesar, has this ever happened, that, when two fought with each other, both were victors.
1 Ad digitum concurrere. There has been much doubt about the sense of these words. Ramiresins supposes that the gladiators were to fight till one of them, sublato digito, by holding up his thumb or finger, acknowledged himself conquered. See note on Quint. viii. 5, 20.
2 It was the custom to distribute dishes of various kinds of food to the combatants, to reinvigorate them to continue the contest; and to the people, to keep them quiet till its conclusion.
3 Misit utrisque rudes. This rudis or wand was the sign of their acquittal from all further service as gladiators. See Hor. i. Ep. 1, 2, &c
XXX. ON A HIND AND DOGS.
A hunted hind, as she was fleeing from swift Molossian hounds, and was by various turns contriving a lingering protraction of the fatal moment, halted before Caesar's feet suppliant and in pleading guise; and the hounds touched not their prey.....1 Such was the boon which she derived from recognising the emperor. Caesar is a divinity: sacred, sacred is his power, believe it; the beasts of the field have not learned to lie.
1 A line is here wanting in the original.
XXXI. ON AN UNEQUAL COMBAT,
To yield to superior force is the second honour. That is an insupportable victory, which an inferior enemy gains.
XXXII. TO CAESAR.
Be indulgent to impromptus: he does not deserve to displease, whose haste, Caesar, was to please thee.
XXXIII. AGAINST DOMITIAN.
Race of the Flavii, how much has the third of thy name taken from thee! It had been almost as well not to have had the other two.1
1 I.e. Vespasian and Titus. As this Epigram is written against Domitian, it appears either not to be Martial's, or to be out of place here. The only authority for ascribing it to Martial is a scholiast on Juvenal, iv. 38.
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