Martial: A Social Guide
In the past both the significance and purpose of Martial's poetry have often been misinterpreted or missed altogether because of the particular literary and social background and context that inform his poetry. For example, literary histories have given the impression that Martial wrote 'unobjectionably trivial' poems merely to cull favour from patrons; they also suggest that he had little to say that was serious. In contrast, this book argues that Martial with his poetry played a serious and vital role in his community as a social guide or conscience. The book's unique approach to Martial's poetry places him within the reactionary tradition of Indo-European blame/praise poetry. Poets in this tradition served a vital function for their community: in reaction to the perceived deterioration of the behaviour and conditions of their day they either praised ideal behaviour, or, more commonly, ridiculed socially aberrant and destructive behaviour. By linking Martial with this particular tradition we are better able to account for, understand, and appreciate his themes and methods, and the effect of his poetry.
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abusive addresses altruistic ambition amicitia ancient Greek ancient Greek iambic ancient Roman Archilochus attacks Baubo behaviour Blau Catullus cited Citroni concept Demeter Demeter’s Dionysus Domitian easy company effect of Martial’s emperor Epicurean epigram ethical example Fescennini festival friends friendship Gerber gifts gives golden age Greek and Roman Holzberg honour Iambe Iambe’s iambic poet iambic tradition imperial cult imperial panegyric interpersonal relationships invective Konstan Latin literature Martial’s poems Martial’s poetry Martial’s representation moral nature Nauta Nerva obscene jokes obscenity and sexual one’s pastoral ideal patronage patrons Pindar poem Martial poems of praise poet-persona poet’s Postumus Priapus reader reciprocity Richlin rituals Saller Sallust satire Saturn Saturnalia says Seneca sense sexual content Shackleton Bailey 1993 social community social exchange social exchange theory society specifically Spisak Sullivan theory tion twelve-book collection typical upper classes vers de société verse Versnel Watson and Watson wealth