This article traces and synthesizes the complex representation of the motif city-countryside in Martial’s epigrams, taking into account its different, sometimes contradictory, aspects. These aspects, so far looked at either out of context or only within the framework of single books, are brought together and, above all, are seen in their different functions (especially the self-fashioning of the author) and diachronic development. Section 2 starts from Epigram1.49 to demonstrate the fluctuating evaluation of the appropriateness or otherwise of a life in the city or countryside, depending on one’s age, the alternation of one’s activities or perspective (patron or poet). Section 3 explores the tension between fond ideas of leaving the city behind and the ‘reality’ of being in provincial surroundings, unconducive to poetry, where positive evaluations of the countryside are lacking. In section 4, I explore Books 4–9 where otiumis sometimes situated in an urban context, while the opposition to life in the countryside recedes into the background. In so far as the relationship between city and coun- tryside plays a role, they are harmonious. By contrast, Book 10 returns to the motifs encountered in Books 1–2, but here they become more complex and problematic as they are linked to Martial’s move from Rome to Celtiberia (section 5). In Book 12, as earlier in Book 3, the dominant opposition is that between Rome and not-Rome (section 6). I conclude that the picture of a Martial constantly and consistently dreaming of a countryside existence must be adjusted: the depiction of city and countryside is not constant over the course of Books 1–12 but changes in accordance with the construction of the poet’s identity and his history within the text.

Martial between Rome and Bilbilis

MERLI, Elena
2006-01-01

Abstract

This article traces and synthesizes the complex representation of the motif city-countryside in Martial’s epigrams, taking into account its different, sometimes contradictory, aspects. These aspects, so far looked at either out of context or only within the framework of single books, are brought together and, above all, are seen in their different functions (especially the self-fashioning of the author) and diachronic development. Section 2 starts from Epigram1.49 to demonstrate the fluctuating evaluation of the appropriateness or otherwise of a life in the city or countryside, depending on one’s age, the alternation of one’s activities or perspective (patron or poet). Section 3 explores the tension between fond ideas of leaving the city behind and the ‘reality’ of being in provincial surroundings, unconducive to poetry, where positive evaluations of the countryside are lacking. In section 4, I explore Books 4–9 where otiumis sometimes situated in an urban context, while the opposition to life in the countryside recedes into the background. In so far as the relationship between city and coun- tryside plays a role, they are harmonious. By contrast, Book 10 returns to the motifs encountered in Books 1–2, but here they become more complex and problematic as they are linked to Martial’s move from Rome to Celtiberia (section 5). In Book 12, as earlier in Book 3, the dominant opposition is that between Rome and not-Rome (section 6). I conclude that the picture of a Martial constantly and consistently dreaming of a countryside existence must be adjusted: the depiction of city and countryside is not constant over the course of Books 1–12 but changes in accordance with the construction of the poet’s identity and his history within the text.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/26080
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