Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Version at BMCR home site

Alfredo Mario Morelli (ed.), Epigramma longum: Da Marziale alla tarda antichità / From Martial to Late Antiquity. Atti del Convegno internazionale (Cassino, 29-31 maggio 2006). (2 vols.). Collana Scientifica 21. Cassino: Edizioni Università di Cassino, 2008. ISBN 9788883170454. €53.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Bret Mulligan, Haverford College (bmulliga@haverford.edu)

[Contributors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

When does a short poem stop being short? Or rather, or rather what are the implications of a poem just short enough still to be considered short, if a bit on the longish side? This prodigious, ambitious collection of essays, which presents revised versions of papers delivered at an international conference held at the University of Cassino in 2006, explores a set of interrelated questions: when and by what means does an epigram become 'long'?, what factors influence an author to deploy an epigram longer than convention or practice would dictate?, and what does the quality of being long suggest about a piece, its collection, or its author? These questions highlight a tantalizing paradox at the heart of the protean genre of the epigram. If a genre is defined ultimately by its brevity, at what length does a poem treating an epigrammatic topic in an epigrammatic manner cease to be a simple epigram and become that strange beast: the "long epigram" or epigramma longum? In less skilled hands, this investigation could easily have turned into a dismal exercise in plowing the shore, as requisite caveats and exceptions confounded the quest for the essential nature(s) of longa. But, with admirable care and erudition, the contributors to this collection take the epigramma longum as a starting point for far more productive inquiries into a host of topics pertinent to the study of epigrammatic and para-epigrammatic literature—both Greek and Latin, canonical and unfamiliar. Although the compelling articles in this collection will be of greatest interest to those who specialize in the diverse authors and topics discussed therein, any scholar studying epigrams, (verse) epitaphs, occasional or short-form poetry, and the literary milieux of the high Empire or the cultural renaissance of late antiquity both in the Greek East and Latin West will find something—and likely much more—of value in these pages. The editor is to be commended for assembling an indispensable starting-point for any future discussion of these challenging but important subjects.

It makes sense to begin, as do many of the contributions in the collection, with the definition for longa advanced by H. Szelest, who set the threshold for the Martialian epigramma longum at 15 verses in any meter, with longer poems occupying a generic "grey zone" bounded by elegy, satire, and occasional poetry such as the Silvae.1 But thresholds as low at 10 lines (Puelma) and above 20 lines (Classen) have also been suggested.2 And this is before one considers the effect that different meters, subgenres, authors, and eras have on the perception of the relative length of an epigram. Wisely, this collection resists the impulse to collate a set of objective criteria for what would qualify an epigram as "long". Rather, the collection permits a multiplicity of approaches to the problem, leaving it to its contributors to define epigrammatic measure within the context of their own essays. The contributions encompass an impressive range of classical antiquity (and beyond), from the origins of the epigram as a literary phenomenon in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, its development in the hands of the Neoterics and Martial, to its subsequent revivification by the nugatory Greek and Latin poets of late antiquity. Appropriately, Martial, whose treatment of the form clarifies many of the practices of earlier and contemporary authors and exerts immense influence on poetry's evolution in late antiquity, receives the lion's share of attention. But other authors and texts receive extensive treatments—e.g., the Hellenistic Coronae, Catullus, [pseudo-]Seneca, the Corpus Priapeorum, Ausonius, Prosper, Luxorius, Ennodius, and Agathias, as well as sundry Greek and Latin epigraphic epigrams. The essays offer a mix of surveys and close philological investigations of a few poems. Most of the articles in this collection follow a standard pattern: 1) the establishment of a working definition for longum that permits the author to identify a manageable sub-corpus; 2) the detailed, usually philologically focused discussion of the members of this subcorpus; and 3) (often tentative) conclusions. Although this has the disadvantage of decidedly unepigrammatic repetition—one hears repeatedly about Szelest's seminal work, for example—it does mean that almost every essay can stand on its own as an introduction to the phenomenon, while, for those scholars who read further in the collection, the multiple perspectives offered by the contributors have the effect of recreating (separatim) an informative, wide-ranging debate about the phenomenon's key features.

Without exception the papers manifest the ameliorating refinements of revision, including the addition of lavish bibliographic apparatus. Much of this may be old news for the specialist; but it is invaluable for the tiro, especially one seeking to gain a toehold in the vibrant scene of Italian scholarship on Martial and late-imperial poetry. It is the reviewer's sincere hope that these articles—20 of which are in Italian, 3 in English—find the audience they deserve and fulfill their promise to stimulate further discussion about the authors, texts, and literary questions they consider.

The range and detail of the essays in this collection defy summary let alone critique in the space available. Thankfully, the editors of BMCR have allowed me to sketch the themes presented in each of the collection's essays in the blog version of this review. In what follows here I will draw attention to a few of the survey articles that may be of interest to the greatest number of readers.

The prefatory contribution of A. Morelli, the volume's editor, provides an extensive account of the history of the epigramma longum, as well as its general morphology (genre and sub-genre, themes, structural shape, and linguistic register). His lucid and fair review of the competing definitions of the longum offers a succinct entrée to the question (p. 25-28). M. is at his finest when articulating how Martial revivifies the conventional comparison between the epigram and plastic objects (especially sculpture). For Martial, although brevity (brevitas) is the defining feature of the epigram, it is not simply a quantitative distinction or a mere synonym of "shortness". Rather brevity is a function of artistic realism: an epigram is breve when, like a statue, it is unified and autonomous, a seemly whole that would suffer from the removal of any of its membra. Martial's redefinition of epigrammatic brevitas is echoed in a number of contributions, including Morelli's own survey of erotic longa in Catullus and Martial, Cannobio's conceptualizing of Martialian libri as products of an interplay between microtext (the epigram) and macrotext (the book) that is familiar from the libri of the Augustan poets, and Williams' articulation of how Martial rebrands the literary epigram as the artistic equivalent of unitary plastic artwork. Three other surveys deserve special mention. In his survey of the rare Hellenistic longa, F. Cairns (in English) elaborates many of the fundamental features of longa, including the factors that call for a longum and the strategies by which epigrams are expanded. L. Mondin's extensive essay on the length of the epigram in late antique Latin literature provides a wealth of data and keen observations on the epigrammatic practice of most significant late antique epigrammists. Any scholar with an interest in late antique Latin poetry should add this essay to his or her reading list. I will end by mentioning Garulli's investigation of the Greek epigraphium longum before the fourth century CE, including the fascinating epitaph for Sophitos that was recently discovered in Kandahar. His essay provides a useful reminder of the importance that performative context holds for epigrammatic literature and the continued (if difficult to assess) influence of epitaphica on the literary epigram.

Given the size of this collection and the detail of many of its essays, the editor is to be commended for the meticulous care he gave to its presentation. The format of citations is uniform (there is, unfortunately, no consolidated bibliography). The decision to translate Latin and Greek has been left to each contributor. Errors are thankfully rare and almost always of a trivial nature (e.g "slide [sc. slight] exception" (p. 198); the repetition of "l'esercizio" at the bottom and top of pp. 315-16; fn. 107 cites itself, "cit. n. 107 [sc. 103]; but note "Gigantomachia (carm. min. 43 [sic, 53]) on p. 405. The second volume concludes with three indices: 1) index locorum notabilium ; 2) epigraphic source material; and 3) manuscripts cited. Each of the two soft-cover volumes sports a sturdy and simple (but attractive) dust jacket; the printing is of high and consistent quality; and the glued binding withstood repeated reading.


Volume One

1. Alfredo M. Morelli, "Epigramma longum: in cerca di una básanos per il genere epigrammatico" (17-54)
2. Francis Cairns, "The Hellenistic Epigramma Longum" (55-80)
3. Alfredo M. Morelli, "Gli epigrammi erotici 'lunghi' in distici di Catullo e Marziale Morfologia e statuto di genere" (81-130)
4. Silvia Mattiacci, "Gli epigrammi lunghi attribuiti a Seneca, ovvero gli incerti confini tra epigramma ed elegia" (131-168)
5. Alberto Canobbio, "Epigrammata longa e breves libelli: Dinamiche formali dell'epigramma marzialiano" (169-194)
6. Johannes Scherf, "Epigramma longum and the arrangement of Martial's book" (195-216)
7. Craig Williams, "Epigrammata longa e strategie metapoetiche in Marziale" (217-236)
8. Delphina Fabbrini, "Epigramma lungo e celebrazione in Marziale" (237-266)
9. Alessandro Fusi, "Marziale 3,82 e la Cena Trimalchionis" (267-298)
10. Elena Merli, "Cenabis belle. Rappresentazione e struttura negli epigrammi di invito a cena di Marziale" (299-326)
11. Marcello Nobili, "Rus, seu potius domus. Note critiche agli epigrammi di Marziale a Guilio Marziale (4, 64; 7, 17)" (327-371)

Volume Two

12. Regina Höschele, "Longe longissimum. Il Carmen 68 del Corpus Priapeorum" (383-396)
13. Luca Mondin, "La misura epigrammatica nella tarda latinità" (397-494)
14. Ferrucio Bertini, "Lussorio e l'epigramma letterario latino tardoantico" (495-508)
15. Marco Giovini, "Lussorio fra modello epigrammatico ed echi cristiani" (509-538)
16. Daniele Di Rienzo, "Epigramma longum tra tardoantico e altomedioevo: il caso di Ennodio di Pavia" (539-558)
17. Enrico Magnelli, "I due proemi di Agazia e le due identità dell'epigramma tardoantico" (559-570)
18. Claudio De Stefani, "L'epigramma longum tardogreco e bizantino e il topos dell'arrivo della primavera" (571-602)
19. Marco Fantuzzi, "La doppia Gloria di Menas (e di Filostrato)" (603-622)
20. Valentina Garulli, "L'epigramma longum nella tradizione epigrafica sepolcrale greca" (623-662)
21. Gianfranco Agosti, "Epigrammi lunghi nella produzione epigrafica tardoantica" (663-692)
22. Christer Henriksén, "Dignus maiori quem coleret titulo: Epigrammata longa in the Carmina Latina epigraphica" (693-726)
23. Marco Petoletti, "Il Marziale di Giovanni Boccacio" (727-744)


1.   Szelest, H. 1980. "Ut faciam breviora mones epigrammata, Corde... Eine Martial- Studie." Philologus 124: 99-108.
2.   Puelma, M. 1997. "Epigramma: Osservazioni sulla storia di un termine Greco-Latino." Maia49.2: 189-214, 209-210; Classen, C. J. 1985. "Martial." Gymnasium 92: 329-349, 331-332; also worth mentioning are Mario Citroni's investigation of the Latin and polymetric tradition of the epigramma longum (2004. "Marziale, Pline le jeune et l'identité du genre de l'épigramme latine." Dictynna 1: 125-153) and J. L. Moreno (2004. "Epigrammata longa, La brevedad como norma" in Hominem pagina nostra sapit. Marcial, 1.900 años después. Estudios XIX Centenario de la Muerte de Marco Valerio Marcial Zaragoza: 75-114), who analyzed in detail the metrics of epigramma longum in Martial, especially the frequent non-dactylic poems.


  1. Session 1: Before Martial.

    It is undeniable that brevity is a defining characteristic of the epigram before Martial. Only seven of the epigrams in Gow-Page’s Hellenistic Epigrams surpass the threshold set by Szelest, and most run less than eight lines, or two pairs of distichs. F. Cairns (in eng.) takes aim at the tendency of Gow and Page to disparage these longa as un-epigrammatic (e.g. their comments on Moschus, Anth. Pal. 9.440). As Cairns notes, to accept the editors’ punctiliousness requires that we deem poems that ancients accepted as epigrams to be non-epigrammatic. In search of a preliminary answer to why each of the Hellenistic longa is atypically long and how its length is achieved, C. briefly walks through this set of epigrams from longest to shortest (least long?). Since many of his findings are echoed in the other investigations of the collection, a pre/cis of his conclusions is in order. He finds that the expansion of an epigram can be influenced by a number of factors: 1) its sedes in a collection; 2) a desire to locate the poem within a particular tradition; 3) an interest in etiological content; 4) a need to introduce programmatic elements; 5) to moralize; 6) to make a bravura display of rhetorical expertise; 7) to pose and solve an elaborate riddle; or 8) to introduce sophisticated or covert humor. Expansion of the basic epigrammatic form is accomplished by: 1) the accumulation of detail; 2) the extended discussion of objects (but, in contrast to Martial’s practice Greek authors avoid the use of comparisons and series of exempla, excepting Anth. Pal. 4.1 and 7.472); 3) elaborate language; and 4) compound structure. Significantly, with the exception of prefatory epigrams, there is no difference in the themes treated by Hellenistic longa and shorter epigrams. This finding confirms Szelest’s observation about longa in Martial, and is another reason to question the stigmatization of the Hellenistic longa in Gow-Page.

  2. Session 1: Before Martial. (Cont.)

    A. Morelli investigates the phenomenon of longa in the erotic epigrams of Catullus and Martial with an eye to the nebulous boundary between long epigram and short elegy. For Catullus the epigramma longum (e.g. Catull. 76, 99) is a privileged (if not unique) seat for the mixing of subgenres. Such conscious hybridization is absent in Martial. Although Martial incorporates some morphological features of elegy into his erotic longa, he takes care to integrate these within a distinctly epigrammatic structure. Of particular value is M.’s discussion of how Martial minimizes the elegiac hybridization of his erotic longa. By avoiding or parodying the susceptibility of the elegiac ego to the twined forces of amor and furor, Martial immunizes his poems against elegiac contamination and ensures that they are recognizable as longish epigrams instead of short-ish elegies.

    Since most of the Latin epigram is lost to us, we are not able to assess Martial’s claim that he is following common practice in composing longa. But S. Mattiacci’s paper, which treats those long epigrams attributed to Seneca in the Latin Anthology, provides tantalizing clues about the contemporary scene. These epigrams are fascinating artifacts of imaginative, literary “fakery”, in which their sports a sophisticated double-mask: an (anonymous) author pretending to be Seneca pretending to be Ovid. M. focuses on the six poems that meet Szelest’s definition for longa, noting that this percentage of longa is similar to that found in Martial (7.6%), but quite different from that in Catullus (24.8%), the Catalepton (20%), or Hellenistic epigram collections (< 1%). Although muddled chronology makes it impossible to determine if pseudo-Seneca was an influence on Martial--or vice versa--the similar ratios of long poems in both authors seems to confirm the suspicion that contemporary critics of Martial must be basing their judgments on the (newly restored) priority of the Greek epigram. This is a useful corrective to the understandable tendency to overvalue Martial’s role in the development of the epigram. Martial’s shadow is long indeed, at least in part because the other trees have vanished. Analyses of several pairs of poems (e.g. the Maevii episode in 69/70 P.) illustrate the fluid boundary between epigram and (non-erotic) elegy, especially as elegy was evolved towards the nugatory and experimental in the hands of poetae novelli.

  3. Session Two: Martial and the Epigramma Longum: General Aspects.

    In search of a non-arbitrary internal criterion for identifying an author’s longa, Canobbio highlights the Martialian diptychs in which a long poem is followed immediately by an apologia for its length: 1.109/110; 3.82/83; 6.65/65; and 8.28/29. Taking the shortest of the “defended” long epigrams (8.28 at 22 lines) as a threshold sanctioned by authorial usus, Canobbio identifies 30 poems at are definitely long, or longissima (173). The distinction is useful. Although a 16- or 20-verse poem might not be qualitatively different from the longissima , the category permits us to situate Martial’s poetry within a quantitative spectrum that runs from brevissima (mono- or distichs) and brevia (less than eight verses in the Hellenistic style) to the definitively long poems of the longissima, with the fluid, contested area of longa between these extremes. This tension between the antithetical poles of breve and longum contributes to the architectural patterning of Martial’s poetry, which C. equates to the interplay of micro- and macro-text typically encountered in Augustan authors: the microtext (the epigram) is traditionally brief, but admits--by virtue of the hybridizing impulse of minor Latin poetry--long epigrams; the macrotext (the book) is naturally longum, but aims paradoxically to be a brevis libellus. In contrast to contemporaries like Velox, Cordus, Tucca, and Cosconius, who relentlessly prioritize Greek-style o)ligostixi/a, the variation provided by Martial empowers the reader to adapt the liber to his taste through selective reading.

  4. Session Two: Martial and the Epigramma Longum: General Aspects (Cont.)

    The empowering potential of selective reading is also a prominent theme in J. Scherf’s exploration (in eng.) of the role of longa in the arrangement of Martial’s books. S. argues that the perception of measure is relative, determined not by an absolute threshold for an author (still less a genre) but by the immediate and especially intermediate contexts provided by proximal poems and the liber, respectively (a point also made by Pliny at Epist. 5.6.42-44). Since the distribution of longa is not consistent throughout the Martilian corpus--e.g. Books 1, 8, and 10 sport more than average; 2, 6, and 7 fewer--S. argues that we “need to consider as ‘long’ such epigrams which have 16v. and less but nevertheless belong to the longest in these books” (200) [Complete data about the distribution of longa can be found in Scherf, J. 2001. Untersuchungen zur Buchgestaltung Martials, Mu+nchen-Leipzig: 107-109; but see S. Lorenz’s criticisms in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.10.22]. As a result, even a 12-line poem can feel ‘long’ in, for example, Book 2, since it is one of the longest 5-to-6% of poems in its book. S. freely admits that the percentage he selects as a threshold is an “arbitrary distinction" (200). This methodology gives me pause. But ultimately, since S. is arguing that the reader’s recognition of longa is fundamentally subjective, the priority this perspective gives to the fluid, ungovernable interaction between author, text, and reader(s) is salubrious. Surveying the 78 longa that fit his criteria, S. observes that there are "no strict rules and Martial fulfills the expectations of his readers as much as he disappoints them" (208). His longa, however, do share three characteristics: 1) they show a preference for rare meters; 2) they tend to placed in the middle of the book and rarely in the opening and closing sections; and 3) they are rarely juxtaposed with other longa or bracketed by brevissima. This last aspect is somewhat surprising, since Martial’s embrace of longa is complemented by a turn to the short epigram (i.e. 2-4 vv.). Such brevissima were rare in Catullus but constitutes nearly a third of the poems in Martial’s corpus. Although I am not convinced that relative statistics of this sort can yield a clear threshold that would be perceptive to a normative reader of the liber, the overall thrust S.’s observations deserves consideration and will be welcomed by the number of scholars working on the architecture of Martial’s libri.

    Like Canobbio, C. Williams focuses on the strategy by which Martial refers to the length of his own compositions (e.g. 2.77) and how this characterizes his poetic practice, often as seen through the epigrams in which brevity is put forth as an aesthetic and compositional ideal. W. highlights an important point about Martial’s conception of brevitas: it is not mere shortness but the absence of redundancy, a view well supported by contemporary rhetorical theory (see Quintilian on brevitas) and the literary tradition (e.g. Hor. Ars 23, 335-37). This, argues W., explains Martial’s defense of his longa by reference to the colossus in 2.77. In contrast to the lyric tradition that declares the similarity or superiority of poetry to sculpture, Martial refigures the epigrammatic tradition--a genre that notoriously defines itself in opposition to mythological poetry--not as “like” or “better” than sculpture, but as sculpture. The notion of text as concrete res leads W. to highlight how Martial’s epigrams call attention to themselves as written texts that appeal to a refined set of sophisticated readers (e.g. 10.59 and the diptych of 8.28/29).

  5. Session Three: Martial and the Epigramma Longum: Typological Details.

    The aim of D. Fabbrini’s essay is to change the discussion about length. Rather than focusing on how Martial defends a problematic feature of his poetry, one could explore how Martial uses length as a feature to complement his praising of a subject, while still guaranteeing (in Merli’s formulation) the “recognizability” of the poem as an epigram [Merli, E. 1993. "Vetustilla nova nupta: liberta\ vigilata e volonta\ epigrammatica in Marziale 3, 93, con qualche osservazione sugli epigrammi lunghi." MD 30: 109-125, 123].

    Martial 3.82--at 33-verses his longest skoptic epigram--describes the notorious feast offered by the fellator Zoilus, in which the choicest portion is reserved for himself and his slaves while his guests must eat the worst fare. For A. Fusi, the poem’s remarkable stylistic-lexical facies, which full of rare words, comic neologisms, bold metonymic expressions, and prosaic touches, is part of Martial’s conscious attempt to epigrammatize the Petronian cena, with the aim of fleshing out Zoilus’ rottenness, while implicitly conferring literary dignity to the genre of epigram. As F. observes, the reading of 3.82 is only completed by the following epigram (3.83), in which Martial responds to Cordus’ invitation that he write shorter epigrams with a tart call that he “do for me what Chione does”--i.e. fellat, which was the final word of 3.82. This ‘micro-epigram’ therefore functions as the pointe of the proceeding longum, transforming what should be an apologetic epigram into an explicit affirmation of the artistic value of the proceeding poem.

  6. Session Three: Martial and the Epigramma Longum: Typological Details (Cont.)

    The close reading of the structure and allusive practice in Martial’s dinner invitations (5.78, 10.48, 11.52) is the focus of E. Merli’s essay. Before Martial, epigrammatic feasts were often symbolically described or, in the case of Catullus, sketched over in the most general terms. Martial in contrast revels in the details of the feast, making the list of food the centerpiece of the longum. These poems are not constructed to create a trans-generic, Szelestian “grey zone”, but as experiments with new, elastic, but undeniably epigrammatic forms. As M. notes, the incipit of a longum is not distinctive--i.e. there is nothing that signals that the epigram will be expanded through the insertion of large central panel before returning to the opening theme. An objection: Merli’s observation accurately describes the experience of hearing a long epigram, but the physical nature of the written text (as discussed by Williams above) will almost always reveal the approximate scale of an epigram before it is read or its structure appreciated (e.g. the one or two paginae mentioned in 2.77.6 and 10.59.1). This, as we will see, is an important feature of the reception of epigraphical longa. It must not be forgotten that longa are perceived differently in performance and on the page. This is one of the few aspects of longa I would have liked to see the collection address this in greater detail.

    In the final essay of the first volume, M. Nobili offers detailed, insightful readings of two epigrams that praise properties of Martial’s patron-friend Julius Martialis: his villa in Mart. 4.64 (N. includes a thoughtful defense of the notorious virgineo cruore in v. 16) and his library in 7.17. For N., these epigrams, like those poems in which both Martial and Statius write on the same topic, suggest that the relationship between the poet and his amicus-patronus was both more mercantile and directed than is granted by the model of reciprocity favored by most recent (especially Anglophone) literature on patronage. I look forward to the fuller treatment of patronage promised by N.

  7. Session 4: After Martial: The Literary Latin Epigram

    A Homeric citation at the end of the Corpus Priapeorum (carm. 80) leads R. Ho+schele to reconsider the longest of the Priapea, the god’s louche interpretation of Homer in the 38-verse carm. 68. Unlike Bucheit, who cited the work as a Homeric parody, H. argues that the poem’s parodic allegorizing encourages further etymologizing of the poem’s abundant wordplay. A multilayered pun on poma (~ poema) in v. 2 intimates an ironic Callimachean aesthetic that positions Priapus, traditionally the guardian of fruit (poma) as a knowledgeable defender of refined poetry (poema). H. concludes that it is not coincidental that the poet inserts the longum at this point in the collection, a phallic gesture that affirms the vitality of Priapus just before he loses his potency (carm. 73).

    L. Mondin’s expansive essay on the length of the epigram in late antique Latin literature provides a wealth of data and keen observations on the epigrammatic practice of the carmina XII sapientum (AL 495-638 R.), Ausonius (epigrams, Epitaphia heroum, Bissula, Caesares, and select other poems of epigrammatic and para-epigrammatic character), the epigrammata Bobiensia, Prosper of Aquitaine, Book 2 of Ennodius, an anonymous libellus (AL 90-197 R.), Luxorius, Sidonius, and other authors. M. finds that the important thresholds of earlier epigrams (i.e. 10/12/14/16-verses) remain influential in late antiquity, with the unsurprising exception of Sidonius). The nature of the sprawling evidence, which includes a number of uncertain or heterogenous collections (both authorial and posthumous), tempers the conclusions that can be drawn from these authors, but M.’s findings do demonstrate a surprising persistence of traditional boundaries, even as experimentation introduced a number of para-epigrammatic forms of poetry (e.g. Fortunatus, Ausonius’ Parentalia or several of the longer poems in the Codex Salmasianus and Claudian’s carmina minora). Any scholar with an interest late antique Latin poetry should add this essay to his or her reading list.

  8. Session 4: After Martial: The Literary Latin Epigram (Cont.)

    The contribution by F. Bertini provides text, Italian prose translations, and select notes on five of Luxorius’ longa: 282, 299, 304, 340, and 346 S.B.

    As an epigone of Martial, the fabric and tenor of Luxorius’ poetry is highly classicizing. Nevertheless, M. Giovini’s discussion of the allusions in Luxorius 353, 357, 290, 340, and 304 S.B points to a form of interference arising from the le/cis of contemporary Christian authors. To G., these allusions and echoes demonstrate a form of unintentional pagano-Christian contaminatio, in which the Christian elements of Luxorius’ style are motivated, in part, by the taste and imagination of his Christian audience, as well as the pervasive influence of the Christianized sermo of poets and apologists. I remain unconvinced that “intentionality” is the best approach to stylistic questions of this type--were L.’s readers cognizant of his literary patois--but G.’s observations give food for thought.

    The epigrams of Ennodius, the other great Latin epigrammist of fifth and sixth centuries, is the subject of D. Di Rienzo’s essay, in particular two epigraphic poems that guide a visitor’s experience in a garden (2.44/45). Again we see the vital interaction between epigram and context: between entering and leaving the garden (and reading of the epigrams), the visitor experiences an interval, analogous with his spiritual development that is articulated by the complementary poems of the diptych.

  9. Session 5: Late Antique Greek and Byzantine Literary Epigram.

    E. Magnelli treats the two proems by Agathias, the sixth-century Greek epigrammist and anthologizer. The decidedly unepigrammatic Anth. Pal. 4.3 (133 verses) combines elements of preface and imperial encomium in two metrically distinct sections; the second preface (Anth. Pal. 4.4), a proper epigram in elegiac distichs that promulgates the common theme that poetry is the source of immortality, seems to undermine the worldly claims of the first. For M. these two prefaces are not in tension. He rightly observes that 4.4, if even originally a proem, could not have served as a preface without the supporting presence of 4.3. Instead M. suggets that they point to the changing environment of poetic appreciation in late antiquity, in which public/performative poetry shows a preference for large-scale iambic and hexametric compositions, while private/textual poetry focused on the elegiac distich.

    C. De Stefani focuses on the trope of spring’s arrival in a series of epigrams near the start of Anth. Pal. 10: 10.1 (Leonidas), 10.2 (Antipater of Sidon), 10.14 (Agathias), and 10.15 (Paul Silentiarius). Like Mondin, De S. sees in Greek epigram an openness to contamination with other genres, including foreign texts (e.g. Latin elegy) and Christian literature. These treatments, however, remain recognizably classicizing until the revolutionary changes found in later Byzantine poetry, as seen in the Ei)s ta\ e)/ar of Joannes Geometres and a short section of Nicolas Callicles’ Ei)s ta\ r(o/da. For each, he provides text with apparatus criticus, an Italian translation in prose, and select notes.

  10. Session 6: Greek and Latin Epigraphic Epigram.

    As Henrikse/n reminds us, "a metrical inscription, regardless of length, metre and contents, is by definition an epigram" (693). M. Fantuzzi does not treat longa per se, but the use of multiple epigrams on single monuments to augment the praise of the deceased, a category that provides a fascinating perspective on epigrammatic variatio, the function of companion-pieces, and the question of their circulation. F. argues persuasively that the a)/llo separating the epigrams on the monument of Menas (SGO 09/05/16) was not transferred to the stone by a negligent lapidarius; rather, as a sign of the deceased’s status and erudition, the inscription imitates the mis-en-page of a papyrus to recreate the context of contemporary literary epigrams. A monument to a certain Philostratus (2549 Roussel-Launey) deploys a similar tactic by explicitly stating the authors of its epigrams (Antipater of Sidon and Antisthenes of Paphos), in effect recreating in stone a “mini-anthology” in line with the practice of epigrammatic libelli.

    As early as the third century BCE, epitaphic epigrams tended to exceed the canonical thresholds of their purely literary cousins. The essays by V. Garulli and G. Agosti investigate the phenomenon of the epigraphium longum before and during late antiquity, respectively. Garulli provides a typology for a sub-corpus of 49 epigrams that surpass Szelest’s threshold, finding four basic types: 1) epitaphs that are normative in structure but expanded in ways typical of longa; 2) narrative epitaphs; 3) dialogic epitaphs; and 4) elegiac/threnodic epitaphs. He concludes with a glance to the fascinating acrostic longum recently discovered in Kandahar that telegraphs its literary ambition through the use of a script appropriate for papyrus (a plate of the inscription is provided).

  11. Session 6: Greek and Latin Epigraphic Epigram. (Cont.)

    For G. Agosti the embrace of stichic hexameter in Greek epigraphy, as well as the enthusiasm for au)/chsis and the permeability of genres promoted by the mannerist literature of the Second Sophistic, contributed to the increasing length of epigraphic epigrams. After a lapse of interest in the literary epigram, the renewed enthusiasm for epigraphic epigrams during the fourth century renaissance--especially those with encomiastic and ekphrastic content--can be traced to their effectiveness as a prestigious medium that can forever recapitulate the performance of the glories of the commemorated. Again, length is not a mere aspect of style, but is vital to the performative strategy of the epigram and its monument.

    C. Henrikse/n (in eng.) analyzes non-Christian metrical inscriptions of “considerable length” that date before 400 CE, focusing on a close reading of the six longissima that run over 46 verses, including the surprisingly erotic inscription for Allia Potestas and the remarkable, dialogic inscriptions in iambic trimeters for Vettius Agorius Praetextatus and his wife, Fabia Aconia Paulina (the text of all are provided in an appendix: M. Lucceius Nepos (CIL VI 21521 = CLE 1109); Anonymous Comensis (CIL 5 Suppl. Ital. 732 = CLE 1178); T. Flavius Secundus (CIL VIII 212 & 213); Allia Potestas (CIL VI 37965 = CLE 1988); and Vettius Agorius Praetextatus and Fabia Aconia Paulina (CIL VI 1779 = CLE 111). Significantly, this group of “literature in stone” (717), which bears witness to the taste and refinement of their dedicators and complements the splendor of their monuments, reveals little of the epigraphic formulae or modes of expression conventionally found in Latin inscriptions. That is, their lengths are not reached by the process typical of literary epigram in which a basic form is expanded, but by a creative reimagining of the form itself.

    Finally, M. Petoletti discussion of Boccaccio’s autograph manuscript of Martial (Ambr. C 67 sup.), will be of interest to textual critics, as well as those interested in the diffusion and reception of Martial during the Humanistic period.


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