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Martial's Christmas Winelist1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2009


Of the poet Martial we know a great deal – especially when compared with what we know about his younger contemporary Juvenal, yet one needs to be careful in approaching what he tells us about himself. For instance, he refers several times to his suburban smallholding at Nomentum, usually identified as modern Mentana but possibly Casali, and in so doing is accustomed to belittle its produce. Hence he claims to send as a harvest gift fruit bought in the Subura rather than his own indifferent home-grown (10.94), and declares at 2.38 that what his estate yields is (not produce but) respite from the troublesome Linus. Now it is well appreciated that jokes regarding the viability, or rather otherwise, of suburban estates were standard; but it is possible that Martial's Nomentan estate was originally part of one owned by his compatriot the Younger Seneca, and we are told by Columella (3.3.3) that the vineyards on this estate were especially famed. Thus, although Martial's estate would have been small, the wine it produced might in fact have been very good of its kind – for all that his Nomentan neighbour Quintus Ovidius is credited with better (13.119):

Nomentana meum tibi dat vindemia Bacchum:

si te Quintus amat, commodiora bibes.

‘A Nomentan vintage gives you my wine. If Quintus loves you, you will drink better.’

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1999

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2. Cf. Sullivan, J. P., Martial: the Unexpected Classic. A Literary and Historical Study (Cambridge, 1991), 4 n. 8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3. See, e.g., Izaac's Budé note on 11.18.

4. Probable: Sullivan, , op. cit., 4Google Scholar.

5. Bailey, D. R. Shackleton, Martial, Epigrams (Cambridge, Mass., 1993), Loeb; 3 volsGoogle Scholar.

6. E.g., 93–4, 99, 102, 107: drinking vessels; 103–4: strainers for/using snow; 112: glass ‘cloud’ for sprinkling wine; 116–18: flagons for iced water. On all of these, see my commentary (London, 1996), ad loc.

7. For fuller presentation of this paragraph's contents, see my introduction to Book 14 and Leary, , ‘Martial's Early Saturnalian Verse’ in Grewing, Farouk (ed.), Toto notus in orbe. Perspektiven der Martial-Interpretation (Stuttgart, 1998), 3747Google Scholar.

8. See Leary, ibid., 40.

9. Cf. John's Gospel 2.10.

10. I have made some progress towards the production of a full commentary on the Xenia.

11. On which see K. M. Coleman, ad loc.

12. On the expense of mulsum, see below.

13. Younger, , op. cit., 192Google Scholar.

14. Martial's work was known in Vienna (7.88), and the pleasure this gives him might indicate personal knowledge of the place.

15. On both of which see below.

16. On which see below.

17. Younger, , op. cit., 203Google Scholar.

18. Ibid.

19. Leary, , CQ 47 (1997), 322–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

20. Younger, , op. cit., 203Google Scholar.

21. Younger, ibid, and, noting 4.13.4, see above on mulsum.

22. Cf., e.g., 1.18.2, 8.77.5, 11.26.3, Hor. Serm. 2.3.115. Note too 6.27.5 annoso.

23. For the consular dating of wine, see Nisbet, R. G. M. and Hubbard, M. on Hor. Carm. 1.20.3 ‘conditum levi’Google Scholar.

24. Cf. N. M. Kay at 11.29.6.

25. For which see conveniently Laurence, Ray, Omnibus 35 (1998), 1719Google Scholar. Also Meiggs, Russell, Roman Ostia (Oxford, 1973), 57–8Google Scholar.

26. Shackleton Bailey, op. cit.

27. See Shackleton Bailey: Appendix A.

28. See Kay at 11.56.7.

29. Op. cit.

30. See Grewing at 6.27 (202).

31. On which see above.

32. Nisbet, and Hubbard, at Hor. Carm. 2.6.19Google Scholar.

33. Paraphrased in Shackleton Bailey's note ad loc.

34. Shackleton Bailey, op. cit.

35. Ker, Alan, CQ 44 (1950), 23–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36. For which cf. Stat. Silv. 4.3.135 ‘natura melior potentiorque’ and Coleman at 4.2.14–15.

37. Cf. Fowler, D. P., Ramus 24 (1995), 55CrossRefGoogle Scholar.