Although both innovative and engaging, Book XIII of Martial's epigrams, the "Xenia", has generally been neglected. As its name suggests, it is concerned with presents, in particular those given at the Saturnalia by hosts to their dinner guests. Like the Apophoreta, which Martial published next, it comprises independent poetic couplets cast as descriptive gift-tags. Far from being mere verse catalogues, however, these books are highly sophisticated literary compositions. Whereas the Apophoreta encompass many different items, the Xenia are devoted to food and drink, and are carefully ordered to reflect the courses of the cena at which they might have been distributed. This edition contains commentary devoted exclusively to the "Xenia". It combines literary and textual comment with close attention to the social and cultural context, and will therefore be of value not only to specialists in Latin literature but also to anyone interested in the food and festivals of Ancient Rome.
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T.J. Leary is Head of Classics at Hampton School and the author of Martial XIV: The Apophoreta, a commentary with text published by Duckworth in 1996 ('Leary has set himself a heroic task, and... has rendered a very signal service to us all... this book is a fund of learning' Journal of Roman Archaeology).Review:
Leary has set himself a heroic task, and... has rendered a very signal service to us all... this book is a fund of learning. -- Journal of Roman Archaeology Through all the multifarious foods, wines and objects (or indeed slaves), [Leary] offers a comprehensive guide ... The commentaries and the rich introductions are really helpful for all readers who want to approach Martial as literature or for details of the Saturnalia or patronage in general. * Classics for All Reviews *
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