A Martial Reader: Selections from the Epigrams (Bc Latin Readers) (English and Latin Edition)

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9780865167049: A Martial Reader: Selections from the Epigrams (Bc Latin Readers) (English and Latin Edition)
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Martial's more than 1,500 epigrams, published in fifteen books over several decades, have long been valued for the richly varied glimpses they give into the urban landscape in which the comfortable upper classes of Roman society lived at the end of the first century ce. From public bathhouses, latrines, and brothels to private dinner parties with lavish foods and wines, from the amphitheater's violent entertainment and the use and abuse of slaves to coddled lapdogs and parrots who spontaneously exclaim ''Hail Caesar!''-all are subjected to Martial's observant eye and witty, sometimes biting commentary. The poems in this volume range from gossip and crude jokes to lofty celebrations of brotherly love and reflections on what makes life livable, illustrating the kaleidoscopic array that is the hallmark of Martial's work.

* Introduction to Martial's life and the literary and historical context of his poetry
* 99 epigrams (559 lines of unadapted Latin text) selected from every book of Martial's corpus: Liber spectaculorum: 1, 2, 7; Book 1: 1-3, 6, 10, 13, 15-16, 20, 24, 32-37, 47, 72, 93, 109-110, 118; Book 2: 5, 11, 18-23, 26, 28, 30, 37, 44, 62, 80, 82; Book 3: 1, 27, 43; Book 4: 24, 56; Book 5: 58, 81, 83; Book 6: 1, 34; Book 7: 5, 10, 14; Book 8: 12, 17, 23, 55; Book 9: Praefatio, 15, 70; Book 10: 4, 8, 47; Book 11: 13-15, 70, 77; Book 12: 3, 20, 23, 68, 90-93; Book 13 (Xenia): 3-4, 14, 29, 63, 74, 82, 108; Book 14 (Apophoreta): 73, 134, 188-191, 194-195, 198-200, 203-205
* Notes at the back and complete vocabulary
* Two maps and five illustrations

For over 30 years Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers has produced the highest quality Latin and ancient Greek books. From Dr. Seuss books in Latin to Plato's Apology, Bolchazy-Carducci's titles help readers learn about ancient Rome and Greece; the Latin and ancient Greek languages are alive and well with titles like Cicero's De Amicitia and Kaegi's Greek Grammar. We also feature a line of contemporary eastern European and WWII books.

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About the Author:

Craig Williams holds a BA and PhD in Classical Languages and Literatures from Yale University and is Professor of Classics at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Roman Homosexuality (2nd edition, Oxford 2010), Martial, Epigrams: Book Two. Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary (Oxford 2004), Reading Roman Friendship (Cambridge, forthcoming), and numerous articles on Latin poetry and Roman culture. Thanks to several research fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Williams has been visiting scholar at the Freie Universitat and the Humboldt-Universitat in Berlin, Germany. In 2006 he was awarded the Leonard and Claire Tow Endowed Professorship at Brooklyn College.

Review:

Turning a phrase is not a modern invention, as the Romans did it like crazy. A Martial Reader: Selections from the Epigrams delves into the work of Martial, looking into the words and phrases he used to commentate on the roman world, offering explanations and translations of his Latin work, complete with vocabulary and with expanded understanding of the Latin world. A Martial Reader: Selections from the Epigrams is a worthy pick for any student of Latin or world languages in general. --James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review, June 2011

Bolchazy-Carducci has already published several books in the collection Latin Readers, unadapted texts and useful guides for those who approach key authors and genres of Roman literature for the first time. Craig Williams' A Martial Reader will be a particularly useful book to students of Latin as well as a brief but sound introduction to Martial's poetry. It combines deep scholarly insight with anticipation of difficulties students may find.

This anthology contains 99 unadapted epigrams taken from all of Martial's books, which encompass a wide range of different topics, meters, and tones. The book is also furnished with a twenty-page introduction with bibliography, a commentary, illustrations, appendixes (two maps with indication of the geographical names mentioned in the selection), and a full vocabulary section.

The introduction is straightforward and illuminating; its different sections covering all the indispensable information: 'Martial's life: Bilbilis and Rome', 'Publication', 'Epigram before and after Martial', 'Themes', 'Characters and names', 'Poet and reader', 'Book structure', 'Poems structure and tips for reading', 'A note on the text', and 'Suggested reading' (in English). However, something more could have been said about the relationship between the epigram and other genres and about the variety of themes: Williams almost solely focuses on satiric epigrams, leaving aside other types such as epitaphs, epigrams on literature, reflections on life and death, homage poetry, etc. The succinct note on manuscript transmission (p. xxviii) leaves out the fact that the three testimonies of family are florilegia.

The commentary aims to help students in their own reading experience. In Williams' own words: 'By deliberately not providing introductory summaries of the epigrams it includes, this edition aims to give readers some experience in the characteristic challenge of reading Martial, and indeed any epigrammatic poetry. You pick a poem and simply begin reading, without any indication of which the topic is: the scenario and themes unfold more or less quickly as you read, and the point or joke emerges by the poem's end. The making of meaning from a brief poem is an important part of the pleasure of reading this genre, and perceiving structure is an important part of the process' (p. xxiii). The notes focus on language and realia in a balanced way: they are comprehensive, but at the same time concise and to the point. Much attention is paid to names, and some notes on them are particularly helpful, but sometimes there seems to be a certain lack of consistency: some notes on names are hardly relevant (about Sextillus in 2.28 'The name occurs only here in Martial's epigrams' [p. 78], or about Gallus: 'the name occurs frequently in Martial's epigrams, attached to a variety of characters' [p. 87]), whereas many other names are left uncommented: e.g. Avitus in 1.16, Aegle and Lycoris in 1.72, Labienus in 2.62, Chloe in 9.15, Tucca in 11.70, etc. In any case, subjectivity in the selection of epigrams and in the content of the notes is, of course, the author's prerogative.

The temptation of every reviewer is to establish, as a premise, the profile of the ideal reader of the book. This annotated anthology of the Epigrams has, like Martial's work, an open character, receptive to all sorts of readers, not only from the academic world. In the preface Williams hopes that 'this edition will give students a taste of what makes Martial's poetry, Latin literature, and Roman culture so surprisingly vibrant that some of us keep coming back to it; and that, by engaging students in the sometimes challenging but always rewarding processes of reading Latin poetry, it will arouse in some a desire to learn more'. It certainly will. --Rosario Moreno Soldevila, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla

Williams' Martial Reader offers rich strategies for reading the author's fifteen books of epigrams, with his choice of selections often acting as thematic 'teasers' for the book as a whole. In the preface Williams states his desire to empower his reader to appreciate the reading of Martial cover to cover, unlike its traditional appreciation in the form of 'bits and pieces' (ix) as light fare after the tough prose of a Cicero or Sallust. In this spirit, Williams offers in his Introduction a concentrated analysis of major components and issues informing a deep understanding of Martial. These topics consist of the author's life, the work's publication and manuscript tradition, the history of the genre of epigram (and its affinities with other existing Greek and Latin literary genres, such as the invective of the iambic tradition), Martial's significant use of names, use of personae and the autobiographical 'I', and a very accessible guide to the scansion and reading of the elegiac couplet, phalaecian hendecasyllable, and scazon.

Most impressive is Williams' 'tips for reading' that encourage the reader to understand 'questions of structure' beyond the reading of individual epigrams themselves. To this end Williams poses salient questions to the student when reading the epigrams, such as how the internal structure of the couplet (the hexameter and pentameter pair), and the couplet itself, either as a monodistich (two-line poem) or within an extended series, conveys sense and 'progressions in thought and language.' It is also for this reason that Williams does not offer any introductory treatment before each selection in the commentary section, with a view to encouraging the student to 'decipher and unpack' Martial's language and style on her/his own terms. Where difficulties of sense or syntax arise (as they often do!), however, Williams offers ample assistance for clarification without either giving away any final punch lines or undermining the students' reading and interpretive efforts. Williams offers a most valuable approach to reading Martial in this regard, one that many other commentaries geared towards intermediate readers would benefit from. --Osman Umurhan, University of New Mexico

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