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Title: "Marcjalis wśród Wandalów". Epigram skoptyczny Luxoriosa a tradycja gatumku
Other Titles: "The Martial of the Vandals". The scoptic epigram of Luxorios and the tradition of the genre
Authors: Wasyl, Anna Maria
Keywords: Luxurios
Roman epigram
Scoptic epigram
Poets of Antologia Latina
Poets of Vandal Africa
Late antique Carthaginian poets
Late antique poetry
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk
Citation: Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2010, nr XX/1, s. 95-108
Abstract: This paper is devoted to scoptic epigrams of Luxorius, the “Carthaginian Martial” as he is of- ten named, an author active in Carthage during the last decades of the Vandal occupation of North Africa in the sixth century A.D. I focus first on the question of the genre as understood ad em- ployed by the poet, demonstrating that Luxorius can be seen as probably the first ancient epigram- matist to continue or even to return to the well-organized and disciplined variety typical of Mar- tial’s books of epigrams. Luxorius, like Martial, displays a true technical mastery in using various metrical forms; indeed, he surpasses his master employing thirteen different meters in his eighty nine poems (Martial used ‘only’ eight meters in 1,561 epigrams). Nevertheless, for both poets it is clear that the dominant meter of the epigrammatic genre must be the elegiac distich, other meters being exploitable only at certain occasions as, for example, in the opening programmatic poem for which the ‘Catullan’ Phalaecean is the most appropriate choice (see Martial’s I 1 and Luxorius’s 287 R2 Ad Faustum). Not less important is the fact that the Carthaginian author, again following strictly the rules set by his predecessor, defines his oeuvre with the term epigramma, turned into a generic label precisely by Martial, and emphasizes its satirical, indeed scoptic character (Luxorius plays with the Martialian word sal), its facilis pudor, the light morality, as well as its realism. In the second part of my paper I propose a comparative reading of a few scoptic themes by Martial and Luxorius, namely: 1) a lover of ugly girls (L. 329 R2; M. I 10, III 76); 2) an old man trying to hide his age (L. 343 R2; M. III 43, VI 57); 3) an aged woman and sex (L. 301 R2; M. X 67); 4) a blind man quite pleased with his handicap (L. 357 R2; M. VIII 51). As I show, Luxorius’s texts, if compared with Martial’s, turn out not less intelligent and not less surprising as far as the epigrammatic point is concerned. In fact, in some cases one may have the impression that it is Luxorius to invent a more ‘original’ and, indeed, more thought-provoking version of a certain motif. Drawing upon Martial’s two-verse ‘note’ that a blind man can have a lovely female partner, he creates an ingeniously amusing miniature portrayal of a lucis egenus, able to know beautiful women by touch. What is peculiar to Luxorius’s poetics is a clear preference for the figure of paradox and a kind of fascination with all that seems abnormal, distorted, ugly. Therefore his focus on sexual perverts, deformed beings, incompetent teachers or doctors, entertainers who do not entertain. As it appears, this unique “world upside down” as pictured by the Carthaginian poet reflects quite well, even though as if in a distorting mirror of course, the paradoxes of his epoch, an epoch when Carthage, two generations before taken and destroyed by the Vandals, reestablishes its position as the center of learning precisely thanks to the same Vandal rulers.
ISBN: 978-83-7654-082-5
ISSN: 0302-7384
Appears in Collections:Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2010, nr XX/1

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