Wednesday, July 22, 2020

W/W: Bassa's Riddle, Martial 1.90.1-6

Quod numquam maribus iunctam te, Bassa, videbam
     quodque tibi moechum fabula nulla dabat,
omne sed officium circa te semper obibat
     turba tui sexus, non adeunte viro,
esse videbaris, fateor, Lucretia* nobis:              5
     at tu, pro facinus, Bassa, [incasta] eras!

--Martial, Epig. I.90.1-6, 9-10

Because I never saw you in any man's arms,
Because I never heard a rumor about you cheating,
Because no man ever dated you,
Because you were content
with the swarm of women always at your side,
you seemed to be an ideal of chastity to me.
But dang it, Bassa, all this time you’ve been dating them!

* Lucretia was a role model of chastity in early Roman history.

Disclaimer: This text has been modified to fit the scope of this blog. The nominative predicate in line six has been changed into a less severe alternative. Considering the scarcity of women's perspectives in Latin literature, I felt it was important to include this passage despite the language it uses.

Name: Marcus Valerius Martialis
Date:  40 CE – 104 CE
Works:  Epigrammaton Libri XV*
               De Spectaculis

REGION  2 (Hispania)
Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans

Originally from Bilbilis, Hispania, the poet Martial moved to Rome in the 60s CE to advance his career. His two extant works include de Spectaculis, a collection of poems written to commemorate the opening of the Colosseum, and a fifteen volume collection of epigrams. These epigrams provide valuable insight into the mores and private lives of men and women from all of the city’s social classes.     
Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE