Embodied poetics in Martial 11

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In this paper, I call attention to the way in which Martial uses the body of his "wife." In particular, I focus on one act the poet associates with his wife in this libellus, that of anal sex. I argue that in order to understand this sordid act, we must first understand the poetic voice or persona. In other words, Martial's representation of his wife and her bodily acts highlight the fact that "Martial" himself is part of the illusion. Through his wife, who can be seen as transformation of the women of Catullus and the elegists, Martial sullies the literary tradition as he inserts himself into it. This simultaneously transformative and visceral use of his wife is part of Martial's larger epigrammatic program and indicative of his "embodied poetics".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-311
Number of pages37
JournalTransactions of the American Philological Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


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