The 'epic' of Martial

Sapsford, Francesca May (2012). The 'epic' of Martial. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis explores the composition and arrangement of Martial’s twelve-book series, the Epigrams. I investigate the way in which key themes combine to create a pseudo-narrative for the reader to follow which connects not only individual books but the series as a whole. This twelve-book series creates an ’anti-epic’, something which is meant to be considered as a whole and read, and reread, as such. In the course of investigating the inter- and intratextual links within the Epigrams, we see how Martial’s corpus instructs its reader on how (and even where) to read the text. In doing so Martial is engaging with a literary discourse at the end of the first century on different patterns of reading. The key themes explored, oral sex and os impurum, food and dining, and a literary theme comprised of reading and writing, all form part of this programmatic literary instruction to the reader. I have identified the importance of ’orality’ within the Epigrams as part of the defined method of reading. Applying concepts from Reader-Response theory,and thinking about the way readers read, we can see that Martial’s books of epigrams are more than the sum of their parts.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology


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