In this age of the sound bite, what sort of author could be more relevant than a master of the epigram? Martial, the most influential epigrammatist of classical antiquity, was just such a virtuoso of the form, but despite his pertinence to today’s culture, his work has been largely neglected in contemporary scholarship. Arguing that Martial is a major author who deserves more sustained attention, William Fitzgerald provides an insightful tour of his works, shedding new and much-needed light on the Roman poet’s world—and how it might speak to our own.
Writing in the late first century CE—when the epigram was firmly embedded in the social life of the Roman elite—Martial published his poems in a series of books that were widely read and enjoyed. Exploring what it means to read such a collection of epigrams, Fitzgerald examines the paradoxical relationship between the self-enclosed epigram and the book of poems that is more than the sum of its parts. And he goes on to show how Martial, by imagining these books being displayed in shops and shipped across the empire to admiring readers, prophetically behaved like a modern author. Chock-full of epigrams itself—in both Latin and English versions—Fitzgerald’s study will delight classicists, literary scholars, and anyone who appreciates an ingenious witticism.
The idea of variety may seem too diffuse, obvious, or nebulous to be worth scrutinizing, but modern usage masks the rich history of the term. This book examines the meaning, value, and practice of variety from the vantage point of Latin literature and its reception and reveals the enduring importance of the concept up to the present day.
William Fitzgerald looks at the definition and use of the Latin term varietas and how it has played out in different works and with different authors. He shows that, starting with the Romans, variety has played a key role in our thinking about nature, rhetoric, creativity, pleasure, aesthetics, and empire. From the lyric to elegy and satire, the concept of variety has helped to characterize and distinguish different genres. Arguing that the ancient Roman ideas and controversies about the value of variety have had a significant afterlife up to our own time, Fitzgerald reveals how modern understandings of diversity and choice derive from what is ultimately an ancient concept.