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Posts Tagged ‘historical personages’

The Knife of Narcissus part 6 releases next Monday and will be available at all the usual places. Once again there will be a guest post, review, and giveaway at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews.

This installment’s guest post is on Roman Emperors—the crazy kind. (Yes, there were non-crazy ones, too, but it was hard to find them in the crowd of complete nutters.)

Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews - KoN 6

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I was ridiculously charmed by this typo in the online transcription of a 1919 Loeb Classical Library edition of Martial’s epigrams at Archive.org:

“That Martial was capable of a very sincere and lusting friendship is shown by many of his epigrams.”

Indeed it is.

As the rest of the Loeb introduction mentions, we don’t know much about what the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis got up to between the collapse of Nero’s court and his acceptance into the favour of the Flavian imperial dynasty—well, other than what he complains about in his poems, such as his lousy walk-up living space. That allows for a lot of leeway for him to make a guest appearance in The Knife of Narcissus starting in Book 3, the new installment that releases on Monday.

Martial’s poems show up before he does, as graffiti in public spaces and copied into various unauthorised editions; then the poet himself arrives, selling the equivalent of holiday greeting cards and busking in the marketplace. As one of ancient Rome’s raunchiest poets, he’s a perfect fit for Lucius’s taste in literature, even though he doesn’t turn out to be the sort of person Lucius expected him to be.

Martial left behind an enormous output, and one of the most fun (and sometimes outright funny) parts of my research was finding poems to fit the various parts of the story; then translating them to use as-is or with tweaks to suit the scene (we’ll assume Martial wrote a few first drafts). And if I needed a new turn of phrase for an age-old act, Martial was a good place to look for creatively inspiring wording.

Pliny the Younger, one of Martial’s illustrious patrons, called him “a man of genius, of subtle and quick intelligence, and one who in his writings showed the greatest wit and pungency, and just as much fairness….But it’s likely his writings will not last. Maybe they will not—but he wrote them as if they would.”

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