This paper examines the cultural antagonisms of Martial's Apophoreta 170–82, a unique series of epigrammatic gift-tags for artworks to be given away during the Saturnalia. In these poems, I argue, Martial thematizes and enacts Rome's transformative appropriation of cultural capital from Greece and elsewhere. First, he adopts the Hellenistic trope of the ekphrastic gallery tour in order to evoke the “museum spaces” of the Flavian city, where artworks became testaments to the power and culture of Rome (Section 1). While evoking these masterpiece collections, however, the epigrams in fact describe miniatures changing hands at a banquet. Martial thus tropes a second Roman practice of appropriation, namely the widespread consumption of transmedial miniature copies (Section 2). Third and finally, the epigrams dramatize the vulnerability of plundered objects by reevaluating their significance within the Roman frameworks of Latin literature and the Saturnalia (Section 3). In this miniature ekphrastic series, then, Martial's apophoretic poetics converge with Roman forms of appropriation both imperial and domestic, concrete and conceptual.
Research Article| October 01 2017
Take-Away Art: Ekphrasis and Appropriation in Martial's Apophoreta 170–82
Classical Antiquity (2017) 36 (2): 288–316.
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Carolyn MacDonald; Take-Away Art: Ekphrasis and Appropriation in Martial's Apophoreta 170–82. Classical Antiquity 1 October 2017; 36 (2): 288–316. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2017.36.2.288
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