In this poem Martial describes the performance of a mimus in the amphitheatre. A mimus is a kind of play with often comic situations especially in the genre of the deceived spouse, lets say the Roman equivalent of the soap They were widely popular and had a hugh audience, but due to its unliterary character not a single mimus has survived. The mimus Martial was watching was about Laureolus, a famous criminal, who was executed at the and of the play. An actor played the role of Laureolus and the execurion wasn’t real, but emperor Domitian deceided that real criminals could be used to make the mimus as realistic as possible. This much to the delight of the audience….
1 Qualiter in Scythica religatus rupe Prometheus
adsiduam nimio pectore pavit avem,
nuda Caledonio sic viscera praebuit urso
non falsa pendens in cruce Laureolus.
5 Vivebant laceri membris stillantibus artus
inque omni nusquam corpore corpus erat.
Denique supplicium dignum tulit: ille parentis
vel domini iugulum foderat ense nocens,
templa vel arcano demens spoliaverat auro,
10 subdiderat saevas vel tibi, Roma, faces.
Vicerat antiquae sceleratus crimina famae,
in quo, quae fuerat fabula, poena fuit.
1-3 qualiterY.sic: like….so
Scythica rupe: according to Greek mythology Prometheus was chained to a rock in the Caucasus. Because the Scyths were als from that area, Martial calls it the Scythic rock.
religo (I): bind
rupes, rupis: rock
2 assiduus: incessant, Every night an eagle came to pick Prometheus’ liver away, which recovered during daytime
paveo, pavi (II): to fear
nimius: immoderate (as Prometheus had stolen fire from the gods)
3 Caledonius: De Caledoniërs waren een stam in Schotland. Caledonius
staat hier voor `erg wild=
The Caledonians were a tribe in Scotland who had the reputation of being very fierce, hence Calidonius `very fierce
viscera, um: íntestines, like in English plurale tantum in classical Latin
praebeo + dat: to offer
4 non falsa: falsa with cruce. Contrary to the mythical part of the comparison this is real.
5 `The lacerated limbs were trying to live (imperfectum de conatu!) while dripping blood’ artus and membrum are almost synonyms, The translation `The lacerated limbs were trying to live while the members were dripping blood’ is of course awkward.
6. `and in the whole body there was nowhere a body (to be recognized).’ Don’t try to imagine this…
7. denique: at last
supplicium : punishment
8 iugulum: throat
fodio fossi fossum (III) : to peirce
ensis, ensis: two-edged sword
noceo (II): to hurt
9 arcano auro: ablativus seperativus `of their secret gold’ Often gold was deposited in temples as it was supposed to be more save there.
demens: `zonder verstand= dwaas
spolio (I): strip, plunder
10 subdo . -didi, -ditum (III): to put under
fax, facis: torch. As Rome had a lot of wooden constructions it was constantly liable to fire
vinco vici victum (III): defeat
11-12 `The criminal had defeated the crimes of the ancient story in which was a punishment, which was phantasy’ (i.e. the punishment of the stand in Laureolus was worse than that of Prometheus,)