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Phidiae Putavi Martial und der Hercules Epitrapezios des Novius Vindex

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image of Mnemosyne

Martial introduces the sitting figure of a Hercules Epitrapezios in two epigrams of his ninth book (9. 43, 44). The first of them highlights the artistic qualities of the small statuette supposed to be of Lysippan origin. Its glory is further enhanced by the illustrious series of highborn predecessors whose table the little figurine had previously adorned. The verses of this first epigram are flamboyant in style with a strong epic colouring whereas the second epigram treats the same subject in a very different manner. The final point of this more modest piece with its allusion to Phidias remains unclear. A number of contentious explanations have been proposed, of which most fail to convince in as much as textual criticism of the passage has been unduly neglected by philologists and archaeologists. As a result of our proposal the name of the highly celebrated sculptor Phidias gives rise to a pun which makes reference to the small scale of the objet d'art.


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