This provocative book is a major contribution to our understanding of Martial's poetics, his vision of the relationship between art and reality, and his role in formulating modern perceptions of Rome. The study shows how on every scale from the microscopic to the cosmic, Martial displays epigram's ambition to enact the sociality of urban life, but also to make Rome rise out of epigram's architecture and gestures. Martial's distinctive aesthetic, grounded in paradox and inconsistency, ensures that the humblest, most throwaway poetic form is best poised to capture first century empire in all its dazzling complexity. As well as investigating many of Martial's central themes - monumentality, economics, death, carnival, exile - this books also questions what kind of a mascot Martial is for classics today in our own advanced, multicultural world, and will be an invaluable guide for scholars and students of classical literature and Roman history.

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