n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - A question of patronage : Seneca and Martial

Volume 42, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Ludwig Friedländer was the first scholar to argue that upon his arrival in Rome Martial established ties of patronage with Seneca, and he has been followed in this assumption by all the major authorities on the poet. The idea that Seneca had been Martial's patron holds a key position in evaluations of the poet's life and career. Seneca's downfall in the aftermath of the Pisonian conspiracy (AD 65) is held to have been disastrous for Martial's chances of establishing himself as a poet, and so would provide at least part of an explanation for his late debut. Furthermore, the Senecan connection has become the starting-point for the understanding of Martial's poems of complaint in which contemporary patrons are unfavourably compared to the grandiose supporters of literature of the past. Obviously, if Seneca had been generous to Martial during his first year in Rome, the poet would have had good reason to complain about the lack of response from his contemporaries. In this article I first re-examine the main evidence in support of a patronal relationship between Seneca and Martial, the two poems in which Seneca is remembered as a generous patron (4.40; 12.36). Subsequently I review the evidence with regard to Martial's estate at Nomenturn, which is supposed to have been the gift of Seneca himself or of his heirs.

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