n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Poets and poverty : the case of Martial

Volume 43, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The fact that most Roman poets belonged to the equestrian or senatorial class has encouraged a sceptical attitude towards complaints of financial hardship and inadequate patronage. Such complaints tend to be viewed as a conventional 'mendicant facade' - a facet of the poet's bogus . However, the evidence provided by Martial's and by contemporary perceptions of what constituted wealth and poverty suggest that mere possession of equestrian status was no guarantee of affluence. It is likely that the plight of poets like Martial and Juvenal was more genuine than modern sceptics would allow and that their indictment of the state of patronage was more than a convenient literary pose.

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