THE HOLE IN THE HYPOTHESIS: PLINY AND MARTIAL RECONSIDERED by R.A. PITCHER Francesca Santoro L’Hoir’s discussion of Pliny’s obituary letter for Martial (III.21) in The Rhetoric of Gender Terms , pp. 154-158, “Pliny and Martial: a Hole in the Hypothesis?” draws the conclusion that Pliny here reduces the poet to his proper insigni cance and con- demns him with the epithet homo ingeniosus acutus acer . Thus the hypothesis that homo is the word of preference for negative conno- tations 1 ) is preserved intact, reinforced with Ciceronian comparisons demonstrating the negative values assigned to ingeniosus, acutus and acer . This conclusion confronts the conventional view that the letter expresses sympathy for Martial in a way which re ects well on Pliny. However much one agrees that conventional views are fair targets for reappraisal, in this instance the argument is inherently unconvincing, for it fails to assess the terms in the context in which Pliny employs them, despite Santoro L’Hoir’s awareness of how much Rome had changed between the days of Cicero and Pliny. 2 ) Santoro L’Hoir begins, correctly, by demonstrating the inequality of the relationship between Pliny and Martial and the way in which Pliny frames
Mnemosyne – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1999
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