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Marcus Valerius Martial, Epigrammata IV.13

Terracotta roundel: “May you grow old together.”

The marriage of Claudia Peregrina to Martial’s friend Pudens is celebrated in this brief epithalamium or Wedding song. The newlyweds are praised for being perfectly matched in every way and are proffered the traditional blessing of a perfect marriage, concordia. It is not harmony of the home that the poet prays for, however, but rather that the gifts of Venus, the goddess of love, remain in their marriage always and keep them from ever seeing each other as senex and anus. The poem is written in elegiac couplet, a literary form which consists of two lines of poetry in dactylic meter: the first line is in hexameter, the second in pentameter (see this illustration of the meter).

1   Claudia, Rufe, meo nubit Peregrina Pudenti:

macte esto taedis, O Hymenaee, tuis.            link

  Tam bene rara suo miscentur cinnama nardo,        link

Massica Theseis tam bene vina favis;            link

5   Nec melius teneris iunguntur vitibus ulmi,

nec plus lotos aquas, litora myrtus amat.        link      link

  Candida perpetuo reside, Concordia, lecto,             link

tamque pari semper sit Venus aequa iugo:      link

  diligat illa senem quondam, sed et ipsa marito

tum quoque, cum fuerit, non videatur anus.


Click on the underlined words for translation aids and commentary, which will appear in a small window. Close this small window after each use. Click on the icon link to the right of the poem for related images and information.

Ann R. Raia and Judith Lynn Sebesta
Return to The World of Marriage
July 2006