Notes to Martial, Epigrammata Book I. 42

coniunx, -iugis m./f.
husband, wife, spouse. Observe the effect of the word order: coniugis and its accompanying noun Bruti frame the line, surrounding the object (fatum) and subject (Porcia) of the sentence. Note that Martial uses the name accorded her marital status (Porcia Bruti), which is more significant here than her birth name (Porcia Catonis).
audio, -ire, -ivi, -itum
hear, learn, be told; audisset is a contracted form of audivisset (3rd person singular pluperfect active subjunctive).
cum conjunction
as, when, since, although; here it introduces a clause of attendant circumstance with its verbs in the subjunctive (audisset, quaereret).
subtraho, -trahere, -traxi, -tractum
remove, steal away, withdraw (secretly); perfect passive participle modifying arma.
se reflexive pronoun
him/her/itself, themselves; translate sibi as from herself, an indirect reflexive following subtracta in a subordinate clause that refers back to the main subject (Porcia).
quaero, -ere, quaesivi, quaesitum
seek, look for, strive for, ask, inquire; subjunctive verb (3rd person singular imperfect active) in the cum clause with audisset (note the different tense). The subject is dolor, a striking personification for Porcia.
arma, -orum n. pl.
arms, weapons; modified by subtracta. Her family is anticipating that Porcia's grief at the loss of her husbandwill lead to her suicide.
dolor, -oris m.
grief, pain, anguish; note the poet's use of a masculine noun to personify Porcia's unfeminine response to the news of Brutus' death.
nondum adverb
not yet.
possum, posse, potui, --
be able; present active infinitive in indirect statement. Porcia’s words here reveal her passionate and decisive nature.
nego (1)
deny, say no, refuse; complementary passive infinitive following posse. Martial affirms Porcia's assertion in the final word of the poem.
credo, -dere, -didi, -ditum
believe, trust; pluperfect indicative, it introduces an indirect statement, followed by the accusative patrem and the infinitive docuisse.
fatum, -i n.
fate, death; translate as singular, an ablative of means. Note the repetition of fatum from l.1. Porcia references the suicide of her father, Cato, who, when he realised the Republican cause was lost, overcame the attempts of his friends to prevent his death.
doceo, -ere, docui, doctum
teach, inform, tell; the subject of the perfect infinitive is patrem, followed by the direct object hoc, the neuter demonstrative pronoun.
ardens, -entis
hot, glowing, burning; 3rd declension adjective, with alternative –is ending in the accusative plural, modifying favillas.
avidus, -a, -um
eager, greedy, desirous; modifying ore, ablative of means.
bibo, -ere, bibi, bibitum
drink; swallow.
favilla, -ae f.
hot/glowing ashes, embers; modified by ardentis. A truly terrible form of suicide.
eo, ire, ii (or ivi), itum
go; singular imperative. It has been questioned whether the poet or Porcia is speaking here.
ferrum, -i n.
iron; by metonymy, sword.
turba, -ae f.
mob, crowd.
molestus, -a, -um
troublesome, burdensome, annoying; it modifies the subject turba.

Close this window after final use.