Renæssanceforum 9 • 2015

Johann Ramminger
Perotti's Life of Martial and its Literary Context

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In his Life of Martial Perotti applies a structure of biography formulated by Servius and often used in medieval accessus with the following elements: the poet's life, title of the work, its characteristics, intention, structure, and explanation. Within this framework Perotti discusses two problems of Martial's epigrams: the crass obscenity to which the reader was exposed, and the unrestrained flattery of Domitian, that might show Martial's character in an unfavourable light. According to Perotti, however, it is the intention of the author to influence the depraved tyrant for the better by showing him an ideal version of himself. The disturbing language - an inappropriate object of study for a bishop such as Perotti himself - is part of the characteristics of the poems which express a wide range of contents in a fitting - at times lofty, at times obscene - idiom. Thus the reader, even if a prince, was to be subtly educated and lead onto a path of virtue.