Cenare quomodo rex: as políticas do javali na Roma de Marcial

Translated title of the contribution: Cenare quomodo rex: boar politics in Martial’s Rome

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review



The poet Martial is one of the most notorious sources on the food of his time, namely on how much it weighed on social relations and literary expression itself. His mordant verses, though seemingly a bit trivial and even grotesque, reveal that, in the politically and socially new context of the first century of the Empire, cenare quomodo rex (Petronius, Satyricon, 38) implied, above all, eating wild boar meat. This delicacy carried multiple meanings: symbol of Mars and proof of the hunter's valour, star of remarkable mythological tale repeatedly recreated in the arena, the aper exemplified the new type of status, conquered through wealth. In fact, it was almost as costly to obtain as to prepare it, which intensified a taste per se delicious, making it a decoy for fans and a means of fulfilling self-serving purposes. The boar was a symbol of the social inequality that troubled Martial, stuck to the tiring and humiliating clientela system that had subverted traditional relationships and virtues. The beast’s mythological symbolism allows the poet erudite allusions that refer to the epic tradition, integrating it in a bestiary that goes beyond the satirical dimension to represent the fragility that characterizes the human being.
Translated title of the contributionCenare quomodo rex: boar politics in Martial’s Rome
Original languagePortuguese
Title of host publicationDas culturas da alimentação ao culto dos alimentos
EditorsCarmen Soares
Place of PublicationCoimbra
PublisherImprensa da Universidade de Coimbra
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789892623627
ISBN (Print)9789892623610
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Imperial Rome
  • Boar
  • Martial
  • Luxus
  • Clientele
  • Social and literary satire


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