sharing a birthday and a little Martial / by Anthony Gibbins

With whom do you share a birthday? Do you share a birthday with someone you know? Have you ever googled your birthday to see which famous folk were born on the same day? I am going to try it now. October 7. Okay, here we go. For better or worse. Vladimir Putin and Desmond Tutu. John Mellencamp and Heinrich Himmler. The women’s right activist Catharine A. MacKinnon and the environmental activist, Thom Yorke. If you try it, leave your list in a comment below.


Martial wrote the following epigram concerning Caesonia, who shared her birthday with the then emperor of Rome, Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus, better known as Domitian. Caesonia has a husband named Rufus, and although we cannot be certain, some have suggested this to be Instantius Rufus, a patron of Martial’s. Domitian’s birthday, by the way, was October 24. In this piece the emperor is called Palatinus Tonans the Palatine Thunderer, a reference to his association with Jupiter.

prima Palatino lux est haec orta Tonanti,

            optasset Cybele qua peperisse Iovem;

hac et sancta mei genita est Caesonia Rufi:

            plus debet matri nulla puella suae.

Laetatur gemina votorum sorte maritus,

            contigit hunc illi quod bis amare diem.

haec lux this light/day est orta rose prima first Palatino Tonanti for the Palatine Thunderer qua on which [day] Cybele Cybele optasset would have wished peperisse to have given birth to Iovem Jupiter; et and hac on this [day] genita est was born sancta sacred Caesonia Caesonia mei of my Rufi Rufus: nulla puella no girl debet owes plus more matri suae to her mother. maritus the husband laetatur rejoices gemina from a twin sorte response votorum of his prayers, illi they contigit have affected hunc him quod that bis twice amare he loves diem this day.

Every year they celebrate the day in the same way because Scipio very much loves to watch films. Perhaps you are wondering which film they are watching this year.