to discredit Marten: Coll: Henry Marten’s Familiar Letters to his Lady of Delight: also Her kinde Returnes; with his Rivall R. Pettingalls Heroicall Epistles was first published Oxford in 1662, and reprinted 1663 and 1685.
Stultorn incurate vigor malus ulcera vexat was an aphorism that Marten coined and self-applied. It can be translated as “My false industriousness worsen[ed] the wound of my foolishness”. It is a play on a line from Horace’s Epistles 1.16.24: “Stultorum incurate pudor malus ulcera celat” (The false modesty of a fool leads him to conceal his wound). Ignavum fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent is from Virgil’s Georgics, IV, 168: “All, with united force, combine to drive / The lazy drones from the laborious hive” in Dryden’s translation. The Witch Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus) was born in 39 A.D. and died in 65 A.D. In 63 A.D. he joined a group of senators conspiring to assassinate the Emperor Nero. Suetonius describes Lucan as paene signifer, the leader of the group. The coup failed, and Nero compelled Lucan, along with the other conspirators, to commit suicide. Lucan’s De Bello Civili (known in English as either the Pharsalia or The Civil War) is an epic poem describing the civil war between imperial Caesar and republican Pompey, whom Lucan favours. Some have argued that Lucan constructs a republican poetic in opposition to the smooth, elevated music of Virgil, and there certainly seems to be a pointed parallel in this extract: the witch (whose name is Erichtho) is Lucan’s equivalent to the Sybil of Cumae, and instead of a wise sage dispensing prophecies, Erichtho is a terrifying monster. Lucan’s depiction of Erichtho’s outrageous abuse of the dead may seem gratuitous, but it has a political dimension: it prefigures Caesar’s behaviour after the battle at Pharsalia, when he refuses to allow the republican dead to be buried, leaving the corpses to be eaten by animals. Throughout