Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Linda Humnick


This thesis examines the epigrammatic verses of the Latin poet Marcus Valerius Martialis(Martial). The emphasis is on the order of basic constituents and information structure, in particular, the concepts of sentence articulation and focus structure as modelled by Lambrecht (1994).

I categorize clauses from roughly 200 lines of epigrammatic verse by the sentencearticulations topic-comment, in which propositions have predicate focus, identificational, in which propositions have argument focus, and thetic, in which whole propositions are in focus. For each articulation, I also present various examples demonstrating the variety of word orders in each. Additionally, this study examines some patterns found in clause pairs with contrastive focus.

The results of this study demonstrate that epigrams frequently exemplify non-canonicalword orders (i.e., marked word orders) in all three types of sentence articulations. Indeed, in the data analyzed, non-canonical orders are more common than canonical word orders. Topic-comment propositions have the closest percentage comparison between canonical and non-canonical, with 33% canonical and 37% non-canonical. Identificational propositions are canonical 40% of the time and non-canonical 52% of the time. Thetic (presentational and event-reporting) propositions are canonical in 11% of cases and non-canonical in 81% of cases. For each sentence articulation, the remaining percentage of clauses contain only a verb, and thus are not categorized by canonical and non-canonical orders. Out of the roughly 200 lines of epigrammatic verse, the canonical SOV (subject-object-verb) order, where all three constituents are explicit, occurs two times in main clauses.