Wholly Roamin’ Maltese

You may be surprised to learn that Popes are not allowed to have dogs within Vatican City. More likely, you just don’t care one way or the other. Fine, be that way, but it’s true.

So, although Maltese are not allowed in VC, as the cool altar boys say, Malts are no strangers to Rome.

Max 2

His Holiness Max I

Marcus Valerius Martialis (“Martial” to his friends, no, really) was a Roman poet and author best known for his twelve books of epigrams.

Like many other artsy guys of his time, he was a suck-up – totally dependent on his wealthy friends and patrons for gifts of money, for his dinner, and even for his dress.

However, back then he would have been considered an honorable suck-up because the relation of client to patron was a noble one in the best Roman tradition.

But I digress.

Max 3

I hereby excommunicate my dog parents.

Martial wrote a poem about Issa who was the pet Maltese dog of Publius, the Roman Governor of Malta in the first century.

The first stanza goes a bit like this:

Issa est passere nequior Catulli:
Issa est purior osculo columbae;
Issa est blandior omnibus puellis;
Issa est carior Indicis lapillis;
Issa est deliciae catella Publi.

Now, unless your name is Helen Devries, you probably cannot understand that poem. So let’s turn to Wheelock’s Latin (3rd Edition, don’tcha know) for a translation:

Issa is more mischievous than Catullus’ sparrow:
Issa is purer than the kiss of a dove;
Issa is more flattering than all girls;
Issa is more dear than India’s gems;
Issa is Publius’ darling little dog.

Max thinks that Martial’s description of Issa was spot on. He likes to think that he is also “purer than the kiss of a dove.”

For my part, a bird kiss, especially from a rat with wings, sounds like a good way to get diseases that would cause your lips to fall off. And while we’re on the subject of birds, why was Catullus’ sparrow so damn mischievous?

The poem goes on and on after that. Martial was really long winded, even for a Roman epigramist.

The point is, Maltese were as familiar to the upper classes of Rome as they are to the fevered little goblins running around and extorting sugar treats on Halloween.

I only wish Trick or Treaters were banned from my neighborhood like Malts are banned from Vatican City.

Max & Pumpkin 3

Now what do you expect from me?

Get off my lawn. Oh, and have a Happy Halloween.

44 replies

  1. The costumes. Amazing. So many, so weird. I love it. How long will Max wear them, once the photo is taken? Jacques would be out of his in two seconds, unless he were paid off with a long walk. I don’t know that he’d put up with hats at all. Of course, now that I’ve stopped sending him to the groomer, he’d be the frowsiest pope ever, so maybe it’s just as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re not able to determine the Malt’s religion. We know he believes in chicken, pork, beef, fish, chewy treats and crunchy treats. He is a believer in naps, walks, scritches and cuddles. And yes, this Pope most definitely poops on the lawn.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I know there are a lot of folks who wear many hats, but Max takes the prize!! How you get him to pose for you is amazing. He’s so darn cute.

    When Max poops on the lawn, does he pray over it?! 😂
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • The answer, Ginger, is of course…treats. We have to bribe him well to get the photos. Fortunately, he knows the “wait” command and we can keep him dangling for some time on the hope of a small cookie. He doesn’t seem to object to wearing different outfits but loathes hats so of course we always get a costume with a hat. Hey, we used this technique to torture the kids so why not use it on the alt-kid now?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I opened this at 2.00 a.m. this morning, despite previous experience of the results of nocturnal reading of this blog. I never learn…..
    Thank you for the compliment…thanks to the level of teaching I was lucky enough to have received I was able to grasp the gist of the Martial…then sat up to get to grips with it properly. I would only suggest that ‘catulla’ would be a puppy rather than a dog…but who am I to argue with Wheelock’s 3rd edition….
    We read Catullus and Martial at school…though not Juvenal, thought decidedly improper for young ladies….so I can suggest that in respect of the sparrow you too might have been tempted to be mischevous if resting in the lap of Catullus’ girlfriend.
    So all my best wishes to the Pontifex MAXimus, so wonderfully attired in his vestments, and as I suspect he managed to destroy last year’s pumpkin by using it as a urinal, could I suggest that this year, while properly attired, he anathematises trick or treaters by bell, book and candle…and then pees on the damn thing again.
    And wherever do you find those costumes!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m told that Martial included a lot of lewd material in his epigrams but having read a few, the allusions are so obtuse and subtle that I missed the good stuff. Juvenal was at least a bit more obvious. Whatever…reading ancient Romans for giggles is too exhausting; I’ll just check out the statures in Herculaneum – Pompeii porn! This year Mr. Pumpkin was placed on an inverted garden pot which places Jack ‘O Lantern above the Malt’s target area so maybe the gourd will make it for another couple days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I suspect we were not old enough…or streetwise enough…to have picked up on any dubious allusions…and it is quite possible that the maiden lady who taught Latin would not have recognised one if she saw it…
        Putting the pumpkin out of reach? Swizz!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Woof, woof, woof! Another reason not to be Pope! No dogs allowed? Whaaaaat? Max is the bestest Pope ever and he takes the cake with this one! Good boy Your Holiness Max! We are not looking forward to the goblins gobbling their treats tonight either!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know all the issues but it seems to me that Vatican City could use a gentle Maltese as a greeter. Shouldn’t all creatures be permitted in the holy area? I’ll bet that wily, apostate cats sneak in there from time to time so the canines should demand equal time. Let’s all get OUTRAGED!!! by this oversight.


  5. How can one be both mischievous and pure? That’s like saying devious and innocent. But I grant you that his fur looks pure, although I would not treat an unpure coat any differently. Your Papal pup sure has a poker face. Peace be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And may Pizza be with you, too. Hey, remember that Brittany Spears song where she growls, “I’m not that innocent?” Well, isn’t that proof that one can combine purity and…oh wait, that doesn’t work at all. Never mind.


  6. {snicker} Too clever. So tell me, is it pronounced Eye-sa or Eesa? Buehler? Helen?
    P.S Beyond adorable costume, Max. Even Sam is impressed and he’s not into costumes. Elsa is now jonesing for your tag number. She’s easily impressed by uniforms. Happy Howl-o-ween 👻

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d go for Eessa…but pronounciation of Latin varies…the way I was taught certainly wasn’t the way French friends had been taught.
      Still we can all take refuge in the schoolboy doggerel
      ‘Latin is a language
      As dead as dead can be.
      First it killed the Romans
      And now it’s killing me.’

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is why it always pays to wait on replying to blog comments. If I had to actually answer Monika’s question on pronunciation I would have been lost. But simply by waiting I let Ms. Devries handle the topic. It’s how I get out of work around the house, too. Just wait long enough and most problems solve themselves. That’s why males are the superior gender.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. You do look pawsitively hoy, Your Holiness Max I!
    Do you want your ring kissed…or would you rather have a snausage treat?! 😉 😀
    Cooper wants to know if you want him to go check out VC and let you know what happenin’ there?!?!
    Happy Halloween, Max…to you and your human-beans!
    PATS and RUBS!!! from me and Coops! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • The dictionary says “Hoy” is like “Look!”…when trying to get someone’s attention. So…HOY, Holy Max!!! HA! 😀

        HA! Your comment made me snort-laugh…which woke Cooper up…which made him look at me like “What are snortin’ about now, Woman?!” When I told him, he said, “Oh. Can I have a snausage, too?” 😛 😀

        HUGS and Happy Fri-YAY to all of you!!! 🙂


  8. Ah, Sir Maxwell, we are honored by your presence and your parents do not deserve your munificence. Also, I love living at the end of a very long driveway through the woods – our only trick or treaters were 6 deer who came almost up to the front door.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had a pretty good crop of Trick or Treaters this year. The AJF pulled a bamboozle on me and announced that there was a Japanese TV program that she simply “had to watch” from 7-9 on Halloween night thereby leaving me and the Malt to handle the greedy little munchkins. I dressed in my dog costume, Max stayed naked and we managed to control the candy flow. Mostly real small kids this year for some reason. Would have preferred deer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • we are honored by the presence of the deer. After my Max went to the Bridge, and the Holy Terror known as Maverick was a Tiny Terror, I saw beautiful buck in our field. I watched in awe as he bowed his head to me, and walked into the woods. It was a moment I’ll never forget


    • I tried to think f a Pope that was handsome but frankly none come to mind. Most of them looked like grouchy old men and some were downright scary so telling Max that he is the best looking Pope is damning with faint praise. He would like some comparisons with handsome movie star dogs. I said, “You mean like Benji?” He sniffed and walked away, offended.


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