Martial

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You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars.
Thomas Traherne
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Marcus Valerius Martialis was born sometime around 40 A.D. at Bilbilis, a small town in the north-east of Spain (Hispania). He is commonly known in the English speaking world as Martial. He was a scathing satirist, often writing highly derogatory poems of his acquaintances - including his patrons - which he published under the title of Epigrammata. Though not the first Roman poet to write in an epigrammatic style he is widely considered to have brought the epigram to its acme as a literary genre; thus he is rightly considered the 'Father of the Epigram.'

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Epigrams

Epigrammata, twelve books of short poems.

  • Lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba.
    • My poems are naughty, but my life is pure. - Liber I, iv.
  • Sera nimis vita est crastina: vive hodie.
    • Translation: Tomorrow's life is too late. Live today.
    • I, 15
  • Stop abusing my verses, or publish some of your own.
    • I, 91
  • You complain, friend Swift, of the length of my epigrams, but you yourself write nothing. Yours are shorter.
    • I, 110
  • Invitas nullum nisi cum quo, Cotta, lavaris
    et dant convivam balnea sola tibi
    mirabar quare numquam me, Cotta, vocasses:
    iam scio me nudum displicuisse tibi.
    • Translation: You invite no one except (someone) with whom you are bathed, Cotta
      And only baths provide guest(s) for you.
      I was wondering why you had never called me, Cotta:
      Now I know that nude me was displeasing to you.
    • I, 23
  • Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst.
    • III, 42
  • You ask what a nice girl will do? She won't give an inch, but she won't say no.
    • IV, 71


  • Nullos esse deos, inane caelum
    Adfirmat Segius: probatque, quod se
    Factum, dum negat haec, videt beatum.
    • Selius affirms, in heav'n no gods there are: And while he thrives, and they their thunder spare, His daring tenet to the world seems fair. -Anon, 1695
    • Liber IV, xxi


  • si post fata venit gloria, non propero.
    • If glory comes after death, I hurry not. - Liber V, x; (Trans. Zachariah Rush)


  • Nobis pereunt et imputantur.
    • Translation: They [the hours] pass by, and are put to our account.
    • V, 20, line 13
    • This phrase is often found as an inscription on sundials.
  • A man who lives everywhere lives nowhere.
    • V, 73
  • Laudas balnea versibus trecentis
    Cenantis bene Pontici, Sabelle.
    Vis cenare, Sabelle, non lavari.
    • Translation: You praise, in 300 verses, Sabellus, the baths of Ponticus, who gives such excellent dinners. You wish to dine, Sabellus, not to be bathed.
    • IX, 19
  • Virtue extends our days: he lives two lives who relives his past with pleasure.
    • X, 23
  • Neither fear your death's day nor long for it.
    • X, 47
  • Difficilis facilis iucundus acerbus es idem:
    Nec tecum possum vivere nec sine te.
    • Translation: Difficult easy-going, likewise you are sweet [and] sour: I am able to live neither with you nor without you.
    • XII, 47

External links

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