The first epigram of Book 1 is fascinating as it proclaims this is to be the work of the world-famous Martial. However, this is his fourth book and is the first book in a new series which is radically different from those written previously. Martial can certainly not be accused of modesty in this poem!
Hic est quem legis ille, quem requiris,
Toto notus in orbe Martialis
Argutis epigrammaton libellis:
Cui, lector studiose, quod dedisti
Viventi decus atque sentienti, 5
Rari post cineres habent poetae.
You read him, you ask for him, here he is:
Martial, known throughout the world for
his witty little books of epigrams.
Dedicated reader, the glory you have
given him while he lives and feels
comes to few poets in their graves.
In this poem we once again see Martial’s self-confidence in his own work. Throughout the twelve books of the epigrams are poems on the theme of Martial’s own books, and this is a short and sweet example of this.
Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos,
Meque sinus omnes, me manus omnis habet.
Ecce rubet quidam, pallet, stupet, oscitat, odit.
Hoc volo: nunc nobis carmina nostra placent.
My Rome praises my little books, loves them, recites them:
I am read in every pocket, every hand.
Look, somebody turns red, turns pale, is dazed, yawns, is disgusted.
This I want. Now my poems please me.
Chosen by Francesca Sapsford, PhD Student.
The above texts are provided by the Perseus Digital Library, and the translations are by Shackleton Bailey (LOEB).