These are a few of my favorite witty epigrams from the first portion of book 7 of Martial’s epigrams, the collection of which I am studying for my Junior Seminar in Latin epigrams.
Cur non mitto meos tibi, Pontiliane, libellos?
ne mihi tu mittas, Pontiliane, tuos.
Why do I not send to you, Pontilianus, my little books?
(I) fear that you might send me yours, Pontilianus.
Esset, Castrice, cum mali coloris,
uersus scribere coepit Oppianus.
Since he was of bad color, Castricus,
Oppianus began to write verses.
Si desiderium, Caesar, populique patrumque
respicis et Latiae gaudia uera togae,
redde deum uotis poscentibus. Inuidet hosti
Roma suo, ueniat laurea multa licet:
terrarum dominum propius uidet ille tuoque
terretur uultu barbarus et fruitur.
If you care for the desire, Caesar, of the people and senators
and the true mirth of the Latin toga,
return (their) god to our urgent prayers. Rome envies
her enemy, although many laurel-wreaths come:
That (barbarian) sees the lord of the lands close by and
the barbarian is terrified by your countenance and delights in it.
Cum sexaginta numeret Cascellius annos,
ingeniosus homo est: quando disertus erit?
Because Cascellius counts sixty years,
he is a talented man: when will he be an eloquent man
Dum Tiburtinis albescere solibus audit
antiqui dentis fusca Lycoris ebur,
uenit in Herculeos colles. Quid Tiburis alti
aura ualet! Paruo tempore nigra redit.
Upon dark Lycoris hearing that with the suns of Tibur
the ivory of an ancient tusk turns white,
she came into Hercules’ hills. How the air of tall Tibur
is strong! In a short time she came back black.
Chosen and translated by Gabe Reale.