Category Archives: Martial

Epigrams 9.61 and 12.50: A Living Estate and a Sterile Mansion

In my seventeenth-century literature class, I teach Ben Jonson’s poem “To Penshurst.”  He borrows from both of these (and other) epigrams in that poem. I wanted my students to read them, but I could not find translations of these two pieces that were well adapted to my needs in the course, so I made these […]

Martial: Greek Mythology in Roman Spectacle

The following are selections from Martial’s De Spectaculis Liber. I have selected according to the theme “Greek Mythology in Roman Spectacle”, including epigrams that contain reference to display of a particular myth as a spectacular display in the Amphitheatre. The text of the De Spectaculis Liber is slightly fragmented, creating some confusion in the numbering […]

Martial Epigrams 1.34, 5.68, 10.39, 11.62, 6.34 (contributed by Jacob Horn)

Martial makes no secret that he was greatly inspired by the poetry of his predecessor Catullus, whose contributions to poetry beyond his epigrams Martial often minimizes, if not outright ignores.  Martial is clearly interested in portraying Catullus exclusively as an epigrammatist, but he seems particularly invested in casting Catullus as an obscene writer, especially when […]

Martial Epigrams 2.36, 8.47, 10.83, 12.7 (contributed by Matthew Liscovitz)

Martial wrote several epigrams about how people wear their hair, or lack of hair. These epigrams give a quirky insight into Roman thoughts on beauty not so different from ideas of self image today. Matthew Liscovitz     2.36 Flectere te nolim, sed nec turbare capillos; splendida sit nolo, sordida nolo cutis; nec mitratorum nec […]

Martial Epigrams 7.305, 9, 13 (contributed by Gabe Reale)

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. Gabe Reale     7.3: Cur non mitto meos tibi, Pontiliane, libellos? ne mihi tu mittas, Pontiliane, tuos.   Why do I […]

Martial Spectacles 1 (contributed by Francesca Sapsford)

The Liber Spectaculorum was probably Martial’s first collection of epigrams and this is the first of three prefatory epigrams introducing the Flavian ampitheatre. Francesca Sapsford   Barbara pyramidum sileat miracula Memphis, Assyrius iactet nec Babylona labor, nec Triuiae templo molles laudentur Iones; dissimulet Delon cornibus ara frequens, aere nec uacuo pendentia Mausolea                                         5 laudibus immodicis Cares […]

Martial Epigrams 5.34 (contributed by Francesca Sapsford)

This epigram is often selected by those giving examples of Martial’s poems. It purports to be a eulogy to Erotion, a slave-girl who has recently died. Martial wishes her to be safe in the afterlife, and so asks his “parents” to make sure she is not frightened. Whether it reflects real life or not, this […]

Martial Epigrams 1.1, 6.60(61) (contributed by Francesca Sapsford)

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! […]