Thursday, September 30, 2004


cui legisse satis non est epigrammata centum,
   nil illi satis est, Caediciane, mali.

Anyone who hasn't had enough when he's read a hundred epigrams can't get enough of a bad thing, Caedicianus.

With that Martial ends Book One.
I was intending to do On the Spectacles next, but I believe that Kathleen Coleman's commentary on that book is likely to be appearing soon, so I'll wait a bit for further news. Meanwhile, we'll press on with Book Two, for which a brand-new commentary by Craig Williams is now available.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


  occurris quotiens, Luperce, nobis,
  'uis mittam puerum' subinde dicis,
  'cui tradas epigrammaton libellum,
  lectum quem tibi protinus remittam?'
  non est quod puerum, Luperce, uexes.
  longum est, si uelit ad Pirum uenire,
  et scalis habito tribus, sed altis.
  quod quaeris propius petas licebit.
  Argi nempe soles subire Letum:
  contra Caesaris est forum taberna
  scriptis postibus hinc et inde totis,
  omnis ut cito perlegas poetas:
  illinc me pete. nec roges Atrectum -
  hoc nomen dominus gerit tabernae -
  de primo dabit alteroue nido
  rasum pumice purpuraque cultum
  denaris tibi quinque Martialem.
  'tanti non es' ais? sapis, Luperce.

Whenever you meet me, Lupercus, you say at once, 'Would you like me to send a boy to whom you can hand over a little book of epigrams, which I'll read and send back straight away?' There's no need to trouble your boy, Lupercus. It's a long way for him to come to the Pear, and I live up three flights of stairs - and long ones as well. You will be able to look for what you want closer to home. No doubt you're in the habit of going down to the Argiletum; opposite the forum of Caesar is a shop with its doorposts totally covered with writing, this side and that, so that you can quickly read through the [catalogue of] poets. Look for me there. Ask Atrectus - that's the name of the owner of the shop - he will give you, from the first or second shelf, a Martial shaved with pumice and made smart with purple, for five denarii. 'You're not worth that much!' you say? You're a wise man, Lupercus.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


hoc nemus aeterno cinerum sacrauit honori
   Faenius et culti iugera pulchra soli.
hoc tegitur cito rapta suis Antulla sepulchro,
   hoc erit Antullae mixtus uterque parens.
si cupit hunc aliquis, moneo, ne speret agellum:
   perpetuo dominis seruiet iste suis.

Faenius has consecrated this grove and these beautiful acres of cultivated ground to the eternal honour of ashes. In this tomb is concealed Antulla who was quickly snatched from her family, and in it will be mingled each of Antulla's parents. If anyone wants this plot of land, I warn him not to be hopeful: it will serve its masters for ever.

Monday, September 27, 2004


  quaedam me cupit, - inuide, Procille! -
  loto candidior puella cycno,
  argento, niue, lilio, ligustro:
  sed quandam uolo nocte nigriorem,
  formica, pice, graculo, cicada.
  iam suspendia saeua cogitabas:
  si noui bene te, Procille, uiues.

A certain girl desires me - envy me, Procillus! - a girl whiter than a washed swan, than silver, snow, lily, privet: but I want a girl who is darker than night, than an ant, pitch, jackdaw, cicada. Just now you were contemplating a savage death by hanging; if I know you well, Procillus, you'll live.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


hos tibi uicinos, Faustine, Telesphorus hortos
   Faenius et breue rus udaque prata tenet.
condidit hic natae cineres nomenque sacrauit
   quod legis Antullae, dignior ipse legi.
ad Stygias aequum fuerat pater isset ut umbras:
   quod quia non licuit, uiuat, ut ossa colat.

Faenius Telesphorus owns these gardens adjoining yours, Faustinus, and a small estate and well watered garden. Here he buried his daughter's ashes and consecrated the name - which you can read - of Antulla, but it would be more fitting if his own name could be read there. It would have been proper if the father himself had gone to the Stygian shades: since that was not permitted, let him live, so that he can care for her bones.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


quaecumque lusi iuuenis et puer quondam
apinasque nostras, quas nec ipse iam noui,
male conlocare si bonas uoles horas
et inuidebis otio tuo, lector,
a Valeriano Pollio petes Quinto,
per quem perire non licet meis nugis.

Whatever I once played at as a young man and a boy, and that rubbish of mine which even I don't recognise now: if you want to waste good hours and begrudge your own leisure, reader, these are what you should ask for from Quintus Valerianus Pollio, by whose agency my trifles are not allowed to die.

Friday, September 24, 2004


cum te non nossem, dominum regemque uocabam;
   nunc bene te noui: iam mihi Priscus eris.

When I didn't know you, I used to call you 'master' and 'lord'; now I've got to know you well: in future, as far as I'm concerned, you will be Priscus.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


cum tibi sit sophiae par fama et cura deorum,
   ingenio pietas nec minor ipsa suo:
ignorat meritis dare munera, qui tibi librum
   et qui miratur, Regule, tura dari.

Since your renown for wisdom and your respect for the gods are equal, and your piety is no less than the intelligence which accompanies it, anyone who is surprised that a book and incense are being given to you, Regulus, does not know to give gifts based on someone's merits.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


scribere me quereris, Velox, epigrammata longa.
   ipse nihil scribis: tu breuiora facis.

You complain, Velox, that I write long epigrams. You write nothing yourself: you create shorter ones.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


  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.
  hanc tu, si queritur, loqui putabis;
  sentit tristitiamque gaudiumque.
  collo nixa cubat capitque somnos,
  ut suspiria nulla sentiantur;
  et desiderio coacta uentris
  gutta pallia non fefellit ulla,
  sed blando pede suscitat toroque
  deponi monet et rogat leuari.
  castae tantus inest pudor catellae,
  ignorat Venerem; nec inuenimus
  dignum tam tenera uirum puella.
  hanc ne lux rapiat suprema totam,
  picta Publius exprimit tabella,
  in qua tam similem uidebis Issam,
  ut sit tam similis sibi nec ipsa.
  Issam denique pone cum tabella:
  aut utramque putabis esse ueram,
  aut utramque putabis esse pictam.

Issa is naughtier than Catullus' sparrow, Issa is purer than a dove's kiss, Issa is more endearing than all the girls, Issa is dearer than Indian gemstones, Issa is Publius' pet puppy. If she complains, you will think she is speaking; she feels sorrow and joy. She lies up against his neck and takes her slumber, in such a way that not one of her breaths is felt. And when she is forced by the desire of her bladder, she has never disappoints the bedspread by a single drop, but with caressing paw she rouses him and warns to put her down, and asks to be lifted up. So great is the modesty within the chaste puppy that she knows not of Venus; nor have we found a man worthy of such a tender girl. So that her final day might not snatch her away completely, Publius is producing her likeness in a painted board, in which you will see an Issa so like her that she herself is not so like herself. So put Issa alongside the picture: either you will think both are real, or you will think both are painted.

Monday, September 20, 2004


est tibi - sitque precor multos crescatque per annos -
   pulchra quidem, uerum Transtiberina domus:
at mea Vipsanas spectant cenacula laurus,
   factus in hac ego sum iam regione senex.
migrandum est, ut mane domi te, Galle, salutem:
   est tanti, uel si longius illa foret.
sed tibi non multum est, unum si praesto togatum:
   multum est, hunc unum si mihi, Galle, nego.
ipse salutabo decuma te saepius hora:
   mane tibi pro me dicet hauere liber.

You have - and I pray that you may have it and that it may prosper for many years - a house which is splendid, but across the Tiber; whereas my garret rooms look out over the Vipsanian laurels, and I have already become old in this district. I need to move in order to pay a call on you, Gallus, at your home in the morning. It's worth it, and would be even if your house were further away. But it's not much to you if I present you with a single toga-wearing client; it is much to me, Gallus, if I deny this one person to myself. I shall more often pay a call on you in person at the tenth hour: in the morning my book will say hello to you on my behalf.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


saepe mihi dicis, Luci carissime Iuli,
   'scribe aliquid magnum: desidiosus homo es.'
otia da nobis, sed qualia fecerat olim
   Maecenas Flacco Vergilioque suo:
condere uicturas temptem per saecula curas
   et nomen flammis eripuisse meum.
in steriles nolunt campos iuga ferre iuuenci:
   pingue solum lassat, sed iuuat ipse labor.

You often say to me, dearest Lucius Julius, 'Write something big: You're an idle man.' Give me leisure - but such leisure as once Maecenas gave to his Flaccus and Virgil: I would try to create works which would live throughout the ages, and to snatch my name from the flames. Oxen do not wish to bear their yoke into barren fields: rich soil is tiresome, but the labour itself gives pleasure.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


  interponis aquam subinde, Rufe,
  et si cogeris a sodale, raram
  diluti bibis unciam Falerni.
  numquid pollicita est tibi beatam
  noctem Naeuia sobriasque mauis
  certae nequitias fututionis?
  suspiras, retices, gemis: negauit.
  crebros ergo licet bibas trientes
  et durum iugules mero dolorem.
  quid parcis tibi, Rufe? dormiendum est.

You often put water in your wine, Rufus, and if you are forced by a companion you drink an occasional ounce of diluted Falernian. Has Naevia promised you a night of bliss, and do you prefer the sober naughtiness of accurate fucking? You sigh, you keep silent, you groan: she has refused. In that case you may drink four-ounce measures one after the other and butcher your harsh pain with undiluted wine. Why are you sparing yourself, Rufus? You have to sleep.

Friday, September 17, 2004


in Nomentanis, Ouidi, quod nascitur aruis,
   accepit quotiens tempora longa, merum
exuit annosa mores nomenque senecta:
   et quidquid uoluit, testa uocatur anus.

When the wine which is born in Nomentan fields, Ovidius, has taken to itself a length of time, it sheds its character and name in an old age advanced in years: and the old jar is called whatever it wanted.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


  picto quod iuga delicata collo
  pardus sustinet inprobaeque tigres
  indulgent patientiam flagello,
  mordent aurea quod lupata cerui,
  quod frenis Libyci domantur ursi
  et, quantum Calydon tulisse fertur,
  paret purpureis aper capistris,
  turpes esseda quod trahunt uisontes
  et molles dare iussa quod choreas
  nigro belua non negat magistro:
  quis spectacula non putet deorum?
  haec transit tamen, ut minora, quisquis
  uenatus humiles uidet leonum,
  quos uelox leporum timor fatigat.
  dimittunt, repetunt, amantque captos,
  et securior est in ore praeda,
  laxos cui dare peruiosque rictus
  gaudent et timidos tenere dentes,
  mollem frangere dum pudet rapinam,
  stratis cum modo uenerint iuuencis.
  haec clementia non paratur arte,
  sed norunt cui seruiant leones.

On its spotted neck the leopard carries a dainty yoke, and vicious tigresses patiently give themselves up to the whip; stags bite the golden spiked bits, Libyan bears are tamed with reins, and a boar, as big as Calydon is said to have carried off, obeys purple halters. Ugly bison drag chariots, and the great beast, ordered to perform gentle dances, does not refuse its black master. So who would not think these spectacles the work of the gods? But anyone who sees the humble hunting of the lions, who are tired by the hares' rapid fear, passes over all these things as though they were of less importance. The lions let the hares go, they go after them again, they love their captives, and the prey is safer in their mouth. They are glad to present it with wide open mouths which can be passed through, and to hold back their timid teeth, while they are ashamed to crush their tender plunder although they have just come from laying bullocks low. This clemency is not brought about by training, but the lions know whom they serve.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


'si dederint superi decies mihi milia centum'
   dicebas nondum, Scaeuola, iustus eques,
'qualiter o uiuam, quam large quamque beate!'
   riserunt faciles et tribuere dei.
sordidior multo post hoc toga, paenula peior,
   calceus est sarta terque quaterque cute:
deque decem plures semper seruantur oliuae,
   explicat et cenas unica mensa duas,
et Veientani bibitur faex crassa rubelli,
   asse cicer tepidum constat et asse Venus.
in ius, o fallax atque infitiator, eamus:
   aut uiue aut decies, Scaeuola, redde deis.

'If the powers above grant me a million,' you used to say, Scaevola, when you were not yet rich enough to be a knight, 'O how I'll live, how lavishly and how happily!' The affable gods laughed and granted it. Since then your toga is much dirtier, your coat shabbier, your shoe has had its leather sewn up three or four times. Out of ten olives the greater part is always saved up, a single course sets out two dinners, and the thick dregs of a reddish Veientan is what is drunk; warm chick-pea soup costs you a copper, and sex a copper. Let's take it to court, you cheat and liar: either live properly, Scaevola, or give back your million to the gods.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


  qui pinxit Venerem tuam, Lycori,
  blanditus, puto, pictor est Mineruae.

The painter who painted your Venus, Lycoris, has (I think) flattered Minerva.

Monday, September 13, 2004


illa manus quondam studiorum fida meorum
   et felix domino notaque Caesaribus,
destituit primos uiridis Demetrius annos:
   quarta tribus lustris addita messis erat.
ne tamen ad Stygias famulus descenderet umbras,
   ureret implicitum cum scelerata lues,
cauimus et domini ius omne remisimus aegro:
   munere dignus erat conualuisse meo.
sensit deficiens sua praemia meque patronum
   dixit ad infernas liber iturus aquas.

Sometime faithful handyman of my studies, a blessing to his master and known to the Caesars, youthful Demetrius has forsaken his early years: to three quinquennial sacrifices had been added a fourth harvest. However, so that he would not go down to the Stygian shades as a slave, when the accursed plague had him in its grip and was burning him, I took care to renounce a master's every right over the sick man: he deserved to make a recovery after my gift. As his strength left him he was aware of his reward and called me his patron as he was about to go, a free man, to the waters below.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


mammas atque tatas habet Afra, sed ipsa tatarum
   dici et mammarum maxima mamma potest.

Afra has mammies and daddies, but herself could be called the grandest grandmammy of mammies and daddies.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


  non plenum modo uicies habebas,
  sed tam prodigus atque liberalis
  et tam lautus eras, Calene, ut omnes
  optarent tibi centies amici.
  audit uota deus precesque nostras
  atque intra, puto, septimas Kalendas
  mortes hoc tibi quattuor dederunt.
  at tu sic quasi non foret relictum,
  sed raptum tibi centies, abisti
  in tantam miser esuritionem,
  ut conuiuia sumptuosiora,
  toto quae semel apparas in anno,
  nigrae sordibus explices monetae,
  et septem ueteres tui sodales
  constemus tibi plumbea selibra.
  quid dignum meritis precemur istis?
  optamus tibi milies, Calene.
  hoc si contigerit, fame peribis.

You didn't yet have a full two million, but so lavish and generous were you, and so extravagant, Calenus, that all your friends wished you had ten million. The god heard our vows and prayers, and within, I think, seven months four deaths gave this amount to you. But you - as if the ten million had been not left to but stolen from you - you went away miserably into such starvation that your more sumptuous dinners, which you put on once in the whole year, cost you the dirt of blackened coppers, and we, your seven old chums, set you back by half a pound of lead. What should we pray for that is worthy of these services? We wish you a hundred million, Calenus. If you get hold of that, you'll die of hunger.

Friday, September 10, 2004


litigat et podagra Diodorus, Flacce, laborat.
   sed nil patrono porrigit: haec cheragra est.

Diodorus goes to law and suffers from gout in his feet. But he gives nothing to his advocate: that's gout in the hands.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


cum clamant omnes, loqueris tunc, Naeuole, tantum,
   et te patronum causidicumque putas.
hac ratione potest nemo non esse disertus.
   ecce, tacent omnes: Naeuole, dic aliquid.

When everyone's shouting, you speak, Naevolus, then and only then, and you think yourself an advocate and a lawyer. By this reckoning no one can fail to be eloquent. Look, everyone's quiet: Naevolus, say something!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


si non molestum est teque non piget, scazon,
nostro rogamus pauca uerba Materno
dicas in aurem sic ut audiat solus.
amator ille tristium lacernarum
et baeticatus atque leucophaeatus,
qui coccinatos non putat uiros esse
amethystinasque mulierum uocat uestes,
natiua laudet, habeat et licet semper
fuscos colores, galbinos habet mores.
rogabit unde suspicer uirum mollem.
una lauamur: aspicit nihil sursum,
sed spectat oculis deuorantibus draucos
nec otiosis mentulas uidet labris.
quaeris quis hic sit? excidit mihi nomen.

If it's not inconvenient and you don't mind, scazon, I ask you to say a few words to my friend Maternus, in his ear so that only he can hear. That lover of gloomy cloaks, dressed in Baetican and ashen-coloured wools, who thinks that men who dress in scarlet are no men, and calls amethyst-coloured clothes women's clothes, though he praises natural colours and always praises dull colours, has morals that are greeny-yellow. He will ask why I suspect the man of being effeminate. We bathe together: he looks at nothing up above, but with devouring eyes he watches the muscle-men and looks at their pricks with his lips not at rest. Are you asking who he is? The name has escaped me.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


quod clamas semper, quod agentibus obstrepis, Aeli,
   non facis hoc gratis: accipis, ut taceas.

You're always shouting and interrupting the pleaders, Aelius, and you don't do it for free: you take payment to stay quiet.

Monday, September 06, 2004


  cantasti male, dum fututa es, Aegle.
  iam cantas bene: basianda non es.

You sang badly, at the time when you were being fucked, Aegle. Now you sing well; you ought not to be kissed.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Fabricio iunctus fido requiescit Aquinus,
   qui prior Elysias gaudet adisse domos.
ara duplex primi testatur munera pili:
   plus tamen est, titulo quod breuiore legis:
'iunctus uterque sacro laudatae foedere uitae,
   famaque quod raro nouit, amicus erat.'

Close to faithful Fabricius lies Aquinus, who rejoices to have gone first to the Elysian dwellings. A double altar testifies to the rewards of the primipilate: however, what you read in the shorter inscription is of more import: "Each was joined by the sacred bond of a praiseworthy life, and (what fame rarely knows) each was a friend.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


saepe mihi queritur non siccis Cestos ocellis,
   tangi se digito, Mamuriane, tuo.
non opus est digito: totum tibi Ceston habeto,
   si dest nil aliud, Mamuriane, tibi.
sed si nec focus est nudi nec sponda grabati
   nec curtus Chiones Antiopesue calix,
cerea si pendet lumbis et scripta lacerna
   dimidiasque nates Gallica paeda tegit,
pasceris et nigrae solo nidore culinae
   et bibis inmundam cum cane pronus aquam:
non culum, neque enim est culus, qui non cacat olim,
   sed fodiam digito qui superest oculum;
nec me zelotypum nec dixeris esse malignum.
   denique pedica, Mamuriane, satur.

Cestos often complains to me, with eyes that are not dry, about being touched with your finger, Mamurianus. There's no need for the finger: have the whole of Cestos, if, Mamurianus, you are not lacking anything else. But if you have neither a hearth nor the frame of a bare camp-bed, nor the damaged cup of Chione or Antiope; if from your loins hangs a yellowed and stained cloak, and a Gallic jacket covers half your bottom; and if you feed only on the reek of a blackened kitchen, and, lying prone, you drink dirty water along with the dog: then it's not your arse (for it's no longer an arse if it never shits) but your remaining eye that I shall stick my finger into. And you won't be able to call me jealous or spiteful. Then bugger away, Mamurianus, when you have taken your fill.

Friday, September 03, 2004


cum tua non edas, carpis mea carmina, Laeli.
   carpere uel noli nostra uel ede tua.

Although you don't publish your poems, Laelius, you criticise mine. Either don't criticise mine or publish your own.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


quod numquam maribus iunctam te, Bassa, uidebam
   quodque tibi moechum fabula nulla dabat,
omne sed officium circa te semper obibat
   turba tui sexus, non adeunte uiro,
esse uidebaris, fateor, Lucretia nobis:
   at tu, pro facinus, Bassa, fututor eras.
inter se geminos audes committere cunnos
   mentiturque uirum prodigiosa Venus.
commenta es dignum Thebano aenigmate monstrum,
   hic ubi uir non est, ut sit adulterium.

Because I never used to see you close to males, Bassa, and because no rumour gave you an adulterer, but a crowd of your sex always used to surround you discharging every duty, with no man approaching, I confess that I used to think you were a Lucretia. But you, Bassa - for shame! - were a fornicator. You dare to join together two cunts and your prodigious "Venus" lies about your manhood. You have come up with a portent worthy of the Theban riddle: that here, where there is no man, there is adultery.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


  garris in aurem semper omnibus, Cinna,
  garrire et illud teste quod licet turba.
  rides in aurem, quereris, arguis, ploras,
  cantas in aurem, iudicas, taces, clamas,
  adeoque penitus sedit hic tibi morbus,
  ut saepe in aurem, Cinna, Caesarem laudes.

You are always chattering in everyone's ear, Cinna, even if it's something that can be chattered about when a crowd is listening. You laugh in their ear, you complain, accuse, weep; you sing in their ear, you give your opinion, you keep quiet, you shout; and this disease is so deeply entrenched in you that, Cinna, you often praise Caesar in their ear.