Quotations by Martial

The verse is mine but friend, when you declaim it,
It seems like yours, so grievously you maim it.

[Quem recitas meus est, o Fidentine, libellus:
sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 38 (1.38) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

"To Fidentinus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The verses, Sextus, thou dost read, are mine;
But with bad reading thou wilt make them thine.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600)]

The verses, friend, which thou hast read, are mine;
But, as thou read'st so ill, 't is surely thine.
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

My living lays were those that you dispense:
But, when you murder them, they yours commence.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.14]

O Fidentinus! the book you are reciting is mine, but you recite it so badly it begins to be yours.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 2, ep. 33]

With faulty accents, and so vile a tone,
You quote my lines, I took them for your own.
[tr. Halhead (fl. c. 1800)]

The book which you are reading aloud is mine, Fidentinus but, while you read it so badly, it begins to be yours.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

The verses, friend, which thou has read, are mine;
But, as though read'st them, they may pass for thine.
[tr. Bouquet (<1879)]

You're reading my book to your friends as your own:
But in reading so badly your claim to it's shown.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

That book you recite, O Fidentinus, is mine. But your vile recitation begins to make it your own.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Fame of how bad you read endures.
Though that's my book, just call it yours.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Although the lines are mine (their worth assures) --
By badly singing them, you make them yours.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Dear Rud, the book from which you are
giving a reading is mine
but since you read so badly
it's yours.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

The book that you recite from, Fidentinus, is my own.
But when you read it badly, it belongs to you alone.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

That little book you're reciting is one of mine, Fidentinus; but you're reciting it so badly, it's turning into one of yours.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

That verse is mine, you know, which you’re
Reciting, But you quote it
So execrably, that I believe
I’ll let you say you wrote it
[tr. Wender]

The poems thou are reading, friend, are mine;
But such bad reading starts to make them thine.
[tr. Oliver]

Added on 4-Feb-22 | Last updated 7-Aug-22
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Strict censure may this harmless sport endure:
My page is wanton, but my life is pure.

[Innocuos censura potest permittere lusus:
Lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 4, ll. 7-8 (1.4) [tr. Duff (1929)]

An appeal to Emperor Domitian, who became censor-for-life in AD 85. Original Latin. Alternate translations:

The censorship may tolerate innocent jokes:
my page indulges in freedoms, but my life is pure.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

A censor can permit harmless trifling:
wanton is my page; my life is good.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

From censure may my harmless mirth be free,
My page is wanton but my life is clean.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

A censor can relax, wink just one eye:
My poetry is filthy -- but not I.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

As Censor, you can exercise discretion: my jokes hurt no one; let them be. My page may be dirty, but my life is clean.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Let not these harmless sports your censure taste:
My lines are wanton, but my life is chaste.
[tr. 17th C Manuscript]

These games are harmless, censor: let them pass.
My poems play around; but not my life.
[tr. Elliot]

Added on 2-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Lest all overlook so tiny a book
And brevity lead to its loss,
I will not refuse such padding to use
As “Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.”

[Edita ne brevibus pereat mihi cura libellis,
Dicatur potius Τὸν δ᾽ ἀπαμειβόμενος.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 45 (1.45) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “Poet’s Padding”]

Using a phrase ("to him in answer" or "answering him") that is repeated many, many times in Homer's epics, The Odyssey and The Iliad. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Lest, in air, the mere lightness my distics should toss;
I'd rather sing δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.216]

That the care which I have bestowed upon what I have published may not come to nothing through the smallness of my volumes, let me rather fill up my verses with Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Lest his pains should be lost by publishing too short a book, he will fill it up with repetitions, like Homer's well-known verse.
[tr. Paley/Stone (1890)]

That my labor be not lost because published in tiny volumes, rather let there be added Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

For fear my fount of poetry run dry
"Him answering" is still my cuckoo-cry.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 24]

Rather than have my work published in small volumes and so go to waste, let me say "to him in answer."
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 1-Jul-22 | Last updated 1-Jul-22
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That I ne’er saw thee in a Coach with Man,
Nor thy chaste Name in wanton satire met;
That from thy sex thy liking never ran,
So as to suffer a Male-servant yet;
I thought thee the Lucretia of our time:
But, Bassa, thou the while a Tribas wert,
And clashing — with a prodigious Crime
Didst act of Man th’ inimitable part.
What Oedipus this Riddle can untie?
Without a Male there was Adultery.

[Quod numquam maribus iunctam te, Bassa, videbam
Quodque tibi moechum fabula nulla dabat,
Omne sed officium circa te semper obibat
Turba tui sexus, non adeunte viro,
Esse videbaris, fateor, Lucretia nobis:
At tu, pro facinus, Bassa, fututor eras.
Inter se geminos audes committere cunnos
Mentiturque virum prodigiosa Venus.
Commenta es dignum Thebano aenigmate monstrum,
Hic ubi vir non est, ut sit adulterium.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 90 (1.90) [tr. Sedley (1702)]

"To Bassa". This epigram is often untranslated or omitted in collections. Martial thought lesbian sexuality perverse, though he enjoyed and wrote highly of pederasty, as any good Roman male would. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That with the males thou ne'er wast known to mix,
Nor e'er gallant did envious slander fix;
That thine officious sex thee homag'd round,
And not a man durst tain the hallow'd ground:
What less than a Lucretia could'st thou be?
Ah! what was found? Th' adulterer in thee,
To make the mounts collide emerg'd they plan,
And monstrous Venus would bely the man.
Thou a new Theban torture could'st explore,
And bid adult'ry need a male no more.
[tr. Hay (1755); Book 6, Part 3, ep. 44]

Inasmuch as I never saw you, Bassa, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, and report in no case assigned to you a favoured lover; but every duty about your person was constantly performed by a crowd of your own sex, without the presence of even one man; you seemed to me, I confess it, to be a Lucretia.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897), "On Bassa"; the "translation" then shifts to the original Latin.]

In that I never saw you, Bassa, intimate with men, and that no scandal assigned you a lover, but every office a throng of your own sex round you performed without the approach of man -- you seemed to me, I confess, a Lucretia; yet, Bassa -- oh, monstrous! -- you are, it seems, a nondescript. You dare things unspeakable, and your portentous lust imitates man. You have invented a prodigy worthy of the Theban riddle, that here, where no man is, should be adultery!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I never saw you close to men, Bassa, and no rumor gave you a lover. You were always surrounded by a crowd of your own sex, performing every office, with no man coming near you. So I confess I thought you a Lucretia; but Bassa, for shame, you were a fornicator. You dare to join two cunts and your monstrous organ feigns masculinity. You have invented a portent worthy of the Theban riddle: where no man is, there is adultery.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

I never saw you, Bassa, with a man
No rumor ever spread of an affair.
You seemed as chaste as any woman can,
With Lucrece pure you made a worthy pair.
Belatedly I found I venerated,
A woman who a woman penetrated.
You found an amphisbaenic instrument --
To give cunts simultaneous content.
You pose a riddle Sphinxes never knew,
To be a woman and a woman screw.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Bassa, I never saw you hang with guys --
Nobody whispered that you had a beau.
Girls surrounded you at every turn;
They did your errands, with no attendant males.
And so, I guess I naturally assumed
That you were what you seemed: a chaste Lucretia.
But hell no. Why, you shameless little tramp,
You were an active humper all the time.
You improvised, by rubbing cunts together,
And using that bionic clit of yours
To counterfeit the thrusting of a male.
Unbelievable. You’ve managed to create
A real conundrum, worthy of the Sphinx:
Adultery without a co-respondent.
[tr. Salemi (2008)]

Bassa, I never saw you close to men; no gossip linked you to a lover here.
A crowd of your own sex was always with you at every function, no man coming near.
I have to say, I thought you a Lucretia, but you (for shame!) were fucking even then.
You dare link twin cunts and, with your monstrous clitoris, pretend to fuck like men.
You'd suit a Theban riddle perfectly:
where there's no man, there's still adultery.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 24-Jun-22 | Last updated 24-Jun-22
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“Write shorter epigrams,” is your advice.
Yet you write nothing, Velox. How concise!

[Scribere me quereris, Velox, epigrammata longa.
Ipse nihil scribis: tu breviora facis.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 110 (1.110) [tr. McLean (2014)]

"To Velox." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Velox complains my epigrams are long,
When he writes none: he sings a shorter song.
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

You say my epigrams, Velox, too long are:
You nothing write; sure yours are shorter far.
[tr. Wright (1663)]

Of my long epigrams, you, Swift, complain;
And nothing write: I laud your shorter strain.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 16, "To Velox, or Swift"]

You complain, Velox, that the epigrams which I write are long. You yourself write nothing; your attempts are shorter.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You complain, Velox, that I write long epigrams, you yourself write nothing. Yours are shorter.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

"Such lengthy epigrams," you say, "affright one."
True, yours are shorter, for you never write one.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You say I write lines longer than I ought?
It's true your lines are shorter -- they are nought.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You say my epigrams are too long.
Yours are shorter.
You write nothing.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Nothing"]

Swifty, you moan that I write long epigrams. You aren't writing anything yourself; is that you making shorter ones?
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

My epigrams are word, you've complained;
But you write nothing. Yours are more restrained.
[tr. O'Connell]

“Much too long” you say, Velox, censorious,
Of my epigrams -- that’s quite uproarious.
You write none. Your brevity is glorious.
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

You call my epigrams verbose and lacking in concision
while you yourself write nothing. Wise decision.
[tr. Clark, "Short Enough?"]

Added on 11-Mar-22 | Last updated 11-Mar-22
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‘Tis not, believe me, a wise man’s part to say, “I will live.” Tomorrow’s life is too late: live today.

[Non est, crede mihi, sapientis dicere “Vivam”:
Sera nimis vita est crastina: vive hodie.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 15 (1.15) [tr. Bohn’s (1859)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Trust me, it is not wise to say,
I'll live; 'twill be too late tomorrow,
Live if thou'rt wise today.
[tr. Oldmixon (1728)]

"I'll live tomorrow," will a wise man say?
Tomorrow is too late, then live today.
[tr. Hay (1755), quoted in Bohn's, but not in Hay's own book]

Tomorrow I shall live, the fool will say. [...]
Wouldst thou be sure of living? Live today.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 2, ep. 45]

It sorts not, believe me, with wisdom to say "I shall live."
Too late is tomorrow's life; live thou today.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

To say, "I mean to live," is folly's place:
Tomorrow's life comes late; live, then, today.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

No sage will e'er "I'll live tomorrow" say:
Tomorrow is too late: live thou today.
[tr. WSB]

Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Good work you’ll find, some poor, and much that’s worse,
It takes all sorts to make a book of verse.

[Sunt bona, sunt quaedam mediocria, sunt mala plura
quae legis hic: aliter non fit, Avite, liber.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 16 (1.16) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Some things are good, indifferent some, some naught,
You read: a book can't otherwise be wrote.
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

Here's some good things, some middling, more bad, you will see:
Else a book, my Avitus, it never could be.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.6]

Some of my epigrams are good, some moderately so, more bad: there is no other way, Avitus, of making a book.
[tr. Amos (1858), 2.23 (cited as 1.17)]

Of the epigrams which you read here, some are good, some middling, many bad: a book, Avitus, cannot be made in any other way.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

There are good things, there are some indifferent, there are more things bad that you read here. Not otherwise, Avitus, is a book produced.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Some things are good, some fair, but more you'll say
Are bad herein -- all books are made that way!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Some of my poems are good, some
not up to scratch, some
That’s how it is with most books,
if the truth were told.
Who tells the truth about truth, my dear?
Make way for the judge and the jester.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "How It Is"]

Some good things here, and some not worth a look.
For this is that anomaly, a book.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You're reading good poems here, Avitus -- and a few that are so-so, and a lot that are bad; a book doesn't happen any other way.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Some good, some middling, and some bad
You’ll find here. They are what I had.
[tr. J. V. Cunningham]

Some good, some so-so, most of them naught!
Well, if not worse, the book may still be bought.

Added on 1-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Glory paid to ashes comes too late.

[Cineri gloria sera venit.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 25 (1.25) “To Faustinus”

Alt. trans.:
  • To the ashes of the dead glory comes too late. [Ker (1919)]
  • Glory comes too late, when paid only to our ashes. [Bohn (1871)]
  • Too late men praise unto our ashes give. [Anon., (1695)]
  • For honours after death too late arrive. [Hay]
Added on 23-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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I do not love thee, Sabidius, nor can I say why;
I can only say this, I do not love thee.

[Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare:
Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 32 (1.32) [tr. Bohn’s (1859)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

I love thee not, but why, I can't display.
I love thee not, is all that I can say.
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

I love you not, Sabidis, I cannot tell why.
This only can I tell, I love you not.
[tr. Amos (1858), 3.86, cited as 1.33]

I do not love you, Sabidius, nor can I say why;
I can only say this, I do not love you.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

I do not love you, Sabidius; and I can't say why.
This only I can say: I do not love you.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I love thee not, Sabidius; ask you why?
I do not love thee, let that satisfy!
[tr. Wright]

Mister Sabidius, you pain me.
I wonder (some) why that should be
And cannot tell -- a mystery.
You inexplicably pain me.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

There are two noted variations of this epigram of note. The first is from Thomas Forde (b. 1624):

I love thee not, Nell,
But why I can't tell;
Yet this I know well,
I love thee not, Nell.
[Letter to Thomas Fuller in Virtus Rediviva (1661)]

This seemingly served as a prototype for a more famous variant, attributed to Thomas Brown (1663-1704) (sometimes ascribed to "an Oxford wit") on Dr. John Fell, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, c. 1670:

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this, I'm sure, I know full well,
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.
[Works, Vol. 4 (1774)]

This is sometimes rendered:

I do not love you, Dr. Fell,
But why I cannot tell;
But this I know full well,
I do not love you, Dr. Fell.

Added on 22-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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You’re rich and young, as all confess,
And none denies your loveliness;
But when we hear your boastful tongue
You’re neither pretty, rich, nor young.

[Bella es, novimus, et puella, verum est,
Et dives, quis enim potest negare?
Sed cum te nimium, Fabulla, laudas,
Nec dives neque bella nec puella es.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 64 (1.64) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “The Boaster”]

"To Fabulla." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You're fayre, I know't; and modest too, 't is true;
And rich you are; well, who denyes it you?
But whilst your owne prayse you too much proclame,
Of modest, rich, and fayre you loose the same.
[17th C Manuscript]

Faire, rich, and yong? how rare is her perfection,
Were it not mingled with one soule infection?
I meane, so proud a heart, so curst a tongue,
As makes her seeme, nor faire, nor rich, nor yong.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600), ep. 291; Book 4, ep. 37 "Of a faire Shrew"]

Genteel 't is true, O nymph, you are;
You're rich and beauteous to a hair.
But while too much you praise yourself,
You've neither air, nor charms, nor pelf.
[tr. Gent. Mag. (1746)]

Pretty thou art, we know; a pretty maid!
A rich one, too, it cannot be gainsay'd.
But when thy puffs we hear, thy pride we see;
Thou neither rich, nor fair, nor maid canst be.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 48; Bohn labels this as Anon.]

You are pretty, -- we know it; and young, --it is true; and rich, -- who can deny it? But when you praise yourself extravagantly, Fabulla, you appear neither rich, nor pretty, nor young.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Fabulla, it's true you're a fair ingénue,
And your wealth is on every one's tongue:
But your loud self-conceit
Makes people you meet
Think you neither fair, wealthy, nor young.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "The Egoist"]

You are beautiful, we know, and young, that is true, and rich -- for who can deny it? But while you praise yourself overmuch, Fabulla, you are neither rich, nor beautiful, nor young.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You're beautiful, oh yes, and young, and rich;
But since you tell us so, you're just a bitch.
[tr. Humphries (<1987)]

You're rich, and young, and beautiful!
It's true, and who can doubt it?
But less and less we feel that pull
The more you talk about it.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Of debutantes you are beyond compare --
So wealthy, beautiful, and debonair.
Yet you make all this matter not a whit:
Your beauty to undo -- you boast of it.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You’re lovely, yes, and young, it’s true,
and rich -- who can deny your wealth?
But you aren’t lovely, young or rich,
Fabulla, when you praise yourself.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 18-Feb-22 | Last updated 18-Feb-22
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When you offered your wife to each passer-by free,
Not a soul ever wanted to try her.
You have learnt wisdom now: kept beneath lock and key
She has crowds of men waiting to buy her.

[Nullus in urbe fuit tota qui tangere vellet
Uxorem gratis, Caeciliane, tuam,
Dum licuit: sed nunc positis custodibus ingens
Turba fututorum est: ingeniosus homo es.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 73 (1.73) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Scarce one in all the city would embrace
Thy proffere'd wife, Caecilian, free to have;
But now she's guarded, and lock'd up, apace
Thy custom comes. Oh, thou'rt a witty knave!
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

Your wife's the plainest piece a man can see:
No soul would touch her, whilst you left her free:
But since to guard her you employ all arts,
The rakes besiege her. -- You're a man of parts!
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 74]

These was no one in the whole city, Caecilianus, who desired to meddle with your wife, even gratis, while permission was given; but now, since you have set a watch upon her, the crowd of gallants is innumerable. You are a clever fellow!
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

There was no one in the whole town willing to touch your wife, Caecilianus, gratis, while he was allowed; but now you have set your guards, there is a huge crowd of gallants. You are an ingenious person!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

To screw your wife, unguarded, no one cared.
But once you barred her door, a thousand dared.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

No one in this city would
touch your wife, while free they could;
now she’s guarded, there’s a band
of fuckers for her -- clever man!
[tr. @sentantiq/Robinson (2016)]

Added on 7-Jan-22 | Last updated 7-Jan-22
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I muse not that your Dog turds oft doth eat;
To a tongue that licks your lips, a turd’s sweet meat.

[Os et labra tibi lingit, Manneia, catellus:
Non miror, merdas si libet esse cani.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 83 (1.83) [tr. Davison (1608)]

"On Manneia." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That thy Dog loves to lick thy Lips, th'art pleas'd;
He'll lick that too, of which thy Belly's eas'd;
And not to flatter, and the Truth to smother,
I do believe, he knows not one from t'other.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

On thy lov'd lips, the whelpling lambent hung.
No wonder if a dog can feed on dung.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 171]

Your lap-dog, Manneia, licks your mouth and lips:
I do not wonder at a dog liking to eat ordure.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Your face and lips, Manneia, your little dog licks;
I don't wonder that a dog likes to eat filth.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Your dog licks your mouth and you don't push him from it.
But what says the proverb -- "A dog and his vomit"?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Your little dog licks you from head to foot
Am I surprised, Manneia?
Not a bit.
I’m not surprised that dogs like shit.
[tr. O'Connell (1987)]

Manneia, your lapdog licks his lips with his tongue.
It’s no surprise that a dog likes eating dung.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Dear Manneia:
Your lapdog’s licking your lips and chin:
no wonder with that shit-eating grin.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

Your little puppy licks your mouth and lips --
Manneia, I no longer find it strange
That dogs are tempted by the smell of turds.
[tr. Salemi]

Added on 25-Feb-22 | Last updated 25-Feb-22
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You damn every poem I write,
Yet you won’t publish those of your own.
Now kindly let yours see the light,
Or else leave my damned ones alone.

[Cum tua non edas, carpis mea carmina, Laeli.
Carpere vel noli nostra vel ede tua.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 91 (1.91) [tr. Nixon (1911)]

"To Lælius". (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou blam'st my verses and conceal'st thine own:
Or publish thine, or else let mine alone!
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

You do not publish your own verses, Laelius; you criticise mine. Pray cease to criticise mine, or else publish your own.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Although you don't publish your own, you carp at my poems, Laelius. Either do not carp at mine, or publish your own.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You blame my verse; to publish you decline;
Show us your own or cease to carp at mine.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Each poem I publish you loudly bemoan.
Unfair that you never share works of your own.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

With carpings you my works revile.
Your own you never publish.
Without such works, your carpings I'll
Consider snooty rubbish.
[tr. Wills (2007), "The Critic"]

You blast my verses, Laelius; yours aren’t shown.
Either don’t carp at mine or show your own.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You won’t reveal your verse,
but whine that mine is worse.
Just leave me alone
or publish your own.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

You don’t write poems, Laelius, you criticise mine. Stop criticising me or write your own.
[tr. Kline]

You never wrote a poem,
yet criticize mine?
Stop abusing me or write something fine
of your own!
[tr. Burch]

Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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I had hardly thought by asking
For five hundred I’d be tasking
     The kindness of a rich old friend like you.
“Practice law,” you said, “it’s healthy,
And it soon will make you wealthy.”
     Now, Gaius, tell me “Yes,” not what to do.

[Mutua viginti sestertia forte rogabam,
Quae vel donanti non grave munus erat.
Quippe rogabatur felixque vetusque sodalis
Et cuius laxas arca flagellat opes.
Is mihi ‘Dives eris, si causas egeris’ inquit.
Quod peto da, Gai: non peto consilium.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 30 (2.30) [tr. Nixon (1911), “Neither a Borrower”]

"To Caius/Gaius." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When twenty pounds I'd borrow of a friend,
One, who might give me more, as well as lend;
Blest in his fortune; my companion old;
Whose coffers, and whose purse-strings, crack with gold.
"Turn lawyer, and you'll soon grow rich," he cries:
Give me what I ask, my friend: -- 'tis not advice.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Of sesterces a score I crave in loan,
Which scarce a boon would honest bounty own.
A fortune-blest old intimate I urge,
Whose gen'rous wealth tyrannic coffers scourge.
"Go, ply the bar: be affluent in a trice."
I ask your aid, my Cay, not your advice.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 5, ep. 31]

I asked Caius to lend me twenty sestertia, a sum which could not weigh heavy on him, even if he had been asked to give and not to lend; for he was my old companion, and hd been fortunate in life; and his chest can scarcely press down his overflowing riches. He replied to me, "You will become wealthy if you will take to pleading causes." Caius! give me what I ask for, I do not ask for advice.
[tr. Amos (1858), "Unseasonable Advice"; ch. 3, ep. 89]

I asked, by chance, a loan of twenty thousand sesterces, which would have been no serious matter even as a present. He whom I asked was an old acquaintance in good circumstances, whose money-chest finds difficulty in imprisoning his overflowing hoards. "You will enrich yourself, was his reply, "if you will go to the bar." Give me, Caius, what I ask: I do not ask advice.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

I asked, as it chanced, the loan of twenty thousand sesterces, which, even to a give, would have been no burden. The fact was I asked them of a well-to-do and old friend, and one whose money-chest keeps in control o'erflowing wealth. His answer was, "You will be rich if you plead causes." Give me what I ask, Gaius: I don't ask for advice.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I chanced to ask a loan -- a hundred, merely;
E'en as a gift that should not task severely
A wealthy friend, and so I asked him, knowing
His pockets bulge with cash over-flowing.
"Go to the Bar," says he, "get rich by pleading" --
'Tis cash, not counsel, Gaius, that I'm needing.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

I asked you twenty thousand as a loan,
A trifle, had I craved it for my own,
Such claim might ancient friendship well afford
On one whose coffers chid their bursting hoard.
"Plead and you'll make a fortune in a trice."
I want your money, Gaius, not advice.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 79]

I happened to ask a Ioan of twenty thousand sesterces, no burdensome present even as a gift. He of whom I asked it was a faithful old friend, he whose coffer whips up his ample wealth. Says he to me: "You'll be a rich man if you plead cases." Give me what I ask, Gaius; I'm not asking advice.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

I need a loan of twenty grand.
Can you lend a helping hand?
We're friends, it's not a huge amount
Against your massive bank account.
But your reply? "Go practice law,
it's easy to get rich, ha-ha!"
So here's a thought on which to chew:
No job advice I asked from you.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

I chanced to seek a loan of twenty thousand --
     which one could give away and not think twice.
The man I asked, a trusted longtime friend,
     whose strongbox whips up riches in a trice,
said, "Be a lawyer. You'll make piles of cash."
     I asked for money, Gaius, not advice.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 8-Jul-22 | Last updated 8-Jul-22
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Paul reads as his own all the poems he buys.
Well, all that he pays for is his, I surmise.

[Carmina Paulus emit, recitat sua carmina Paulus.
Nam quod emas, possis iure vocare tuum.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 20 (2.20) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Paul verses buys; and what he buys, recites.
Alike his own are what he buys and writes.
[tr. Elphinson (1782)]

Sly Paul buys verse as he buys merchandise,
Then for his own he'll pompously recite it --
Paul scorns a lie -- the poetry is his --
By law his own, although he could not write it.
[tr. New Monthly Magazine (1825)]

Paulus buys verses; Paulus recites his own verses. And they are his own, for that which you buy, you have a right to call yours.
[tr. Amos (1858), 2.32]

Paullus buys poems, and aloud,
As his, recites them to the crowd.
For what you buy it is well known
You have a right to call your own.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Paulus buys verses: Paulus recites his own verses; and what you buy you may legally call your own.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Paulus buys a book of verse
And reads us then his own.
One's right, of course, to what one buys
Can legally be shown.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Paul buys up poems, and to your surprise,
Paul then recites them as his own:
And Paul is right; for what a person buys
Is his, as can by law be shown!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Paulus buys poems; Paulus gives readings from his poems.
After all, what you buy you can rightfully call your own.
[tr. Williams (2004)]

A poet's name is what you sought.
The name, you found, is all you bought.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Bought verses for his own Paul doth recite,
For what you buy you may call yours by right.
[tr. Wright]

Paulus buys verse, recites, and owns them all,
For what thou buy'st, thou may'st thine truly call.
[tr. Fletcher]

Added on 17-Jun-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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You ask me how my farm can pay,
Since little it will bear;
It pays me thus — ‘Tis far away
And you are never there.

[Quid mini reddat ager quaeris, Line, Nomentanus?
Hoc mini reddit ager: te, Line, non video.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 38 (2.38) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

What my farm yields me, doest thou urge to know?
This, that I see not thee, when there I go.
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

Do you ask what profit my Nomentan estate brings me, Linus? My estate brings me this profit, that I do not see you, Linus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1860)]

Ask you what my Nomentane fields
Can yield me, Linus, bleak and few?
For me my farm this, Linus, yields;--
That, when I'm there, I'm rid of you.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ask what I grow on my Sabine estate.
A reliable answer is due.
I grow on that soil --
Far from urban turmoil --
Very happy at not seeing you.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Do you ask, Linus, what my Nomentan farm returns me? This my land returns me: I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Linus, you mock my distant farm,
And ask what good it is to me?
Well, it has got at least one charm --
When there, from Linus I am free!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You ask what my estate at Nomentum produces for me? It produces this: that I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Williams (2003)]

You ask me why I like the country air.
I never meet you there.
[tr. Kennelly (2004), "The Reason"]

What, Linus, can my farm be minus
When it successfully lacks Linus?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

What yield does my Nomentan farmstead bear?
Linus, I don’t see you when I am there.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You're wondering what the yield is from my farm at Nomentum, Linus? Here's the yield form my farm: Linus, I don't have to look at you.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Linus, dost ask what my field yields to me?
Even this profit, that I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Fletcher]

Ask you what my Nomentane field brings me?
This, Linus, 'mongst the rest, I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Wright]

You wonder if my farm pays me its share?
It pays me this: I do not see you there.
[tr. Oliver]

You ask me why I love fresh country air?
You’re not befouling it there.
[tr. Burch]

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere? You're not there.
[tr. Burch]

Added on 2-Jul-21 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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Laugh if you are wise, O girl, laugh.

[Ride, si sapis, o puella, ride]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 41 “To Maximina” (2.41) [tr. Ker (1919)]

Quoting Ovid (unsourced).

Alt. trans.:
  • Laugh if thou art wise, girl, laugh. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • Laugh, my girl, laugh, if you bee wise" -- [16th C Manuscript]
  • Laugh, lovely maid, laugh oft, if thou art wise. -- [Anon. (1695)]
Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Disgraceful ’tis to treat small things as difficult;
‘Tis silly to waste time on foolish trifles.

[Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
Et stultus labor est ineptiarum.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 86 (2.86)

As quoted in the Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906). Alt. trans.: "It is absurd to make one's amusements difficult; and labor expended on follies is childish." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
Added on 18-Oct-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Wealthy friends, you’re quick to take offene.
It’s not good manners, but it saves expense.

[Irasci tantum felices nostis amici.
Non belle facitis, sed iuvat hoc: facite.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 37 (3.37) [tr. McLean (2014)]

The commentary by various authors indicates this is about wealthy patrons pretending to offense or other anger at their poorer clientele as an excuse for not being free with gifts. Closely parallel to 12.13.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Rich friends 'gainst poor to anger still are prone:
It is not well, but profitably done.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

My rich friends, you know nothing save how to put yourselves into a passion. It is not a nice thing for you to do, but it suits your purpose. Do it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

To be angry is all you know, you rich friends.
You do not act prettily, but it pays to do this.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Rich friends, 'tis your fashion to get in a passion
With humble dependents, or feign it.
Though not very nice, 'tis a saving device,
Economy bids you retain it.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "A Mean Trick"]

Not easy, having money, blood so blue,
Lotta gifts expected for all your crew.
Kinda tacky to get angry and just tell 'em all go screw.
But the rich gotta do
What the rich gotta do.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Added on 10-Jun-22 | Last updated 17-Jun-22
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In the verse Cinna writes
I am slandered, it’s said.
But the man doesn’t write
Whose verses aren’t read.

[Versiculos in me narratur scribere Cinna.
Non scribit, cuius carmina nemo legit.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 9 (3.9) [tr. Nixon (1911)]

"On Cinna." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Cinna writes verses against me, 'tis said:
He writes not, whose bad verse no man doth read.
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

Against me Cinna, as I hear, indites;
Since none him reads, who can affirm he writes?
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

Cinna's verse upon me, they say, keenly procedes.
He's beli'd: for he writes not, whom nobody reads.
[tr. Elphinston (1782). 12.23]

Jack writes severe lampoons on me, 'tis said
----But he writes nothing, who is never read.
[tr. Hodgson (c. 1810)]

Cinna, I am told, is a writer of small squibs against me. A man cannot be called a writer, whose effusions no one reads.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Cinna is said to write verses against me. He doesn't write at all whose poems no man reads.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

He publishes lampoons on me, 'tis said;
How can he publish who is never read?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Cinna, a writer, attacks me with screeds.
But he's not a writer whom nobody reads.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

His verse was meant to strike me low,
But since he wrote it -- who will know?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

I hear Cinna has written some verses against me.
A man is no writer
if his poems have no reader.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

Cinna, they say, writes verse attacking me.
He doesn’t write, whose verses none will see.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

They say Cinna is writing epigrams and I'm his target. He's not "writing" if no one's reading him.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

They say that Cinna slams
me in his epigrams.
A poem no one has heard
has really not occurred.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

Cinna attacks me, calls me dirt?
Let him. Who isn't read, can't hurt.
[tr. O'Connell]

They say Cinna writes little poems about me.
He’s no writer, whose verse nobody reads.
[tr. Kline]

Added on 28-Jan-22 | Last updated 28-Jan-22
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Let a defect, which is possibly but small, appear undisguised. A fault concealed is presumed to be great.

[Simpliciter pateat vitium fortasse pusillum:
Quod tegitur, magnum creditur esse malum]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 42 (3.42) [tr. Bohn’s (1871)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst."
  • "Simple decays men easily pass by, // But, hid, suspect some great deformity" [tr. Anon. (1695)]
  • "Double we see those faults which art would mend, // Plain downright ugliness would less offend." [tr. Sedley]
  • "Let a blemish, which perhaps is small, simply show. The flow which is hidden is deemed greater than it is." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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You seem a youth to look upon.
You dyed your hair — and lo,
The locks once whiter than a swan
Are blacker than a crow.
Not everyone can you deceive
And, though you hide the grey,
Yet Proserpine will not believe
But snatch the mask away.

[Mentiris iuvenem tinctis, Laetine, capillis,
Tam subito corvus, qui modo sygnus eras.
Non omnes fallis; scit te Proserpina canum
Personam capiti detrahet illa tuo.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 43 (3.43) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Proserpina (the Roman version of Persephone) was the goddess / Queen of the Underworld. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

With tinctur'd locks the dotard youth puts on:
Behold a raven, from but now a swan!
Though cheat'st not all; not her, who rules the dead:
She soon shall pull the mask from off thy head.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Part 2, ep. 21]

You simulate youth, Lentinus, with your dyed hairs; so suddenly a crow, who were so lately a swan. You do not deceive everyone: Proserpina knows you for a greybeard, she will tear off the masque from your head.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, ep. 140]

Letinus, fain to cheat men's eyes,
You smear your head with umber dyes;
And, late a swan as white as snow,
You've suddenly become a crow.
Is everyone deceived by you?
No, one can tell the genuine hue.
Proserpine knows your hair is grey,
And she will tear that mask away.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ape youth, Laetinus, with your dyed hair; and you, who were but now a swan, are suddenly become a crow! You will not deceive everyone: Proserpine knows that you are hoary, and will snatch the mask from your head.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

You pretend you're still youthful by dyeing your hair --
Now a crow, though a swan just of late --
But you don't fool us all, for Proserpina knows,
She'll show up the sham of your pate.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

You falsely ape youth, Laetinus, with dyed hair, so suddenly a raven who were but now a swan. You don't deceive all; Proserpine knows you are hoary: she shall pluck the mask from off your head.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You wish, Lætinus, to be thought a youth,
And so you dye your hair.
You're suddenly a crow, forsooth:
Of late a swan you were!
You can't cheat all: there is a Lady dread
Who knows your hair is grey:
Proserpina will pounce upon your head,
And tear the mask away.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You counterfeit youth with hair-dye, Laetinus: all of a sudden you're a raven, when just now you were a swan. You don't fool everyone: Proserpina knows you are grey; she will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Thou, that not a month ago
Wast white as swan or driven snow,
Now blacker far than Aesop's crow,
Thanks to thy wig, sett'st up for beau:
Faith, Harry, thou'rt i' the wrong box;
Old age these vain endeavours mocks,
And time, that knows thou 'st hoary locks,
Will pluck thy mask off with a pox.
[tr. Browne]

Lentinus counterfeits his youth
With periwigs, I trow,
But art thou changed so soon, in truth,
From a swan to a crow?
Though canst not all the world deceive:
Proserpine knows thee gray;
And she'll make bold, without your leave,
To take your cap away.
[tr. Fletcher]

Before a swan, behind a crow,
Such self-deceit I ne'er did know.
Ah, cease your arts! Death knows you're grey,
And, spite of all, will have his way.
[tr. Hoadley]

Laetinus, why deceive us so,
With borrowed plumage trying?
The Queen of Shades will surely know
When she slips off your mask below,
In Death there's no more dyeing.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley]

Added on 23-Jul-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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I praise your body’s beauty. “Quite enough,”
Galla, you say, “it’s better in the buff.”
Let’s go a-bathing then, but you decline.
Galla, are you afraid you won’t like mine?

[Cum faciem laudo, cum miror crura manusque,
Dicere, Galla, soles ‘Nuda placebo magis,’
Et semper vitas communia balnea nobis.
Numquid, Galla, times, ne tibi non placeam?]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 51 (3.51) [tr. Barger]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When, Galla, thy face, hands, and legs I admire,
Thou say'st, I, when naked more pleasing shall be.
Yet, one common bath, I full vainly require:
Dost fear that I shall not be pleasing to thee?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 4, Part 3 ep. 38]

When I praise your face, when I admire your limbs and hands,
You tell me, Galla, "In nature's garments I shall please you still better."
Yet you always avoid the same baths with myself!
Do you fear, Galla, that I shall not please you?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

When I compliment your face, when I admire your legs and hands,
You are accustomed to say, Galla: "Naked I shall please you more,"
And yet you continually avoid taking a bath with me.
Surely you are not afraid, Galla, that I shall not please you?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Whene'er I praise your legs and arms,
Your eyes and rosy cheeks admire,
You whisper low -- "My hidden charms
A deeper wonder will inspire."

And yet whenever I suggest
A bath together, you say no,
Perhaps you fear that when undressed
Without my clothes I shall not do.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

I praise your face and figure as divine
"But if you saw me nude -- I really shine"
Yet rather than shed clothes you seek distraction
Because a letdown will be my reaction?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 15-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Galla, deny; and render passion strong:
But, prudent Galla, don’t deny too long.

[Galla, nega: satiatur amor nisi gaudia torquent:
sed noli nimium, Galla, negare diu.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 38 (4.38) [tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 195]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Galla deny, be not too eas'ly gain'd,
For Love will glut with Joys too soon obtain'd.
[tr. Cotton (1686)]

Galla, say "No:" love is soon sated, unless our pleasures are mixed with some pain;
but do not continue, Galla, to say "No" too long.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Refuse me, Galla; love cloys if its pleasures torture not:
but refuse not, Galla, too long.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Galla, say "no" -- Tease love and you renew it.
But prithee, Galla, do not overdo it.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

A "No" can build love's piquancy,
But don't, too long, say "No" to me.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Galla, say no. Love is satiated unless pleasures torment.
But, Galla, do not say no for too long!
[tr. Williams (2004)]

"No" is enticing; so is wooing slow.
But nothing works till you stop saying "No."
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Galla, say no. Some torment makes love stronger.
But, Galla, don’t keep saying no much longer.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Galla, tell me "No": love stales unless its joys bring pain.
But, Galla, don't say "No" for very long.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Without a wait
or some hard trial,
love won’t amuse me.
So hesitate
(just for a while ...)
[tr. Juster (2016)]

Galla, say No, for Love will cloy
Without some torments mixed with joy.
But, Galla, do not get me wrong --
Please don’t say No to me too long.
[tr. Barger]

Added on 18-Mar-22 | Last updated 18-Mar-22
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Who sneers at epigrams and feigns to scout them,
Believe me, does not know a thing about them.
The real bores are the dreary epic spinners
Who rant of Tereus’ or Thyestes’ dinners,
Who rave of cunning Daedalus applying
The wings to Icarus to teach him flying,
Or else to show what dullards they esteem us
Bleat endless pastorals on Polyphemus.
My unpretentious Muse is not bombastic,
But deems these robes of Tragedy fantastic.
“Such things,” you say, “earn all men’s commendation,
As works of genius and inspiration.”
Ah, very true — those pompous classic leaders
Do get the praise — but then I get the readers!

[Nescit, crede mihi, quid sint epigrammata, Flacce,
Qui tantum lusus ista iocosque vocat.
Ille magis ludit, qui scribit prandia saevi
Tereos, aut cenam, crude Thyesta, tuam,
Aut puero liquidas aptantem Daedalon alas,
Pascentem Siculas aut Polyphemon ovis.
A nostris procul est omnis vesica libellis,
Musa nec insano syrmate nostra tumet.
“Illa tamen laudant omnes, mirantur, adorant.”
Confiteor: laudant illa, sed ista legunt.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 49 (4.49) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

"To Valerius Flaccus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Though little know'st what epigram contains,
Who think'st it all a joke in jocund strains.
He direly jokes, who bids a Tereus dine;
Or dresses suppers like, Thyestes, thine;
Feins him who fits the boy with melting wings,
Or the sweet shepherd Polyphemus sings.
Or muse disdains by fustian to excel;
by rant to rattle, or in buskin swell.
Those strains the learn'd applaud, admire, adore.
Those they applaud, I own; but these explore.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), ep. 48]

Thou know'st not, trust me, what are Epigrams,
Flaccus, who think'st them jest and wanton games.
He wantons more, who writes what horrid meat
The plagu'd Tyestes and vex't Tereus eat,
Or Daedalus fitting is boy to fly,
Or Polyphemus' flocks in Sicily.
My booke no windy words nor turgid needes,
Nor swells my Muse with mad smothurnal weedes.
Yet those things all men praise, admire, adore.
True; they praise those, but read these poems more.
[tr. May]

You little know what Epigram contains,
Who deem it but a jest in jocund strains.
He rather jokes, who writes what horrid meat
The plagued Thyestes and vex't Tereus eat;
Or tells who robed the boy with melting wings;
Or of the shepherd Polyphemus sings.
Our muse disdains by fustian to excel,
By rant to rattle, or in buskins swell.
Though turgid themes all men admire, adore,
Be well assured they read my poems more.
[Westminster Review (Apr 1853)]

He knows not, Flaccus, believe me, what Epigrams really are,
who calls them mere trifles and frivolities.
He is much more frivolous, who writes of the feast of the cruel
Tereus; or the banquet of the unnatural Thyestes;
or of Daedalus fitting melting wings to his son's body;
or of Polyphemus feeding his Sicilian flocks.
From my effusions all tumid ranting is excluded;
nor does my Muse swell with the mad garment of Tragedy.
"But everything written in such a style is praised, admired, and adored by all."
I admit it. Things in that style are praised; but mine are read.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

He does not know, believe me, what epigrams are, Flaccus,
who styles them only frivolities and quips.
He is more frivolous who writes of the meal of savage
Tereus, or of thy banquet, dyspeptic Thyestes,
or of Daedalus fitting to his son melting wings,
or of Polyphemus pasturing Sicilian sheep.
Far from poems of mine is all turgescence,
nor does my Muse swell with frenzied tragic train.
"Yet all men praise those tragedies, admire, worship them."
I grant it: those they praise, but they read the others.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You think my epigrams are silly?
Far worse is bombast uttered shrilly --
Like Tereus baking human pie.
Or Daedal son who tried to fly.
Monster Cyclopes keeping sheep.
My verse is of such nonsense free.
It poses not as tragedy.
But praise for those things does exceed?
Those things men praise -- but mine they read.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Trust me, Flaccus, anyone who says it's just "ditties" and "jokes"
doesn't know what epigram is.
The real joker is the poet who describes the feast of cruel
Tereus, or the dinner that gave Thyestes indigestion,
or Daedalus strapping melting wings ot his son,
or Polyphemus pasturing his Sicilian sheep.
No puffery gets near my little books;
my Muse doesn't swell and strut in the trailing robe of Tragedy.
"But that stuff gets the applause, the awe, the worship."
I can't deny it: that stuff does get the applause. But my stuff gets read.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Who deem epigrams mere trifles,
     Flaccus, know not epigram.
He trifles who describes the meal
     wild Tereus, rude Thyestes ate,
The Cretan Glider moulting wax,
     the one-eyed shepherd herding sheep.
Foreign to my verse the tragic sock,
     it's turgid, ranting rhetoric.
"Men praise -- esteem -- revere these works."
     True: them they praise ... while reading me.
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

Added on 29-Oct-21 | Last updated 29-Oct-21
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Divide the work and thus you’ll shorten it.

[Divisum sic breve fiet opus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 82 (4.82)

As quoted in Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906); mislabeled as Epigram 83. Alt. trans.:
  • "If it be too much to read two volumes, let them roll up one of them; and the task, thus divided, will seem shorter." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "If two be too much, double one parcel down; / So half, perhaps, better the pleasure will crown." [tr. Elphinston]
  • "If it is too much to read two, let one book be rolled up: divided the work will thus become brief. [Si nimis est legisse duos, tibi charta plicetur / Altera: divisum sic breve fiet opus.]"  [tr. Ker (1919), Ep. 210]
Added on 10-Jan-18 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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If glory comes after death, I hurry not.

[Si post fata venit gloria, non propero.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 10 (5.10) [tr. Rush]

Alt. trans.: "If glory comes only after death I am in no hurry for it." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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To you and me
Life is not full; we see
The good days fly
And, ah, how grievously
Their sum doth mount,
Set all to our account;
Why dally we
Who know what life should be?

[Nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque
Soles effugere atque abire sentit,
Qui nobis pereunt et inputantur.
Quisquam vivere cum sciat, moratur?]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 20, l. 11ff (5.20) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

To Julius Martialis. (Source (Latin)).

The phrase pereunt et imputantur (they pass by, and are put to our account) is often found on sundials.

Alternate translations:

Now, to himself, alas! Does neither live,
But sees good suns, of which we are to give
A strict account, set, and march quick away:
Know a man how to live, and does he stay?
[tr. Cowley (<1755)]

We behold the good suns shine, and pass away; lost are they for ever, yet, nevertheless, they are counted in our reckoning. Is it possible that anyone who knows how to live delays to live accordingly?
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, #14; identified as ep. 21]

As it is, neither of us lives for himself, but sees his good days flee from him and vanish; days which are ever being lost to us, and set down to our account. Should any one, then, delay to live, when he knows how?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

oday neither lives for himself, and he feels the good days are flitting and passing away, our days that perish and are cored to our account. Does any man, when he knows how to live, delay?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Now neither lives his life, but he
Marks precious days that pass and flee.
These days are lost, but their amount
Is surely set to our account.
Knowledge the clue to life can give;
Then wherefore hesitate to live?
[tr. Duff (1929)]

As it is now, neither of us lives for his own benefit, each of us can feel his best days slipping away and leaving us behind. They're gone, they've been debited from our account. What kind of person knows how to live, but keeps putting it off?
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Now, twin lives are not our own.
Our good suns flee & disappear,
Debited, as they die, to us.
Who hesitates that's learned to live?
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 5-Nov-21
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My parents in the underworld! I send
This servant girl — take care and gently tend.
Conduct her past the terrifying shade.
Keep her of circling horrors unafraid,
For she, alas, was only six days shy
Of six years when too soon she came to die.
Protect her as she plays her childhood games,
And lisps, as shyly she was wont, our names.
Earth, sadly mounded on this gravesite new,
Press lightly on her, as she did on you.

[Hanc tibi, Fronto pater, genetrix Flaccilla, puellam
Oscula commendo deliciasque meas,
Parvula ne nigras horrescat Erotion umbras
Oraque Tartarei prodigiosa canis.
Impletura fuit sextae modo frigora brumae,
Vixisset totidem ni minus illa dies.
Inter tam veteres ludat lasciva patronos
Et nomen blaeso garriat ore meum.
Mollia non rigidus caespes tegat ossa nec illi,
Terra, gravis fueris: non fuit illa tibi.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 34 (5.34) [tr. Wills (2007)]

Erotion was a slave child in Martial's household, per other epigrams. The identity of Fronto and Flaccilla -- whether they are the names of Martial's parents or Erotion's -- is ambiguous in the Original Latin, and a subject of debate. Alternate translations:

Fronto, to thee, to thee, Flaccilla mild,
My darling I commend, your lively child.
Oh! may no sable shades make her more pale,
Nor the Tartarean dog the Love assail.
Six times the rig'rous solstice had the run,
Has she survey'd six times another sun.
Mid her old patrons, may the prattler play;
And lsip my name, as in the realms of day.
To her soft bones no turf oppressive be:
O earth lie light on her, who lay so light on thee.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 9, ep. 18]

O my father, Fronto! and my mother, Flacilla! I commend to you, in the realm below, this damsel, my delight and the object of my kisses, lest Erotion be terrified at the dark shades, and at the enormous mouth of the dog of Tartarus. She would have completed her sixth winter if she had lived six days longer. May she continue her sportive ways under your reverend patronage, and may she garrulously stammer forth my name! May the turf lie lightly on her delicate bones; you ought not, O earth, to be heavy to her; she was not so to thee!
[tr. Amos (1858) ep. 35]

To you, O Fronto my father, and to you, O Flaccilla my mother, I commend this child, the little Erotion, my joy and my delight, that she may not be terrified at the dark shades and at the monstrous mouth of the dog of Tartarus. She would just have passed the cold of a sixth winter, had she lived but six days longer. Between protectors so venerable may she sport and play, and with lisping speech babble my name. Let no rude turf cover her tender bones, and press not heavy on her, O earth; she pressed but lightly on thee.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

To you -- dun spectres to forefend
And yon Tartarean monster dread --
This little maiden I commend,
Dead parents of my darling dead!

Had only my Erotion's span
While just so many days were told,
Been lengthened out to dwell with man,
She had been then six winters old.

Still sportive may she spend her days,
And lisp my name with prattling tongue;
Nor chide her little wanton ways,
Mid friends so old, and she so young.

Soft be the turf that shrouds her bed,
For delicate and soft was she.
And, Earth, lie lightly o'er her head,
For light the steps she laid on thee.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Mother and sire, to you do I commend
Tiny Erotion, who must now descend,
A child, among the shadows, and appear
Before hell's bandog and hell's gondolier.
Of six hoar winters she had felt the cold,
But lacked six days of being six years old.
Now she must come, all playful, to that place
Where the great ancients sit with reverend face;
Now lisping, as she used, of whence she came,
Perchance she names and stumbles at my name.
O'er these so fragile bones, let there be laid
A plaything for a turf; and for that maid
That ran so lightly footed in her mirth
Upon thy breast -- lie lightly, mother earth!
[tr. Stevenson (1884)]

To thee, father Fronto, to thee, mother Flacilla, commend this maid, my sweetheart and my darling, that tiny Erotion may not shudder at the dark shades and the Tartarean hound's stupendous jaws. She would have completed only her sixth cold winter had she not lived as many days too few. Beside protectors so aged let her lightly play, and prattle my name with lisping tongue. And let not hard clods cover her tender bones, nor be though heavy upon her, O earth: she was not so to thee!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Thou Mother dear and thou my Father's shade,
To you I now commit the gentle maid,
Erotion, my little love, my sweet;
Let not her shuddering spirit fear to meet
The ghosts, but soothe her lest she be afraid.
How should a baby heart be undismayed
To pass the lair where Cerberus is laid?
The little six-year maiden gently greet.
Dear reverend spirits, give her kindly aid
And let her play in some Elysian glade,
Lisping my name sometimes -- and, I entreat
Lie on her softly, kind earth; her feet,
Such tiny feet, on thee were lightly laid.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Mother Flaccilla, Fronto sire that's gone,
This darling pet of mine, Erotion,
I pray ye greet, that nor the Land of Shade
Nor Hell-hound's maw shall fright my little maid.
Full six chill winters would the child have seen
Had her life only six days longer been.
Sweet child, with our lost friends to guard thee, play,
And lisp my name in thine own prattling way.
Soft be the turf that shrouds her! Tenderly
Rest on her, earth, for she trod light on thee.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Fronto, Father, Flacilla, Mother, extend your protection from the Stygian shadows. The small Erotion (my household Iris) has changed my h ouse for yours. See that the hellhound's horrid jaws don't scare her, who was no more than six years old (less six days) on the Winter day she died. She'll play beside you gossiping about me in child's language. Weigh lightly on her small bones, gentle earth, as she, when living, lightly trod on you.
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

This girl, father Fronto and mother Flaccilla, I commit to your care, so that little Erotion, my pet and darling, may not tremble at the dark shades and at the monstrous mouths of the hound of Tartarus. She would have just seen out the frosts of her sixth midwinter, had her life not fallen that many days short. I hope she plays and skips now in her former patrons' keeping; I hope her hare-lip mumbles my name. Please let the turf that covers her bones not be hard, and, earth, be not heavy upon her, she was no weight on you.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Ye parents Fronto and Flaccilla here,
To you I do commend my girl, my dear,
Lest pale Erotion tremble at the shades,
And the foul dog of hell's prodigious heads.
Her age fulfilling just six winters was,
Had she but known so many days to pass.
'Mongst you, old patrons, may she sport and play,
And with her lisping tongue my name oft say.
May the smooth turf her soft bones hide, and be,
O earth, as light to her as she to thee!
[tr. Fletcher]

I commend you this slave girl, father Fronto, mother Flacilla, as she was my delight and the object of my kisses. May little Erotion not fear the dark shades nor the vast mouths of the Tartarean dog. She would have completed her sixth cold winter if she'd not lived as many days too few. Now, let her play amid old friends, let her chatter and lisp my name. May the soft turf cover her brittle bones: earth, lie lightly on her, as she was not heavy on you.

To you, my departed parents, dear mother and father,
I commend my little lost angel, Erotion, love’s daughter.
She fell a mere six days short of outliving her sixth frigid winter.
Protect her now, I pray, should the chilling dark shades appear;
muzzle hell’s three-headed hound, lest her heart be dismayed!
Lead her to romp in some sunny Elysian glade,
her devoted patrons. Watch her play childish games
as she excitedly babbles and lisps my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was surely no burden to you!
[tr. Burch]

Added on 30-Jul-21 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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A thief can rifle any till,
A fire with ash your home can fill,
A creditor calls in your debt.
Bad harvest does your farm upset,
An impish mistress robs your dwelling,
Storm shatters ships with water swelling.
But gifts to friends your friendships save.
You keep thus always what you gave.

[Callidus effracta nummos fur auferet arca,
Prosternet patrios impia flamma lares:
Debitor usuram pariter sortemque negabit,
Non reddet sterilis semina iacta seges:
Dispensatorem fallax spoliabit amica,
Mercibus extructas obruet unda rates.
Extra fortunam est, quidquid donatur amicis:
Quas dederis, solas semper habebis opes.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 42 (5.42) [tr. Wills (2007)]

(Source(Latin)). Alternate translations:

Some felon-hand may steal thy gold away;
Or flames destructive on thy mansion prey.
The fraudful debtor may thy loan deny;
Or blasted fields no more their fruits supply.
The am'rous steward to adorn his dear,
With spoils may deck her from thy plunder'd year.
Thy freighted vessels, ere the port they gain,
O'erwhelm'd by storms may sink beneath the main:
But what thou giv'st a friend for friendship's sake,
Is the sole wealth which fortune n'er can take.
[tr. Melmoth (c. 1750)]

Thieves may break locks, and with your cash retire;
Your ancient seat may be consumed by fire;
Debtors refuse to pay you what they owe;
Or your ungrateful field the seed you sow;
You may be plundered by a jilting whore;
Your ships may sink at sea with all their store:
Who gives to friends, so much from Fate secures;
That is the only wealth for ever yours.
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 43]

The thief shall burst they box, and slyly go:
The impious flame shall lay thy Lares low.
Thy dettor shall deny both use and sum:
They seed deposited may never come.
A faithless female shall they steward spoil:
They ships are swallow'd, while thy billow boil.
Whate'er is bountied, quit vain fortune's road:
Thine is alone the wealth thou has bestow'd.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 5, ep. 82]

A crafty thief may purloin money from a chest;
an impious flame may destroy paternal Lares;
a debtor may deny both principal and interest;
land may not yield crops in return for the seed scattered upon it;
frauds may be practices on a steward entrusted with your household purse;
the sea may overwhelm ships laden with merchandise.
Whatever is given to friends is beyond the reach of Fortune;
the wealth you have bestowed is the only wealth you can keep.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 77]

A cunning thief may burst open your coffers, and steal your coin;
an impious fire may lay waste your ancestral home;
your debtor may refuse you both principal and interest;
your corn-field may prove barren, and not repay the seed you have scattered upon it;
a crafty mistress may rob your steward;
the waves may engulf your ships laden with merchandise.
But what is bestowed on your friends is beyond the reach of fortune;
the riches you give away are the only riches you will possess for ever.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

A cunning thief will break your money-box and carry off your coin,
cruel fire will lay low your ancestral home;
your debtor will repudiate interest alike and principal,
your sterile crop will not return you the seed you have sown;
a false mistress will despoil your treasurer,
the wave will overwhelm your ships stored with merchandise.
Beyond Fortune's power is any gift made to your friends;
only wealth bestowed will you possess always.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Some thief may steal your wealth away,
Although by massive walls surrounded;
Or ruthless fire in ashes lay
The ancient home your fathers founded;

A debtor may withhold your dues,
Deny perhaps a debt is owing,
Or sullen ploughlands may refuse
To yield a harvest to your sowing.

A cunning trollop of the town
May make your agent rob his master,
Or waters of the ocean drown
Your goods and ship in one disaster.

But give to friends whate'er you may,
'Tis safe from fortune's worst endeavor:
The riches that you give away,
These only shall be yours for ever.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

A cunning thief may rob your money-chest,
And cruel fire lay low an ancient home;
Debtors may keep both loan and interest;
Good seed may fruitless rot in barren loam.
A guileful mistress may your agent cheat,
And waves engulf your laden argosies;
But boons to friends can fortune's slings defeat:
The wealth you give away will never cease.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Deft thieves can break your locks and carry off your savings,
fire consume your home,
debtors default on principal and interest,
failed crops return not even the seed you'd sown,
cheating women run up your charge accounts,
storm overwhelm ships freighted with all your goods.
Fortune can't take away what you give your friends:
that wealth stays yours forever.
[tr. Powell (c. 2000)]

Savings -- the cunning thief will crack your safe and steal them;
ancestral home -- the fires don't care, they'll trash it;
the guy who owes you money -- won't pay the interest, won't pay at all.
Your field -- it's barren, sow seed and you'll get no return;
your girlfriend -- she'll con your accountant and leave you penniless;
your shipping line -- the waves will swamp your stacks of cargo.
But what you give to friends is out of fortune's reach.
The wealth you give away is the only wealth you'll never lose.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 6-Aug-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Though I called you “My lord,” you’ve no reason for pride:
For so to your slaves I have often replied.

[Cum voco te dominum, noli tibi, Cinna, placere:
Saepe etiam servum sic resaluto tuum.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 57 (5.57) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When I call you "My lord," do not be vain, Cinna. I often return your slave's salutation in a similar way.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

When I call you "master" don't pride yourself, Cinna. I often return even your slave's greeting so.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I call you "Boss"? Don't show wild joy.
That's what I call my slaves' head boy.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

When I call you "Boss," Cinna, don't be so pleased with yourself; I often reply that way when your slave says hello, even.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

When "Sir" I call you, be not pleased; for know,
Cinna, I often call your servant so.
[tr. Wright]

Though I do "Sir" thee, be not vain, I pray:
I "Sir" my monkey Jacko every day.
-- Cyrus Redding, "N. M. Mag., 1828"

Added on 24-Sep-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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You’ll ‘start living tomorrow’? Start living today already, Postumus, you’re running out of time. Anyone with sense started living yesterday.

[Cras vives? hodie iam vivere, Postume, serum est:
Ille sapit, quisquis, Postume, vixit heri.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 58 (5.58) [tr. Nisbet (2015)]

(Source (Latin)). See a related sentiment by Martial here. Alternate translations:

Today to live, ev'n that's too late I say.
The wiseman, Posthumus, liv'd Yesterday.
[tr. Oldmixon (1728)]

You will live, you say, tomorrow; it is late, Posthumus, to live today; he is wise who lived yesterday.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 46, noted as Martial Book 5, ep. 59]

You will live tomorrow: even today it is too late to begin to live. He is the wise man, Postumus, who lived yesterday.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

To live today, Postumus, is already too late. He is wise, whoever he be, Postumus, who "lived" yesterday.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

"Tomorrow": -- nay, do not this moment delay.
The wise man is he who has lived yesterday.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

"Tomorrow"? -- Postumus, today's too late.
The wise man, Postumus, lived yesterday.
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

Forget tomorrow's teasing long delay.
To make life pleasant, dwell on yesterday.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Tomorrow will I live, the fool does say;
Today itself's too late; the wise lived yesterday.
[tr. Cowley, in Hay, "Appendix," ep. 59]

Thou'lt live tomorrow? -- this day's life's too late:
He's wise that lived before the present date.
[tr. Fletcher]

Believe me, wise men don’t say “I shall live to do that,”
Tomorrow’s life is too late; live today.

Added on 13-Aug-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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That I nor gold nor silver to you send,
I this forbear, for your sake, learned friend.
Who gives great gifts, expects great gifts again;
My cheap ones to return will cause no pain.

[Quod non argentum, quod non tibi mittimus aurum,
Hoc facimus causa, Stella diserte, tua.
Quisquis magna dedit, voluit sibi magna remitti;
Fictilibus nostris exoneratus eris.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 59 (5.59) [tr. Anon. (1695)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That of silver or gold we afford no oblation,
'Tis for they sake, sweet Stella, th' economy's such.
Ample off'rings expect ample remuneration;
A plain service of earth will not gravitate much.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 2, ep. 11]

In forbearing to send you either silver or gold, eloquent Stella, I have acted for your interest. Whoever makes great presents, wishes great presents to be made in return. By my present of earthenware vases you will be released from such an obligation.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

In sending you no silver plate, no gold plate, I act in your interest, eloquent Stella. He who has given great presents has desired great presents in return: your burden will be lightened by my earthenware.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Dear poet friend, desirous to befriend you
It is not gold or silver that I send you,
For costly gifts demand a costly guerdon;
My pretty gift shall free you from a burden.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Thank me you get no wealthy gifts from me.
It keeps you of reciprocation free.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 8-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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A man who lives everywhere lives nowhere.

[Quisquis ubique habitat, Maxime, nusquam habitat.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 73 (5.73) [tr. Bohn’s]

Alt. trans.: "He dwells nowhere, that dwells everywhere." [tr. Fletcher]

Alt. trans.: "He who dwells everywhere, Maximus, nowhere dwells."
Added on 7-Jul-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Why don’t I send my book to you
Although you often urge me to?
The reason’s good, for if I did
You’d send me yours — which God forbid!

[Non donem tibi cur meos libellos
Oranti totiens et exigenti,
Miraris, Theodore? Magna causa est:
Dones tu mihi ne tuos libellos.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 73 (5.73) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “Return Favours”]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Why I dole thee not my pieces,
Theodore, thou may'st devine.
Yet thy wond'ring zeal increases:
Lest thou should'st redole me thine.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 48]

"Why ne'er to me," the Laureat cries,
"Are poet Paulo's verses sent?"
"For fear," the tuneful rogue replies,
"You should return the compliment."
[tr. Hodgson (c. 1810)]

I give thee, friend, no works of mine,
For fear you should return me thine.
[tr. Lamb (1821)]

Do you wonder for what reason, Theodorus, notwithstanding your frequent requests and importunities, I have never presented you with my works? I have an excellent reason; it is lest you should present me with yours.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Though it's true, Theodorus, you frequently pray
For my book in a flattering tone,
No wonder I'm slow; I've good cause for delay
In my fear you'd then send me your own.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "Vendetta"]

Why don't I give you my works, although so often you beseech me for them, and press me? Do you wonder, Theodorus? There is great reason: that you may not give me your works.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Pompilianus asks why I omit
To send him all the poetry that is mine;
The reason is that in return for it,
Pompilianus, thou might'st send me thine.
[tr. Duff (1929), "Answer to a Poetaster"]

Ted, don't give me pleading looks,
And beg I send you all my books,
Your ask comes with a healthy fee:
You'll then send all of yours to me!
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Why, Theodorus, don't I send my books, though you demand and plead repeatedly? My answer's good: so you won't give me yours to read.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You ask my verse, so here. This evens scores:
I had kept mine in hopes you would keep yours.
[tr. Young]

You wonder why I never ask you if you’ve read my book?
I’m not one of those narcissistic bores
who fishes around for praise with such a thinly baited hook.
Besides, I’m worried you’ll ask if I’ve read yours.
[tr. Clark, "A Good Reason"]

Added on 31-Mar-22 | Last updated 31-Mar-22
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If poor you are, poor you will always be,
For wealth’s now given to none but to the rich.

[Semper eris pauper, si pauper es, Aemiliane;
Dantur opes nulli nunc, nisi divitibus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 81 (5.81)

In Thomas Harbottle, ed., The Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897). Alt. trans.:
  • If you are poor now, Æmilianus, you will always be poor. / Riches are now given to none but the rich. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • If thou are poor, Æmilian, / Thou shalt be ever so, / For no man now his presents can / But on the rich bestow. [tr. Fletcher]
  • You want, Æmilianus, so you may; / Riches are given rich men, and none but they. [tr. Wright]
  • Poor once and poor for ever, Nat, I fear; / None but the rich get place and pension here. [tr. N. B. Halhed]
  • You will always be poor, if you are poor, Aemilianus. Wealth is given today t none savethe rich. [tr. Ker (1919)]
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Do you ask me why this girl prefers
Eunuchs, that race defiled?
She’d rather get her fill of sex
Then fill her belly with child.

[Cur tantum eunuchos habeat tua Caelia, quaeris,
Pannyche? Volt futui Caelia nec parere.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 76 (6.76) [tr. Marcellino (1968)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Pannicus, dost wish to know
Why thy Gellia favours so
The priests of Cybele? To sport
She loves, and pay no suffering for't.
[tr. Anon.]

Do you ask, Pannicus, why your wife Caelia has about her only priests of Cybele? Caelia loves the flowers of marriage, but fears the fruits.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Do you ask, Pannychus, why your Caelia consorts with eunuchs only? Caelia looks for the license of marriage, not the results.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Why, with eunuchs, is Caelia beguiled?
Because she wants sex, with no chance of a child.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Your Celia keeps company with eunuchs:
Pannychus, do you find this odd?
It’s the child she hopes to be spared,
Pannychus, not the rod.
[tr. Matthews (1996)]

Added on 15-Jul-22 | Last updated 15-Jul-22
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The hair she swears is hers Fabulla bought.
So, Paulus, is that perjury or not?

[Iurat capillos esse, quos emit, suos
Fabulla: numquid, Paule, peierat?]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 12 (6.12) [tr. McLean (2014)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You see the goodly hayre that Galla weares,
'Tis certain her own hair, who would have thought it?
She sweares it is her owne: and true she sweares:
For hard by Temple-barre last day she bought it.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600), Ep. 162 - Epigrams Book 2 #66 "Of Galla's goodly Periwigge"]

The golden hair that Galla wears
Is hers: who would have thought it?
She swears 'tis hers, and true she swears,
For I know where she bought it.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600), as paraphrased in Bohn, possibly from Anon. below.]

Shee sweares tis her owne hayre. Who would have thought it?
Shee's nott forsworne though: I know where shee bought it.
[tr. Anon - British Library MS Add. 27343 (17th C)]

Locks Fabby purchas'd, and her own she swore.
Who would not, Paul, the perjury deplore?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 163]

Fabulla swears that the hair which she has bought is her own. Does she perjure herself, Paulus?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Fabulla swears that the hair she buys is hers.
Does she therefore swear falsely, Paulus?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Those purchased tresses which her head adorn
Fabulla swears are hers -- is she forsworn?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "By Right of Purchase"]

Swears Fabby of her hair so fine,
"I purchased it, so, yes, it's mine."
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

The coif she wears she claims she grew.
Does that seem splitting hairs to you?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

She swears the hair she bought is her own.
Is she lying? No.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "No Lie"]

Fabulla swears that hair is hers -- the hair she bought; tell me, Paulus, is she lying?
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 25-Mar-22 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
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Me kindly Rome loves, quotes my books, and buys them;
But till that critic feigning to despise them
Blushed and turned pale, then yawned and looked confounded,
I never felt my fame was surely grounded.

[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.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 60 (6.60) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Rome hugs my verse, and cries up for rare,
My books each hand and ev'ry bosom bear;
There's one yet lowers, disdains, is ill at ease:
I'm glad; my verses now myself do please.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

The town beloves, applauds, attunes my strains;
Each hand engrasps them, and each bosom gains:
See one change color, grin, and gape with hate!
This crowns my wish: be this my Muse's fate.
[tr. Elphinston (1782)], Book 2, ep. 16]
Rome, city of my affections, praises, loves, and recites my compositions;
I am in every lap, and in every hand.
But see, yon gentleman grows red and pale by turns, looks amazed, yawns, and, in fact, hates me.
I am delighted at the sight; my writings now please me.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), ep. 61]

Quite friendly, Rome applauds my lay;
dotes on it, quotes it day by day.
My verses every pocket fill,
And every hand bethumbs me still.
See, yonder man turns red and white,
Winces, and yawns disgusted quite.
This I enjoy; by this I tell
That now my verses please me well.
[tr. Webb (1879), ep. 61]

My Rome praises, loves, and hums my verses,
and every pocket, every hand holds me.
See, yonder fellow turns red, turns pale, is dazed, yawns, curses! v This is what I want; now my verses please me!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

For my small books Rome's gone utterly mad;
I'm quite ubiquitous -- call it a fad.
Look, there -- see that fellow, leafing, curious.
First he blushes deeply, then he's furious;
A moment later his eyes glaze over;
He yawns, flips a page, then reels in horror.
This mercurial response I thrill to see;
Why, then my epigrams even please me!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

He reads my verses, just to be in fashion.
But finds himself whipsawed by sudden passion.
He frowns, then chortles -- chokes at what he reads --
And calls them the most infamous of screeds,
Then he goes pale, as under some indicting --
You've got him, poems! That's what I call writing.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Rome praises, loves, and sings my little verses;
They're in all hands, all pockets, and all purses.
Look there! One blushes, pales, gasps, yawns, and curses.
That's what I want! I'm happy with my verses.
[tr. Barth]

My Rome praises, loves and quotes my books,
which fill all pockets and all hands.
Readers blush, then pale, look dazed, curse, swear.
Yes! Yes! This is what I’d always planned.
[tr. Matthews]

Added on 31-Dec-21 | Last updated 5-Aug-22
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Life is not living, but living in health.

[Vita non est vivere, sed valere vita est.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 70, l. 15 (6.70) [tr. Ker (1919)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

  • "It is not life to live, but to be well." [tr. Burton (1621)]

  • "Not all who live long, but happily, are old." [tr. Anon. (1695)]

  • "For life is not to live, but to be well." [tr. Johnson, in The Rambler, #48, cited to Elphinston (1 Sep 1750)]

  • "For sense and reason tell, / That life is only life, when we are well." [tr. Hay (1755)]

  • "To brethe can just not dying give: / But, to be well, must be to live." [tr. Elphinston (1782), 2.115]

  • "For life is not simply living, but living in health." [tr. Amos (1858)]

  • "Life consists not in living, but in enjoying health." [tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

  • "The blunderer who deems them so, / Misreckons life and much mistakes it, / He thinks 'tis drawing breath -- we know / 'Tis health alone that mars or makes it." [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

  • "To live is not just life, but health." [tr. Shepherd (1987)]

  • "Life's not just being alive, but being well."

Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 12-Nov-21
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Thais smells even worse than a fuller’s old crock,
When, set in the street, it succumbs to a knock,
A he-goat when rutting, a lion’s foul breath,
A skin of a dog done by tanners to death,
A chicken gone rotten while still in the shell,
A jar filled with sauce that has not kept too well.
So wishing somehow to disguise this foul reek,
Whenever she comes to the baths in the week,
She’s covered with unguent and vinegared flour
And layers of powder at least three or four.
But spite of these dodges, and do what she will,
The fact is that Thais of Thais smells still.

[Tam male Thais olet, quam non fullonis avari
Testa vetus, media sed modo fracta via,
Non ab amore recens hircus, non ora leonis,
Non detracta cani transtiberina cutis,
5Pullus abortivo nec cum putrescit in ovo,
Amphora corrupto nec vitiata garo.
Virus ut hoc alio fallax permutet odore,
Deposita quotiens balnea veste petit,
Psilothro viret aut acida latet oblita creta
10Aut tegitur pingui terque quaterque faba.
Cum bene se tutam per fraudes mille putavit,
Omnia cum fecit, Thaida Thais olet.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 93 (6.93) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Worse than a fuller's tubb doth Thais stink,
Broke in the streets, and leaking through each chink;
Or lion's belch; or lustfull reeking goats;
Or skin of dogg that dead o' the' bankside floats;
Or half-hatch'd chicken from broke rotten eggs,
Or taynted jarrs of stinking mackrell dreggs.
This vile rank smell with perfumes to disguise,
Whene'er she's in the bath, she doth devise;
She's with pomatum smugg'd, or pain good store,
Or oyle of the bean-flow'r varnishe'd o'er and o'er:
A thousand wayes she tries to make all well;
In vayne, still Thais doth of Thais smell.
[Egerton Manuscript 2982 (16th C)]

Poor Thais so smells, as no ill-fated tray,
Of all-catching scourer, just broke in the way:
No love-leaving goat, and no lion's made maw;
No skin from a dog the Transtiberines draw:
No pullet abortive, that rots in the shell:
No cask, where the brine of anchovy did dwell.
Yet all her contagion, the sly would suppress,
Whene'er, at the bath, she deposits her dress.
She smugs in sweet lotion, or sculks in sour chalk;
In mail of fat bean-mean she wisely will calk.
Thus ev'ry art conjur'd, th' offensive to kill,
Alas! the poor Thais brethes poor Thais still.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 28]

Thais smells worse than an old jar of a covetous fuller just broken in the middle of the street; worse than a goat after an amorous encounter; than the belch of a lion; than a hide torn from a dog on the banks of the Tiber; than chick rotting in an abortive egg; than a jar fetid with spoilt pickle. Cunningly wishing to exchange this disagreeable odour for some other, she, on laying aside her garments to enter the bath, makes herself green with a depilatory, or conceals herself beneath a daubing of chalk dissolved in acid, or covers herself with three or four layers of rich bean-unguent. When by a thousand artifices she thinks she has succeeded in making herself safe, Thais, after all, smells of Thais.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Thais smells worse even than a grasping fuller's long-used crock, and that, too, just smashed in the middle of the street; than a he-goat fresh from his amours; than the breath of a lion; than a hide dragged from a dog beyond Tiber; than a chicken when it rots in an abortive egg; than a two-eared jar poisoned by putrid fish-sauce. In order craftily to substitute for such a reek another odour, whenever she strips and enters the bath she is green with depilatory, or is hidden behind a plaster of chalk and vinegar, or is covered with three or four layers of sticky bean-flower. When she imagines that by a thousand dodges she is quite safe, Thais, do what she will, smells of Thais.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Thais smells worse than caustic oil,
Or corpses rotting in the soil,
Or rotten eggs, or rutting goats,
Or swill that's vomited by stoats.
To hide the odor, Thais drenches
Her body with distracting stenches.
But worse than ointments on her shelf,
The smell most dreadful is -- herself.
[tr. Wills (2007), 6.98]

Added on 10-Dec-21 | Last updated 10-Dec-21
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Your verses are full of a sugary grace,
As spotless and pure as a well-powdered face,
Not an atom of salt or suspicion of gall,
So how can they but on an audience pall!
Even food does not please if the cooking’s too simple,
And cheeks lack in charm when they haven’t a dimple.
A child may like apples and figs without savour;
But give me the sort that have got a sharp flavour.

[Dulcia cum tantum scribas epigrammata semper
Et cerussata candidiora cute,
Nullaque mica salis nec amari fellis in illis
Gutta sit, o demens, vis tamen illa legi!
Nec cibus ipse iuvat morsu fraudatus aceti,
Nec grata est facies, cui gelasinus abest.
Infanti melimela dato fatuasque mariscas:
Nam mihi, quae novit pungere, Chia sapit.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 25 (7.25) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “To a Rival Poet”]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Since all your lines are only sweet and fine,
As is the skinn which with white wash doth shine,
Butt nott a corne of salt, of dropp of gall,
In them; yett, foole, though 'dst have me reade them all.
Meate has no gust without sharpe sawce; no face
Without a smiling dimple has a grace:
For children sweete insipid fruits are best;
The quick and poynant only me can feast.
[16th C Manuscript]

He writes Satyres; but herein's the fault,
In no one Satyre there's a mite of salt.
[tr. Herrick (1648), "On Poet Prat"]

In all the epigrams you write, we trace
The sweetness, and the candour of your face.
Think you, a reader will for verses call,
Without one grain of salt, or drop of gall?
'Tis vinegar gives relish to our food:
A face that cannot smile, is never good.
Smooth tales, like sweet-meats, are for children fit:
High-season'd, like my dishes, be my wit.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

While thus thou honey'st thine inscriptions all,
And mak'st them than the whited skin more white;
Thou giv'st no grain of salt, no drop of gall:
Yet madly dream'st, that reading is thy right.
No food can please, of acid if beguil'd:
Without a smile no face can charming be.
Sweet apples, tasteless figs cajole a child:
The Chian smart alone has charmes for me.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), "To Another Poet," Book 3, ep. 57]

Although the epigrams which you write are always sweetness itself and more spotless than a white-leaded skin, and although there is in them neither an atom of salt, nor a drop of bitter gall, yet you expect, foolish man, that they will be read. Why, not even food itself is pleasant, if it is wholly destitute of acid seasoning; nor is a face pleasing, which shows no dimples. Give children your honey-apples and luscious figs; the Chian fig, which has sharpness, pleases my taste.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), "To a Bad Epigrammatist"]

Although you continually write epigrams that are merely sweet, and more immaculate than a white-enamelled skin, and no grain of salt, nor drop fo bitter gall is in them, yet, O madman! you wish them to be read! Not food itself is pleasant robbed of biting vinegar, nor is a face winning when no dimple is there. To an infant give honey-apples and insipid figs: for me the Chian fig with a tang has savour.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Your verses are insipid, mild and meek,
And white than the lead-beplastered cheek.
There is no tang of salt, no smack of gall,
The more fool you to wish them read at all.
No dish can spare a dash of vinegar;
No face will please without a dimple's scar.
Dull figs and honey-apples give the young;
I like my Chian to be tart and strong.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 339]

A drop of venom, a little bit of gall.
Lacking these, my friend, your epigrams lack all.
[tr. O'Connell (1991), "Critique"]

Your pale verse simply doesn't sell.
It lacks all spice, all taste, all smell.
You write as though for tiny tots,
And end up sold in discount lots.
You favor bland, or sickly-sweet;
I like a chimichurri meat.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Your epigrams are really nice,
With nothing in them to entice.
They burble on as smooth as syrup,
And nothing there to prick the ear up.
They're whiter than a mimic's mask.
So why do you for hearers ask?
Where you should be a vice decrier,
You give a baby's pacifier.
For me, no lullabies I sing.
I want harsh lines that have a sting.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

The epigrams you write are always bland
and paler than skin powdered with white lead,
without a grain of wit or drop of bile,
and still, you fool, you want them to be read!
A face without a dimple has no charm;
food is insipid, lacking vinegar's zing.
Give honey apples and bland figs to toddlers;
I savor Chian figs, which know how to sting.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

The epigrams you write are full of grace,
More dazzling than a white-enamelled face;
No grain of salt, no drop of bitter gall --
You're mad to think they will be read at all.
Sharp vinegar improves the appetite,
No face without a dimple will delight.
Give children figs and apples without zest
For me strong figs of Chios taste the best.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley]

Added on 6-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Matho alleges that my book’s uneven.
He compliments my poems, if that’s true.
Calvinus and Umber write consistent books.
Consistent books are lousy through and through.

[Iactat inaequalem Matho me fecisse libellum:
Si verum est, laudat carmina nostra Matho.
Aequales scribit libros Calvinus et Umber:
Aequalis liber est, Cretice, qui malus est.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 90 (7.90) [tr. McLean (2014)]

"To Creticus" (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Matho objects, my books unequal are;
If he says true, he praises ere aware.
Calvin and Umber write an equal strain:
Naught is the book that's free from heights, and plain.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

My book is unequal, a Matho may boast.
So saying, he knows not he cries it up most.
Books equal a Calvin and Umber did write;
But equally penn'd in poor Pallasses spite.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 15]

Matho exults that I have produced a book full of inequalities; if this be true, Matho only commends my verses. Books without inequalities are produced by Calvinus and Umber. A book that is all bad, Creticus, may be all equality.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Matho puts it abroad that I have composed an unequal book; if that is true, Matho praises my poems. Equal books are what Calvinus and Umber write: the equal book, Creticus, is the bad one.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

My work's uneven, you protest
And sometimes falls beneath my best;
     A compliment, say I:
Dull bards on level planes that grope
Shall never err -- or soar -- with Pope,
     Although they shine with Pye.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Dull Level"]

I write unequal verse, so Matho says;
If it be true his criticism's a praise.
Try Umber, Cluveienus by that test:
No, Creticus; bad's bad; good seldom best.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #382]

Matho's mad,
says my book
is unfair.

That's good,
I'm glad:
fair books
are dull books.
[tr. Goertz (1971)]

Matho says my book's uneven.
He thinks he's quite the joker.
I'd rather have both highs and lows,
Than just be mediocre.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Matho's one-word review of my small book:
"Uneven." I'm supposed to get all shook!
The scribblings of Calvinus and Umber
Are very "even" ... yet how they lumber.
I swear to you, Creticus, I thank God
My gift is for being quite frankly "odd."
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

Dour Matho offers me a "mixed review,"
To which contentedly I answer, "Whew!"
Most poets get reviews that are unmixed,
With every verse and stanza in them nixed.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Smootus says my book is uneven.
I see this as praise of my work.
A bad book is fat with unvarying quality.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

Matho is crowing that I've "made an inconsistent book." If he's right, he's actually praising my poems. Calvinus and Umber write "consistent" books; if a book's "consistent," Creticus, it's consistently bad.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 8-Apr-22 | Last updated 8-Apr-22
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You ask me why I have no verses sent?
For fear you should return the compliment.

[Cur non mitto meos tibi, Pontiliane, libellos?
Ne mihi tu mittas, Pontiliane, tuos.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 3 (7.3) [tr. Hay (1755)]

(Souce (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Why I send thee, Pontilian, not one of my writings?
It is lest thou, too gen'rous, return thine enditings.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.10]

Why, sir, I don't my verses send you,
Pray, would you have the reason known?
The reason is -- for fear, my friend, you
Should send me, in return, your own.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Why do I not send you my books, Pontilianus? Lest you should send me yours, Pontilianus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Why do I not send you my works, Pontilianus? That you, Pontilianus, may not send yours to me.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You ask me why my books were never sent?
For fear you might return the compliment.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Pontilianus asks why I omit
To send him all the poetry that is mine;
The reason is that in return for it,
Pontilianus, thou might'st send me thine.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You ask me why I send you not my book?
For fear you'll say, "Here's my work -- take a look."
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Why don’t I send my books to you?
For fear you’d send me your books, too.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Why send I not to thee these books of mine?
'Cause I, Pontilian, would be free from thine.
[tr. Wright]

Why don’t I send you my little books?
Pontilianus, lest you send me yours.
[tr. Kline, "No thanks"]

You ask me why I’ve sent you no new verses?
There might be reverses.
[tr. Burch]

I never send my books, it’s true.
Know why? You’d send me your books too.
[tr. West, "Reply"]

You wonder why my little book is overdue,
dear Pontilianus?
It’s just that I don’t want to look at one from you.
[tr. Juster]

Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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You grant your favours, Caelia, to Parthians, to Germans, to Dacians;
and despise not the homage of Cilicians and Cappadocians.
To you journeys the Egyptian gallant from the city of Alexandria,
and the swarthy Indian from the waters of the Eastern Ocean;
nor do you shun the embraces of circumcised Jews;
nor does the Alan, on his Sarmatic steed, pass by you.
How comes it that, though a Roman girl,
no attention on the part of a Roman citizen is agreeable to you?

[Das Parthis, das Germanis, das, Caelia, Dacis,
nec Cilicum spernis Cappadocumque toros;
et tibi de Pharia Memphiticus urbe fututor
navigat, a rubris et niger Indus aquis;
nec recutitorum fugis inguina Iudaeorum,
nec te Sarmatico transit Alanus equo.
qua ratione facis cum sis Romans puella,
quod Romana tibi mentula nulla placet?]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 30 (7.30) [tr. Bohn’s (1871)]

Alt. translations.:
For Parthians, Germans thou thy nets wilt spread;
Wilt Cappadocian or Cilician wed;
From Memphis comes a whipster unto thee,
And a black Indian from the Red Sea;
Nor dost thou fly the circumcised Jew;
Nor can the Muscovite once pass by you;
Why being a Roman lass dost do thus? tell
Is't cause no Roman knack can please so well?
[tr. Fletcher]

You grant your favours to Parthians, you grant them to Germans, you grant them, Caelia, to Dacians, and you do not spurn the couch of Cilicians and Cappadocians; and for you from his Egyptian city comes sailing the gallant of Memphis, and the black Indian from the Red Sea; nor do you shun the lecheries of circumcised Jews, and the Alan on his Sarmatian steed does not pass you by. What is your reason that, although you are a Roman girl, no Roman lewdness has attraction for you?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Caelia, you love a Teuton swain,
An Asiatic stirs your pity,
For you swart Indians cross the main,
Copts flock to you from Pharos' city.
A Jew, a Scythian cavalier,
Can please you -- but I can't discover
Why you, a Roman, are austere
To none except a Roman lover.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Barbarian hordes en masse you fuck,
Odd types into your bed you tuck.
You take on blacks and Asian forces,
And Jews, and soldiers, and their horses.
Yet you, voracious Roman chick,
Have never known a Roman dick.
[tr. Wills (2008)]

You grant your favours, Caelia, to all races --
Parthians, Germans, Dacians share your graces.
Cilicians, Cappadocians in your bed be,
And even a swarthy Indian from the Red Sea!
From Egypt's Memphis one sails to your door,
And Jews, though circumcised, you'll not ignore,
And that's not all! On his Samartian steed
No Scythian ever passed your door at speed.
You are a Roman girl, so tell me true,
Do Roman weapons have no charmes for you?
[tr. Pitt-Kethley]

You'll fuck a Frog, a Kraut, a Jew,
A Gippo, a Brit, a Pakki too;
Niggers and Russkies all go in your stew
But my prick's a Wop -- Caelia, fuck you!
[tr. Sullivan]

For more detailed commentary on the explicitly sexual nature of the epigram, see Vioque, Epigrammaton Liber VII.
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 22-Jul-22
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The best you can do is grant my demand,
Your second-best course to refuse it off-hand;
I welcome assent and denial excuse —
But, Cinna, you neither consent nor refuse.

[Primum est ut praestes, si quid te, Cinna, rogabo;
illud deinde sequens, ut cito, Cinna, neges.
Diligo praestantem; no odi, Cinna, negantem:
sed tu nec praestas nec cito, Cinna, negas.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 43 (7.43) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Source (Latin). Alternate translations:

The kindest thing of all is to comply;
The next kind thing is quickly to deny:
I love performance; nor denial hate:
Your "Shall I, Shall I?" is the cursed state.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

To grant must doubtless be the primal boon:
The next, my Cinna, to deny me soon.
I love the former, nor the latter hate:
But thou not grantest, and deniest late.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 5, ep. 53]

The greatest favour that you can do me, Cinna, if I ask anything of you, is to give it me; the next, Cinna, to refuse it at once. I love one who gives, Cinna; I do not hate one who refuses; but you, Cinna, neither give nor refuse.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Cinna, grant me my request:
(I warmly hope you'll choose to!)
Or do what I think second best,
In haste refuse to.
Patrons I esteem, nor hate
The man I can't bamboozle:
But you give naught, yet make me wait
A slow refusal.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

The first thing is that you should hand it over if I ask anything of you, Cinna; the next thing after that, Cinna, is that you should refuse quickly. I like a man who hands over; I do not hate, Cinna, a man who refuses; but you neither hand over, nor do you, Cinna, quickly refuse.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

'Tis best to grant me, Cinna, what I crave;
And next best, Cinna, is refusal straight.
Givers I like: refusal I can brave;
But you don't give -- you only hesitate!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Added on 16-Jul-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Your lady friends are ill to see,
All old or ugly as can be,
And in their company you go
To banquet, play, and portico;
This hideous background you prepare
To seem, by contrast, young and fair.

[Omnes aut vetulas habes amicas
Aut turpes vetulisque foediores.
Has ducis comites trahisque tecum
Per convivia, porticus, theatra.
Sic formosa, Fabulla, sic puella es.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 79 (8.79) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “The Contrast”]

"To Fabulla." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

All thy companions aged beldames are,
Or more deform'd than age makes any, far:
These cattle at thy heels thou trail'st always
To public walks, to suppers, and to plays.
'Cause when with such alone we thee compare,
Thou canst be said, Fabulla, young or fair.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

All the companions of her grace, I'm told,
Are either very plan, or very old.
With these she visits: these she drags about,
To play, to ball, assembly, auctions, rout:
With these she sups: with these she takes the air.
Without such foils is lady dutchess fair?
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Old women are thine only friends;
     Or rivals, safe as they.
No other face thy face attends,
     To table, porch or play.
Fabulla, thus thou beauteous art,
     And thus thou still art young.
Oh! solace to my eyes impart;
     Or silence to my tongue.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 94]

All your female friends are either old or ugly; nay, more ugly than old women usually are. These you lead about in your train, and drag with you to feasts, porticoes, and theatres. Thus, Fabulla, you seem handsome, thus you seem young.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

All the female friends you have are either old crones or ugly, and fouler than old crones. These, as your companions, you conduct and drag about with you through parties, colonnades, theaters. In this way, Fabulla, you are lovely, in this way young.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The friends that old Fabulla owns
Are harridans and ancient crones,
Ill-favored witches, what you will;
These are her constant comrades still
To banquets, theatres, and shows;
So ever fair and young she goes.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 442]

The only female friends she has
     Are old or ugly crows.
These she drags along with her
     To parties, visits, shows.
So it's no cause for wonder that
     Amidst such company
She's young, attractive, beautiful --
     Almost a joy to see!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Her women friends are all old hags
Or, worse, hideous girls. She drags
Them with her everywhere she goes --
To parties, theaters, porticoes.
Clever Fabulla! Set among
Those foils you shine, even look young.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

With women you keep company
Who are ugly as can be.
These ancient frights you take along
To show off in your social throng.
You hope that we will make compare,
So even you look young and fair.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

All your friends are ancient hags
or eyesores uglier than those.
These are the company you drag
to banquets, plays, and porticoes.
Fabulla, when you're seen among
such friends, you're beautiful and young.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 24-Jul-22 | Last updated 24-Jul-22
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Fabius buries all his wives:
Chrestilla ends her husbands’ lives.
The torch which from the marriage-bed
They brandish soon attends the dead.
O Venus, link this conquering pair!
Their match will meet with issue fair,
Whereby for such a dangerous two
A single funeral will do!

[Effert uxores Fabius, Chrestilla maritos,
funereamque toris quassat uterque facem.
Victores committe, Venus: quos iste manebit
exitus, una duos ut Libitina ferat.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 43 (8.43) [tr. Duff (1929)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Five wives hath he dispatch'd, she husbands five:
By both alike the undertakers thrive.
Venus assist! let them join hands in troth!
One common funeral, then, would serve them both.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

While Tom and Dolly many mates
Do carry off ('tis said)
Each shakes by turns (so will the Fates)
The Fun'ral torch in bed.
Oh fie, ma'am, Venus, end this rout,
Commit them to the Fleet,
And grant they may be carried out,
Both buried in one sheet.
[tr. Scott (1773)]

Both Fabby and Chrestil know well how to bury
A consort, and with sable torch to make merry.
Yoke, Venus, the victors; and, mutually loath,
Let one Libitana lay hold of them both.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 2, ep. 47]

Fabius buries his wives, Chrestilla her husbands; each shakes a funeral torch over the nuptial couch. Unite these conquerers, Venus, and the result will then be that Libitina will carry them both off together.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1860)]

Fabius has buried all his wives;
Short are Chrestilla's husbands' lives.
And 'tis a funeral torch this pair
Do, at their nuptials, wave in air.
These conquerors, Venus, sure 'twere fit
Against each other now to pit:
So shall such end await the two,
That for them both one bier may do.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Chrestilla has buried her husbands,
While Fabius has buried his wives;
Since they're both sure to make
Every marriage a wake,
Pray, Venus, unite their two lives.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Fabius buried his wives, Chrestilla her husbands, and each of them waves the funeral torch over a marriage-bed. Match the victors, Venus; this is the end that will await them -- one funeral to convey the pair.
[tr. Ker (1920)]

He poisons wives, she husbands by the dozen,
With Pluto's torch the marriage-bed they cozen.
Unite them, Venus, in the marriage tether,
So death shall carry off the two together.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

They each took separate spouses to their bed,
Then swiftly to the graveyard each they led.
Conjoining both their marriage feats,
They'll serve each other funeral meats.[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Vacerra likes no bards but those of old —
Only the poets dead are poets true!
Really, Vacerra — may I make so bold? —
It’s not worth dying to be liked by you.

[Miraris veteres, Vacerra, solos
nec laudas nisi mortuos poetas.
Ignoscas petimus, Vacerra: tanti
non est, ut placeam tibi, perire.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 69 (8.69) [tr. Duff (1929)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

The ancients all your veneration have:
You like no poet on this side of the grave.
Yet, pray, excuse me; if to pleases you, I
Can hardly think it worth my while to die.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Vacerra! you admire only the ancients; your praise is restricted to the deceased poets. Pardon me, Vacerra, if I do not think your praise of so much value as to die for it.
[tr. Amos (1858)]

You admire, Vacerra, only the poets of old, and praise only those who are dead. Pardon me, I beseech you, Vacerra, it I think death too high a price to pay for your praise.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You admire, Vacerra, the ancients alone, and praise none but dead poets. Your pardon, pray, Vacerra: it is not worth my while, merely to please you, to die.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Vacerra, you admire the ancients only
and praise no poets but those here no more.
I beg that you will pardon me, Vacerra,
but pleasing you is not worth dying for.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Deceased authors thou admir'st alone,
And only praisest poets dead and gone:
Vacerra, pardon me, I will not buy
Thy praise so dear, as for the same to die.
[tr. Fuller]

You puff the poets of other days,
The living you deplore.
Spare me the accolade: your praise
Is not worth dying for.
[tr. Fitts]

You praise long-dead authors rapturously;
the living ones you savage or ignore,
but since your praise can’t grant immortality
I really don’t think it’s worth dying for.
[tr. Clark]

You pine for bards of old
and poets safely cold.
Excuse me for ignoring your advice,
but good reviews from you aren’t worth the price.
[tr. Juster]

Added on 24-Jun-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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When the bathhouse breaks into loud applause,
you will know that well-hung Mario is the cause.

[Audieris in quo, Flacce, balneo plausum,
Maronis illic esse mentulam scito.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 33 (9.33) [tr. Juster (2016)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

In whatever bath, Flaccus, you hear sounds resembling applause, know that there Maron's yard is to be found.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897); in earlier editions, just the Latin and an Italian translation were given.]

In the baths what is now the most pleasing diversion
Is to go and see Maro displaying his person.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Wonder"]

If you’re passing the baths and you hear,
From within, an uproarious cheer,
You may safely conclude
Maron’s there, in the nude,
With that tool which has nowhere a peer.
[tr. Humphries (1963)]

It's easy to tell
by the roar of applause
in which of the baths
Maron is bathing.
[tr. Goertz (1971)]

If from the baths you hear a round of applause,
Maron's giant prick is bound to be the cause.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

The bath house applauds, with widening eyes,
When Maron reveals his astonishing size.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

The critics in the Baths rain bravos thick
For Marcus' coup de théâtre, his dick.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 15-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Gaurus, you claim that since my poems please by brevity, my talent’s second-rate.
I grant they’re short. But you who write twelve books on Priam’s mighty battles, are you great?
I make small boys of bronze, who live and play;
you, great one, make a giant out of clay.

[Ingenium mihi, Gaure, probas sic esse pusillum,
Carmina quod faciam, quae brevitate placent.
Confiteor. Sed tu bis senis grandia libris
Qui scribis Priami proelia, magnus homo es?
5Nos facimus Bruti puerum, nos Langona vivum:
Tu magnus luteum, Gaure, Giganta facis.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 50 (9.50) [tr. Kennelly (2008)]

"To Gaurus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Gaurus approves my wit but slenderly,
'Cause I write verse that please for brevity:
But he in twenty volumes drives a trade
Of Priam's wars. Oh, he's a mighty blade!
We give an elegant young pigmy birth,
He makes a dirty giant all of earth.
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

I am no genius, you affirm: and why?
Because my verses please by brevity.
But you, who twice ten ponderous volumes write
Of mighty battles, are a man of might.
Like Prior's bust, my work is neat, but small:
Yours like the dirty giants in Guildhall.
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 51]

My pigmy-genius, you, grand bard, despise;
Because, by brevity, my verses rise.
But you, who Priam's battles dire endite,
In twice ten volumes wax a weighty wight:
We form a Brutus' boy, bid Lagon live;
And you a giant huge, of death-cold clay, do give.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 28]

You pretend to consider my talent as small, Gaurus, because I write poems which please by being brief. I confess that it is so; while you, who write the grand wars of Priam in twelve books, are doubtless a great man. I paint the favourite of Brutus, and Langon, to the life. You, great artist, fashion a giant in clay.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You declare my genius slight;
Say the songs are short I write
     And so the people rush to buy them in a flood.
Think you, Gaurus, yours is great
Since in six tomes you narrate
     Old Priam's awful fight 'mid seas of blood?
Though they're boys whom I portray,
They're made boys who live and play.
     The Giants you create are made of mud.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "Of the Quality"]

You prove to me, Gaurus, that my genius is in this way a purny one, because I make poems that please by their brevity. I confess it. But you, who in twice six books write of Priam's wars in grand style, are you a great man? I make Brutus' boy, I make Langon live: you, great man as you are, Gaurus, make a giant of clay.
[tr. Ker (1920)]

But little, Gaurus, you account my wit,
Because with brevity I season it.
Quite true, and you, who of old Priam prate
Though twelve long books, are to be reckoned great.
I make a dwarf of living flesh and blood,
You, great one, make a giant, but of mud.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 470]

You pontificate my talent is small,
Gaurus, because my epigrams are all
Just puny trifles. Yet they seem to please,
I'll confess. They're a veritable breeze
Compared to your epic tome, which rattles,
In twelve mortal books, o'er Priam's battles.
That makes you big man on campus? Oh no!
As statuettes of master carvers glow
With life, so do my tiny dramas boast
Vital creatures. Your giants? Clay, at most.
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

Added on 29-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Feignlove, half-starved, a rich old hag has wed: —
Poor Feignlove, doom’d to earn his board in bed.

[Duxerat esuriens locupletem pauper anumque:
Uxorem pascit Gellius et futuit.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 90 (9.80) [tr. Halhead (1793)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

An old rich wife starv'd Gellius, bare and poor,
Did wed: so she cramm'd him and he cramm'd her.
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

Consorted wealth and age has Gellius won:
Now Gellius earns, and eats, and is undone.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 189]

The poor and hungry Gellius married a woman old and rich. He eats and enjoys himself.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Hungry, and a pauper, Gellius married a rich and old woman. He now feeds and tickles his wife.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Poor John in his youth was so very sharp-set,
He married a grand dame for what he could get.
To-day he discovers there's plenty to do;
For he has both to feed her and fondle her, too.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "A Bad Bargain"]

She was rich and lonely.
A hungry man was he.
Now he dines and gets his fill,
And, later, so does she.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

A starving pauper wed a wealthy crone.
Gellius feeds his wife and gives her the bone.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 20-May-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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Believing hear, what you deserve to hear:
Your birthday as my own to me is dear.
Blest and distinguished days! which we should prize
The first, the kindest bounty of the skies.
But yours gives most; for mine did only lend
Me to the world; yours gave to me a friend.

[Si credis mini, Quinte, quot mereris,
natalis, Ovidi, tuas Aprilis
ut nostras amo Martias Kalendas
felix utraque lux diesque nobis
signandi melioribus lapillis!
hic vitam tribuit set hic amicum
pus dant, Quinte, mini tuae Kalendae.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 52 (9.52) [tr. Hay (1755)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

If you but believe me, Quintus Ovidius, I love, as you deserve, the first of April, your natal day, as much as I love my own first of March. Happy is either morn! and may both days be marked by us with the whitest of stones! The one gave me life, but the other a friend. Yours, Quintus, gave me more than my own.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

If you believe me, Quintus Ovidius, the kalends of your natal April I love -- 'tis your desert -- as much as my own of March. Happy is either morn! and days are they to be marked by us with fairer stones. One gave me life, but the other a friend. Your kalends, Quintus, gave me the more.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Added on 1-Jun-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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When I would send such trifles as I can;
You stop me short; you arbitrary man!
But I submit. Both may our orders give;
And do what both like best: let me receive.

[Natali tibi, Quinte, tuo dare parva volebam
Munera; tu prohibes: inperiosus homo es.
Parendum est monitis, fiat quod uterque volemus
Et quod utrumque iuvat: tu mihi, Quinte, dato.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 53 (9.53) [tr. Hay (1755), ep. 54]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

On your birth-day, Quintus, I wished to make you a small present: you forbade me; you are imperious. I must obey your injunction: let that be done which we both desire, and which will please us both. Do you, Quintus, make me a present.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Your birthday I wished to observe with a gift;
Your forbade and your firmness is known.
Every man to his taste:
I remark with some haste,
May the Third is the date of my own.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

On your birthday, Quintus, I was wishing to give you a small present; you must forbid me; you are an imperious person! I must obey your monition. Let be done what both of us wish, and what pleases both. Do you, Quintus, make me a present!
[tr. Ker (1919), Ep. 53]

Added on 10-Sep-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Reader and hearer, Aulus, love my stuff;
A certain poet says it’s rather rough.
Well, I don’t care. For dinners or for books
The guest’s opinion matters, not the cook’s.

[Lector et auditor nostros probat, Aule, libellos,
Sed quidam exactos esse poeta negat.
Non nimium curo: nam cenae fercula nostrae
Malim convivis quam placuisse cocis.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 81 (9.81) [tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

"To Aulus". The numbering for this epigram varies between 81, 82, and 83 within in Book 9. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The readers and the hearers like my books,
And, yet, some writers cannot them digest:
But what care I? for when I make a feast,
I would my guests should praise it, not the cooks.
[tr. Harington (16th C)]

My works the reader and the hearer praise:
They're not exact; a brother poet says:
I heed not him; for when I give a feast,
Am I to please the cook, or please the guest?
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 82]

The reader and the hearer like my lays.
But they're unfinisht things, a poet says.
The stricture ne'er shall discompose my looke:
My chear is for my guests, and not for cooks.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 3.14]

The reader and the hearer approve of my small books, but a certain critic objects that they are not finished to a nicety. I do not take this censure much to heart, for I would wish that the course of my dinner should afford pleasure to guests rather than to cooks.
[tr. Amos (1858) 2.24]

My readers and hearers, Aulus, approve of my compositions; but a certain critic says that they are not faultless. I am not much concerned at his censure; for I should wish the dishes on my table to please guests rather than cooks.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Though my readers sincerely admire me,
A poet finds fault with my books.
What's the odds? When I'm giving a dinner
I'd rather please guests than the cooks.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Reader and hearer approve of my works, Aulus, but a certain poet says they are not polished. I don't care much, for I should prefer the courses of my dinner to please guests rather than cooks.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

"Unpolished" -- so that scribbler sneers,
While he that reads and he that hears,
     Approve my little books;
I do not care a single jot,
My fame is for my guests and not
     To please my rival cooks.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Read or recited, my verse is much praised,
Aulus, yet one poet opines: "Ill-phrased."
I couldn't care less! When I set a table,
My guests, not the cooks, should say I'm able.
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

My books are praised by him who reads,
Though critics damn them in their screeds.
But who's to judge a proper meat --
Another cook, or those who eat?
[tr. Wills (2007), ep. 83]

Added on 14-Jan-22 | Last updated 11-Mar-22
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Virtue extends our days: he lives two lives who relives his past with pleasure.

[Ampliat aetatis spatium sibi vir bonus. Hoc est
Vivere bis vita posse priore frui.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 23 (10.23)

    Alt trans.:
  • "The good man prolongs his life; to be able to enjoy one's past life is to live twice." [Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)]
  • "For he lives twice who can at once employ / The present well, and e'en the past enjoy." [Pope, Imitation of Martial]
  • "A good man lengthens his term of existence; to be able to enjoy our past life is to live twice." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "The good man broadens for himself the span of his years: to be able to enjoy the life you have spent, is to live it twice." [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
  • "A good man widens for himself his age's span; he lives twice who can find delight in life bygone." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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The things that make a life of ease,
Dear Martial, are such things as these:
Wealth furnished not by work but birth,
A grateful farm, a blazing hearth,
No lawsuit, seldom formal dress;
But leisure, stalwart healthiness,
A tactful candour, equal friends,
Glad guests at board which naught pretends,
No drunken nights, but sorrow free,
A bed of joy yet chastity;
Sleep that makes darkness fly apace,
So well content with destined place,
Unenvious so as not to fear
Your final day, nor wish it near.

[Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
Iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
Res non parta labore, sed relicta;
Non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
Lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
Vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
Prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
Convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
Nox non ebria, sed soluta curis;
Non tristis torus, et tamen pudicus;
Somnus, qui faciat breves tenebras:
Quod sis, esse velis nihilque malis;
Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 47 (10.47) [tr. Duff (1929)]

To his friend, Julius Martialis. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Martial, the things that do attain
The happy life, be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain;
the fruitful ground, the quiet mind:
the equal friend, no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance:
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join'd with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress:
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night.
Contented with thine own estate;
Ne wish for Death, ne Fear his might.
[tr. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (16th C)]

Since, dearest Friend! 'tis your desire to see
A true receipt of happiness from me;
These are the chief ingredients, if not all:
Take an estate neither too great, nor small
Which quantum sufficit the doctors call.
Let this estate from parents' care descend;
The getting it too much of life does spend.
Take such a ground, whose gratitude may be
A fair encouragement for industry.
Let constant fires the winter's fury take,
And let thy kitchen's be a vestal flame.
Thee to the town let never suit at law,
And rarely, very rarely, business draw.
They active mind in equal temper keep,
in undisturbed peace, yet not in sleep.
Let exercise a vigorous health maintain,
Without which all the composition's vain.
In the same weight prudence and innocence take;
And of each does the just mixture make.
But a few friendships wear, and let them be
By nature and by fortune fit for thee.
Instead of art and luxury in food,
Let mirth and freedom make thy table good.
If any cares into the daytime creep,
At night, without wine's opium, let them sleep,
Let rest, which nature does to darkness wed,
And not lust, recommend to thee thy bed.
Be satisfied, and pleas'd with what thou art;
Act cheerfully and well th' allotted part;
Enjoy the present hour, be thankful for the past,
And neither fear, nor with th' approaches of the last.
[tr. Cowley (<1755)]

Of things that heighten human bliss,
The sum, sweet Martial, may be this.
A freehold, not amast by care;
But dropt on a deserving heir:
A soil, that ev'ry culture pays,
A hearth, with never-dying blaze:
No contest, and but little court;
A quiet mind, her own support:
A gale, to fan ingenuous flame;
Exertion, to enforce the frame:
Simplicity, that wisdom blends;
Equality, the bond of friends:
An easy converse, artless board,
With all the little needfull stor'd:
A night not soking, care effac'd;
A couch not dismal, always chaste:
Sleep stealing o'er the gloom so sweet,
That evening bids and morning meet.
content, which nought beyond aspires;
And death nor dreads, nor yet desires.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 2.47]

The things that make a life to please
(Sweetest Martial), they are these:
Estate inherited, not got:
A thankful field, hearth always hot:
City seldom, law-suits never:
Equal friends agreeing ever:
Health of body, peace of mind:
Sleeps that till the morning bind:
Wise simplicity, plain fare:
Not drunken nights, yet loosed from care:
A sober, not a sullen spouse:
Clean strength, not such as his that plows;
Wish only what you are, to be;
Death neither wish, nor fear to see.
[tr. Fanshawe (17th C)]

Pleas'd alway with the lot my fates assign,
Let me no change desire, no change decline;
With every turn of Providence comply,
Not tir'd with life, nor yet afraid to die.
[tr. Fenton (<1858)]

Pleas'd with thy present lot, not grudging at the past
Nor fearing when thy time shall come, nor hoping for thy last.
[tr. Somerville (<1858)]

The requisites for a happy life are the following: competency inherited and not acquired by labour; productive land, a hearth with never lacks a fire; total absence of litigation; rare occasion for the toga; a quiet mind; unimpaired physical vigour; health of body; prudent simplicity; friends that are, in all respects, your equal; familiar society; a table devoid fo art; nights, not of revelling, but of freedom from cares; a couch not sad nor licentious; sleep, which curtails the time of darkness; to be exactly what you wish to be; preferring no other condition to your own; neither to dread nor to long for your last hour.
[tr. Amos (1858); includes a variety of commentary]

The things that make life happy, dearest Martial, are these: wealth not gained by labour, but inherited; lands that make no ill return; a hearth always warm; freedom from litigation; little need of business costume; a quiet mind; a vigorous frame; a healthy constitution; prudence without cunning; friends among our equals, and social intercourse; a table spread without luxury; nights, not of drunkenness, yet of freedom from care; a bed, not void of connubial pleasures, yet chaste; sleep, such as makes the darkness seem short; contentment with our lot, and no wish for change; and neither to fear death nor seek it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

What makes the happiest life below,
A few plain rules, my friend, will show.
A good estate not earn'd with toil,
But left by will, or giv'n by fate;
A land of no ungrateful soil,
A constant fire within your grate:
No law; few cares; a quiet mind;
Strength unimpair'd, a healthful frame;
Wisdom with innocence combin'd;
Friends equal both in years and fame;
Your living easy, and your board
With food, but not with luxury stored
A Bed, though chaste, not solitary;
Sound sleep, to shorten night's dull reign;
Wish nothing that is yours to vary;
Think all enjoyments that remain;
And for the inevitable hour,
Nor hope it nigh, nor dread its power.
[tr. Merivale (<1871)]

These, Martial, are the things that give
A happier life than most men live.
A fortune not by labour on,
But left by father to his son;
A farm that yields no scant returns,
A hearth that ever brightly burns;
No law-suits, no heart-vsing cares;
A gown its owner seldom wears;
A constitution firmly knit,
And healthy frame accompanying it;
An honest canour, yet discreet,
With friends congenial and meet;
Good-natured guests your joys to share,
A palin and unpretentious fare;
No nights whose hours in revel pass,
Yet not uncheered by social glass;
A spouse of chaste yet merry sort;
Sound sleep that makes the darkness short;
A mind so well contented grown
It hink no lot excels its own;
So blest, you neither wish nor fear
To see the closing hour draw near.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

The things that make life happier, most genial Martial, are these: means not acquired by labour, but bequeathed; fields not unkindly, an ever blazing hearth; no lawsuit, the toga seldom worn, a quiet mind; a free man's strength, a healthy body; frankness with tact, congenial friends, good-natured guests, a board plainly spread; nights not spent in wine, but freed from cares, a wife not prudish and yet pure; sleep such as makes the darkness brief; be content with what you are, and wish no change, nor dread your last day, nor long for it.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The things that make a happy life,
My genial friend, are these:
A quiet dwelling free from strife,
Health, strength, a mind at ease;
Money bequeathed, not hardly won,
A blazing fire when work is done.

Ingenuous prudence, equal friends,
Bright talk and simple fare,
a farm that crops ungrudging lends,
Soberness free from care,
A wife who's chaste yet fond of sport,
And sleep that makes the night seem short.

With what you are be satisfied,
Nor let ambition range;
Contented still whate'er betide
And caring naught for change.
Pray not for death nor yet feel fear
When the last hour life draws near.
[tr. Wright (1921)]

A life so blest you would put none before it?
Some money, just enough you can ignore it.
Some fertile fields on your producing farm,
And hearth ablaze within to keep you warm.
No lawsuits, no bought formal wear, no hassle.
A body trim, without a trainer's wrastle.
A mind secure, with trusting friends, not silly.
A house with taste designed, not frilly.
Nights drinking deep, but not to stupor given
A bedmate warm, but not to frenzy driven.
A sleep not enervating that renews.
A sense of what you are in all your views.
A wish to wish no other thing ahead.
Acceptance that in time you must be dead.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

My carefree Namesake, this the heart
Shall lead thee to life's happier part:
A competence inherited, not one,
Productive acres and a constant home;
No courts, few formal days, your mind stable,
A native figure in a healthy frame;
A tact in candor, friendships on a part,
Convivial courtesies, a plain table;
A night, not drunken, yet shall banish care,
A bed, not frigid, yet not one of shame;
A sleep that makes the dark hours shorter:
Prefer your state and hanker for none other,
Nor fear, nor seek to meet, your final hour.
[tr Whigham (1987)]

What constitutes a happy life?
Enough money to meet your needs
steady work
a comfortable fire
a clear distance from law
a minimum of city business
a peaceful mind and a healthy body
simple wisdom and firm friends
enjoyable dinners and plain living
nights free from care
a virtuous wife who's not a prude
enough sleep to make the darkness short
contentment with the life you have,
avoiding the sneer, the poisoned sigh;
no fear of death
and no desire to die.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

These are the things, my dearest Martial, which make life happier: possessions not gotten from labor, but left to you; a not ungrateful field, a fireplace always warm; never any strife, rarely putting on the toga, a quiet mind; inborn strength, a healthy body; wise simplicity and equal friends; easy dining, and a simple table; sober nights, but still free of cares; a bed that isn’t sad, but still with its share of modesty; sleep to make the shadows short; to wish to be what you are, and to desire nothing else; not to fear your final day, nor yet to wish for it.
[tr. @sentantiq/Robinson (2020)]

Added on 24-Dec-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-22
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There is nothing more contemptible than a bald man who pretends to have hair.

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 83 (10.83)
Added on 3-Nov-14 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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‘Tis a hard task not to surrender morality for riches.

[Ardua res haec est opibus non tradere mores.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 5 (11.5) [tr. in Harbottle (1897)]

Alt. trans.:
  • It is an arduous task to preserve morality from the corruption of riches. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • 'Tis rare, when riches cannot taint the mind. [tr. Anon. (1695)]
  • 'Tis a hard task this, not to sacrifice manners to wealth. [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • It is a hard business, not to compromise morals for riches. [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Sylvia never gives free lays.
It’s never free — because she pays.

[Lesbia se iurat gratis numquam esse fututam.
Verum est. Cum futui vult, numerare solet.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 62 (11.62) [tr. Wills (2007)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Lesbia protests that no one has ever obtained her favours without payment.
That is true; when she wants a lover, she herself pays.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Lesbia swears she has never granted her favours without a price.
That is true: on those occasions she is wont herself to pay it.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

She never gives herself for love? No doubt.
She has to buy her loves or do without!
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "Bought Pleasures"]

Lesbia claims she's never been laid
Without good money being paid.
That's true enough: when she's on fire
She'll always pay the hose's hire.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Lesbia swears she's never been fucked for free.
True, for when she wants it, she pays the fee.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley (1987)]

Lesbia swears she's never screwed for free.
That's true, for when she's fucked, she pays the fee.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley (1992)]

Lesbia swears that she has never been fucked free of charge.
It's true. When she wants to be fucked, she is accustomed to pay cash.
[tr. Shackleton-Bailey (1993)]

She swears she never puts out for free.
(Though she's the one who pays the fee.)
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Lesbia swears she’s never been fucked for free.
True. When she wants to be fucked, she has to pay.
[tr. Kline (2006), "On the Nail"]

Lesbia swears she never gives free lays.
It's true: when she gets fucked, she always pays.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

Added on 3-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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Though so lengthy a book should your taste satisfy,
You have asked me for more: but my household will cry
For some food, and the usurer’s drained me quite dry;
So reader … you see what I mean to imply?
You are silent and don’t understand me? Good bye!

[Quamvis tam longo possis satur esse libello,
Lector, adhuc a me disticha pauca petis.
Sed Lupus usuram puerique diaria poscunt.
Lector, solve. Taces dissimulasque? Vale.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 108 (11.108) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “A Hint”]

"To the Reader." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

With my long book thou well may'st glutted be,
Yet thou more epigrams exact'st of me:
But Lupus calls for use, servants for pay,
Discharge them, reader. Now thou'st nought to say,
Dissemblest, as my words thou could'st not spell.
No riddle thou'rt to me, reader, farewell.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Although, reader, you may well be tired of so long a book, you still want a few more distichs from me. But Lupus demands his interest; and my copyists their wages. Pay, reader. You are silent; do you pretend not to hear? Then, goodbye.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Although with so long a book you may well be sated, reader, yiou still ask for a few distichs from me. But Lupus requires his interest, and my slaves their rations. Reader, pay me. Do you say nothing, and pretend yuo don't understand? Good bye!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Contented reader -- I had thought to say,
But something's wanting? Then perhaps you'll pay.
My bailiff's broke, my lads for victuals cry;
What? Silent? Can't afford it? Then good-bye.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 639, "A Postscript"]

I should have thought you'd had your fill
By now -- this book's too long -- yet still
You clamour for couplets. You forget,
My slaves need rations, I'm in debt,
The interest's due ... Dear reader, pay
My creditors for me. Silent, eh?
The puzzled innocent? Good-day!
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Reader, although you might well be satisfied with so long a little book, you ask me for a few couplets more. But Lupus demands his interest and the boys their rations. Pay up, reader. You say nothing and pretend not to hear? Good-bye.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Reader, so long a book should satisfy you,
yet still "a few more couplets," you reply.
But boys want food and Lupus wants his interest.
Pay up! You're silent, playing deaf? Goodbye.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

A little book this long could satisfy your appetite, reader, but still you ask me for a few couplets more; but Lupus wants his interest, and my boys, their rations. Reader, clear my slate. Nothing to say? Pretending you're deaf? Get lost!
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 5-Aug-22 | Last updated 5-Aug-22
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Informer, libel-monger, cut-throat, knave,
Pander, to every loathsome vice a slave,
Vacerra, it is marvellous that you
With these resources are a pauper, too.

[Et delator es et calumniator,
Et fraudator es et negotiator,
Et fellator es et lanista. Miror
Quare non habeas, Vacerra, nummos.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 66 (11.66) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

"To Vacerra." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou art a slanderer and delator,
False dealer, pimp, and fornicator:
Where such rare parts and trades are found,
I wonder much, thy purse does not abound.
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

You an informer are; and a back-biter:
A common sharper; and a hackney writer:
A whore-master; and master of defence:
Jack of all trades; strange! that you want the pence!
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 67]

Vile informer, slander's child!
Dealer, who hast still beguil'd!
Shield of war, and soul of arms,
How hast thou no golden charms?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 6.1.39]

You are an informer, a calumniator, a forger, a secret agent, a slave to the unclean, and a trainer of gladiators. I wonder, Vacerra, why you have no money.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You're a blackmailer, bruiser and liar,
A usurer, pimp and a cheat:
With methods so sound
I'm surprised that you've found
Gaining wealth an impossible feat.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

You are an informer and a backbiter, and you are a cheat and a pimp, and you are a foul rascal and a master of gladiators. I wonder why you are not rich, Vacerra.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

How can the slippery son of a bitch, With all his vices, not be rich? [tr. Wills (2007)]

You're an informer, slanderer, cocksucker, swindler, panderer, and fight instructor. It seems funny, Vacerra, that you have no money.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You're an informer and a lying witness,
a defrauder and a middleman,
a cocksucker and a provocateur.
Vacerra, I can't understand why you're not rich.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 21-Jan-22 | Last updated 6-May-22
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Here’s a man who’s wangled millions;
     Yet the parasite’s not done.
Fortune gives too much to many,
     Yet, strange to say, enough to none.

[Habet Africanus miliens, tamen captat.
Fortuna multis dat nimis, satis nulli.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 10 (12.10) [tr. Marcellino (1968)]

"On Africanus." Africanus is identified in some sources as a captator, one who sucked up to a childless millionaire in order to inherit part or all of their estate.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

As riche as Cresus Afric is:
     for more yet hunts the chuffe:
To muche to many, fortune gives,
     and yet to none inuffe.
[tr. Kendall (1577)]

Fortune, some say, doth give too much to many:
And yet she never gave enough to any.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600); Book 4, ep. 56; overall ep. 310]

African has a thousand pounds in store,
Yet he desires, and hunts, and rakes for more:
Fortune hath overmuch bestow'd on some;
But plenary content doth give to none.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

He fawns for more, though he his thousands touch:
Fortune gives one enough, but some too much.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Millions has Africa; yet grasps at more:
Too much have many, none sufficient store.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.65]

Africanus possesses a hundred thousand sesterces, but is always striving by servility to acquire more. Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 92, "Sufficient Fortune"]

Africanus possesses a hundred thousand sesterces, and yet covets more. Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

African us possesses a hundred millions, yet he angles for more. Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Although he is a millionaire,
He courts the rich who lack an heir;
Fortune gives much to many a one,
But just enough she grants to none.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Africanus has a hundred million, but still he fishes for legacies. Fortune gives too much to many, to none enough.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Africanus is a tireless legacy-hunter
though he's a wealthy man.
Fortune gives too much to many,
enough to none
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

Although worth millions, Africanus hunts a legacy.
To many Fortune gives too much, enough to nobody.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Africanus has a hundred million, and still he's hunting legacies. Fortune gives too much to many, but "enough" to none.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 29-Jul-22
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The rich know anger helps the cost of living:
Hating’s more economical than giving.

[Genus, Aucte, lucri divites habent iram:
Odisse, quam donare, vilius constat.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 13 (12.13) [tr. Michie (1972)]

"To Auctus." Closely parallel to 3.37, to the point where some translations are cross-applied in error. The general interpretation, from Ker, is that "picking quarrels with clients saves you giving them presents."

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Anger's a kind of gain that rich men know:
It costs them less to hate than to bestow.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Rich men, my friend, by anger know to thrive.
'Tis cheaper much to quarrel, than to give.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

From ire can gainmongers elicit ore.
Fell hate is frugal: love might lavish more.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.68]

Ask you, last night, why Gripus ill behaved?
A well-timed quarrel is a dinner saved.
[tr. Halhead (1793)]

The rich, Auctus, make a species of gain out of anger.
It is cheaper to get into a passion than to give.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Rich men, Auctus, regard anger as a kind of profit;
to hate is cheaper than to give!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The rich feign wrath -- a profitable plan;
'Tis cheaper far to hate than help a man.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Rich men, Auctus, think of anger as a sort of moneymaking:
hating comes cheaper than giving.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

The rich pick fights and cause unpleasance:
Hate is cheaper than giving presents.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

The rich believe it pays to get irate --
to give is costlier, Auctus, than to hate.
[tr. McLean (2014)]
Added on 17-Jun-22 | Last updated 17-Jun-22
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Captious, yet kind; pleasant but testy too;
I cannot bear to part, or live with you.

[Difficillis facillis, iucundus acerbus es idem:
Nec tecum possum vivere nec sine te.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 47 (12.47) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Sometimes given as 12.46. Ker notes the second line is borrowed from Ovid, Amores, 3.9. Alternate translations:

In all thy humours whether grave or mellow,
Thou'rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow;
Hast so much wit and mirth, and spleen about thee
There is no living with the, or without thee.
[Addison, The Spectator #68 (18 May 1711)]

Such stiffness, ease; such sweets and sours about thee!
I cannot live, or with thee, or without thee.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, #126]

Difficult and easy, churlish and pleasing; you are all of these, and yet one person;
there is no living with thee, nor without thee.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3 #85]

Thou'rt merry, sad; easy, and hard to please;
Nor with nor from thee can I live at ease.
[tr. Wright (<1859)]

You are at once morose and agreeable, pleasing and repulsive.
I can neither live with you, nor without you.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Difficult and easy-going, pleasant and churlish, you are at the same time:
I can neither live with you nor without you.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Difficult or easy, pleasant or bitter, you are the same you:
I cannot live with you -- or without you.

Added on 19-Nov-21 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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So you pretend to fear you may be hit
By pointed epigrams, the shafts of wit?
To seem a worthy foeman you aspire,
How vain alike the fear and the desire!
Against fiercest bulls the lion’s wrath may rise,
He scorns to war with puny butterflies.

[Versus et breve vividumque carmen
in te ne faciam times, Ligurra,
et dignus cupis hoc metu videri.
sed frustra metuis cupisque frustra.
in tauros Libyci fremunt leones,
non sunt papilionibus molesti.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 61 (12.61) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

"To Ligurra". (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You dread my verse, and sting of wit,
Which put you in a shaking fit:
Would seem of rank to entertain
Such fears: your fears and hopes are vain.
'Tis at the bull that lions fly,
While rats run unregarded by.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Lest a little living song
Make thy fame, Ligurra, long;
Thou would'st have thy terror seen:
Vain thy wish as fear, I ween.
At the bulls the lions rise,
Never rush on butterflies.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 31]

You are afraid, Ligurra, lest I should compose verses on you, some short and pungent epigram, and you wish to be thought a proper object of such rear. But vain is your fear. and vain your desire! Libyan lions rush upon bulls; they do not hurt butterflies.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You are afraid, Ligurra, I should write verses on you, and some short and lively poem, and you long to be thought a man that justifies such fear. But vain is your fear, and your longing is vain. Against bulls Libyan lions rage, they are not hostile to butterflies.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Ligurra's fearful I'll contrive
Some pungent piece, some sprightly ditty,
And longs to be considered worth it.
Longings baseless! Baseless fears!
The Libyan lion paws the Libyan bull
But does not bat the butterfly.v [tr. Whigham (1987)]

Ah Ligurra, you’re quite afraid that I might write
About you. Some nasty, pithy, diamond-shard of spite
As is my wont. In fact, you quite like the idea.
Well, don’t get your hopes up I’ll gratify that fear.
I may be beastly but I claw with discretion,
No stepping on insects, flattered to be flattened.
[tr. @mym [2005]

Ligurra, you fear that I might compose
Verses against you, a brief, intense poem --
Oh how you long to seem worthy of this fear.
But you fear in vain, in vain you long.
The Libyan lions growl at bulls;
They do not pester butterflies.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

See also Ben Jonson (1572-1637):

Sir Inigo doth fear it, as I hear,
And labors to seem worthy of that fear,
That I should write upon him some sharpe verse,
Able to eat into his bones, and pierce
Their marrow. Wretch! I quit thee of thy pain,
Thou'rt too ambitious, and dost fear in vain:
The Lybian lion hunts no butterflies,
He makes the camel and dull ass his prize.

Added on 3-Dec-21 | Last updated 3-Dec-21
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Thou morning client, this is my retreat:
Go to the town and palace of the great.
No lawyer I, nor can your cause defend;
But old, and idle, and the muse’s friend.
Ease and repose I love, but if in vain
I seek them here; why not to town again?

[Matutine cliens, urbis mihi causa relictae,
Atria, si sapias, ambitiosa colas.
Non sum ego causidicus, nec amaris litibus aptus,
Sed piger et senior Pieridumque comes;
tia me somnusque iuvant, quae magna negavit
Roma mihi: redeo, si vigilatur et hic.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 68 (12.68) [tr. Hay (1755)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Whoe'er in town dist morning-homage pay,
And wast one cause, why thence I win'd my way;
Hunt now ambition's hants, let me advise;
And learn, at least in this, learn to be wise.
I am no brangler, nor can hairs untwine:
My growing age asks ease, yet woos the Nine.
Scenes are my joy, for which at Rome I sigh'd:
But thither I return, if here deni'd.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 2, ep. 136]

O clients, that beset me in the morning, and who were the cause of my departure from Rome, frequent, if you are wise, the lordly mansions of the city. I am no lawyer, nor fitted for pleading troublesome causes, but inactive, somewhat advanced in years, and a votary of the Pierian sisters. I wish to enjoy repose and slumber, which great Rome denied; but I must return thither, if I am to be equally hunted here.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Morning client, the cause of my leaving Rome, you would court, were you wise, the halls of greatness. No pleader am I, nor fitted for bitter lawsuits, but an indolent man and one growing old, and the comrade of the Muses. Ease and sleep attract me, and great Rome denied me these; I return if I am sleepless even here.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I fled from Rome and early calls,
So, Spanish friends, I pray you,
Be wise and seek the lordly halls
Of those who can repay you.

I hate the courts, and legal strife
My lazy mind refuses,
For I am getting on in life
And love to serve the Muses;

Unbroken sleep I love; the stir
And din of Rome destroy it;
But I am going back to her
If here I can't enjoy it.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You want a patron, and you pester me --
Exactly what made me the City flee.
You're not at some ambitious lawyer's door.
A poet now retired, I'd rather snore.
If Rome you are inflicting on me here,
Then backward to the real one I must steer.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You early-morning client -- you're the reason I left Rome. If you had sense, you'd hang around the lobbies of people who care about appearances. I'm no barrister, I've no head for bitter litigation: I'm sleepy, I'm getting old, I hang out with the Muses; what I like is free time and sleep, the very things that mighty Rome wouldn't let me have. If there are early mornings even here, I'm going back.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Morning appointment -- my reason for leaving the city --
If you knew better, you would visit more ambitious homes.
I am no lawyer, no man prepared for harsh suits,
I am a lazy and aging friend of the Muses.
Sleep and leisure make me happy -- the very things
Which Rome denied me. But I’ll go back if I can’t sleep here.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

Added on 17-Dec-21 | Last updated 17-Dec-21
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To me are bedroom joys revealed,
Enjoy at will, my lips are sealed.

[Dulcis conscia lectuli lucerna,
Quidquid vis facias licet, tacebo.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 14, epigram 39 (14.39) “A Bedside Lamp [Lucerna cubicularis]” [tr. Whigham (1987)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Privy to nocturnal glee;
Nought I say, of all I see.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), "The Chamber-Lamp," Book 11, ep. 17]

I am a night-lamp, privy to the pleasures of the couch; do whatever you please, I shall be silent.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), "A Night-Lamp"]

I am a lamp, privy to the pleasures of your couch: you may do what you will, I shall be silent.
[tr. Ker (1920), "A Bedroom Lamp"]

A lamp am I, aware of your joy in bed:
Do what you will, not one word will be said.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

I show but do not countenance what you do.
Douse me. The only record is in you.
[tr. Porter (2010), "A Bedside Light"]

Added on 22-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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