Quotations by Martial


Believe me, wise men don’t say “I shall live to do that,”
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 [tr. Bohn (1871)]
    (Source)

Variant translations:
  • "I'll live tomorrow," will a wise man say? Tomorrow is too late, then live today. [tr. Hay]
  • No sage will e'er "I'll live tomorrow" say: Tomorrow is too late: live thou today. [tr. WSB]
  • It sorts not, believe me, with wisdom to say "I shall live." Too late is tomorrow's life; live thou today. [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • "I'll live to-morrow," 'tis not wise to say: 'Twill be too late to-morrow -- live to-day.
  • Tomorrow will I live, the fool does say; Today itself's too late; the wise lived yesterday.
Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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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 “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 23-Aug-17
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My poems are naughty, but my life is pure.

[Lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, poem 4, l. 8
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Wanton is my page; my life is good." [tr. Ker (1919)]

Alt. trans.: "My page indulges in freedoms, but my life is pure." [tr. Bohn (1859)]
Added on 2-Aug-17 | Last updated 2-Aug-17
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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, # 83
Added on 3-Nov-14 | Last updated 7-Jul-17
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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

    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 8-Aug-18
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Neither fear your death’s day nor long for it.

[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, l. 13 [tr. Ker (1919)]
    (Source)

    The final element of living a happy life. Alt. trans.:
  • "Neither fear, nor wish for, your last day" [Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)]
  • "Nor fear nor yet desire thy last day" [Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906)]
  • "And for the inevitable hour, / Nor hope it nigh, nor dread its power." [tr. Merivale]
  • "Ne wish for Death, ne fear his might." [tr. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey]
  • "Death neither wish, nor fear to see." [tr. Sir Richard Fanshawe]
  • "Neither to fear death nor seek it." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Nor dread your last day, nor long for it." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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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 [tr. in Harbottle (1897)]
    (Source)

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-Nov-18
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Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.

[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

Alt. trans.:
  • "Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Fortune hath overmuch bestow'd on some; / But plenary content doth give to none." [tr. Fletcher]
  • "Fortune, some say, doth give too much to many; / And yet she never gave enough to any." [tr. Harrington]
  • "Fortune gives one enough, but some too much." [tr. Hay]
  • "Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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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, #41 “To Maximina” [tr. Ker (1919)]
    (Source)

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 6-Sep-17
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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, #86
    (Source)

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 18-Oct-17
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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 [tr. Bohn (1871)]
    (Source)

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 1-Nov-17
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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
    (Source)

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 10-Jan-18
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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, # 73 [tr. Bohn]
    (Source)

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-Jul-17
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They [the hours] pass by, and are put to our account.

[Nobis pereunt et imputantur.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, #20, line 13

This phrase is often found as an inscription on sundials.

Alt. trans.:
  • "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 (1871)]
  • "Now to himself, alas! does neither live / But see good suns of which we are to give / A strict account, set and march thick away. / Knows a man how to live, and does he stay?" [tr. Cowley]
  • "To-day neither lives for himself, and he feels the good days are flitting and passing away, our days that perish and are scored to our account. Does any man, when he knows how to live, delay?" [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • "Each of us feels the good days speed and depart, and they are lost and counted against us. [bonosque soles effugere atque abire sentit, qui nobis pereunt et imputantur]" [Source]
  • "The hours perish to us, and are accounted also to us." [Source]

    Nunc vivit sibi euter,heu, bonosque Soles effugere atque abire sentit: Qui nobis pereunt et imputantur. Quisquan vive cum sciat, moratur?
Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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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, #81
    (Source)

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)]
Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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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, ep. 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 7-Mar-18
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Life is not living, but living in health.

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

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

Alt. trans.:
  • "It is not life to live, but to be well."
  • "Life's not just being alive, but being well."
  • "Life consists not in living, but in enjoying health." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Not who love long, but happily, are old." [Anon. (1695)]
  • "Life is only life when we are well." [Hay]
Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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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 [tr. Bohn (1871)]
    (Source)

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)]

For more detailed commentary on the explicitly sexual nature of the epigram, see Vioque, Epigrammaton Liber VII.
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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