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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The censorship may tolerate innocent jokes:
my page indulges in freedoms, but my life is pure.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Licentious though my page, my life is pure.
[ed. Harbottle (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)]

Your censure well such license may endure;
My page is wanton, but my life is pure.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

The censor passes the risqué parts in a play
and my pages can be very gay
without my being that way.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Harmless wit
You may, as Censor, reasonably permit:
My life is strict, however lax my page.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

A censor can permit harmless jollity. My page is wanton, but my life is virtuous.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 15, ll. 11-12 (1.15) [tr. Bohn’s (1859)]

A sentiment echoed in 5.58. (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]

No wisdom 'tis to say "I'll soon begin to live."
'Tis late to live tomorrow; live today.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

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 tomorrow," no wise man will say;
Tomorrow is too late. Then live today.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #10]

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

It's not a wise man's part to say
"I'll live," Tomorrow's life is much to late.
Live! Today.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Believe me, the wise man does not say "1 shall live." Tomorrow's life is too late. Live today.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 4-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

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

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

Here you will read some few good things, while some
Are mediocre, most are bad: 'tis thus
That every book's compiled.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

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 these epigrams are good,
Some mediocre, many bad.
Otherwise, it is understood,
A bookful of poems cannot be had.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Among these lines you'll find a few
that are rather good, more that are only fair,
and a lot that are bad.
From that, Avitus, it may be deduced
just how a book is produced.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Some good, some middling, and some bad
You’ll find here. They are what I had.
[tr. Cunningham (1971)]

There are good things that you read here, and some indifferent, and more bad. Not otherwise, Avitus, is a book made.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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

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"]

You'll read some good things here, some fair, more worse.
There's no way else to make a book of verse.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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)]

Good work you’ll find, some poor, and much that’s worse;
It takes all sorts to make a book of verse.
[tr. Pott]

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 2-Jun-23
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Why fight off fame now beating at your door?
What other writers dare to promise more?
You must make immortality start now,
Not make it wait to give your corpse a bow.

[Ante fores stantem dubitas admittere Famam
Teque piget curae praemia ferre tuae?
Post te victurae per te quoque vivere chartae
Incipiant: cineri gloria sera venit.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 25, ll. 5-8 (1.25) [tr. Wills (2007)]

"To Faustinus." (Source (Latin)). Some early writers number this as ep. 26, as noted. Alternate translations:

Dost doubt t'admit Fame standing at thy gate?
Thy labour's just reward to bear, dost hate?
That which will after, in thy time let live:
Too late men praise unto our ashes give.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Fame at your portal waits; the door why barr'd?
Why loth to take your labour's just reward?
Let works live with you, which will long survive;
For honours after death too late arrive.
[tr. Hay (1755), 1.26]

Admit fair fame, who dances at thy door;
And dain to reap thyself thy toil's reward.
The strains that shall survive thee, give to soar;
Nor to thine ashes leave the late record.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 2.34]

Do you hesitate to let in Fame when standing for admittance before your threshold, and does it grieve you to reap the rewards of your own diligence? May your poems, which will survive you, begin to live by your means. The glory which is shed upon ashes arrives full late.
[tr. Amos (1858), 1.26 "Posthumous Works"]

Do you hesitate to admit Fame, who is standing before your door; and does it displease you to receive the reward of your labour? Let the writings, destined to live after you, begin to live through your means. Glory comes too late, when paid only to our ashes.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

If after thee thy verses are to live,
Let them begin whilst thou'rt alive. Too late
The glory that illumines but they tomb.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

Do you hesitate to admit Fame that stands before your doors, and shrink from winning the reward of your care? Let writings that will live after you by your adi also begin to live now; to the ashes of the dead glory comes too late.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Nay, doth it irk you that reward is nigh?
Why bar out fame who standeth at the gate?
Give birth to what must live, before you die,
For honour paid to ashes comes too late.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Fame stands before your threshold, let her in;
Are you ashamed your meed of praise to win?
Your books will long outlive you in their fame;
Come then, begin, for ashes have no name.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #14]

Tell me why you hesitate;
Fame is standing at your door.
Take the prize she long has offered,
Long has held for you in store!
Let works that will survive you after
You have trod the path so dread
Live now, while you still are living.
Fame comes too late to the dead.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Fame is at the door,
and you keep her waiting.
You can't bring yourself to accept
the reward of your worry?
Let those pages begin to live -- show your face.
They will live on after you're gone in any case.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Do you hesitate to let Fame in when she stands at your door? Are you reluctant to take the reward for your pains? Your pages will live after you; let them also begin to live through you. Glory comes late to the grave.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Amos (above) provides a number of examples where the last line has inspired other writers. Byron wrote, in the same vein, in "Martial, Lib. I, Epig. I" (c. 1821):

He unto whom thou art so partial,
O reader! is the well-known Martial,
The Epigrammatist: while living
Give him the fame thou wouldst be giving;
So shall he hear, and feel, and know it --
Post-obits rarely reach a poet.

Added on 23-Aug-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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The fact I asked you last night
To come round this evening and dine,
Procillus, would seem to be due
To that fifth or sixth bottle of wine.
To think it entirely arranged
And take notes on the nonsense you hear
Is a hazardous way to behave —
D–n a drinker whose memory’s clear!

[Hesterna tibi nocte dixeramus,
Quincunces puto post decem peractos,
Cenares hodie, Procille, mecum.
Tu factam tibi rem statim putasti
Et non sobria verba subnotasti
Exemplo nimium periculoso:
Μισῶ μνάμονα συμπόταν, Procille.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 27 (1.27) [tr. Nixon (1911), “A Alleybi’s the Thing”]

"To Procillus." The Greek phrase, attested to elsewhere in Classical literature, reads, as variously translated here, "I dislike a drinking companion who remembers."

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

I had this day carroust the thirteenth cup,
And was both slipper-tong'd, and idle-brain'd,
And said by chance, that you with me should sup.
You thought hereby, a supper cleerely gain'd:
And in your Tables you did quote it up.
Uncivill ghest, that hath been so ill train'd!
Worthy thou are hence supperlesse to walke,
That tak'st advantage of our Table-talke.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600)]

To sup with me, to thee I did propound,
But 'twas when our full cups had oft gone round.
The thing thou straight concludest to be done,
Merry and sober words counting all one.
Th' example's dangerous at the highest rate;
A memorative drunkard all men hate.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Yesternight, it seems, I swore,
Fifty bumpers hardly o'er,
You should sup tonight with me;
Instant you devour'd the glee;
And would bind the words of drink:
Dang'rous precedent, I think.
Wofull partner of the bowl,
Proves a reminiscent soul.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 7, ep. 17]

Last night I had invited you -- after some fifty glasses, I suppose, had been despatched -- to sup with me today. You immediately thought your fortune was made, and took note of my unsober words, with a precedent but too dangerous. I hate a boon companion whose memory is good, Procillus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Last night I said to you (I think it was after I had got through ten half-pints): "Dine with me today, Procillus." You at once thought the matter settled for you, and took secret note of my unsober remark -- a precedent too dangerous! "I hate a messmate with a memory," Procillus.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I may have asked you here to dine,
But that was late at night,
And none of us had spared the wine
If I remember right.
You thought the invitation meant,
Though wine obscured my wit!
And -- O most parous precedent --
You made a note of it!
The maxim that in Greece was true
Is true in Rome today --
"I hate a fellow-toper who
Remembers what I say."
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "'Tis Wise to Forget"]

After ten cups were put away
I said, "Procillus," yesterday,
"You'll dine with me, my friend, you're wanted."
You promptly took the thing for granted
And made a note without formality
Of my incautious hospitality;
A dangerous precedent to set;
I hate a guest who won't forget.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #16]

Last night I said, while feeling fine,
Having drunk much too much wine,
That you must promise, when this way,
To stop and dine with me some day.
You made a mental note of it,
A practice which, I must admit --
Taking me at my drunken word! --
Is dangerous and quite absurds.
Barroom promises are fine,
But he who keeps them is a swine!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Last night in my cups,
or my brandy tumbler, at least,
I asked you for dinner today.
But you took me seriously, Procillus,
and noted down carefully the words I spouted
under the influence. A dangerous business.
I don't like to drink with people who remember.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Last night, after five pints of wine,
I said, "Procillus, come and dine
Tomorrow." You assumed I meant
What I said (a dangerous precedent)
And slyly jotted down a note
Of my drunk offer. Let me quote
A proverb from the Greek: "I hate
An unforgetful drinking mate."
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Last night when I was carried off with wine
I made you promise to drop by and dine
With me today. Only a fool or a turd
Expects a drunken man to keep his word.
[tr. O'Connell (1991), "Bummer"]

Last night after getting through four pints or so I asked you to dine with me this evening, Procillus. You thought you had the matter settled then and there, and made a mental note of my tipsy words -- a very dangerous precedent. I don't like a boozing partner with a memory, Procillus.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

When drinks I had beyond my number,
I thought I would myself encumber
With a pledge to give you lunch today.
You wrote it down with great display
As if to register disputed votes.
I hate a tippler taking notes.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Last night, Procillus, after I had drunk
four pints or so, I asked if you would dine
with me today. At once, you thought the matter
was settled, based on statements blurred by wine --
a risky precedent. Good memory
is odious in one who drinks with me.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Last night I invited you,
after we killed, what, fifty-something cups,
to come and eat some food with me today.
Right then and there you thought the thing was done
and took me at my not-so-sober word.
A very risky thing to do: I hate
a drinking bud whose memory is good.

[tr. Goldman (2022)]

Added on 25-Feb-23 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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Who says with last night’s wine Acerra stinks,
Is much deceived: till day Acerra drinks.

[Hesterno fetere mero qui credit Acerram,
Fallitur: in lucem semper Acerra bibit.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 28 (1.28) [tr. Wright (1663)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Acerra smells of last night's wine, you say.
Don't wrong Acerra: he topes on till day.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 117]

Whoever believes it is of yesterday's wine that Acerra smells, is mistaken: Acerra always drinks till morning.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Lest you think Afer smells of his yesterday's wine
I give warning
That Afer continues potating each night
Till it's morning.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "By the Book"]

He who fancies that Acerra reeks of yesterday's wine is wrong. Acerra always drinks till daylight.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

He reeks, you might think, of his yesterday's drink;
But knowing his customs and ways,
You are wrong, I'll be sworn, for he drank till the morn,
So the savour is truly today's.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You say he still reeked of last night's wine
When he spoke to you, stifling a yawn?
Oh no, you are wrong, you're mistaken, sir!
He always drinks till dawn.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Acerra reeks of last night's wine?
No. He drinks on into the sunshine.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Anybody who thinks that Acerra reeks of yesterday's wine misses his guess. Acerra always drinks till sunrise.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

They claimed, with blamings not condign,
He reeked at morn of last night's wine.
He intermits not in such ways:
Not last night's wine -- it was today's.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Whoever thinks Acerra stinks of last night's wine
is wrong. He drinks till light begins to shine.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

To say Acerra stinks of day-old booze is wrong!
Each drink is freshened all night long!
[tr. Juster (2016)]

Added on 17-Mar-23 | Last updated 17-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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. Killigrew (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 like you not, Sabidius, and I can't tell why. All I can tell is this: I like you not.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

I don’t love you, Sabidius, no, I can’t say why:
All I can say is this, that I don’t love you.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

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

Sabidius, I dislike you, but why this is so true
I can't say, I can only say I don't like you.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Sabidius, I don't like you. Why? No clue.
I just don't like you. That will have to do.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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

There are two 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 4-Mar-23
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She weeps not for her sire if none be near,
In company she calls up many a tear.
True mourners would not have their sorrows known,
For grief of heart will choose to weep alone.

[Amissum non flet cum sola est Gellia patrem,
Si quis adest, iussae prosiliunt lacrimae.
Non luget quisquis laudari, Gellia, quaerit,
Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 33 (1.33) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

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

Gellia ne'er mourns her father's loss,
When no one's by to see,
but yet her soon commanded tears
Flow in society:
To weep for praise is but a feigned moan;
He grieves most truly, that does grieve alone.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

When all alone, your tears withstand;
In company, can floods command.
Who mourns for fashion, bids us mark;
Who mourns indeed, mourns in the dark.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Gellia alone, alas! can never weep,
Though her fond father perish'd in the deep;
With company the tempest all appears
And beauteous Gellia's e'en dissolved in tears.
Through public grief though Gellia aims at praise,
'Tis private sorrow which must merit raise.
[Gentleman's Magazine (1736)]

Her father dead! -- Alone no grief she knows;
Th' obedient tear at every visit flows.
No mourner he, who must with praise be fee'd!
But he, who mourns in secret, mourns indeed.
[tr. Hay (1755), 1.34]

Sire-reft, alone, poor Gellia weeps no woe:
In company she bids the torrent flow.
they cannot grieve, who to be seen, can cry:
Theirs is the grief, who without witness sigh.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 1]

Gellia, when she is alone, does not lament the loss of her father. If any one be present, her bidden tears gush forth. A person does not grieve who seeks for praise; his is real sorrow who grieves without a witness.
[tr. Amos (1858), #95 "Feigned Tears"]

Gellia does not mourn for her deceased father, when she is alone; but if any one is present, obedient tears spring forth. He mourns not, Gellia, who seeks to be praised; he is the true mourner, who mourns without a witness.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

He grieves not much who grieves to merit praise;
His grief is real who grieves in solitude.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

Gellia weeps not while she is alone for her lost father; is any one be present, her tears leap forth at her bidding. He does not lament who looks, Gellia for praise;' he truly sorrows who sorrows unseen.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Gellia, alone, ne'er weeps her sire at all;
In company the bidden tears down fall.
True grief is not for admiration shown.
He only weeps indeed, who weeps alone.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #18, 1.32]

When alone, Gellia never cries for the father she lost.
If someone is with her, tears well up in her eyes,
as if ordered to fall in. If some one looks for praise,
he is not in mourning, Gellia.
He truly mourns
who mourns
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

In private she mourns not the late-lamented;
If someone's by her tears leap forth on call.
Sorry, my dear, is not so easily rented.
They are true tears that without witness fall.
[tr. Cunningham (1971)]

Gellia does not cry for her lost father when she's by herself, but if she has company, out spring the tears to order. Gellia, whoever seeks credit for mourning is no mourner. He truly grieves who grieves without witnesses.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Gellia's mourning for her father?
If by herself she doesn't bother.
But when she sees that company lurks
She opens up the waterworks.
She just wants praise for grief that's shown;
They truly grieve who weep alone.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

When Janet is sequestered, out of view,
Then never for her father's death she cries.
But let some viewers come, just one or two,
Then tears dramatically flood her eyes.
We know from this how sad in fact she's been:
It is not grief that's only grieved when seen.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Gellia doesn't weep for her dead father
when she's alone, but tears pour on command
if someone comes. Who courts praise isn't mourning --
he truly grieves who grieves with none at hand.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Alone, Gellia never weeps over her father's death;
if someone's there, her tears burst forth at will.
Mourning that looks for praise, Gellia, is not grief:
true sorrow grieves unseen.
[tr. Powell]

Added on 3-Mar-23 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 them, they may pass for thine.
[tr. Bouquet]

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)]

The book you read in public from
is one I wrote. But the way you moan
and mangle it turns it into your own.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

They're mine, but while a fool like you recites
My poems I resign the author's rights.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

The little book you are reciting, Fidentinus, belongs to me. But when you recite it badly, it begins to belong to you.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Fame of how badly you read it 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)]

You ask me to recite my poems to you?
I know how you’ll “recite” them, if I do.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

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-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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]

To keep my little books from dropping dead
of brevity, I could pad with "... then he said."
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

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 3-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

It's true enough, Fabulla, you are
by you, Fabulla, you aren't rich, or beautiful, or young.
Bovie (1970)]

That you're young, beautiful and rich,
Fabulla, no one can deny.
But when you praise yourself too much,
None of the epithets apply.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

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

You are pretty: we know. You are young: true. And rich: who can deny it? But when you praise yourself too much, Fabulla, you are neither rich nor pretty nor young.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 7-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

No one in town would touch your wife
so long as she was free, and willing to boot.
But you posted guards, and suddenly brought to life
a swarm of suitors ardent after forbidden fruit
in the garden.
Say, you're a wily warden.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

When you complaisantly allowed Any man, free of charge, to lay Hands on your wife, not one would play. But now you've posted a house guard There's an enormous randy crowd. Caecilianus, you're a card.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Nobody in all Rome would have wanted to lay a finger on your wife gratis so long as it was permitted, Maecilianus; but now you have posted guards, there is a huge crowd of fuckers. You're a smart fellow.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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

None in all Rome would've wished to touch your wife
for free -- if you permitted it -- not ever.
Now that you've posted guards, Caecilianus,
you've drawn a crowd of fuckers. You're so clever.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 puppy licks your face and your lips:
No wonder, considering the way he also dips
into turds.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

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 little dog licks your face and lips. Small wonder that a dog likes eating dung.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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]

Your puppy licks your mouth and lips
And never wants to quit.
Manneia, I don't wonder why.
All dogs eat their shit.
[tr. Cooper]

Added on 25-Feb-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 taint 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)]

Never having seen you taking a man's arm, Bassa,
realizing that no gossip attaches a lover to you,
noticing how you were always surrounded
by a throng of your own sex doing things for you
and letting no man approach you, I admit I felt
that we had another Lucretia in you.
But you were doing the raping, Bassa,
working out ways for identical twin genitals
to double their fun by pretending that one -- yours --
was the man in this case, a barefaced lie
you've conjured up a riddle only the Sphinx could solve:
Adultery, without any man involved.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

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 3-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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. Killigrew (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)]

Although you have not published
Even a single line
Of poetry yourself, you scoff
And sneer and jeer at mine.
Get off my back or publish!
I'd like to hear you whine!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Although you don't punish anything, Laelius,
you keep finding fault with my songs. So please,
stop criticizing my stuff, or publish your own.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Although you don't publish your own poems, Laelius, you carp at mine. Either don't carp at mine or publish your own.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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

You don’t write poems, Laelius, you criticise mine. Stop criticising me or write your own.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

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 never wrote a poem,
yet criticize mine?
Stop abusing me or write something fine
of your own!
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Velox, I make my epigrams too long, you snort?
You don't write any: That's making them too short.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Velox, you complain that I write long epigrams, and yourself write nothing. Do you make shorter ones?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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?"]

My epigrams are wordy, you’ve complained;
But you write nothing. Yours are more restrained.
[tr. Oliver]

Added on 11-Mar-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Martial returns to this theme (and Paulus) in epigram 6.12. 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)]

Paullus buys poems; his own poems he'll recite,
For what he buys is surely his by right.
[ed. Harbottle (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 recites
his own poems. What you can buy
you are entitled to call your own.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

He buys up poems for recital
And then as "author" reads.
Why not? The purchase proves the title.
our words become his "deeds."
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Paulus buys poems, Paulus recites his poems. For what you buy, you may rightly call your own.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

Paulus buys verse, which he recites as his,
for if the things you buy aren't yours, what is?
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Paul is reciting poems he buys.
At least he doesn’t plagiarize.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

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]

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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 asked a rich old friend of mine
for a loan of twenty thousand:
No trouble at all for him to give it to me,
he was so loaded. But in answer to my request
he said, "You know what? You want to make money?
Become a lawyer." Look, Gaius:
I asked you for money, not for advice.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

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)]

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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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:

Linus, dost ask what my field yields to me?
Even this profit, that I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

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

You ask of my Nomentan farm
How such a barren waste can charm.
One reason is, I find no trace
There, Linus, of your ugly face.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #83]

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 don't see what I see, you say,
In living here so far away?
What I see, Linus, is a view
In which I see no sign of you.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

What return on my real estate at Nomentum?
Up there i get out of seeing you, Linus.
That's what I get out of it.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You ask me what I get
Out of my country place.
The profit, gross or net,
Is never seeing your face.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Linus, you ask me what I get out of my land near Nomentum. This is what I get out of the land: I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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"]

You ask what I see in my farm near Nomentum, Linus?
What I see in it, Linus, is: from there I can’t see you.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

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

You ask me why I like the country air.
I never meet you there.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

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)]

You ask me why I love fresh country air?
You’re not befouling it there.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere? You're not there.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

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, Roger, what I gain
By living on this barren plain.
This credit to the spot is due,
I live there without seeing you.
[tr. Cowper]

Added on 2-Jul-21 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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Laugh if you are wise, O girl, laugh.

[Ride, si sapis, o puella, ride.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 41, l. 1 (2.41) [tr. Ker (1919)]

"To Maximina." (Source (Latin)).

Martial says he thinks he's quoting Ovid, but it aligns with nothing known or still extant from that poet. As the phrase is hendecasyllabic, and Ovid is not known to have published anything in that meter, it is at the very least believed a paraphrase. It is still usually credited as a fragment for Ovid. It's ironic, since it is the point of this Martial epigram, that in Ars Amatoria 3.279ff, Ovid warns against laughing if one's teeth are bad; see Williams for more discussion.

Alternate translations:

Laugh, my girl, laugh, if you bee wise.
[16th C Manuscript]

Laugh, lovely maid, laugh oft, if thou art wise.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Laugh, my pretty damsel, laugh;
If thou'rt cunning, but by half.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 8]

Smile, O damsel, if you are wise, smile.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 101]

Laugh if thou art wise, girl, laugh.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Laugh if you are wise, girl, laugh
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1871)]

Laugh, if thou be wise.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

Laugh, maiden, laugh, if thou be wise.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Smile, maiden, smile.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 86]

Laugh, girl, laugh if you're sensible.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Laugh if you have any sense, girl, laugh.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Laugh, girl; if you're clever, laugh!
[tr. Williams (2004)]

Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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I wanted to love you: you prefer
To have me as your courtier.
Well, I must follow your direction.
But goodbye, Sextus, to affection.

[Vis te, Sexte, coli: volebam amare.
Parendum est tibi: quod iubes, coleris:
Sed si te colo, Sexte, non amabo.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 55 (2.55) [tr. Michie (1972)]

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

I Offer Love, but thou Respect wilt have;
Take, Sextus, all thy Pride and Folly crave:
But know I can be no Man's Friend and Slave.
[tr. Sedley (1702)]

The more I honour thee, the less I love.
[tr. Johnson (c. 1755)]

Yes, I submit, my lord; you've gained your end:
I'm now your slave -- that would have been your friend;
I'll bow, I'll cringe, be supple as your glove;
-- Respect, adore you -- ev'rything but -- love.
[tr. Graves (1766)]

Sextus, would'st though courted be?
I had hopes of loving thee.
If thou wilt, I must obey;
I shall court thee, nor delay.
Dost thou ceremony seek?
And renounce my friendship? Speak.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 5, ep. 35]

To love you well you bid me know you better,
And for that wish I rest your humble debtor;
But, if the simple truth I may express,
To love you better, I must know you less.
[tr. Byron (c. 1820)]

You wish to be treated with deference, Sextus: I wished to love you. I must obey you: you shall be treated with deference, as you desire. But if I treat you with deference, I shall not love you.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You wish to be courted, Sextus; I wished to love you. I must obey you; as you demand, you shall be courted. But if I court you, Sextus, I shall not love you.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I offered love -- you ask for awe;
Then I'll obey you and revere;
But don't forget the ancient saw
That love will never dwell with fear.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You want my respect, I wanted to love you,
Sextus. I give in. Have my respect.
But I cannot prefer someone I defer to.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You would be courted, dear, and I would love you.
But be it as you will, and I will court you.
But if I court you, dear, I will not love you.
[tr. Cunningham (1971)]

You want to be cultivated, Sextus. I wanted to love you. I must do as you say. Cultivated you shall be, as you demand. But if I cultivate you, Sextus, I shall not love you.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

I would love you, dear, by preference,
But you instead demand my deference.
And so my love I will defer,
With courtesy, as you prefer.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

You ask for deference when I offer love;
So be it; you shall have my bended knee.
But Sextus, by great Jupiter above,
Getting respect, you'll get no love from me.
[tr. Hill]

You want to be my patron and my friend.
If you insist on patron, goodbye friend!
[tr. Wills (2007)]

I wished to love you; you would have
me court you. What you want must be.
But if I court you, as you ask,
Sextus, you'll get no love from me.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 10-Mar-23 | Last updated 10-Mar-23
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You have robbed the young gallant of nostrils and ears,
And his face now of both is bereft.
But your vengeance remains incomplete it appears;
He has still got another part left.

[Foedasti miserum, marite, moechum,
Et se, qui fuerant prius, requirunt
Trunci naribus auribusque voltus.
Credis te satis esse vindicatum?
Erras: iste potest et irrumare.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 83 (2.83) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou hast deform'd the poor gallant;
Nor could they justice mercy grant.
His nose so slit and ear so tore,
Now seek in vain the grace they wore.
Now vengeance boasts her ample due.
Fool! mayn't the foe the charge renew?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 6.2.34]

Husband, you have disfigured the wretched gallant, and his countenance, deprived of nose and ears, regrets the loss of its original form. Do you think that you are sufficiently avenged? You are mistaken: something still remains.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You have disfigured, O' husband, the wretched adulterer, and his face, shorn of nose and ears, misses its former self. Do you believe you are still sufficiently avenged? You mistake; he still has other activities.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The cuckold finally caught the culprit,
Boxed his ears and broke his jaw.
But hasn't he missed the point?
[tr. Murray (1967)]

Oh husband, you have disfigured your wife's
unhappy seducer; with his nose and ears your knife's
satisfied its user. How his face misses
its familiar features! This revenge, it meets your
requirements? He can still ram it up their asses.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You took a dire revenge, one hears,
On him who stole your wife,
By cutting off his nose and ears --
It's marred his social life.
Still there's one thing you didn't get
And that could cause you trouble yet.
[tr. O. Pitt-Kethley (1987)]

Husband, you mutilated your wife's unhappy lover, and his face, maimed of nose and ears, misses its former self. Do you suppose you are sufficiently avenged? You err. He can also give suck.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You have disfigured your wife's unfortunate lover, O husband: his face, deprived of nose and ears, vainly seeks its former state. Do you think you have sufficiently taken revenge? You're wrong. The man can also fuck in the mouth.
[tr. Williams (2004)]

The man gave you the cuckold's horn?
His ears and nose your knife has shorn.
Have you deprived him of a screw?
Just ask his mouth what it can do.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Husband, you maimed your wife's poor lover.
Shorn of its nose and ears, his face
looks vainly for its former grace.
Do you believe you've done enough?
You're wrong. He still can be sucked off.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 9-Dec-22 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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‘Tis hard bewildering riddles to compose
And labour lost to work at nonsense prose.

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

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 86, ll. 9-10 (2.86) [tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #105]

Discussing writing elaborate or highly stylized poetry forms. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Disgraceful 't is unto a poet's name
Difficult toys to make his highest am:
The labour's foolish that doth rack the brains
For things have nothing in them, but much pains.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

How foolish is the toil of trifling cares.
[tr. Johnson (1750); he credits the translation Elphinston]

How pitifull the boast of petty feats!
How idle is the toil of mean conceits!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 2.76]

It is disgraceful to be engaged in difficult trifles; and the labour spent on frivolities is foolish.
[tr. Amos (1858), 2.19]

It is absurd to make one's amusements difficult; and labor expended on follies is childish.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

'Tis mean and foolish to assign
Long care and pains to trifles light.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Disgraceful ’tis to treat small things as difficult;
‘Tis silly to waste time on foolish trifles.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

'Tis degrading to undertake difficult trifles; and foolish is the labour spent on puerilities.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

'Tis hard bewildering riddles to compose
And labor lost to work at nonsense prose.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

It's demeaning to make difficulties out of trifles, and labor over frivolities is foolish.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

It is absurd to make trifling poetry difficult, and hard work on frivolities is foolish.
[tr. Williams (2004)]

The Latin phrase was used by Addison as the epigram of The Spectator #470 (29 Aug 1712).
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You recite no verse, Mamercus, but claim you write.
Claim what you like — so long as you don’t recite.

[Nil recitas et vis, Mamerce, poeta videri.
Quidquid vis esto, dummodo nil recites.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 88 (2.88) [tr. McLean (2014)]

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

You'd Poet seem, yet nothing you rehearse:
Be what you will, so we ne'er hear your verse.
[tr. Wright (1663)]

Thou would'st a poet be, yet nought dost write:
Be what thou wilt, so nought thou dost indite.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Arthur, they say, has wit. "For what?
For writing?" No -- for writing not.
[tr. Swift (early 18th C)]

Nought you recite, and would be pris'd a poet?
Be what you will, so no reciting blow it.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.18]

You don't recite, but would be deemed a poet;
You shall be Homer -- so you do not show it.
[tr. Byron (early 19th C)]

You don't recite; but still would seem a poet.
You shall be Homer, so you do not show it.
[tr. Byron (early 19th C), alt.]

You recite nothing, and you wish, Mamercus, to be thought a poet. Be whatever you will, only do not recite.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Though you never have read us a line of your verse,
You insist on our thinking you write.
Yes, yes, be a poet; be anything else --
If only you'll forbear to recite.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

You recite nothing, and yet wish, Mamercus, to be held a poet. Be what you like -- provided you recite nothing.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You never recite, though you pose as a poet.
Well, for that many thanks: we will gladly forgo it.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You'd like to be thought of as a poet
but refuse to recite your material?
Be what you want, Mammercus; the public
will tolerate you so long as you don't inflict
your verse on public nerves.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You recite nothing and want to be considered a poet, Mamercus. Be what you like, so long as you recite nothing.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 24-Mar-23 | Last updated 24-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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. Killigrew (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, they say, 'gainst me is writing verses:
He can't be said to write whom no one reads.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

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 writes poems against me? He has no readers,
so how can they say that he's a writer?
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Cinna is reported to write verses against me. Nobody writes, whose poems nobody reads.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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

They say Cinna writes little poems about me.
He’s no writer, whose verse nobody reads.
[tr. Kline (2006), "A Silent Critic"]

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]

Added on 28-Jan-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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"]

You well-off people are well versed only
in cursing out your inferiors:
Un For Giving bitching is quite enriching.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You weIl-off friends only know how to take umbrage. It's not a pretty way to behave, but it suits your book.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

The rich feign wrath – a profitable plan;
’Tis cheaper far to hate than help a man.
[tr. Pott]

How explain why the conspicuously rich
are so easy to offend? Ask their accountant.
He probably won’t tell you but he’ll know.
[tr. Halsey]

Added on 10-Jun-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-23
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You daub your face and think I shall not see
Your wrinkles. You deceive yourself, not me.
A small defect is nothing when revealed;
But greater seems the blemish ill concealed.

[Lomento rugas uteri quod condere temptas,
Polla, tibi ventrem, non mihi labra linis.
Simpliciter pateat vitium fortasse pusillum:
Quod tegitur, magnum creditur esse malum.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 42 (3.42) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

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

Thou seek'st with lard to smooth thy wrinkled skin,
Bedaub'st thyself, and dost no lover win.
Simple decays men easily pass by,
But, hid, suspect some great deformity.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Leave off thy Paint, Perfumes, and youthful Dress,
And Nature's failing honesty confess;
Double we see those Faults which Art wou'd mend,
Plain downright Ugliness would less offend.
[tr. Sedley (1702), "To Cloe"]

With lotion some wrinkles you labor to hide.
No policy, Polla, you show; but some pride.
A small fault perhaps might more safely appear:
Whatever is hid, draws construction severe.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 20]

When you try to conceal your wrinkles, Polla, with paste made from beans, you deceive yourself, not me. Let a defect, which is possibly but small, appear undisguised. A fault concealed is presumed to be great.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Seek not to hide a blemish that's but small.
The fault that's hidden ofttimes greater seems.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

You try to conceal your wrinkles by the use of bean-meal, but you plaster your skin, Polla, not my lips. Let a blemish, which perhaps is small, simply show. The flaw which is hidden is deemed greater than it is.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Applying paste to smooth out the folds in your fat belly only means you are rouging your belly for yourself instead of your lips for me. It wouild be more natural to let that minor flaw stand. The hidden evil is considered worse.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You try to hide your belly's wrinkles with bean meal, Polla, but you smear your stomach, not my lips. Better that the blemish, perhaps a trifling one, be frankly shown. Trouble concealed is believed to be greater than it is.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You use a cream your wrinkles to disguise,
But you're just pulling wool over our eyes.
The wrinkles, left alone, would draw no mention,
But, covered up, they draw closest attention.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst.

Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 play the youth with raven hue assumed
But yesterday like swan of Leda plumed.
Not all you cheat; Proserpine knows you grey.
Some day she'll pluck your silly mask away.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

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)]

It's artificial for you to look like a young man
with your dyed hair, suddenly turning into a crow
when just a while ago you were a swan. You won't fool
everyone: Proserpina knows you are white-haired
and she will make you take your mask off.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You've dyed your hair to mimic youth,
Laetinus. Not so long ago
You were a swan; now you're a crow.
You can't fool everyone. One day
Proserpina, who knows the truth,
Will rip that actor's wig away.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You simulate youth, Laetinus, by dying your hair; so suddenly a raven, who were but now a swan. You don't fool everybody. Proserpina knows your hair is white. She will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You dye your hair, Laetinus, to feign youth --
a swan before, a raven now instead.
You don't fool all. Proserpina can tell
you're gray. She'll pull that mask right off your head.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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 8-Mar-23
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For me you mix Veientian,
While you take Massic wine:
I’d rather smell your goblet
Than to take a drink from mine.

[Veientana mihi misces, ubi Massica potas:
Olfacere haec malo pocula, quam bibere.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 49 (3.49) [tr. Nixon (1911), “Let the Cup Pass”]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You Massick drink, Veientan give to me.
I need not taste; the smell doth satisfie.
[tr. Wright (1663)]

You mix Veientan wine for me, while you yourself drink Massic. I would rather smell the cups which you present me, than drink of them.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You mix Veientan wine for me, whereas you drink Massic. I would rather smell these cups of mine than drink them.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Yourself you drink a vintage rare
While giving me vin ordinaire.
To smell the heel-taps of your wine
Is better far than drinking mine.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Mean Host"]

You pour me cheap red wine while you drink Massic.
I'd rather sniff this cup than drink from it.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You drink the best, yet serve us third-rate wine.
I'd rather sniff your cup than swill from mine.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You serve me plonk, and you drink reservé.
My taste-buds back away from mine’s bouquet.
[tr. Harrison (1981)]

You mix Veientan for me and serve Massic for yourself. I had rather smell these cups than drink.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Your cup breathes odors fine
That never came from mine.
Better is what you waft
Than what I'm forced to quaff.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You mix Veientan for me, while you drink Massic wine.
I'd rather smell your cups than drink from mine.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You pour me Blue Nun, while you drink Brunello wine.
I’d rather smell your glass, than take a sip from mine.
[tr. Ynys-Mon (2016)]

Added on 31-Mar-23 | Last updated 31-Mar-23
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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?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

When I praise your face and lovely hands
Or to your legs allude,
This is what you always say:
"I'm nicer in the nude."
And yet you constantly decline
To go to the Baths with me.
Are you afraid you'll be displeased
With my own nudity?
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

When I say how I like your face, Galla,
and admire your hands and your legs
you observe "I'm even nicer in the nude."
But you don't go to the baths when I do.
Are you afraid to look at me?
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

When I praise your face and admire your legs and hands, Galla, you are apt to say: "You'll like me better naked." And yet you always avoid taking a bath with me. Can it be, Galla, that you are afraid you may not like me?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

When I admire your face and legs and hands,
"You'll like me better nude," you always tease.
Yet, Galla, you won't bathe with me in public.
Am I the one you fear will fail to please?
[tr. McLean (2014)]
Added on 15-Oct-21 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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‘Tis a mere nothing that you ask, you cry:
If you ask nothing, nothing I deny.

[Esse nihil dicis quidquid petis, inprobe Cinna:
Si nil, Cinna, petis, nil tibi, Cinna, nego.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 61 (3.61) [tr. Hay (1755)]

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

What so'ere you coggingly require,
'Tis nothing (Cinna) still you cry:
Then Cinna you have your desire,
If you aske nought, nought I deny.
[tr. Davison (1602)]

Whate'er you ask, 'tis nothing, still you cry:
If nothing, Cinna, nothing I'll deny.
[tr. Wright (1663)]

'Tis a mere nothing, Cinna, still you cry.
If nothing you demand, I nought deny.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 76]

Whatever favour you ask, presuming Cinna, you call it nothing: if you ask for nothing, Cinna, I refuse you nothing.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Your importunity to mask,
"'Tis a mere nothing," still you cry.
Since nothing, Cinna, 'tis you ask,
Then nothing, Cinna, I deny.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

"It's nothing," is a phrase that you
To favors oft apply.
You're sure it's nothing that you want?
Then nothing I'll deny.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

"'Tis nothing," you say, whatever you ask, importunate Cinna. If you ask "nothing," Cinna, nothing I deny you, Cinna.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Your impudent demands to mask,
You always say that what you ask
Is -- nothing -- but, if that be true,
What I refuse is nothing too.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Of your importunate request you cry
"'Tis nothing!" Nothing, Cinna, I deny.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #150]

Cinna, Cinna, you cynic, you say
it's nothing to ask, nothing at all.
So I suppose I'm not refusing anything, either.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Unconscionable Cinna, whatever you ask for, you say it's nothing. Cinna, if you ask for nothing, nothing, Cinna, do I refuse you.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Since "only a mere nothing" you request,
You'll get it -- for that nothing, be my guest.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Whatever you ask for, Cinna, you say
"Oh, it's nothing!"
Well, if it's nothing you ask for, Cinna,
it's nothing I refuse.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Nothing"]

Vile Cinna, you ask for "nothing" -- so say you.
If that's true, I deny you nothing, too.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 7-Apr-23 | Last updated 7-Apr-23
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Aufidia’s spouse before, you’re now her lover;
your former rival is the one she wed.
Why want her not as your wife, but another’s?
Does it take fear to make you rise in bed?

[Moechus es Aufidiae, qui vir, Scaevine, fuisti;
Rivalis fuerat qui tuus, ille vir est.
Cur aliena placet tibi, quae tua non placet, uxor?
Numquid securus non potes arrigere?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 70 (3.70) [tr. McLean (2014)]

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

Aufidia's now gallant, who was her lord!
Her lord thy rival, once again abhorr'd!
Why like another's, nor thine own endure?
Canst feel no fervour, where thou are secure?
[tr. Elphinston (1782); Book 6, part 2, ep. 44]

For years neglected and turn'd off at last,
Dodwell's fair wife upon the town was cast. --
Now Dodwell's coach is ever at her door:
He likes the danger of a common whore.
[tr. Halhead (1793)]

You, Scaevinus, who were recently the husband of Aufidia, are now her gallant; while he who was your rival is now her husband. Why should you take pleasure in her, as the wife of your neighbour, who, as your own wife, gave you no pleasure? Is it that obstacles alone inspire you with ardour?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You are the paramour of Aufidia, and you were, Scaevinus, her husband; he who was your rival is her husband. Why does another man’s wife please you when she as your own does not please you? Is it that when secure you can’t get an erection?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The wife you divorced, who has married her love,
You're trying again on the sly to recover.
From the fact she's another's fresh charm she derives,
And the danger a zest to adultery gives.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

First you were the husband
then you became the adulterous seducer
of your former wife Aufidia. And the man
who used to be her seducer is now her husband.
If another man's wife
arouses you
though you cannot respond to your own
can it be the security that keeps you down?
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You're fucking Aufidia, your ex
who's married to the guy who gave you grounds.
Adultery's the one way you get sex.
you only get a hard-on out of bounds.
[tr. Harrison (1981)]

You are Aufidia's lover, Scaevinus, who used to be her husband. Your rival that was, he is her husband now. Why does a woman attract you as somebody else's wife who doesn't attract you as your own? Can't you rise if there's nothing to be afraid of?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Your present mistress once you held as wife,
With whom you could not live a wedded life.
Unless provoked by sexual transgression,
You obviously can't achieve erection.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 3-Sep-22 | Last updated 31-Mar-23
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Who talked you into cutting off the guy’s nose,
When some other part clearly curls your wife’s toes?
You dolt, she’s not lost what makes Deiphobus dear:
It’s his dick that made your wife holler and cheer.

[Quis tibi persuasit naris abscidere moecho?
Non hac peccatum est parte, marite, tibi.
Stulte, quid egisti? nihil hic tibi perdidit uxor,
Cum sit salva tui mentula Deiphobi.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 85 (3.85) [tr. Ericsson (2005)]

The name Deiphobus is used here metaphorically. In myth he was son of Priam, and wed Helen after Paris. Menelaus, Helen's first husband, mutilated him. He is referenced in accounts of the Trojan Wars, as well as the Aenead.

Compare to 3.85. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Offended lord, what could thee discompose,
So cruelly to lop th' offender's nose?
That suff'ring limb, as thine, was innocent:
Nor feels the paramour the punishment.
Ne'er canst thou hope t' extingish either fire,
While the incendiary remains entire.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 2, ep. 35]

Who persuaded you to cut off the nose of your wife's gallant? Wretched husband, that was not the part which outraged you. Fool, what have you done? Your wife has lost nothing by the operation, since that which pleased her in your friend Deiphobus is still safe.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Who induced you to cut off the adulterer's nose? It was not by this party, husband, you were sinned against. You fool, what have you done? Your wife has lost nothing in this quarter, seeing the organ of your Deiphobus is safe and sound.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

What ailed you to cut off the young gallant’s nose,
And leave all unscathed the prime source of your woes?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Good husband, who persuaded you
to cut off the adulterer's nose?
What good did that do, you fool?
Your wife loses nothing at all
as long as the man keeps his tool.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Who persuaded you to cut off the adulterer's nose?
No offence against you has been committed by this part, my good husband.
Idiot, what have you done? Your wife has lost nothing here,
Since your Deiphobus's cock is safe and sound.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 17-Dec-22 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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Claudia Peregrina weds my Pudens.
Bless your torches, Hymen! Let them shine!
So aptly nard is mixed with cinnamon,
and Theseus’ honeycombs with Massic wine.
So well weak vines are joined to elms; the lotus
loves water thus, while myrtle loves the shore.
Fair Harmony, dwell always in their bed,
and Venus bless the couple evermore.
Let her still love him when he’s old someday;
may she seem young to him, even when she’s gray.

[Claudia, Rufe, meo nubit Peregrina Pudenti:
Macte esto taedis, o Hymenaee, tuis.
Tam bene rara suo miscentur cinnama nardo,
Massica Theseis tam bene vina favis;
Nec melius teneris iunguntur vitibus ulmi,
Nec plus lotos aquas, litora myrtus amat.
Candida perpetuo reside, Concordia, lecto,
Tamque pari semper sit Venus aequa iugo:
Diligat illa senem quondam, sed et ipsa marito
Tum quoque, cum fuerit, non videatur anus.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 13 (4.13) [tr. McLean (2014)]

Webb (below) notes that Claudia (based on ep. 4.53) may have been from Britain, hence the allusion to combining native (Massic) wine with foreign (Theseus' / Athenian) honey. Webb also notes the suggestion this Claudia and Pudens may be the ones mentioned in the New Testament's 2 Tim 4:21, though there is no connection other than the names.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Strange, Claudia's married to a friend of mine.
O Hymen, be thou ready with thy pine!
Thus the rare cinnamons with the spicknard joyne,
And the Thesean sweets with Massick wine.
Nor better does the elm and vine embrace,
Nor the lote-tree affect the fenny place.
Nor yet the myrtles more
     Love and desire the shore.
Let a perpetual peace surround their bed,
And may their loves with equal fire be fed!
May she so love him old, that to him shee,
Though old indeed, may not seem so to bee.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Perpetual harmony their bed attend,
And, Venus! still the well-match'd pair befriend!
May she, when Time has sunk him into years,
Love her old man, and cherish his white hairs;
Nor he perceive her charms through age decay,
But think each happy sun his bridal day.
[The Spectator, #506 (10 Oct 1712)]

Their nuptial bed may smiling Concord dress,
And Venus still the happy union bless!
Wrinkled with age, may mutual love and truth
To their dim eyes recall the bloom of youth.
[F. Lewis, The Rambler, #167 (22 Oct 1751)]

To Pudens see the beauteous Claudia vail:
Hail, charming torches! thrice, blest Hymen, hail!
So the rare cinnamon with spikenard blends:
So Massic blood Thesean combs distends.
Not more the elmlings on the vinelets dote;
On shores the myrtle, or on streams the lote.
Fair Concord, o'er their constant couch preside;
The dovelike yoke delighted Venus guide.
Him, spite of years, may she still lovely deem:
May she to him in youth perennial seem.
[tr. Elphinston (1782); Book 8, Part 2, ep. 16]

My friend Pudens marries Claudia Peregrina. O Hymen! be ready with your torches. As fitly is the rare cinnamon blended with nard, as fitly is the Massic wine mixed with Attic honey; nor more fitly are elms united with the tender vines; nor do rills love more the lotus, nor their banks the myrtle. Concord! garbed in white attire, reside always with that nuptial couch ! and may Venus be ever propitious to so suitable a marriage! After a lapse of years may Claudia love, as now, her then aged husband; and may she, even when she is old, not appear old in his eyes!
[tr. Amos (1858), "Connubial Felicity"]

Claudia Peregrina, Rufus, is about to be married to my friend Pudens. Be propitious, Hymen, with your torches. As fitly is precious cinnamon united with nard, and Massic wine with Attic honey. Nor are elms more fitly wedded to tender vines, the lotus more love the waters, or the myrtle the river's bank. May you always hover over their couch, fair Concord, and may Venus ever be auspicious to a couple so well matched. In after years may the wife cherish her husband in his old age; and may she, when grown old, not seem so to her husband.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Here, Hymen, here thy blessings shed,
Bright burns thy torches' golden flame:
For Pudens doth with Claudia wed.
The Roman lord and British dame.
How seldom nard its odours sweet
And cinnamon combine so well;
Or Massic wines so fitly meet
With juice of Attic honey-cell!
Not with more grace do soft with brave --
Do tender vines with elms unite;
Nor better lotus loves the wave,
Or myrtles in their banks delight.
Fair on this marriage-couch the while,
A goddess bright, let Concord rest;
And kindly still may Venus smile
On mutual love of pair so blest.
Him may her warm affection cheer,
When youth on time's swift pinions flies;
And so may she, when age is near,
Seem never old to loving eyes.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

My Pudens shall his Claudia wed this day.
Shed, torch of Hymen, shed they brightest ray!
So costly nard and cinnamon combine,
So blends sweet honey with the luscious wine.
So clasps the tender vine her elm, so love
The lotus leaves the stream, myrtles the cove.
Fair Concord, dwell for ever by that bed;
Let Venus bless the pair so meetly wed;
May the wife love with love that grows not cold,
And never to her husband's eye seem old.
[tr. Smith (1893), "On a Friend's Wedding"]

Claudia Peregrina weds, Rufus, with my own Pudens; a blessing, O Hymenaeus, be upon thy torches! So well does rare cinnamon blend with its own nard; so well Massic wine with Attic combs. Not closer are elms linked to tender vines, nor greater love hath the lotos for the waters, the myrtle for the shore. Fair Concord, rest thou unbroken on that bed, and may kind Venus be ever kindly to a bond so equal knit! May the wife love her husband when anon he is grey, and she herself, even when she is old, seem not so to her spouse!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Pudens to-day his Claudia doth claim
In love united,
A blessing, Hymen, on the twofold flame
Thy torch hath lighted.
These are as honey poured in rarest wine;
Could aught be meeter?
Not cinnamon with spikenard could combine
In fragrance sweeter.
Beside this tender vine her elm doth tower
His might to give her.
She is the myrtle sweet, the lotus flower,
And he her river.
Fair Concord ever o’er their lives preside
Dear Venus bless the bridegroom and the bride
So fitly mated;
And may the coming years so far and dim
No change discover,
But she be loving still and fair to him,
Her grey-haired lover.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "An Epithalamium"]

Claudia's to marry Pudens, so they say.
God's blessing, Rufus, on their wedding day.
So cinnamon and spikenard will combine,
And Attic honey blend with Massic wine.
So with the vine the elm is mantled o'er,
So Lotus loves the wave, Myrtle the shore.
Unbroken union be their portion here
And Venus smile on wedded peer and peer.
May she still love him when her hair is grey,
To him as youthful as she is today.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #164]

Hail to the wedding of Claudia Peregrina and my good friend Pudens!
Oh, Spirit of Marriage, bless the rite with your blazing torch!
We don't often find the best cinnamon allied with its companion nard,
or fine Massic wine with Athenian honey. Nor can the vines
be better wedded to the elms, the lotus more companionable
to the water, the myrtle to the stream it loves.
And so may clear understanding
and gracious agreement
ever dwell at their nuptial couch.
May she love him when he grows old
and seem in her husband's eyes as she does today
a young bride who never grows old.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Rufus, Claudia Peregrina marries my Pudens. A blessing, Hymen, on your torches! Even so happily is cinnamon mingled with its nard, even so happily Massic wines with Theseus' honeycombs. No more apt is the joining of elms with tender vines, nor does the lotus more love the waters or the myrtle the shore. Fair Harmony, dwell always in their bed and let Venus ever favor so well-matched a pair. Let her love him when one day he is old; but for her part, let her not seem old to her husband, even when old she is.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

My dear friend takes a wife, and we must light
The marriage torches that will bless this night
As sweet is joined with spicy, or as wine
Is soothed with honey, or as curling vine
Does climb and hang as close as close can be
Around the of its protective tree,
As waterlily floats in liquid rest,
Or rooted myrtle shines on shore its best --
So be they harmonized in wedded life.
Let Venus bless them both and ease all strife.
When they grow old, let her his ills assuage;
Let him not even recognize her age.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Now Claudia to my Pudens comes a bride:
blessings on their Hymen torches!
Cinnamon blends well with cinnamon oil,
Massic with Attic honey blends.
Vine is not more closely twined to elm; no
myrtle more loves coast; lotus pool.
May constant Harmony attend their bed,
likewise Venus their like pledge.
Let her still love him old, and him not see
her old age come, though old she be.
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

Added on 26-Aug-22 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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That in the Heavens no gods there be
Selius affirms, and proves, ’cause he
Still thinking so lives happily.

[Nullos esse deos, inane caelum
Adfirmat Segius: probatque, quod se
Factum, dum negat haec, videt beatum.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 21 (4.21) [tr. May (1629)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That heav'ns are voide, & that no gods there are,
Rich Paulus saith, and all his proofe is this:
That while such blasphemies pronounce he dare,
He liveth here in ease, and earthly blisse.
[tr. Harington (1618), ep. 110 (Book 2, ep. 14), "Against an Atheist"]

Selius affirms, in heav'n no gods there are:
And while he thrives, and they their thunder spare,
His daring tenet to the world seems fair.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Selius asserts, there is no providence:
Anmd what he thus asserts, he proves from hence;
Tht such a villain as himself still lives;
And, what is more, is courted too, and thrives.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

A Selius swears there is no god,
And thus attests an oath so odd.
Heaven has no habitant, quoth he;
Else how could heaven so smile on me?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 7, ep. 12]

That there's no God, John gravely swears,
And quotes, in proof, his own affairs;
For how should such an atheist thrive,
If there was any God alive?
[Anon., Westminster Review, 1853-04]

Selius affirms that there are no Gods, and that Heaven is empty; and he produces a proof of his assertion; viz. that while he denies all Providence, he beholds himself affluent.
[tr. Amos (1858)]

Selius affirms that there are no gods, and that heaven is empty; and thinks he has sufficient proof of his opinion in seeing himself become rich while he maintains it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

"There are no gods: heaven is empty," Segius asserts; and he proves it, for in the midst of these denials he sees himself made rich!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

When Segius declaims he knows
That Heaven is void and gods are not,
It is because his record shows
That knaves may have a prosperous lot.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Test of Facts"]

"There are no gods," says Segius, "and the blue
Is void." He lives and thrives and proves it true.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 169]

"There are no gods, and heaven's all a lie!
No gods," said Segius, "give a damn or care
What happens to us." And he must be right:
Today the rat's a multi-millionaire.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Sergius swears by the hollow sky that there are no gods,
and the truth is plain, since he,
denouncing them, is wealthy as can be.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

"The skies are empty
and the gods are dead,"
says Segius, the proof of which
is that he sees himself made rich.
[tr. Porter (1972)]

"God doesn't exist, there's no one in the skies,"
Says Segius. If it's justice he denies,
He's right: would he be wealthy otherwise?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Segius declares that there are no gods, that the sky is empty; and proves it, for in the course of these denials he sees himself become a rich man.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

This darkling world he claims, with rue
Has run itself into a ditch.
And he can prove his thesis true:
In such a cosmos -- he is rich.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Segius says there are no gods, no heaven.
The proof he offers? He's a rich man.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Proof"]

Segius claims there are no gods, the skies
are bare. He proves it, too: while he denies
the gods exist, he sees his fortune rise.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 5-May-23 | Last updated 5-May-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Say you won't Galla: For passion cloys
if its joys are not tormenting
But don't take too long in relenting!
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Galla, say no, for love, unless
It teases, cloys with happiness.
Don't take too long, though, to say yes.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Galla, say no. Love palIs, unless its joys are torture. But Galla, don't say no for too long.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 8-Mar-23
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Vesuvius, once latticed with vine shade,
With grapes from which the richest wine was made —
This is where Bacchus had his favorite haunt
And Satyrs could their wildest dances vaunt.
Here Venus more than Sparta made her place.
Here Hercules brought blessings for the race.
What once in beauty and renown was cherished
In fire and ashes has with horror perished.
Were it allowed immortal gods to rue it,
They would have wished they were not doomed to do it.

[Hic est pampineis viridis modo Vesbius umbris,
Presserat hic madidos nobilis uva lacus:
Haec iuga, quam Nysae colles, plus Bacchus amavit,
Hoc nuper Satyri monte dedere choros.
Haec Veneris sedes, Lacedaemone gratior illi,
Hic locus Herculeo numine clarus erat.
Cuncta iacent flammis et tristi mersa favilla:
Nec superi vellent hoc licuisse sibi.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 44 (4.44) [tr. Wills (2007)]

On the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, which destroyed the towns of Pompeii (whose patron was Venus) and Herculaneum (supposedly founded by Hercules), as well as much of the surrounding countryside.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Vesuvius shaded once with greenest vines,
Where pressed grapes did yield the noblest wines.
Which hills far more they say Bacchus lov'd,
Where Satyrs once in mirthfull dances mov'd,
Where Venus dwelt, and better lov'd the place
Than Sparta; where Alcides Temple was,
Is now burnt downe, rak'd up in ashes sad.
The gods are griev'd that such great power they had.
[tr. May (1629)]

Vesuvio, cover'd with the fruitful vine,
Here flourish'd once, and ran with floods of wine.
here Bacchus oft to the cool shades retir'd,
And his own native Nisa less admir'd:
Oft to the mountain's airy tops advanc'd,
The frisking Satyrs on the summits danc'd.
Alcides here, here Venus grac'd the shore,
Nor lov'd her fav'rite Lacedæmon more!
Now piles of ashes , spreading all around
In undistinguish'd heaps, deform the ground.
The gods themselves the ruin'd seats bemoan;
And blame the mischiefs that themselves have done.
[tr. Addison (1705)]

Vesuvius this! So lately crown'd with vines!
Whence in full currents flowed the generous wines!
By Bacchus more than Nysa's hills belov'd!
Upon whose top in dance the satyrs mov'd!
The seat of Venus, more than Sparta dear!
Proud of her name Heraclea once was here!
All drown'd in flames! with ashes cover'd o'er!
the gods, who caus'd the ill, their power deplore.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Here Vesuvius late with rich festoons was green:
Here noblest clusters gusht a lake serene.
These beyond Nysa's hights the god advanc'd:
On this glad moutnain gamesom satyrs danc'd.
This, more than Sparta, joy'd the laughing dame:
These summits prouden'd by Alcides' name.
Smoke, embers, flames, have laid the glories low:
The pow'rs regret the very pow'r they glow.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 4, part 1, ep. 33]

Yonder is Vesuvius, lately verdant with the shadowy vines; there a noble grape under pressure yielded copious lakes of wine; that hill Bacchus preferred to the hills of Nysa; there lately the Satyrs led their dances; there Venus had a residence more agreeable to her than Lacedæmon; that spot was made illustrious by the name of Hercules. Now, every thing is laid low by flames, and is buried under the sad ashes. Surely the Gods must regret that they possessed so much power for mischief.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 7, ep. 167]

This is Vesuvius, lately green with umbrageous vines; here the noble grape had pressed the dripping coolers. These are the heights which Bacchus loved more than the hills of Nysa; on this mountain the satyrs recently danced. This was the abode of Venus, more grateful to her than Lacedaemon; this was the place renowned by the divinity of Hercules. All now lies buried in flames and sad ashes. Even the gods would have wished not to have had the power to cause such a catastrophe.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

This is Vesbius, green yesterday with viny shades; here had the noble grape loaded the dripping vats; these ridges Bacchus loved more than the hills of Nysa; on this mount of late the Satyrs set afoot their dances; this was the haunt of Venus, more pleasant to her than Lacedaemon; this spot was made glorious by the name of Hercules. All lies drowned in fire and melancholy ash; even the High Gods could have wished this had not been permitted them.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Fair were thy shading vines and rich to fill
The overflowing wine-press year by year,
Bacchus hath loved thee more than Nysa’s hill,
Vesuvius, for his fauns held revel here;
Sweet Venus held no other haunt so dear,
Alcides made thee glorious with his name,
Flame-swept art thou, a waste of ashes drear,
And heaven remorseful hides its face for shame.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Vesuvius here was green with mantling vine,
Here brimming vats o'erflowed with noble wine.
These hills to jocund Bacchus were more dear
Than Nysa, and the Satyrs reveled here.
This blest retreat could Cytherea please,
This owned the fame of godlike Hercules;
Now dismal ashes all and scorching flame.
Such dire caprice might move a god to shame.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 84]

Behold Vesuvius, lately green
With vineyard-covered slopes!
Here did the noble grapevine yield
Beyond one's wildest hopes!

Here are the ridges Bacchus loves
More than those of his youth.
And here till late his Satyrs danced
There merry dance uncouth.

Here stood Pompeii, dearer far
To Aphrodite than
The Lacedaemonian island where
Her early life began.

And here stood Herculaneum,
Founded by Hercules
Where here he paused to rest the oxen
Of Geryones.

All this, by fire and flame consumed,
Lies sunk, so sad a sight
The very gods might wish they had
Not had it in their might.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Only a short while ago old smoky Vesuvius
bore a green burden of vineyards on his shoulders
and the vats below were clogged with gorgeous grapes.
This was a place whose forests high in the air meant more to Bacchus than his Nysean hills.
And only a short while ago Satyrs led their troupes down this same mountainside. Here were Venus’ haunts
more appealing to her than Sparta.
And this whole landscape knew the sound of Hercules’ roving name. He too made it holy.
And now, there it lies submerged in ashes,
crumpled, shorn by the flames,
so curiously at odds
with the will of the gods
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Hear the testament of death:
yesterday beneath Vesuvius' side
the grape ripened in green shade,
the dripping vats with their viny tide
squatted on hill turf: Bacchus
loved this land more than fertile Nysa:
here the satyrs ran, this was Venus' home,
sweeter to her than Lacedaemon
or the rocks of foam-framed Cyprus.
One city now in ashes the great name
of Hercules once blessed, one other
to the salty sea was manacled.
All is cold silver, all fused with death
murdered by the fire of Heaven. Even
the Gods repent this faculty
that power of death which may not be recalled.
[tr. Porter (1972)]

This is Vesuvius, yesterday green with shady vines.
Here notable grapes weighted down the wine-steeped vats.
These the heights that Bacchus loved more than Nysa's hills.
On this mountain the Satyrs began their dances lately.
This was Venus' seat, more pleasing to her than Sparta.
This place was made renowned by Hercules' godhead.
All lies sunk in flames and bleak ash. Even the high gods
Could wish that this had not been allowed to them.
[tr. Shepherd (1987)]

This is Vesuvius, but lately green with shade of vines. Here the noble grape loaded the vats to overflowing. These slopes were more dear to Bacchus than Nysa's hills, on this mountain not long ago Satyrs held their dances. This was Venus' dwelling, more pleasing to her than Lacedaemon, this spot the name of Hercules made famous. All lies sunk in flames and drear ashes. The High Ones themselves would rather this had not been in their power.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

This is Vesuvius, green just now with vines;
here fine grapes loaded brimming vats. These heights
were loved by Bacchus more than Nysa's slopes;
on this mount, satyrs lately danced their rites.
this home of Venus pleased her more than Sparta;
this spot the name of Hercules made proud.
All lie engulfed in flames and dismal ashes:
the gods themselves regret it was allowed.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 12-May-23 | Last updated 12-May-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

What makes an epigram he knows not best
Who deems it, Flaccus, but an idle jest.
They rather jest, who Tereus' crime indict
Or the foul banquet of Thyestes write,
Or Icarus equipped with waxen wing
Or Polyphemus and his shepherding.
No fustian ornaments my page abuse
Nor struts in senseless pomp my tragic Muse.
"Men praise," you say, "and call such verse divine."
Yes, they may praise it, but they study mine.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #188, "A Defence of Epigram"]

He does not know what epigrams
Are really meant to be
Who calls them only jests and jokes
Or comic poetry --
A dimwit dilettante's delight,
Mere vers de societé
He really is the one who jests
Who writes about the stew
Served Tereus, or that loathsome meal
Of children served to you,
Thyestes, indigestion-prone,
Of sons your brother slew.
Or Daedalus fitting Icarus
With two liquescent wings,
Or who of Polyphemus tending
Sheep in Sicily sings,
And those huge, monstrous boulders which
He at Ulysses flings.
Far from my verse is any trace
Of rank turgidity.
My Muse has never donned the robes
Of pompous tragedy.
"But that's what's praised!" But what is read?
My earthy poetry!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

To say that epigrams are only jokes and gags
is not to know what they are, my good friend Flaccus.
The poet is more entertaining who asks you to dine
at the cannibal board of Tereus, or describes,
oh indigestible Thyestes, your dinner party;
or the diverting poet turns your attention away
to the mythical sight of Daedalus, fittingly typed
as the one who tailored those tender wings for his son;
or wanders off with Polyphemus, the pastoral giant
pasturing preposterous sheep. Far be it from me
to enlarge on the standard rhetorical situation
and wax eloquent in the interests of inflation.
Our Muse makes no use of the billowing robes
that stalk the figures of Tragedy. "But those poems
are what everyone praises and adores."
I admit it, they praise them, but they read ours.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

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)]

Anybody who calls them just frivolities and jests, Flaccus, doesn't know what epigrams are, believe me. More frivolous is the poet who writes about the meal of savage Tereus or your dinner, dyspeptic Thyestes, or Daedalus fitting his boy with liquid wings, or Polyphemus feeding Sicilian sheep. All bombast is far from my little books, neither does my Muse swell with tragedy's fantastic robe. "And yet all the world praises such things and admires and marvels." I admit it: that they praise, but this they read.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Quite clueless, Flaccus, all these sorry folks
Who brand short poems mere badinage and jokes.
Want to know who's more idle? The big boys,
Our Epic Poets, who rehearse the joys
Of serving human flesh up à la carte --
Tereus' bloody banquet or the huge tart
Chez Thyestes ("It's a little gristly!").
Or they serve us crap, like how remissly
Daedalus made -- with wax, imagine! -- wings
For his poor doomed son. Then Big Epic sings
Of arms and the -- not "man" -- one-eyed giant?
Polyphemus: his brain was far from pliant,
So Homer made him watch sheep in Sicily.
Pardon me for carping so pissily,
Flaccus, at insults to my epigrams,
So far from the bloated whimsy that crams
Our big-assed epics. All men blare in praise
of these "classics," you say, and bask in their rays.
I will not disagree, but mark my word:
Some day, far off, a wise man will be heard
To say, "Classics we all want to have read,
Never to read." My books get read instead!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

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)]

One doesn't fathom epigrams, believe me,
Flaccus, who labels them mere jokes and play.
He's trifling who writes of savage Tereus' mean
or yours, queasy Thyestes, or the way
Daedalus fit his boy with melting wings
or Polyphemus grazed Sicilian flocks.
My little books shun bombast and my Muse
won't rave in puffed-up tragedy's long frocks.
"Yet all admire, praise, honor those," Indeed,
they praise those, I confess, but these they read.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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 to 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)]

Added on 29-Oct-21 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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We may all resort, at the summer solstice, to the warmest spots of Italy, to Ardea, Pestum, and Baiae, fervid with the heat of the constellation Leo, since Curiatus condemned the air of Tivoli, when he was on the point of being transported from its extolled waters to those of the Styx. Fate is not to be diverted by localities: when death comes, the pestilent Sardinia is to be found in the middle of the healthy Tivoli.

[Ardea solstitio Castranaque rura petantur
Quique Cleonaeo sidere fervet ager,
Cum Tiburtinas damnet Curiatius auras
Inter laudatas ad Styga missus aquas.
5Nullo fata loco possis excludere: cum mors
Venerit, in medio Tibure Sardinia est.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 60 (4.60) [tr. Amos (1858)]

Sardinia was considered a proverbially unhealthy locale, while Tivoli (Tibur) was considered a healthy resort to travel to during the summer.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When Leo rages with the summer's sun,
From pestilential climates never run;
Since, in the wholesom'st and the purest air,
The destinies Croatius did not spare.
When thy time's come, death from no place is bound,
Sardinia in the midst of Tibur's found.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

To Ardea, Pestum, roam, and e'er so far;
Or glow beneath the Cleonean star:
While Curiatius damns Tiburtian gales,
As down the healthfull streams to Styx he fails.
The Fates no place debars: if Death be there,
Alike is Tibur's and Sardinia's air.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 9.10]

Let us in the summer solstice retire to Ardea and the country about Paestum, and to the tract which burns under the Cleonaean constellation; since Curiatius has condemned the air of Tivoli, carried off as he was to the Styx notwithstanding its much-lauded waters. From no place can you shut out fate: when death comes, Sardinia is in the midst of Tivoli itself.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Go where you will, you cannot shut
The door on Fate; when Death draws nigh,
Then far Sardinia is as near
As Tibur.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

Seek ye Ardea in summer's heat, and the field sof castum, and teh meads scorched by Cleonae's star, seeing that Curiatius condemns Tibur's air; from amid waters so belauded was he sent to Styx. In no spot canst thou shut out fate; when death comes even in Tibur's midst is a Sardinia.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Now must we say, if thou be wise
In summer’s heat to Ardea turn,
Or seek the plain where Castrum lies
And the hot stars of Leo burn.
He that is laid in yonder grave
Saith, "Tarry not but get thee gone."
Here sought he Arno’s healing wave,
But found the stream of Acheron?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

To Ardea and Castrum let us go
In the dog-days when all the heaven's aglow.
Tibur's a death trap; Curiatius died,
Sent mid its breezes to the Stygian tide.
Death ranges at his will; when so inclined
In Tibur's bosom he'll Sardinia find.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 195]

Now in the blazing heat we might as well escape
to Castrum, or Ardea, or any sunburnt landscape,
since Curiatius has laid a curse
on the air of Tivoli by dying there,
where the waters are also salubrious.
No place can fend off death. It's no worse
to expire in sickly Sardinia than in a spa.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

At the solstice let us make for Ardea and the Castran countryside and whatever fields are scorched by Cleonae's constellation, since Curiatius damns the breezes of Tibur, dispatched to Styx amid her lauded waters. In no place can you shut out fate; when death comes, in the midst of Tibur is Sardinia.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 26-May-23 | Last updated 26-May-23
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You serve the best wine always, my dear sir,
And yet they say your wines are not so good.
They say you are four times a widower.
They say … A drink? I don’t believe I would.

[Tu Setina quidem semper vel Massica ponis,
Papyle, sed rumor tam bona vina negat:
Diceris hac factus caelebs quater esse lagona.
Nec puto nec credo, Papyle, nec sitio.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 69 (4.69) [tr. Cunningham (1971)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When I with thee, Cinna, doe die or sup,
Thou still do'st offer me they Gossips cup:
And though it savour well, and be well spiced,
Yet I to taste thereof am not enticed.
Now sith you needs will have me cause alledge,
While I straine curt'sie in that cup to pledge:
One said, thou mad'st that cup so hote of spice,
That it had made thee now a widower twice.
I will not say 'tis so, nor that I thinke it:
But good Sir, pardon me, I cannot drinke it.
[tr. Harington (1618), ep. 101; Book 2, ep. 5]

Pure Massic wine thou does not only drink,
But giv'st thy guests: though some this do not think.
Four wives, 't is said, thy flagon caused to die;
This I believe not, yet not thirst to try.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

With the best wines of France you entertain:
Yet that your wine is bad the world complain:
That you have lost four wives by it; but I
Neither believe it, Sir, -- nor am adry.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Thou Setian and Massic serv'st, Pamphilus, up:
But rumor thy wines has accurst.
A fourth time the wid'wer thou'rt hail'd by the cup:
I neither believe it, nor -- thirst.
[tr. Elphinston (1782)]

You always, it is true, Pamphilus, place Setine wine, or Massic, on table; but rumour says that they are not so pure as they ought to be. You are reported to have been four times made a widower by the aid of your goblet. I do not think this, or believe it, Pamphilus; but I am not thirsty.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

On Massic and Setinian fares
The guest that banquets in your hall.
Yet, Papilus, report declares
Them not so wholesome after all.
'Tis said that by that wine-jar you
Four times became a widower. Thus
I neither think, nor hold it true,
Nor am I thirsty, Papilus.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You indeed put on your table always Setine or Massic, Papilus, but rumour says your wines are not so very good: you are said by means of this brand to have been made a widower four times. I don't think so, or believe it, Papilus, but -- I am not thirsty.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Setine and Massic at your board abound,
Yet some aver your wine is hardly sound;
’Twas this relieved you of four wives they say;
A libel -- but I will not dine to-day.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "A Doubtful Vintage"]

Your butler prates of Setine and of Massic,
But scandal gives it titles not so classic.
"Four wives it's cost you." Gossip's never true,
But I'm not thirsty -- much obliged to you.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), Ep. 202]

I see you do serve Massic wine
And even glorious Setian.
But rumor has it that they smack
A bit of that Venetian
Mixture that Lucretia served,
That four of your dear wives
On tasting those expensive labels
Promptly lost their lives.
It's all, I'm sure, a lot of talk,
Incredible, I think.
But thank you, no; I've got to go.
Besides, I do not drink.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

You serve wine in the very best bottles, Papylus,
but they say the wine is not exactly the best,
they say you've become a widower four times now
thanks to those very bottles.
What a crock!
You know I wouldn't take stock
in a rumor like that, Papylus.
It's just that I'm not thirsty.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You always serve Setine or Massic, Papylus, but rumor refuses us such excellent wines. This flask is said to have made you a widower four times over. I don't think so or believe so, Papylus, but -- I'm not thirsty.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Pappus, they say your wine is not good,
it made you a widower four times.
I don't believe that. You're a civilised man.
Nevertheless, my thirst is suddenly gone.v [tr. Kennelly (2008), "A Civilised Man"]

You always serve such fine wine, Papylus,
but rumor makes us pass it up. They say
this flask has widowed you four times. I don't
believe it -- but my thirst has gone away.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 2-Jun-23 | Last updated 2-Jun-23
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Whoa, little book! Slow up! Easy there! Steady!
We’ve reached the finishing post, yet you’re still ready
To gallop uncontrollably on, to run
Past the last page, as if your job weren’t done.
(I’d have called it a day after page one!)
My reader’s fed up now, about to drop,
And my copyist, who longs to shut up shop,
Agrees: “Whoa, little book! Enough! Full stop!”

[Ohe, iam satis est, ohe, libelle,
Iam pervenimus usque ad umbilicos.
Tu procedere adhuc et ire quaeris,
Nec summa potes in schida teneri,
5Sic tamquam tibi res peracta non sit,
Quae prima quoque pagina peracta est.
Iam lector queriturque deficitque,
Iam librarius hoc et ipse dicit
“Ohe, iam satis est, ohe, libelle.”]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 89 (4.89) [tr. Michie (1972)]

The last epigram in Book 4.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Oh, 't is enough, it is enough, my book;
Upon the utmost page thou now dost look.
Would'st thou swell further yet? yet larger be?
Not leave thy paragraphs and margins free?
As if to some known period thou didst tend,
When ev'ry epigram may be thy end.
Reader and printer tired, no more can brook;
'T is time thyself pronounce the last line strook.
Oh, 't is enough, oh, 't is enough, my book.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Enough, enough! little book! we have already reached the end of the parchment. You would still go on, and add to your bulk, and cannot confine yourself within due limits; just as if you had not done enough, when you had completed the first page. The reader is now quite querulous, and out of patience; the librarius himself now cries out, "Enough, enough, little book."
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Ho, there! Ho, there! 'tis now enough, my little book. We have now come to the very end: you still want to go on further and continue, and cannot be held in even in your last strip, just as if your task was not finished -- which was finished, too, on the first page! Already my reader is grumbling and giving in; already even my scribe says: "Ho, there! Ho, there! 'tis enough now, little book."
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Hold, little book, enough, enough!
Here is the end of the scroll and thee;
Stay thy course ere the path grow rough,
Keep thy bounds for thou art not free,
Many thy sheets, though one should be
Ample space for thy sorry stuff.
Hold, little book, enough, enough!
Here is the end of the scroll and thee.
Wearied readers are harsh and gruff,
Now are they tired of thee and me;
Soon thou shalt meet a rude rebuff,
List to the worn-out scrivener’s plea;
‘Hold, little book, enough, enough!’
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "Finis"]

We've filled the scroll; "Hold, hold, enough!" I say,
But still you want to plod your inky way.
Heighho! 'tis finis, and the gap to fill
One page was plenty, yet you're restless still.
The reader flags and grumbles at the stuff,
And now the very penman cries "Enough."
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), No. 214]

Hold it, book, that's enough!
We've come to the knob at the end of the roll.
You object? And want to keep going right on
And can't sit still cooped up in the last column
on the last leaf? As though for you the work wasn't done
that was done when the first page was over and gone.
Your reader is tired, he's getting gruff,
the bookseller is losing interest in your stuff:
Hold it, book, that's enough!
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Whoa, little book! Slow up! Easy there! Steady!
We've reached the finishing post, yet you're still ready
To gallop uncontrollably on, to run
Past the last page, as if your job weren't done.
(I'd have called it a day after page one!)
My reader's fed up now, about to drop,
And my copyist, who longs to shut up shop,
Agrees: "Whoa, little book! Enough! Full stop!"
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Whoa, there's enough, whoa now, little book! We have got to the bosses. But you want to go on further and keep going, there's no holding you at the final sheet, as though you had not finished the business which was finished even on page one. Already the reader grows querulous and weary, already the very copyist says "Whoa, there's enough, whoa now, little book!"
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Hey, you're stuffed, little book, give it a rest.
You've reached the end-papers and still have zest!
What on earth makes you yet want to let go,
When "misfire" our verse reeked from the get-go?
Zip it, my pages, let's call a "time out";
We've hit the back cover -- and still you'd spout?
Look, the reader's pissed and quite unimpressed;
Even our publisher calls you a pest:
"Hey, you're stuffed, little book, give it a rest!"
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

Slow down, my book, don't race beyond the goal
Or keep on trotting like a frisky foal.
You've used up all the paper in this roll.
Continuing, you'd make me lose control.
The reader says you might have gone too far,
My scribe says, "Hold your horses where they are."
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 30-Sep-22 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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Yet soft, my books, no haste, nor hurry fate;
If fame must wait on death, then let it wait.

[Vos tamen o nostri ne festinate libelli:
Si post fata venit gloria, non propero.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 10, ll. 11-12 (5.10) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Compare to Epigram 1.25.

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

Let others to the Printing Presse run fast.
Since after death comes glory, Ile not haste.
[tr. Herrick (1648)]

O my small books, ne'er hasten to go out:
If praise come after death, I'll not go on.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Yet you (my Bookes!) hast not to much, I pray:
If fame come not till after death, I'll stay.
[British Library MS Add. 27343]

With patience then, my Muse, to glory hy:
If after death she come, I shall not dy.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 3.62]

Do not, however, you little books of mine, be in haste for fame:
if glory comes only after death, I am in no hurry for it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

If I gain fame after my death, I am content to wait.
[tr. Paley/Stone (1890), ep. 221]

Therefore, little books of mine,
Haste not; if glory comes but after death,
I'll wait awhile for glory.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

Pray, my impatient Muse, don't worry.
If death's due first, I'm in no hurry.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 221]

Impatient little books of verse
For the plaudits of the universe,
If fame comes only after death,
Let's pause and rest, and catch our breath.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

But there's no cause, my little books, to worry:
If glory must be posthumous, why hurry?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

So be calm, my Muse -- no need to rush or fret:
If death must precede fame, I'll not be famous yet.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

If I must die to get my fame,
I gladly will put off the same.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Then be content, my books, to be slow paced;
Death before glory means -- no need for haste.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley (2008)]

But you, my little books, don’t hurry:
if glory comes only after death, I will not rush.
[tr. Robinson (2022)]

If glory comes after death, I hurry not.
[tr. Rush]

Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

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

"To Julius Martialis." (Source (Latin)).

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)]

Today 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 of us truly lives at all.
Suns rise and set and swell the reckoning. Say,
Does life mean anything? Then live today.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #230, "To His Cousin"]

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)]

But as things are now, neither one of us
Lives for himself, while ever glorious
Days slip by unlived, never to come
Again, deducted always from that sum
Allotted us. Why then do we not live,
We who know the joys that life can give?
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

But as it is, we, both and each,
Miss the rich life within our reach,
We watch the good sun speed and set
And the lost day goes down as debt.
Would any man, if he knew how
To live, not do it here and now?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

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)]

We feel our good days slip away and leave us; they are wasted, and put to our account. Does any man, knowing the way to live, defer it?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Now neither lives
his life. We feel our good days flee,
Numbered and spent. Knowing the way
to live, why should a man delay.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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)]

Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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:

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 (1656)]

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 lisp 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)]

Flaccilla, Fronto, take her as I write,
My precious darling and my soul's delight,
Let not Erotion fear the shades around
And the fell jaws of the Tartarean hound.
Had she but lived till six more days were told,
She had survived six winters and their cold.
There let her play amidst our fellowship
And lisp my name with dainty stammering lip.
Her gentle head, Earth, with soft mosses dress,
And as her footstep light be thy caress.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #240]

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)]

To thee, my father, and to thee, my mother,
I recommend this darling little maid.
Shield her from the dreadful hound of Hades,
Shield her from the dark infernal shades.
She would have known the chill of six cold winters
Had she lived only six more little days.
Amid such old defenders let her frolic
And babble my name as was her childish way.
Lie lightly on her, earth, O lie not heavy
Upon her bones, for she was light on thee.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Fronto, father, and mother Flaccilla,
hold my darling Erotion firm in your memory:
Don't let her diminutive soul shiver
at the dusky shades of Hell
or flinch at the monstrous mouth
of the watchdog Tartarus.
Had she lived six days longer,
she would have seen her sixth winter solstice.
She was always happy,
always at ease
in the company of older people.
I hope she will still, down there,
be gaily lisping my name, in her afterlife.
Oh green earth, rest lightly on her! Do not
bear down too hard on her there, who was
never a trouble or burden to you, here.
[tr. Bovie (1970), "Erotion (1)"]

To you, my parents, I send on
This little girl Erotion,
The slave I loved, that by your side
Her ghost need not be terrified
Of the pitch darkness underground
Or the great jaws of Hades' hound.
This winter she would have completed
Her sixth year had she not been cheated
By just six days. Lisping my name,
May she continue the sweet game
Of childhood happily down there
In two such good, old spirits' care.
Lie lightly on her, turf and dew;
She put so little weight on you.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Fronto, Father, Flacilla, Mother, extend your protection from the Stygian shadows. The small Erotion (my household Iris) has changed my house 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)]

To you, father Fronto and mother Flaccilla, I commend this girl, my pet and darling. Little Erotion must not be frightened by the dark shades and the monstrous mouths of Tartarus' hound. She was due to complete the chills of a sixth midwinter, no more, if she had not lived that many days too few. Let her now play and frolic with her old patrons and lispingly chatter my name. Not hard be the turf that covers her soft bones, be not heavy upon her, earth; she was not heavy upon you.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

To your shades Fronto, and Flaccilla, this child
I commend: she was my sweet and my delight.
Little Erotion shall not fear the darkened shades
nor the vast mouths of the Tartarean hound.
She’d have completed her sixth chill winter,
if she’d not lived a mere six days too few.
Now let her frisk and play among old friends
now let her chatter, and so lisp my name.
And let the soft turf cover her brittle bones:
earth, lie lightly on her: she lay lightly on you.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

To you, my parents Fronto and Flaccilla,
I commend this girl, my darling and delight,
Don't let the dark shades and the huge-mouthed hellhound
fill my small Erotion with fright.
She would have known the chill of six midwinters
had she survived by just as many days.
Now let her lisping mouth prattle my name
to her old patrons, and she romps and plays.
Let no hard turf hide her soft bones. Earth, do
not press her harshly; she was light on you.
[tr. McLean (2014)]
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)]

I commend you this slave girl, father Fronto, mother Flaccilla, 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 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 present to a friend's beyond the reach of fortune:
That wealth alone you always will possess
Which you have given away.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

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)]

Some cunning burglar will abstract your plate,
A godless fire your roof will devastate,
A debtor steal both interest and loan,
A barren field will turn your seed to stone.
A wily wench will strip your steward bare,
The greedy sea engulf your galleon's ware.
Give to a friend and fortune is checkmated;
Such wealth will ever as your own be rated.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #247]

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)]

A cunning thief will break open your coffer and carry off your money, ruthless fire will lay low your family horne, your debtor will repudiate interest and principal alike, your barren fields will not return the scattered seed, a tricky mistress will rob your steward, the wave ,will overwhelm your ships piled high with merchandise: hut whatever is given to friends is beyond the grasp of Fortune. Only the wealth you give away will always be yours.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

The only wealth that's yours forever
is the wealth you give away.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Forever"]

Sly thieves will smash your coffer and steal your cash;
impious flames will wreck your family home;
your debtor won't repay your loan or interest;
your barren fields will yield less than you've sown;
a crafty mistress will despoil your steward;
a wave will swamp your ships piled high with stores.
But what you give to friends is safe from Fortune:
only the wealth you give away is yours.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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 4-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

When I call you "lord," don't get conceited. I often return your slave's greeting too in that way.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 "lord," don't swagger, Cinna. Why?
I often give your slave the same reply.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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 4-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 58, ll. 7-8 (5.58) [tr. Nisbet (2015)]

(Source (Latin)). See a related sentiment by Martial in 1.15. 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)]

You'll live tomorrow? Now's too late, I say.
He's wise, my Postumus, who lived yesterday.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #255]

Yes, this is what wise Martial says,
Though in another way:
"It's much too late today to live!
The wise lived yesterday!"
[tr. Marcellino (1968), "To a Crass Procrastinator"]

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

Will you live tomorrow? It's already overlate, Postumus, to live today. He is wise, Postumus, who lived yesterday.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Tomorrow? It’s already too late to live today:
He who lived yesterday, Postumus, he is wise.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

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

Will you live then? Today is late already.
He's wise who did his living yesterday.
[tr. McLean (2014)]
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 8-Mar-23
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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.]

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

If I send you no silver, if I send you no gold, I do so for your sake, eloquent Stella. Whoever gives much, wants much in return. My earthenware will take a load off your shoulders.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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

In sending you no silver and no gold,
my purpose, eloquent Stella, is to please.
A lavish giver wants a big return --
my earthenware will put you at your ease.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 8-Oct-21 | Last updated 6-Mar-23
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Boy! let my cup with rosy wine o’erflow,
Above the melting of the summer snow:
Let my wet hair with wasteful odour shine,
And loads of roses round my temples twine:
Tombs of the Caesars, your sad honours cry,
“Live, little men, for lo! the gods can die.”

[Sextantes, Calliste, duos infunde Falerni,
Tu super aestivas, Alcime, solve nives,
Pinguescat nimio madidus mihi crinis amomo
Lassenturque rosis tempora sutilibus.
Tam vicina iubent nos vivere Mausolea,
Cum doceant, ipsos posse perire deos.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 64 (5.54) [tr. Hodgson (1809)]

Martial could see the Mausoleum of Augustus from his house on the Quirinal.

"Summer snow" was snow preserved (or transported from the mountains) until the summer, used like ice to cool drinks.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You, boy, two measures of brisk wine let flow,
And you, pour on it summer cooling snow;
Let my moist hairs with rich perfumes abound,
With loads of rosy wreaths my temples crown'd:
"Live now," our neighbouring stately tombs do cry,
"Since kings, you see (your petty gods), can die.
[16th C Manuscript]

Twice four Falernians, dear Callistus, pour:
Diffuse, my Alcimus, the snowy show'r.
Bid my locks fatten with enormous oil:
With textur'd roses make my temples toil.
We learn to live from Mausoleums by,
Which teach us that the gods themselves can dy.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 7, ep. 73]

Fill high the bowl with sparkling wine;
Cool the bright draught with summer snow.
Amid my locks let odours flow;
Around my temples roses twine.
See yon proud emblem of decay,
Yon lordly pile that braves the sky!
It bids us live our little day,
Teaching that gods themselves may die.
[tr. Merivale (1838)]

Fill the double-cyathi cujps with Falernian, pour summer-snow over the wine, let our hair be wet with unstinted perfume, and our temples be loaded with chaplets of roses. The adjacent Mausolea teach us how to live, for they show that even gods can die.
[tr. Amos (1858), 5.65]

Fill double cups of Falernian, Callistus; dissolve into it, Alcimus, the summer snow. Let my hair drip richly with abundance of nard, and my temples be encircled with wreaths of roses. The Mausoleums, close at hand, bid us live, for they teach us that even gods can die.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Pour in, Callistus, two double-measures of Falernian; do thou, Alciums, dissolve upon them the summer's snow; let my dripping locks be rich with over-bounteous balm, and my temples droop beneath the knitted roses. Your tombs, so nigh, bid us enjoy life, forasmuch as they teach us that the very gods can die.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Slave, a full draught of vintage fine,
And bid thy comrade cool the wine,
Let snow its heat allay;
Twine rosy wreaths to deck my head,
Nard shall its precious fragrance shed
To crown my locks to-day;
For Caesar’s tomb that standeth nigh
Doth warn that even gods can die,
I’ll live while yet I may.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "Carpe Diem"]

Callistus, pour two bumpers, pour them neat;
Melt, Alcimus, the snow to quench their heat.
In oozy spikenard steep your perfumed hair
And bow my head with rosy garlands fair.
From yonder Mausoleum breathes the sigh,
"Live while thou mayest, gods themselves must die."
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 259]

Pour in an extra cup of dark Falernian.
Strain it through the summer's snow and chill.
Anoint my dripping hair with fragrant perfume,
And crown my head with roses, if you will.
The Mausoleum of divine Augustus
Looming close, so very close nearby,
Orders us to live and love existence
Since even gods themselves decline and die.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Callistus, pour in a double double of Falernian. Alcimus, melt summer snow over it. Let my soaked hair be sleek with an excess of unguent and my temples wearied by stitched roses. The Mausoleum so close at hand tells us to live, teaching that the very gods can perish.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Pour me a double measure, of Falernian, Callistus,
and you Alcimus, melt over it summer snows,
let my sleek hair be soaked with excess of perfume,
my brow be wearied beneath the sewn-on rose.
The Mausoleum tells us to live, that one nearby,
it teaches us that the gods themselves can die.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

Callistus, pour me a double of Falernian.
Chill it, Alcimus, with summer snows.
Sleek my damp hair with ample oil of cardamom,
and weight my brows with garlands made of rose.
The Mausoleum of Caesar, so close by,
says, "Live it up, for even gods can die."
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 9-Jun-23 | Last updated 9-Jun-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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”]

Compare to Epigram 7.3. (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)]

Do you wonder, Theodorus, why I don't give you my little books for all that you beg and demand them so often? For an excellent reason: I don't want you giving me your little books.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 6-Mar-23
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If you’re poor now, my friend, then you’ll stay poor.
These days only the rich get given more.

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

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 81 (5.81) [tr. Michie (1972)]

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

Faile yee of wealth, of wealthy ye still will faile,
None but fat sowes are now greaz'd in the taile.
[tr. Davison (1602), "To All Poore Schollers"]

If thou are poor, Æmilian,
Thou shalt be ever so,
For no man now his presents can
But on the rich bestow.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

You want, Æmilianus, so you may;
Riches are given rich men, and none but they.
[tr. Wright (1663)]

Once poor, my friend, still poor you must remain,
The rich alone have all the means of gain.
[tr. Edward Cave, Rambler # 166 (19 Oct 1751); sometimes attributed to publisher Samuel Johnson]

Poor once and poor for ever, Nat, I fear;
None but the rich get place and pension here.
[tr. Halhed (1793)]

If you are poor now, Æmilianus, you will always be poor.
Riches are now given to none but the rich.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

If poor you are, poor you will always be,
For wealth’s now given to none but to the rich.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

You will always be poor, if you are poor, Aemilianus.
Wealth is given today to none save the rich.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Gold only draws to gold, so it is plain,
If you are poor, that poor you will remain.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Poor if you are, my friend,
Poor will you always be.
Money gets money today;
Poverty, poverty.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days only the rich get given more.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You will always be poor if you are poor, Aemilianus. Nowadays wealth is given only to the rich.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You're cursed by poverty? But they tell me you're "blessed."
While the rich get richer ... you know the rest.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Aemilianus, you’ll always be poor if you’re poor.
These days they only give wealth to the rich.
[tr. Klein (2006)]

Vainly the poor extend their palms.
Only the rich are given alms.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

If you're a poor man now, Amos,
a poor man you'll remain.
Riches are only given only
to rich men.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

You will always be poor, Aemilianus, if you are poor;
nowadays wealth comes to no one but the rich.
[tr. @sentantiq (2012)]

If poor, Aemilianus, poor you'll stay.
None but the rich get wealthier today.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Perhaps a reference back to Paulus doing something similar with poetry (ep. 2.10). (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"]

Fabulla swears that the hair she buys is her own. Is that perjury, Paulus?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 6-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

All Rome extols and loves and quotes my lines
And every bosom holds them, every hand;
See one that reddens, pales, yawns, stares and pines.
Ah! now at last their worth I understand.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #306 (ep. 6.61), "A Hit"]

All Rome is mad about my book:
It's praised, they hum the lines, shops stock it,
It peeps from every hand and pocket.
There's a man reading it! Just look --
He blushes, turns pale, reels, yawns, curses.
That's what I'm after. Bravo, verses!
[tr. Michie (1972)]

My Rome praises my little books, loves them, recites them; I am in every pocket, every hand. Look, somebody turns red, turns pale, is dazed, yawns, is disgusted. This I want. Now my poems please me.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

Rome praises, loves, and quotes my little books,
I’m there in every pocket, every hand.
See them blush, turn white, stunned, yawn, disgusted.
I like it: now’s when my poems give me delight.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

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, recites my little books.
I'm carried in each hand or pocket. See!
Someone blushes, gapes, yawns, or hates it.
That's what I want: my verse now pleases me.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 67 (6.67) [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)]

Do you ask whyt your Caelia has only eunuchs, Panychus? Caelia wants to be fucked, but not to have children.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 8-Mar-23
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Life is not living, but living in health.

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

Marcus Valerius Martial
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. Killigrew (1695)]

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

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

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)]

Life is not life, but health is life indeed.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #310]

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

Life is not being alive, but being well.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 28-Feb-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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-meal 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)]

Old Thais is so rank, shed reeks to heaven,
Like greedy fuller's crock in pieces riven.
No hot he-goat, no lion's breath so rare
Or over-Tiber dog-skin out to air.
An ancient pickle-jar describes her best
Or unhatched chicken in forsaken nest.
To mask her odour by another stench
She doffs her robe and bathes, the dainty wench.
She's green with ointment, smeared with biting clay,
And coats of oily bean her charms array.
Let Thais play what tricks and turns she will,
The scent's breast high; she's the old vixen still.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

Thais smells worse than the veteran crock of a stingy fuller, recently broken in the middle of the road, or a billy goat fresh from his amours, or a linon's mouth, or a hide from behind Tiber torn from a dog, or a chicken rotting in an aborted egg, or a jar polluted with putrid garum. In order to exchange this stench for a differnet odor, whenever she takes off ehr clothse to get into the bath, the crafty lady is green with depilatory or lurks under a lining of chalk and vnegar, or is coated with three or four layers of thick bean meal. A thousand tricks, and she thinks she's safe. But when all's done, Thais smells of Thais.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 6-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Compare to Epigram 5.73. (Source (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 do I not send you my books, Pontilianus? Lest you should send me yours, Pontilianus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

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)]

You ask me why I send you not my books?
Lest you should send me yours, my friend, in turn.
[ed. Harbottle (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 do not send you
All my latest publications?
Let in turn you send me, sir,
All your latest lucubrations!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Why have I never sent
My works to you, old hack?
For fear the compliment
Comes punishingly back.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Why don't I send you my little books, Pontilianus? Fore fear you might send me yours, Pontilianus.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Why don’t I send you my little books?
Pontilianus, lest you send me yours.
[tr. Kline (2006), "No thanks"]

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)]

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 (2016)]

You ask me why I’ve sent you no new verses?
There might be reverses.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

You fret I haven’t sent you, Wade,
My latest book for free;
The fact is that I’m too afraid
You’d send your book to me.
[tr. Mitchell]

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

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

Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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"]

You never write epigrams that are not bland and whiter than a white-leaded skin, without a grain of salt in them, not a drop of bitter gall: and yet, you crazy fellow, you want people to read them. There's no relish even in food deprived of vinegar's bite, and a face without a dimple fails to please. Give honey apples and insipid figs to baby: my taste is for the Chian, that knows how to sting.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 6-Mar-23
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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?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

You give your favors to Parthians, you given them to Germans, Caelia, you give them to Dacians, nor do you despise the beds of Cilicians and Cappadocians; and to you comes sailing the fornicator of Memphis from his Pharian city and the black Indian from the Red Sea. Nor do you shun the loins of circumcised Jews nor does the Alan pass you by with his Sarmatian horse. Why is it, sinc eyou are a Roman girl, that no Roman cock is to your liking?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You do Germans, and Parthians, and Dacians, Caelia,
you don’t scorn Cappadocian, Cilician beds;
and fuckers from Memphis, that Pharian city,
and Red Sea’s black Indians sail towards you.
You’d not flee the thighs of a circumcised Jew,
not an Alan goes by, with Sarmatian horse too.
What’s the reason, then, since you are a Roman,
not one Roman member pleases you, woman?
[tr. Kline (2006), "Hard to Please"]

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 sleep with Germans, Parthians, and Dacians;
Cilicians and Cappadocians get a screw;
a Memphian fucker sails to you from Pharos;
a coal-black Indian from the Red Sea, too.
You don't shun the pricks of circumcised Judeans;
a Scythian on his horse won't pass you buy.
Since you're a roman girl, why is it, Caelia,
you won't give any Roman cock a try?
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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.
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Cinna, the best thing would be if you lent
Me anything I asked for. The next best
Would be for you to say no then and there.
I like good givers, and I don't resent
A straight refusal of a small request.
It's ditherers like you that I can't bear.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Best is that you give me anything I ask, Cinna; next best, Cinna, is that you refuse promptly. I like a man who gives; I don't hate a man who refuses, Cinna. But you, Cinna, neither give nor promptly refuse.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Cinna, to give me what I ask is best;
next best is to refuse without delay.
I love a giver, don't resent refusers.
You neither give nor tell me no straightway.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 16-Jul-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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One house upon the Esquiline,
One where patricians dwell,
And hard beside Diana’s shrine
You have a third as well.
You live near mournful Cybele,
You’ve Vesta’s fane in view;
Jove’s ancient temple you can see.
You look upon the new.
With seven dwellings I despair
To find you when I call,
He who has mansions everywhere
Has not a home at all.

[Esquiliis domus est, domus est tibi colle Dianae,
Et tua patricius culmina vicus habet;
Hinc viduae Cybeles, illinc sacraria Vestae,
Inde novum, veterem prospicis inde Iovem.
Dic, ubi conveniam, dic, qua te parte requiram:
Quisquis ubique habitat, Maxime, nusquam habitat.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 73 (7.73) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou has a house on the Aventine hill,
Another where Diana's worshipped still,
In the Patrician street more of them stand,
Hence thou beholdst within thine eyes, command
The widowed Cybells, thence Vesta with all,
There either Jove earth'd in the Capitol.
Where shall I meet thee? tell, where wilt appear?
He dwells just nowhere, that dwells everywhere.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

On Esquiline, and on Diana's hill,
Thou hast abodes thou not pretend'st to fill.
But city-sites can ne'er suffice thy state:
Thou far from town must tow'r among the great:
Hence Cybele's, thence Vesta's fane behold;
Here the new Jupiter, and there the old.
Where shall I meet thee? who they mansion tells?
Who e'vrywhere inhabits, nowhere dwells.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 1, ep. 10]

You possess a house at Esquiliae, and one on the hill of Diana; and the street of Patricians amongst its roofs reckons yours. From one of your houses you behold the temple of Cybele, from another that of Vesta; you command a view both of the ancient and modern capitol. Say, where shall I meet with you? At what place shall I ask for you? Maximus! he who lives everywhere lives nowhere.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 103]

You have a mansion on the Esquiline hill, and a mansion on the hill of Diana; and another rears its head in the Patricians' quarter. From one of your dwellings you behold the temple of the widowed Cybele, from another that of Vesta; from others you look on the old and the new Capitol. Tell me where I may meet you; tell me whereabouts I am to look for you: a man who lives everywhere, Maximus, lives nowhere.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

He has no home whose home is all the world.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

On the Esquiline you have a house, you have a house on Diana's hill, and the Patrician Street holds a roof of yours; from this you survey the shrine of widowed Cybele, from that the shrine of Vesta; from here the new, from there the ancient temple of Jove. Say where I amy call upon you, say in what quarter I may look for you: he who lives everywhere, Maximus, lives nowhere.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The Esquiline and Aventine are yours
And the Patrician Street confronts your doors;
Thence widowed Cybele and Vesta's fire
And ancient Jove and modern you admire.
Where shall I meet you, wither, pray, repair?
He has no home who lodges everywhere.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 372]

That's a fine lace you have on Beacon Hill, Max,
and that unlisted duplex out Huntington Avenue,
and the old homestead in Tewksbury.
From one you can see
the big gilt dome; the second
gives you an uninterrupted ecstatic view
of the Mother Church; the third
commands the County Poorhouse.
And you
invite me to dinner?
Or there?
Max, a man who lives everywhere
lives nowhere.
[tr. Fitts (1967), "... Are Many Mansions"]

You have one home on the Esquiline,
Another on the Aventine,
And from a third one you can see
The shrine of widowed Cybele.
From still another you've a view
Of both the temples, old and new,
Of Jupiter, In fact, a home
Of yours lies everywhere in Rome!
Where can I find you when in town?
At what address can you be found?
He who lives all over Rome
Never can be found at home.
[tr. Marcellino (1968), "A Far-Flung Friend"]

A house on the Esquiline --
and one on the Aventine --
Patricius Street claims another rooftop of yours
over here you have a shrine on the widowed Great Mother
over there is your sacred hearth of Vesta
elsewhere you display a new bust of Jove
elsewhere a bust of Veiovis.
Can you tell me, Maximus,
where to meet you,
where to find you at home?
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You have a house on the Esquiline, and a house on Diana's hill, and Patrician Row has a roof of yours. From one you view the shrine of bereaved Cybele, from another that of Vesta, and from this Jupiter's new temple, from that the old one. Tell me where I am to meet you, in what quarter to look for you. Who lives everywhere, Maximus, lives nowhere.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You’ve a house on the Esquiline, house on the Aventine,
and Patrician Street owns a roof of yours too;
add one with a view of poor Cybele’s shrine,
one Vesta’s, one Jupiter’s old, one his new.
Tell me where to meet you, tell me where to find you:
Who lives everywhere, Maximus, lives nowhere at all.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

Birds of the air know
the man with a house everywhere
has a home nowhere.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "A geography"]

Added on 7-Jul-17 | Last updated 6-Mar-23
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To feasts and theatres you love to go
With men of rank and, when you chance to meet.
To lounge with them about a portico
Or street.
They let you bathe and dine with them, but what
Your dullard pride will never comprehend
Is that you are their mountebank, and not
Their friend.

[Quod te diripiunt potentiores
Per convivia, porticus, theatra,
Et tecum, quotiens ita incidisti,
Gestari iuvat et iuvat lavari:
Nolito nimium tibi placere.
Delectas, Philomuse, non amaris.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 76 (7.76) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “The Toady”]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When dukes to town ask thee to dine,
To rule their roast, and smack their wine,
Or take thee to their country-seat,
To mark their dogs, and bless their meat,
Ah! dream not on preferment soon:
Thou'rt not their friend, but their buffoon.
[tr. Hoadley (fl. 18th C)]

All the great men take you away
To dinner, coffee-house, or play.
Nor happier are, than when you chance
To hunt with them, or take a dance.
Yet do not pride yourself too soon:
You're not a friend, but a buffoon.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Thee the great may tear away
To the banquet, porch, or play;
And with thee may make their pride,
Or to talk, or bathe, or ride.
Yet thou may'st mistake with ease.
Thou delight'st; but dost not please.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 7, ep. 4]

That men of rank take you along with them almost by force to their banquets, to porticos, and theatres; and that when they meet you they have pleasure in carrying you in their vehicles, and going along with you to the same baths; -- let not this puff you up with self-satisfaction, Philomusus; all this is because you are entertaining, not because you are beloved.
[tr. Amos (1858)]

Though the great hurry you off to their banquets, and walks in the porticoes, and to the theatres; and though they are delighted, whenever you meet them, to make you share their litters, and to bathe with you, do not be too vain of such attentions. You entertain them, Philomusus; you are not an object of their regard.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Because men of influence vie in hurrying you off to entertainments, colonnades, theatres, and enjoy, whenever you happen to meet them, being carried in litters with you and enjoy bathing with you, by no means fancy yourself too much. You entertain them, Philomusus, you are not loved.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

If important people compete for your company at dinner tables an din the colonnades and theaters and like to ride with you and bathe with you as often as you turn up, don't get too conceited. It's your company they like, Philomusus, not you.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993): literally, "you give them pleasure, you are not loved."]

The rich folk ask you out to dine,
Or ride with them, or drink their wine,
Or take a bath, or just hang out --
Now Philomusus, please don't pout --
You only entertain their crew:
They're really not so into you.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

If powerful men take you up,
at meals, theatres, and porticos,
like riding and bathing with you,
wherever you happen to go,
don’t be too proud, Philomusus:
you give pleasure, it isn’t love.
[tr. Kline (2006), "The Reality"]

If powerful men -- at banquets, porticoes,
and plays -- compete to have you by their side;
if every time they meet you, they’re delighted
to offer you a hot bath or a ride;
don’t get too vain about it, Philomusus.
They love not you, but pleasure you provide.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

See Ben Jonson, "To Mime," which ends, "Men love thee not for this: They laugh at thee."
Added on 30-Jun-23 | Last updated 30-Jun-23
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Some thirty poems in the book
Are poor, you say. Egad!
If you’ve found thirty good ones, too,
The book is great, not bad.

[‘Triginta toto mala sunt epigrammata libro.’
Si totidem bona sunt, Lause, bonus liber est.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 81 (7.81) [tr. Marcellino (1968)]

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

Thou thirty epigrams dost note for bad:
Call my book good if thirty good it had.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

For thirty bad epigrams here you may look:
If as many good ones, it is a good book.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 7]

In this whole book there are thirty bad epigrams; if there as many good ones, Lausus, the book is good.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

"Take all your book, and there are thirty bad epigrams in it." If as many are good, Lausus, the book is a good one.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You’ve read my poems and condemn
Some thirty, so you say, of them:
The book’s a good one I submit,
If there are thirty good in it.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "Proportions"]

"There are thirty bad epigrams
in your book, at least."
If there are that many good ones,
Lausus, I'll be pleased.
[tr. Bovie (1970), mislabeled 7.18]

"There are thirty bad epigrams in the whole book." If there as many good ones, Lausus, it's a good book.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

"Your book as thirty epigrams unneeded."
I've only thirty clunkers? I've succeeded.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

"In this book, thirty poems are bad," you state.
Lausus, if thirty are good, the book is great.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 16-Jun-23 | Last updated 16-Jun-23
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Your few quatrains are not amiss,
Your couplets too are neat; for this
You earn a mild regard,
But little fame, for many men
Can write good verses now and then —
To make a book is hard.

[Quod non insulse scribis tetrasticha quaedam,
Disticha quod belle pauca, Sabelle, facis,
Laudo, nec admiror. Facile est epigrammata belle
Scribere, sed librum scribere difficile est.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 85 (7.85) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

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

Cause thou dost pen Tetrasticks clean and sweet
And some few pretty disticks with smooth feet,
I praise but not admire:
Tis easy to acquire
Short modest Epigrams that pretty look,
But it is hard and tough to write a book.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

That some tetrasticks not amiss you write,
Or some few disticks prettyly indite,
I like, but not admire. With small paynes tooke
An epigram is writ; but not a booke.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Some not absurd tetrastichs thou may'st squeeze;
And distichs, that can scarce deny to please.
I praise, yet not admire: a verse to cook
Is no hard task; but canst thou write a book?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 54]

For sometimes writing quatrains which are not devoid of humour, Sabellus, and for composing a few distichs prettily, I commend you; but I am not astonished at you. It is easy to write a few epigrams prettily; but to write a book of them is difficult.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Your writing, not without wit, certain quatrains, your composing nicely a few distichs, Sabellus, I applaud, yet am not surprised. 'Tis easy to write epigrams nicely, but to write a book is hard.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The fact that you can write with taste
A quatrain now and then
And even several couplets too
Is something I do commend,
But I'm not amazed, for after all
A few epigrams smart and neat
Are easy to write, but a bookful of them
Is quite another feat!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

That you write some quatrains not without wit and turn a few couplets prettily, Sabellus, is something I praise but do not wonder at. It's easy to write epigrams prettily, but to write a book is hard.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

A quatrain here, a couplet there,
Some decent rhymes, but let's be fair:
Your output no great author shook;
It takes much more to fill a book.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

You wrote some clever couplets?
"Take a look."
These epigrams are fine --
but not a book.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Sabellus, that you write some witty quatrains
and craft some couplets well earns my regard,
but no surprise. To write good epigrams
is easy, but to write a book is hard.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 7-Jul-23 | Last updated 7-Jul-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

I've writ, says Matho, an uneven book:
If that be true, then Matho lauds my verse.
Umber writes evenly, Calvinus too;
For even books, to be sure, are always bad.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]
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 exults and crows my book's uneven.
If that is true, he praises me. I'm glad.
Calvinus and Umber write books that are even.
Even books are books that are all bad.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Matho's mad,
says my book
is unfair.
That's good,
I'm glad:
fair books
are dull books.
[tr. Goertz (1971)]

Matho spreads the word that I have made an uneven book. If so, Matho praises my poems. Calvinus adn Umber write even books. An even book, Creticus, is a bad book.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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-Mar-23
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Land, gold, and trifles many give or lend,
But he that stoops in fame is a rare friend.

[Aurum et opes et rura frequens donabit amicus:
Qui velit ingenio cedere, rarus erit.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 18, ll. 9-10 (8.18.9) [tr. Taylor (1657)]

To a friend whom Martial considered as good or better an writer, who in turn publicly lauded Martial as the superior.

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

Friends oft to friends in other points submit;
Few yield the glory of the field in wit.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

A friend will oft bestow gold, goods, or ground:
But who his wit will yield, is rarely found.
[tr. Elphinston (1782); Book 2, ep. 103]

It is not uncommon for one friend to bestow on another good and land, but to make concessions of literary pre-eminence is a rare proof of friendship.
[tr. Amos (1858)]

Gold, and wealth, and estates, many a friend will bestow; one who consents to yield the palm in genius, is rare.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Gold and possessions and lands many a friend will bestow: he who is willing to yield in genius will be rare.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Full many a friend will give you wealth and fields;
But rare is he who thus in genius yields.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Gold, wealth, estates will many a man resign
To save a friend, but few the bay divine.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #400]

Many a friend will give gold and riches and land, but one prepared to yield in talent will be found but seldom.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Some friends will give up goods or yield their gold.
But few will let their own worth go untold.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

A friend will often give gold, wealth, and ground:
one who will yield in talent's rarely found.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 14-Jul-23 | Last updated 14-Jul-23
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You write two hundred lines a day, but don’t recite.
Varus, you are wise, if none too bright.

[Cum facias versus nulla non luce ducenos,
Vare, nihil recitas. Non sapis, atque sapis.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 20 (8.20) [tr. McLean (2014)]

"To Varus." See also 2.88.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Each day you make two hundred verses, sott,
But none recite: you're wise, and you are nott.
[16th C Manuscript]

You make two hundred verses in a trice;
But publish none: -- The man is mad and wise.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

You countless verses pen, each morn you rise;
Yet none recite: how witty, and how wise!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 8]

Though you write two hundred verses every day, Varus, you recite nothing in public. You are unwise, and yet you are wise.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Varus writes facile verse and keeps it mum.
He's weakly garrulous, and wisely dumb.
[tr. Street (1907)]

Every day Varus writes
Scores of verses, I've heard:
But he never recites.
He's both wise and absurd.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "The Wisest Fool"]

Although no day passes but you compose two hundred verses, Varus, you recite none of them. You have no wit -- and yet are wise.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You write a hundred lines a day?
That means a crazy brain.
And yet you publish none, you say;
That shows that you are sane.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Wise Fool"]

Varus, two hundred lines each day that flies
You write and burn. How foolish -- and how wise!
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 401]

Although you write two hundred lines
Of poetry each day,
You shun our constant plea to let us
Hear your poetry.
Two hundred verses every day,
And I, with luck, one line!
You can't be good, though very good
Of you, sir, to decline!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Although you make two hundred verses every day, Varus, you never recite. You are a fool, and you are no fool.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

He turns out verses by the ton,
But never publishes a one.
He is too dumb to be a poet,
But wise enough in fact to know it.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Though Varus daily sits and writes --
Two hundred lines! -- he neither tries
To publish verses nor recites.
He's not too witty, but he's wise.
[tr. Barth]

Added on 21-Jul-23 | Last updated 21-Jul-23
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You lead such matching, equal lives —
the worst of husband, worst of wives —
that it’s a mystery to me
why you aren’t suited perfectly.

[Cum sitis similes paresque vita,
Uxor pessima, pessimus maritus,
Miror, non bene convenire vobis.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 35 (8.35) [tr. McLean (2014)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When as you are so like in life,
A wicked husband, wicked wife,
I wonder you should live in strife.
[16th C Manuscript]

Sith that you both are like in life,
(a naughty man, an wicked wife:)
I muse ye live not voyd of strife.
[tr. Kendall (1577), "To a Married Couple, that could not Agree"]

Why doe your wife and you so ill agree,
Since you in manners so well matched be?
Thou brazen-fac'd, she impudently bould,
Thou still dost brawle, she evermoure doth scould.
Thou seldome sober art, she often drunk,
Thou a whore hunting knave, she a knowne Punck.
Both of you filch, both seare, and damme, and lie,
And both take pawnes, and Iewish usurie.
Not manners like make man and wife agree,
Their manners must both like and vertuous bee.
[tr. Davison (1602)]

Both man and wife as bad as bad can be:
I wonder they no better should agree.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

O peerless pair, so like in life,
O vilest husband, vilest wife!
No wonder ye agree -- in strife.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), "To a Married Pair," Book 6, Part 2, ep. 46]

Since you are so well matched, and so much alike in your lives, a very bad wife, and a very bad husband, I wonder that you do not agree.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), "To a Bad Couple"]

You are so like, so equal, in your life,
A husband of the worst, a worthless wife,
I really wonder why you don't agree.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

Seeing that you are like one another, and a pair in your habits, vilest of wives, vilest of husbands, I wonder you don't agree!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

It is very strange, as it seems to me,
That you and your wife should not agree,
Since each is as vile as vile can be.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "Depth to Depth"]

Bad wife, bad husband, like as pea to pea,
I really wonder that you can't agree.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 412]

Since you're alike and lead a matching life,
Horrible husband and ill-natured wife,
Why all the discord and domestic strife?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Since the two of you are alike and equal in your way of life, a rotten wife and a rotten husband, I am surprised you don't suit one another.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You're an awful couple,
but birds of a feather --
It's weird you don't
Get along together.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

How can your squabbling be so curst?
Of natural pairings yours is first --
Worst husband with a wife that's worst.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Since you two are similar and equal in your way of life, being an awful wife and an awful husband, I’m surprised you don’t get along well with each other.
[tr. aleator classicus (2012)]

Since you both share the same approach to life
(a lousy husband and a lousy wife),
I am bewildered it
is not a better fit.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

Added on 29-Jul-23 | Last updated 29-Jul-23
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Being good is better far than seeming so.

[Refert sis bonus, an velis videri.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 38, l. 7 (8.38.7) [tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 415]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

'Tis better bee, than seeme, good.
[16th C Manuscript]

'Tis not the same,
To covet and to merit a good name.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Bounteous to be, or seem; the distance wide!
[tr. Elphinston (1782); Book 2, ep. 111]

It makes a difference whether a man is, or only wishes to seem, good.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

It matters much whether thou'rt truly good, or would'st appear so.
[comp. Harbottle (1916)]

Wide is the difference 'twixt goodness and pretence.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

... the great gulf ’twixt goodness and pretence.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

There is a difference between goodness and pretence.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 8-Sep-23 | Last updated 8-Sep-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Chrestilla lays her lords to rest, his ladies
Fabius, and ushers them with pomp to Hades.
Kind Venus, match the winners. Then, I trust,
One funeral pyre will turn the pair to dust.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924) #420]

Chrestilla digs her husbands' graves,
Fabius buries his wives. Each waves,
As bride or groom, the torch of doom
Over the marriage bed. Now pair
These finalists, Venus: let them share
Victory in a single tomb.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Fabius buries his wives, Chrestilla her husbands; each of them brandishes a funeral torch over the marriage bed. Venus, match the winners; the end awaiting them will be one bier to carry the pair.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

Fabius buries his wives; Christella, her husbands.
Each waves the funeral torch over the marriage bed.
Dear Venus, arrange that this pair be engaged.
One coffin will be enough to contain the dead.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Partners"]

Chrestilla buries husbands; Fabius wives.
Each waves the funeral torch at the marriage bed.
Pair up the winners, Venus. The result
will be that both will share a bier instead.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

The ancients only you admire, Vacerra;
No poet wins your favor till he dies.
I ask your pardon, but I don't think your praise
is worth so much that I will die for it.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

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)]

Rigidly classical, you save
Your praise for poets in the grave.
Forgive me, it's not worth my while
Dying to earn your critical smile.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You admire only the ancients, Vacerra, and praise no poets except dead ones. I crave your pardon, Vacerra; your good opinion is not worth dying for.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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]

Unless they’re dead, no poets seem
To fully satisfy;
Forgive me if, for some esteem,
I’m not prepared to die.
[tr. Mitchell]

Added on 24-Jun-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

All your women friends are either old hags or frights uglier than old hags. These are your companions whom you bring with you and trail through dinner parties, colonnades, theaters. In this way, Fabullla, you are a beauty, you are a girl.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 6-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

When you hear applause in a bath, Flaccus, you may be sure that Maro's cock is there.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

If from the baths you hear a round of applause,
The giant prick of Maron is surely the cause.
[tr. Cooper]

Added on 15-Apr-22 | Last updated 6-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 argue that my talent is inconsiderable, Gaurus, because I make poems that please by brevity. I confess it. But you that write of Priam's mighty battles in twice six books, are you a great man? I make a live B rutus' Boy, a live Langon: you, Gaurus, great man that you are, make a giant of clay.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 6-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

If you believe me, Quintus Ovidius, I love your birthday Kalends of April as much as my own of March -- you deserve it. Happy both days, days to be marked by me, with superior pebbles. The one gave me life, but the other a friend. Quintus, your Kalends give me more.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 1-Jun-21 | Last updated 6-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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]

I wished to send you for your birthday
A gift, a small thing really.
But you said, "No, I want no gift,"
And meant it most sincerely.
Let both our wishes be esteemed.
Why invite a rift
Between us? When my birthday comes,
Please send me a gift.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

I wished to give you a trifling birthday present, Quintus. You forbid it. you are an imperious fellow; I must obey your admonition. Let it be as both of us will wish, as gives both of us pleasure: you give me something, Quintus.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 10-Sep-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 80 (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"]

A hungry pauper, Gellius married a rich old woman. He feeds his wife and fucks her.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 7-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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)]

Reader and hearer both my verses praise:
Some other poet cries, "They do not scan."
But what care I? my dinner's always served
To please my guests, and not to please the cooks.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

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)]

The public likes my poems, though
A certain poet thinks them rough
Or never polished quite enough.
I could not care less! I prefer
The morsels served up in my books
To please my guests, not would-be cooks.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Readers and listeners like my books,
Yet a certain poet calls them crude.
What do I care? I serve up food
To please my guests, not fellow cooks.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Reader and listener approve my little books, Aulus, but a certain poet says they lack finish. I don't care too much; for I had rather the courses at my dinner pleased the diners than the cooks.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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 8-Mar-23
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More ease than masters, servants lives afford:
Think on that, Tom; nor wish to be your lord.
On a coarse rug you most securely snore:
Deep sunk in down he counts each sleepless hour.
Anxious betimes to every statesman low
He bows; much lower than to him you bow.
Behold him with a dun at either ear,
“Pray, pay,” the word; a word you never hear.
Fear you a cudgel? view his gouty state;
Which he would change for many a broken pate.
You know no morning qualm; no costly whore:
Think then, though not a lord, that you are more.

[Quae mala sint domini, quae servi commoda, nescis,
Condyle, qui servum te gemis esse diu.
Dat tibi securos vilis tegeticula somnos,
Pervigil in pluma Gaius, ecce, iacet.
Gaius a prima tremebundus luce salutat
Tot dominos, at tu, Condyle, nec dominum.
‘Quod debes, Gai, redde’ inquit Phoebus et illinc
Cinnamus: hoc dicit, Condyle, nemo tibi.
Tortorem metuis? podagra cheragraque secatur
Gaius et mallet verbera mille pati.
Quod nec mane vomis nec cunnum, Condyle, lingis,
Non mavis, quam ter Gaius esse tuus?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 92 (9.92) [tr. Hay (1755)]

Masters often think themselves more put-upon than their lazy, "carefree" servants/slaves, as do the rich versus the poor. "To Condylus" (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The weal of a servant, and woe of his lord,
Thou know'st not, who so long hast service abhorr'd.
Securest of slumbers thy coverlet crown:
Thy master, my Condyl, lies watching in down.
Lords many hails he, the chill morn just begun:
Thou own'st no such duty, saluting scarce one.
To him this and that wight: Pray, pay what you ow.
To thee not a mortal pretends to say so.
Thou feat'st but a flogging: he's rackt with the gout.
A thousand sound lashes he'd rather stand out.
Nor sick thou at morning, nor pale with disease:
Who's moire, prithee, thou or thy master at ease?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 4, Part 2, ep. 35]

Of the troubles of a master, and the pleasures of a slave, Condylus, you are ignorant, when you lament that you have been a slave so long. A common rug gives you sleep free from all anxiety; Caius lies awake all night on his bed of down. Caius, from the first dawn of day, salutes with trembling a number of patrons; you, Condylus, salute not even your master. "Caius, pay what you owe me," cries Phoebus on the one side, and Cinnamus on the other; no one makes such a demand on you, Condylus. Do you fear the torturer? Caius is a martyr to the gout in his hands and feet, and would rather suffer a thousand floggings than endure its pains. You indulge neither gluttonous nor licentious propensities. Is not this preferable to being three times a Caius?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

The lowliest cot will give thee powerful sleep,
While Caius tosses on his bed of down.
[ed. Harbottle (1916), 9.93.3]

What are a master's ills, what a slave's blessings you do not know, Condylus, who groan that you are so long a slave. Your common rush-mat affords you sleep untoubled; wakeful all night on down, see, Gaius lies! Gaius from early morn salutes trembling many masters; but you, Condylus, not even your master. "What you owe, Gaius, pay," says Phoebus, and after him Cinnamus: this no one Condylus says to you. Do you dread the torturer? By gout in food and hand Gaius is stabbed, and would choose instead to endure a thousand blows. You do not vomit in the morning, nor are you given to filthy vice, Condylus: do you not prefer this to being your Gaius three times over?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

"How easy live the free," you say, and brood
Upon your long but easy servitude.
See Gaius tossing on his downy bed;
Your sleep’s unbroken tho’ the couch be rude;
He pays his call ere chilly dawn be red,
You need not call on him, you sleep instead;
He’s deep in debt, hears many a summons grim
From creditors that you need never dread,
You might be tortured at your master’s whim;
Far worse the gout that racks his every limb;
Think of the morning qualms, his vicious moods.
Would you for thrice his freedom change with him?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "True Servitude"]

Condylus, you lament that you have been so long a slave; you don't know a master's afflictions and a slave's advantages. A cheap little mat gives you carefree slumbers: there's Gaius lying awake all night on feathers. From daybreak on Gaius in fear and trembling salutes so many masters: but you, Condylus, do not salute even your own. "Gaius, pay me back what you owe," says Phoebus, and from yonder so says Cinnamus: nobody says that to you, Condylus. You fear the torturer? Gaius is cut by gout in foot and hand and would rather take a thousand lashes. You don't vomit of a morning or lick a cunt, Condylus; isn't that better than being your Gaius three times over?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Never the pros & cons of "slave," or "master,"
can you, mourning long servitude, discern.
The cheapest matting yields you dreamless sleep;
Gaius's feather-bed keeps him awake.
From crack of down Gaius respectfully
greets many masters; yours goes ungreeted.
"Pay day, Gaius, pay!" says Phoebus. "Pay! Pay!"
chimes Cinnamus. What man speaks thus to you?
Screw & rack, you dread? Gaius' gout stabs so
he'ld far prefer the thumbscrew or the rack.
You've no hangover habit, oral sex:
is not one life of yours worth three of his?
[tr. Whigham (2001)]

Added on 15-Sep-23 | Last updated 15-Sep-23
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A good man can expand his life: he lives
twice over whose past life can be enjoyed.

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

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 23, ll. 8-9 (10.23) [tr. McLean (2014)]

"To Antonius Primus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Each must, in vertue, strive for to excell;
That man lives twice, that lives the first life well.
[tr. Herrick (1648)]

He liveth twice, who can the Gift retain
Of Mem'ry, to enjoy past Life again.
[tr. Cotton (1685)]

Thus a good man prolongs his mortal date;
Lives twice, enjoying thus his former slate.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

For he lives twice who can at once employ
The present well, and e'en the past enjoy.
[tr. Pope (1713)]

They stretch the limits of this narrow span;
And, by enjoying, live past life again.
[tr. Lewis (1750)]

A good man amplifies the span of his existence ; for this is to live twice, to be able to find enjoyment in past life.
[tr. Amos (1858); he gives several other contemporary uses and translations.]

A good man lengthens his term of existence; to be able to enjoy our past life is to live twice.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

So good men lengthen life; and to recall
The past, is to have twice enjoyed it all.
[tr. Stevenson (c. 1883)]

The good man prolongs his life; to be able to enjoy one's past life is to live twice.
[Bartlett's (1891)]

A good man has a double span of life,
For to enjoy past life is twice to live.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

A good man widens for himself his age's span; he lives twice who can find delight in life bygone.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Redoubled happiness and life hath he
Whose joy doth live again in memory.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

The good man lengthens out his earthly skein,
For living in the past is life again.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #525]

A good man's life is doubly long,
For he lives twice who, day and night,
Can in his whole past take delight.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Virtue extends our days: he lives two lives who relives his past with pleasure.
[Bartlett's (1968)]

A good man enlarges for himself his span of life. To be able to enjoy former life is to live twice over.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

The good man has no ugly past he would forget,
So memory gives him doubled life without regret.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

He does not deplore life's brevity.
For virtue is itself longevity.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

When I remember,
success, failure,
friend, enemy,
wife, lover
I live twice over.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Living"]

A good man can expand his life: he lives
twice over whose past life can be enjoyed.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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)]

Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 soaking, 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-using 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 pain 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 thinks 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)]

Dear Martial, if you'ld happy be,
Here's the unfailing recipe.
An income not procured by toil,
A blazing hearth, a grateful soil,
Quiet, undress, no suit at law,
Good health and strength without a flaw,
Shrewd frankness, many a loyal heart,
Kind guests, a table void of art,
Nights careless, sober, bed that's chaste
But cheerful, sleep the night to waste;
Contented seek no other fate,
Nor wish nor fear your death to wait.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #544, "To His Cousin"]

These are the things, my handsome friend,
That make life happier to the end:
Wealth, not as an employee
Amassed, but as a legatee,
A farm responsive to my care,
A fire to warm my pensive chair,
Lawsuits never, rare the bane
Of dinner-suits, a mind that's sane,
A body sound, a shoulder free,
Not bowed by fear or slavery.
A disposition frank but kind,
Friends with me of an equal mind,
Friends who easily are led
To share my table plainly spread;
Wine at night the cares of day
To smile at and to chase away,
Fun and merriment in bed
But such as proper to those wed,
A sleep that makes the night on wings
Depart, and blessed daylight brings,
To be content with what we are,
And not to curse our natal star,
Never to fear the final day,
Never for death to hope and pray.
[tr. Marcellino (1968), "On Happiness"]

The things that make life better
are these, my good friend Julius Martial:
Money you inherit and don't have to work for,
a fruitful field, an unfailing fire,
no lawsuit in sight, being seldom obliged
to don the toga, a mind unhampered by cares,
a body in good condition, and still endowed
with the strength it always had,
deliberately living on the small scale
with friends and equals, just good company;
no fussing around with costly dinner parties,
the sort of night that cheers you up
without landing you dead drunk
on a couch that's neither prudish
nor abandoned,
and then a good long sleep
that makes the darkness short.
And this above all, to accept yourself
as you really are
and to wish for nothing more.
If you live like this, my good friend Julius Martial,
you won't either long for
or wince at
your last day on earth.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Of what does the happy life consist,
My dear friend, Julius? Here's a list:
Inherited wealth, no need to earn,
Fires that continually burn,
And fields that give a fair return,
No lawsuits, formal togas worn
Seldom, a calm mind, the freeborn
Gentleman's health and good physique,
Tact with the readiness to speak
Openly, friends of your own mind,
Guests of an easy-going kind,
Plain food, a table simply set,
Nights sober but wine-freed from fret,
A wife who's true to you and yet
No prude in bed, and sleep so sound
It makes the down come quickly round.
Be pleased with what you are, keep hope
Within that self-appointed scope;
Neither uneasily apprehend
Nor morbidly desire the end.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Most delightful Martialis, the elements of a happy life are as follows: money not worked for but inherited; land not unproductive; a fire all the year round; lawsuits never, a gown rarely worn, a mind at peace; a gentleman's strength, a healthy body; guielessness not naive, friends of like degree, easy company, a table without frills; a night not drunken but free of cares; a marriage bed not austere and yet modest; sleep to make the dark hours short; a wish to be what you are, wish nothing better; don't fear your last day, nor yet pray for it.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

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)]

These, my dearest Martialis, are
the things that bring a happy life:
wealth left to you, not laboured for;
rich land, an ever-glowing hearth;
no law, light business, and a quiet mind;
a healthy body, gentlemanly powers;
a wise simplicity, friends not unlike;
good company, a table without art;
nights carefree, yet no drunkenness;
a bed that’s modest, true, and yet not cold;
sleep that makes the hours of darkness brief:
the need to be yourself, and nothing more;
not fearing your last day, not wishing it.
[tr. Kline (2006), "The Good Life"]

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), "A happy life"]

Most genial Martial, these things are
the elements that make life blessed:
money inherited, not earned;
a fire year-round, a mind at rest,
productive land, no lawsuits, togas
rarely, friends of like degree,
a gentleman's physique, sound health,
shrewd innocence, good company,
plain fair, nights carefree, yet not drunk;
a bed that's decent, not austere;
sleep, to make darkness brief desire
to be just what you are, no higher;
and death no cause for hope or fear.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

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 8-Mar-23
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If an epigram takes up a page, you skip it:
Art counts for nothing, you prefer the snippet.
The markets have been ransacked for you, reader,
Rich fare — and you want canapes instead!
I’m not concerned with the fastidious feeder:
Give me the man who likes his basic bread.

[Consumpta est uno si lemmate pagina, transis,
Et breviora tibi, non meliora placent.
Dives et ex omni posita est instructa macello
Cena tibi, sed te mattea sola iuvat.
Non opus est nobis nimium lectore guloso;
Hunc volo, non fiat qui sine pane satur.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 59 (10.59) [tr. Michie (1972)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

If one sole epigram takes up a page,
You turn it o'er, and will not there engage:
Consulting not its worth, but your dear ease;
And not what's good, but what is short, does please.
I serve a feast with all the richest fare
The market yields; for tarts you only care.
My books not fram'd such liq'rish guests to treat,
But such as relish bread, and solid meat.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

If one small theme exhaust a page,
'Though fli'st upon the wings of rage,
To fewer words, tho' not more fine;
And met'st my matter, by the line.
A rich repast, from ev'ry stall,
We see upon thy palate pall.
We fear a sickly appetite,
Where tid-bits onely can delight.
Out oh! may I receive no guest
Who picks the tiny for the best.
His taste wills tand him more to sted,
Who makes no meal up without bread.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 11]

If one subject occupies a whole page, you pass over it; short epigrams, rather than good ones, seem to please you. A rich repast, consisting of every species of dish, is set before you, out only dainty bits gratify your taste. I do not covet a reader with such an over-nice palate; I want one that is not content to make a meal without bread.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You have no patience for the page-long skit,
Your taste is ruled by brevity, not wit.
Ransack the mart, make you a banquet rare,
You'll pick the titbit from the bill of fare;
I have no use for suchy a dainty guest;
Who ekes his dinner out with bread is best.
[tr. Street (1907)]

If a column is taken up by a single subject, you skip it, and the shorter epigrams please you, not the better. A meal, rich and furnished from every market, has been placed before you, but only a dainty attracts you. I have no need of a reader too nice: I want him who is not satisfied without bread.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You like the shortest poems, not the best,
Tis those you always read -- and skip the rest;
I spread a varied banquet for your taste,
You take made dishes and the rest you waste.
And wrong your appetite, for truth to tell
A satisfying meal needs bread as well.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You've read one epigram; the rest you skip;
Shortness, not sweetness suits your censorship.
A whole rich mart's outspread before your feet;
And yet a small tit-bit's your only treat.
I want no gluttonous reader, no, indeed!
Still I prefer one who on bread can feed.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924) ep. 554]

If a poem of mine fills up a page,
You pass it by. You'd rather read
The shorter, not the better ones.
A fear to answer every need,
Rich and varied, and supplied
With many viands widely drawn
From every shop is offered you,
And yet you glance at it with scorn,
The dainties only pleasing you.
Fussy reader, away! Instead
Give me a guest who with his meal
Must have some homely peasant bread.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

If a page is used up with a single title, you pass it by; you like the shorter items, not the better ones. A sumptuous dinner furnished from every market is served you, but you care only for a tidbit. I don't want a reader with too fine a palate; give me the man who doesn't feel full without bread.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

A whole damned page crammed with verse -- so you yawn!
If a poem's too long you move swiftly on;
"Shorter the better!" is your golden rule.
But markets are scoured to make the tongue drool;
A groaning board's set -- rich sauces for days --
And yet, dear reader, you want canapés?
But I don't hunger for diners so prude:
Hail meat and potatoes -- screw finger food!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

If just one poem fills a page, you skip it.
The short ones please you, not the best. I serve
a lavish dinner culled from every market,
but you are only pleased with the hors d'oeuvre.
A finicky reader's not for me; instead,
I want one who's not full without some bread.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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Since the gleaming expanse on the top of your head,
Marinus, seems painfully wide,
You gather together and spread on the tract
The hairs that remain on each side.
But the breath of the wind promptly blows them about
And straightway the middle space clears.
And long strands so surround the bare waste that you seem
Like a Roundhead ‘twixt two Cavaliers.
Now why not be candid, confess that you’re old,
Meet nature with heart unappalled?
You’ll at least then seem one man: there’s nothing so bad
As a being hirsute and yet bald.

[Raros colligis hinc et hinc capillos
Et latum nitidae, Marine, calvae
Campum temporibus tegis comatis;
Sed moti redeunt iubente vento
Reddunturque sibi caputque nudum
Cirris grandibus hinc et inde cingunt:
Inter Spendophorum Telesphorumque
Cydae stare putabis Hermerotem.
Vis tu simplicius senem fateri,
Ut tandem videaris unus esse!
Calvo turpius est nihil comato.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 83 (10.83) [tr. Nixon (1911), “A Most Delicate Matter”]

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

Your thin-sown hairs on any side
With dextrous care you cull;
And rob your temples of their pride,
To thatch your shining skull.
Repell'd by ev'ry puff of wind,
They take their former stand,
And then your desert poll they bind,
With locks in either hand.
So 'twixt two tuzzy youthful pates,
One Halmyrotes sees.
Throw ridicule no more such baits:
The bare old-man will please.
But, that at length you may seem one,
The shaver quick be call'd;
And let him o'er the remnant run:
Belock'd! oh shame! and bald!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, part 2, ep. 17]

You collect together a few locks of hair that remain on your temples, and cover with them the wide expanse of your shining bald pate; but no sooner are the locks commanded by the wind than they return to their places; and, as before, they gird, on each side, your naked head; just as if Cidas's statue of the old man were placed between two youths having luxuriant hair. Will you candidly confess your senility? In order that you may appear what you really are, let some barber shave the remnant of your hairs; nothing is more disgraceful than a bald man wearing hair.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, #138]

You collect your straggling hairs on each side, Marinus, endeavouring to conceal the vast expanse of your shining bald pate by the locks which still grow on your temples. But the hairs disperse, and return to their own place with every gust of wind; flanking your bare pole on either side with crude tufts. We might imagine we saw Hermeros of Cydas standing between Spendophorus and Telesphorus. Why not confess yourself an old man? Be content to seem what you really are, and let the barber shave off the rest of your hair. There is nothing more contemptible than a bald man who pretends to have hair.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

From one side and the other you gather up your scanty locks and you cover, Marinus, the wide expanse of your shining bald scalp with the hair form both sides of your head. But blown about, they come back at the bidding of the wind, and return to themselves and gird your bare poll with big culres on this side and on that. You would think that Hermeros of Cydas is standing between Spendophorus and Telephorus. Will you, please, in simpler fashion confess yourself old, so as after all to appear a single person? Nothing is more unsightly than a bald man covered with hair.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You scrape a few hairs from the side of your head,
So that over your bare-shining baldness they spread;
But blown by the wind they return to their place
And with two big curls your poor naked poll grace.
You’ld think that we had old Silenus in sight
Between young Adonis and Hermaphrodite.
Confess your old age and leave all your head bare:
There’s nothing more ugly than bald men with hair
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Your scattered side-locks to a bunch you train,
And draw a forest to the shining plain.
Then comes the wind, and once again are seen
Two curly masses with a space between.
Spendophorus and Telesphorus you'ld swear
And Hermerotes in the midst were there.
Be one, Marinus; your old age confess;
A bald coot feathered vaunts his ugliness.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #572 "To One Who Hides His Baldness"]

Marinus, you collect your scattered locks from this side and from that, and cover the broad expanse of your shining baldness with hair from your temples. But at the wind's bidding they move and return and are restored to themselves, to surround your bare top with big curls on either side. You would think that Cydas' Hermeros was standing between Spendophorus and Telesphorus. Why not be straightforward and admit to being an old man, so that at least you look like one man? Nothing is uglier than a baldhead with a lot of hair.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Your hairs are carefully disposed
Lest your bald pate should be disclosed.
But winds lift them in wavy drifts,
Moved in a blur of constant shifts.
How can you have so little hair,
Yet have it show up everywhere?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 3-Nov-14 | Last updated 18-Feb-23
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‘Tis a hard task not to surrender morality for riches.

[Ardua res haec est opibus non tradere mores.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 22-Feb-23
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You there, reader, the over-solemn one,
Take a hike wherever — my verse is spun
Only for blithe, witty cognoscenti
“Up” for priapic jeux de spree aplenty
Or aroused by bells on harlot’s fingers.
He who in these randy pages lingers —
Though more stern than Curius or Fabricius
Soon gets tingly, and anon lubricious;
Then, lo, beneath a toga something pokes.
My little book’s salacious whims and jokes
Will lead even the chastest dames astray;
Taken with wine, my lines can make ’em bray!
Lucretia, more proper than whom none such,
Peeked between my covers, blushed very much,
And threw me down (but Brutus stood glowering).
Brutus, “Ciao!” — and back she’ll be devouring.

[Qui gravis es nimium, potes hinc iam, lector, abire
Quo libet: urbanae scripsimus ista togae;
Iam mea Lampsacio lascivit pagina versu
Et Tartesiaca concrepat aera manu.
O quotiens rigida pulsabis pallia vena,
Sis gravior Curio Fabricioque licet!
Tu quoque nequitias nostri lususque libelli
Uda, puella, leges, sis Patavina licet.
Erubuit posuitque meum Lucretia librum,
Sed coram Bruto; Brute, recede: leget.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 16 (11.16) [tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

To read my Booke the Virgin shie
May blush, (while Brutus standeth by:)
But when He's gone, read through what's write,
And never staine a cheeke for it.
[tr. Herrick (1658), "On his Booke"]

Haste hence, morose remarker, haste:
Urbanity alone has taste.
No strains Lampsacian foul my page,
Nor feels my brass Tartessian rage.
yet here the mirth that cannot cloy,
Shall often shake thy sides with joy:
Suppose thy mind of graver mold,
Than Curius' self possest of old;
Or had thy features greater force,
Than his, that brav'd the solar course.
Nay thou my nonsense keen shalt read,
Meek made of Patavinian breed.
Lucretia blusht, and dropt the book;
Nor, Brutus there, would dain a look.
Brutus, begone: thy dame, at ease
Will show how my perusals please.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 64, "To the Morose"]

Reader, if you are exceedingly staid, you may shut up my book whenever you please; I write now for the idlers of the city; my verses are devoted to the god of Lampsacus, and my hand shakes the castanet, as briskly as a dancing-girl of Cadiz. Oh! how often will you feel your desires aroused, even though you were more frigid than Curius and Fabricius. You too, young damsel, will read the gay and sportive sallies of my book not without emotion, even though you should be a native of Patavium. Lucretia blushes, and lays my book aside; but Brutus is present. Let Brutus retire, and she will read.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859). "To His Readers"]

You, reader, who are too strait-laced, can now go away from here whither you will: I wrote these verses for the citizen of wit; now my page wantons in verse of Lampascus, and beats the timbrel with the hand of a figurante of Tartessus. Oh, how often will you with your ardour disarrange your garb, though you may be more strait-laced than Curius and Fabricus! You also, O girl, may, when in your cups, read the naughtiness and sportive sallis of my little book, though you may be from Patavium. Lucretia blushed and laid down my volume; but Brutus was present. Brutus, go away: she will read it.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Grave reader, go -- wherever you may please --
I'm writing now for Roman cits at ease.
This scroll is full of Priapean rhymes
And sound of castanets from Spanish climes.
Though you more stern than ancient Curius be
You will be fired, methinks, if you read me.
Yet modest maidens at this sportive book
May in their cups perchance with favour look,
And matrons hide it from their lords away --
Meaning to finish it some other day.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "A Warning to Prudes"]

Too serious reader, you may leave at this point and go where you please. I wrote these pieces for the city gown; now my page frolics with verse of Lampsacus and clashes the cymbals with Tartesian hand. Oh, how often you will strike your garment with rigid member, though you be graver than Curius and Fabricius. You also, my girl, will not be dry as you read the naughty jests of my little book, though you come from Patavium. Lucretia blushed and put my book aside, but that was in front of Brutus. Brutus, withdraw: she will read.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You can leave now, Reader, over-severe,
go, where you please: I write for the city;
my page, now, runs wild with Priapic verse,
strikes the cymbals, with a dancing-girl’s hand.
O, how you’ll beat your cloak in rigid vein,
though you’re weightier than Curius, Fabricius!
You too, that read naughty jokes in my little book,
you’ll be wet, girl, though you’re from moral Padua.
Lucretia would have blushed, and shut my volume,
while Brutus was there; but when he left: she’d have read.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

Persnickety readers, time to leave!
I now write stuff to make you grieve.
My toga off, my lines will jiggle
And with the bellydancer wriggle.
Now what we wear will ask no pardon
For standing out with sculptured hard-on.
To make the Founding Fathers horny,
And Boston matrons less than thorny --
They'll lather up between their thighs
And wonder at their fellows' size.
Of course Lucretia will not look
Till Brutus goes -- then: Seize the book!
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Let every prudish reader use his feet
And bugger off -- I write for the elite.
My verses gambol with Priapic verve
As dancing harlots' patter starts a nerve.
Though stern as Curius or like Fabricius,
Your prick will stiffen and grow vicious.
Girls while they drink -- even the chastest folk --
Will read each naughty word and dirty joke.
Lucretia blushes, throws away my book.
Her husband goes. She takes another look.
[tr. Reid]

Added on 23-Sep-22 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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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.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
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 swears she's never been had
Gratis. That's true. You see:
When she is in one of her amorous moods,
It's she who pays, not we.
[tr. Marcellino (1968), ]

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 8-Mar-23
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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.]