Matho alleges that my book’s uneven.
He compliments my poems, if that’s true.
Calvinus and Umber write consistent books.
Consistent books are lousy through and through.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matho's mad,
upset,
says my book
is unfair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Added on 8-Apr-22 | Last updated 8-Apr-22
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