Diary of the Plague Year: Day 66 20 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Martial (40 AD – 102/104 AD)

Martial was known for his witty, scathing and sophisticated epigrams:

He’s healthy – yet he’s deathly pale;
Seldom drinks wine and has a hale
Digestion – but looks white and ill;
Sunbathes, rouges his cheeks – and still
Has a pasty face; licks all the cunts
In Rome – and never blushes once.
 
And then you are completely blindsided by:
 
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.

FROM:

MARTIAL
THE EPIGRAMS
Selected and translated by James Michie

Penguin Classics

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