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Martial, Epigrams. Book 11. Mainly from Bohn's Classical Library (1897)



Whither, my book, whither are you going so much at your ease, clad in a holiday dress of fine linen? Is it to see Parthenius? 1 certainly. Go, then, and return unopened; for he does not read books, but only memorials; nor has he time for the muses, or he would have time for his own. Or do you esteem yourself sufficiently happy, if you fall into hands of less note? In that case, repair to the neighbouring portico of Romulus; that of Pompeius does not contain a more idle crowd, nor does that of Agenor's daughter,1 or that of the inconstant captain 3 of the first ship. Two or three may be found there who will shake out the worms that infest my trifles; but they will do so only when they are tired of the betting and gossip about Scorpus and Incitatus.4

1 See B. v. Ep. 6, and B. iv. Ep. 45.
2 Europa. See B. ii. Ep. 14
4 Charioteers.


You stern brows and severe looks of rigid Catos, you daughters of rustic Fabricii, you mock-modest, you censors of morals, aye, and all you proprieties opposed to the joys of darkness, flee hence! Hark! my verses exclaim, "Io, Saturnalia!" we are at liberty, and, under your rule, Nerva, rejoice. Fastidious readers may con over the rugged verses of Santra.1 We have nothing in common; the book before you is mine.

1 A Roman grammarian of whom nothing remains. 


It is not the idle people of the city only that delight in my Muse, nor is it alone to listless ears that these verses are addressed, but my book is thumbed amid Getic frosts, near martial standards, by the stern centurion; and even Britain is said to sing my verses. Yet of what advantage is it to me? My purse benefits nothing by my reputation. What immortal pages could I not have written and what wars could I not have sung to the Pierian trumpet, if, when the kind deities gave a second Augustus2 to the earth, they had likewise given to you, O Rome, a second Maecenas.

2 The emperor Nerva,


You sacred altars, and Phrygian Lares, whom the Trojan hero preferred to snatch from the flames, rather than possess the wealth of Laomedon; you, O Jupiter, now first represented in imperishable gold; you, his sister, and you, his daughter; the offspring solely of the supreme Father; you, too, Janus, who now repeat the name of Nerva for the third time in the purple Fasti, I offer to you this prayer with pious lips: "Preserve, all of you, this our emperor; preserve the senate; and may the senators exhibit in their lives the morals of their prince, the prince his own."


You have as much reverence for justice and equity, Caesar, as Numa had; but Numa was poor. It is an arduous task to preserve morality from the corruption of riches, and to be a Numa after surpassing so many Croesuses. If the great names of old, our ancient progenitors, were to return to life, and liberty were granted them to leave the Elysian groves, unconquered Camillus would worship you as Liberty herself; Fabricius would consent to receive money if you were to offer it; Brutus would rejoice in having you for his emperor; to you the blood-thirsty Sulla would offer his power when about to resign it; Pompey, in concord with Caesar, as a private citizen, would love you; Crassus would bestow upon you all his wealth; and even Cato himself were he recalled from the infernal shades of Pluto, and restored to the earth, would join the party of Caesar.


In these festive days of the scythe-bearing old man, when the dice-box rules supreme, you will permit me, I feel assured, cap-clad Rome,1 to sport in unlaboured verse. You smile: I may do so then, and am not forbidden. Depart, pale cares, far away from hence; let us say whatever comes uppermost without disagreeable reflection. Mix cup after cup, my attendants, such as Pythagoras 2 used to give to Nero; mix, Dindymus, mix still faster. I can do nothing without wine; but, while I am drinking, the power of fifteen poets will show itself in me. Now give me kisses, such as Catullus would have loved; and if I receive as many as he describes, I will give you the 'Sparrow'3 of Catullus.

1 The slaves wore caps at the Saturnalia; at other times their heads were bare. 
A favourite of Nero.
3 His most famous poem.


You will certainly, Paula, no longer say to your stupid husband, whenever you wish to run after some distant gallant, "Caesar has ordered me to come in the morning to his Alban villa; Caesar has sent for me to Circeii. Such stratagems are now stale. With Nerva as emperor, you ought to be a Penelope; but your licentiousness and force of habit prevent it. Unhappy woman! what will you do? will you pretend that one of your female friends is ill? Your husband will attach himself as escort to his lady. He will go with you to your brother, and your mother, and your father, what tricks will your ingenuity then devise? Another adultress might say, perhaps, that she is hysterical, and wishes to take a sitting-bath in the Sinnessan lake. How much better will it be, Paula, whenever you wish to go and take your pleasure, to tell your husband the truth.


The fragrance of balsam extracted from aromatic trees; the ripe odour yielded by the teeming saffron; the perfume of fruits mellowing in their winter repository; or of the flowery meadows in the vernal season; or of silken robes of the Empress from her Palatine wardrobes; of amber warmed by the hand of a maiden; of a jar of dark Falernian wine, broken and scented from a distance;1 of a garden that attracts the Sicilian bees; of the alabaster jars of Cosmus, and the altars of the gods; of the chaplet just fallen from the brow of the luxurious;----but why should I mention all these things singly? not one of them is enough by itself; mix all together, and you have the perfume of the morning kisses of my favourite. Do you want to know the name? I will only tell you of the kisses. You swear to be secret? You want to know too much, Sabinus.

1 Such fragrance being more grateful from a distance.


Memor, distinguished by the chaplet of Jove's oak, the glory of the Roman stage, breathes here, restored by the pencil of Apelles.


Turnus has consecrated his vast genius to satire. Why did he not devote it in the manner of Memor? He was his brother.1

1 He did not wish to rival Memor. Turnus is mentioned in B.vii. Ep.95


Away, boy, with these goblets, and these embossed vases of the tepid Nile, and give me, with steady hand, cups familiar to the lips of our sires, and pure from the touch of a virtuous attendant. Restore to our table its pristine honour. It becomes you, Sardanapalus, to drink out of jewelled cups, you who would convert a master-piece of Mentor into a convenience for your mistress.


Though the rights of a father of even seven children be given you, Zoilus, no one can give you a mother, or a father.


Whoever you are, traveller, that tread the Flaminian way, pass not unheeded this noble tomb. The delight of the city, the wit of the Nile,1 the art and grace, the sportiveness and joy, the glory and grief of the Roman theatre, and all its Venuses and Cupids, lie buried in this tomb, with Paris.

1 Paris was bom in Egypt.


O you heirs, bury not the dwarf husbandman, for the least quantity of earth will lie heavy on him.


There are some of my writings which may be read by the wife of a Cato, and the most austere of Sabine women. But I wish the present little book to laugh from one end to the other, and to be more free in its language than any of my books; to be redolent of wine, and not ashamed of being greased with the rich unguents of Cosmus; a book to make sport for boys, and to make love to girls; and to speak, without disguise, of that by respecting which men are generated, the parent indeed of all; which the pious Numa used to call by its simple name. Remember, however, Apollinaris, that these verses are for the Saturnalia, and not to be taken as a picture of my morals.


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.


It is not every page in my book that is intended to be read at night; you will find something also, Sabinus, to read in the morning.


You have given me, Lupus, an estate in the suburbs, but I have a larger estate on my window-sill. Can you say that this is an estate,----can you call this, I say, an estate, where a sprig of rue makes a grove for Diana; which the wing of the chirping grasshopper is sufficient to cover; which an ant could lay waste in a single day; for which the leaf of a rose-bud would serve as a canopy; in which herbage is not more easily found than Cosmus's perfumes, or green pepper: in which a cucumber cannot lie straight, or a snake uncoil itself. As a garden, it would scarcely feed a single caterpillar; a gnat would eat up its willow bed and starve; a mole would serve for digger and ploughman. The mushroom cannot expand in it, the fig cannot bloom, the violet cannot open. A mouse would destroy the whole territory, and is as much an object of terror as the Calydonian boar. My crop is carried off by the claws of a flying Progne, and deposited in a swallow's nest; and there is not room even for the half of a Priapus, though he be without his scythe and sceptre. The harvest, when gathered in, scarcely fills a snail-shell; and the wine may be stored up in a nut-shell stopped with resin. You have made a mistake, Lupus, though only in one letter; instead of giving me a praedium, I would rather you had given me a prandium.1

1 Praedium=farm, estate, prandium=dinner.


Do you ask, Galla, why I am unwilling to marry you? You are a prude; and my passions frequently commit solecisms.


O captious reader, who peruses with stern countenance certain Latin verses of mine, read six amorous lines of Augustus Caesar:----"Because Antonius kisses Glaphvra, Fulvia wishes me in revenge to kiss her. I kiss Fulvia! What if Manius were to make a similar request!! Should I grant it? I should think not, if I were in my senses. Either kiss me, says she, or fight me. Nay, my purity is dearer to me than life, therefore let the trumpet sound for battle!" ---- Truly, Augustus, you acquit my sportive sallies of licentiousness, when you give such examples of Roman simplicity.


Lydia is as widely developed as the rump of a bronze equestrian statue, as the swift hoop that resounds with its tinkling rings, as the wheel so often struck from the extended springboard 1, as a worn-out shoe drenched by muddy water, as the wide-meshed net that lies in wait for wandering thrushes, as an awning that does not belly to the wind in Pompey's theatre, as a bracelet that has slipped from the arm of a consumptive catamite, as a pillow widowed of its Leuconian stuffing, as the aged breeches of a pauper Briton, and as the foul throat of a pelican of Ravenna 2.  This woman I am said to have embraced in a marine fishpond; I don't know; I think I embraced the fishpond itself.

Not translated in the Bohn translation, perhaps to save schoolmasters from having to explain 'catamite' (cinaedus); this from Ker's Loeb edition.

1 A difficult line; it might perhaps mean "so often struck by the acrobat in his flight".  The nature of a petaurum has never been clearly known.
2 Described Plin. N.H. x. 66.


[Not translated in the Bohn; translated in Ker but too disgusting to repeat here]


Sila is ready to become my wife at any price; but I am unwilling at any price to make Sila my wife. As she insisted, however, I said, "You shall bring me a million of sesterces in gold as a dowry"----What less could I take? "Nor, although I become your husband, will I associate with you even on the first night, or at any time share a couch with you. I will also embrace my mistress without restraint; and you shall send me, if I require her, your own maid. Any favourite, whether my own or yours, shall be at liberty to give me amorous salutes even while you are looking on. You shall come to my table, but our seats shall be so far apart, that my garments be not touched by yours. You shall salute me but rarely, never without invitation; and then not in the manner of a wife, but in that of a grandmother. If you can submit to this, and if there is nothing that you refuse to endure, you will find in me a gentleman, Sila, ready to take you to wife.


While I am attending you about, and escorting you home, while lending my ear to your chattering, and praising whatever you say and do, how many verses of mine, Labullus, might have seen the light! Does it seem nothing to you, that what Rome reads, what the foreigner seeks, what the knight willingly accepts, what the senator stores up, what the barrister praises, and rival poets abuse, are lost through your fault? Is this right, Labullus? Can any one endure, that while you thus augment the number of your wretched clients, you proportionately diminish the number of my books? In the last thirty days, or thereabouts, I have scarcely finished one page. See what befalls a poet who does not dine at home.


[Not translated in the Bohn or in Ker's Loeb]


Charm of my life, Telesphorus, sweet object of my cares, whose like never before lay in my arms, give me, fair one, kisses redolent of the fragrance of old Falernian, give me goblets of which your lips have first partaken. If, in addition to this, you grant me the pleasure of true affection, I shall say that Jove is not more happy at the side of Ganymede.


You are a man of iron, Flaccus, if you can show amorous power for a woman, who values herself at no more than half a dozen jars of pickle, or a couple of slices of tunny fish, or a paltry sea-lizard; who does not think herself worth a bunch of raisins; who makes only one mouthful of a red herring, which a servant maid fetches in an earthenware dish; or who, with a brazen face and lost to shame, lowers her demand to five skins for a cloak. Why! my mistress asks of me a pound of the most precious perfume, or a pair of green emeralds, or sardonyxes; and will have no dress except of the very best silks from the Tuscan street; nay, she would ask me for a hundred gold pieces with as little concern as if they were brass. Do you think that I wish to make such presents to a mistress? No, I do not: but I wish my mistress to be worthy of such presents.


Nasica, a 'madman', attacked the Hylas of Euctus the physician, and _____ed him.  This fellow was, I think, sane.

Not translated in the Bohn; this adapted from Ker's Loeb edition.


[Not translated in the Bohn translation; translated in Ker but disgusting]


[Not translated in the Bohn translation; mostly translated in Ker but disgusting]


Caecilius, a very Atreus of gourds, tears and cuts them into a thousand pieces, just as if they were the children of Thyestes. Some of these pieces will be placed before you to begin with as a relish; they will appear again as a second course; then again as a third course. From some he will contrive a dessert; from others the baker will make mawkish patties, cakes of every form, and dates such as are sold at the theatres. By the art of the cook they are metamorphosed into all sorts of mincemeat, so that you would fancy you saw lentils and beans on the table; they are also made to imitate mushrooms and sausages, tails of tunnies and anchovies. This dextrous cook exhausts the powers of art to disguise them in every way, sometimes by means of Capellian rue.1 Thus he fills his dishes, and side dishes, and polished plates, and tureens, and congratulates himself upon his skill in furnishing so many dishes at the cost of a penny.

1 So called from Capellius, who cultivated or sold it . Rue was used for garnishing dishes; see Ep. 52.


You have neither a toga, nor a hearth, nor a bed infested with vermin, nor a patched rag of marsh reeds, nor a slave young or old, nor a maid, nor a child, nor a lock, nor a key, nor a house-dog, nor a wine-cup. Yet, Nestor, you desire to be thought and called a poor man, and wish to be counted as such among the people. You are a deceiver, and do yourself too much idle honour. To have nothing is not poverty.1

1 It is worse; it is mere beggary.


Since the death of Nero the charioteer of the Green Faction has often won the palm, and carried off many prizes. Go now, malicious envy, and say that you were influenced by Nero; for now assuredly the charioteer of the Green Faction, not Nero, has won these victories.


Aper has bought a house; but such a house, as not even an owl would inhabit; so dark and old is the little dwelling. But near it the elegant Maro has his country seat, and Aper will dine well, though he will not be well lodged.1

1 Aper expects his rich neighbour to invite him frequently to dinner.


You invite some three hundred guests all unknown to me, and then wonder that I do not accept your invitation, and complain, and are ready to quarrel with me. Fabullus, I do not like to dine alone.


O mark this day for me with a white stone, Caius Julius having been restored (how delightful!) to my prayers. I rejoice to have despaired as though the threads of the sisters had already been snapped asunder; that joy is but little where there has been no fear. Hypnus, why do you loiter? Pour out the immortal Falernian; such fulfilment of my prayers demands an old cask. Let us drink five, six, and eight cups, answering to the letters in the names Caius, Julius, and Proculus? 1

1  See B. i. Ep. 72.


Zoilus, why do you delight in using a whole pound weight of gold for the setting of a stone, and thus burying your poor sardonyx? Such rings are more suited to your legs; 1 the weight is too great for fingers.

1 See B. iii. Ep. 29.

Why, Zoilus, do you bury, not enfold, 
     A diamond spark in a whole pound of gold? 
When late a slave, this ring your leg might wear, 
     But such a weight your finger cannot bear.


A muleteer was lately sold for twenty thousand sesterces, Aulus. Are you astonished at so large a price? He was deaf.1

1  He could not therefore overhear the conversation of those whom he drove.


You, Charidemus, rocked my cradle; you were the guardian and constant companion of my childhood Now my beard, when shaved, blackens the barber's napkins, and my mistress complains of being pricked by my bristly lips. But in your eyes I am no older; you are my bailiff's dread; my steward and all the household fear you. You neither allow me to play nor to make love; nothing is permitted to me yet everything to yourself. You rebuke me, you watch me, you complain of me, and sigh at my conduct, and your ire is with difficulty restrained from using the cane. If I put on a Tyrian robe, or anoint my hair, you exclaim, "Your father never did such things." You count my cups of wine with contracted brow, as if they came from a cask in your own cellar. Cease this conduct: I cannot abide a Cato in a freed man. My mistress will tell you that I am now a man.


Lupercus loves the fair Glycera; he possesses her all to himself and is her sole commander. Once, when he was complaining to Aelianus, in a sad tone, that he had not caressed her for a whole month, and wished to give the reason to his auditor, who asked for it, he told him that Glycera had the tooth-ache.


While the swineherd Amyntas was over-anxiously feeding his flock, proud of its renown for high condition, his weight proved too much for the yielding branch of an oak which he had ascended, and he was precipitated to the ground in the midst of a shower of acorns, which he had shaken down. His father would not allow the fatal tree to survive the cruel death of his son, and condemned it to the flames. Lygdus,1 let your neighbour Iolas fatten his pigs as he pleases; and be content to preserve your full number.

1 Martial's swine-herd.


You ask for lively epigrams, and propose lifeless subjects. What can I do, Caecilianus? You expect Hyblaean or Hymethian honey to be produced, and yet offer the Attic bee nothing but Corsican thyme?


[Not translated in Bohn or Ker]

Fletcher has given a complete translation of these lines, and so have several of the French editors, but we think them better omitted here.


You are childless and rich, and were born in the consulship of Brutus; do you imagine that you have any real friends? You have true friends, but they are those which you made when young and poor. Your new friends desire only your death.

What! old, and rich, and childless too, 
     And yet believe your friends are true? 
Truth might perhaps of old belong 
     To those who loved you poor and young; 
But, trust me, for the friends you have, 
     They'll love you dearly-----in your grave.
           F.Lewis. Motto to the 162nd Rambler


[Not translated]


[Not translated in Bohn or Ker]


Why does Lattara avoid all the baths which are frequented by women? That he may not be exposed to temptation. Why does he neither promenade in the shade of Pompey's portico, nor seek the temple of the daughter of Inachus? That he may not be exposed to temptation. Why does he bathe in the cold Virgin water, and anoint himself with Spartan wrestler's oil? That he may not be exposed to temptation. Seeing that Lattara thus avoids all temptation of the female sex, what can be his meaning?


Silius, who possesses the lands that once belonged to the eloquent Cicero, celebrates funeral obsequies at the tomb of the great Virgil. There is no one that either Virgil or Cicero would have preferred for his heir, or as guardian of his tomb and lands.


There remained but one man, and he a poor one,1 to honour the nearly deserted ashes, and revered name, of Virgil. Silius determined to succour the cherished shade; Silius, a poet, not inferior to Virgil himself, consecrated the glory of the bard.

1 It appears that there was a cenotaph in honour of Virgil, which some poor man was paid to keep up, and that Silius Italicus purchased the ground on which it stood. The site of it is uncertain.

To honour Maro's dust, and sacred shade, 
     One swain remained, deserted, poor, alone.
Till Silius came his pious toils to aid, 
     In homage to a name scarce greater than his own. 


Not an hour of the day, Phyllis, passes that you do not plunder me, such is the infatuation of my love for you, so great your cunning in the art of robbery. Sometimes your artful maid bewails the loss of your mirror, or a ring drops off your finger, or a precious stone from your ear. Sometimes contraband silk dresses are to be had cheap; sometimes a scent casket is brought to me empty. At one time I am asked for an amphora of old Falernian, to reward the chattering wise-woman who explains your dreams; at another, your rich friend has invited herself to sup with you, and I must buy you a great pike or a mullet of two pounds' weight. Have some sense of decency, I entreat you, and some respect for right and justice. I deny you nothing, Phyllis: deny me, Phyllis, nothing.


[Not translated in Bohn or Ker]


You may have a good dinner, Julius Cerealis, with me; if you have no better engagement, come. You may keep your own hour, the eighth;1 we will go to the bath together; you know how near the baths of Stephanus are to my house. Lettuce will first be set before you, a plant useful as a laxative, and leeks cut into shreds; next tunny-fishy full grown, and larger than the slender eel, which will be garnished with egg and leaves of rue. Nor will there be wanting eggs lightly poached, and cheese hardened on a Velabrian hearth;2 nor olives which have experienced the cold of a Picenian winter. These ought to be sufficient to whet the appetite. Do you want to know what is to follow? I will play the braggart, to tempt you to come: There will be Fish, oysters, sow's teats, well-fattened tame and wild-fowl; dainties which not even Stella,3 except on rare occasions, is used to place before his guests. I promise you still more: I will recite no verses to you; while you shall be at liberty to read to me again your "War of the Giants," or your Georgics, second only to those of the immortal Virgil.

1 Two o'clock in the afternoon.
2 On dried cheese; see B. xii. Ep. 32.
3 The poet; see B. viii. Ep. 78


Although born among the woad-stained Britons, how fully has Claudia Rufina the intelligence of the Roman people! What beauty is hers! The matrons of Italy might take her for a Roman; those of Attica for an Athenian. The gods have kindly ordered that she proves fruitful to her revered husband, and that, while yet young, she may hope for sons-in-law and daughters-in-law! May heaven grant her ever to rejoice in one single husband, and to exult in being the mother of three children.


Empty your pockets, rascally Zoilus, of those perfumes, and that lavender, and myrrh redolent of funerals, and half-burned frankincense, snatched from the midst of pyres, and cinnamon stolen from Stygian biers. It is from your feet, I suppose, that your hands have learned to be knavish. I do not wonder that you are a thief, who was a runaway slave.1

1 See B. iii. Ep. 29.


When Lupus exhorts you, Urbicus, to become a father, do not believe that he means what he says; there is nothing that he desires less. It is part of the art of flattery to seem to wish what you do not wish. He earnestly desires that you may not do what he begs you to do. Were your Cosconia but to say that she is pregnant, Lupus would grow paler than a woman when her hour is come. But, that you may seem to have adopted the advice of your friend, die in such a way that he may imagine you have really become a father.


When you extol death in such extravagant terms, Stoic Chaeremon, you wish me to admire and respect your spirit. Such magnanimity arises from your possession of only a pitcher with a broken handle, a cheerless hearth, warmed with no fire, a mat, plenty of fleas, a bare bedstead, and a short toga that serves you both night and day. How great a man you are, that can think of abandoning dregs of red vinegar, and straw, and black bread. But let your cushions swell with Leuconian wool, and soft purple covers adorn your couches; and let a favourite share your couch, who, when mixing the Caecuban wine for your guests, tortures them with the ruddiest of lips, how earnestly then will you desire to live thrice as long as Nestor; and study to lose no part of a single day! In adversity it is easy to despise life; the truly brave man is he who can endure to be miserable.


Do you wonder, learned Severus, that I send you verses when I ask you to dine with me? Jupiter lives luxuriously on ambrosia and nectar; and yet we propitiate him with raw entrails and plain wine. Seeing that by the favour of heaven every blessing is yours, what can be offered you, if you are unwilling to receive what you already have?


[Not translated in the Bohn except by the verse translation, which gives the general sense; Ker's translation in the Loeb is also misleading]

When with desire you see me racked,
     The beggar's part you always act;
And if I grant not on the spot
     Whatever you ask, you'll kiss me not.
Suppose my barber, steel in hand,
     Should liberty and wealth demand,
I yield of course, for he is then
     No barber, but a highwayman.
But, when his razor's in its case,
     I'd have him flogged till black in the face.
And you, though you may think it odd,
     When I've kissed you, shall kiss my rod. 
                                                 W. S. B.


Clearinus wears six rings on each of his fingers, and never takes them off; even at night, or when he bathes. Do you ask the reason? He has no ring-case.1

1 He has his rings on hire.


Is Phlogis or Chione the more fitted for dalliance, do you ask?  More beautiful is Chione, but Phlogis has an itch; she has an itch that would rejuvenate Priam's powers and would not permit the aged Pylian 1 to be aged; she has an itch that every man wishes his own mistress to have, one Criton can cure, not Hygeia 2.  But Chione is impassive, nor does she encourage you by any wooing word: you would fancy she were away from you, or were a marble status.  Ye gods, were it permitted to prevail on you to bestow so great a gift, and were ye willing to give a blessing so precious, you would make Phlogis to have this body that Chione has, and Chione the itch that Phlogis has!

Not translated in the Bohn; this is Ker's version.

1 Nestor, the stereotypical old man.
2 Criton was a male doctor of Martial's time; Hygeia the goddess of health and daughter of Aesculapius here represents female doctors generally.


[Not translated in either Bohn or Ker]


Lesbia protests that no one has ever obtained her favours without payment. That is true; when she wants a lover, she herself pays.


[Not translated in the Bohn; evasively translated in Ker]


I  do not know, Faustus, what it is that you write to so many girls. But this I know, that no girl writes anything to you.


Six hundred people are invited to dine with you, Justinus, to celebrate the day on which you first saw the light; and among these, I remember, I used once not to be the last; nor was my position attended with envy. But your intention now is to offer me the honours of your festive board to-morrow; to-day you have a birth-day for the hundreds, to-morrow you will have one for me.


You are an informer, a calumniator, a forger, a secret agent, a slave to the unclean, and a trainer of gladiators. I wonder, Vacerra, why you have no money.


You give me nothing while you are living; you say that you will give me something at your death. If you are not a fool, Maro, you know what I desire.

Maro, you'll give me nothing while you live, 
     But after death you cry then, then you'll give: 
If you are not indeed turned arrant ass, 
     You know what I desire to come to pass.


You ask but small favours of your great friends; yet your great friends refuse you even small favours. That you may feel less ashamed, Matho, ask great favours.


Nurtured among the trainers of the amphitheatre, bred up for the chase, fierce in the forest, gentle in the house, I was called Lydia, a most faithful attendant upon my master Dexter, who would not have preferred to me the hound of Erigone, or the dog which followed Cephalus from the land of Crete, and was translated with him to the stars of the light-bringing goddess. I died, not of length of years, nor of useless old age, as was the fate of the hound of Ulysses; I was killed by the fiery tooth of a foaming boar, as huge as that of Calydon or that of Erymanthus. Nor do I complain, though thus prematurely hurried to the shades below; I could not have died a nobler death.


Can you, Tucca, sell these slaves whom you bought for a hundred thousand sesterces a-piece? Can you sell the weeping despots of your affections, Tucca? Do neither their caresses nor their words and untutored lamentations, or the necks wounded by your tooth move you? Ah, shame!  Lift the tunic of either, .... 1 If a quantity of hard cash is your object, sell your plate, your tables, your myrrhine vases, your estate, your house. Sell aged slaves -- they will pardon --, sell too your paternal slaves; sell everything, wretched man, to avoid selling your young favourites. It was extravagance to buy them; who denies or doubts it?----but it is far greater extravagance to sell them.2

Inaccurately translated in the Bohn with various passages omitted without indication.

1 Ah facinus! tunica patet inguen utrinque levata, 
  Inspiciturque tua mentula facta manu. 
Comp. B.ii. Ep. 63.


Leda told her aged husband that she was hysterical, and regrets that intercourse is necessary for her; yet with tears and groans she says her health is not worth the sacrifice, and declares she would rather choose to die.  Her lord bids her live, and not desert the bloom of her years, and he permits to be done what he cannot do himself.  Immediately male doctors come in, and female doctors depart, and her feet are hoisted.  Oh, what stringent treatment!

Not translated in the Bohn.  The above is adapted from Ker.


[Not translated in the Bohn or Ker]


[Not translated in the Bohn]


Baccara, a Rhaetician, entrusted the care of his ____ to a doctor, his rival in love; Baccara will be a gallus.

Not translated in the Bohn.  This version based on Ker.  A gallus was a eunuch priest of Cybele.


[Not translated in the Bohn]


You oblige me to pay you eighty pounds, Pactus, because Bucco has occasioned you the loss or sixteen hundred. Let me not, I pray you, suffer for faults not my own. It is rather for you, who can support the loss of sixteen hundred, to submit to that of eighty.


Vacerra, while passing his hours in everybody's dining-room, and sitting there all day long, desires not to empty his belly, but to fill it.


[Not translated in the Bohn or Ker].


For arriving only at the first milestone after nine hours' travelling, I am charged with idleness and inactivity. The fault is not mine, I assure you, but your own, in sending me such mules, Paetus.


Though, Flaccus, I were to praise Baiae, golden shore of the blessed Venus, Baiae, kind gift of Nature who is proud of it, in a thousand verses, yet would not Baiae be praised as it deserves. But, Flaccus, I prefer Martial1 to Baiae. To with far both at once would be presumptuous. But if by the kindness of the gods, that blessing were granted you, what happiness would it be to enjoy Martial's powers and the climate of Baiae at the same time!

1 That is, himself. He had rather mind his own business at home, than join Flaccus at Baiae to be enervated by its luxury.


[Not translated in the Bohn or Ker]


Philostratus, returning to his lodging late at night, from a feast at Sinuessa, famed for its waters, very nearly lost his life, imitating Elpenor1 in his cruel fate, by rolling headlong down the whole length of a flight of stairs. He would not, you nymphs of Sinuessa, have incurred so great a danger, had he in preference drunk of your waters.2

1 Who was killed by falling from the roof of Circe's cave. Odyss. B. x. 550. 
Which were said to have such a sobering effect, that they cured even madness. Plin. H. N. xxxi. 2.


Nobody lodges in your house gratis, unless he be rich and childless. No one, Sosibianus, lets lodgings to more profit.


Let him who does not wish yet to descend to the waters of Styx, avoid, if he be wise, the barber Antiochus. The knives with which, when the maddened troop of Cybele's priests rage to the sound of Phrygian measures, their white arms are lacerated, are less cruel than the razor of Antiochus. More gently does Alcon cut a strangulated hernia, and hew broken bones with his rude hand. Antiochus should deal with needy Cynics, and the beards of Stoics, and denude the necks of horses of their dusty manes. If he were to shave Prometheus under the Scythian rock, the Titan would again, with bared breast, demand his executioner the vulture. Pentheus would flee to his mother, Orpheus to the priestesses of Bacchus, were they to bear but a sound from the barbarous weapon of Antiochus. All these scars, that you count upon my chin, like those that sit upon the brow or an aged boxer, were not produced by the nails of an enraged wife, but by the steel and cursed hand of Antiochus. Of all animals the goat alone has any sense; he wears his beard, that he may not risk himself under the hands of Antiochus.


[Not translated in the Bohn or Ker]


To relieve your throat, Parthenopaeus, which is incessantly inflamed by a severe cough, your doctor prescribes honey, and nuts, and sweet cakes, and everything that is given to children to prevent them from being unruly. But you do not give over coughing all day long. A cough is not your malady, Parthenopaeus; it is gluttony.


You were once rich; but then you were for sodomy and for a long time no woman was of note to you.  Now you run after old crones.  Oh, how compelling is poverty!  It makes you, Charidemus, a gallant.

Not translated in the Bohn; evasively translated by Ker.  The above is adapted from Ker.  'gallant' is a softening of the coarse term used.


[Not translated in the Bohn or Ker]


Why do you send me, Polla, wreaths of roses that are quite fresh? I would rather have roses that you have handled.


You approve of no verses that run with a smooth cadence, but of those only that vault as it were over hills and crags; and a line such as this, Luceilei columella heic situ; Metrophan' est, "Lucilius's right hand, Metrophanes, lies here," is of more value in your eyes than a poem of Homer; and you read with ecstasy such words as terrai frugiferai, "the fruit-producing earth," as well as all that Attius and Pacuvius have sputtered forth. Do you wish me to imitate these old poets, Chrestillus, whom you so much admire? Confound me, if I think you know what vigour is.1

1 Dispeream, ni scis mentula quid sapis.


Canace, one of the daughters of Aeolia, lies buried in this tomb, a little child whose seventh winter was her last. "O shame! O dire fate!" why are you in haste, traveller, to weep? We do not here complain of the shortness of life; sadder than death itself was the manner of it; a horrid disease destroyed her face, and seized upon her delicate mouth. The cruel foe devoured her very lips, nor was her body consigned entire to the funeral pile. If the fates intended to fall on her with auch headlong violence, they should have come in some other form. But death hastened to close the passage of her sweet voice, lest her tongue should dissuade the stern goddesses from their purpose.


He speaks erroneously, Zoilus, who calls you vicious You are not vicious, Zoilus, but vice itself.


The flames have destroyed the Pierian dwelling of the bard Theodorus. Is this agreeable to you, you muses, and you, Phoebus? Oh shame, oh great wrong and scandal of the gods, that house and householder were not burned together!


As for the fact that you are exceedingly envious and everywhere carping at my writings, I pardon you, circumcised poet; you have your reasons. Nor am I at all concerned that, while carping at my verses, you steal them; for this too, circumcised poet, you have your reasons. This however, circumcised poet, annoys me, that, though you were born in the heart of Jerusalem, you attempt to seduce the object of my affections You deny that such is the case, and swear by the temples of Jupiter. I do not believe you; swear, circumcised poet, by Anchialus.1

1 Supposed to be a corruption of the Hebrew for "as the Lord wills," the Romans supposing that the Jews, when they pronounced those words, uttered the name of some deity, which they wrote Anchialus.


[Not translated]


It is the Martian fountain,1 and not the Rhine, that rises here, German. Why do you stand in the boy's way, and keep him back from the water of the rich well? Barbarian, a fountain belonging to the conquerors should not allay the thirst of a captive slave, to the exclusion of a citizen.

1 see B. vi. Ep. 42.


I can dally with four women in a single night, but may I die if I could in four years dally with you, Thelesilla, once.

Not translated in the Bohn; the above is by Ker.


It is impossible, Flaccus, to avoid the kissers. They press upon you, they delay you, they pursue you, they run against you, on all sides, from every direction, and in every place. No malignant ulcer will protect you from them, no inflamed pimples, or diseased chin, or ugly tetter, or lips smeared with oily cerate, or drop at the cold nose. They kiss you when you are hot and when you are cold; they kiss you when you are reserving your kiss for your wife. To envelope your head in a hood will not avail you; nor to secure your litter with skins and curtains, nor will a chair closed again and again be any defence to you; the kisser will find an entrance through every chink. Not the consulship itself nor the tribunate, nor the six fasces,1 nor the proud rod of the noisy lictor, will drive off the kisser. Though you be sitting on the lofty tribunal, and laying down the law to nations from the curule chair, the kisser will climb up to either place; he will kiss you in a fever or in tears; he will kiss you while you are yawning and swimming; he will kiss you when you are at stool. The sole remedy for the evil is, to make him, whom you would not wish to kiss, your friend.

1 Carried before the praetor.


Whenever you get up from your chair -- I have often noticed it ere now -- your unhappy garments, Lesbia, treat you indecently.  When you attempt with your right hand, attempt with your left, to pluck them away, you wrench them out with tears and groans; they are so gripped by the straights of your mighty rump, and enter a pass difficult and Cyanean.  Do you wish to cure this ugly defect?  I will instruct you: Lesbia, I advise you neither to get up nor to sit down!

Not translated in the Bohn.  The Symplegades or Cyanean rocks were the clashing rocks at the entrance of the Bosphorus which were said to come together and smash ships.


I have no fancy, Flaccus, for a mistress extraordinarily thin, who can make my rings serve her for bracelets; who scrapes me with her hips and pricks me with her knees; whose loins are rough as a saw, or sharp as a lance. Yet I have no taste for a mistress weighing a thousand pounds; I am a lover of flesh, but not of fat.


And have you been able, Flaccus, to see the slender Thais? Then, Flaccus, I suspect you can see what is invisible.


He told no untruth, Lydia, who informed me that you have a handsome face, but devoid of expression. It is so; your face would always look handsome, if you would but be silent, and as mute as a waxen image, or a picture. But whenever you speak, Lydia, all your beauty flies, and no tongue does more damage to its owner than yours. Have a care lest the aedile see and hear you; it is portentous when a statue speaks.


So great is the modesty of your mind and countenance, Sophronius, that I wonder you should ever have become a father.


[Not translated in the Bohn, partly translated in Ker]


You used to send me a pound; now, Garricus, you send me only a quarter; at least, Garricus, let it be half a pound.1

1 An intimation that Garricus should have diminished his presents by degrees; compare B.viii. Ep. 71.


Vibius Maximus, if you can spare time, read this trifle; for you have little to do, and are not over laborious. What, do you pass over even these four lines? Well! you are right.


You send me back my book, Septicianus, as if it had been unrolled down to its very end, and read through. You have read everything; I believe it, I know it; in truth I am delighted. In the same manner I have read through your five books.


Although, reader, you may well be tired of so long a book, you still want a few more distichs from me. But Lupus 1 demands his interest; and my copyists their wages. Pay, reader. You are silent; do you pretend not to hear? Then, goodbye.

1 A usurer, of whom Martial intimates that he had borrowed money.

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Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts