Poems of Martial


I translated these around the same time for a poetry reading at the web site, The Back Door. As a result, they all have a similar rhythm.

Book 1-1
Hic est quem legis ille, quem requiris,
Toto notus in orbe Martialis
Argutis epigrammaton libellis.

Cui, lector studiose, quod dedisti
Viventi decus atque sentienti,
Rari post cineres habent poetae.
Here's the man you're looking for,
And whom you've often read,
Martial, known the whole world o'er,
For witty things I've said.

I have received the honours you
Adoring fans have giv'n,
That seldom few dead poets do,
While I'm alert and livin'.

Book 10-8
Nubere Paula cupit nobis, ego ducere Paulam
Nolo: anus est. Vellem, si magis esset anus.
Paula wants to marry me;
I gave her the cold shoulder.
She's just a little old, you see
- If only she were older!

Book 11-17
Non omnis nostri nocturna est pagina libri:
invenies et quod mane, Sabine, legas.
Not all the verses in my book belong to sordid night:
You'll find some fit to read, Sabinus, in the morning light.

Book 1-38
Quem recitas meus est, o Fidentine, libellus:
Sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.
Fidentinus, you're reciting from my book:
But since you read so poorly, you can keep what you took...

Book 1-47
Nuper erat medicus, nunc est vispillo Dialus;
Quod vispillo facit, fecerat et medicus.
Dialus was a doctor once,
But now he's a mortician;
It's just a change of titles, though-
It's still the same position.

Book 10-16
Dotatae uxori cor harudine fixit acuta,
Sed dum ludit Aper: ludere novit Aper.
The archer pierced his rich wife's heart
while "practising" one day -
Practice makes perfect is what I always say.


Some famous Romans and me

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