Martial Poems

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Marcus Valerius Martialis, known in English as Martial, was a Latin poet from Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams, published in Rome between AD 86 and 103, during the reigns of the emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan. In these short, witty poems he cheerfully satirises city life and the scandalous activities of his acquaintances, and romanticises his provincial upbringing. He wrote a total of 1,561 - 1,235 of which are in elegiac couplets. He is considered the creator of the modern epigram. Martial's keen curiosity and power of observation are manifested in his epigrams. The enduring literary interest of Martial's epigrams arises as much from their literary quality as from the colorful references to human life that they contain. Martial's epigrams bring to life the spectacle and brutality of daily life in imperial Rome, with which he was intimately connected. From Martial, for example, we have a glimpse of living conditions in the city of Rome: "I live in a little cell, with a window that won't even close.

You puff the poets of other days,
The living you deplore.
Spare me the accolade: your praise
Is not worth dying for.

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