Martial, Gideon Nisbet
‘If you’re one of those terribly serious readers, now is a good time to leave.’
The poet we call Martial, Marcus Valerius Martialis, lived by his wits in first-century Rome. Pounding the mean streets of the Empire’s capital, he takes apart the pretensions, addictions, and cruelties of its inhabitants with perfect comic timing and killer punchlines. Social climbers and sex-offenders, rogue traders and two-faced preachers – all are subject to his forensic annihilations and often foul-mouthed verses. Packed with incident and detail, Martial’s epigrams bring Rome vividly to
life in all its variety; biting satire rubs alongside tender friendship, lust for life beside sorrow for loss. Gossipy, clever, and above all entertaining, they express amusement as much as indignation at the vices they expose.
This selection brings Martial to a twenty-first century readership in a prose translation that pulls no punches and presents him in all his moods. It establishes his originality as a literary author, and the significance of his achievement as the poet who conquered epigram for Rome.
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This translation is offering not only a reasonably comprehensive view of Martial's literary universe, but also a pleasant experience. Gideon Nisbet's version of Martial's Rome and Martial's world is enjoyable and lively. * Carmen Fenechiu, Journal of Ancient History and Archeology * Martial is an epigrammatist of unmatched range and brilliance. Treating life, society and human foibles with coruscating wit, he mixes vicious abuse, frequently sexual, of individuals with biting satire on human weakness and lyrical reflections on Rome, friendship and country life. In his extremely useful edition Gideon Nisbet selects over 300 of his subject's c. 1600 poems, doing full justice to Martial's range. * Peter Jones, Classics for All *
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