This lively translation accurately captures the wit and uncensored bawdiness of the epigrams of Martial, who satirized Roman society, both high and low, in the first century CE. His pithy little poems amuse, but also offer vivid insight into the world of patrons and clients, doctors and lawyers, prostitutes, slaves, and social climbers in ancient Rome.
The selections cover nearly a third of Martial's 1,500 or so epigrams, augmented by an introduction by historian Marc Kleijwegt and informative notes on literary allusion and wordplay by translator Susan McLean.
Marcus Valerius Martialis or Martial (ca. 40-104 CE), made his way to Rome from Iberia (now Spain) and won renown across the Empire for his humorous epigrams. Susan McLean is a professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. She won the 2014 Donald Justice Poetry Prize for a collection of poems, The Whetstone Misses the Knife, and in 2009 her collection The Best Disguisewon the Richard Wilbur Award.