Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis)

(Martial is generally considered the creator of the modern epigram. He wrote 1,561 epigrams of which 1,235 are in elegiac couplets. Most are about people and are written with a sharp bite. Many of his poems are considered pornographic which may explain his favor with successive emperors.

Under the Flavian dynasty, Martial, then unmarried and without the requisite three children, earned the ius trium liberorum ‘law of 3 children,’ which gave him social privileges, financial advantages and the ability to start a political career. He was awarded a military tribuneship and equestrian rank. The tribuneship provided him with a regular income while the equestrian rank certified his admission to what we would call the middle class.)

Why do strong arms tire themselves with silly dumbbells? To dig a vineyard is a worthier exercise for men.”

“Until recently Diaulus was a doctor; now he is an undertaker. What the undertaker does the doctor also used to do.”

Liber,I.

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