A Martial Reader: Selections from the Epigrams
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Martial's more than 1,500 epigrams, published in fifteen books over several decades, have long been valued for the richly varied glimpses they give into the urban landscape in which the comfortable upper classes of Roman society lived at the end of the first century ce. From public bathhouses, latrines, and brothels to private dinner parties with lavish foods and wines, from the amphitheater's violent entertainment and the use and abuse of slaves to coddled lapdogs and parrots who spontaneously exclaim "Hail Caesar!"—all are subjected to Martial's observant eye and witty, sometimes biting commentary. The poems in this volume range from gossip and crude jokes to lofty celebrations of brotherly love and reflections on what makes life livable, illustrating the kaleidoscopic array that is the hallmark of Martial's work.