Selected Epigrams

Selected Epigrams

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Overview

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.

Finalist, Literary Translation Award, PEN Center USA  

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Bruce Handy

…a new edition with delightfully snarky translations by Susan McLean…An astute social observer and a decent armchair psychologist, [Martial] was skilled at dissecting hypocrisy, puncturing braggadocio and deflating snobbery…McLean has an excellent feel for joke rhythms and punch lines. I also appreciate her efforts, as she explains in her preface, to "maintain the level of obscenity of Martial's language." Thus there are no "pokers" here, as there are in the old Loeb editions; McLean calls a penis a penis, or then some, which I suspect is essential to Martial's effect.

From the Publisher


"The Roman satirist Martial hasn't had a good deal hitherto from his translators. An older generation suppressed his hilarious obscenities, while today it's his racism, sexism, class prejudice, and callousness towards the ugly, deformed, or slaves (no poet was ever less P.C. than Martial) that cause offense. Now Susan McLean, a witty and metrically skillful poet in her own right, has seen her opportunity in Martial. Her rhymed quatrains are as sharp and pointed as Martial's own elegiacs; the Roman's insults and obscenities are preserved with style and relish. Martial has at last found a translator who not only possesses all the disparate skills needed for the job, but has clearly enjoyed herself hugely while doing it."—Peter Green, translator of Juvenal's Satires



“But you know who I recently learned makes me laugh as hard as anyone in print? Martial, the ancient Roman poet and satirist—an actual 2,000-year-old man and still funny! . . . I had never read Martial until I picked up his Selected Epigrams in a new edition with delightfully snarky translations by Susan McLean, a poet herself. . . . [Martial] would have been great on Twitter, and rappers might well appreciate his flair for the corrosive put-down.”—Bruce Handy, New York Times Book Review



“A neatly chosen, crisply rhymed selection of [Martial’s] most pungent sallies; perfect bedtime reading.”—Books of the Year, Times Literary Supplement


“But you know who I recently learned makes me laugh as hard as anyone in print? Martial, the ancient Roman poet and satirist—an actual 2,000-year-old man and still funny! . . . I had never read Martial until I picked up his Selected Epigrams in a new edition with delightfully snarky translations by Susan McLean, a poet herself. . . . [Martial] would have been great on Twitter, and rappers might well appreciate his flair for the corrosive put-down.”—New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299301736
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 12/03/2014
Series: Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 536 KB

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