Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis)märˈshəl, c.A.D. 40–c.A.D. 104, Roman epigrammatic poet, b. Bilbilis, Spain. After A.D. 64 he lived in Rome for many years, winning fame by his wit and poetic gifts. He enjoyed the patronage of Titus, Domitian, and Pliny the Younger (see under Pliny the Elder) and the friendship of Juvenal and Quintilian. He wrote more than 1,500 epigrams, most of which concern aspects of life in urban Rome, particularly its follies and excesses, and many of which deal openly and often scathingly with the sexual practices of his contemporaries. Martial's verses are frequently characterized by a twist of wit at the end as well as by original meter and form, and have become models for the modern epigram.

See The Epigrams of Martial, tr. by J. Michie (1973); Epigrams/Martial, 3 vol., tr. by D. R. Shackleton Bailey (1993); Martial's Epigrams: A Selection, tr. by G. Wills (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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