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a short, polished, pithy saying, usually in verse, often with a satiric or paradoxical twist at the end. The term was originally applied by the Greeks to the inscriptions on stones. The epigrams of the Latin poet MartialMartial
(Marcus Valerius Martialis) , 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.
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 established the form for many later writers. In England the epigram flourished in the work of innumerable poets including Donne, Herrick, Ben Jonson, Pope, Byron, Coleridge, and Walter Savage Landor. Great German epigrammatists include Logau, Lessing, and Herder. In 18th-century France, Boileau-Despréaux, Lebrun, and Voltaire excelled in the form. Poets of the 20th cent. who are noted for their epigrams include Yeats, Pound, Roy Campbell, and Ogden Nash. One of the most brilliant of prose epigrammatists was Oscar Wilde. His works are studded with epigrams, such as "I can resist everything except temptation."



(1) In classical poetry, a short lyric poem of unspecified content written in the elegiac distich form. Eventually epigrams were written on certain specific themes. For example, they were often written as inscriptions on objects offered to the gods. Some epigrams were didactic, epitaphial, descriptive, or satirical in theme, while others were devoted to love or the joys of the table.

In Greek literature the epigram reached its peak in the work of the Hellenistic poets of the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. These made up the larger part of the Greek Anthology, a work in 16 books. In Roman literature the epigram flourished in the satirical works of Martial in the first century A.D The traditions of the classical epigram were continued in the Byzantine and Latin literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Later these traditions were only occasionally revived, notably in Goethe’s Venetian Epigrams.

(2) In modern European poetry, a short poem usually based on the contrast of a gradual exposition and a final witticism. Epigrams of this type are found in French poetry of the 16th and 17th centuries, based on motifs derived from Martial. They flourished in the 18th century in the works of Voltaire, J.-B. Rousseau, G. E. Lessing, R. Burns, and A. P. Sumarokov. A nontraditional epigram,which developed parallel to the traditional one, was written in direct response to topical, often political events. A. S. Pushkin wrote epigrams of both types. The first type includes works such as “Movement” and “The Curious One,” while the second type includes epigrams on A. A. Arakcheev and F. V. Bulgarin.

By the mid-19th century epigrams of the traditional type began to die out, while those of the topical variety continued as a minor genre. Topical epigrams were written by several 19th-century Russian writers, including D. D. Minaev, and are represented in Soviet literature by the work of A. Arkhangel’skii and S. Vasil’ev.


Grecheskaia epigramma. Edited by F. A. Petrovskii. Moscow, 1960.
Russkaia epigramma vtoroi poloviny XVII—nach. XX v. Leningrad, 1975.



a short, pungent, and often satirical poem, esp one having a witty and ingenious ending
References in periodicals archive ?
Foremost among these is the focus on urban life signalled in Oswald's title and echoing Goethe's own description of the epigrams in a letter to Charlotte von Kalb on April 30, 1790: "Es sind dieses Fruchte die in einer grossen Stadt gedeihen, uberall findet man Stoff und es braucht nicht viel Zeit sie zu machen.
There are certainly a number of epigrams that have a happier, more forgiving and accepting content and tone, which, although not sufficient to restore the 'balance' that Luck sought, nevertheless reveal to us a much more sympathetic side of the poet which he deliberately or instinctively chose for the most part to conceal.
In "The Comic and the Obscene in the Latin Epigrams of the Early Fifteenth Century," Donatella Coppini focuses on Panormita's Hermaphroditus as a groundbreaking generic model whose brand of comic obscenity carried over into the next several generations of Neo-Latin epigrammatists.
The volume is enriched with an engaging introduction, in which Rico contextualizes the epigrams from the point of view of Petrarch's biography and oeuvre, by describing the poet's patrons, travels and literary works.
Epigrams were the staple diet of Renaissance Neo-Latinists, recording the poet's reactions to people and events and his state of mind and prejudices, and at times musing on the nature of life, death, and other issues.
The sage, like the maker of epigrams, wants a closure that he both
A thorough study of the style of this genre and its relation to the religious lyric and emblem is needed, but my purpose, drawing principally on the epigram collections of the 1630s, is to consider four questions: how was the form understood by its practitioners and audience, under what circumstances and for what function were these epigrams written, to what function were they later put in circulation or publication, and, finally, what different role did the satiric religious epigram fulfill?
This seminal, ground breaking memoir is a testament woven of journal entries, poems, epigrams, letters, and even portions of scholarly papers, and is specifically intended to lift the veil of silence and secrecy on this widespread atrocity.
The dialogue--often dubbed and almost always disembodied-sounding--thuds, courtesy of such clunky Valmont epigrams as "Love's got nothing to do with happiness" and "I have principles--they're all rotten.
Most, if not all, of the epigrams in the Milan Papyrus claim to be the published versions of words originally carved into gemstones, tombstones, altars, or statues offered to the gods.
American writer Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) proffered an opinion and cogent advice with an admirable economy of words: "Happiness is a habit--cultivate it" (The Roycroft Dictionary and Book of Epigrams, 1923).
I argue that Barbey's lapidary imagery is fundamental to his narrative dandyism and that epigrams and precious stones are stylistic features that generate the transformative process of his creative endeavor in Les Diaboliques.