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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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Marcus Valerius Martialis). Born c. A.D. 40, in Bilbilis, Spain; died there c. A.D. 104. Roman poet.

Martial wrote 15 books of epigrams—three with a common theme (Liber spectaculorum, Apophoreta, Xenia) and 12 of mixed content. These witty epigrams depict the life of various social strata; they are apt, mocking, and refined miniatures. His works were highly thought of by G. E. Lessing and J. W. Goethe and, in Russia, by M. V. Lomonosov, P. A. Viazemskii, and A. S. Pushkin.


Martialis epigrammaton, I-XIV. Edited by C. Giarratano. Turin, 1916; 3rd ed. Turin, 1951.
Epigrams, vols. 1-2. London, 1968.
In Russian translation:
Epigrammy. Moscow [1968].


Istoriia rimskoi literatury, vol. 2. Edited by S. I. Sobolevskii [et al.]. Moscow, 1962.
Barwick, K. Martial und die zeitgenössische Rhetorik. Berlin, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


full name Marcus Valerius Martialis. ?40--?104 ad, Latin epigrammatist and poet, born in Spain
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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