Upon the death of the Latin poet Martial in about A.D. 104, a contemporary wrote, "He had as much good nature in his writing as he did of wit and pungency." He also had a genius for the epigrammatic poem, which has been characterized as a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. In the hands of Martial, the epigram was raised to a pitch of perfection that has never been equaled to this day.
The enduring literary interest of Martial's epigrams arises as much from their literary quality as from the colorful references to human life that they contain. And readers (and listeners) today often see them as sharing an eye for the urban vices of our own times. Martial wrote over 1,500 of these gems, and this recording contains around 10 percent of the total. They are a very good cross-section of his work. Due to the adult nature of some of these poems, those that may be perceived as objectionable have been collected and are in a section of their own at the end of this production.
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