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Martial, the father of the epigram, was one of the brilliant provincial poets who made their literary mark on first-century Rome. His Epigrams can be affectionate or cruel, elegiac or playful; they target every element of Roman society, from slaves to schoolmasters to, above all, the aristocratic elite. With wit and wisdom, Martial evokes not “the grandeur that was Rome,” but rather the timeless themes of urban life and society.
“Martial, . . . concentrating on the epigram as his one form of literary expression, brought it to a pitch of technical perfection never afterwards rivaled.” —Peter Howell