The epigrams of Martial

If I look around the web for English translations of ancient texts, I am quickly struck by the degree to which patristic texts are commonplace, while classical ones are rare.  The difficult-to-use Perseus site continues its well-funded progress, it is true.  But amateur collections seem few.

These ruminations were provoked by the need to consult the epigrams of Martial recently in order to discuss some elements of the Roman book trade.  They were inaccessible.

This was not due to the lack of an out-of-copyright translation.  Other texts, such as the historical anecdotes of Valerius Maximus, have only recently received an English translation.  But for Martial, a version exists in the 19th century Bohn library.   A PDF does exist of this online.  I have started to OCR the pages, to produce something useful and searchable, although the scan was so poor that I find it is slow work.

Nevertheless, it is my first encounter with Martial.  As a long-time devotee of Juvenal, I am rather enjoying the picture it gives of the days of Domitian.  But how many people have read Martial, these days?

While reading this, there was a reference to the plays of Plautus.  But again, where do I go to read these?

My own projects consume already more time than I have available.  But I wish someone would create something free and accessible, an English version of the Latin Library site.

7 Responses to “The epigrams of Martial”


  1. W. Voelker

    While it’s not perfect, what you will find useful is Google Books. Try this link, for instance.

    There are plenty of 19th century editions (with both PDF and OCRed versions) available via this service.

  2. Chris Weimer

    There was a now-defunct blog dedicated to translating Martial. On many Classical authors, there’s a serious dearth of English translations. Many of the older translations are nearly worthless for grammatical insight, or have been heavily cleaned up, key points glossed over, or used old critical (or even uncritical!) editions which can change the whole meaning of a text.

  3. Chris Weimer

    Oh, and Plautus is found on Perseus.

  4. Chris Weimer

    “While it’s not perfect, what you will find useful is Google Books. Try this link, for instance.

    There are plenty of 19th century editions (with both PDF and OCRed versions) available via this service.”

    The problem is that many books on Google Books do not appear in searches from the UK.

  5. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for the link, although it does raise the depressing question of why I am bothering to spend my weekends OCR’ing stuff that is on google books.

    I can see a reasonable number of Martial volumes from here in the UK.

    The Perseus site has great content, but the interface is quite useless, in my opinion. I’ve been driven to buy the volume of Plautus so I can read the plays.

  6. Jeremy

    “But I wish someone would create something free and accessible, an English version of the Latin Library site.”

    This seems quite an undertaking but could be done with a group. I’ve been translating some of Horace’s Satires and will be doing a selection of Epodes. I’ve translated a few letters of Cicero and Pliny (Minor) as well. I could make these available sometime this summer. I’ll flag this post in my reader to come back later to e-mail you on any progress.

  7. Jeremy