Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Martial, Epigrams (Prologue)

Marcus Valerius Martialis
1st-2nd c. AD (over 1,900 years ago)
Trans. RMBullard
Latin (Silver Age)


1. Spero me secutum in libellis meis tale temperamentum
[I hope that I can follow such a temperament in my work of art]

ut de illis queri non possit quisquis de se bene senserit,
[such that no one who has good common sense can make any complaints about them,]

cum salua infirmarum quoque personarum reuerentia ludant;
[when they mock the the healths of sick people, as a token of respect to their public figures;]

 quae adeo antiquis auctoribus defuit
[which to this point failed the writers of old]

ut nominibus non tantum ueris abusi sint,
[such that they not only hurled abuse upon the names of real men,]

 sed et magnis.
[but also upon great ones.]

 2. Mihi fama uilius constet
[Let my fame be all the less valuable]

 et probetur in me nouissimum ingenium.
[and let the newest strain of talent be granted to me.]

3. Absit a iocorum nostrorum simplicitate malignus interpres
[Let the ill-wishing reader never approach the simple humor of my jokes]

nec epigrammata mea scribat:
[and let him never record my epigrams:]

 inprobe facit qui in alieno libro ingeniosus est.
[he will act unwisely if he is talented in the writing of another.]

 4. Lasciuam uerborum ueritatem, id est epigrammaton linguam, excussarem,
[I would hammer out the racy truth of my words, that is, in the language of epigrams]

si meum esset exemplum:
[if this should be my expression:]

sic scribit Catullus, sic Marsus, sic Pedo, sic Gaetulicus, sic quicumque perlegitur.
[so writes Catullus, writes Marsus, writes Pedo, writes Getulicus, and thusly each one of them is read page to page.]

 5. Si quis tamen tam ambitiose tristis est
[Still, if anyone is so jealously morose]

ut apud illum in nulla pagina latine loqui fas sit,
[that he feels it an injustice to him for one to converse in Latin upon nay one page,]

 potest epistola uel potius titulo contentus esse.
[he can find himself content with this letter, or better yet, with simply the title.]

6. Epigrammata illis scribuntur qui solent spectare Florales.
[Epigrams are written to those men who know how to watch the Florales.]

 7. Non intret Cato theatrum meum,
[Don't let Cato enter my theater,]

aut si intrauerit, spectet.
[or if he should enter, then let him watch.]

 8. Videor mihi meo iure facturus si epistolam uersibus clusero:
[It seems most appropriate thing for me to do, according to my own practice, if I close my letter with some lines of poetry:]

Nosses iocosae dulce cum sacrum Florae
festosque lusus et licentiam uolgi,
[If you weren't familiar with the the soothing ritual of playful Flora, and good-hearted jests, and the raciness of the public,]

cur in theatrum, Cato seuere, uenisti?
[why, stern Cato, did you come into my theater?]

an ideo tantum ueneras, ut exires?
[And anyway, why ever did you thus come, only to get up and leave?]