Marcus Valerius Martialis, or Martial (born between 38 and 41 CE, died between 102 and 104 CE) is celebrated for his droll, frequently salacious, portrayal of Roman high and low society during the first century rule of the emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan. Considered the 'inventor' of the modern epigram, Martial was a native of Hispania, who came to Rome in the hope of securing both patronage and advancement. From the bath-houses, taverns and gymnasia to the sculleries and slave-markets of the capital, Martial in his famous Epigrams sheds merciless light on the hypocrisies and sexual mores or rich and poor alike. Lindsay C and Patricia Watson provide an attractive overview - for students of classics and ancient history, as well as comparative literature - of the chief themes of his sardonic writings. They show that Martial is of continuing and special interest because of his rediscovery in the Renaissance, when writers viewed him as an incisive commentator on failings similar to those of their own day. The later reception of Martial , by Juvenal and others, forms a major part of this informative survey.
Lindsay C Watson is Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney. Patricia Watson is Honorary Associate in Classics and Ancient History at the same institution. Lindsay C Watson is the author of A Commentary on Horace's Epodes and Arae: The Curse Poetry of Antiquity. Patricia Watson is the editor (with Lindsay C Watson) of Martial: Select Epigrams.