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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Epigram
 
  Diaulus, lately a doctor, is now an undertaker; what he does as an undertaker, he used to do also as a doctor.
Martial.    
  1
  The book which you are reading aloud is mine, Fidentinus; but, while you read it so badly, it begins to be yours.
Martial.    
  2
  You see those fish before you, a beautiful example of the sculpture of Phidias; give them water, and they will swim.
Martial.    
  3
  You wonder that Marius’ ear smells unpleasantly. You are the cause of this, Nestor; you whisper into it.
Martial.    
  4
  Fannius, as he was fleeing from the enemy, put himself to death. Is not this, I ask, madness—to die for fear of dying?
Martial.    
  5
  You complain, Velox, that the epigrams which I write are long. You yourself write nothing; your attempts are shorter.
Martial.    
  6
  He who prefers to give Linus the half of what he wishes to borrow, rather than to lend him the whole, prefers to lose only the half.
Martial.    
  7
  Though I often salute you, you never salute me first; I shall therefore, Pontilianus, salute you with an eternal farewell.
Martial.    
  8
  You were constantly, Matho, a guest at my villa at Tivoli. Now you buy it—I have deceived you; I have merely sold you what was already your own.
Martial.    
  9
  Since your legs, Phœbus, resemble the horns of the moon, you might bathe your feet in a cornucopia.
Martial.    
  10
  Philo swears that he has never dined at home, and it is so; he does not dine at all, except when invited out.
Martial.    
  11
  Thais has black, Læcania white teeth; what is the reason? Thais has her own, Læcania bought ones.
Martial.    
  12
  Lycoris has buried all the female friends she had, Fabianus; would she were the friend of my wife.
Martial.    
  13
  A crafty innkeeper at Ravenna lately cheated me. I asked him for wine and water; he sold me pure wine.
Martial.    
  14
  When your crowd of attendants so loudly applaud you, Pomponius, it is not you, but your banquet, that is eloquent.
Martial.    
  15
  See how the mountain goat hangs from the summit of the cliff; you would expect it to fall; it is merely showing its contempt for the dogs.
Martial.    
  16
  You admire, Vacerra, only the poets of old, and praise only those who are dead. Pardon me, I beseech you, Vacerra, if I think death too high a price to pay for your praise.
Martial.    
  17
  If your slave commits a fault, do not smash his teeth with your fists; give him some of the (hard) biscuit which famous Rhodes has sent you.
Martial.    
  18
  You are pretty—we know it; and young—it is true; and rich—who can deny it? But when you praise yourself extravagantly, Fabulla, you appear neither rich, nor pretty, not young.
Martial.    
  19
  If I remember right, Ælia, you had four teeth; a cough displaced two, another two more. You can now cough without anxiety all the day long. A third cough can find nothing to do in your mouth.
Martial.    
  20
 
 
  When you try to conceal your wrinkles, Polla, with paste made from beans, you deceive yourself, not me. Let a defeat, which is possibly but small, appear undisguised. A fault concealed is presumed to be great.
Martial.    
  21
  If you wish, Faustinus, a bath of boiling water to be reduced in temperature—a bath, such as scarcely Julianus could enter—ask the rhetorician Sabinæus to bathe himself in it. He would freeze the warm baths of Nero.
Martial.    
  22
  Why do I not kiss you, Philænis? you are bald. Why do I not kiss you, Philænis? you are carrotty. Why do I not kiss you, Philænis? you are one-eyed. He who kisses you, Philænis, sins against nature.
Martial.    
  23
  Do you wonder for what reason, Theodorus, notwithstanding your frequent requests and importunities, I have never presented you with my works? I have an excellent reason; it is lest you should present me with yours.
Martial.    
  24
  I have not a farthing in the house; one thing only remains for me to do, Regulus, and that is to sell the presents which I have received from you; are you inclined to buy them?
Martial.    
  25
  Do you ask what sort of a maid I desire or dislike, Flaccus? I dislike one too easy and one too coy. The just mean, which lies between the two extremes, is what I approve; I like neither that which tortures nor that which cloys.
Martial.    
  26
  In whatever place you meet me, Postumus, you cry out immediately, and your very first words are, “How do you do?” You say this, even if you meet me ten times in one single hour; you, Postumus, have nothing, I suppose, to do.
Martial.    
  27
  Report says that you, Fidentinus, recite my compositions in public as if they were your own. If you allow them to be called mine, I will send you my verses gratis; if you wish them to be called yours, pray buy them, that they may be mine no longer.
Martial.    
  28
  I commend you, Postumus, for kissing me with only half your lip; you may, however, if you please, withhold even the half of this half. Are you inclined to grant me a boon still greater, and even inexpressible? Keep this whole half entirely to yourself, Postumus.
Martial.    
  29
  I could do without your face, and your neck, and your hands, and your limbs, and your bosom, and other of your charms. Indeed, not to fatigue myself with enumerating each or them, I could do without you, Chloe, altogether.
Martial.    
  30
  You often ask me, Priscus, what sort of person I should be, if I were to become suddenly rich and powerful. Who can determine what would be his future conduct? Tell me, if you were to become a lion, what sort of a lion would you be?
Martial.    
  31
  All your female friends are either old or ugly; nay, more ugly than old women usually are. These you lead about in your train, and drag with you to feasts, porticos and theaters. Thus, Fabulla, you seem handsome, thus you seem young.
Martial.    
  32
  You utter all sorts of falsehoods, Pontilianus; I assent to them. You recite bad verses; I praise them. You sing; I do the same. You drink, Pontilianus; I drink also. You are rude; I pretend not to perceive it. You wish to play at chess; I allow myself to be beaten. There is one thing only which you do without me, and I hold my tongue on the subject. Yet you never make me the slightest present. “When I die,” say you, “I shall remember you handsomely.” I do not look for anything; but die.
Martial.    
  33
  What are the precise characteristics of an epigram it is not easy to define. It differs from a joke, in the fact that the wit of the latter dies in the words, and cannot therefore be conveyed in another language; while an epigram is a wit of ideas, and hence is translatable. Like aphorisms, songs and sonnets, it is occupied with some single point, small and manageable; but whilst a song conveys a sentiment, a sonnet, a poetical, and an aphorism a moral reflection, an epigram expresses a contrast.
Wm. Matthews.    
  34
  Do you ask why I am unwilling to marry a rich wife? It is because I am unwilling to be taken to husband by my wife. The mistress of the house should be subordinate to her husband, for in no other way, Priscus, will the wife and husband be on an equality.
Martial.    
  35
 
 
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