MARCUS VALERIUS MARTIALIS (C A.D. 40 ? C A.D. 104)


Born C. A.D. 40 at Bilbilis in central Spain, son of Fronto and Flacilla, he describes himself as having 'obstinate Spanish locks' and 'hairy legs and cheeks'. He was educated in Spain and came to Rome in about 64 AD. There, he depended on patronage for existence and he makes frequent references to his status of Client.

Seneca (the younger), also a Spaniard was one of his patrons. Martial could have become a teacher of rhetoric or a lawyer but he preferred to remain a client.

He was friendly with

(1) Frontinus (who wrote about Rome's water supply)
(2) Juvenal (who wrote satires about life in Rome)
(3) Pliny the younger (noted already for his collection of letters).

His works include : (a) Liber Spectaculorum (written to mark the opening of the Colosseum in AD 80)
(b) Epigrams (published between 86?98 A.D.)

By this time he was quite prosperous and enjoyed certain privileges in Roman society.
About AD 98 he retired to Bilbilis where he enjoyed further patronage, this time of a lady called Marcella. She gave him an estate.

He died in about 104 AD

An Epigram is short poem with a witty ending.