Martial [Marcus Valerius Martialis]

Gideon Nisbet (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Martial: Epigrams

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  • Cum tibi non Ephesos nec sit Rhodos aut Mitylene,
  •    sed domus in Uico, Laelia, patricio,
  • deque coloratis numquam lita mater Etruscis,
  •    durus Aricina de regione pater;
  • κύριε μου, μέλι μου, ψυχή μου‎ congeris usque,
  •    —pro pudor!—Hersiliae ciuis et Egeriae.
  • lectulus has uoces, nec lectulus audiat omnis,
  •    sed quem lasciuo strauit amica uiro.
  • scire cupis quo casta modo matrona loquaris?
  •    numquid, cum crisas, blandior esse potes?
  • tu licet ediscas totam referasque Corinthon,
  •    non tamen omnino, Laelia, Lais eris.



You're not from Ephesus. Or Rhodes. Or Mytilene. You live on Senate Street, Laelia; your mother (who never used make-up) was descended from the sunburnt Etruscans, your tough old dad's from somewhere round Aricia. But you're forever stockpiling your Grecisms—ah m'sieu! mon amour, mon âme!* Have you no shame? You are a fellow countrywoman of Hersilia and Egeria. The bed's where such expressions should be heard, and not just any bed, but one spread by a party girl for her horny boyfriend. You should hear yourself talk—and you a respectable married lady. Could you be any more of a prick-tease by twerking?* But even if you get all Corinth by heart and can recite it, Laelia, you still won't quite be Lais.*

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
10.68 ah m'sieu! … mon âme!: the use of French mimics Laelia's predilection for lover's endearments in Greek. A straightforward translation into English ('My lord! My sweet! My soul!') would not convey either the change in sound or the connotation, inherent in the language-shift, that Laelia is putting on airs and endangering her reputation. Greek culture was still suspect, at least within the socially conservative world-view espoused by Roman satire.
Editor’s Note
twerking: the Latin, criso, means to make sexually suggestive motions with the hips, often in a squatting position. It is used only of women. Adams (1982: 137) has a useful discussion.
Editor’s Note
Lais: the fabled courtesan of fifth-century Corinth, and a byword for her trade; cf. 11.104.
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