Gideon Nisbet (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Martial: Epigrams
- Quod tibi Decembri mense, quo uolant mappae
- gracilesque ligulae cereique chartaeque
- et acuta senibus testa cum Damascenis,
- praeter libellos uernulas nihil misi,
- fortasse auarus uidear aut inhumanus.
- odi dolosas munerum et malas artes;
- imitantur hamos dona: namque quis nescit
- auidum uorata decipi scarum musca?
- quotiens amico diuiti nihil donat,
- o Quintiane, liberalis est pauper.
It's December, when gifts speed to and fro—napkins, slender spoons, wax tapers, writing-paper, a tapering jar of wrinkly damsons;* and I've sent nothing but my little home-grown books. So perhaps I seem mean; devoid of human feeling. I hate the sly and wicked ploys of present-giving. Gifts are like hooks: everyone knows the greedy parrot-wrasse* is duped by the fly he's swallowed. Any time a poor man doesn't give a present to his rich friend, Quintianus, he's being generous.