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Form: Marcus Valerius.
The Roman epigrammatist, born at Bilbilis in Spain between A.D. 40 and 43. He was originally intended for the law, and was sent to Rome in Nero's reign to complete his studies, but devoted himself to poetry, which obtained for him the favour of Titus, Domitian, and the great men of Rome, and thus insured him a livelihood. On returning in 98 under Trajan to Bilbilis, after a stay of thirty-four years in the capital, he was so poor that the younger Pliny [Ep. iii 21] had to give him pecuniary assistance for the journey. Though his skill as a poet won him patrons in his native country, and even an estate from the wealthy Marcella, yet he yearned for the bustle of the capital. He died about 102.-Martial is the creator of the modern epigram, and the first ancient poet who exclusively cultivated the epigram as a separate branch of literature. Besides a small collection of epigrams about public shows under Titus and his successor (Liber Spectaculorum), we possess a much larger collection in fourteen books, of which only two (xi and xii) were not published under Domitian. He depicts, usual ly in elegiac or iambic verse, the corrupt morals of his degenerate times with brilliant and biting wit and with the metrical skill of Ovid, but without any moral seriousness, and with evident pleasure in what is coarse. A particularly distasteful effect is produced by his fulsome flattery of patrons in high positions, especially Domitian, in whom he manages to discover and to admire every virtue that a man and a prince could possibly possess. His epigrams were much read by the ancients. They have many points of excellence, and they throw a vivid light on the manners and customs of the Silver Age of Latin literature.
Type: Standard
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