Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialts), a Latin epigrammatic poet, born in Bilbilis, Spain, March 1, A.D. 43, died near the same place in or after 104. Little is known of his history except from his works, the younger Pliny being the only contemporary author who mentions him. He went to Rome in 66, resided there 35 years, and then returned to Bilbilis, where he lived at least three years. While in Rome the fame of his epigrams caused them to be sought not only in the capital, but also in Gaul, Germany, and Britain; he enjoyed the patronage and favor of the emperors Titus and Domitian; was raised to the rank of tribune and of knight; and had a mansion in the city, and a villa near Nomentum. His extant works consist of more than 1.500 short poems, in 14 books, hearing the general title of Epi-grammata. The last two books, consisting of 350 distichs, are named respectively Xenia and Apophoreta. Still another book, containing:;:; epigrams on the public shows, and bearing only in late MSS. the title of De Specta-culis, is attributed to him. The term epigram had previously been applied to any brief metrical effusion of whatever character, on whatever subject, and thus to the whole mass of the Greek anthology.
Martial was the first to limit its meaning to a sbort poem, abounding in ingenious and pointed thoughts, all of which converge to a pithy and strikim; conclusion. He displays a singularly fertile fancy, a pungent wit, and refinement and delicacy of diction. No author has furnished a more full and minute delineation of Roman customs and social habits during the first century of the empire. But he lavishes adulation upon Domitian, and delights in obscenity. Among the best editions are those of Lemaire 05 vols., Paris, 1825) and Schneidewin(Grimma, 1842). Selections from his epigrams have been translated by several English poets, but the only complete version is that by various authors in Bonn's " Classical Library " (London, 1860). There is a German translation by Ramler. Martial, with a French translation, is contained in Nisard's edition of the Latin authors (Paris, 1842); and a translation by several hands, with a memoir by Jules Janin, was edited by Lemaistre and Dubois (2 vols., 1864).