Martial's name is a byword for caustic and often obscene wit. The fiercest Roman satirist after Juvenal, he was also a poet with a more reflective nature, whose acute observations of life are tinged with a keen awareness of death. Peter Whigham's selection from his enormous output represents both the serious and lighter aspects of a many-sided professional poet. His translations also convey, in their frequent homage to earlier translators and English followers of Martial, a sense of his enduring influence on the English poetic tradition.
J.P. Sullivan's critical introduction sets Martial's life and poetry in the social and political context of his times, and accounts for his continuing popularity through the ages.