“If you’re one of those terribly serious readers, now is a good time to leave.”
– Martial, Epigrams
The poet we call Martial, Marcus Valerius Martialis, lived by his wits in first-century Rome. Pounding the mean streets of the Empire’s capital, he takes apart the pretensions, addictions, and cruelties of its inhabitants with perfect comic timing and killer punchlines.
Martials’ Epigrams represents quite a departure from our previous seasons of the reading group. Our third season of #OWCReads ended with an exciting, Dickens-themed Twitter Q&A with Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, who helped us get our heads around Great Expectations. We now wave goodbye to Pip, Estella and Victorian London as our #OWCReads group takes on the exciting, funny, and often raunchy world of Martial.
Packed with incident and detail, Martial’s Epigrams brings Rome vividly to life in all its variety; biting satire rubs alongside tender friendship, lust for life besides sorrow for loss. Social climbers and sex-offenders, rogue traders, and two-faced preachers all are subject to his forensic annihilation and foul-mouthed verses. Gossipy, clever, and above all entertaining, they express amusement as much as indignation at the vices they expose. We are pleased to announce that Gideon Nisbit of the University of Birmingham has offered to give us a guided tour of the colourful streets of Ancient Rome as described in Martial’s Epigrams.
Featured Image: Ancient Rome, CC0 via Pixabay.