Friday, January 31, 2014


Martial Modernized

Mortimer Collins (1827-1876), "An Essay on Epigrams," Pen Sketches by a Vanished Hand, ed. Tom Taylor, Vol. I (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1879), pp. 242-255 (at 248):
Exquisite wines and comestibles
From Tod-Heatly and Fortnum and Mason;
Smoking-room, billiard- and chess-tables;
Bath in a vast marble basin;
Luminous books (not voluminous)
To read under beech-trees cacuminous;
One friend, who is fond of a distich,
And doesn't get too syllogistic;
A valet, who knows the complete art
Of service—a maiden, his sweetheart:
Give me these in a rural pavilion,
And I'll envy no Rothschild his million.
Did Collins have in mind some particular poem by Martial? Perhaps 10.47, a list of things "vitam quae faciant beatiorem," that tend to make life happier. Tod-Heatly were wine merchants. Fortnum & Mason, purveyors of comestibles, are still in business.

Update: Michael Hendry (per litteras) correctly identified the original as Martial 2.48, here in D.R. Shackleton Bailey's translation, followed by the Latin:
An innkeeper, a butcher, a bath, a barber, a board and pieces, and a few little books (but I must choose them), one friend not too new, a large boy smoothcheeked for a long time to come, and a girl of whom my boy is fond: give me these, Rufus, even at Butunti, and keep Nero's baths.

Coponem laniumque balneumque,
tonsorem tabulamque calculosque
et paucos, sed ut eligam, libellos:
unum non nimium rudem sodalem
et grandem puerum diuque levem
et caram puero meo puellam:
haec praesta mihi, Rufe, vel Butuntis,
et thermas tibi habe Neronianas.

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