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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Martial (c. 40–c. 104)


I LOVE thee not, Sabidius. But why?

I love thee not—that’s all I can reply.

Why, Paulus, would you have me write

On Phyllis, to provoke her spite?

The reason is, as you must own,

You want her for yourself alone.

You’ve a wife, friend Fabullus, chaste, beautiful, young;

And the blessing of numerous progeny ask.

What you crave of the gods, with suppliant tongue,

Is your own to perform—virility’s task.

Œlia had four teeth—I think I’m right;

One cough ejected two, another two.

Now she may cough forever, day and night;

There’s nothing left for the next cough to do.

The verses, friend, which thou hast read, are mine;

But, as thou read’st them, they may pass for thine.

As your legs mock the horns of a moon incomplete,

In a funnel, friend Phœbus, you might wash your feet.

Eutrapelus, the barber, works so slow,

That, while he shaves, the beard anew does grow.

I have no farthing, Regulus, at home—

Unless your gifts I sell. Will you buy some?

Jack’s father’s dead, and left him without hope,

For he has left him nothing but a rope;

By a strange turn does fortune thus contrive

To make Jack wish his father were alive!

Bought verses as your own you may recite,

For what you buy is surely yours by right.

Zoilus, he lied who called thee vicious elf;

Thou art not vicious, but art vice itself.

Ten pounds you begged to borrow t’other day,

Which speedily you promised to repay.

I had it not, as civ’ly I did say.

But you, by a friend’s visit then surprised,

To borrow of me silver plate devised!

Are you a fool, or I, do you suppose,

That, ’stead of ten pounds, fifty I would lose?