Marcus Valerius Martialis, London, 1689 (Google Books)

Lister read the epigrams of Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis, (40-102/104 A.D.) on 12 July 1664 when in Aix-en-Provence.

This notorious work was one of the first Latin classics printed, printed in Rome in 1471.  Editions in France began appearing in 1502, where by the seventeenth century, “Martial would have such enormous literary impact, his sal Romanus being an appropriate condiment for l’esprit français.” 1

Lister would later donate a 1680 edition of this work to the University of Oxford.  Lister may have preferred this Delphin edition by Vincent Colleson as it was an anthology that  printed all the obscene epigrams at the very end of the volume. His donation may have avoided any objections raised from the university authorities.

Here is one of the milder epigrams by Martial: (Book II.42)


Zoile, quid solium subluto podice perdis?

Spurcius ut fiat, Zoile, merge caput.


Zoilus, if you want to pollute the public bathing place.

Don’t stick in your ass first; stick in your face


  1. John Patrick Sullivan,  “Introduction,” Epigrams of Martial Englished by Divers Hands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 23.

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