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Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial)

Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial)

Circa 39/40-103/104 c.e.



Status without Wealth. Born in the late 30s C.E. in Bilbilis in Spain, Martial moved circa 64 to Rome, where he was initially patronized by the family of the Senecas, his compatriots. He found favor at court and was raised to the status of a Roman knight, but he never managed to gain full financial independence. He knew the leading literati of his time, such as Silius Italicus, Juvenal, and the younger Pliny. He wrote the Epigrammaton Liber, as well as the two collections of couplets, Xenia and Apophoreta. Having praised the tyrant Domitian in fulsome terms, he came under suspicion during the principates of Domitian’s successors, Nerva and Trajan, and in 98 at the earliest he moved back to his home in Spain. There some friends gave him a farm, which supported him until his death in 103 or 104 C.E.


Walter Allen Jr. and others, “Martial: Knight, Publisher, and Poet,” Classical Journal, 65 (1970): 345-357.

J. P. Sullivan, Martial: The Unexpected Classic. A Literary and Historical Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

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