Marcus Valerius Martialis
Martialis cum duobus commentis
Venezia, Impressit volumem hoc Iacobus Pentio de Leuco
A rare Post Incunabula, "Marcus Valerius Martialis" Martialis cum duobus commentis, Epigrams" printed in Venice in 1503 by Iacobus Pentio de Leuco.
Edited by Domizio Calderini and Giorgio Merula.
Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English as
Martial) (March 1, 40 AD – between 102 and 104 AD), was a Latin poet from
Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams,
published in Rome between AD 86 and 103, during the reigns of the emperors
Domitian, Nerva and Trajan. In these short, witty poems he cheerfully satirizes
city life and the scandalous activities of his acquaintances, and romanticizes
his provincial upbringing.
He is considered to be the creator of the modern epigram.Martial's Epigrams
Martial's keen curiosity and power of observation are manifested in his epigrams. The enduring literary interest of Martial's epigrams arises as much from their literary quality as from the colorful references to human life that they contain. Martial's epigrams bring to life the spectacle and brutality of daily life in imperial Rome, with which he was intimately connected.
From Martial, for example, we have a glimpse of living conditions in the city of Rome:
As Jo-Ann Shelton has written, "fire was a constant threat in ancient cities because wood was a common building material and people often used open fires and oil lamp. However, some people may have deliberately set fire to their property in order to collect insurance money." Martial makes this accusation in one of his epigrams:
Martial also pours scorn on the doctors of his day:
Martial's epigrams also refer to the extreme cruelty shown to slaves in Roman society. Below, he chides a man named Rufus for flogging his cook for a minor mistake:
Martial's epigrams are also characterized by their biting and often scathing sense of wit as well as for their lewdness; this has earned him a place in literary history as the original insult comic. Below is a sample of his more insulting work:
Or the following two examples (in translations by Mark Ynys-Mon):
Some contemporary notes on the title page, a small repaired wormhole in the right side of the first 20 leaves which causes some small text loss. Other small holes, perhaps caused by a penknife, in the gutter, far from the text. Some small restorations in the margin of the last leaves. Small pinhole wormhole throughout the whole book. Some light dampstain, two old drawings, some other minor defects, however it is a very good copy printed on crisp and fresh Incunable paper.
An attractive printer's device is present in the last text leaf. The book is adorned with numerous handsome initials (see the photos).
Cardboard binding from the beginning of the XX century with leather label with title and author.
Pages: CLXI leaves forming 322 pages. The text is complete. Missing the last original blank.
Folio Size: 12.00 in. x 8.30 in.
A pencil note on the first blank by an Italian bookseller states that in 1501, Manuzio printed a small format edition of Martial. This Folio edition, however, was very elegantly printed by Pentio and is therefore much more important. The book was valued at Euro 4,000 ($5,000).
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