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EPIGRAMS
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[ Also see Anecdotes Aphorisms Apothegms Epitaphs Humor Jesting Maxims Paradoxes Proverbs (General) Quotations Satire Wit ]

"You are too free spoken," is your constant remark to me, Choerilus. He who speaks against you, Choerilus, is indeed a free speaker.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. I, ep. 67)

What's this that myrrh doth still smell in thy kiss,
  And that with thee no other odour is?
    'Tis doubt, my Postumus, he that doth smell
      So sweetly always, smells not very well.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. II, ep. 12)

Since your legs, Phoebus, resemble the horns of the moon, you might bathe your feet in a cornucopia.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. II, ep. 35)

In whatever place you meet me, Postumus, you cry out immediately, and your very first words are, "How do you do?" You say this, even if you meet me ten times in one single hour: you, Postumus, have nothing, I suppose, to do.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. II, ep. 67)

If you wish, Faustinus, a bath of boiling water to be reduced in temperature,--a bath, such as scarcely Julianus could enter,--ask the rhetorician Sabinaeus to bathe himself in it. He would freeze the warm baths of Nero.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. III, ep. 25)

I could do without your face, and your neck, and your hands, and your limbs, and your bosom, and other of your charms. Indeed, not to fatigue myself with enumerating each of them, I could do without you, Chloe, altogether.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. III, ep. 53)

Lycoris has buried all the female friends she had, Fabianus: would she were the friend of my wife!
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. IV, ep. 24)

You were constantly, Matho, a guest at my villa at Tivoli. Now you buy it--I have deceived you; I have merely sold you what was already your own.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. IV, ep. 79)

Do you wonder for what reason, Theodorus, notwithstanding your frequent requests and importunities, I have never presented you with my works? I have an excellent reason; it is lest you should present me with yours.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. V., ep. 73)

You put fine dishes on your table, Olus, but you always put them on covered. This is ridiculous; in the same way I could put fine dished on my table.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. X, ep. 54)

And have you been able, Flaccus, to see the slender Thais? Then, Flaccus, I suspect you can see what is invisible.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. XI, ep. 101)

You ask for lively epigrams, and propose lifeless subjects. What can I do, Caecilianus? You expect Hyblaen or Hymethian honey to be produced, and yet offer the Attic bee nothing but Corsican thyme?
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. XI, ep. 42)

When to secure your bald pate from the weather,
  You lately wore a cape of black neats' leather;
    He was a very wag, who to you said,
      "Why do you wear your slippers on your head?"
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. XII, ep. 45),
        (trans. by Hay)

See how the mountain goat hangs from the summit of the cliff; you would expect it to fall; it is merely showing its contempt for the dogs.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. XIII, ep. 99)

Never think of leaving perfumes or wine to your heir. Administer these yourself, and let him have your money.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. XIII, sp. 126)

What are the precise characteristics of an epigram it is not easy to define. It differs from a joke, in the fact that the wit of the latter dies in the words, and cannot therefore be conveyed in another language; while an epigram is a wit of ideas, and hence, is translatable. Like aphorisms, songs and sonnets, it is occupied with some single point, small and manageable; but whilst a song conveys a sentiment, a sonnet a poetical, and an aphorism a moral reflection, an epigram expresses a contrast.
      - William Matthews

Sir Drake whom well the world's end knew
  Which thou did'st compass round,
    And whom both Poles of heaven once saw
      Which North and South do bound,
        The stars above would make thee known,
          If men here silent were;
            The sun himself cannot forget
              His fellow traveller.
      - John Owen ("British Martial"),
        epigram on Sir Francis Drake, pt. II, 39 of first volume dedicated to Lady Mary Neville

No epigram contains the whole truth.
      - Charles Willis Thompson

Some learned writers . . . have compared a Scorpion to an Epigram . . . because as the sting of the Scorpion lyeth in the tayl, so the force and virtue of an epigram is in the conclusion.
      - Edward Topsell, Serpent (p. 756)

Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma.
      - Hendrik Willem van Loon

An epigram often flashes light into regions where reason shines but dimly.
      - Edwin Percy Whipple

The wise men of old have sent most of their morality down the stream of time in the light skiff of apothegm and epigram.
      - Edwin Percy Whipple

Thou art so witty, profligate and thin,
  At once we think thee Satan, Death and Sin.
      - Edward Young, Epigram on Voltaire,
        who had criticized the characters of the same name in "Paradise Lost"

The qualities all in a bee that we meet,
  In an epigram never should fail;
    The body should always be little and sweet,
      And a sting should be felt in its tail.
      - attributed to Tomas de Yriarte (Iriarte),
        "American Epigrams" by Brander Matthews in "Harper's Monthly"


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