Friday, July 8, 2011

Martial: 1st Annual Tea and History Translation Contest

Today, I took my first stab at translating Martial, a Roman poet who specialized in snarky epigrams, a sort of a 2nd century Daniel Tosh. His poems are short and much easier to translate than other classical authors. I thought it would be interesting to see people's take on his work so I thought I'd propose a contest. Pick an epigram, translate it into rhyming, metrical English. No knowledge of Latin is necessary. Feel free to bring the piece into a modern paradigm. Send entries to MatthewLandrum(at)sbcglobal(dot)net. The winner gets a package of Tazo tea, Livy's "History of Rome," and a two dollar bill.  The winning epigram will be published on my blog.


  1. I'm going to try to work the phrase "that's so raven!" into my translation.

    We'll see how it goes. You can expect one from me and one from Will.

  2. I'm not sure I understand. You want a translation from Latin to English but you say that no knowledge of Latin is necessary...?

    P.S. I want to participate.

  3. A surprising number of writers translate without knowing the source language. I recently read Ted Hughes's selected translations. Hughes translated out of Greek, Tibetan, Latin, Spanish, Farsi, Hebrew, and French though he only knew French. He used literal versions and other poets' translations to work out the meanings of texts. There are lots of great Martial resources online. has some excellent literal versions.


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