Met een lach en een traan | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 52, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



The Roman poet Martial is famous for his humorous epigrams, which often poke fun at people or alleged wrongs in contemporary Rome. But there is much more to Martial, as an illustrative analysis of book 1 shows. Roughly half of the book appears to be devoted to themes that are not directly or obviously funny. There are, for instance, metaliterary poems, series of poems developing one theme in ever changing variations, poems hailing lofty ideals or reflecting funeral themes. Martial clearly strives after at every level of his work. So readers do not do justice to him in singling out any specific category, such as the robust jokes for which he is best known. In the end, we may even read his ‘funny’ epigrams in a serious manner and take his ‘serious’ epigrams as forms of light-hearted play.


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