Haec tibi, non alia, est ad cenam causa vocandi,
versiculos recites ut, Ligurine, tuos.
deposui soleas, affertur protinus ingens
inter lactucas oxygarumque liber:
alter perlegitur, dum fercula prima morantur:
tertius est, nec adhuc mensa secunda venit:
et quartum recitas et quintum denique librum.
putidus est, totiens si mihi ponis aprum.
quod si non scombris scelerata poëmata donas,
cenabis solus iam, Ligurine, domi.
(Martial, Ep. 3.50)

This, and no other, is your reason for inviting me to dinner: so that you may recite to me your verses, Ligurinus. I arrive. I take off my shoes. At once you have a huge volume of verses brought in with the lettuce and fish sauce. A second volume is read out, in its entirety, while the main course gets cold. A third volume is produced, and dessert has not yet been served. Then you recite a fourth and finally a fifth volume. If you keep serving me the pork dish, again and again, I’ll be sick*. If you don’t confine your awful poems to the mackerel dish, Ligurinus, from now on you will dine at home, alone.

* That is, he keeps serving the main dish (the pork) and does not serve dessert, because he wants to keep his guest at the dinner table as long as possible.

(tr. Jo-Ann Shelton, with one of her notes)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: