ElAnt v1n2 - TRANSLATIONS - Bad Smells and Worse Noises: Ten From Martial

Volume 1, Number 2
July 1993


Robert J. Baker,
Department of Classics & Ancient History,
University of New England,
N.S.W. 2351,
e-mail: rbaker@metz.une.edu.au



cum tibi sit facies de qua nec femina possit
dicere, cum corpus nulla litura notet,
cur te tam rarus cupiat repetatque fututor
miraris? vitium est non leve, Galla, tibi.
accessi quotiens ad opus mixtisque movemur
inguinibus, cunnus non tacet, ipsa taces.
di facerent ut tu loquereris et ille taceret:
offendor cunni garrulitate tui.
pedere te mallem: namque hoc nec inutile dicit
Symmachus et risum res movet ista simul.
quis ridere potest fatui poppysmata cunni?
cum sonat hic, cui non mentula mensque cadit?
dic aliquid saltem clamosoque obstrepe cunno
et, si adeo muta es, disce vel inde loqui.

Though you've a face of the sort which none, not even a woman,
Can criticise; though your body no blemish has marked,
Why so rarely you are desired once and more by a fucker
You're wondering? A defect (no slight one), Galla, is yours.
Each time I'm of a mind for the task and we are in motion
Groin against groin, your cunt, while you are dumb, isn't dumb.
Would that the gods made you do the talking and it do the dumb-show:
I am quite put off by the chit-chat of your cunt.
I'd prefer you to fart: for this function's useful, as claimed by
Symmachus; and a laugh such a thing prompts on the spot.
Who is able to laugh at the cluck from cunt idly prattling?
When it makes sounds, whose brawn doesn't collapse with his brain?
Anyhow, say something, and shout cunt down when it's noisy,
And, if you keep on dumb, you can learn speaking from there.


audieris in quo, Flacce, balneo plausum,
Maronis illic esse mentulam scito.

In whatsoever bath-house, Flaccus, you hear bursts*,
That what's appearing there is Maro's tool you'll know.
(*sc. as of applause: )



unguentum, fateor, bonum dedisti
convivis here, sed nihil scidisti.
res salsa est bene olere et esurire.
qui non cenat et unguitur, Fabulle,
hic vere mihi mortuus videtur.

I confess it was good perfume you gave to
Your guests yesterday, but you carved them nothing.
It's a joke to be scented and go hungry.
He who dines not but's perfumed up, Fabullus,
Seems to me to be certainly a dead man.


auriculam Mario graviter miraris olere.
tu facis hoc: garris, Nestor, in auriculam.

Marius' ear has a smell that'll knock one down; do you wonder?
You are its cause: you prate, Nestor, right into the ear.


quod siccae redolet palus lacunae,
crudarum nebulae quod Albularum,
piscinae vetus aura quod marinae,
quod pressa piger hircus in capella,
lassi vardaicus quod evocati,
quod bis murice vellus inquinatum,
quod ieiunia sabbatariarum,
maestorum quod anhelitus reorum,
quod spurcae moriens lucerna Ledae,
quod ceromata faece de Sabina,
quod volpis fuga, viperae cubile,
mallem quam quod oles olere, Bassa.

That bad smell given off by dry marsh-hollow,
By the vapours of sulphur-springs untreated,
By stale reek of a fishpond of sea-water,
By a slow-moving goat when mounting nanny,
By the boot of a campaign-weary veteran,
By fleece twice coloured with a dye of purple,
By the breath of the fasting Sabbath-keepers,
By lugubrious sighings of defendants,
By the guttering lamp of filthy Leda,
By the wax made of Sabine-oil leftovers,
By fox runaway, by a lair of viper,
I'd take sooner than smell of your smell, Bassa.


tam male Thais olet quam non fullonis avari
testa vetus media sed modo fracta via,
non ab amore recens hircus, non ora leonis,
non detracta cani Transtiberina cutis,
pullus abortivo nec cum putrescit in ovo,
amphora corrupto nec vitiata garo.
virus ut hoc alio fallax permutet odore,
deposita quotiens balnea veste petit,
psilothro viret aut acida latet oblita creta
aut tegitur pingui terque quaterque faba.
cum bene se tutam per fraudes mille putavit,
omnia cum fecit, Thaida Thais olet.

Awful is Thais's smell, worse far than fuller so greedy's
Long-in-the-use crock, and that just lately smashed in mid-street,
Than a he-goat from his love fresh come, than breath of a lion,
Than hide dragged from the mouth of a Transtiberine dog,
Than chicken that's gone bad inside egg thwarted from hatching,
Than a two-handled jar poisoned by putrid fish-sauce.
So that, all craftily, she might change this stench for new odour,
Whenever she doffs her clothes on her way into the bath,
She's green (depilatoried) or is masked with a vinegared chalk-paste,
Or three or four times she's covered with bean-flour that clings.
When she imagines she's saved, quite, through her thousand dodges,
When she's done all those things, Thais of Thais still smells.


cosmicos esse tibi, Semproni Tucca, videris.
cosmica, Semproni, tam mala quam bona sunt.

That you are man of good sense, Sempronius Tucca, you fancy.
Scents can be, Sempronius, bad just as well they're good.


unguentum fuerat, quod onyx modo parva gerebat:
olfecit postquam Papylus, ecce, garumst.

Perfume it used to be that the small casket lately was holding:
Now it's been smelt by Papylus, look, it's fish-sauce.


os male causidicis et dicis olere poetis.
sed fellatori, Zoile, peius olet.

Badly smell, you say, the mouths of lawyers and also of poets.
But a cock-sucker's, Zoilus, smells even worse.



cum futuis, Polycharme, soles in fine cacare.
cum pedicaris, quid, Polycharme, facis?

When you've a fuck, Polycharmus, you like to shit at the finish.
When you're being fucked, what, Polycharmus, d'you do?

Robert J. Baker,
e-mail: rbaker@metz.une.edu.au

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright remains with authors, but due reference should be made to this journal if any part of the above is later published elsewhere.

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 1 Issue 2 - July 1993
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606