Book V: 34 Erotion
To you, my parents, I send on
This little girl Erotion,
The slave I loved, that by your side
Her ghost may not be terrified
Of the pitch darkness underground
Or the great jaws of Hades hound,
This winter she would have completed
Her sixth year had she not been cheated
By just six days. Lisping my name,
May she continue the sweet game
Of childhood happily down there
In two such good old spirits’ care.
Lie lightly on her, turf and dew:
She put so little weight on you.
Marcus Valerius Martialis was a Roman poet from Hispania best known for his twelve books of Epigrams, published in Rome between AD 86 and 103, during the reigns of the emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan. In these short, witty poems he cheerfully satirises city life and the scandalous activities of his acquaintances, and romanticises his provincial upbringing.