Venetiis [Venice]: Aldus Manutius, the Elder, December, 1501. First Aldine edition. The fourth book published as part of the Aldine Classics, after Virgil, Horace and Juvenal, all printed earlier in the year. The editio princeps was published in Ferrara in 1471. Distinguishable from the Lyonnese forgeries by ‘Amphitheatrum’ and ‘seposita’ on the first page of text. Bound in what appears to be 18th century mottled calf boards with gilt boarders, all edges marbled, with a later reback. Octavo (pages 156 x 91 mm), collating: A-Z8, &7; lacking final blank, otherwise complete. Owner's name and a short, one-inch tear on the first leaf, only affecting one letter, otherwise the book is tightly bound with internal contents in excellent condition. Housed in a marbled paper slipcase.
Martial is credited as the father of the modern epigram, a short satirical or witty statement, usually in a couplet. His Epigrams open a window on life in Rome in the first century AD, the often lewd behavior of his contemporaries and the poet's own nostalgic recollections of life on the Iberian Peninsula. "It is certain that of all poems, the Epigram is the pleasantest, and of all that writes epigrams, Martial is counted the wittiest." (Sir John Harrington, 1560 - 1612) (Item #963)