"The poet we call Martial, Marcus Valerius Martialis, lived by his wits in first-century Rome. Pounding the mean streets of the Empire's capital, he takes apart the pretensions, addictions, and cruelties of its inhabitants with perfect comic timing and killer punchlines. Social climers and sex-offenders, rogue traders and two-faced preachers - all are subject to his forensic annihilations and often foul-mouthed verses. Packed with incident and detail, Martial's epigrams bring Rome vividly to life in all its variety; biting satire rubs alongside tender friendship, lust for life beside sorrow for loss. Gossipy, clever, and above all entertaining, they express amusement as much as indigtation at the vices they expose."