Tawdry Tuesday Returns: Martial’s “Butter Face” Poem

Epigram XI, 102

“He didn’t lie when he told me, Lydia,
That you have a beautiful body, but not a face.
It’s like this: if you are quiet and lie back silent
As a picture in wax or in paint.
But every time you speak you ruin your flesh too,
No one’s tongue inflicts as much self-harm as yours.
Make sure that the aedile neither sees nor hears you.
It is a bad omen whenever a statue breaks into speech.

Non est mentitus qui te mihi dixit habere
formosam carnem, Lydia, non faciem.
Est ita, si taceas et si tam muta recumbas
quam silet in cera vultus et in tabula.
Sed quotiens loqueris, carnem quoque, Lydia, perdis
et sua plus nulli quam tibi lingua nocet.
Audiat aedilis ne te videatque caveto:
portentum’st, quotiens coepit imago loqui.

If you need something a little simpler or less mean as a palate cleanser after that, might we suggest the following couplet?

Epigrams, XI, 97

“I can perform four times in one night, but I’ll be damned
If I can manage once in four years with you, Telesilla.”

Una nocte quater possum: sed quattuor annis
si possum, peream, te Telesilla semel.

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