(Usually Martial is noted for his scatological jabs in connection with the sordid aspects of Roman society. These are all grist for a poet’s literary mill; but here and there he writes certain deeply felt incidents that are like spangles sewn on the vile coverlets of a Roman bawdy house.
Like this threnody on a slave girl lately diseased. b.)
To you my parents, I send on
This little girl Erotion.
The slave I loved, that by your side
Her ghost need 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 spirit’s care.
Lie lightly on her, turf and dew:
She put so little weight on you.