Martial, aka Marcus Valerius Martialis, lived around the time when the calendar clicked over to AD. Therefore, I’m calling him the world’s first satirist.
You’ve planted seven wealthy husbands
While the bodies were still warm.
You own, Chloe, what I’d call
A profit-making farm.
By Antipater of Thessalonica, somewhere around the turn of the letters (from B.C. to the more current one).
I’ve never feared the setting of the Pleiades
or the hidden reefs beneath the waves
or even the lightning at sea
like I dread friends who drink with me
and remember what we say.
By the one and only Aristophanes of Byzantium, 257-180 BCE.
On the advice of Praxilla,
we are asked to look
under every stone
for a hiding scorpion.
The proverb sounds all right.
But, turning stones,
poets also bite.
Palladas, a relatively ancient Greek, wrote this in the early fifth century.
Whose baggage from land to land is despair,
Life’s voyages sail a treacherous sea.
Many founder piteously
With fortune at the helm. We keep
A course this way and that, across the deep,
From here to nowhere. And back again.
Blow foul, blow fair
All come to anchor finally in the tomb.
Passengers armed, we travel from room to room.
All the way back to Ancient Greece for this one, from Cydias (c. 400BC).
Beware. There are fawns
who, facing the lion,
die of fright just thinking
the lion might be hungry.
By Asclepiades (c. 275-265 BCE). Some things never change.
Here Lies Archeanassa
the courtesan from Colophon
whose old and wrinkled body
was still Love’s proud domain.
you lovers who knew her youth
in its sweet piercing splendor
and plucked those early blooms–
through what a flame you passed!
Catullus, 84-54 BCE
I hate and love. Ignorant fish, who even
wants the fly while writhing.