Martial 6.39: Pater ex Marulla

by Tom Gardner

Pater ex Marulla, Cinna, factus es septem
non liberorum: namque nec tuus quisquam
nec est amici filiusve vicini,
sed in grabatis tegetibusque concepti
materna produnt capitibus suis furta.
Hic qui retorto crine Maurus incedit
subolem fatetur esse se coci Santrae;
at ille sima nare, turgidis labris
ipsa est imago Pannychi palaestritae.
Pistores esse tertium quis ignorat,
quicumque lippum nouit et uidet Damam?
Quartus cinaeda fronte, candido voltu
ex concubino natus est tibi Lygdo:
percide, si vis, filium: nefas non est.
Hunc vero acuto capite et auribus longis,
quae sic moventur ut solent asellorum,
quis morionis filium negat Cyrtae?
Duae sorores, illa nigra et haec rufa,
Croti choraulae vilicique sunt Carpi.
Iam Niobidarum grex tibi foret plenus
si spado Coresus Dindymusque non esset.

Cinna, you have been made a father by Marulla of seven
non-children, for none of them are yours,
and none of them are the son of a friend or a neighbour,
but, as they were conceived in couches and bed-rugs,
they betray their mother’s adulteries by their heads.
This one, who marches along like a Moor with curly hair,
admits that he’s the offspring of Santra the cook;
but that one, snub-nosed and blubber-lipped,
is the spitting image of Pannychus the wrestling-trainer.
Who doesn’t know that the third is the pastry-cook’s,
when he knows and sees bleary-eyed Dama?
The fourth, with the brow of an effete, the pale complexion,
was born unto you from your concubine Lygdus;
sodomise, if you will, your son: it is no sin.
This one, certainly, with the pointed head and long ears,
which move much as donkey’s are accustomed to move,
who denies that he’s the son of Cyrta, the house fool?
Two sisters, one black-haired and the other red-haired,
are the daughters of Crotus the flautist and Carpus the overseer.
Now there’s a brood as numerous as that of Niobe,
if Coresus and Dindymus hadn’t been eunuchs.