DONNE'S READING OF MARTIAL
DONNE'S reading of Martial is apparent chiefly in his Epigrams and in the Paradoxes and Problems. His English epigrams are not translations or adaptations of Martial, as were those of certain of his contemporaries, but in their brevity and point they clearly owe much to Donne's study of Martial. One of them is an attack on the German Jesuit Raderus, who produced an expurgated edition of Martial, and must belong to the year 1602 or later. Professor Grierson has shown that a group of the epigrams refer to the Cadiz and Islands expeditions, and must therefore belong to the years 1596-98 or soon after. We may assign the majority of the epigrams to the period 1596-1603, and this date links them with the Paradoxes.
While the Paradoxes and Problems as a whole must be spread over the years 1598 to 1607, we have a compact group of ten paradoxes which are kept together in all our extant manuscripts, and which were probably written between 1598 and 1601, since Donne sent a copy of them with a covering letter to a friend, whom we may identify as Henry Wotton, about 1601. It is in these ten paradoxes that we have six direct quotations from Martial, while the remaining two paradoxes and nineteen problems yield only one quotation from this source.
Some curious textual problems are raised by the form in which certain quotations from Martial appear