12.61This one is for Mym (@LiberalDespot):
You’re afraid I might write a poem about you, Ligurra – something sharp and snappy. And you’re keen to have people think you’re worth it. But you’ve no cause to worry (you wish!). Libyan lions roar at bulls – they don’t maul butterflies. My advice? If you’re desperate for a write-up, seek out some wino poet under a soot-darkened arch, the kind who writes with a lump of charcoal or a clod of chalk, whose poems people read while they’re shitting. Be a marked man, but I’m not marking you.
The 'marked man' bit in the final line:
frons haec stigmate non meo notanda est.
Literally (ish), "This brow shouldn't be /doesn't deserve to be marked by my brand." A runaway slave who was recaptured was branded on the forehead as a permanent and unconcealable mark of recognition. Martial is keeping his irons hot for the serious bad boys and girls; Ligurra's lightweight, 'butterfly' sins aren't nearly as badass as he would like to think.
Libyan lions: There used to be a distinct kind of North African as opposed to Sub-Saharan lion, and these 'Barbary Lions' were the ones Romans typically saw in beast-fights in the arena.
After doing this translation (and yes I should have been marking) I found that Robert Louis Stevenson had done a rather fine version into rhyming couplets:
You fear, Ligurra – above all, you long –Found at https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/stevenson/de_ligurra.html.
That I should smite you with a stinging song.
This dreadful honour you both fear and hope –
Both all in vain: you fall below my scope.
The Lybian lion tears the roaring bull,
He does not harm the midge along the pool.
Lo! if so close this stands in your regard,
From some blind tap fish forth a drunken bard,
Who shall with charcoal, on the privy wall,
Immortalise your name for once and all.