The 17 Necessary Conditions for a Good Life, According to Martial

In the 47th epigram of his 10th book, first century Roman poet Martial supplies the 17 necessary conditions for a good life, as follow.

  1. Inherited wealth, as opposed to that produced by an actual job.
  2. Some reasonably fertile land.
  3. A working fireplace.
  4. Total avoidance of lawsuits.
  5. An avoidance, almost as total, of business attire.
  6. A calm mind.
  7. Physical health.
  8. Gentlemanly powers.
  9. A sort of artful candor — or perhaps “benign insouciance.”
  10. Likeminded friends.
  11. Agreeable dinner parties.
  12. A simple, functional table.
  13. Nights without anxiety, but also not totally drunken, either.
  14. An active, but not entirely indulgent, sexual life.
  15. Considerable sleep, preferably when it’s dark out.
  16. The desire to be oneself only and nothing more/else.
  17. Neither a fear of, nor a wish for, one’s own death.

Translation courtesy Shackleton Bailey, Christopher Francese, Tom Gardner, A.S. Kline, and the present author’s own mediocre Latin.

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3 thoughts on “The 17 Necessary Conditions for a Good Life, According to Martial

  1. ‘Gentlemanly powers’ sounds interesting and I have only the slightest idea what that might be . Can you give me the Latin term please?

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