Marcus Valerius Martialis - 38 or 41 AD - 103
Roman Silver Age poet who brought the Latin epigram to perfection. He was born in a Roman colony in Spain, but moved to Rome and integrated himself in the Seneca family, who were very influential at the time.
His first book was entitled 'On the Spectacles' and was written in AD 80. This was a collection of mediocre epigrams celebrating the spectacles put on at the Colosseum. He wrote another two undistinguished books in 84 and 85. However, in the years following this, he wrote the 12 books which made him famous. After 34 years in Rome, Martial returned to Spain and died in his early 60s.
Martial is generally regarded as the creator of the modern epigram. Martial also introduced the concept of a 'sting in the tail' - a word or phrase at the end of an epigram which adds an unexpected angle to the poem. This technique was later adopted by Western European epigram writers. It also inspired the Younger Pliny to write his own light verse.