Top 10 Best Insults from Ancient Rome

The Romans were good with words, including witty insults. We could do a top ten list of insults by just Cicero or Martial, but we choose the best insults from 10 different Romans. Enjoy!

1. Everything you say is so unbearably boring, by Hercules, that it’s murder by monotony.

~ Plautus (c.250-184 BC): Ah, lassitudinem Hercle verba tua mihi addunt, enicas.

best insults ancient rome

2. No one thinks you’re worth his attention, his time, a vote, a place in society, or even the light of day.

~ Cicero (106-43 BC): Nemo congressu, nemo aditu, nemo suffragio, nemo civitate, nemo luce dignum putet.

3. You’re an informer and a mudraker, a con-man wheeler-dealer, a gigolo and an educator in evil. All that, Vacerra, and amazingly, you’re still broke.

~ Martial (40-103 AD): Et delator es et calumniator, et fraudator es et negotiator, et fellator es et lanistra, miror quare non habeas, Vacerra, nummos.

4. He hasn’t got the brains of a sleeping two-year-old rocked in the rook of his father’s arm.

~ Catallus (c.84-54 BC): Nec sapit pueri instar bimuli termula patris dormientis in ulna.

5. All you do is run back and forth with a stupid expression, jittery as a rat in a roasting pot.

~ Petronius (d.65 AD): Curris, stupes, satagis, tanquam mus in matella.

6. You are the stench of a low-life latrine.

~ Apuleius (mid 2nd century AD): Foetorem extremae latrinae.

7. His mind is one vast wasteland.

~ Sallust (86-35 BC): Vastus animus.

Horace, as imagined by Anton von Werner

8. You pretend you are one of the big boys.

~ Horace (65-8 BC): Longos imitaris.

9. He makes a noise like a rooster nagging his hen.

~ Juvenal (Early 2nd century AD): Ille sonat quo mordetur gallina marito.

10. Are you still snoring? Is your slack head almost snapped on its stalk, with your face unzipped by the yawns earned in yesterday’s debaucheries? Do you have any goals in life? Is there any point to your life?

~ Persius (34-62 AD): Stertis adhuc? Laxumque caput conpage soluta oscitat hesternum dissutis undique malis? Est alquid quo tendis, et in quod derigis arcum?

These translations come from How to Insult, Abuse and Insinuate in Classical Latin, by Michelle Lovric and Nikiforos Doxiadis Mardas. Click here to learn more about this book.

See also:

Top 10 Strangest Deaths of Roman Emperors

Top 5 Places to See Ancient Rome in London

20 Great Quotes from Ancient Greece


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