At the time of the Apostle Paul, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta,
had a Maltese named Issa of which he was very fond. In this connection
the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), born in A.D. 38 at Bilbilis
in Spain, made this attachment famous in one of his celebrated epigrams:
"Issa is more frolicsome than Catulla's sparrow. Issa is purer than
a dove's kiss. Issa is gentler than a maiden. Issa is more precious than
Indian gems . . . Lest the last days that she sees light should snatch
her from him forever, Publius has had her picture painted."