lmaustin wrote:especially on translating the dumbed-down passages from Martial, etc.
The Martial passages are not dumbed down. As far as I know, every single quotation from Martial in Wheelock is verbatim. (Remember, when they put the asterisk before the author's name, that means the quote was unaltered.)
I'm surprised you're having trouble with him, though. I find Martial much easier to read than, say, Catullus, or really any other Latin poet I know of.
And yes, there is an answer key, though unfortunately we can't post a link to it on this forum because Harper Collins and LaFleur had to be spoilsports, since it's also used as a high school/college text. Frankly I think that situation (where people freely trade the answer key) is entirely their fault because you don't expect a book you buy at Barnes & Noble to need an answer key in the first place, but oh well.