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Catullus
Roman poet
(c. 84 - c. 54 BC)



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Namque tu solebas
Meas esse aliquid putare nugas.

For you used to think
my trifles were worth something.
-- Carmina, 1

Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque,
Et quantum est hominum venustiorum.
Passer mortuus est meae puellae,
Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
Quem plus illa occulis suis amabat.

Mourn, you Graces and Cupids,
and all who are endowed with charm.
My lady's sparrow is dead,
the sparrow which was my lady's darling,
which she loved more than her own eyes.
-- Carmina, 5

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
Rumoresque senum severiorum
Omnes unius aestimemus assis.
Soles occidere et redire possunt:
Nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
Nox est perpetua una dormienda.

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love
and let us reckon all the rumours
of censorious old men as worth one farthing.
Suns can set and come again:
for us once our brief light has set,
one everlasting night is to be kept.
-- Carmina, 5

Da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
Dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
Deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Give me a thousand kisses, and then a hundred,
Then another thousand, then a second hundred,
And then yet another thousand, then a hundred.
-- Carmina, 5

Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes
tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque?

You ask me, Lesbia, how many kisses
it will take to make me fully satisfied?
-- Carmina, 7

Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
Et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.

Poor Catullus, drop your silly fancies,
and what you see lost, let it be lost.
-- Carmina, 8

Nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est.
For there is nothing sillier than a silly laugh.
-- Carmina, 39

Ille mi par esse Deo videtur,
ille, si fas est, superare Divos,
qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit
dulce ridentem...

He seems to me to be like a God,
even superior to the Gods, if it is
permitted to say so, the man who sits
gazing on you all day and listens to
your sweet laughter...
-- Carmina, 51 (this is a translation of a poem by Sappho ).

Otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes.

Often has leisure ruined great kings and fine cities.
-- Carmina, 51

Caeli, Lesbia nostra, Lesbia illa,
Illa Lesbia, quam Catullus unam
Plus quam se atque suos amavit omnes,
Nunc in quadriviis et angiportis
Glubit magnaminos Remi nepotes.

O Caelius, our Lesbia, that Lesbia,
That Lesbia whom Catullus once loved uniquely,
More than himself and more than all his own,
now in the crossroads and in the alleyways
has it off with the high-minded descendants of Remus.
-- Carmina, 58

Ut flos in saeptis secretus nascitur hortis,
Ignotus pecori, nullo contusus aratro,
Quem mulcent aurae, firmat sol, educat imber;
Multi illum pueri, multae optavere puellae.

As a flower grows concealed in an enclosed garden,
unknown to the cattle, bruised by no plough,
which the breezes caress, the sun makes strong, and the rain brings out;
many boys and many girls long for it.
-- Carmina, 62

Sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti
in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.

What a woman says to a passionate lover
should be written in the wind and the running water.
-- Carmina, 70

Desine de quoquam quicquam bene velle mereri,
Aut aliquem fieri posse putare pium.

Give up wanting to deserve any thanks from anyone,
or thinking that anybody can be grateful.
-- Carmina, 73

Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem.
It is difficult suddenly to lay aside a long-cherished love.
-- Carmina, 76

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do it?
I don't know, but I feel it happening and am tortured.
-- Carmina, 85

Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
Advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias,
Ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
Et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem.
Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum,
Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi,
Nunc tamen interea haec prisco quae more parentum
Tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
Accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.

By many lands and over many a wave
I come, my brother, to your piteous grave,
To bring you the last offering in death
And o’er dumb dust expend an idle breath;
For fate has torn your living self from me,
And snatched you, brother, O, how cruelly!
Yet take these gifts, brought as our fathers bade
For sorrow’s tribute to the passing shade;
A brother’s tears have wet them o’er and o’er;
And so, my brother, hail, and farewell evermore!
-- Carmina, 101 (translated by Sir William Marris).

At non effugies meos iambos.
But you shall not escape my iambics.
-- Fragment 3, in: Mynors, ed., Catulli Carmina (1958)



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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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