Poems of Catullus


Catullus lived from around 84 to 54 AD.

He used many of the features of Hellenistic poetry, bringing Greek lyric metres and styles into Latin. His poems were deeply personal.

CI - Multas per gentes
Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
Avdenio 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.
Through various nations, and across many seas,
To this sad grave, my brother, I come,
In order to render you Death's final duties,
And strive to converse with your ashes, though dumb.
Fortune has taken you, so undeservedly,
Alas my poor brother, stolen from me.
For now, as I furnish a dead man's last rite,
The funeral libation our fathers knew well,
Accept these fraternal tears at your gravesite.
My brother, 'Ave Atque Vale.' Farewell.

He wrote a number of love poems to Clodia, giving her the pseudonym, Lesbia. Below is my paraphrase of a very famous one, (a very loose translation, mostly because the original doesn't mention water).

V - Vivamus, mea Lesbia
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.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.
Come let us live and let us love
Beside the ev'ning shore.
And all the grumblings of old sots
We'll patiently ignore.
The sun has set, and soon returns
- Our lives should be so long.
But, once our day has passed to night,
We don't wake - am I wrong?
Give me a thousand smooches now,
And then a hundred more.
And then more of the same, I think
- Are you still keeping score?
Well, when we've got a whole big bunch
Of smooches, you and me,
We'll screw the count up quite a bit,
So those old men can't see.
You know they're jealous, anyways,
Of smooches, only dream,
And envy us our time of love
Beside the rushing stream.

Sadly, his love affair with Clodia didn't end on good terms.

LXXV - Huc est mens deducta
Huc est mens deducta tua mea, Lesbia, culpa
atque ita se officio predidit ipsa suo,
ut iam nec bene velle queat tibi, si optima fias,
nec desistere amare, omnia si facias.
You've put my heart through such commotion,
I can't, thanks to misplaced devotion,
Wish you well if you were sainted,
Or love you less, were you more tainted.


Some famous Romans and me

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