Catullus


To whom should I present this little book so carefully polished but to you, Cornelius, who have always been so tolerant of my verses. 1

Orcus who swallows up all beautiful things needless act! 3

Lesbia live with me and love me so we'll laugh at all the sour-faced strictures of the wise. This sun once set will rise again, when our sun sets follows night and an endless sleep. 5

Your most recent aquisition, Flavius, must be as unattractive as (doubtless) she is unacceptable or you would surely have told us about her. You are wrapped up with a whore to end all whores and ashamed to confess it. You do not spend bachelor nights. Your divan, reeking of Syrian unguents, drapped with boquets and blossoms etc. proclaims it, the pillows and bed clothes indented in several places, a ceaseless jolting and straining of the framework the shaky accompaniment to your sex parade. Without more discretion your silence is pointless. Attenuated thighs betray your preoccupation. 6

Curious to learn how many kisses of your lips might satisfy my lust for you, Lesbia, know as many as are grains of sand. 7

so many that no prying eye can keep the count nor spiteful tongue fix their total in a fatal formula. 7

Ah poor Catullus, learn to play the fool no more. Lost is the lost, thou know'st it, and the past is past. Bright once the days and sunny shone the light on thee, Still ever hasting where she led, the maid so fair, By me belov'd as maiden is belov'd no more. Was then enacting all the merry mirth wherein Thyself delighted, and the maid she said not nay. Ah truly bright and sunny shone the days on thee. Now she resigns thee; child, do thou resign no less, Nor follow her that flies thee, or to bide in woe Consent, but harden all thy heart, resolve, endure. Farewell, my love. Catullus is resolv'd, endures, He will not ask for pity, will not importune. But thou'lt be mourning thus to pine unask'd alway. O past retrieval faithless! Ah what hours are thine! When comes a likely wooer? who protests thou'rt fair? Who brooks to love thee? who decrees to live thine own? Whose kiss delights thee? whose the lips that own thy bite? Yet, yet, Catullus, learn to bear, resolve, endure. 8

And I, because of her, said lightly: "Things were bad, but not as bad as that - I'd eight stout porters." (I, who've no one, here or there, even to lift the foot of my split pallet.) And the girl, in character, at once cooed: "Lend me your porters for an hour or two this afternoon - I feel like doing what girls do, at Serap's shrine." "My dear," I said, "of course, but actually they're Gaius Cinna's - not my own - he let's me use them when I want. It's all the same... you really mustn't take your friend's friends at their word, young lady, it's common as well as comic." 10

whatever fate has in store for me, equally ready for anything, I send Lesbia this valediction, succinctly discourteous: live with your three hundred lovers, open your legs to them all (simultaneously) lovelessly dragging the guts out of them each time you do it, blind to the love that I had for you once, and that you, tart, wantonly crushed as the passing plough blade slashes the flower at the field's edge. 11

Ask Pollionus, your brother a boy crackling with wit who would give a substantial sum to disembarrass himself from your talents. Expect, Asinius, a bombardo of 300 hendecasyllables, or return my napkin - of small value itself, but a memory of friends, Veranius and Fabullus, who sent this set of find table linen from Spain, a present cherished by Catullus. 12

look for the luckless fate of the common adulterer: he who with ankles clamped and door open feels the horse-radish (suitably cut for withdrawal) splitting him, or the mullet's fins. 15

I'll traduce you, accuse you, and abuse you, Soft Aurelius, e'en as easy Furius. You that lightly a saucy verse resenting, Misconceit me, sophisticate me wanton. Know, pure chastity rules the godly poet, Rules not poesy, needs not e'er to rule it; Charms some verse with a witty grace delightful? 'Tis voluptuous, impudent, a wanton. It shall kindle an icy thought to courage, Not boy-fancies alone, but every frozen Flank immovable, all amort to pleasure. You my kisses, a million happy kisses, Musing, read me a silky thrall to softness? I'll traduce you, accuse you, and abuse you. 16

The envy of wits becomes at the touch of the Muses a bundle of gaucheries... and he likes nothing better fancies himself in the role of a poet... Yet who, in his own way, is not a Suffenus? Each has his blind spot. The moat and the beam. As Aesop says, the pack on our own back that we don't see. 22

Needy Furius, house nor hoard possessing, Bug or spider, or any fire to thaw you, Yet most blest in a father and a step-dame, Each for penury fit to tooth a flint-stone: Is not happiness yours? a home united? Son, sire, mother, a lathy dame to match him. Who can wonder? in all is health, digestion, Pure and vigorous, hours without a trouble. Fires ye fear not, or house's heavy downfal, Deeds unnatural, art in act to poison, Dangers myriad accidents befalling. Then your bodies? in every limb a shrivell'd Horn, all dryness in all the world whatever, Tann'd or frozen or icy-lean with ages. Sure superlative happiness surrounds thee. Thee sweat frets not, an o'er-saliva frets not, Frets not snivel or oozy rheumy nostril. Yet such purity lacks not e'en a purer. White those haunches as any cleanly-silver'd Salt, it takes you a month to barely dirt them. Then like beans, or inert as e'er a pebble, Those impeccable heavy loins, a finger's Breadth from apathy ne'er seduced to riot. Such prosperity, such superb profusion, Slight not, Furius, idly nor reject not. As for sesterces, all the would-be fortune, Cease to wish it; enough, methinks, the present. 23

O thou blossom of all the race Juventian Not now only, but all as yet arisen, All to flower in after-years arising; Midas' treasury better you presented Him that owns not a slave nor any coffer, Ere you suffer his alien arm's presuming. What? you fancy him all refin'd perfection? Perfect! truly, without a slave, a coffer. Slight, reject it, away with it; for all that He, he owns not a slave nor any coffer. 24

[Scirocco, Zephyrus, Apeliota] pg. 81

False Alfenus, in all amity frail, duty a prodigal, Doth thy pity depart? Shall not a friend, traitor, a friend recal Love? what courage is here me to betray, me to repudiate? Never sure did a lie, never a sin, please the celestials. This you heed not; alas! leave me to new misery, desolate. O where now shall a man trust? liveth yet any fidelity? You, you only did urge love to be free, life to surrender, you. Guiding into the snare, falsely secure, prophet of happiness. Now you leave me, retract, every deed, every word allow Into nullity winds far to remove, vapoury clouds to bear. You forget me, but yet surely the Gods, surely remembereth Faith; hereafter again honour awakes, causeth a wretch to rue. 30

What happier thought than to desolve the mind of cares the limbs from sojourning, and to accept the down of one's own bed under one's own roof - held so long at heart... and that one moment paying for all the rest. 31

Could Venus yield more love delight than here she grants in Love's requite? 45

Now, the trepidation of departure now lust of travel, feet impatiently urging him to be gone. Good friends, good-bye, we, met in this distant place, far from our Italy who by divergent paths must find our separate ways home. 46

If, Juventius, I the grace win ever Still on beauteous honied eyes to kiss thee, I would kiss them a million, yet a million. Yea, nor count me to win the full attainment, Not, tho' heavier e'en than ears at harvest, Fall my kisses, a wealthy crop delightful. 48

Don't look peremptory, or contemn my apple. Think. The Goddess is ill-bred exacts her hubris-meed: lure not her venom. 50

He to me like unto the Gods appeareth, He, if I dare speak it, ascends above them, Face to face who toward thee attently sitting Gazes or hears thee Lovely in sweet laughter; alas within me Every lost sense falleth away for anguish; When as I look'd on thee, upon my lips no Whisper abideth, Straight my tongue froze, Lesbia; soon a subtle Fire thro' each limb streameth adown; with inward Sound the full ears tinkle, on either eye night's Canopy darkens. Ease alone, Catullus, alone afflicts thee; Ease alone breeds error of heady riot; Ease hath entomb'd princes of old renown and Cities of honour. 51

Remember, to keep the tongue locked in the mouth is to reject love's seasoning: love-talk enhances love-acts. 55

Here is no palm for the asking observe these young girls conferring together with girlish seriousness, their care a sole minded intensity must produce the worth while, while we distracted deserve our defeat our minds on the one thing with only and ear for the song: success waits on devotion. 62

With your rising the night watchman guards against furtive lovers on the prowl by night whom you as Lucifer may disconcertingly discover still at their thefts for maidens' acts belie their mock complaints, affecting aversion for what they most desire. 62

withdrawn ... of virgins. pg. 133

When in an open ... to men. pg. 134

From her window the royal girl looked down with a girl's lust. 64

till fire ran in her womb - the girl's body swathed in fire. Remorseless Cupid Holy Child - who stirs hate and love in one cup! Venus of Eryx - a girl who will drown in your floods whispering at a blond stranger! Venus of Golgos - and expectations breaking in the heart! pg. 64

prizing sweet love and Theseus before the lot of them eluding her father's watch forgoing her three sisters' embraces her mother's, tearful for a lost daughter who the wind blew to white-ringed Naxos whom sleep took in the night who yesterday's bridegroom forsworn left, before morning. 64

Why did you lift me from Cretan bower dumping me here on an empty beach, shrugging off Heaven, her plans for us, heedless of freighting home snapped pledges? Nowhere the means to flex steel no appeal that could touch you. You did not tell me to look for seduction but for bride ale and wedding torches, for the increments of Hymen, - waste words shredded now on wind. Now no woman listen to man's love-words or look to find there his love-bond: as long as they itch for it they will say anything do anything, but with lust slaked the soft words are forgotten the promises null. 64

But why should I give my tears to this wind? In this state? Wind is deaf as well as dumb. And he's wind-driven in the middle distance. There's nothing here but rocks and seaweed. In the hubris of indifference Fate deprives me even of an ear to listen. 64

Fairfortuned star that draws the bride to groom, that yields the longed-for wife whose mastery of love will drown his heart, who settling to the drawn-out marriage sleep will make her arms light cusions for his heavy neck. 64

For once when ... common day. pg. 154

Are brides ... than maid. pg. 163

What God is this, unless the god of love, who cannot brook his servants' long remove? 66

Your words are unconvincing: deeds bring words to sight and touch. 67

but your own ... unmoved. pg. 170

My harrowing at the hands of Venus (whom no man should ever trust). 68

Far deeper ... Protesilaus. pg. 177

[romantic] 68

Saith my lady to me, no man shall wed me, but only Thou; no other if e'en Jove should approach me to woo; Yea; but a woman's words, when a lover fondly desireth, Limn them on ebbing floods, write on a wintery gale. 70

Lesbia, thou didst swear thou knewest only Catullus, Cared'st not, if him thine arms chained, a Jove to retain. Then not alone I loved thee, as each light lover a mistress, Lov'd as a father his own sons, or an heir to the name. Now I know thee aright; so, if more hotly desiring, Yet must count thee a soul cheaper, a frailty to scorn. 'Friend,' thou say'st, 'you cannot.' Alas! such injury leaveth Blindly to doat poor love's folly, malignly to will. 72

Never again think any to work aught kindly soever, Dream that in any abides honour, of injury free. Love is a debt in arrear; time's parted service avails not; Rather is only the more sorrow, a heavier ill: Chiefly to me, whom none so fierce, so deadly deceiving Troubleth, as he whose friend only but inly was I. 73

Gellius heard that his uncle in ire exploded, if any Dared, some wanton, a fault practise, a levity speak. Not to be slain himself, see Gellius handle his uncle's Lady; no Harpocrates muter, his uncle is hush'd. So what he aim'd at, arriv'd at, anon let Gellius e'en this Uncle abuse; not a word yet will his uncle assay. 74

Ne'er shall woman avouch herself so rightly beloved, Friend, as rightly thou art, Lesbia, lovely to me. Ne'er was a bond so firm, no troth so faithfully plighted, Such as against our love's venture in honour am I. Now so sadly my heart, dear Lesbia, draws me asunder, So in her own misspent worship uneasily lost, Wert thou blameless in all, I may not longer approve thee, Do anything thou wilt, cannot an enemy be. 75

If to a man bring joy past service dearly remember'd, When to the soul her thought speaks, to be blameless of ill; Faith not rudely profan'd, nor in oath or charter abused Heaven, a God's mis-sworn sanctity, deadly to men. Then doth a life-long pleasure await thee surely, Catullus, Pleasure of all this love's traitorous injury born. Whatso a man may speak, whom charity leads to another, Whatso enact, by me spoken or acted is all. Waste on a traitorous heart, nor finding kindly requital. Therefore cease, nor still bleed agoniz'd any more. Make thee as iron a soul, thyself draw back from affliction. Yea, tho' a God say nay, be not unhappy for aye. What? it is hard long love so lightly to leave in a moment? Hard; yet abides this one duty, to do it: obey. Here lies safety alone, one victory must not fail thee. One last stake to be lost haply, perhaps to be won. O great Gods immortal, if you can pity or ever Lighted above dark death's shadow, a help to the lost; Ah! look, a wretch, on me; if white and blameless in all I Liv'd, then take this long canker of anguish away. If to my inmost veins, like dull death drowsily creeping, Every delight, all heart's pleasure it wholly benumbs. Not anymore I pray for a love so faulty returning, Not that a wanton abide chastely, she may not again. Only for health I ask, a disease so deadly to banish. Gods vouchsafe it, as I ask, that am harmless of ill. 76

Whom I have trusted to no end (Rufus) other than expense of evil knowledge has come to the ambush, inflamed viscera, raped all that was precious. pg. 77

Brothers twain has Gallus, of whom one owns a delightful Son; his brother a fair lady, delightfuller yet. Gallant sure is Gallus, a pair so dainty uniting; Lovely the lady, the lad lovely, a company sweet. Foolish sure is Gallus, an o'er-incurious husband; Uncle, a wife once taught luxury, stops not at one. 78

Lesbia while her lord stands near, rails ever upon me. This to the fond weak fool seemeth a mighty delight. Dolt, you see not at all. Could she forget me, to rail not, Nought were amiss; if now scold she, or if she revile, 'Tis not alone to remember; a shrewder stimulus arms her, Anger; her heart doth burn verily, thus to revile. 83

Half I hate, half love. How so? one haply requireth. Nay, I know not; alas feel it, in agony groan. 85

Think not a hope so false rose, Gellius, in me to find thee Faithful in all this love's anguish ineffable yet, For that in heart I knew thee, had in thee honour imagin'd, Held thee a soul to abhor vileness or any reproach. Only in her, I knew, thou found'st not a mother, a sister, Her that awhile for love wearily made me to pine. Yea tho' mutual use did bind us straitly together, Scarcely methought could lie cause to desert me therein. Thou found'st reason enow; so joys thy spirit in every Shame, wherever is aught heinous, of infamy born. 91

Lesbia doth but rail, rail ever upon me, nor endeth Ever. A life I stake, Lesbia loves me at heart. Ask me a sign? Our score runs parallel. I that abuse her Ever, a life to the stake, Lesbia, love thee at heart. 92

the stew-pot stews in its own mess. pg. 206

If to the silent dead aught sweet or tender ariseth, Calvus, of our dim grief's common humanity born; When to a love long cold some pensive pity recals us, When for a friend long lost wakes some unhappy regret; Not so deeply, be sure, Quintilia's early departing Grieves her, as in thy love dureth a plenary joy. 96

the irrational flame seared me. 100

If to a friend sincere, Cornelius, e'er was a secret Trusted, a friend whose soul steady to honour abides; Me to the same brotherhood doubt not to be inly devoted, Sworn upon oath, to the last secret, an Harpocrates. 102

If to delight man's wish, joy e'er unlook'd for, unhop'd for, Falleth, a joy were such proper, a bliss to the soul. Then 'tis a joy to the soul, like gold of Lydia precious, Lesbia mine, that thou com'st to delight me again. Com'st yet again long-hop'd, long-look'd for vainly, returnest Freely to me. O day white with a luckier hue! Lives there happier any than I, I only? a fairer Destiny? Life so sweet know ye, or aught parallel? 107

Think you truly, belov'd, this bond of duty between us, Lasteth, an ever-new jollity, ne'er to decease? Grant it, Gods immortal, assure her promise in earnest; Yea, be the lips sincere; yea, be the words from her heart. So still rightly remain our lovers' charter, a life-long Friendship in us, whose faith fades not away to the last. 109

In constancy content with one man, there Aufilena, is the epitome of bridehood. 111

Pompey the first time consul, as yet Maecilia counted Two paramours; reappears Pompey a consul again, Two still, Cinna, remain; but grown, each unit an even Thousand. Truly the stock's fruitful: adultery breeds. 113

I have thought more than once that the example of Callimachus his songs sent you from me might ease our relations dissuade you from bombarding me with offensive squibs, all of which, I can see now, was wasted hope and effort. 116

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