For those students who are studying using the Cambridge Latin Course, here are the 7 poems of Catullus which appear in Unit 41 of Stage 4. I have identified them by their number in the book as well as by there standard numeration (in brackets). There are also notes and vocabulary provided and the basic grammatical structure (subject, verb, direct object) is noted so that users may basic skeleton of a sentence and then more confidently flesh out the details. The subject-verb-direct object (and any word which agrees) are coloured coded: subject is green, verb is red and direct object is blue
Ille mi par esse deo uidetur,
He seems to me to be equal to a god, if it is right, he seems to surpass the divine, who regularly sitting across from you, watches you and hears you sweetly laughing. That tears all my senses from me: as soon as I got a glimpse of you, Lesbia, there was nothing left of my toungue, but it went dead, a slender flame runs down thought my limbs, my two ears ring with their own sound, my eyes are covered by night. Leisure, Catullus, is annoying to you: because of leisure you run riot and get too excited: leisure has destroyed kings before as well as prosperous cities.
Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
|Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love and let's say that all the gossip of grumpier old men aren't worth a dime! Suns can set and rise again: for us, when once the brief light sets, there is one perpetual night to be slept. Give me 1,000 kisses, the 100, then another 1,000, then a second hundred, then yet another 1,000, then 100. Then, when we've made thousands and thousands, we'll erase the count, so we don't know it, or so someone nasty can't put a curse on us, when he knows just how many smooches there are.|
Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
|Mourn, Venuses and Cupids and any charming folk: my girl's sparrow is dead, the sparrow of my dear girl, that she loved more than her own eyes. For it was honey-sweeet and knew her own mistress as well as a girl knows her mother; and it didn't move from her lap, but jumped around, here and there and chirped just for her mistress alone. Nowit journies on the shade-filled road, there, where they say no on returns from. Damn you, damned shades of Orcus! who devour all beauty: you have taken such a lovely sparrow from me - oh wicked deed! the poor little sparrow! Now because of your work the swollen eyes of my girl are red from crying.|
Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle
My woman says that she'd rather marry no one than me - not if Jupiter himself asked her.
She says: but what a woman says to her eager lover you should write on the wind and running water.
Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum,
|Lesbia, you once said that you knew Catullus alone, and didn't want to hold Jove rather than me. Then I loved you, not like some commoner loves his girl friend, but like a father loves his sons and sons-in-law. Now I've come to know you: so even though I burn all the more earnestly, you much more cheap and meaningless to me. How is this possible, you ask? Because so great an injury forces me to love more, but like less.|
Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
|I hate and love. How can I do this, you might ask. I don't know, but I feel it happening and I am tortured.|
Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
|Poor Catullus, stop being an idiot, and take what you see has been lost as lost. Brilliant suns once shone for you, when you always went where your girl led, when she was loved by you like nobody. Then, when there were those many happy times, which you wanted and your girl didn't dislike, brilliant sun truly did shine for you. Now she does not want, you also, impotent, don't want, nor follow one who flees, nor live a wretch, but set your mind, press on and stand firm. So long, my dear; Catullus now stands firm, and will not seek nor ask after you when you're unwilling. But you'll be sorry, when nobody asks after you. Poor you, wretch! What life is there left for you now? Who will come to you now? To whom will you seem lovely? Who will you love? Whose will you be said to be? Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you nibble? Hey, you, Catullus, stick to it and stand firm!|
There are a few commentaries for Catullus that you can check out to find out more about Catullus and his poetry and learn some of the art and skill Catullus uses to create his poetry.
Catullus: The Poems Kenneth Quinn (St. Martin's Press 1970). This offers some assistance in translating the Latin as well as talking about some of the interpretations of and references in the poems.
The Poems of Catullus Phyllis Young Forsyth (University Press of America 1985). A very similar book with a different perspective on the poems.
I (51): This poem is taken from Sappho, the world's most famous lesbian this side of Ellen Degeneres. BTW, Sappho was a Lesbian because she came from the island of Lsesbos. She did write poems which admired young women, but that could well have been because most poets were men and people wouldn't relate to her poetry unless she 'just like the guys' and the guys write poems to their girls. Anyway, Sappho wrote a poem so similar to this that Catullus' version is almost a Latin translation of the Greek. Catullus oviously thought very highly of Sappho.