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Bonus Catullus

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Catullus' Poems in the Cambridge Latin Course

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


Latin Text

 English Translation

I (51)

Ille mi par esse deo uidetur,
ille, si fas est, superare diuos,
qui sedens aduersus identidem te
     spectat et audit
dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
     lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures gemina, teguntur
     lumina nocte.
otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
otium et reges prius et beatas
     perdidit urbes.


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.

II (5)

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum seueriorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit breuis 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 inuidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.


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.

III (3)

Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
et quantum est hominum uenustiorum:
passer mortuus est meae puellae,
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.
nam mellitus erat suamque norat
ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem,
nec sese a gremio illius mouebat,
sed circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc
ad solam dominam usque pipiabat.
qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
at uobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, quae omnia bella deuoratis:
tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis
o factum male! o miselle passer!
tua nunc opera meae puellae
flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli


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.

IV (70)

Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle
    quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat.
dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,
    in uento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.


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.

V (72)

Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum,
   Lesbia, nec prae me uelle tenere Iouem.
dilexi tum te non tantum ut uulgus amicam,
   sed pater ut gnatos diligit et generos.
nunc te cognoui: quare etsi impensius uror,
   multo mi tamen es uilior et leuior.
qui potis est, inquis? quod amantem iniuria talis
   cogit amare magis, sed bene uelle minus.


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.

VI (85)

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

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.

VII (8)

Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod uides perisse perditum ducas.
fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles,
cum uentitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla.
ibi illa multa cum iocosa fiebant,
quae tu uolebas nec puella nolebat,
fulsere uere candidi tibi soles.
nunc iam illa non uult: tu quoque impotens noli,
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser uiue,
sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
uale puella, iam Catullus obdurat,
nec te requiret nec rogabit inuitam.
at tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla.
scelesta, uae te, quae tibi manet uita?
quis nunc te adibit? cui uideberis bella?
quem nunc amabis? cuius esse diceris?
quem basiabis? cui labella mordebis?
at tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.


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.

II (5)

III (3)

IV (70)

V (72)

VI (85)

VII (8)