The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/5

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Text & Translation[edit]

Meter - Hendecasyllabic

Line Latin Text English Translation
1 Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
2 rumoresque senum severiorum and let us value all the rumors
3 omnes unius aestimemus assis! of rather severe old men as one penny!
4 soles occidere et redire possunt; Suns are able to set and return;
5 nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux, once the brief light sets,
6 nox est perpetua una dormienda. we must sleep one perpetual night.
7 da mi basia mille, deinde centum, Give me one thousand kisses, then one hundred,
8 dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, then one thousand others, then a second one hundred,
9 deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum; then on continuously into one thousand others, then one hundred.
10 dein, cum milia multa fecerimus, Then, when we have counted up many thousands,
11 conturbabimus, illa ne sciamus, we will mix them up, lest we know that number,
12 aut ne quis malus invidere possit or any evil one is able to envy us
13 cum tantum sciat esse basiorum. when he knows how many kisses there were.

Connotations of The Text[edit]

This poem concerns his love of Lesbia. This seems to have been written at a very passionate stage of the affair. The poem is written in the hendecasyllable style.

Lines 2-3[edit]

  • rumoresque senum severiorum - rumours of severe old men

This is a reference to the gossip going around the Senate, as it was believed that Catullus was having an affair with a senator's wife, known as Clodia. This is also thought to be the woman Lesbia in his poetry. Catullus is urging Clodia to disregard what people are saying about them, so she can spend more time with him.It also features a chiasmus.

Line 5[edit]

  • brevis lux - brief light

A pessimstic view of life, and the belief of no afterlife. This was a belief at odds with most Romans, who believed in the afterlife.

He also uses this view as an argument as to why Lesbia should spend lots of time with him.Here we find yet another chiasmus.

Line 5-6[edit]

  • lux, nox

The position of lux - light, and nox - night right next to each other serve to emphasise his two comparisons. Symbolically, the "perpetual night" represents death and the "brief light" represents life.

Line 11[edit]

  • conturbabimus illa - throw those accounts into confusion

This hopes that the evil ones will not know the specific numbers of kisses, therefore reducing the effectiveness of any potential spell and spurning ill will. [See Below].

Line 12[edit]

  • malus invidere possit - [a person] casts the evil eye upon

This is linked to the belief of witchcraft (the evil eye). In the practice of witchcraft (the casting of the evil eye) it was believed that if the evil one knew of certain numbers relevant to the victims (in this case the number of kisses) then the spell would be much more effective.

Vocabulary[edit]

Line 2[edit]

  • rumor, -oris, m. - rumour; gossip
  • severus, -a, -um - serious; strict; stern

Line 3[edit]

  • unius - (Gen. of unus) - one
  • as, assis, m. - penny; farthing

Line 4[edit]

  • sol, solis, m. - sun
  • occido, -ere, -cidi, -cisum - fall down; fall; set; kill

Line 5[edit]

  • semel (adv.) - once; once and for all

Line 7[edit]

Line 8[edit]

  • dein (abbrev. of deinde) - then; afterward

Line 9[edit]

  • usque (adv.) - right up to; as much as; continully; constantly

Line 10[edit]

  • fecerimus (fut. perf. indic.) - we shall have made

Line 11[edit]

  • conturbare - throw into disorder; mess up the accounts
  • scio, scire, scivi, scitum know; have knowledge of

Line 12[edit]

  • invideo, invidi, invisum - cast the evil eye upon; begrudge; envy

External Links[edit]

Catullus 5 A Translation of Catullus 5

Catullus 5 Another Translation of Catullus 5

Catullus 5 Yet Another Translation of Catullus 5