The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/93

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Text & Translation[edit]

Meter - Elegiac couplet


Line Latin Text English Translation
1 Nil nimium studeo, Caesar, tibi velle placere I care nothing much, Caesar, to want to please you
2 nec scire utrum sis albus an ater homo Nor to know whether you are a white or a black man

Connotations of The Text[edit]

Caesar was a friend of Catullus’ family and apparently was quite friendly to Catullus even asking him to dinner. Catullus however, made it quite clear that he did not like Caesar. This is only one of several offensive poems directed at him.

The brevity of this piece highlights Catullus’ disregard and was a feature of the Latin neoterics, who broke away from the long epics.

Line 1[edit]

  • velle placere - to want to please

The placement of two infinitives next to each other emphasises his point, as this would have been a noticeable structure to a Roman reader.

Line 2[edit]

  • albus an ater - white or black

Note the assonance of albus an ater. Assonance, as well as alliteration, was a common poetic technique of Latin.

Vocabulary[edit]

Line 1[edit]

  • nimium - too much; excessively
  • velle - to want; desire
  • placere - to please; satisfy; impress

Line 2[edit]

  • albus, (adj.) - lit. white, however in this context it may mean good or pure.
  • ater – again, this literally means ‘black’, but here may mean evil or corrupted.

External Links[edit]