The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/13
Text and Translation
Meter - Hendecasyllabic
|Line||Latin Text||English Translation
|1||Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me||You will dine well, my Fabullus, at my house|
|2||paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,||in a few days (if the gods favor you),|
|3||si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam||and if you bring with you a nice big|
|4||cenam, non sine candida puella||dinner, not without a pretty girl|
|5||et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.||and wine and wit and laughs for everyone.|
|6||Haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,||I say: if you bring these, my charming one,|
|7||cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli||you will dine well—for the little purse|
|8||plenus sacculus est aranearum.||of your Catullus is full of cobwebs.|
|9||Sed contra accipies meros amores,||But in return you will receive pure friendship|
|10||seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:||(or something more elegant and more delightful):|
|11||nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae||for I will give you an oil, which onto my girl|
|12||donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque;||Venuses and Cupids have bestowed;|
|13||quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis||and when you smell it, you will ask the gods|
|14||totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.||to make you, Fabullus, nothing but nose.|
Connotations of The Text
This poem is an dinner invitation to Catullus's friend, Fabullus.
- si - if...
This is the catch for Fabullus - he will dine well if he does all the things about to be listed. It is put at the beginning of the line for emphasis.
- candida - white; fair
Can mean either beautiful or blonde as fair hair was a sign of beauty in Roman times.
- sale - salt
This word means salt normally, but came to mean wit. This was because salt was used to add flavour the meat, and so in a literary terms the 'flavour' to words is wit.
- cachinnis - laughs
This word is probably derived from Greek since the letter ch was not a Latin sound. The harsh sound that comes from saying this word may reflect the sounds of the laughter described.
- plenus sacculus est aranearum - lit. - full the purse is of cobwebs'
The poem makes use of hyperbaton. This is the re-arranging of the word order to create emphasis and effect. Hyperbaton is particularly common in inflected languages, such as Latin and Ancient Greek where the word order does not matter. The joke here is still used today - cobwebs sprung up where nothing has been touched for a while - and Catullus is broke.
- unguentum - perfume; oil
The reference to the "oil" or perfume, may be a subtle compliment to Catullus's girl. Both Roman men and women would wear perfume to make themselves smell more attractive.
- Oxford Latin Reader by Maurice Balme and James Morewood (1997)
- Catullus 13 A Translation of Catullus 13