The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/43
Text & Translation
Meter - Hendecasyllabic
|Line||Latin Text||English Translation|
|1||salve, nec minimo puella naso||Hello, girl without the smallest nose|
|2||nec bello pede nec nigris ocellis||Nor pretty feet nor dark eyes|
|3||nec longis digitis nec ore sicco||Nor elegant fingers nor dry mouth|
|4||nec sane nimis elegante lingua||Nor language in the least refined|
|5||decoctoris amica Formiani.||Girlfriend of that bankrupt from Formia.|
|6||ten provincia narrat esse bellam?||So country people call you beautiful?!|
|7||tecum Lesbia nostra comparatur?||Our Lesbia is compared with you?!|
|8||o saeclum insapiens et infacetum!||Oh, what a stupid and tasteless age this is!|
Connotations of The Text
This poem is in hendecasyllabic metre. It regards a girl who has been compared in beauty to Catullus's love, "Lesbia". As offensive as it sounds, it can be assumed that it was intended really as a compliment to Lesbia, rather than an insult to the girl adressed.
- nigris ocellis - dark eyes
Dark eyes were considered a sign of beauty in Roman times.
- nec... nec... - nor... nor...
This poem uses liberal use of anaphora with phrases containing nec. This emphasises the negativity of the girl from Formia.
Formia was a city not far from Rome. It could also be a subtle reference to the word "formosa" which means beauty.
- provincia - country people
There is an air of snobbery here, sneering at country people who Catullus deems to be ignorant of what real beauty is.
- ...bellam? ....comparatur?
Ending these two lines with forceful questions shows the reader the passion that Catullus feels and clearly indicates his view on such a thing.
- insapiens et infacetum - stupid and tasteless
The alliteration here emphasises his disgust at girls that people will label as 'beautiful' in the countryside.
- Oxford Latin Reader Maurice Balme and James Morwood (1997)