The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/5
Text & Translation
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's value all the rumors|
|3||omnes unius aestimemus assis!||of rather stern old men as one penny!|
|4||soles occidere et redire possunt;||Suns can set and return;|
|5||nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,||as for us, once our brief light sets,|
|6||nox est perpetua una dormienda.||there is one perpetual night to be slept.|
|7||da mi basia mille, deinde centum,||Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,|
|8||dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,||then a thousand others, then a second hundred,|
|9||deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum;||then up to a thousand others, then a hundred.|
|10||dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,||Then, when we have made many thousands,|
|11||conturbabimus illa ne sciamus,||we will mix them up, lest we should know,|
|12||aut ne quis malus invidere possit||--or lest any evil person should be able to envy us|
|13||cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.||when he knows--how many kisses there are.|
Connotations of The Text
- 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. She 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, as it has the same tone and meaning at the beginning and end.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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].
- 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.
- rumor, -oris, m. - rumour; gossip
- severus, -a, -um - serious; strict; stern
- unius - (Gen. of unus) - one
- aestimare - value; estimate
- as, assis, m. - penny; farthing
- sol, solis, m. - sun
- occido, -ere, -cidi, -cisum - fall down; fall; set; kill
- semel (adv.) - once; once and for all
- basium, -ii, n. - a kiss
- dein (abbrev. of deinde) - then; afterward
- usque (adv.) - right up to; as much as; continully; constantly
- fecerimus (fut. perf. indic.) - we shall have made
- conturbare - throw into disorder; mess up the accounts
- scio, scire, scivi, scitum know; have knowledge of
- invideo, invidi, invisum - cast the evil eye upon; begrudge; envy
Catullus 5 A Translation of Catullus 5
Catullus 5 Another Translation of Catullus 5
Catullus 5 Yet Another Translation of Catullus 5