The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/5

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Text & Translation[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

  • 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.

Line 5[edit | edit source]

  • brevis lux - brief light

A pessimistic 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 | edit source]

  • 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 | edit source]

  • 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 | edit source]

  • 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 | edit source]

Line 2[edit | edit source]

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

Line 3[edit | edit source]

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

Line 4[edit | edit source]

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

Line 5[edit | edit source]

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

Line 7[edit | edit source]

Line 8[edit | edit source]

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

Line 9[edit | edit source]

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

Line 10[edit | edit source]

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

Line 11[edit | edit source]

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

Line 12[edit | edit source]

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

External Links[edit | edit source]

Catullus 5 A Translation of Catullus 5

Catullus 5 Another Translation of Catullus 5

Catullus 5 Yet Another Translation of Catullus 5