The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/50

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Text & Translation[edit | edit source]

Metre – Hendecasyllables

Line Latin Text English Translation
1 hesterno, Licini, die otiosi Yesterday, Licinius, a day of leisure
2 multum lusimus in meis tabellis, we played many games in my little notebooks
3 ut convenerat esse delicatos: as it had been agreed to be witty
4 scribens versiculos uterque nostrum writing little verses each to the other
5 ludebat numero modo hoc modo illoc, each playing with this and that metre
6 reddens mutua per iocum atque vinum. returning favours with joke and wine
7 Atque illinc abii tuo lepore and when I left there, because of your wit
8 incensus, Licini, facetiisque, I was on fire, Licinius, and because of your charm
9 ut nec me miserum cibus iuvaret So much so that food did not please my wretched self
10 nec somnus tegeret quiete ocellos, nor sleep close my little eyes with quiet
11 sed toto indomitus furore lecto but ungovernable in my agitation, over the whole bed
12 versarer, cupiens videre lucem, I tossed and turned, longing to see the light
13 ut tecum loquerer simulque ut essem. So that I could see and talk with you again
14 At defessa labore membra postquam And when my limbs, wearied with action
15 semimortua lectulo iacebant, were lying half-dead on the bed
16 hoc, iucunde, tibi poema feci, I composed this poem for you, my friend
17 ex quo perspiceres meum dolorem. From which you may understand my misery
18 Nunc audax cave sis, precesque nostras, Now beware of being rash, and about my prayers
19 oramus, cave despuas, ocelle, I beg, beware of rejecting them, my friend
20 ne poenas Nemesis reposcat a te. lest Nemesis exact a punishment on you
21 Est vemens dea: laedere hanc caveto. She is a harsh goddess: Beware of vexing her.

Connotations of The Text[edit | edit source]

Line 1[edit | edit source]

  • Licini

This refers to Licinius Calvus, a fellow orator and poet of Catullus.

Line2[edit | edit source]

  • Tabellis

This is the diminutive of tabula. Catullus was very fond of diminutives (see lines 4, 10 and 19) and used them to express smallness, affection, pity, or contempt; in this case, most likely smallness or affection.

Line 4[edit | edit source]

  • versiculos

This is the diminutive of versos.

Line 8[edit | edit source]

  • incensus

Catullus was very fond of using fire or flame as a metaphor for passion.

Line 9[edit | edit source]

  • me miserum

This is a very common phrase of Catullus’s. Latin was quite comfortable with describing a personal pronoun with an adjective, but it can sound awkward in English eg. The miserable I…, the witty you…

Line 19[edit | edit source]

  • ocellos

This is the diminutive of oculus and literally means “little eye”. It was a common term of endearment in Latin, and especially in Catullus. However, here Catullus is actually referring to his eyes.

Line 20[edit | edit source]

  • Nemesis

Nemesis was the goddess of justice and punished men for being vain.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]