The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/50
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]
This refers to Licinius Calvus, a fellow orator and poet of Catullus.
Line2[edit | edit source]
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]
This is the diminutive of versos.
Line 8[edit | edit source]
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]
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 was the goddess of justice and punished men for being vain.