The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/50
Text & Translation
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
This refers to Licinius Calvus, a fellow orator and poet of Catullus.
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.
This is the diminutive of versos.
Catullus was very fond of using fire or flame as a metaphor for passion.
- 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…
This is the diminutive of ocule and literally means “little eye”. It was a common term of endearment in Latin, and especially in Catullus. A more natural translation in English may be “my friend” or “dear one”.
Nemesis was the goddess of justice and punished men for being vain.