The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/70

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Text and Translation[edit | edit source]

Meter - Elegiac couplets

Line Latin Text English Translation
1 Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle My woman says that she prefers to be married to no one
2 quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat. but me, not even if Jupiter himself should seek her.
3 dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, she says: but what a woman says to her passionate lover,
4 in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua. she ought to write on the wind and swift-flowing water.

Connotations Of The Text[edit | edit source]

Line 1[edit | edit source]

  • nubere (see vocabulary below) this literally means "to wear the veil" and is only used to describe a woman getting married. The masculine equivalent was uxorem ducere - lit. "to lead as a wife".

Line 2[edit | edit source]

  • quam mihi - than me

She says that she would prefer to be married to Catullus and no one else.

  • non si - not even if

This is emphatic. Jupiter was well known for his 'collection' of marriages and was the hardest suitor to refuse.

  • petat - should seek [her]

This is an hypothetical subjunctive that expresses the action as possible in the present time.

Line 3[edit | edit source]

dicit: - she says: [supposedly is understood here]

Convey his doubts of Lesbia's loyalty to him.

cupido - passionate; desirous; eager

This is a direct reference to Catullus. The poet is showing how only the heart has been leading him up to this point, and as such, he has been 'blinded' by it. Lines 3-4 are a rational evaluation of the situation, as he steps back into a detached state.

Line 4[edit | edit source]

  • in vento... oportet aqua - she ought to write on wind and fast-flowing water

This is a metaphor for her declarations of love. Any writing that was written on wind or water would disintegrate immediately. Therefore, we understand that the poet regards Lesbia's statements as fleeting, said in the moments of passion; in truth they are unreliable and fickle.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

Line 1[edit | edit source]

  • mulier, mulieris, f. - a woman, married or not
  • nubo, -ere, -psi, -uptum - to be married to; to become the wife of
  • malo, malle, malui - prefer

Line 3[edit | edit source]

  • cupidus, -a, -um - passionate; eager; desirous

Line 4[edit | edit source]

  • oportet, oportuit - it is necessary; proper; reasonable
  • rapidus, -a, -um - swift; rapid; fast-flowing; violent; overpowering

External Links[edit | edit source]

Catullus 70 Translation of Catullus 70

Catullus 70 Another Translation of Catullus 70