The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/8

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Text & Translation[edit | edit source]

Meter - Limping Iambics

Line Latin Text English Translation
1 Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire, Miserable Catullus, cease to be a fool,
2 et quod vides perisse perditum ducas. and that which you see to have been lost, may you consider lost.
3 Fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles, Bright suns once shone for you,
4 cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat when you often came to where the girl led you,
5 amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla. a girl loved by us more than any girl will be loved.
6 Ibi illa multa cum iocosa fiebant, where there those many jokes used to happen,
7 quae tu volebas nec puella nolebat, which you wanted, and she did not deny,
8 fulsere vere candidi tibi soles. truly bright suns shone for you.
9 Nunc iam illa non vult: tu quoque impotens noli, now she does not want; you also, powerless, do not want,
10 nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive, neither follow she who flees, nor live miserably,
11 sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura. but remain firm with a resolute mind, endure.
12 Vale puella, iam Catullus obdurat, Goodbye girl, already Catullus endures,
13 nec te requiret nec rogabit invitam. he will neither miss you, nor will he ask for you, unwilling.
14 At tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla. but you will grieve, when you will not be asked for at all.
15 Scelesta, vae te, quae tibi manet vita? wicked one, woe to you! what life remains for you?
16 Quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella? who will come to you now? To whom will you seem beautiful?
17 Quem nunc amabis? Cuius esse diceris? whom will you love now? Whose will you be said to be?
18 Quem basiabis? Cui labella mordebis? whom will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
19 At tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura. But you, Catullus, obstinate, endure.

Connotations of The Text[edit | edit source]

The use of the metre, limping iambic, has a broken uneven effect, mimicking the dead end of his thoughts.

Line 1[edit | edit source]

  • miser - miserable; wretched; unhappy

This is a favourite word of Catullus' usually used to describe himself. It can also be translated as "love-sick" and this translation creates a nearer tone that Catullus intended in the poem. This expression can also be seen in Poem 7.

Line 4[edit | edit source]

  • ventitabas - you used to go

The use of the Imperfect Tense shows how Catullus used to go everywhere Lesbia went - making him like Lesbia's shadow.

  • ducebat - where she used to lead

The use of the Imperfect Tense indicates how Lesbia used to be in control of Catullus and she led him around as she pleased.

Line 9[edit | edit source]

  • nunc iam - now it has come to this

This phrases emphasises the finality of the relationship and how it has ended once and for all.

Line 14[edit | edit source]

  • rogaberis nulla - you will be asked [out] by none

Here the poet is trying to convince himself that Lesbia will lose out the most in the end. Nulla here is acting more as an adverb "not"

Line 19[edit | edit source]

  • obdura - endure

The end of the poem finishes with a blunt imperative. This is Catullus trying to snap himself out of his misery.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

Line 1[edit | edit source]

  • miser - miserable; wretched; unhappy; love-sick
  • desino, ere, -sii, -itum - leave off; cease; desist; abandon

Line 2[edit | edit source]

  • perdo, -ere, -didi, -ditum - destroy; ruin; lose

Line 3[edit | edit source]

  • fulgeo, -ere, fulsi - shine; gleam; glitter; sparkle
  • candidus, -a, -um - white; fair; beautiful
  • soles (pl. of sol) - lit. = suns; rays; beams

Line 4[edit | edit source]

  • ventito, ventitare - come often; keep coming

Line 6[edit | edit source]

  • ibi (adv.) - there; in that place; then; thereupon
  • fio, fieri, factus sum - to happen; be done; become
  • iocosus, -a, -um - humorous; jokey; light-hearted

Line 9[edit | edit source]

  • impotens, -entis (adj.) - weak; feeble; puny

Line 10[edit | edit source]

  • sector, sectari, sectatus sum - follow; pursue

Line 11[edit | edit source]

  • obstinatus, -a, -um - resolved; resolute; fixed; obstinate
  • perfero, -re, pertuli, perlatum - carry through; endure

Line 13[edit | edit source]

  • invitus, -a, -um - unwilling; reluctant

Line 14[edit | edit source]

  • doleo, -ere, dolui, dolitum - feel pain; suffer; grieve

Line 15[edit | edit source]

  • vae - woe to; alas

Line 18[edit | edit source]

  • mordeo, momordi, morsum - bite

Line 19[edit | edit source]

  • destino, -are, -avi, -atum - fasten down; secure; determine; fix

External Links[edit | edit source]

Catullus 8 A Translation of Catullus 8

Catullus 8 Another Translation of Catullus 8