C. Valerius Catullus
84 B.C. - 54 B.C.(?)

Selected poems


Catullus' book of poems is divided into three parts: the first section (1-60) consists of lyric poems in a variety of meters, dealing with sundry subjects; the second (61-68) consists of longer poems loosely clustered around the topic of marriage; and the third (69-116) of poems in the elegiac meter, with subjects generally appropriate (usually love elegy). The marriage book itself is broken in the middle; the poems from 65 on are all in elegiac meter as well.

Whether this is an arrangement that was of Catullus' design or not is uncertain. It seems unlikely, given the structure of the ancient (roll) book, that all these poems could in fact have been included in a single volume; it probably makes more sense to suggest that they represent three distinct books, perhaps having different dates of publication

The translators of the poems are indicated with each.


C. 1

The first, dedicatory poem to Catullus' book of poems. You can note several features:


To whom do I give this slight and charming book,
just smoothed down with a dry stone?
To you, Cornelius: once you used to think
my nonsense worth something; you
who alone among Italians undertook
to chronicle all of history on three pages —
a learned and exacting chore.
So have this book, whatever it may be,
whatever it is worth; and, o patron virgin,
may it endure longer than one age.

— Mary McMenomy




C. 4


This pinnace that you see, my friends,
claims to have been the swiftest of ships:
there was no craft afloat
whose speed it could not surpass;
rowing or sailing, it flew.
The shore of the threatening Adriatic
cannot deny this, nor the Cyclades,
not noble Rhodes nor bristling Thrace,
wild Propontis nor the Pontic bay,
where what became a boat was once
a leafy wood; on the height of Cytore
the leaves rustled often speakingly.
Pontic Amastri and boxbearing Cytore,
it says that these things were and are
well-known to you: that it stood
at the beginning on your summit;
that it dipped its oars first in your sea;
and that from there through violent passages
it bore its master safe, whether the wind
blew left or right, or fell favorably
on both sides at once.
Nor were any vows made on its behalf
to gods on land, when last it came
up from the sea to this tranquil lake.
But all that is past; now, retired,
it lives quietly and dedicates itself to you,
twin Castor and Castor's twin.

— Mary McMenomy


C. 4

Another translation by a student from AP Latin V.


That light ship, which you see, strangers,
Says that it was the swiftest of ships, and that
It was not unable to surpass the onset of any floating vessel,
Whether the need were to fly with the oars or the sail.
And it denies that the shore of the threatening
Adriatic Sea or the Cyclade islands,
Both noble Rhodes and dreadful Propontis
Of the northwest wind and the harsh Pontic gulf,
Where before in the leafy forest was the future ship, deny this;
For in the whispering ridge of Mt Cytorus,
The leaves give forth a sibilant sound.
Pontic Amastris and Mt. Cytorus, famous for your box trees,
The light ship says that these things were and are
Well known to you: the end from the beginning,
It says that it stood on your peak,
That it has wet its palm-oars in your water,
And then bore its master,
Through so many violent seas, whether the wind sounded
From the left or the right, or whether favorable
Jupiter rushed in at each sail;
Nor were any prayers were made to the gods of the shore
By it, when it came newly from the sea
All the way to this clear lake.
But these things were long ago: now it is old
In hidden repose and dedicates itself to you,
Twin Castor and twin of Castor.

— Bethely Cameron


C. 5

A type of carpe diem poem — a type that Horace will develop later: it emphasizes making the most of the present time.


Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and as for the censure of strict old men,
we will value it all at a single cent.
The sun may fall and rise again,
but we, when once our brief light falls,
must sleep through an eternal night.
Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then still another thousand, then a hundred;
then when we have made many thousands,
we will confuse the count,
lest some ill-wisher be able to envy us
when he knows the number of kisses.

— Mary McMenomy


C. 13

This one is a clever inversion of an invitation — in which Catullus makes an offer to Fabullus that appears, on examination, to be less generous than it initially seems.


You'll dine well with me, Fabullus —
and soon, if the gods favor you —
as long as you bring a good and plentiful
meal, not leaving out the pretty girl
and wine and salt and many pleasantries.
If you bring all that, my charming friend,
I promise you'll dine well — for your Catullus
has a purse full of cobwebs.
In return, however, you'll have much sweet love;
or, what is perhaps finer and more elegant,
I will give you a perfume that
Venus and Cupid bestowed on my girlfriend.
Catch the scent of that, Fabullus, and you'll wish
that the gods had made you entirely nose.

— Mary McMenomy


C. 13

Another translation.


You will dine well, my Fabullus, with me
In a few days, if the gods favor you,
If you will have brought with you a great big
Dinner, not to mention a pretty girl
And wine and wit and all the laughter.
If these things, I say, you shall have brought,
My charming fellow, you will dine well —
For your Catullus’ moneybag is full of cobwebs.
But in return may you receive my pure affection
Or that which is more pleasant or more tasteful:
For the ointment I will give you, which Venus
And Cupid presented to my girl,
When you smell it, you will beg the gods
To make the whole of you, Fabullus, a nose.

— Bethely Cameron


C. 46

This seems to have no hidden agenda, but to be a simple celebration of travels and partings and the joys of homecoming.


Now spring brings back a temperate warmth,
Now the equinoctial madness of the sky
Grows silent with the winsome winds of Zephyr.
The Phrygian fields, Catullus, are abandoned
And the Bithynian plains, rich with heat:
Let us fly to the brilliant cities of Asia!
Now trembling in anticipation, my thought longs to wander,
Now my happy feet gain strength with enthusiasm.
Goodbye, dear company of friends,
Whom, having set out far from your homes at the same time,
The different roads carry back in different ways.

— Bethely Cameron


C. 49

It is not possible from here to know the occasion of this poem, addressed to Cicero. Here's what we do know:

An argument has been made, though it probably cannot be proved, that Cicero had condescendingly sent Catullus some poetry of his own. In Latin as in this translation, the word "lawyer" is left to the very end. The Latin word (patronum) was similar to, but not quite the same as what Cicero may have been expecting (poetarum). If so, this may be a subtle jab masquerading as a compliment.


O most learned of the descendants of Romulus,
as many as there are or were, Marcus Tullius,
or will be in later years:
great thanks to you from Catullus,
the worst poet of all —
the worst poet of all by as much
as you are of all the best lawyer.

— Mary McMenomy


C. 51

This is a translation of a poem by the Greek lyric poet Sappho, who was in several ways the model for Catullus.


He seems to me like a god,
or, if it is possible, to surpass gods,
he who sits opposite and watches
and hears you

sweetly laughing — it snatches all my senses
from wretched me; for since I saw you,
Lesbia, there is nothing else to me
...

but my tongue is still, a fine flame
washes through my limbs, my ears ring
with their own noise, my eyes are covered
in darkness.

Idleness, Catullus, is your trouble;
in idleness you make too much of things;
idleness has before now been the ruin of kings
and great cities.

— Mary McMenomy


C. 64

This poem is widely regarded as an attempt to produce an epyllion in Latin. The actual status of that form is still being debated, but whatever emerges from the debate, it seem indisputable that the poem is in fact a highly compressed exercise in the epic form. It is written in the epic meter (dactylic hexameter); it offers typical epic material on mythological matters; and it contains an instance of the Homeric device of ecphrasis, which we have seen in the passage on the shield of Achilles.

The wedding of Peleus and Thetis is part of a greater story that should be familiar to you by now — they are the parents of Achilles, as is noted further on in the poem. The story of Theseus may be less familiar. According to that story, Theseus went to Crete on behalf of the Athenians, to put an end to the annual offering of young men and women as sacrifices to the monstrous Minotaur. Ariadne, the daughter of the king of Crete, fell in love with Theseus, and betrayed to him the secret of the labyrinth, which is where the Minotaur was kept. Promising to take her as his wife, Theseus took her away with him, only to abandon her on the island of Naxos. The presence of this topic of betrayal and abandonment in such a prominent position at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis should at least encourage the reader to examine what the relationship of the two ideas could or should be.




They say that a pine, born on the height of Pelion,
once swam through Neptune's liquid waves
as far as the Colchian river and the borders of Aeetes,
when a chosen band, elect of Argive youths,
hoping to steal from Colchis the golden fleece
dared to cross the briny deep by ship,
sweeping the blue ocean with oars of fir.
The goddess who keeps safe the stronghold of their city
herself made the ship to fly before light wind,
joining a fabric of pine to the inflexible hull.
That ship first taught Amphitrites, unused to travelers;
her prow churned up the windy sea
and the waves turned white with the froth of oars.
The Nereids rose, lifting their faces from the shining foam,
to marvel at this spectacle of the ocean.
Those and scarcely any other mortal eyes
beheld in daylight the sea-nymphs bare-bodied,
standing breast-deep in the hoary water.
Then Peleus was inflamed with love of Thetis,
then Thetis did not despise a mortal wedding;
then Jove himself consented to their joining.
O heroes, born in by far the best of the ages,
hail, god-kind! Good children born of your mothers,
children born of good mothers, hail —
You I will often celebrate in my songs.
And indeed you most of all, O Peleus, blest in a happy marriage,
leader of Thessaly, the one to whom Jupiter himself,
the father of the gods himself conceded his own love.
Did not Thetis, the loveliest of Nereids, embrace you?
Did not Tethys consent to give you her own granddaughter?
And Oceanus, who wraps all the world in seas?

When the appointed time arrived, much wished-for,
All Thessaly gathered, crowding, into your house.
Your palace was filled by a joyful multitude.
Cieros was abandoned. They left Pthiotic Tempe
and the houses of Cronno and Larisaea's walls,
and met at Pharsalus, filled the Pharsalian dwellings.
No one tended the land, the neck of the heifer grew soft,
no slave trimmed the vines with a curved hook,
no bull turned the earth with a plowshare,
nor did the pruning hook thin the shade of the tree;
dirt and rust covered the disused plow.
But your rooms, wherever your palace
gave opening, were splendid with silver shining and gold;
ivory glowed on the seats; goblets adorned the tables;
all the house rejoiced in a royal richness.
And in the middle of this was the marriage-couch
of the goddess, polished, with Indian ivory,
and covered in a purple dipped in a rosy shell dye.

This  cloth, embroidered with various figures of men,
displayed with marvelous art the deeds of the heroes.
For here looking out from the wave-sounding shore
Ariadne saw Theseus with his swift fleet departing
and bore in her heart an unmasterable fury.
She barely even believed that she saw what she saw,
newly awake and perhaps confused by sleep,
when she found herself miserable, forsaken on the sand.
But the fleeing youth plied the sea with his oars, unmindful,
leaving his promises disregarded to the winds.
The Minoan girl, seeing him distantly with sad eyes
looked out, as stone-still as the effigy of a Bacchante, alas,
looked out and was stirred by great waves of sorrow.
The delicate veil came loose from her blonde hair,
her chest lost its light covering,
the band slipped away from her milky breasts;
all fell unnoticed from her body
and the salt waves toyed with them at her feet.
She cared neither for the veil nor for the gown now floating,
instead weighing out your retribution, Theseus,
with all her heart, all her spirit, all her ruined mind.
For when the narrow walls were beset by troubles,
Theseus chose to offer himself
for he beloved Athenians rather than allow so many
to be taken to Crete, dead though they still lived.
And therefore shining in a light ship, borne by gentle winds,
he came to proud Minoa and the great palace.
There the virgin queen saw him with a desiring eye,
she who had been brought up in the soft embrace of her mother
and had slept in a bed smelling of pure flowers,
as many as the rivers of Eurota surround,
as many scents and colors as spring brings out distinct.
No sooner did she turn her brilliant eyes from him,
than she took flame in all her body,
utterly, and burned to the deepest marrow.
Alas! Divine child, stirring fury inexorable
in a miserable heart, who mingle the joys with the woes of man,
and you, queen of Golgos and leafy Idalium,
with what floods of confusion you tormented that impassioned girl
sighing so often for the blond stranger!
What fears she bore in her weary heart!
How often she paled to the brightness of gold,
when Theseus desiring to fight the monster,
sought either death or the reward of praise!
Not in vain, however, were her gifts to the gods
or her vows silently undertaken.
For as an oak or a cone-bearing pine
on high Taurus, shaking its branches, its bark drenched,
is torn out by the force of an unstoppable whirlwind,
(with its roots pulled up it falls prone,
breaking what lies in its way) — so Theseus destroyed it
and so laid low its conquered corpse,
its horns tossing, as in a wind, to no avail.
Then unhurt he turned back his feet,
guiding his erring steps by a slender thread,
lest as he went out of the winding labyrinth
some unobserved trick of the building deceive him.
But shall I, departing from my original theme, recall
many things — how the girl, leaving the sight of her father,
the embrace of her family, and even the mother
who had once delighted in her now-lost daughter;
how she preferred the sweet love of Theseus to all;
how, on the driven boat, she came to the briny shore
of Dia; or how the husband, departing with a forgetful heart,
left her behind, her awareness blinded by sleep?
Often, they say, she, raging, with a burning heart,
produced loud shrieks from her deepest being.
Grieving she climbed the steep mountains,
and from there turned her gaze on the great tide of the sea;
then she ran back again to the waves of shivering brine
as far as the soft skin of her bare calves,
and, miserable, spoke her complaints aloud,
her damp mouth laboring with sobs.

"Do you thus leave me, o faithless Theseus,
me whom you snatched from my father's house?
Do you so depart, the gods' power forgotten,
do you unmindful take home broken promises?
Is nothing able to bend your cruel mind
with counsel? Is there no mercy in you,
does your hard heart take no pity?
Not in this voice did you once make to me
enticing promises; it was not for this that you bid me hope,
but for a happy wedding, a blessed marriage —
which unfulfilled the airy winds disperse.
So let no woman now trust the promises of a man,
let none hope a man's speeches will be true.
For when he desires a thing and thinks to have it,
he dares to swear anything, no oath is too great.
But as soon as his heart's wish is granted,
nothing that he said concerns him, he fears no perjury.
I rescued you from a whirlwind of trouble,
rather choosing to abandon my own full brother
than desert your faithless self at the crucial time.
In exchange for that I am given to beasts to be
torn up, a meal for birds, never to be buried.
What lioness birthed you under a cliff,
what sea conceived and spewed you from its waves,
what Syris, what fierce Scylla, what vast Charybdis,
that you reward me thus for saving your sweet life?
If our wedding was not to your liking,
because you feared the censure of your aging father,
still you could have brought me here to your palace,
where I would as happily have been your slave,
washing your white feet in clear water,
and spreading your bed with a purple coverlet.
But why do I, crazed with sorrow, rebuke in vain
the witless wind? It has no intelligence,
it is able neither to hear nor to reply.
Moreover this island is tossed among the waves,
no mortal thing appears among the weeds.
So at the last, cruel and much exulting,
chance denies me even my complaints.
Omnipotent Jupiter, if only the Athenian ships
had never reached the shores of Cnossos
nor bearing the dire gifts for the wild bull
the perfidious sailor moored in Crete,
nor this evil guest, concealing dark plans
in a sweet form, taken rest in our house!
For now where can I go? Lost, what hope do I have?
Shall I seek the Idaean mountains? With its white breadth
the truculent sea divides us.
Shall I hope for my father's help? I left him behind,
following a man still spattered with my brother's gore.
Can I console myself with the faith and love of a husband?
He flees, dipping his light oars in the water.
This lonely island supports no buildings,
nor is there any way out of the circling waves.
There is no escape, no hope; all things are mute,
all deserted, all point to destruction.
Yet my eyes will not grow dim with death,
nor sense leave my exhausted corpse
before I who have been betrayed demand justice from the gods
and in the last hour entreat divine faithfulness.

Therefore the Eumenides that punish violent deeds
with harsh punishment, on whose foreheads snakes writhe
breathing out anger from their hearts,
come, come hither, and hear my complaints,
which I alas miserable, burning, mad with blind fury,
am forced to endure, to the marrow of my bones.
Since these truths were born from my deepest heart,
do not you try to lessen our sorrow,
but in that mind in which Theseus left me here alone,
with such a mind, goddesses, let him destroy himself and his own.

After she had poured out these words from her grieving soul,
troubled, seeking assistance in a cruel purpose,
the ruler of heaven in his unconquerable majesty granted her wish.
At that deed earth and the horrible seas trembled together;
the land rose and struck the shining stars.
And Theseus, his mind numbed in blinding fog,
forgot with an unmindful heart those commands,
which he had always faithfully kept in mind;
he did not carry those sweet signs for his sad parent
to show that he was safely returned to port.
For they say that once, when Aegeus entrusted to the winds
the son who was departing the walls of the goddess with his fleet,
he gave the following instructions to the young man:

"My only son, by far dearer to me than life,
son, whom I am forced to send out to a dubious fate,
you came to me recently in the extreme of my old age.
My ill fortune and your own passionate virtue
snatch you from me unwilling — my old eyes
can never be satisfied with seeing you enough.
I do not send you rejoicing with a happy heart,
nor do I allow you to bear the symbols of good fortune.
Rather I openly display my many grievances,
soiling my white head with dirt and sprinkled dust,
and therefore I hang from the wandering mast a dark sail,
that the Iberian cloth obscured with darkness
may show forth our sorrows and the torment of our minds.
But if the inhabitant of sacred Itonus, she who consents
to guard our family and the palace of Erechtheum,
concedes it to you to spatter your own right hand in the bull's blood,
then indeed make certain that with unwavering heart
you follow these commands, nor let any time obliterate them:
as soon as your eyes catch sight of our hills,
take down the funereal cloth from the masts,
and let the twisted ropes hoist pure white ones,
so that when I first see them I may know my own happiness,
when a favorable time brings your safe return."
Always Theseus with a constant mind had kept these words;
now he forgot, as snowy clouds driven by a blast of wind
relinquish the peak of a mountain.
But his father, as he looked out from the high citadel,
anxiously wearing out his eyes in unceasing tears,
as soon as he saw the sails with their black linen,
threw himself precipitately from the height of the rocks,
believing Theseus destroyed by implacable fate.
Thus Theseus arrived in the paternal home newly stained
with the taint of death. As much grief as he had inflicted
on the Minoan in his unmindfulness, so much he brought himself.
Who then looking out at the receding ships sadly
turned over a multitude of cares in her tired spirit.

From another part of the coverlet flew Iacchus,
with a troupe of Satyrs and Nysa-born Silenus,
seeking you, Ariadne, and incensed with your love.
Here and there the Thyades with distracted mind
dance to you, bacchants, bending their heads.
Of these some shake their staves with the points covered,
some toss about the limbs of a dismembered heifer,
some wreathe themselves in writhing serpents,
some celebrate hidden rites in dark caves,
rites which the profane seek in vain to know;
still others struck drums with their large hands
or made a high ringing with the rounded bronzes;
many horns blared raucously
and the barbarian flute was strident with song.

The couch thus splendidly decorated with such a figured covering
concealed itself in its own cloth.
After the Thessalian youth had satisfied its desire
to see this thing, it began to make way for the holy gods.
Here, as Zephyr ruffling the sea with his breath
in the morning begins to pushed the waves, when Dawn
is rising under the moving threshold of the sun,
as the waves slowly move, pushed along by the clement breeze
and give the sound of laughter,
growing greater as the wind increases,
and shining with rosy light from afar as they go —
so those departing the palace then
dispersed with wandering foot, each to his own place.
After they had gone, Chiron, the first, came down
from the height of Pelion, bringing a sylvan gift:
for whatever the fields bore, whatever the reaches of Thessaly
brought forth among the mountains, whatever flowers the fertile breath
of warm Favonius produced beside the river,
these he brought, woven indistinct in a wreath,
so that the whole house rejoiced, perfumed by its scent.
Next Penios was there, leaving verdant Tempe,
Tempe which overhanging woods encircle,
to be filled in his absence by dancers; and he came,
not empty handed: for he brought tall beeches
with their roots intact, and long, straight-trunked laurels,
not forgetting the waving plane, or the gentle sister
of burned Phaethon; he brought also a copper cypress.
These he placed widely around the palace, interwoven,
to form a wall of living branches.
After him came Prometheus, clever in heart,
still bearing the faded scar from his old punishment,
who had once been bound to a rock by his chained limbs
and had made his penance hanging from a cliff's height.
Then the father of the gods with his blessed wife
and children came from heaven, leaving you alone behind,
Phoebus, you and your twin, the patroness of Idrias:
for Peleus was hated equally by you and your sister,
and she did not want to celebrate the wedding of Thetis.

Then the gods were seated in the snowy chairs
and the tables piled high with food,
while, their bodies quaking in uncertain motions
the Fates began to sing a song of prophecy.
Their fragile bodies were wrapped in white robes
encompassed by a purple border,
and a rosy headband bound their white hair;
meanwhile their hands continued their eternal tasks.
The left hand held the distaff wrapped in soft wool,
while the right skillfully pulling it out formed the thread,
the fingers up, then twisting the spindle, thumb down,
turned it, heavy with its round weight.
And cutting it with a single tooth each evened her work,
so that the woolly strands that had protruded from the thread
adhered to her dry lips.
The soft balls of shining unspun wool,
they kept in wicker baskets at their feet.
Striking the wool balls, they then, with clear voice,
revealed what was fated, in divine song;
a song that no later, wicked age could contradict.

O you who augment your glory with great virtue,
the defense of Emathia, dearest son of Ops,
accept what the sisters tell you on this happy day,
a true oracle. But you, following the strands of fate,
spindles, run on, leading the threads.

Now may Hesperus come to you, Peleus, bringing
what husbands desire; may your wife come with fortunate star,
she who fills you with heart-stirring love,
and may she obediently join you in languid sleep,
her gentle arms around your strong neck.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

No house ever contained such loves,
no love ever joined lovers in such a marriage,
as is the concord of Thetis and Peleus.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

Achilles, bringer of fear, shall be born to you,
to be famed for showing his face to the enemy,
never his back; always the victor in a race,
he will outstrip the flaming footsteps of the hind.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

No one will call himself a greater hero in battle
when the Phrygian fields flow with Trojan blood,
and, sitting outside Troy's walls in a long war,
he will ruin the third heir of perjured Pelops.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

His extraordinary virtues and famed deeds
mothers will often speak of at their son's funerals,
pulling their unkempt hair from their grey heads,
and beating their withered breasts with infirm hands.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

And now as the harvester cutting the thick grain
mows the golden fields under a scorching sun,
he will lay low Trojan bodies with the hostile iron.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

Scamander's waves will witness his great deeds,
which flow diffusely to the swift Hellespont:
he will narrow its course with heaped carnage,
and warm its deep water with mingled gore.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

They will witness also his death, and the prize returned,
when his rounded grave heaped with earth
receives the snowy limbs of the maid struck down.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

For when chance shall have given the tired Argives
power to destroy Neptune's band around the Dardanian city,
the high sepulcher will be soaked in Polyxena's blood;
who, like a victim under the sacrificial ax,
shall drop her body on bended knee, a corpse.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

Therefore, indeed, join your blessed loves,
let the husband take the goddess in happy marriage,
let him be given the wife now long desired.
Spindles, run on, leading the threads.

The nurse, returning at dawn, will not be able
to put yesterday's thread around the neck of this bride,
nor her anxious mother, grieved by her daughter's quarrels,
give up hoping for grandsons.

These predictions the fates sang to Peleus,
a happy song from their divine hearts.
For in those days the gods did not disdain
to go themselves to the houses of the heroes,
and show themselves at mortal gatherings, when righteousness
was not yet despised. Often the father of the gods
returning to the shining temple at the sacred feast day
saw a hundred bulls fall to the ground.
Often Bacchus wandering on the height of Parnassus
brought his shouting Thyiades with unkempt hair,
when rushing all from the city of Delphi,
they received the god with smoking altars.
Often in war's death-bringing struggle Mars
or the mistress of the swift Triton, or the Amarunsian maid
was present, encouraging the armed troops of men.
But now the earth is thick with wickedness, and all avoid justice zealously.
The hand of the brother is washed in his brother's blood,
the son no longer mourns his dead parents,
the father desires the funeral of his young son
in order to wed his daughter-in-law;
the wicked mother becomes lover to her unwitting son,
not afraid to defile the household gods.
All things right and wrong mixed up in foul madness
turn the righteous minds of the gods away from us.
No longer do they come among us,
nor even show themselves by a clear light.

— Mary McMenomy


C. 76

This is one of the poems where Catullus is apparently complaining about Lesbia, though he never mentions her by name. His tone is more typical of love elegy in general than are many of his other poems.


If there is any pleasure for a man in remembering
Past good deeds, since he thinks that he is pious,
And has neither violated the holy faith, nor in any treaty
Abused the divinity of the gods to deceive men,
Many prepared joys remain in the long age for you,
Catullus, from this ungrateful love.
For anything men are able to say or do well,
These things are said and done by you: (but) all of them
Have died, since they were entrusted to an ungrateful mind.
Why do you now torment yourself further?
Why do you not make yourself firm of mind and from there
Lead yourself back and, by the unwilling gods, stop being a miser?
It is difficult to lay aside a long love suddenly,
It is difficult, but you should finish in an agreeable way;
This alone is your salvation, this must be overcome by you,
May you do this, whether it is possible or not.
O gods, if it is yours to have compassion, or if
You ever brought a final aid to any in death itself,
Behold miserable me and, if I have led my life righteously,
Snatch this pestilence and ruin from me,
Which, as a creeping numbness in the lower limbs,
Banishes joy from my whole heart.
I do not ask this so that she may love me in return,
Or, which is not possible, that she may wish to be chaste:
I myself choose to be well and shake off this horrid disease.
O gods, return this to me for my devotion.

— Bethely Cameron


C. 85

This is one of the shortest poems in Latin or any language: and it is quite as simple in Latin as in English.


I love and I hate. You may ask why I do this.
I do not know, but I sense it and suffer.

— Mary McMenomy