Catullus 8:

Poor Catullus, stop being a fool,
And consider what you will see is lost destroyed.

Suns once shone bright for you:
When you went so often where she led you,
And you loved her more than any girl will ever be loved.
When these many happy things had been,
You wanted them, so did she -- then.
Then suns truly shone bright for you.

Now she no longer wants you.
And you also: don't be headstrong.
Don't chase after her as she flies, don't live miserably,
But endure with a determined mind: persist steadfast.
Goodbye, girl. Now Catullus is firm.
He neither seeks after you, nor asks for unwilling you.

But you, you will mourn, when you are not asked at all.
Woe to you, what wretched life remains for you?
Who will visit you? Who will find you cute?
Whom will you love? Whose will you say you are?
Whom will you kiss? Whose little lips will you nibble?

But you, Catullus, persist steadfast.

Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire
et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.

Fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles,
cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla,
ibi illa multa cum iocosa fieban,
quae tue volebas nec puella nolebat,
fulsere vere candidi tibi soles.

Nunc iam illa non volt: tu quoque impotens noli,
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive,
sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
Vale, puella. Iam Catullus obdurat,
nec te requiret nec rogabit invitam.

At tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla.
Scelesta, vae te, quae tibi manet vita?
Quis nunc te adibit? Cui videberis bella?
Quem nunc amabis? Cuius esse diceris?
Quem basiabis? Cui labella mordebis?

At tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.


Another one of Catullus' poems about his love for Lesbia (see also Catullus 70). IMHO, one of his saddest. Of course, his language in this is necessarily vague, and so translations exist for this poem which are completely different from mine. Many scholars read the tu in "At tu dolebis, rogaberis nulla." ("But you, you will mourn, when you are not asked at all") as Catullus addressing the girl of whose love he has finally rid himself. This turns the second half of the poem into him bitterly insulting the girl who has rejected his love (more of a lighthearted ending which incidentally kind of fits with the meter). But to me, this makes a lot more sense if you read the tu as Catullus (as it is throughout the rest of the poem), and then it becomes a conflict between two sides of Catullus' psyche. I tried to convey that separation by dividing it up into sections, which alternate between the rational, resigned side of Catullus and his emotional side, which is still deeply in love with Lesbia.

This poem is written in limping iambic, or choliambic, which was a meter used by Greek poets for satire. Limping because the last foot is reversed from the rest of the feet, giving it an interesting sort of rythm. If you think about it as a satire by Catullus' emotional side of his rational position, this meter makes sense, especially given the last line. And here's how the meter goes ( ^ = short syllable, - = long syllable, * = either-or, often a caesura in the middle of the third foot):

* - | ^ - | * - | ^ - | ^ - | - *

Latin text from:
Aronson, Andrew C. and Robert Broughner. Catullus and Horace. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1988

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.