This is the longest of the poems in the Iuventius cycle
, and is one of the most beautiful of all of Catullus' poems. The poems has an atmosphere of melancholy and self mockery, and has a cyclical structure.
is the elegiac couplet
(i.e. intermittant lines of dactylic hexameter
and dactylic pentameter
Surripui tibi, dum ludis, mellite Iuventi,
suauiolum dulci dulcius ambrosia.
uerum id non impune tuli: namque amplius horam
suffixum in summa me memini esse cruce,
dum tibi me purgo nec possum fletibus ullis
tantillum uestrae demere saeuitiae.
nam simul id factum est, multis diluta labella
guttis abstersisti omnibus articulis,
ne quicquam nostro contractum ex ore maneret,
tamquam commictae spurca saliua lupae.
praeterea infesto miserum me tradere amori
non cessasti omnique excruciare modo,
ut mi ex ambrosia mutatum iam foret illud
suauiolum tristi tristius elleboro.
quam quoniam poenam misero proponis amori,
numquam iam posthac basia surripiam.
Translation (as literal as possible):
I stole from you, while you were playing, honey-sweet Iuventius,
A little kiss sweeter than sweet ambrosia.
Indeed not unpunished I bore this: after all for more than an hour
I remember that I was affixed to the top of the cross,
While I was defending myself, I couldn't with any tear
Decrease from your anger even by a little bit.
For as soon as the deed was done, your lips that were washed
With many drops, you wiped with all your fingers,
So that some contamination from my mouth should not remain,
Like the polluted saliva of a pissed-on whore.
Moreover, to turn in me , the miserable, to hostile love
You didn't tarry, and to torture me in every manner,
Until that little kiss was changed for me from ambrosia
To bitterer than bitter hellebore.
Since you present this punishment to my miserable love,
I will never again steal kisses from you.