My woman says she wants to marry no one
but me, not even if Jupiter himself were to court her.
She says: but what a woman says to her waiting lover,
he must write in the wind and running water.
Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle
quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat.
Dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,
in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.
In this poem (which is similar to an epigram
written by the Greek
analyzes the failure of his love affair with Lesbia
(a pseudonym, some think for a woman named Clodia
, but also a name he probably used as a tribute to Sappho
, one of his major influences as a poet
. The translation
, obviously, isn't in meter
, but for those of you who can pronounce Latin
, the poem is in a form called elegaic couplet
(a variant of the meter used for the Iliad
and the Aeneid
). Basically, this means that for each couplet the first line is in dactylic hexameter
, and the second line is in a basically dactylic pentameter
, except slightly modified, so it ends up looking like this (^ denotes a short syllable
, || a diaeresis
| d/s | - || - ^^ | - ^^ | ( ^ or - )
Original translation. Text and some background from:
Aronson, Andrew C. and Robert Broughner. Catullus and Horace
. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1988