The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus

xxxviiii.

Egnatius, quod candidos habet dentes,

Renidet usque quaque. sei ad rei ventumst

Subsellium, cum orator excitat fletum,

Renidet ille. sei ad pii rogum fili

Lugetur, orba cum flet unicum mater, 5

Renidet ille. quidquid est, ubicumquest,

Quodcumque agit, renidet. hunc habet morbum,

Neque elegantem, ut arbitror, neque urbanum.

Quare monendum test mihi, bone Egnati.

Si urbanus esses aut Sabinus aut Tiburs 10

Aut fartus Vmber aut obesus Etruscus

Aut Lanuinus ater atque dentatus

Aut Transpadanus, ut meos quoque attingam,

Aut quilubet, qui puriter lavit dentes,

Tamen renidere usque quaque te nollem: 15

Nam risu inepto res ineptior nullast.

Nunc Celtiber es: Celtiberia in terra,

Quod quisque minxit, hoc sibi solet mane

Dentem atque russam defricare gingivam,

Vt quo iste vester expolitior dens est, 20

Hoc te amplius bibisse praedicet loti.

xxxviiii.

On Egnatius of the White Teeth.

Egnatius for that owns he teeth snow-white,

Grins ever, everywhere. When placed a wight

In dock, when pleader would draw tears, the while

He grins. When pious son at funeral pile

Mourns, or lone mother sobs for sole lost son, 5

He grins. Whate’er, whene’er, howe’er is done,

Of deed he grins. Such be his malady,

Nor kind, nor courteous — so beseemeth me —

Then take thou good Egnatius, rede of mine!

Wert thou corrupt Sabine or a Tiburtine, 10

Stuffed Umbrian or Tuscan overgrown

Swarthy Lanuvian with his teeth-rows shown,

Transpádan also, that mine own I touch,

Or any washing teeth to shine o’er much,

Yet thy incessant grin I would not see, 15

For naught than laughter silly sillier be.

Thou Celtiber art, in Celtiberia born,

Where man who’s urined therewith loves a-morn

His teeth and ruddy gums to scour and score;

So the more polisht are your teeth, the more 20

Argue they sipping stale in ampler store.

Egnatius, who has milk-white teeth, grins for ever and aye. An he be in court, when counsel excites tears, he grins. An he be at funeral pyre where one mourns a son devoted, where a bereft mother’s tears stream for her only one, he grins. Whatever it may be, wherever he is, whate’er may happen, he grins. Such ill habit has he — neither in good taste, well assumed, nor refined. Wherefore do thou take note from me, my good Egnatius. Be thou refined Sabine or Tiburtine, paunch-full Umbrian or obese Tuscan, Lanuvian dusky and large-tusked, or Transpadine (to touch upon mine own folk also), or whom thou wilt of those who cleanly wash their teeth, still I’d wish thee not to grin for ever and aye; for than senseless giggling nothing is more senseless. Now thou’rt a Celtiberian! and in the Celtiberian land each wight who has urined is wont each morn to scrub with it his teeth and pinky gums, so that the higher the polish on thy teeth, the greater fund it notes that thou hast drunk of urine.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37