The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus


Varus me meus ad suos amores

Visum duxerat e foro otiosum,

Scortillum, ut mihi tum repente visumst,

Non sane inlepidum neque invenustum.

Huc ut venimus, incidere nobis 5

Sermones varii, in quibus, quid esset

Iam Bithynia, quo modo se haberet,

Ecquonam mihi profuisset aere.

Respondi id quod erat, nihil neque ipsis

Nec praetoribus esse nec cohorti, 10

Cur quisquam caput unctius referret,

Praesertim quibus esset inrumator

Praetor, non faciens pili cohortem.

‘At certe tamen, inquiunt, quod illic

Natum dicitur esse, conparasti 15

Ad lecticam homines.’ ego, ut puellae

Vnum me facerem beatiorem,

‘Non’ inquam ‘mihi tam fuit maligne,

Vt, provincia quod mala incidisset,

Non possem octo homines parare rectos.’ 20

At mi nullus erat nec hic neque illic,

Fractum qui veteris pedem grabati

In collo sibi collocare posset.

Hic illa, ut decuit cinaediorem,

‘Quaeso’ inquit ‘mihi, mi Catulle, paulum 25

Istos. commode enim volo ad Sarapim

Deferri.’ ‘minime’ inquii puellae;

‘Istud quod modo dixeram me habere,

Fugit me ratio: meus sodalis

Cinnast Gaius, is sibi paravit. 30

Verum, utrum illius an mei, quid ad me?

Vtor tam bene quam mihi pararim.

Sed tu insulsa male ac molesta vivis,

Per quam non licet esse negligentem.’


He Meets Varus and Mistress.

Led me my Varus to his flame,

As I from Forum idling came.

Forthright some whorelet judged I it

Nor lacking looks nor wanting wit,

When hied we thither, mid us three 5

Fell various talk, as how might be

Bithynia now, and how it fared,

And if some coin I made or spared.

“There was no cause” (I soothly said)

“The Prætors or the Cohort made 10

Thence to return with oilier head;

The more when ruled by ——

Prætor, as pile the Cohort rating.”

Quoth they, “But certès as ’twas there

The custom rose, some men to bear 15

Litter thou boughtest?” I to her

To seem but richer, wealthier,

Cry, “Nay, with me ’twas not so ill

That, given the Province suffered, still

Eight stiff-backed loons I could not buy.’ 20

(Withal none here nor there owned I

Who broken leg of Couch outworn

On nape of neck had ever borne!)

Then she, as pathic piece became,

“Prithee Catullus mine, those same 25

Lend me, Serapis-wards I’d hie.”

“Easy, on no-wise, no,” quoth I,

“Whate’er was mine, I lately said

Is some mistake, my camarade

One Cinna — Gaius — bought the lot, 30

But his or mine, it matters what?

I use it freely as though bought,

Yet thou, pert troubler, most absurd,

None suffer’st speak an idle word.”

Varus drew me off to see his mistress as I was strolling from the Forum: a little whore, as it seemed to me at the first glance, neither inelegant nor lacking good looks. When we came in, we fell to discussing various subjects, amongst which, how was Bithynia now, how things had gone there, and whether I had made any money there. I replied, what was true, that neither ourselves nor the praetors nor their suite had brought away anything whereby to flaunt a better-scented poll, especially as our praetor, the irrumating beast, cared not a single hair for his suite. “But surely,” she said, “you got some men to bear your litter, for they are said to grow there?” I, to make myself appear to the girl as one of the fortunate, “Nay,” I say, “it did not go that badly with me, ill as the province turned out, that I could not procure eight strapping knaves to bear me.” (But not a single one was mine either here or there who the fractured foot of my old bedstead could hoist on his neck.) And she, like a pathic girl, “I pray thee,” says she, “lend me, my Catullus, those bearers for a short time, for I wish to be borne to the shrine of Serapis.” “Stay,” quoth I to the girl, “when I said I had this, my tongue slipped; my friend, Cinna Gaius, he provided himself with these. In truth, whether his or mine — what do I trouble? I use them as though I had paid for them. But thou, in ill manner with foolish teasing dost not allow me to be heedless.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52