The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus


Adeste, hendecasyllabi, quot estis

Omnes undique, quotquot estis omnes.

Iocum me putat esse moecha turpis

Et negat mihi nostra reddituram

Pugillaria, si pati potestis. 5

Persequamur eam, et reflagitemus.

Quae sit, quaeritis. illa, quam videtis

Turpe incedere, mimice ac moleste

Ridentem catuli ore Gallicani.

Circumsistite eam, et reflagitate, 10

‘Moecha putida, redde codicillos,

Redde, putida moecha, codicillos.’

Non assis facis? o lutum, lupanar,

Aut si perditius potest quid esse.

Sed non est tamen hoc satis putandum. 15

Quod si non aliud potest, ruborem

Ferreo canis exprimamus ore.

Conclamate iterum altiore voce

‘Moecha putida, redde codicillos,

Redde, putida moecha, codicillos.’ 20

Sed nil proficimus, nihil movetur.

Mutandast ratio modusque vobis,

Siquid proficere amplius potestis,

‘Pudica et proba, redde codicillos.’


On a Strumpet who Stole His Tablets.

Come, Hendecasyllabics, many as may

All hither, every one that of you be!

That fulsome harlot makes me laughing-stock

And she refuses at our prayer restore

Our stolen Note-books, an such slights ye bear. 5

Let us pursue her clamouring our demands.

“Who’s she?” ye question: yonder one ye sight

Mincingly pacing mime-like, perfect pest,

With jaws wide grinning like a Gallic pup.

Stand all round her dunning with demands, 10

“Return (O rotten whore!) our noting books.

Our noting books (O rotten whore!) return!”

No doit thou car’st? O Mire! O Stuff o’ stews!

Or if aught fouler filthier dirt there be.

Yet must we never think these words suffice. 15

But if naught else avail, at least a blush

Forth of that bitch-like brazen brow we’ll squeeze.

Cry all together in a higher key

“Restore (O rotten whore!) our noting books,

Our noting books (O rotten whore!) restore!” 20

Still naught avails us, nothing is she moved.

Now must our measures and our modes be changed

An we would anywise our cause advance.

“Restore (chaste, honest Maid!) our noting books!”

Hither, all ye hendecasyllables, as many as may be, from every part, all of ye, as many soever as there be! A shameless prostitute deems me fair sport, and denies return to me of our writing tablets, if ye are able to endure this. Let’s after her, and claim them back. “Who may she be,” ye ask? That one, whom ye see strutting awkwardly, stagily, and stiffly, and with a laugh on her mouth like a Gallic whelp. Throng round her, and claim them back. “O putrid punk, hand back our writing tablets; hand back, O putrid punk, our writing tablets.” Not a jot dost heed? O Muck, Brothel–Spawn, or e’en loathsomer if it is possible so to be! Yet think not yet that this is enough. For if naught else we can extort a blush on thy brazened bitch’s face. We’ll yell again in heightened tones, “O putrid punk, hand back our writing tablets, hand back, O putrid punk, our writing tablets.” But naught we profit, naught she budges. Changed must your measure and your manner be, an you would further progress make —“O Virgin pure and spotless, hand back our writing tablets.”

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