The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus


Super alta vectus Attis celeri rate maria

Phrygium ut nemus citato cupide pede tetigit

Adiitque opaca, silvis redimita loca deae,

Stimulatus ibi furenti rabie, vagus animis,

Devolsit ilei acuto sibi pondera silice. 5

Itaque ut relicta sensit sibi membra sine viro,

Etiam recente terrae sola sanguine maculans

Niveis citata cepit manibus leve typanum,

Typanum, tuom Cybebe, tua, mater, initia,

Quatiensque terga taurei teneris cava digitis 10

Canere haec suis adortast tremebunda comitibus.

‘Agite ite ad alta, Gallae, Cybeles nemora simul,

Simul ite, Dindymenae dominae vaga pecora,

Aliena quae petentes velut exules loca

Sectam meam executae duce me mihi comites 15

Rabidum salum tulistis truculentaque pelage

Et corpus evirastis Veneris nimio odio,

Hilarate erae citatis erroribus animum.

Mora tarda mente cedat: simul ite, sequimini

Phrygiam ad domum Cybebes, Phrygia ad nemora deae, 20

Vbi cymbalum sonat vox, ubi tympana reboant,

Tibicen ubi canit Phryx curvo grave calamo,

Vbi capita Maenades vi iaciunt ederigerae,

Vbi sacra sancta acutis ululatibus agitant,

Vbi suevit illa divae volitare vaga cohors: 25

Quo nos decet citatis celerare tripudiis.’

Simul haec comitibus Attis cecinit notha mulier,

Thiasus repente linguis trepidantibus ululat,

Leve tympanum remugit, cava cymbala recrepant,

Viridem citus adit Idam properante pede chorus. 30

Furibunda simul anhelans vaga vadit, animam agens,

Comitata tympano Attis per opaca nemora dux,

Veluti iuvenca vitans onus indomita iugi:

Rapidae ducem sequuntur Gallae properipedem.

Itaque ut domum Cybebes tetigere lassulae, 35

Nimio e labore somnum capiunt sine Cerere.

Piger his labante langore oculos sopor operit:

Abit in quiete molli rabidus furor animi.

Sed ubi oris aurei Sol radiantibus oculis

Lustravit aethera album, sola dura, mare ferum, 40

Pepulitque noctis umbras vegetis sonipedibus,

Ibi Somnus excitam Attin fugiens citus abiit:

Trepidante eum recepit dea Pasithea sinu.

Ita de quiete molli rapida sine rabie

Simul ipsa pectore Attis sua facta recoluit, 45

Liquidaque mente vidit sine queis ubique foret,

Animo aestuante rusum reditum ad vada tetulit.

Ibi maria vasta visens lacrimantibus oculis,

Patriam allocuta maestast ita voce miseriter.

‘Patria o mei creatrix, patria o mea genetrix, 50

Ego quam miser relinquens, dominos ut erifugae

Famuli solent, ad Idae tetuli nemora pedem,

Vt aput nivem et ferarum gelida stabula forem

Et earum operta adirem furibunda latibula?

Vbinam aut quibus locis te positam, patria, reor? 55

Cupit ipsa pupula ad te sibi dirigere aciem,

Rabie fera carens dum breve tempus animus est.

Egone a mea remota haec ferar in nemora domo?

Patria, bonis, amicis, genitoribus abero?

Abero foro, palaestra, stadio et guminasiis? 60

Miser a miser, querendumst etiam atque etiam, anime.

Quod enim genus figuraest, ego non quod habuerim?

Ego mulier, ego adolescens, ego ephebus, ego puer,

Ego guminasi fui flos, ego eram decus olei:

Mihi ianuae frequentes, mihi limina tepida, 65

Mihi floridis corollis redimita domus erat,

Linquendum ubi esset orto mihi sole cubiculum.

Ego nunc deum ministra et Cybeles famula ferar?

Ego Maenas, ego mei pars, ego vir sterilis ero?

Ego viridis algida Idae nive amicta loca colam? 70

Ego vitam agam sub altis Phrygiae columinibus,

Vbi cerva silvicultrix, ubi aper nemorivagus?

Iam iam dolet quod egi, iam iamque paenitet.’

Roseis ut huic labellis sonitus celer abiit,

Geminas deorum ad aures nova nuntia referens, 75

Ibi iuncta iuga resolvens Cybele leonibus

Laevumque pecoris hostem stimulans ita loquitur.

‘Agedum’ inquit ‘age ferox i, fac ut hunc furor agitet,

Fac uti furoris ictu reditum in nemora ferat,

Mea libere nimis qui fugere imperia cupit. 80

Age caede terga cauda, tua verbera patere,

Fac cuncta mugienti fremitu loca retonent,

Rutilam ferox torosa cervice quate iubam.’

Ait haec minax Cybebe religatque iuga manu.

Ferus ipse sese adhortans rapidum incitat animo, 85

Vadit, fremit, refringit virgulta pede vago.

At ubi umida albicantis loca litoris adiit,

Teneramque vidit Attin prope marmora pelagi,

Facit impetum: illa demens fugit in nemora fera:

Ibi semper omne vitae spatium famula fuit. 90

Dea magna, dea Cybebe, Didymei dea domina,

Procul a mea tuos sit furor omnis, era, domo:

Alios age incitatos, alios age rabidos.


The Adventures of Atys.

O’er high deep seas in speedy ship his voyage Atys sped

Until he trod the Phrygian grove with hurried eager tread

And as the gloomy tree-shorn stead, the she-god’s home, he sought

There sorely stung with fiery ire and madman’s vaguing thought,

Share he with sharpened flint the freight wherewith his form was fraught. 5

Then as the she-he sensèd limbs were void of manly strain

And sighted freshly shed a-ground spot of ensanguined stain,

Snatched she the timbrel’s legier load with hands as snowdrops white,

Thy timbrel, Mother Cybebé, the firstings of thy rite,

And as her tender finger-tips on bull-back hollow rang 10

She rose a-grieving and her song to listening comrades sang.

“Up Gallæ, hie together, haste for Cybebe’s deep grove,

Hie to the Dindyménean dame, ye flocks that love to rove;

The which affecting stranger steads as bound in exile’s brunt

My sect pursuing led by me have nerved you to confront 15

The raging surge of salty sea and ocean’s tyrant hand

As your hate of Venus’ hest your manly forms unmann’d,

Gladden your souls, ye mistresses, with sense of error bann’d.

Drive from your spirits dull delay, together follow ye

To hold of Phrygian goddess, home of Phrygian Cybebe, 20

Where loud the cymbal’s voice resounds with timbrel-echoes blending,

And where the Phrygian piper drones grave bass from reed a-bending,

Where toss their ivy-circled heads with might the Mænades

Where ply mid shrilly lullilooes the holiest mysteries,

Where to fly here and there be wont the she-god’s vaguing train, 25

Thither behoves us lead the dance in quick-step hasty strain.”

Soon as had Atys (bastard-she) this lay to comrades sung

The Chorus sudden lulliloos with quivering, quavering tongue,

Again the nimble timbrel groans, the scooped-out cymbals clash,

And up green Ida flits the Choir, with footsteps hurrying rash. 30

Then Atys frantic, panting, raves, a-wandering, lost, insane,

And leads with timbrel hent and treads the shades where shadows rain,

Like heifer spurning load of yoke in yet unbroken pride;

And the swift Gallæ follow fain their first and fleetfoot guide.

But when the home of Cybebe they make with toil out-worn 35

O’er much, they lay them down to sleep and gifts of Ceres scorn;

Till heavy slumbers seal their eyelids langourous, drooping lowly,

And raving phrenzy flies each brain departing softly, slowly.

But when Dan Sol with radiant eyes that fire his face of gold

Surveyed white aether and solid soil and waters uncontrol’d, 40

And chased with steeds sonorous-hooved the shades of lingering night,

Then sleep from waking Atys fled fleeting with sudden flight,

By Nymph Pásithae welcomèd to palpitating breast.

Thus when his phrenzy raging rash was soothed to gentlest rest,

Atys revolved deeds lately done, as thought from breast unfolding, 45

And what he’d lost and what he was with lucid sprite beholding,

To shallows led by surging soul again the way ‘gan take.

There casting glance of weeping eyes where vasty billows brake,

Sad-voiced in pitifullest lay his native land bespake.

“Country of me, Creatress mine, O born to thee and bred, 50

By hapless me abandoned as by thrall from lordling fled,

When me to Ida’s groves and glades these vaguing footsteps bore

To tarry ‘mid the snows and where lurk beasts in antres frore

And seek the deeply hidden lairs where furious ferals meet!

Where, Country! whither placed must I now hold thy site and seat? 55

Lief would these balls of eyes direct to thee their line of sight,

Which for a while, a little while, would free me from despite.

Must I for ever roam these groves from house and home afar?

Of country, parents, kith and kin (life’s boon) myself debar?

Fly Forum, fly Palestra, fly the Stadium, the Gymnase? 60

Wretch, ah poor wretch, I’m doomed (my soul!) to mourn throughout my


For what of form or figure is, which I failed to enjoy?

I full-grown man, I blooming youth, I stripling, I a boy,

I of Gymnasium erst the bloom, I too of oil the pride:

Warm was my threshold, ever stood my gateways opening wide, 65

My house was ever garlanded and hung with flowery freight,

And couch to quit with rising sun, has ever been my fate:

Now must I Cybebe’s she-slave, priestess of gods, be hight?

I Mænad I, mere bit of self, I neutral barren wight?

I spend my life-tide couch’t beneath high-towering Phrygian peaks? 70

I dwell on Ida’s verdant slopes mottled with snowy streaks,

Where homes the forest-haunting doe, where roams the wildling boar?

Now, now I rue my deed foredone, now, now it irks me sore!”

Whenas from out those roseate lips these accents rapid flew,

Bore them to ears divine consigned a Nuncio true and new; 75

Then Cybebe her lions twain disjoining from their yoke

The left-hand enemy of the herds a-goading thus bespoke:—

“Up feral fell! up, hie with him, see rage his footsteps urge,

See that his fury smite him till he seek the forest verge,

He who with over-freedom fain would fly mine empery. 80

Go, slash thy flank with lashing tail and sense the strokes of thee,

Make the whole mountain to thy roar sound and resound again,

And fiercely toss thy brawny neck that bears the tawny mane!”

So quoth an-angered Cybebe, and yoke with hand untied:

The feral rose in fiery wrath and self-inciting hied, 85

A-charging, roaring through the brake with breaking paws he tore.

But when he reached the humid sands where surges cream the shore,

Spying soft Atys lingering near the marbled pave of sea

He springs: the terror-madded wretch back to the wood doth flee,

Where for the remnant of her days a bondmaid’s life led she. 90

Great Goddess, Goddess Cybebe, Dindymus dame divine,

Far from my house and home thy wrath and wrack, dread mistress mine:

Goad others on with Fury’s goad, others to Ire consign!

Over the vast main borne by swift-sailing ship, Attis, as with hasty hurried foot he reached the Phrygian wood and gained the tree-girt gloomy sanctuary of the Goddess, there roused by rabid rage and mind astray, with sharp-edged flint downwards wards dashed his burden of virility. Then as he felt his limbs were left without their manhood, and the fresh-spilt blood staining the soil, with bloodless hand she hastily hent a tambour light to hold, taborine thine, O Cybebe, thine initiate rite, and with feeble fingers beating the hollowed bullock’s back, she rose up quivering thus to chant to her companions.

“Haste ye together, she-priests, to Cybebe’s dense woods, together haste, ye vagrant herd of the dame Dindymene, ye who inclining towards strange places as exiles, following in my footsteps, led by me, comrades, ye who have faced the ravening sea and truculent main, and have castrated your bodies in your utmost hate of Venus, make glad our mistress speedily with your minds’ mad wanderings. Let dull delay depart from your thoughts, together haste ye, follow to the Phrygian home of Cybebe, to the Phrygian woods of the Goddess, where sounds the cymbal’s voice, where the tambour resounds, where the Phrygian flautist pipes deep notes on the curved reed, where the ivy-clad Maenades furiously toss their heads, where they enact their sacred orgies with shrill-sounding ululations, where that wandering band of the Goddess is wont to flit about: thither ’tis meet to hasten with hurried mystic dance.”

When Attis, spurious woman, had thus chanted to her comity, the chorus straightway shrills with trembling tongues, the light tambour booms, the concave cymbals clang, and the troop swiftly hastes with rapid feet to verdurous Ida. Then raging wildly, breathless, wandering, with brain distraught, hurrieth Attis with her tambour, their leader through dense woods, like an untamed heifer shunning the burden of the yoke: and the swift Gallae press behind their speedy-footed leader. So when the home of Cybebe they reach, wearied out with excess of toil and lack of food they fall in slumber. Sluggish sleep shrouds their eyes drooping with faintness, and raging fury leaves their minds to quiet ease.

But when the sun with radiant eyes from face of gold glanced o’er the white heavens, the firm soil, and the savage sea, and drave away the glooms of night with his brisk and clamorous team, then sleep fast-flying quickly sped away from wakening Attis, and goddess Pasithea received Somnus in her panting bosom. Then when from quiet rest torn, her delirium over, Attis at once recalled to mind her deed, and with lucid thought saw what she had lost, and where she stood, with heaving heart she backwards traced her steps to the landing-place. There, gazing o’er the vast main with tear-filled eyes, with saddened voice in tristful soliloquy thus did she lament her land:

“Mother-land, O my creatress, mother-land, O my begetter, which full sadly I’m forsaking, as runaway serfs are wont from their lords, to the woods of Ida I have hasted on foot, to stay ‘mongst snow and icy dens of ferals, and to wander through the hidden lurking-places of ferocious beasts. Where, or in what part, O mother-land, may I imagine that thou art? My very eyeball craves to fix its glance towards thee, whilst for a brief space my mind is freed from wild ravings. And must I wander o’er these woods far from mine home? From country, goods, friends, and parents, must I be parted? Leave the forum, the palaestra, the race-course, and gymnasium? Wretched, wretched soul, ’tis thine to grieve for ever and for aye. For whatso shape is there, whose kind I have not worn? I (now a woman), I a man, a stripling, and a lad; I was the gymnasium’s flower, I was the pride of the oiled wrestlers: my gates, my friendly threshold, were crowded, my home was decked with floral coronals, when I was wont to leave my couch at sunrise. Now shall I live a ministrant of gods and slave to Cybebe? I a Maenad, I a part of me, I a sterile trunk! Must I range o’er the snow-clad spots of verdurous Ida, and wear out my life ‘neath lofty Phrygian peaks, where stay the sylvan-seeking stag and woodland-wandering boar? Now, now, I grieve the deed I’ve done; now, now, do I repent!”

As the swift sound left those rosy lips, borne by new messenger to gods’ twinned ears, Cybebe, unloosing her lions from their joined yoke, and goading the left-hand foe of the herd, thus doth speak: “Come,” she says, “to work, thou fierce one, cause a madness urge him on, let a fury prick him onwards till he return through our woods, he who over-rashly seeks to fly from my empire. On! thrash thy flanks with thy tail, endure thy strokes; make the whole place reecho with roar of thy bellowings; wildly toss thy tawny mane about thy nervous neck.” Thus ireful Cybebe spoke and loosed the yoke with her hand. The monster, self-exciting, to rapid wrath his heart doth spur, he rushes, he roars, he bursts through the brake with heedless tread. But when he gained the humid verge of the foam-flecked shore, and spied the womanish Attis near the opal sea, he made a bound: the witless wretch fled into the wild wold: there throughout the space of her whole life a bondsmaid did she stay. Great Goddess, Goddess Cybebe, Goddess Dame of Dindymus, far from my home may all thine anger be, O mistress: urge others to such actions, to madness others hound.

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