The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus


Omnia qui magni dispexit lumina mundi,

Qui stellarum ortus comperit atque obitus,

Flammeus ut rapidi solis nitor obscuretur,

Vt cedant certis sidera temporibus,

Vt Triviam furtim sub Latmia saxa relegans 5

Dulcis amor gyro devocet aerio,

Idem me ille Conon caelesti in lumine vidit

E Beroniceo vertice caesariem

Fulgentem clare, quam cunctis illa deorum

Levia protendens brachia pollicitast, 10

Qua rex tempestate novo auctus hymenaeo

Vastatum finis iverat Assyrios,

Dulcia nocturnae portans vestigia rixae,

Quam de virgineis gesserat exuviis.

Estne novis nuptis odio venus? anne parentum 15

Frustrantur falsis gaudia lacrimulis,

Vbertim thalami quas intra lumina fundunt?

Non, ita me divi, vera gemunt, iuerint.

Id mea me multis docuit regina querellis

Invisente novo praelia torva viro. 20

An tu non orbum luxti deserta cubile,

Sed fratris cari flebile discidium?

Quam penitus maestas excedit cura medullas!

Vt tibi tum toto pectore sollicitae

Sensibus ereptis mens excidit! at te ego certe 25

Cognoram a parva virgine magnanimam.

Anne bonum oblita’s facinus, quo regium adepta’s

Coniugium, quo non fortius ausit alis?

Sed tum maesta virum mittens quae verba locuta’s!

Iuppiter, ut tristi lumina saepe manu! 30

Quis te mutavit tantus deus? an quod amantes

Non longe a caro corpore abesse volunt?

Atque ibi me cunctis pro dulci coniuge divis

Non sine taurino sanguine pollicita’s

Sei reditum tetullisset. is haut in tempore longo 35

Captam Asiam Aegypti finibus addiderat.

Quis ego pro factis caelesti reddita coetu

Pristina vota novo munere dissoluo.

Invita, o regina, tuo de vertice cessi,

Invita: adiuro teque tuomque caput, 40

Digna ferat quod siquis inaniter adiurarit:

Sed qui se ferro postulet esse parem?

Ille quoque eversus mons est, quem maximum in orbi

Progenies Thiae clara supervehitur,

Cum Medi peperere novom mare, cumque inventus 45

Per medium classi barbara navit Athon.

Quid facient crines, cum ferro talia cedant?

Iuppiter, ut Chalybon omne genus pereat,

Et qui principio sub terra quaerere venas

Institit ac ferri frangere duritiem! 50

Abiunctae paulo ante comae mea fata sorores

Lugebant, cum se Memnonis Aethiopis

Vnigena inpellens nictantibus aera pennis

Obtulit Arsinoes Locridos ales equos,

Isque per aetherias me tollens avolat umbras 55

Et Veneris casto collocat in gremio.

Ipsa suum Zephyritis eo famulum legarat,

Graia Canopieis incola litoribus.

+ Hi dii ven ibi vario ne solum in lumine caeli

Ex Ariadneis aurea temporibus 60

Fixa corona foret, sed nos quoque fulgeremus

Devotae flavi verticis exuviae,

Vvidulam a fletu cedentem ad templa deum me

Sidus in antiquis diva novom posuit:

Virginis et saevi contingens namque Leonis 65

Lumina, Callisto iuncta Lycaoniae,

Vertor in occasum, tardum dux ante Booten,

Qui vix sero alto mergitur Oceano.

Sed quamquam me nocte premunt vestigia divom,

Lux autem canae Tethyi restituit, 70

(Pace tua fari hic liceat, Rhamnusia virgo,

Namque ego non ullo vera timore tegam,

Nec si me infestis discerpent sidera dictis,

Condita quin verei pectoris evoluam):

Non his tam laetor rebus, quam me afore semper, 75

Afore me a dominae vertice discrucior,

Quicum ego, dum virgo curis fuit omnibus expers,

Vnguenti Suriei milia multa bibi.

Nunc vos, optato quom iunxit lumine taeda,

Non prius unanimis corpora coniugibus 80

Tradite nudantes reiecta veste papillas,

Quam iocunda mihi munera libet onyx,

Voster onyx, casto petitis quae iura cubili.

Sed quae se inpuro dedit adulterio,

Illius a mala dona levis bibat irrita pulvis: 85

Namque ego ab indignis praemia nulla peto.

Sed magis, o nuptae, semper concordia vostras

Semper amor sedes incolat adsiduos.

Tu vero, regina, tuens cum sidera divam

Placabis festis luminibus Venerem, 90

Vnguinis expertem non siris esse tuam me,

Sed potius largis adfice muneribus.

Sidera corruerent utinam! coma regia fiam:

Proximus Hydrochoi fulgeret Oarion!


(Loquitur) Berenice’s Lock.

He who every light of the sky world’s vastness inspected,

He who mastered in mind risings and settings of stars,

How of the fast rising sun obscured be the fiery splendours,

How at the seasons assured vanish the planets from view,

How Diana to lurk thief-like ‘neath Latmian stonefields, 5

Summoned by sweetness of Love, comes from her aëry gyre;

That same Cónon espied among lights Celestial shining

Me, Berenice’s Hair, which, from her glorious head,

Fulgent in brightness afar, to many a host of the Godheads

Stretching her soft smooth arms she vowed to devoutly bestow, 10

What time strengthened by joy of new-made wedlock the monarch

Bounds of Assyrian land hurried to plunder and pill;

Bearing of nightly strife new signs and traces delicious,

Won in the war he waged virginal trophies to win.

Loathsome is Venus to all new-paired? Else why be the parents’ 15

Pleasure frustrated aye by the false flow of tears

Poured in profusion amid illuminate genial chamber?

Nay not real the groans; ever so help me the Gods!

This truth taught me my Queen by force of manifold ‘plainings

After her new groom hied facing the fierceness of fight. 20

Yet so thou mournedst not for a bed deserted of husband,

As for a brother beloved wending on woefullest way?

How was the marrow of thee consumedly wasted by sorrow!

So clean forth of thy breast, rackt with solicitous care,

Mind fled, sense being reft! But I have known thee for certain 25

E’en from young virginal years lofty of spirit to be.

Hast thou forgotten the feat whose greatness won thee a royal

Marriage — a deed so prow, never a prower was dared?

Yet how sad was the speech thou spakest, thy husband farewelling!

(Jupiter!) Often thine eyes wiping with sorrowful hand! 30

What manner God so great thus changed thee? Is it that lovers

Never will tarry afar parted from person beloved?

Then unto every God on behalf of thy helpmate, thy sweeting,

Me thou gavest in vow, not without bloodshed of bulls,

If he be granted return, and long while nowise delaying, 35

Captive Asia he add unto Egyptian bounds.

Now for such causes I, enrolled in host of the Heavens,

By a new present, discharge promise thou madest of old:

Maugrè my will, O Queen, my place on thy head I relinquished,

Maugrè my will, I attest, swearing by thee and thy head; 40

Penalty due shall befall whoso makes oath to no purpose.

Yet who assumes the vaunt forceful as iron to be?

E’en was that mount o’erthrown, though greatest in universe, where


Thía’s illustrious race speeded its voyage to end,

Whenas the Medes brought forth new sea, and barbarous youth-hood 45

Urged an Armada to swim traversing middle-Athos.

What can be done by Hair when such things yield them to Iron?

Jupiter! Grant Chalybon perish the whole of the race,

Eke who in primal times ore seeking under the surface

Showed th’ example, and spalled iron however so hard. 50

Shortly before I was shorn my sister tresses bewailèd

Lot of me, e’en as the sole brother to Memnon the Black,

Winnowing upper air wi’ feathers flashing and quiv’ring,

Chloris’ wing-borne steed, came before Arsinoë,

Whence upraising myself he flies through aëry shadows, 55

And in chaste Venus’ breast drops he the present he bears.

Eke Zephyritis had sent, for the purpose trusted, her bondsman,

Settler of Grecian strain on the Canopian strand.

So willèd various Gods, lest sole ‘mid lights of the Heavens

Should Ariadne’s crown taken from temples of her 60

Glitter in gold, but we not less shine fulgent in splendour,

We the consecrate spoils shed by a blond-hued head,

Even as weeping-wet sought I the fanes of Celestials,

Placed me the Goddess a new light amid starlights of old:

For with Virgo in touch and joining the furious Lion’s 65

Radiance with Callisto, maid of Lycáon beloved,

Wind I still to the west, conducting tardy Boötes,

Who unwilling and slow must into Ocean merge.

Yet though press me o’night the pacing footprints of Godheads,

Tethys, hoary of hair, ever regains me by day. 70

(Lend me thy leave to speak such words, Rhamnusian Virgin,

Verities like unto these never in fear will I veil;

Albeit every star asperse me with enemy’s censure,

Secrets in soothfast heart hoarded perforce I reveal.)

Nowise gladdens me so this state as absence torments me, 75

Absence doomèd for aye ta’en fro’ my mistress’s head,

Where I was wont (though she such cares unknew in her girlhood)

Many a thousand scents, Syrian unguents, to sip.

Now do you pair conjoined by the longed-for light of the torches,

Earlier yield not selves unto unanimous wills 80

Nor wi’ the dresses doft your barèd nipples encounter,

Ere shall yon onyx-vase pour me libations glad,

Onyx yours, ye that seek only rights of virtuous bed-rite.

But who yieldeth herself unto advowtry impure,

Ah! may her loathèd gifts in light dust uselessly soak, 85

For of unworthy sprite never a gift I desire.

Rather, O new-mated brides, be concord aye your companion,

Ever let constant love dwell in the dwellings of you.

Yet when thou sightest, O Queen, the Constellations, I pray thee,

Every festal day Venus the Goddess appease; 90

Nor of thy unguent-gifts allow myself to be lacking,

Nay, do thou rather add largeliest increase to boons.

Would but the stars down fall! Could I of my Queen be the hair-lock,

Neighbour to Hydrochois e’en let Oarion shine.

He who scanned all the lights of the great firmament, who ascertained the rising and the setting of the stars, how the flaming splendour of the swift sun was endarkened, how the planets disappear at certain seasons, how sweet love with stealth detaining Trivia beneath the Latmian crags, draws her away from her airy circuit, that same Conon saw me amongst celestial light, the hair from Berenice’s head, gleaming with brightness, which she outstretching graceful arms did devote to the whole of the gods, when the king flushed with the season of new wedlock had gone to lay waste the Assyrian borders, bearing the sweet traces of nightly contests, in which he had borne away her virginal spoils. Is Venus abhorred by new-made brides? Why be the parents’ joys turned aside by feigned tears, which they shed copiously amid the lights of the nuptial chamber? Untrue are their groans, by the gods I swear! This did my queen teach me by her many lamentings, when her bridegroom set out for stern warfare. Yet thou didst not mourn the widowhood of desolate couch, but the tearful separation from a dear brother? How care made sad inroads in thy very marrow! In so much that thine whole bosom being agitated, and thy senses being snatched from thee, thy mind wandered! But in truth I have known thee great of heart ever since thou wast a little maiden. Hast thou forgotten that noble deed, by which thou didst gain a regal wedlock, than which none dared other deeds bolder? Yet what grieving words didst thou speak when bidding thy bridegroom farewell! Jupiter! as with sad hand often thine eyes thou didst dry! What mighty god changed thee? Was it that lovers are unwilling to be long absent from their dear one’s body? Then didst thou devote me to the whole of the gods on thy sweet consort’s behalf, not without blood of bullocks, should he be granted safe return. In no long time he added captive Asia to the Egyptian boundaries. Wherefore for these reasons I, bestowed ‘midst the celestial host, by a new gift fulfil thine ancient promise. With grief, O queen, did I quit thy brow, with grief: I swear to thee and to thine head; fit ill befall whosoever shall swear lightly: but who may bear himself peer with steel? Even that mountain was swept away, the greatest on earth, over which Thia’s illustrious progeny passed, when the Medes created a new sea, and the barbarian youth sailed its fleet through the middle of Athos. What can locks of hair do, when such things yield to iron? Jupiter! may the whole race of the Chalybes perish, and whoever first questing the veins ‘neath the earth harassed its hardness, breaking it through with iron. Just before severance my sister locks were mourning my fate, when Ethiop Memnon’s brother, the winged steed, beating the air with fluttering pennons, appeared before Locrian Arsinoe, and this one bearing me up, flies through aethereal shadows and lays me in the chaste bosom of Venus. Him Zephyritis herself had dispatched as her servant, a Grecian settler on the Canopian shores. For ’twas the wish of many gods that not alone in heaven’s light should the golden coronet from Ariadne’s temples stay fixed, but that we also should gleam, the spoils devote from thy golden-yellow head; when humid with weeping I entered the temples of the gods, the Goddess placed me, a new star, amongst the ancient ones. For a-touching the Virgin’s and the fierce Lion’s gleams, hard by Callisto of Lycaon, I turn westwards fore-guiding the slow-moving Bootes who sinks unwillingly and late into the vasty ocean. But although the footsteps of the gods o’erpress me in the night-tide, and the daytime restoreth me to the white-haired Tethys, (grant me thy grace to speak thus, O Rhamnusian virgin, for I will not hide the truth through any fear, even if the stars revile me with ill words yet I will unfold the pent-up feelings from truthful breast) I am not so much rejoiced at these things as I am tortured by being for ever parted, parted from my lady’s head, with whom I (though whilst a virgin she was free from all such cares) drank many a thousand of Syrian scents.

Now do you, whom the gladsome light of the wedding torches hath joined, yield not your bodies to your desiring husbands nor throw aside your vestments and bare your bosom’s nipples, before your onyx cup brings me jocund gifts, your onyx, ye who seek the dues of chaste marriage-bed. But she who giveth herself to foul adultery, may the light-lying dust responselessly drink her vile gifts, for I seek no offerings from folk that do ill. But rather, O brides, may concord always be yours, and constant love ever dwell in your homes. But when thou, O queen, whilst gazing at the stars, shalt propitiate the goddess Venus with festal torch-lights, let not me, thine own, be left lacking of unguent, but rather gladden me with large gifts. Stars fall in confusion! So that I become a royal tress, Orion might gleam in Aquarius’ company.

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