Quod mihi fortuna casuque oppressus acerbo
Conscriptum hoc lacrimis mittis epistolium,
Naufragum ut eiectum spumantibus aequoris undis
Sublevem et a mortis limine restituam,
Quem neque sancta Venus molli requiescere somno 5
Desertum in lecto caelibe perpetitur,
Nec veterum dulci scriptorum carmine Musae
Oblectant, cum mens anxia pervigilat,
Id gratumst mihi, me quoniam tibi dicis amicum,
Muneraque et Musarum hinc petis et Veneris: 10
Sed tibi ne mea sint ignota incommoda, Mani,
Neu me odisse putes hospitis officium,
Accipe, quis merser fortunae fluctibus ipse,
Ne amplius a misero dona beata petas.
Tempore quo primum vestis mihi tradita purast, 15
Iocundum cum aetas florida ver ageret,
Multa satis lusi: non est dea nescia nostri,
Quae dulcem curis miscet amaritiem:
Sed totum hoc studium luctu fraterna mihi mors
Abstulit. o misero frater adempte mihi, 20
Tu mea tu moriens fregisti commoda, frater,
Tecum una totast nostra sepulta domus,
Omnia tecum una perierunt gaudia nostra,
Quae tuos in vita dulcis alebat amor.
Cuius ego interitu tota de mente fugavi 25
Haec studia atque omnis delicias animi.
Quare, quod scribis Veronae turpe Catullo
Esse, quod hic quivis de meliore nota
Frigida deserto tepefactet membra cubili,
Id, Mani, non est turpe, magis miserumst. 30
Ignosces igitur, si, quae mihi luctus ademit,
Haec tibi non tribuo munera, cum nequeo.
Nam, quod scriptorum non magnast copia apud me,
Hoc fit, quod Romae vivimus: illa domus,
Illa mihi sedes, illic mea carpitur aetas: 35
Huc una ex multis capsula me sequitur.
Quod cum ita sit, nolim statuas nos mente maligna
Id facere aut animo non satis ingenuo,
Quod tibi non utriusque petenti copia factast:
Vltro ego deferrem, copia siqua foret. 40
Non possum reticere, deae, qua me Allius in re
Iuverit aut quantis iuverit officiis:
Nec fugiens saeclis obliviscentibus aetas
Illius hoc caeca nocte tegat studium:
Sed dicam vobis, vos porro dicite multis 45
Milibus et facite haec charta loquatur anus
Notescatque magis mortuos atque magis,
Nec tenuem texens sublimis aranea telam
In deserto Alli nomine opus faciat. 50
Nam, mihi quam dederit duplex Amathusia curam,
Scitis, et in quo me corruerit genere,
Cum tantum arderem quantum Trinacria rupes
Lymphaque in Oetaeis Malia Thermopylis,
Maesta neque adsiduo tabescere lumina fletu 55
Cessarent tristique imbre madere genae.
Qualis in aerii perlucens vertice montis
Rivos muscoso prosilit e lapide,
Qui cum de prona praeceps est valle volutus,
Per medium sensim transit iter populi, 60
Dulci viatori lasso in sudore levamen,
Cum gravis exustos aestus hiulcat agros:
Hic, velut in nigro iactatis turbine nautis
Lenius aspirans aura secunda venit
Iam prece Pollucis, iam Castoris inplorata, 65
Tale fuit nobis Manius auxilium.
Is clusum lato patefecit limite campum,
Isque domum nobis isque dedit dominam,
Ad quam communes exerceremus amores.
Quo mea se molli candida diva pede 70
Intulit et trito fulgentem in limine plantam
Innixa arguta constituit solea,
Coniugis ut quondam flagrans advenit amore
Protesilaeam Laudamia domum
Inceptam frustra, nondum cum sanguine sacro 75
Hostia caelestis pacificasset eros.
Nil mihi tam valde placeat, Rhamnusia virgo,
Quod temere invitis suscipiatur eris.
Quam ieiuna pium desideret ara cruorem,
Doctast amisso Laudamia viro, 80
Coniugis ante coacta novi dimittere collum,
Quam veniens una atque altera rursus hiemps
Noctibus in longis avidum saturasset amorem,
Posset ut abrupto vivere coniugio,
Quod scirant Parcae non longo tempore adesse, 85
Si miles muros isset ad Iliacos:
Nam tum Helenae raptu primores Argivorum
Coeperat ad sese Troia ciere viros,
Troia (nefas) commune sepulcrum Asiae Europaeque,
Troia virum et virtutum omnium acerba cinis, 90
Quaene etiam nostro letum miserabile fratri
Attulit. ei misero frater adempte mihi,
Ei misero fratri iocundum lumen ademptum,
Tecum una totast nostra sepulta domus,
Omnia tecum una perierunt gaudia nostra, 95
Quae tuos in vita dulcis alebat amor.
Quem nunc tam longe non inter nota sepulcra
Nec prope cognatos conpositum cineres,
Sed Troia obscaena, Troia infelice sepultum
Detinet extremo terra aliena solo. 100
Ad quam tum properans fertur simul undique pubes
Graeca penetrales deseruisse focos,
Ne Paris abducta gavisus libera moecha
Otia pacato degeret in thalamo.
Quo tibi tum casu, pulcherrima Laudamia, 105
Ereptumst vita dulcius atque anima
Coniugium: tanto te absorbens vertice amoris
Aestus in abruptum detulerat barathrum,
Quale ferunt Grai Pheneum prope Cylleneum
Siccare emulsa pingue palude solum, 110
Quod quondam caesis montis fodisse medullis
Audit falsiparens Amphitryoniades,
Tempore quo certa Stymphalia monstra sagitta
Perculit imperio deterioris eri,
Pluribus ut caeli tereretur ianua divis, 115
Hebe nec longa virginitate foret.
Sed tuos altus amor barathro fuit altior illo,
Qui durum domitam ferre iugum docuit:
Nam nec tam carum confecto aetate parenti
Vna caput seri nata nepotis alit, 120
Qui, cum divitiis vix tandem inventus avitis
Nomen testatas intulit in tabulas,
Inpia derisi gentilis gaudia tollens
Suscitat a cano volturium capiti:
Nec tantum niveo gavisast ulla columbo 125
Conpar, quae multo dicitur inprobius
Oscula mordenti semper decerpere rostro,
Quam quae praecipue multivolast mulier.
Sed tu horum magnos vicisti sola furores,
Vt semel es flavo conciliata viro. 130
Aut nihil aut paulo cui tum concedere digna
Lux mea se nostrum contulit in gremium,
Quam circumcursans hinc illinc saepe Cupido
Fulgebat crocina candidus in tunica.
Quae tamen etsi uno non est contenta Catullo, 135
Rara verecundae furta feremus erae,
Ne nimium simus stultorum more molesti.
Saepe etiam Iuno, maxima caelicolum,
Coniugis in culpa flagrantem conquoquit iram,
Noscens omnivoli plurima furta Iovis. 140
Atquei nec divis homines conponier aequomst,
Ingratum tremuli tolle parentis onus.
Nec tamen illa mihi dextra deducta paterna
Fragrantem Assyrio venit odore domum,
Sed furtiva dedit muta munuscula nocte, 145
Ipsius ex ipso dempta viri gremio.
Quare illud satis est, si nobis is datur unis,
Quem lapide illa diem candidiore notat.
Hoc tibi, qua potui, confectum carmine munus
Pro multis, Alli, redditur officiis, 150
Ne vostrum scabra tangat rubigine nomen
Haec atque illa dies atque alia atque alia.
Huc addent divi quam plurima, quae Themis olim
Antiquis solitast munera ferre piis:
Sitis felices et tu simul et tua vita 155
Et domus, ipsi in qua lusimus et domina,
Et qui principio nobis te tradidit Anser,
A quo sunt primo mi omnia nata bona.
Et longe ante omnes mihi quae me carior ipsost,
Lux mea, qua viva vivere dulce mihist. 160
When to me sore opprest by bitter chance of misfortune
This thy letter thou send’st written wi’ blotting of tears,
So might I save thee flung by spuming billows of ocean,
Shipwreckt, rescuing life snatcht from the threshold of death;
Eke neither Venus the Holy to rest in slumber’s refreshment 5
Grants thee her grace on couch lying deserted and lone,
Nor can the Muses avail with dulcet song of old writers
Ever delight thy mind sleepless in anxious care;
Grateful be this to my thought since thus thy friend I’m entitled,
Hence of me seekest thou gifts Muses and Venus can give: 10
But that bide not unknown to thee my sorrows (O Manius!)
And lest office of host I should be holden to hate,
Learn how in Fortune’s deeps I chance myself to be drownèd,
Nor fro’ the poor rich boons furthermore prithee require.
What while first to myself the pure-white garment was given, 15
Whenas my flowery years flowed in fruition of spring,
Much I disported enow, nor ‘bode I a stranger to Goddess
Who with our cares is lief sweetness of bitter to mix:
Yet did a brother’s death pursuits like these to my sorrow
Bid for me cease: Oh, snatcht brother! from wretchedest me. 20
Then, yea, thou by thy dying hast broke my comfort, O brother;
Buried together wi’ thee lieth the whole of our house;
Perisht along wi’ thyself all gauds and joys of our life-tide,
Douce love fostered by thee during the term of our days.
After thy doom of death fro’ mind I banishèd wholly 25
Studies like these, and all lending a solace to soul;
Wherefore as to thy writ:—“Verona’s home for Catullus
Bringeth him shame, for there men of superior mark
Must on a deserted couch fain chafe their refrigerate limbs:”
Such be no shame (Manius!): rather ’tis matter of ruth. 30
Pardon me, then, wilt thou an gifts bereft me by grieving
These I send not to thee since I avail not presènt.
For, that I own not here abundant treasure of writings
Has for its cause, in Rome dwell I; and there am I homed,
There be my seat, and there my years are gathered to harvest; 35
Out of book-cases galore here am I followed by one.
This being thus, nill I thou deem ’tis spirit malignant
Acts in such wise or mind lacking of liberal mood
That to thy prayer both gifts be not in plenty supplièd:
Willingly both had I sent, had I the needed supply. 40
Nor can I (Goddesses!) hide in what things Allius sent me
Aid, forbear to declare what was the aidance he deigned:
Neither shall fugitive Time from centuries ever oblivious
Veil in the blinds of night friendship he lavisht on me.
But will I say unto you what you shall say to the many 45
Thousands in turn, and make paper, old crone, to proclaim
And in his death become noted the more and the more,
Nor let spider on high that weaves her delicate webbing
Practise such labours o’er Allius’ obsolete name. 50
For that ye weet right well what care Amathúsia two-faced
Gave me, and how she dasht every hope to the ground,
Whenas I burnt so hot as burn Trinacria’s rocks or
Mallia stream that feeds Oetéan Thermopylæ;
Nor did these saddened eyes to be dimmed by assiduous weeping 55
Cease, and my cheeks with showers ever in sadness be wet.
E’en as from aëry heights of mountain springeth a springlet
Limpidest leaping forth from rocking felted with moss,
Then having headlong rolled the prone-laid valley downpouring,
Populous region amid wendeth his gradual way, 60
Sweetest solace of all to the sweltering traveller wayworn,
Whenas the heavy heat fissures the fiery fields;
Or, as to seamen lost in night of whirlwind a-glooming
Gentle of breath there comes fairest and favouring breeze,
Pollux anon being prayed, nor less vows offered to Castor:— 65
Such was the aidance to us Manius pleased to afford.
He to my narrow domains far wider limits laid open,
He too gave me the house, also he gave me the dame,
She upon whom both might exert them, partners in love deeds.
Thither graceful of gait pacing my goddess white-hued 70
Came and with gleaming foot on the worn sole of the threshold
Stood she and prest its slab creaking her sandals the while;
E’en so with love enflamed in olden days to her helpmate,
Laodamía the home Protesiléan besought,
Sought, but in vain, for ne’er wi’ sacrificial bloodshed 75
Victims appeasèd the Lords ruling Celestial seats:
Never may I so joy in aught (Rhamnusian Virgin!)
That I engage in deed maugrè the will of the Lords.
How starved altar can crave for gore in piety pourèd,
Laodamia learnt taught by the loss of her man, 80
Driven perforce to loose the neck of new-wedded help-mate,
Whenas a winter had gone, nor other winter had come,
Ere in the long dark nights her greeding love was so sated
That she had power to live maugrè a marriage broke off,
Which, as the Parcæ knew, too soon was fated to happen 85
Should he a soldier sail bound for those Ilian walls.
For that by Helena’s rape, the Champion-leaders of Argives
Unto herself to incite Troy had already begun,
Troy (ah, curst be the name) common tomb of Asia and Europe,
Troy to sad ashes that turned valour and valorous men! 90
Eke to our brother beloved, destruction ever lamented
Brought she: O Brother for aye lost unto wretchedmost me,
Oh, to thy wretchedmost brother lost the light of his life-tide,
Buried together wi’ thee lieth the whole of our house:
Perisht along wi’ thyself forthright all joys we enjoyèd, 95
Douce joys fed by thy love during the term of our days;
Whom now art tombed so far nor ‘mid familiar pavestones
Nor wi’ thine ashes stored near to thy kith and thy kin,
But in that Troy obscene, that Troy of ill-omen, entombèd
Holds thee, an alien earth-buried in uttermost bourne. 100
Thither in haste so hot (’tis said) from allwhere the Youth-hood
Grecian, farèd in hosts forth of their hearths and their homes,
Lest with a stolen punk with fullest of pleasure should Paris
Fairly at leisure and ease sleep in the pacific bed.
Such was the hapless chance, most beautiful Laodamia, 105
Tare fro’ thee dearer than life, dearer than spirit itself,
Him, that husband, whose love in so mighty a whirlpool of passion
Whelmed thee absorbèd and plunged deep in its gulfy abyss,
E’en as the Grecians tell hard by Phenéus of Cylléne
Drained was the marish and dried, forming the fattest of soils, 110
Whenas in days long done to delve through marrow of mountains
Darèd, falsing his sire, Amphtryóniades;
What time sure of his shafts he smote Stymphalian monsters
Slaying their host at the hest dealt by a lord of less worth,
So might the gateway of Heaven be trodden by more of the godheads, 115
Nor might Hébé abide longer to maidenhood doomed.
Yet was the depth of thy love far deeper than deepest of marish
Which the hard mistress’s yoke taught him so tamely to bear;
Never was head so dear to a grandsire wasted by life-tide
Whenas one daughter alone a grandson so tardy had reared, 120
Who being found against hope to inherit riches of forbears
In the well-witnessed Will haply by name did appear,
And ‘spite impious hopes of baffled claimant to kinship
Startles the Vulturine grip clutching the frost-bitten poll.
Nor with such rapture e’er joyed his mate of snowy-hued plumage 125
Dove-mate, albeit aye wont in her immoderate heat
Said be the bird to snatch hot kisses with beak ever billing,
As diddest thou:— yet is Woman multivolent still.
But thou ‘vailedest alone all these to conquer in love-lowe,
When conjoinèd once more unto thy yellow-haired spouse. 130
Worthy of yielding to her in naught or ever so little
Came to the bosom of us she, the fair light of my life,
Round whom fluttering oft the Love–God hither and thither
Shone with a candid sheen robed in his safflower dress.
She though never she bide with one Catullus contented, 135
Yet will I bear with the rare thefts of my dame the discreet,
Lest over-irk I give which still of fools is the fashion.
Often did Juno eke Queen of the Heavenly host
Boil wi’ the rabidest rage at dire default of a husband
Learning the manifold thefts of her omnivolent Jove, 140
Yet with the Gods mankind ’tis nowise righteous to liken,
Rid me of graceless task fit for a tremulous sire.
Yet was she never to me by hand paternal committed
Whenas she came to my house reeking Assyrian scents;
Nay, in the darkness of night her furtive favours she deigned me, 145
Self-willed taking herself from very mate’s very breast.
Wherefore I hold it enough since given to us and us only
Boon of that day with Stone whiter than wont she denotes.
This to thee — all that I can — this offering couched in verses
(Allius!) as my return give I for service galore; 150
So wi’ the seabriny rust your name may never be sullied
This day and that nor yet other and other again.
Hereto add may the Gods all good gifts, which Themis erewhiles
Wont on the pious of old from her full store to bestow:
Blest be the times of the twain, thyself and she who thy life is, 155
Also the home wherein dallied we, no less the Dame,
Anser to boot who first of mortals brought us together,
Whence from beginning all good Fortunes that blest us were born.
Lastly than every else one dearer than self and far dearer,
Light of my life who alive living to me can endear. 160
That when, opprest by fortune and in grievous case, thou didst send me this epistle o’erwrit with tears, that I might bear up shipwrecked thee tossed by the foaming waves of the sea, and restore thee from the threshold of death; thou whom neither sacred Venus suffers to repose in soft slumber, desolate on a a lonely couch, nor do the Muses divert with the sweet song of ancient poets, whilst thy anxious mind keeps vigil:— this is grateful to me, since thou dost call me thy friend, and dost seek hither the gifts of the Muses and of Venus. But that my troubles may not be unknown to thee, O Manius, nor thou deem I shun the office of host, hear how I am whelmed in the waves of that same fortune, nor further seek joyful gifts from a wretched one. In that time when the white vestment was first handed to me, and my florid age was passing in jocund spring, much did I sport enow: nor was the goddess unknown to us who mixes bitter-sweet with our cares. But my brother’s death plunged all this pursuit into mourning. O brother, taken from my unhappy self; thou by thy dying hast broken my ease, O brother; all our house is buried with thee; with thee have perished the whole of our joys, which thy sweet love nourished in thy lifetime. Thou lost, I have dismissed wholly from mind these studies and every delight of mind. Wherefore, as to what thou writest, “’Tis shameful for Catullus to be at Verona, for there anyone of utmost note must chafe his frigid limbs on a desolate couch;” that, Manius, is not shameful; rather ’tis a pity. Therefore, do thou forgive, if what grief has snatched from me, these gifts, I do not bestow on thee, because I am unable. For, that there is no great store of writings with me arises from this, that we live at Rome: there is my home, there is my hall, thither my time is passed; hither but one of my book-cases follows me. As ’tis thus, I would not that thou deem we act so from ill-will or from a mind not sufficiently ingenuous, that ample store is not forthcoming to either of thy desires: both would I grant, had I the wherewithal. Nor can I conceal, goddesses, in what way Allius has aided me, or with how many good offices he has assisted me; nor shall fleeting time with its forgetful centuries cover with night’s blindness this care of his. But I tell it to you, and do ye declare it to many thousands, and make this paper, grown old, speak of it * * * * And let him be more and more noted when dead, nor let the spider aloft, weaving her thin-drawn web, carry on her work over the neglected name of Allius. For you know what anxiety of mind wily Amathusia gave me, and in what manner she overthrew me, when I was burning like the Trinacrian rocks, or the Malian fount in Oetaean Thermopylae; nor did my piteous eyes cease to dissolve with continual weeping, nor my cheeks with sad showers to be bedewed. As the pellucid stream gushes forth from the moss-grown rock on the aerial crest of the mountain, which when it has rolled headlong prone down the valley, softly wends its way through the midst of the populous parts, sweet solace to the wayfarer sweating with weariness, when the oppressive heat cracks the burnt-up fields agape: or, as to sailors tempest-tossed in black whirlpool, there cometh a favourable and a gently-moving breeze, Pollux having been prayed anon, and Castor alike implored: of such kind was Manius’ help to us. He with a wider limit laid open my closed field; he gave us a home and its mistress, on whom we both might exercise our loves in common. Thither with gracious gait my bright-hued goddess betook herself, and pressed her shining sole on the worn threshold with creaking of sandal; as once came Laodamia, flaming with love for her consort, to the home of Protesilaus — a beginning of naught! for not yet with sacred blood had a victim made propitiate the lords of the heavens. May nothing please me so greatly, Rhamnusian virgin, that I should act thus heedlessly against the will of those lords! How the thirsty altar craves for sacrificial blood Laodamia was taught by the loss of her husband, being compelled to abandon the neck of her new spouse when one winter was past, before another winter had come, in whose long nights she might so glut her greedy love, that she could have lived despite her broken marriage-yoke, which the Parcae knew would not be long distant, if her husband as soldier should fare to the Ilian walls. For by Helena’s rape Troy had begun to put the Argive Chiefs in the field; Troy accurst, the common grave of Asia and of Europe, Troy, the sad ashes of heroes and of every noble deed, that also lamentably brought death to our brother. O brother taken from unhappy me! O jocund light taken from thy unhappy brother! in thy one grave lies all our house, in thy one grave have perished all our joys, which thy sweet love did nurture during life. Whom now is laid so far away, not amongst familiar tombs nor near the ashes of his kindred, but obscene Troy, malign Troy, an alien earth, holds thee entombed in its remote soil. Thither, ’tis said, hastening together from all parts, the Grecian manhood forsook their hearths and homes, lest Paris enjoy his abducted trollop with freedom and leisure in a peaceful bed. Such then was thy case, loveliest Laodamia, to be bereft of husband sweeter than life, and than soul; thou being sucked in so great a whirlpool of love, its eddy submerged thee in its steep abyss, like (so folk say) to the Graian gulph near Pheneus of Cyllene with its fat swamp’s soil drained and dried, which aforetime the falsely-born Amphitryoniades dared to hew through the marrow of cleft mountains, at the time when he smote down the Stymphalian monsters with sure shafts by the command of his inferior lord, so that the heavenly portal might be pressed by a greater number of deities, nor Hebe longer remain in her virginity. But deeper than that abyss was thy deep love which taught [thy husband] to bear his lady’s forceful yoke. For not so dear to the spent age of the grandsire is the late born grandchild an only daughter rears, who, long-wished-for, at length inherits the ancestral wealth, his name duly set down in the attested tablets; and casting afar the impious hopes of the baffled next-of-kin, scares away the vulture from the whitened head; nor so much does any dove-mate rejoice in her snow-white consort (though, ’tis averred, more shameless than most in continually plucking kisses with nibbling beak) as thou dost, though woman is especially inconstant. But thou alone didst surpass the great frenzies of these, when thou wast once united to thy yellow-haired husband. Worthy to yield to whom in naught or in little, my light brought herself to my bosom, round whom Cupid, often running hither thither, gleamed lustrous-white in saffron-tinted tunic. Still although she is not content with Catullus alone, we will suffer the rare frailties of our coy lady, lest we may be too greatly unbearable, after the manner of fools. Often even Juno, greatest of heaven-dwellers, boiled with flaring wrath at her husband’s default, wotting the host of frailties of all-wishful Jove. Yet ’tis not meet to match men with the gods, * * * * bear up the ungrateful burden of a tremulous parent. Yet she was not handed to me by a father’s right hand when she came to my house fragrant with Assyrian odour, but she gave me her stealthy favours in the mute night, withdrawing of her own will from the bosom of her spouse. Wherefore that is enough if to us alone she gives that day which she marks with a whiter stone. This gift to thee, all that I can, of verse completed, is requital, Allius, for many offices, so that this day and that, and other and other of days may not tarnish your name with scabrous rust. Hither may the gods add gifts full many, which Themis aforetimes was wont to bear to the pious of old. May ye be happy, both thou and thy life’s-love together, and thy home in which we have sported, and its mistress, and Anser who in the beginning brought thee to us, from whom all my good fortunes were first born, and lastly she whose very self is dearer to me than all these — my light, whom living, ’tis sweet to me to live.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48