The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus


Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum,

Lesbia, nec prae me velle tenere Iovem.

Dilexi tum te non tantum ut volgus amicam,

Sed pater ut gnatos diligit et generos.

Nunc te cognovi: quare etsi inpensius uror, 5

Multo mi tamen es vilior et levior.

Qui potisest? inquis. quod amantem iniuria talis

Cogit amare magis, sed bene velle minus.


To Lesbia the False.

Wont thou to vaunt whilòme of knowing only Catullus

(Lesbia!) nor to prefer Jupiter’s self to myself.

Then, too, I loved thee well, not as vulgar wretch his mistress

But as a father his sons loves and his sons by the law.

Now have I learnt thee aright; wherefor though burn I the hotter, 5

Lighter and viler by far thou unto me hast become.

“How can this be?” dost ask: ’tis that such injury ever

Forces the hotter to love, also the less well to will.

Once thou didst profess to know but Catullus, Lesbia, nor wouldst hold Jove before me. I loved thee then, not only as a churl his mistress, but as a father loves his own sons and sons-inlaw. Now I do know thee: wherefore if more strongly I burn, thou art nevertheless to me far viler and of lighter thought. How may this be? thou askest. Because such wrongs drive a lover to greater passion, but to less wishes of welfare.

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