Monday, November 27, 2006

Some ribald verses (*Updated*)

For your enjoyment, and for my own benefit, I hereby translate a few choice selections from poems of that knave Catullus. Hard to believe he was a contemporary of the stern Cicero! (Apologies to anyone who might be offended by truly nasty language. I have chosen words I wouldn't normally use for the sake of authenticity.)

(Update: I've softened some of the most extreme language this morning. It didn't sit well with me. You should see some of the other translations floating around! It is here perhaps that a "fold" would come in handy, as other blogs have. I thought this whole enterprise would be worth doing because a) I literally have to translate all these poems, b) they're incredidbly funny, and c) Catullus is considered one of the greatest poets of all time. Really, we're dealing with "high art" here.)

Carmen 16:

I'm gonna fuck you in the ass and make you suck me off,
Aurelius you bugger and Furius you poofter,
You who think I'm a pussy because of my verses,
Which are tender little ordeals.
It is fitting for a poet to be pure and chaste,
But his verses need not be,
Which possess wit and charm,
If they are tender and not too prudish,
And which can stir up an itch,
Not in young boys, I say, but in these hairy dudes,
Who can't rouse their heavy shlongs.
You, because you have read of my many thousands of kisses,
You think I'm barely a man?
I'm gonna fuck you in the ass and make you suck me off.

Carmen 25:

Thallus, you sodomite, softer than rabbit fur and goose down,
Or a dainty little earlobe,
Or an old man's droopy cock, covered in cobwebs.

Carmen 33:

O greatest of the thieves who hang around the bath houses,
Vibennius the father, and his catamite son
(For the father has a foul hand,
and the son a devouring butthole)
--Why don't you go off into exile or go to hell,
Since indeed the thieveries of father are well known
To the people, and you, his son,
Can't peddle your hairy buttocks for a dime?

Carmen 69:

Don't marvel, Rufus, that no girl wants to place her
Soft thighs beneath you,
Not even if you try to seduce her with a gift of expensive clothing
Or the enticements of a bright little stone.
A certain wicked rumor injures you,
According to which a fierce goat lives in the valley of your armpits.
Everyone fears this; nor is it strange: for it's a terribly strong beast,
And no pretty girl would go to bed with it.
Therefore either destroy this cruel disease of the nostrils,
Or stop wondering why they all run away.

Carmen 74:

Gellius had heard that an uncle is accustomed to chastise,
Should anyone say or do anything naughty.
So that this wouldn't happen to him, he fucked his uncle's wife
And made him swear by Harpocrates, the god of silence.
Now he does what he wants; even if he should make his own
Uncle give him head, the old man won't say a word.

Carmen 80:

What should I say, Gellius, as to why your rosy lips
Are whiter than a winter's snow,
When you leave home at daybreak and when the eighth hour
Wakes you up from a soft nap on a long day?
There's an answer, though I know not what--
Or does the rumor mutter truthfully that you swallow
Great big boners at men's waists?
So it is... They shout that miserable Victor's groin has burst,
And that your lips are marked with the drained out man-juice.

Carmen 97:

I didn't think it made a difference, God help me,
Whether I smelled Aemilius' mouth or his asshole.
This one's no cleaner, and that one's no dirtier,
But actually his ass is cleaner and better:
It doesn't have any teeth. His mouth has teeth
Half a yard long, and gums like an old ox-cart, I swear,
And what's more he usually holds his mouth open
Like the spread cunt of a mule when she pisses in the heat.
He fucks a lot of girls and fancies himself a charming fellow,
But isn't he sent as a slave to the mill to drive the ass?
If any woman should even touch him,
Shouldn't we think her able to lick a diseased hangman's anus?

8 Comments:

Blogger The Sheriff said...

This has to do with neoconservative pundits or Republicans in some way that I haven't quite divined, but it has to

5:05 AM  
Blogger Robot said...

Wowsers. I guess this will finally end the long debate over the origins of the sick Roman-Fascist "Salo" period: Romans.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Robot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Scantron said...

I've been alerted to this excellent poem by Yeats, which sums up pretty nicely Catullus and we philologists' relationship with him:

Scholars

Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love's despair
To flatter beauty's ignorant ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbor knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

1:29 AM  
Blogger Austin 5-000 said...

Yeah, Scantron, but what do you think about Keats? How does this poem make you feel?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Sebonde said...

By the way, you overlooked the nine consecutive fucks of Carmen 32.

Catullus wrote clean poems as well. This is my translation of 51, which is, of course, itself a translation of Sappho. I would like to dedicate this to dchan, who I hope is having a wonderful time in the City of Lights:

Equal to a God he seems to me,
Or, if it be not blasphemy,
He surpasses all the Gods, too,
For he gets to sit next to you.

And listens to your sweet, sweet laughter,
Which rips all the sense out of me
For nothing is left thereafter,
When I see you, I prattle mindlessly.

But the tongue withers into blight,
From my weak joints my rage drips down,
My ears are jangled with her sound,
As my eyes blacken in the night.

Catull, leisure makes you rave and burn,
Leisure, Catull, is your disease,
Leisure has ruined kings in their turn,
And has destroyed many blessed cities.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

I appreciate your effort to restore some decency here, Sebonde. Also for, like, actually making Catullus' poems *poetical*, which I of course failed to do. You have exerted much negotium, where I had only otium.

5:49 PM  
Blogger The Sheriff said...

Seriously Scantron, why don't you just go lick a diseased hangman's anus or something. Ridiculous.

5:11 AM  

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