It’s Just Another Delightfully Trivial Affair (Catullus 3)

Schwartz_podcast_revised_Latin112_2013

Catullus’ lament on the death of his girlfriend’s pet sparrow is not serious, but playful, argues Alex Schwartz. The bird’s worth lies in its attractiveness and ability to provide pleasure, and the poem is an urbane assertion that these values are distinctly important in life. Catullus 3 discussed, translated, and read aloud by Alex Schwartz.

Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,

et quantum est hominum venustiorum:

passer mortuus est meae puellae,

passer, deliciae meae puellae,

quem plus illa oculis suis amabat-

nam mellitus erat suamque norat

ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem,

nec sese a gremio illius movebat,

sed circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc

ad solam dominam usque pipiabat.

qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum

illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.

At vobis male sit, malae tenebrae

Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis:

tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.

O factum male! o miselle passer!

Tua nunc opera meae puellae

flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

 

Image:

Grave stele of a little girl, ca. 450–440 BC, Greek, Parian marble H. 31 1/2 in. (80 cm). Metropolitan Museum, New York. Photo: Jorge Elias, flickr.

Leave a Comment

WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing