A Misread Love (Catullus 99)

Michele Martire¬†examines the background behind Catullus’ poem addressed to his young male beloved¬†Juventius. Explaining the conventions of ancient pederasty, and discussing the other poems addressed to Juventius in the Catullan corpus, she notes how Catullus viciously degrades himself. He lowers himself when he should be the dominant partner, in a desperate bid to recapture the affection of Juventius.

Martire_hellebore

Surripui tibi, dum ludis, mellite Iuventi,

suaviolum dulci dulcius ambrosia.

Verum id non impune tuli: namque amplius horam

suffixum in summa me memini esse cruce,

dum tibi me purgo nec possum fletibus ullis

tantillum vestrae demere saevitiae.

Nam simul id factum est, multis diluta labella

guttis abstersisti omnibus articulis,

ne quicquam nostro contractum ex ore maneret,

tamquam commictae spurca saliva lupae.

Praeterea infesto miserum me tradere amori

non cessasti omnique excruciare modo,

ut mi ex ambrosia mutatum iam foret illud

suaviolum tristi tristius elleboro.

Quam quoniam poenam misero proponis amori,

numquam iam posthac basia surripiam.

Image: Hellebore. Source: ferrebeekeeper

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