Sunday, December 1st, 2019...9:23 pmChris Francese

Catullus and Martial on Unguents

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Catullus 13 (text: G.P. Goold, 1983, via PHI)

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.              5
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cenabis bene: nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusvest:                      10
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque;
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

Fabullus, come over in a few days
and you will dine well, gods willing.
Just bring along a fine and ample
dinner, and don’t forget a lovely girl.
Bring wine, wit, and all kinds of laughter.
Bring all this, my charming man,
and you will dine very well, I say,
for Catullus’ purse has only cobwebs.
In return you will get pure, unmixed
love, or something even more elegant:
I’ll give you a scent, passed on to
my girl by Venus and Cupid themselves.
And when you smell that, dear Fabullus,
you will beg the gods on your knees
to turn you into one colossal nose. (Trans. Chris Francese)

Martial, Epigrams 3.12 (text: Heraeus and Borovskiy, via PHI)

Convivis here, sed nihil scidisti.
Res salsa est bene olere et esurire.
Qui non cenat et unguitur, Fabulle,
Hic vere mihi mortuus videtur.                       5

The perfume you gave your guests yesterday was, I admit, a good one, but you carved nothing. It’s amusing to smell nice and go hungry. He who doesn’t dine but is anointed, Fabullus, really seems to me a corpse. (trans. William Fitzgerald)


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