The Effect of Love

JL poem that appears to have been written by Catullus in the first stages of his affair with Lesbia is a translation from the early Greek poetess Sappho (fi. 600 b.c.). It was from Sappho's home (the Greek island of Lesbos) that Catullus gave his lover the name Lesbia (lit., the lady of Lesbos), which evoked the romantic past of Greek lyric poetry.

Ille mi par esse deo videtur, ille, si fas est, superare divos, qui sedens adversus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis 5 eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi <vocis in ore;>

text C. Valerii Catulli Carmina, ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford Classical Texts, 1958)

meter Sapphic stanza [§ms]

ille mi par | esse de|o vi|detur ille si fas | est supe|rare | divos qui se|dens ad | versus i|denti|dem te spectat et | audit

1 mi (also in 1. 7) shorter form of mihi; par (paris) + dat. (here deo) equal to; videtur seems (the more common meaning of the passive of video -ere).

2 si fas est if it is right [to say so]—Romans were always careful not to offend divine powers in any way (cf. Catulus B3, page 17); supply videtur with superare (supero -are surpass); divus -i m. = deus.

3f. The antecedent of qui is ille in 11.1 and 2); the acc. te is governed by adversus (prep. + acc. opposite, facing) as well as by spectat and audit but need only be translated with the verbs; identidem adv. continually.

5 dulce ridentem (modifying te in 1. 3) lit., laughing a sweet thing, i.e., laughing sweetly (adverbial acc. [§gi6]); take misero with mihi (1. 6); quod (postponed [§04]) [something] that; take omnis with sensus (1. 6).

6 eripio -ere snatch; the meaning of the other words shows that sensus is acc. pi. (sensus -us m. one of the five senses); mihi dat. of disadvantage [§g 31], lit., to the disadvantage of me, i.t., from me; simul (= simulac) conj. as soon as.

7f. aspicio -ere see, look at; nihil... vocis lit,, nothing of voice, i.e., no voice (partitive gen. [§G24]); est super (= superest) remains (supersum); the angle brackets of 1.8 indicate that this line is missing in the manuscripts of Catullus—the sense, however, can be restored from Sappho's original, which has survived.

lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte 10

tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte.

<-: Catullus Carmina 51.1-12

gf. sed is postponed [§g4.]; torpeo -ere be paralyzed; tenuis ... flamma subtle flame; sub here (down) into; artus -us m. limb; demand -are run down; sonitu suopte (= suo) instrumental abl. [§g47] with their own sound (sonitus -us m.). 1 if. tintino -are ring (intr,); gemina ... nocte instrumental abl. [§G47] with double (lit., twin) night; lumen luminis n. here eye.

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