The New Eroticism

Catulus epigrams a My heart has run away. It has gone off, I think, to Theotimus, as it is accustomed [to do]. So it is, [my heart] avails itself of (lit., has) that refuge. [But] didn't I tell Theotimus not to admit that runaway into his house, but, on the contrary, to throw it out? I will go to look for [it]. But I am afraid lest I myself may be caught. What am I to do? Venus, give [me] advice.

b By chance I had stood addressing the dawn when suddenly Roscius came into view on the left. May I be allowed, O heavenly beings, to say without offense, the mortal seemed fairer than a god.

The Inevitability of Death

Lucretius De rerum ndtura 3.1024-1044

This too you could at times say to yourself, "Even good Ancus abandoned the light with his eyes, who was better than you in many ways, [you] shameless [person]. Since then many other kings and lords of the world have died who ruled over great nations. Even that [man] himself (i.e., Xerxes I) who once paved a road over the mighty sea and allowed his legions to go on a way over the deep, and taught [them] to go over the salt pools (i.e., the sea) with their feet, and showed [his] contempt for the seas mutterings [by] prancing on [it] with horses, when deprived of the light [of day], breathed out [his] soul from [his] dying body.

"Scipio, the thunderbolt of war, the terror of Carthage, gave [his] bones to the earth in the same way as [if] he were the lowliest house slave. Add the creators of philosophies and arts that give pleasure, add the followers of the dwellers on Helicon, of whom Homer alone having won the scepter [of poetry], fell asleep in (lit., with) the same slumber as the others.

"Finally, after ripe old age had warned Democritus that [his] faculty of memory (lit., remembering activities) was becoming feeble, of his own accord he himself presented (lit., presenting) and gave up [his] head to death. Epicurus himself died after he had run through the light of life, [he] who surpassed the human race in intellect and extinguished all just as the rising sun in the heavens [extinguishes] the stars."

True Piety

Lucretius De rerum ndtura 5.1194-1203

O unhappy human race, when it attributed such actions to the gods and added bitter anger. How much misery (lit,, how many groans) did they themselves produce for themselves, how many wounds [and] how many tears for us and our descendants. Nor is it any piety to be often seen veiled [and] turning to a stone and to approach every altar, nor to lie stretched out on the ground and to spread open [one's] palms before the shrines of the gods, nor to sprinkle altars with an abundance of (lit., much) blood of animals, nor to make vow upon vow (lit., join vows with vows), but rather [it is piety] to be able to observe everything with a tranquil mind. (A more idiomatic translation of the last sentence would he Nor is there any piety in being often seen, etc. or Nor does piety consist in being often seen, etc.)

Love and Rejection

Catullus Carmina 5, 7, 8, and 85

a Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us value all the gossip of too narrow-minded old men at a single as. Suns can set and rise again (lit, come back); when [our] short light has once set, we must sleep one continuous night. Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then, without stopping, another thousand, then a hundred. Then, when we have made up many thousands, we will declare ourselves bankrupt so that we do not know their number or so that some malicious person cannot cast the evil eye [on us] when he knows there are so many kisses.

b You ask, Lesbia, how many of your kisses are enough and more for me. To give you as many kisses as [there are] Libyan sands [that] lie in silphium-bearing Cyrene between the oracle of parched Jupiter and the sacred tomb of old Battus, or stars [that] see the stolen loves of mortals when night is silent, [that] is enough and more for demented Catullus. This number (lit., which) neither busybodies would be able to count nor an evil tongue [would be able] to bewitch.

c Unhappy Catullus, stop being foolish and consider that what you see to have vanished has been lost. Bright suns once shone for you when you always went where [your] girl used to lead [you], [she who was] loved by me as much as no [woman] will be loved. Then, when those many playful things happened, which you wanted and the girl was not unwilling, bright suns really shone for you. But now she is unwilling; you also, [although] irresolute, be unwilling, and do not pursue her who is fleeing, nor live in unhappiness, but with resolute mind bear up, be firm!

Farewell, girl, Catullus is now firm, and he will not seek you out and will not ask for your favors [if you are] unwilling. But you will be sorry when no one asks for your favors (lit., you will not be asked). Wretched [woman], damn you! What life is left for you? Who will approach you now? To whom will you seem beautiful? Whom will you love now? Whose will you be said to be? Whom will you kiss? Whose Hps will you bite? But you, Catullus, be steadfast and firm.

d I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do this. I do not know, but I feel [it] happening and I am in torment.

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