Catullus Translation Sampler



Multus homo es, Naso, neque tecum multus homo est qui
descendit: Naso, multus es et pathicus.

Literal translation by Celia Zukofsky:
Much a man you are, Naso, and that you much a man it is who
comes down: Naso, much you are and pathetic/lascivious.

Cornish edition in the Loeb Classical Library (used by the Zukofskys):
You are many men's man, Naso, but not many men go down town with you: Naso, you are many men's man and minion.

Peter Green (2005):
You're such a macho guy, Naso, yet few other macho guys seek your
company. How so? Naso, you're macho—and a queen.

Peter Valente (2017)
You’re a whole lot of man, Naso, and yet many men dare ram their prick into your ass:
Naso, you’re one hell of a big guy and yet you take it from behind!

Finally, the Zukofskys's homophonic version (1969)
Mool ’tis homos, Naso, ’n’ queer take ’im mool ’tis ho most he
     descended: Naso, mool ’tis – is it pathic, cuss.

[research: Peter Quartermain, University of British Columbia]


Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle
quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat.
dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,
in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.

wiki line by line

Zukofskys (1969):
LZ reads poem:
Newly say dickered my love air my own would marry me all
           whom but me, none see say Jupiter if she petted.
Dickered: said my love air could be o could dickered a man too
           in wind o wet rapid a scribble reported in water.

Tr. Charles Bernstein (2005):
None, says my woman, would she want to marry more
than me, not if Jupiter himself insisted.
says: but what a woman says to a smitten lover,
on wind, should be written, on running water

Tr. Peter Green (2005):
My woman declares there's no one she'd sooner marry
than me, not even were Jove himself to propose.
She declares—but a woman's words to her earger lover
should be written on running water, on the wind

Tr. Peter Valente (2017):
When the subject of marriage comes up
her eyes take on a peculiar glow and she looks at me
and says that I’m the only one she wants as her husband.
She says, Forget about Jove! But I wasn’t born yesterday.
When a woman says this to her devoted lover,
it’s just the same story over and over again.
Her words can’t be trusted.
They might as well have been written in the air
or on a fast-moving current flowing out to sea.
A minute later she’ll wake up from her dream
and she’ll say she hates everything about me!



Minister uetuli puer Falerni
inger mi calices amariores,
ut lex Postumiae iubet magistrae
ebrioso acino ebriosioris.
at uos quo lubet hinc abite, lymphae,
uini pernicles, et ad seueros
migrate. hic merus est Thyonianus.

Minister wet to lee, pour the Falernian
and gear me chalices, ah by bitterest,
the law's Postumia, you bet magistral,
eh breezy kin a grape-loving breeziness.
Adieus qualifying between water and
wine are pernicious, let the odd serious
migrate: high! pure the thing on us 's the wine god's.

Horace Gregory (1956):
Come, my boy, bring me the best
of good old Falernian:
we must drink down stronger wine
to drink with this mad lady.
Postumia's our host tonight;
drunker than the grape is,
is she-
and no more water;
water is the death of wine.
Serve the stuff to solemn fools
who enjoy their sorrow,
respectable, no doubt -
                                   but wine!
Here's wine!
                   The very blood of Bacchus.

Peter Whigham:
          old Falernian!
cup-boy drown the cups
as custom of Postumia
tighter than the bursting grape
          but keep the water-jug
boon of the straight-faced
                                 far hence
no friend to wine -
the Bacchus here is neat.

By James Michie (1989):
Boy serving out our good old friend
Falernian, give me a stronger blend.
Postumia says so - and the right
To rule the revelry tonight
Belongs to her (look, she's as tight
As the juice in a grapeskin!). Oh, I can't bear
You, water, wine-killer. Run elsewhere,
Find a new home with prudes. With us
The wine is pure Thyonius.

research: Frederic Hertzberg

Peter Green (2005)
You boy there, serving out the vintage vino
mix me stronger and sharper-tasting cupfuls
follow the lady of the revel's orders
(who's more drunk than the kller stuff she's drinking).
You, though, pure-water nymphs, can get the hell out—
ruination to wine, you are, move over,
join the puritans. Here the wine is unmixed

Tr. Peter Valente (2017)
Servant boy, take that old bottle of Falernian wine
and fill up my bitter chalice to the rim.
It’s Mistress Postumia’s Law!, the old whore,
whose always sloshed just like the drunken grape itself !
O Waters! go wherever you want and fill some other cup,
you’re no friend of the Divine grape, go, instead, to those
uptight magistrates in their high towers
and pour them some Poland Spring!
This here is pure Bacchus, straight, no chaser!!!


Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.
Fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles,
cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla.
Ibi illa multa cum iocosa fiebant,
quae tu volebas nec puella nolebat,
fulsere vere candidi tibi soles.
Nunc iam illa non vult: tu quoque impotens noli,
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive,
sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
Vale puella, iam Catullus obdurat,
nec te requiret nec rogabit invitam.
At tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla.
Scelesta, uae te, quae tibi manet uita?
Quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella?
Quem nunc amabis? Cuius esse diceris?
Quem basiabis? Cui labella mordebis?
At tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.

wiki: line by line

Zukofsky -- #22 from Anew (1935-1944):
Miserable Catullus, stop being foolish
And admit it's over,
The sun shone on you those days
When your girl had you
When you gave it to her
             like nobody else ever will.
Everywhere together then, always at it
And you liked it and she can't say
                                         she didn't
Yes, those days glowed.
Now she doesn't want it: why
                      should you, washed out
Want to. Don't trail her,
Don't eat yourself up alive,
Show some spunk, stand up
                                          and take it.
So long, girl. Catullus
                                          can take it.
He won't bother you, he won't
                                          be bothered:
But you'll be, nights.
What do you want to live for?
Whom will you see?
Who'll say you're pretty?
Who'll give it to you now?
Whose name will you have?
Kiss what guy? bite whose
Come on Catullus, you can
                                          take it.

Zukosfkys, from Catullus (1969)
Miss her, Catullus? don't be so inept to rail
at what you see perish when perished is the case.
Full, sure once, candid the sunny days glowed, solace,
when you went about it as your girl would have it,
you loved her as no one else shall ever be loved.
Billowed in tumultuous joys and affianced,
why you would but will it and your girl would have it.
Full, sure, very candid the sun's rays glowed solace,
when you went about it as your girl would have it.
Full, sure, very candid the sun's rays glowed solace.
Now she won't love you: you, too, don't be weak, tense, null,
squirming after she runs off to miss her for life.
Said as if you meant it: obstinate, obdurate.
Vale! puling girl. I'm Catullus, obdurate,
I don't require it and don't beg uninvited:
won't you be doleful when no one, no one! begs you,
scalded, every night. Why do you want to live now?
Now who will be with you? Who'll see that you're lovely?
Whom will you love now and who will say that you're his?
Whom will you kiss? Whose morsel of lips will you bite?
But you, Catullus, your destiny's obdurate.

tr. Kelly Syler
Poor Catullus, you must stop being silly,
and count as lost what you see is lost.
Once the sun shone bright for you,
when you would go whither your sweetheart led,
she who was loved by me as none will ever be loved.
Then there took place those many jolly scenes
which you desired nor did your sweetheart not desire.
Truly the sun shone bright for you.
Now she desires no more: do you too, weakling, not desire;
and do not chase her who flees, nor live in unhappiness,
but harden your heart, endure and stand fast.
Goodbye, sweetheart. Catullus now stands fast:
he will not look for you or court you against your will.
But you will be sorry when you are not courted at all.
Wretch, pity on you! What life lies in store for you!
Who will come to you now? Who will think you pretty?
Whom will you love now? Whose will people say you are?
Whom will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
But you, Catullus, be resolute and stand fast.

tr. Richard Francis Burton

Woe-full Catullus! cease to play the fool
And what thou seest dead as dead regard!
Whilòme the sheeniest suns for thee did shine
When oft-a-tripping whither led the girl
[5] By us beloved, as shall none be loved.
There all so merry doings then were done
After thy liking, nor the girl was loath.
Then certès sheeniest suns for thee did shine.
Now she's unwilling: thou too (hapless!) will
[10] Her flight to follow, and sad life to live:
Endure with stubborn soul and still obdure.
Damsel, adieu! Catullus obdurate grown
Nor seeks thee, neither asks of thine unwill;
Yet shalt thou sorrow when none woos thee more;
Reprobate! Woe to thee! What life remains?
[15] Who now shall love thee? Who'll think thee fair?
Whom now shalt ever love? Whose wilt be called?
To whom shalt kisses give? whose liplets nip?
But thou (Catullus!) destiny-doomed obdure.

tr. Leonard Smithers
Unhappy Catullus, cease your trifling and what you see lost, know to be lost. Once bright days used to shine on you when you used to go wherever your girl led you, loved by us as never a girl will ever be loved. There those many joys occured which you did wish, nor was the girl unwilling. In truth bright days used once to shine on you. Now she no longer wants you: you too, powerless to avail, must not want her, do not pursue her retreating, do not live unhappy, but with firm-set mind endure, harden yourself. Farewell, girl! now Catullus hardens himself, he will not seek you, will not ask you since you are unwilling. But you will be pained, when you are not asked. Faithless, go your way! what manner of life remains to you? who now will visit you? who find you beautiful? whom will you love now? whose will you be called? whom will you kiss? whose lips will you bite? But you, Catullus, remain firm in your hardness.

Brandon Brown (2011)
You can ask your lovebird to sign a contract but that won't solve the problem of me being protean, sanctioning cupidity and venality, luving it. I want to reinstitute stuff. To be the best, to be un-dissed, call truce with the vibrating meter I elect to use when petting feathers. The transcript retards the data. It's unlucky to line out the procedure for future rupture bur if you ain't no punk, holler we want pre-nup! Happiness divides the butterflies in half, and all the lovebirds. First I start to love a creature, and then I try to recreate everything. Go to Italy, get curious about pertnesses, sanction everything, etc. But later calls it quits, milks a yak. I accept the face of quits. I return my vote of ineptitude. I invested in my lovebird's neck and came back, but came back on fire. There's plenty of ruse that hides in scripts. Yeah? We want pre-nup. Yeah.


Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
    nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

Loeb Classical Library prose:
I hate and love. Why I do so, perhaps you ask? I know not, but I feel it, and I am in torment.

O th'hate I move love. Quarry it fact I am, for that's so re queries.
    Nescience, say th' fierry scent I owe whets crookeder.

Peter Green:
I hate and love. You wonder, perhaps, why I'd do that?
    I have no idea. I just feel it. I am crucified.

Charles Bernstein / RIchard Tuttle:
Hate and love. Why’s that?, you’d ask
Don’t know, I feel it and it’s torture.

Art Beck (see his discussion):
I’m repelled and I love. Maybe you do have to know why.
I don’t know, but I feel it happening and I’m crucified.

Peter Valente:
I hate and love. Why do I do this, you ask.
I don’t know, but I feel it happening to me and it’s torture.

Odious & amorous. Query: id facts, foretaste requires
No sense, said fearing scent, it’s excruciating.

Bernstein/Tuttle work product:

Love and hate. Query: why’d I do that?
Don’t know, just sense it & it’s excruciating.

Odious & amorous. Hey: why’d I do that?
Beats me, just feelings & I’ve been crucified.

Hating & loving. Why do I do that?
Beats me, just feelings & excruciating

Odious & amorous. Hey: why I do that?
Beats me, just feelings & I’ve been crucified?

Hating & loving. Query: why do that?
Beats me, just feelings & I’ve been crucified.

Odious and amorous. Hey: why’d I do that?
Beats me, it's just my feelings & I've been crucified

Odious and amorous. Hey: why’s that?
Beats me, just my feelings & I’m crucified

Odious and amorous. Query: why’d I do that?
Don’t know, just sense it & it’s excruciating.

Brandon Brown (2008):

I hate. I hate and. I hate "and." I hate love. I hate questions.

I'm doing it. I hate doing it. I hate "doing." I hate.

I hate forts. I "hate" "forts." I hate fortitude. I hate perhaps.

Perhaps I hate? No, I hate "perhaps." Perhaps you'll ask why hate.

I don't know. I don't know why I hate, why "and," why I love.

I love. I don't know why I do "hate" and "love." I don't know why.

I don't know "why" I'd. But I did it. I do it. I hated

it and I loved it. Wherefore would I do this? Perhaps you'll ask.

Perhaps you'll ask, purring hapfully. Perhaps I'll hop, but that's

doubtful for I hate hops. I love haps. Purr. I eat hops perhaps.


I move and I hate love and why I make that a fact you'll need

to ask, perhaps. Wherefore perchance I'll love amore moreso.

Know I love and hate, perhaps you'll ask why I "and" and I do.

I dunno, but I do do it perhaps and I don't know it.

But I did do it. I feel as ifI did it. I did it

with feeling. Feeling hate, feeling love, I did feel feelings then.

I felt the feelings, I did, I don't know why perhaps. I felt

therefore and the feeling was excruciating. I hated.

I hate feeling excruciating feelings. Why, you ask? They're

excruciating. I dunno. But I did feel them. Perhaps.

I hate and more. Why do I do this, you might come ask, perhaps?