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Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)



LXXV

It is your doing, dear Lesbia,
If my heart is reduced to this:
That it no longer knows its own devotion.
It could no longer wish you well
If you were the best of women,
Nor could it stop loving you,
However you chose to ravage it.




Last edited by Terreson, Nov/14/2010, 4:21 pm
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Now this one really gets under my skin. Seneca, just how close to the original is your translation here? L4 especially stops my body in the way the infrequent line can. And that word, devotion. Following on what precedes it is masterful. Precise, acute, perfect. The man or woman no longer knowing their own devotion, what they believe in, even in what they think to be true and real, can there be a more lost soul? Twice, maybe three times, I've lost faith. In all cases as a result of personal loss. And always the vertigo accompanying the loss physically felt. Vertigo is what comes through here. And something else.

I have a collection of ancient Egyptian lyric poetry. Poetry translated by Pound and so it is always difficult to know if I am reading ancient Egyptian poetry or Pound himself. If the former, and especially as touches on the love poetry, I walk away with the sense I am reading thoughts expressed when the species was younger, not yet civilized enough to filter perceptions through everything that seperates us from the raw, the raw of emotion and desire especially. I have another collection, also a Pound product in translation. It is of ancient Chinese poetry. The Classic Anthology as defined (made canonical) by Confucius. In places I get the same sense of unfiltered perceptions. In the end this is how I take Catullus. Young enough to insist on the unfiltering. And in fact he was a young man. Died when he was thirty, maybe a few plus more years.

Yep. A poem with that rare quantity: kinetic energy.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Nov/14/2010, 4:22 pm
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


How close to the original is my translation, you ask? It depends on what you mean.

Latin is a bizarre language. I've often said to myself, "Presumably the Romans understood each other when they were speaking--but how did they do it?"

The last two lines read, "Nor could it stop loving if you did all things." Now this "all things" in Latin is "omnia"--something of a catch-all word that can mean just about anything. You can fill it in with just about anything that seems to fit the context.

In this case, it clearly means "bad things". "No matter what bad things you did" is the sense of the sentence. So I decided to render it, "However you chose to ravage it."

Close or not, depending on how you view it. There is next to nothing in Latin that can be put into English word-for-word or even close to it. You translate the meaning, not the words. So you can always question a translator's rendering of the text. I do my best to preserve the meaning, but it could be preserved in other ways.

---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Nov/15/2010, 3:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Thanks for the input, Seneca. The whole process is fascinating. Not exactly the same, of course, but I am reminded of an old Bob Seger song line: what to leave in, what to take out.

Tere
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Yes, you're right. Translation is one decision after another. I suppose everybody has their theory of translation, but I think my guiding principle is that there aren't any hard and fast rules. You take each sentence/line on its own, and decide what to do with it--how best to render it and fit it in with the whole. Whatever you're working on, there's all different ways to do it. Everybody makes their own decisions. That's why translations can vary so much.

---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Nov/16/2010, 4:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Seneca, I am hoping deepwaters (Shabfriend) finds the time to come around and you both get to meet. She is Persian and has posted original translations of poems by Forough. Poems written in Farsi. I would love to be the fly on that particular wall.

Well, but then I remember something Degas said. Asked by an American journalist what he thought of his contemporaries, he indignantly replied: The Muses do not sing together, and when they dance they dance alone. Still, it might be fun. If interested you can see what she has done in the forum and read some of her thoughts on process.

Tere
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Hi Seneca and Tere,

Just dipping into these translations and this thread seemed like a good place to start.

The last two lines read, "Nor could it stop loving if you did all things." Now this "all things" in Latin is "omnia"--something of a catch-all word that can mean just about anything. You can fill it in with just about anything that seems to fit the context.

In this case, it clearly means "bad things". "No matter what bad things you did" is the sense of the sentence. So I decided to render it, "However you chose to ravage it."


Seneca,

Thank you for allowing Tere to post your translations on Delectable Mnts and for joining into the discussion here. As the person who nagged/encouraged Tere to add a translation forum to the board, I am thrilled. This is a real treat.

I am enjoying reading your thoughts on the translation process. Find it fascinating. I was wondering if you would be interested in giving us a rough literal translation of the rest of this poem along with an explanation of how you came to make the poem you made? If not, not to worry! I don't mean to put you on the spot, but if you are up for it, that would be great.

I walk away with the sense I am reading thoughts expressed when the species was younger, not yet civilized enough to filter perceptions through everything that seperates us from the raw, the raw of emotion and desire especially. . . . In places I get the same sense of unfiltered perceptions. In the end this is how I take Catullus. Young enough to insist on the unfiltering. And in fact he was a young man. Died when he was thirty, maybe a few plus more years.

Tere,

I am reminded of the sacred/mystical love poetry of many cultures. Poets like Lalla and Mirabi, for example, have the same rawness and "unfiltering" you put your finger on.

Nov/16/2010, 9:06 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Hello, katlin! So this is all your fault, is it? You were nagging Terreson, who in turn was nagging me? Ah well, no harm done. But I'm glad you're enjoying it.

If you want to join my fan club (and you'd be the first member) just send me $20. By return post you'll receive your membership card, plus a free T-shirt with a big picture of Seneca the Duck on the front. But hurry, offer expires at midnight on Saturday!

If you want the more or less literal words here, what you've got above is about as literal as you can get and still be intelligible. It's only the last line that I translated a bit freely. But if you want to know what Latin poetry is like, it goes like this:

"To this point is mind led down by your my, Lesbia, doing and thus itself from devotion forgets itself its own, so that now neither well to want it might wish for you, if the best you became, nor to stop loving, all things if you did."

I rearranged the words a bit so that it would make more sense, and Latin (fortunately) gives you clues as to how the words fit together, if you know how to read those clues. But you might note that word order is not nearly as important in Latin as in English (and poets in particular take liberties with word order) because Latin grammar gives you those clues as to how words fit together.

One little note: the word I translated as "heart" here is "mens". Normally this word would translate as "mind". Everyone knows "A healthy mind in a healthy body": "Mens sana in corpore sano". But this word "mens" (typically with Latin words) can translate into English in many different ways, depending on context, and I think clearly what's needed here is "heart".

---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Nov/17/2010, 8:48 am Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


So here we go. Another translation of poem 75. (So loving this.)

My Lesbia, you've brought my heart to this,
damned by your guilt and its own devotion;
respect is gone, should you become a saint;
by sin itself, my love can't die.

(tr. Roy Arthur Swanson)

I know the rules of Latin syntax a little. It is like Seneca has already said. So much of it depends upon the in-your-face circumstance of the moment. Swanson's translation is actually closer to the literal. I am thinking Seneca's goes transliteral.

Tere
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Seneca,

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with a literal translation of the poem. It gives new meaning to something your wrote earlier:

Latin is a bizarre language. I've often said to myself, "Presumably the Romans understood each other when they were speaking--but how did they do it?"

 emoticon I would love to attempt a translation of this one, but, alas, I am lacking in grammatical clues. I have often said my one educational regret was not taking Latin when I could have in 7th and 8th grades. Still true.

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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


quote:

Terreson wrote:

So here we go. Another translation of poem 75. (So loving this.)

My Lesbia, you've brought my heart to this,
damned by your guilt and its own devotion;
respect is gone, should you become a saint;
by sin itself, my love can't die.

(tr. Roy Arthur Swanson)

I know the rules of Latin syntax a little. It is like Seneca has already said. So much of it depends upon the in-your-face circumstance of the moment. Swanson's translation is actually closer to the literal. I am thinking Seneca's goes transliteral.

Tere



Hey, Terreson, just to point out a couple of things here. One thing that people may not be aware of is that in ancient texts, even the best of scholars have doubts about the meaning of things in various places. This can occur because it's not certain what the actual reading of the original text was. Mistakes and changes creep in when texts are being copied by hand over long periods of time. My own edition of Catullus (the Oxford Classical Texts) gives a list at the bottom of each page of the various possible readings at various parts of the text.

Also, even the best of scholars often disagree over things at times, simply because even the best of them don't have a perfect knowledge of ancient languages. Somebody once said that a Roman peasant would have had a far better knowledge of Latin than the best of scholars today. I suspect there's some truth in that.

Also, there's simply room for disagreement, no matter what kind of text you're reading. As an example, the third line of the Swanson translation you gave above: "Respect is gone." Looking at the Latin text, it's hard for me to see where he got that. I suppose that wishing someone well and respecting them are pretty closely related notions, but still not the same thing for me. The point is that interpretations can differ.

You'll note that his translation has 4 lines, mine 7. The original has 4. I did not attempt to preserve Catullus' metre. Instead I tried to establish my own. Nor did I see any need to keep to the original number of lines. I made as many as seemed good to me. And I don't feel guilty about this: when you're attempting to translate Latin poetry, all sorts of changes have to be made, and as far as I'm concerned, this is just one more of them.

I'd say my translations are wordier than the originals. But any English translation, prose or poetry, is going to be wordier than Latin, because Latin is very economical in ways.

At any rate, I have never tried to put myself forward as the best of Latin scholars. In translating this stuff, I looked at other translations to see where people agreed and disagreed with each other on certain points. Nothing dishonest about this: there's no reason why you shouldn't be guided by the wisdom of those who came before you.



---
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Nov/19/2010, 6:14 am Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Thanks, Seneca, for taking the time, speaking up, filling out the interstice. On all counts I get your drift. Story goes that the English painter, Turner, after taking to teaching, was asked by a student one day to define art. Thinking on it, Turner finally turned to the student and said, "Art, my boy, is a rum thing." Seems to me this is what you too are saying about your craft.

Oh. Before I forget again I've been meaning to ask something. Remember that back in the Providence days I was mightily into Goliardic verse. It started before the bunch of us hung out together in C-ville and when I discovered Orff's Carmina Burana thing. Man, I sure loved that stuff. The bawdy stuff, the drinking songs, songs to Love, songs to nature, songs critical of Church hypocrisies. All in Latin, written by scribes and copyists of the Middle Ages, amounting to what one scholar called the last flowering of poetry in the language.

Have you ever considered playing around with the Goliards in translation? I should think they would be right up your alley.
  
Tere
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


"A rum thing"? Yeah, I'd definitely go along with that. As I've already said, I myself don't accept that there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to translating. You take each bit of text as it comes and do with it what seems best to you. You have to be flexible. For me it's all about results, and I myself am not particularly choosy about how I get them. If what I've got seems right to me, then I'll accept it.

For example, if I'm working with prose (which I've had a fair bit of lately), I have no hesitation in reworking a sentence completely if I feel it makes for better, more natural English. Why not? I'm working for English-speaking readers. So put it in their idiom.

When you come across "problems" there are always lots of possibilities. Give a problem passage to 12 different people, and you'll get 12 different solutions, probably all of them satisfactory at least. The actual solution adopted doesn't matter: if it conveys the original well, that's what you want.

As for Catullus, I've explained partly why I got into it. One factor I haven't mentioned is that I had a couple of English translations of his work, and I wasn't completely happy with either of them. So I just decided to see if I could make myself happy. I didn't do these with a view to publication or even posting them on a forum such as this. If I had, perhaps I'd have done some things differently. But perhaps not.

My aims were to stick as closely as possible to what Catullus said and to make it as "pretty" as possible. Both of these criteria are obviously very subjective. But as I've already mentioned, one decision I quickly made was not to worry too much about preserving the number of lines in each poem.

I don't know the Swanson translation. But from the one translation you've given here, it appears to me he wanted to preserve the number of lines. And I think that with phrases such as "Respect is gone" and "by sin itself", he was having to compress ideas a bit in order to keep to the four lines he had to work with.

This was precisely the sort of constraint that I wanted to avoid. I needed more space to work with, so I took it. It's basically a situation where, "You pays your money and you takes your choice." Up to the translator to choose and up to readers to choose. Compare various translations and no doubt eventually you'll settle on a favorite.

I routinely (though not always)took more lines than Catullus did. I don't know how poets/readers will view this. But I didn't respect Catullus' metre, either, and I'd be surprised if any modern translator attempted to do that. I tried to establish my own metre (because I think it sounds nice) and I broke lines where it seemed right to me.

As for the Goliards, certainly something I'd like, but I seriously doubt I'd want to attempt to translate them. As I've said, I'm not a poet, so I'm not completely at ease trying to translate it. I made exceptions for Brel and Catullus, basically because they're Brel and Catullus. But I'm the more prosaic sort, and I think it best to work with what I feel at home with.

I have looked at the original text of the Carmina Burana, and it wouldn't be something I'd be eager to take on. Short lines that all rhyme--a nightmare. I once had a go at a few selected passages of Villon--another of my favorites--attempting to preserve his rhyme scheme. I quickly gave it up. The problem with rhyme is you just have to sacrifice too much in order to preserve it. It's one reason that in a way I didn't enjoy translating Brel. When you realize that you just can't keep a detail or image that really should be kept, it's depressing. Brel was a master, and you hate to ruin his text with your own best approximation.

I was recently re-reading The Name of the Rose for the umpteenth time, but this time with a translator's eye. And I was offering William Weaver, the translator, all my sympathy. There are plenty of passages in that book that would break your heart. But it's a fabulous translation. Hats off to the man. I came across some comments on that translation somewhere, the gist of them being that Weaver took all sorts of liberties with the text, and apparently with Eco's full approval. So yeah, it's a rum thing.

At any rate, I'm rambling on at length here. But you said you wanted my ideas on translation, so I'm giving them to you. When you've had enough of them, just let me know.

---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Nov/20/2010, 6:14 am Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Ramblings or peregrinations? Either way the window view into how you proceed makes for fun reading, giving me much to think about. Since you are more comfortable working with prose do you have anything, in relatively short passages, you would like to try out on us? Perhaps with an eye to affect? If so I for one would be your huckleberry. Something else. You learned an African language, I want to say it was Swahili, a bunch of years ago. Did you ever work in translating from the language?

Here is a side note for you, Seneca, and you may or may not agree. It has always seemed to me every translator, of poetry especially, owes one Ezra Pound a tithe. Scholars regularly take him to task for the liberties he took in his translations. Liberties not unlike what you describe in how you proceed. It is true he was given more to transliterations than to word for word translations. But it has always seemed to me he opened up the field, freed it from the experts and academic types, made it equally the property of the non-expert. Again, especially in the case of poetry. And I think he was darn good at what he did. His eye seemed always on the heart, soul, or whatever you want to call it, of the poem in front of him, no matter the language he was translating from. He was as at home in the Germanic languages as he was in the Romance languages. He had a genius, I think, for crossing over and bringing back the prize.

Geek that I am an all-time favorite poem is the old Anglo-Saxon "The Seafarer." I've read it in five or six translations. Naturally I cannot judge accuracy. As certainly I can judge affect. Hands down Pound's handling is the most affective. He got, never took his eye off of, what that ancient poem is all about: life is a b***h and then you die. No poem in any language expresses the reckoning as successfully. And Pound certainly carried over the rules of alliteration central to Old English prosody. Another poet he handled well would be a near contemporary of Catullus's, Sextus Propertius, who seems especially to have inspired him. A third would be Dante's contemporary, Cavalcanti, the two of whom collaborated.

Anyway, it's your ramblings that bring Pound to mind. I suspect you two operate in the same or similar range.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Tere
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


I don't know Pound's translations (sorry), but to comment briefly on the subject of taking liberties. It depends on what you mean by the term. Here's an example I came across recently in a novel I was reading, set in 1930's France.

The narrator of this story is a young lad, a cowherd, out in the meadow one day minding his cows, when he sees a girl coming out of the woods with a basket on her arm. Now what he says to her literally is, "Did you make a good gathering, miss?", to which she replies, "Good enough, thank you."

Obviously the literal translation won't work. If you want to stick as closely as possible to the original, you might translate as, "Did you gather lots of berries, miss?"

But for me the real question is, what would two English-speakers say in this situation? We have the gist of the French: what would two English-speakers say? What I came up with was this:

"Lots of berries these days, miss?"
"Enough to keep me going, thank you."

Now this is just one possibility. No doubt others could think of more. But for me, this is not taking a liberty. It's a necessary change, because you need to translate idiomatic French into idiomatic English. You can't be bound to the words of the original: translate the meaning and make it good idiomatic English.

Now if this is the sort of "liberties" that Pound was taking, I say "Well done!" Put things in the reader's language. Don't be bound by the idiom of the original.

If you're talking about the "experts and academic types" I can also say this. I have a fair bit of Latin literature in the Loeb Classical series published by Harvard U., and I was time and again shocked to see how poor their translations are. These translations generally date back to the early 20th century, and it seemed to be the style back then to keep as close to the original Latin as possible, even if the English was all but unintelligible--which it often was.

Perhaps (I often speculated) these translations were aimed at the reader who knew a bit of Latin, but needed some help with it. If you keep the English close to the Latin, then perhaps that will help the reader figure out the Latin. Maybe that's it. At any rate, if this was the sort of translation that Pound wanted to free himself from, he was absolutely right to do so.

But it is not "taking liberties" to express a text in good, idiomatic English. "Taking liberties" is adding something to the text that isn't there, or subtracting something that is there. This is what I often found myself compelled to do with my Brel translations, e.g., and I never did it willingly. I only ever did it if I couldn't see any other way around a problem.

And this is why my translations would never come close to being as good as Brel's originals. If I'm depending on my own invention, I'm never going to come up with stuff as good as what he came up with. Recognizing that, I would always stick as closely to the original as I could. As I've stated elsewhere though, it's the nature of a song that you are often forced to take liberties. You do it with regret when you can't see any other solution--and you hope for your audience's understanding.

---
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Nov/20/2010, 3:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Seneca you bring something to mind I read a translator to say. Wish I could remember who. Might have been the poet/translator Frederick Nimms. From memory: every translator can only speak to his (or her) generation. Interesting, huh? Speaks to your sense of (changing?) idiom. Read Rossetti's late 19th C translation of Dante's La Vita Nuova, Victorean in lit convention, and the sense of the insight comes through loud and clear.

Tere
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Very true. Language can change a fair bit from one generation to the next. Doesn't always happen, but it can. Just a couple of days ago I saw a quote from Abraham Lincoln, and I had a hard time making out what he was saying. Once you knew what it meant, once you had the context of his remark, it was easy to see. But the way he worded it was certainly not the way we'd word it today. This is why translations have to be updated every so often.

---
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)




LXXVI

If ever a man takes pleasure
In recalling his good deeds,
Reflecting that he has done his duty,
Has broken no sacred vow,
Nor invoked the power of the gods
With idle oath to deceive his fellows,
Then many joys, Catullus,
And long life still await you,
Whatever this fruitless love of yours.
Those fine words men may speak,
Those fine deeds they may do,
All those yourself you’ve said and done;
Yet if all blessings wither
When granted to faithless heart,
No more for that torment yourself.
Withdraw, and steel your heart:
In this obey the gods
Who would not have you live a wretch.
‘Tis hard to resign a love,
A love so long enduring—
Yet this must be, whatever the cost.
Herein lies your salvation,
Herein you must prevail,
Whether the strength is yours or not.
Ye gods, if you pity us,
If ever you lend your aid
In that dark hour when death’s upon us,
Then look upon my sorrow:
If I have lived uprightly,
Relieve me of this grief, this plague
That steadily creeps upon me,
That grips me deep within
And drives all gladness from my heart.
I no more ask that she
Should love me in return,
Nor show the faith she cannot know.
Ye gods, if I have been faithful,
I pray you hear my plea:
I only wish to be well, to cast
This shameful sickness from me.

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Oh this one plays to the kitchen. A pinch of irony, two pinches of self-deceit, a shot glass of self-pity, a levening of lit conceit, a glaze of sincere religious sentiment, and a teaspoon of self-reckoning.

As mentioned earlier, Lesbia's aristocratic family had a marked capacity for morally outrageous behavior. The assessment made by Roman standards, not mine. But Catullus was no pure heart. His dalliances with boys almost certainly were concurrent with his involvement with Lesbia. And notice how freely, capaciously even, he allows himself to feel sorry for himself. Also, it is hard for us to get that invoking the gods ranged somewhere between a lit convention and sincere religious feelings. Just like now, especially among politicians and other orators. But in the end sincerity of feeling comes through. And the honesty of his plea. Not looking to argue. Not looking to woo. Reduced to the moment when all he wants is release. What lover has not known that moment?

In Discussion I I've mentioned the possibility that in the end all that matters is the poet's personality, possibly the originality of her or his personality. My sense is that Catullus's (poetic) personality was original.

Tere
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)




LXXXV

I hate and I love. How can this be,
Perhaps you ask? I cannot say,
And yet it’s true—to my torment.
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


Here it is. The poem giving the Lesbia collection its title. Odi et Amo. Not much to it. Not much to be said about it. Epigrammatic in delivery, what Catullus took from the older Greek poets going back a good six to seven hundred years before he lived.

But what a huge discovery to have made. To my mind it is up there with what Pascal famously said: The heart has reasons reason cannot understand. Up there with Freud's discovery, that human behavior is 99.9% irrational, a discovery that immediately overturned a 2,300 year old belief, going back to Aristotle, that the human animal is a rational animal. And Catullus's insight brought about by his love for Lesbia. The immediately preceding poem in Seneca's text contains an equally as perceptive observation. Lesbia is railing against the poet in front of her husband. Husband delighted. Catullus calls the husband a fool, getting that Lesbia's rage shows she is still not indifferent to him, still wanting him. Fascinating.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Nov/25/2010, 2:23 pm
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)




LXXXVI

Many find Quintia beautiful:
Tall, fair, well-proportioned—
I acknowledge the traits individually.
Yet as a whole is she beautiful?
What grace, what elegance has she,
However considerable her person?
Lesbia only is beautiful,
Lovely in her entirety,
And leaving no charm to her rivals.
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


I almost passed over LXXXVI. With a second look something came to mind.

The novelist, Stendhal, wrote a book that was a favorite of his and has for long been a favorite book of mine. My copy is seriously falling apart. I've mentioned it before more than once. But the mention bears repeating.

The book is called De L'Amour and it is a treatise on the subject. It was incited by a love Stendhal had for an Italian woman who did not love him in return. Being a French diplomat in Italy soon after the Napoleanic Wars he was suspected of being a spy in the employ of the occupying Austrians. The woman he loved, Metilde, was in with the Italian revolutionaries wanting independence.

One summer, to get away from the heat and take his mind off Metilde, in the company of an aristocratic woman he travelled to Salzburg in Austria. There they visited a salt mine. They watched how pine boughs would be placed in the salt and left for awhile. Coming back later miners would find the bough encrusted with salt crystals, so much so the branch would be unrecognizable. Out of the observed phenomenon Stendhal developed his notion, coined a word for it: crystalization. It describes a certain process that goes on throughout the life of intense, passionate, needless to say the romantic kind of love. In Stendhal's words:

~Crystalization goes on throughout love almost without a break. The process is something like this: whenever all is not well between you and your beloved, you crystallize out an imaginary solution. Only through imagination can you be sure that your beloved is perfect in any given way. After intimacy, ever-resurgent fears are lulled by more real solutions. Thus happiness never stays the same, except in its origin; every day brings forth a new blossom.~

There is more, much more to the idea: the process by which perfection is imagined in your lover until more real solutions are found. And what passionate lover does not seek perfection? (my words, not Stendhal's) He even detects the process in othere fields, activities and emotions. In gambling, in mathematics, in philosophy, and in hatred. This is part of what the poem brings to mind.

But it brings to mind something else. The listing of parts, or attributes, cannot make for the entirety of Lesbia's loveliness. They would have known each other intimately. They would have had access to each other, so to speak, in all ways. From the intensity of the poems it is safe to guess the intimacy was not only physical but emotional as well; which is the big thing, the biggest thing, isn't it. A woman can give her body while drawing up a grocery list or planning the next day's itinerary, all in her head. A man can do the deed while scheming how to pull off his next business coup against a rival, again all in his head. But once the emotions are involved, once the lines separating that part of us, separated because it is usually safer to proceed that way, all bets are off and two lovers find themselves wholly in the moment of intimacy. Pardon my language but when you think about it that is some scary !@#$, scariest way to go. And no lover is the same afterwards. Pardon the digression.

What I am getting to is notice how Catullus is smart enough to leave off trying to catalogue Lesbia's loveliness in its entirety. A pretty wise fox he is. I bet he instinctively knew what it took me years to figure out, and me twice his age when he died. There are some things you cannot pin down on a Riker mount, not without killing the whole in order to examine the parts.

I think I've talked myself into it. That this is my favorite of Catullus's poems to Lesbia. Of all the poems this may be the one most expansive. Not expansive exactly. Open ended.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Nov/26/2010, 1:09 am
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)




XCII

My Lesbia can never keep quiet,
Nor can she cease to berate me.
I’d stake my life that she loves me.
Why do I say this? I do the same:
Since I never stop cursing her,
I’d stake my life that I love her.
Nov/26/2010, 12:15 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Catullus 2 (tr. by Senecatheduck)


XCII is the last of the Lesbia poems Seneca has translated I'll post. Seneca also translated other poems by Catullus, from which grouping I'll post a few in a third Catullus thread.

He so makes me chuckle, what with this penchant of his for finding, what?, for finding what he seeks in contradiction. Sometimes he comes across the way a punk rocker does.

Tere
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