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Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


In addition to the Lesbia poems Seneca translated from Catullus he also sent 4 miscellaneous poems. Seneca may feel differently, but they don't quite have the intrinsic interest of the Lesbia material. Why is hard to say. Perhaps because, here, Catullus is not thrown into the extreme moment. He is playing with his subjects the way a cat might play with a mouse. Still, they speak to his poetic personality. So here are two of the four.


XIII

If the gods are willing, Fabullus, my friend,
You’ll dine well in my house a few days hence—
If you bring a fine feast and a pretty girl
And wine and wit and all your laughter.
You’ll dine well, I say, if you bring all this,
For my purse, alas, is full of cobwebs.
But you’ll have in return sweet friendship
And something sweeter and finer still:
I’ll give you a perfume, Fabullus, my friend,
That Venus and Cupid gave to my girl,
And when you smell it, you’ll pray the gods
To turn you into one big nose.


XXIII

Furius, you have no slave nor strong-box
Nor bug, nor spider, nor even a fire;
Yet a father you have and stepmother, too,
Equipped with teeth to crunch up flint.
What a grand life with father dear
And with your father’s wooden wife!
For you are all in the best of health,
Your digestion’s good, you have no fears
Of the usual fires or collapsing houses,
Serious crime or attempts at poison
Or any other sort of danger.
So how could you not feel truly blessed?
Exposed to sun and cold and hunger
Your bodies are toned, dry as a bone;
You’ve no saliva nor drop of sweat,
Or mucus or nasty nasal phlegm.
Your healthy ways include this, too:
Your arse, you see, is clean as a whistle,
And you wouldn’t !@#$ ten times a year—
Which, being hard as a pebble or bean,
You can roll about all over your hands
And leave your fingers without a stain.
Now, Furius, all these many blessings
Are not to be scorned or taken lightly;
So as for that loan you keep asking for,
Forget it: you’ve riches enough already.


Dec/6/2010, 4:50 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


The Lesbia poems are certainly my favorite part of Catullus' work. But I don't overlook the rest. I find it full of little gems (and one very big one--the Attis poem). After all, the Lesbia poems are only a small part of his total work (at least, what's been preserved for us), and true, Catullus isn't always as intense elsewhere as he is in the Lesbia poems. But a poet can have his moods, and I always enjoy Catullus in a relaxed mood.

The XIII above I've always found "charming", if it's still OK to use that word these days. And the XXIII is a good lampoon of a guy he's finding bothersome. The LIX ("Rufa of Bologna") for me is an odd little thing, and quite unsettling. A strange woman, and you wonder just what's going on there. And finally, the CI, the tribute to his brother, I think contains a lot of real emotion. You see Catullus at his purest there.

When you put poems like this together, you get a view of Catullus as a man. And I've always seen him as one of us: up and down, alternately outraged or tickled, and for all his strutting, having a hard time getting to grips with the world he lives in, trying hard to figure out exactly where he stands. And that has a lot to say to me.

---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Dec/7/2010, 5:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)




CI

Through many lands, my brother,
From far across the sea,
I come at last to do you honor,
Bearing the dismal offerings
Accorded the dead, and greeting
Your silent ashes with useless words.
Since Fortune now, my brother,
Has taken you from me,
So shamefully stolen you from me,
Accept these offerings then,
Tradition of our ancestors,
Gift of grief to the dear departed,
And bathed in a brother’s tears.
This word at last, my brother
Unto all ages: Hail and farewell!


Here you go, Seneca. Hoped you might weigh in.

Tere
Dec/7/2010, 6:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


Seneca and Tere,

Thanks again for posting these. Based on the poems offered in the translation threads, Catullus does seem "like one of us." Seneca, I'm glad you chose to translate the poems in a way that preserved this quality.

"The LIX ("Rufa of Bologna") for me is an odd little thing, and quite unsettling. A strange woman, and you wonder just what's going on there."

Sounds intriguing, but I couldn't find poem LIX in any of the threads. Did I miss it somewhere?!?
Dec/26/2010, 2:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


No, Kat. You didn't miss the poem. Seneca referenced it from what he sent me and I did not put it up, possibly out of too much a sense of delicacy. But I am not into censoring. Come to think of it, I came across this girl once in a graveyard, back in high school. Here it is.

LIX

Rufa of Bologna, wife of Menenius,
Satisfies Rufulus orally.
You’ll see her often in the graveyard,
Snatching the offerings right off the pyre,
Chasing a loaf as it rolls off the fire,
Receiving a thump from the skinhead
In charge of burning the dead.
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


Yes, I do wonder just what's going on here. Surreal image for sure.

Thanks for posting these, you two.

Chris
Dec/28/2010, 9:43 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


Well, my sense Chris, is that Catullus was inclined to the scatological in his sense of humor. Biographers say so was Mozart, taking particular enjoyment in jokes involving, what the dictionary calls, excretory functions. Also grouped in the inclination is a preoccupation with obscenity in literature. Not so odd a characteeristic to be found in great lit. makers, actually. James Joyce opened his Ulysses novel with Bloom satisfactorily completing a bowel movement sitting in an outhouse. His letters to his wife, Nora, on occassion could be particularly smutty.

As for the case of poem LIX my take is that Catullus first sets the terms, then works associatively. In high school there was a girl, I'll call her a loose girl, but she was called worse by the boys who enjoyed her favors back then, in the 60s, who arranged her night-time rendevous in what might have been Daytona Beach's oldest cemetery. (I can't make this stuff up.) She was school wide famous for both her proclevities and for the graveyard scene. So this is my personal reference point for approaching a poem 2,000 plus years old. I may have to mine the material for a poem.

Seneca, "skinhead" is perfect.

Tere
Dec/28/2010, 7:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


This is a poem that caught my attention because of the woman's odd behavior. And one of my first thoughts was that this is the sort of thing you find in a wealthy society. When people get enough money, they start fritzing out, they lose contact with reality in a way. But I'm not at all sure this is true. There's always been strange people around, and who's to say that odd behavior of this sort hasn't always been around?

---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Dec/29/2010, 1:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


Thanks, Tere, for posting LIX. It's a puzzler for sure. I was wondering if "Rufa of Bologna, wife of Menenius" amd "Rufulus" were real people Catullus knew and was lampooning in some way.
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


quote:

Katlin wrote:

Thanks, Tere, for posting LIX. It's a puzzler for sure. I was wondering if "Rufa of Bologna, wife of Menenius" amd "Rufulus" were real people Catullus knew and was lampooning in some way.



My guess is that these were real people that Catullus knew, though I have no firm info on that. "Rufa" could be a proper name or it could mean "the red-haired woman". Likewise, "Rufulus" could be a proper name or could mean "the red-haired man"--and I also have a note that it could indicate a certain officer's post in the army. To simplify matters, I just took these as proper names. I didn't think it was an especially important detail.



---
It's not the dress, it's the woman!
Jan/1/2011, 4:24 pm Link to this post Send Email to SenecatheDuck   Send PM to SenecatheDuck
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


Seneca,

Thanks for the additional info!
Jan/2/2011, 2:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Catullus 3 (tr by Senecatheduck)


Saw this online the other day and thought some of you might be interested:

"Schoolboy filth and tender love: a classic with a twist"

a review of The Irish Catullus or One Gentleman of Verona

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Feb/21/2011, 9:36 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 


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