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Catullus 51 by Gaius Valerius Catullus

Short analysis This poem was originally written in Latin (English did not exist at the time). For your convenience, both versions of the poem is listed below. This poem speaks of Lesbia who was the great love of Catullus. Many of Catullus' poems were addressed to her. However, that doesn't mean he truly wrote the poems about her. Indeed, the writings are most likely about his own love that captured his eyes and captured his mind. He couldn't help but write about her, and since the goddess of love was the one to look towards and pray to, he did just that.

"Catullus 51" consists of four stanzas made up of four lines each. They are not put into rhyme, but hold amazing rhythm and truly gives the sense of romance.


Catullus 51

That fellow seems to be equal to a god,
That fellow, if it is proper, to surpass the gods,
Who is sitting opposite you
Sees you and hears you

Sweet laughter, which in my wretched state robs
All sense from me: for as soon as I looked upon
You, Lesbia, no voice remained for me
upon my mouth

My tongue grows numb, a thin flame
Seeps beneath my limbs, my ears ring
With their own sound, my eyes are covered
With twin night.

Leisure, Catullus, is bothersome to you:
In leisure you exult too much and without restraint:
Leisure has ruined both former kings
And cities once wealthy.

Catulle LI

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
eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
vocis in ore,

lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures, gemina et teguntur
lumina nocte.

Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes.

Carmen Catulle

Next: Catullus 62

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