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Catullus 62 by Gaius Valerius Catullus

Short analysis For your convenience, both the English and Latin versions are available below. This poem is about marriage and how women should remain untouched until they are married (as it isn't only her's, it is also her parents'). It goes on to state that women shouldn't resist a good man.

"Catullus 62" is made up of nine stanzas for a total of 74 lines. This poem does not rhyme but has, like all of Catullus' works, fantastic rhythm. His writings have truly lasted the test of time and will continue to be read for centuries to come.


Catullus 62

The evening is come, rise up, ye Vesper from Olympus
now at last is just raising his long-looked-for light.
Now is it time to rise, now to leave the rich tables;
now will come the bride, now will the Hymen-song be sung.
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

See ye, maidens, the youths? Rise up to meet them.
For sure the night-star shows his Oetaean fires.
So it is indeed; see you how nimbly they have sprung up?
it is not for nothing that they have sprung up: they will sing something which it is worth while to look at.
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

No easy palm is set out for us, comrades;
look how the maidens are conning what they have learnt.
Not in vain do they learn, they have there something worthy of memory;
no wonder, since they labour deeply with their whole mind.
We have diverted elsewhere our thoughts, elsewhere our ears;
fairly then shall we be beaten; victory loveth care.
Wherefore now at least match your minds with theirs.
Anon they will begin to speak, anon it will be fitting for us to answer.
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

Hesperus, what more cruel fire than thine moves in the sky?
for thou canst endure to tear the daughter from her mother's embrace,
from her mother's embrace to tear the close-clinging daughter,
and give the chaste maiden to the burning youth.
What more cruel than this do enemies when a city falls?
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

Hesperus, what more welcome fire than thine shines in the sky?
for thou with thy flame confirmest the contracted espousals,
which husbands and parents have promised beforehand,
but unite not till thy flame has arisen.
What is given by the gods more desirable than the fortunate hour?
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

Hesperus, friends, has taken away one of us.

For at thy coming the guard is always awake.
By night thieves hide themselves, whom thou, Hesperus, often overtakest as thou returnest,
Hesperus the same but with changed name Eous.
But girls love to chide thee with feigned complaint.
What then, if they chide him whom they desire in their secret heart?
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

As a flower springs up secretly in a fenced garden,
unknown to the cattle, torn up by no plough,
which the winds caress, the sun strengthens, the shower draws forth,
many boys, many girls, desire it;
when the same flower fades, nipped by a sharp nail,
no boys, no girls desire it:
so a maiden, whilst she remains untouched, so long is she dear to her own;
when she has lost her chaste flower with sullied body,
she remains neither lovely to boys nor dear to girls.
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

As an unwedded vine which grows up in a bare field
never raises itself aloft, never brings forth a mellow grape,
but bending its tender form with downward weight,
even now touches the root with topmost shoot;
no farmers, no oxen tend it:
but if it chance to be joined in marriage to the elm,
many farmers, many oxen tend it:
so a maiden, whilst she remains untouched, so long is she aging untended;
but when in ripe season she is matched in equal wedlock,
she is more dear to her husband and less distasteful to her father.
And you, maiden, strive not with such a husband;
it is not right to strive with him to whom your father himself gave you,
your father himself with your mother, whom you must obey.
Your maidenhead is not all your own; partly it belongs to your parents,
a third part is given to your father, a third part to your mother,
only a third is yours; do not contend with two,
who have given their rights to their son-in-law together with the dowry.
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, Hymen, hither, O Hymenaeus!

Catulle LXII

VESPER adest, iuuenes, consurgite: Vesper Olympo
exspectata diu uix tandem lumina tollit.
surgere iam tempus, iam pinguis linquere mensas,
iam ueniet uirgo, iam dicetur hymenaeus.
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Cernitis, innuptae, iuuenes? consurgite contra;
nimirum Oetaeos ostendit Noctifer ignes.
sic certest; uiden ut perniciter exsiluere?
non temere exsiluere, canent quod uincere par est.
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

non facilis nobis, aequales, palma parata est:
aspicite, innuptae secum ut meditata requirunt.
non frustra meditantur: habent memorabile quod sit;
nec mirum, penitus quae tota mente laborant.
nos alio mentes, alio diuisimus aures;
iure igitur uincemur: amat uictoria curam.
quare nunc animos saltem conuertite uestros;
dicere iam incipient, iam respondere decebit.
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Hespere, quis caelo fertur crudelior ignis?
qui natam possis complexu auellere matris,
complexu matris retinentem auellere natam,
et iuueni ardenti castam donare puellam.
quid faciunt hostes capta crudelius urbe?
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Hespere, quis caelo lucet iucundior ignis?
qui desponsa tua firmes conubia flamma,
quae pepigere uiri, pepigerunt ante parentes,
nec iunxere prius quam se tuus extulit ardor.
quid datur a diuis felici optatius hora?
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Hesperus e nobis, aequales, abstulit unam.

namque tuo aduentu uigilat custodia semper,
nocte latent fures, quos idem saepe reuertens,
Hespere, mutato comprendis nomine Eous
at lubet innuptis ficto te carpere questu.
quid tum, si carpunt, tacita quem mente requirunt?
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Vt flos in saeptis secretus nascitur hortis,
ignotus pecori, nullo conuolsus aratro,
quem mulcent aurae, firmat sol, educat imber;
multi illum pueri, multae optauere puellae:
idem cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
nulli illum pueri, nullae optauere puellae:
sic uirgo, dum intacta manet, dum cara suis est;
cum castum amisit polluto corpore florem,
nec pueris iucunda manet, nec cara puellis.
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Vt uidua in nudo uitis quae nascitur aruo,
numquam se extollit, numquam mitem educat uuam,
sed tenerum prono deflectens pondere corpus
iam iam contingit summum radice flagellum;
hanc nulli agricolae, nulli coluere iuuenci:
at si forte eadem est ulmo coniuncta marito,
multi illam agricolae, multi coluere iuuenci:
sic uirgo dum intacta manet, dum inculta senescit;
cum par conubium maturo tempore adepta est,
cara uiro magis et minus est inuisa parenti.
Et tu ne pugna cum tali coniuge uirgo.
non aequom est pugnare, pater cui tradidit ipse,
ipse pater cum matre, quibus parere necesse est.
uirginitas non tota tua est, ex parte parentum est,
tertia pars patrest, pars est data tertia matri,
tertia sola tua est: noli pugnare duobus,
qui genero suo iura simul cum dote dederunt.
Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee!

Carmen Catulle

Next: Catullus 51

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