Do you remember the sweet and romantic catullo?
Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.
Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us judge all the rumors of the old men
to be worth just one penny!
The suns are able to fall and rise:
When that brief light has fallen for us,
we must sleep a never ending night.
Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then yet another thousand more, then another hundred.
Then, when we have made many thousands,
we will mix them all up so that we don’t know,
and so that no one can be jealous of us when he finds out
how many kisses we have shared.
Yes, he was good with romantic words, but maybe you don’t know that he was also a master of insults and explicit language.
So if you are highly emotional I suggest to stop reading.
First of all I want start by saying that his sweetest Lesbia (whose real name probably was Clodia) was a married woman, and Catullus wasn’t her only lover. Indeed in carme 58 he wrote:
“Caeli, Lesbia nostra, Lesbia illa, illa Lesbia quam Catullus unam plus quam se atque suos amavit omnes, nunc in quadriviis et angiportis glubit magnanimi Remi nepotes”
Caelius, our Lesbia, that Lesbia, that same Lesbia, whom Catullus loved more than himself and more than all his own, now loiters at the cross-roads and in the backstreets ready to toss-off the grandsons of the brave Remus.
Not only one lover but all grandsons of the brave Remus!
There is one last unflattering carme dedicated to Lesbia that I want quote.
Salax taberna vosque contubernales,
a pilleatis nona fratribus pila,
solis putatis esse mentulas vobis,
solis licere, quidquid est puellarum,
confutuere et putare ceteros hircos?
an, continenter quod sedetis insulsi
centum an ducenti, non putatis ausurum
me una ducentos irrumare sessores?
atqui putate: namque totius vobis
frontem tabernae sopionibus scribam.
puella nam mi, quae meo sinu fugit,
amata tantum quantum amabitur nulla,
pro qua mihi sunt magna bella pugnata,
consedit istic. hanc boni beatique
omnes amatis, et quidem, quod indignum est,
omnes pusilli et semitarii moechi;
tu praeter omnes une de capillatis,
cuniculosae Celtiberiae fili,
Egnati. opaca quem bonum facit barba
et dens Hibera defricatus urina.
O salacious tavern and you comrades,
at the ninth pillar from the felt-capped brothers,
you think that you alone have penises,
that you alone are permitted to have sex with
however many girls there are and think the rest he-goats?
Or, because 100 (or 200?) of you stupids sit in a line,
you think that I would not dare to force you 200 sitters together
to perform oral sex on me?
But now think: I will draw dicks all over the front of your tavern.
For that girl, who fled from my lap,
who I loved as much as no one will love a girl,
on behalf of whom many battles were fought,
sits there. All the good and rich men are making love to this girl,
and, indeed, rather unsuitably, all you puny alley-way adulterers;
you love one beyond all, one of the hairy ones.
son of the cave-dwelling Celtiberians,
Egnatius, whose good is marked by a shady beard,
and who scours his teeth with Iberian piss.
Clearly Egnatius wan’t just a friend.
And if we want omit the probable double entendre of the dead sparrow of Lesbia in carme 3, there is another object of desire that captures the young Catullus. The poet dedicates at least five works to his beloved boy. In carme 15 their relationship is sentimental and emotional, in carme 48 becomes romantic and passionated, and the carme 21 is near to pornography, nothing is unsaid, everything is explicit.
And it’s not over, with Ipsitilla he banishes all kind of sentimentality and goes straight to the point :
“… sed domi maneas paresque nobis novem continuas fututiones …”
“… but stay at home & get yourself all ready for nine successive copulations! …”
He isn’t sweeter with Aufillena (carme 110-111)
If this is the courtesy used to his lovers, you can imagine what he wrote about his rivals, as before mentioned in carme 37.
In carme 6 Flavio is accused of keeping secret the identity of his girlfriend a “feverish harlot”.
In carme 9 Catullus wrote that the teeth of Egnatius are so white because every morning he washes them with urine.
Aemilius is the victim of carme 97:
Non (ita me di ament) quicquam referre putaui,
utrumne os an culum olfacerem Aemilio.
nilo mundius hoc, nihiloque immundius illud,
verum etiam culus mundior et melior:
nam sine dentibus est. hic dentis sesquipedalis,
gingiuas vero ploxeni habet veteris,
praeterea rictum qualem diffissus in aestu
meientis mulae cunnus habere solet.
hic futuit multas et se facit esse venustum,
et non pistrino traditur atque asino?
quem siqua attingit, non illam posse putemus
aegroti culum lingere carnificis?
I did not (may the gods love me) think it mattered,
whether I might be smelling Aemilius’s mouth or arse.
The one’s no cleaner, the other’s no dirtier,
in fact his arse is both cleaner and nicer:
since it’s no teeth. Indeed, the other has
foot long teeth, gums like an old box-cart,
and jaws that usually gape like the open
cunt of a pissing mule on heat.
He fucks lots of women, and makes himself out
to be charming, and isn’t set to the mill with the ass?
Shouldn’t we think, of any girl touching him,
she’s capable of licking a foul hangman’s arse?
At the end I leave you with a carme dedicated to who still think that Catullus is a love poet.
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,
qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,
quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.
Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necesse est;
qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem,
si sunt molliculi ac parum pudici,
et quod pruriat incitare possunt,
non dico pueris, sed his pilosis
qui duros nequeunt movere lumbos.
Vos, quod milia multa basiorum
legistis, male me marem putatis?
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo.
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,
Aurelius, you cocksucker; Furius, you little bitch
you who think, because my poems
are sensitive, that I have no shame.
For it’s proper for a devoted poet to be moral
himself, [but] in no way is it necessary for his poems.
In point of fact, these have wit and charm
if they are sensitive and a little shameless,
and can arouse an itch,
and I don’t mean in boys, but in those hairy old men
who can’t get it up.
Because you’ve read my countless kisses,
you think less of me as a man?
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.