Saturday, 13 February 2010

Some Latin words for Valentine's Day Cards plus Catullus


Gaius Velerius Catullus was probably born in 84 BC. Not much is known about him. He is known to be the son of a wealthy citizen in Verona, either he or his family owned a villa on Lake Garda. He regards Rome as his home (as in poem 68). He was in love and besotted by the notorious Clodia Metelli, who was probably the Lesbia of the poems. He started writing in 69 or 68 BC but after his death in about 54BC., his work was lost for a thousand years. He is regarded as one of ancient Rome's finest lyric poets.

His love poems are THE best! His other poems, erm, are of a slightly different nature but generally they are all worth reading unless you are of a highly sensitive disposition...

Poem V is among his best known (about his lover, Lesbia, on one of their good days):

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 sciet esse basiorum.


Lesbia
Live with me
& love me so
we'll laugh at all
the sour-faced strict-
ures of the wise.
This sun once set
will rise again,
when our sun sets
follows night &
an endless sleep.
Kiss me now a
thousand times &
now a hundred
more & then a
hundred & a
thousand more again
till with so many
hundred thousand
kisses you & I
shall both lose count
nor any can
from envy of
so much of kissing
put his finger
on the number
of sweet kisses
you of me &
I of you,
darling, have had.

Taken from Penguin Classics "The Poems of Catullus". Translation of Poem V by Peter Whigham (1966) [Editor Betty Radice.]

Some Latin love expressions:

Ego te amo - I love you
Tune me amas? - Do you love me?
Nonne me amas? - Surely you love me?
Da mihi basium (basia: multa/plurima) - Give me a kiss, (kisses: many/very many)
Basia ad te mitto - I send kisses to you
Basia tibi do - I give kisses to you
Leatus(a) sum si laetus (a) es - I am happy if you are happy
Ab amico (a) - from your friend

Click on this link [here] to read how Valentine's Day is meant to have started. It began, allegedly, at the founding of Rome with wolves and then to Lupercalia to St. Valentine to the Conquistadors to chocolate and then to Cadburys!

And last but not least - wishing everyone many good things these Lupercalia!

5 comments:

the fly in the web said...

I remember his poem about his yacht, but now have to hunt for the book...that should take most of Valentine's Day1

Completely Alienne said...

I really enjoyed Catullus's poetry when we did it as part of O level latin; I still love it. I am so sad that I have done further latin courses through the OU and I translate it for fun! I haven't yet got round to the latin crossword book one of my sisters gave me for Christmas, but I will. I am also re-using the latin 366 phrases calendar the same sister gave me in 2008 for the third year! It sits under my computer screen and I turn it over every day.

French Fancy said...

Gosh, Catallus takes me back - to the Latin O' level I was never put in for after the mock results came out - and I had to admit I'd copied all my course work from Rosemary Shenfield

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Fly, CA and FF. I'm afraid I am a sad Roman nut (as you all know). I wish I had the time, CA, to do the OU courses but I am very tempted. Fly...I find Catullus's poetry very vivid. It paints a real picture for me. In this poem I can imagine it as a Hollywood film kiss for kiss!

FF..Did Rosemary Shenfield know that you copied all her course work? Either she was an aboslute angel or an unsuspecting soul? I fancy it was the first...sotospeak!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

absolute angel...typo alert!