Then Again




Roman Poetry



Catullus (ca. 84-53 B.C.)


Let's you and me live it up, my Lesbia,

and make some love, and let old cranks

go cheap talk their fool heads off.

Maybe suns can set and come back up again,

but once the brief light goes out on us

the night's one long sleep forever.

First give me a kiss, a thousand kisses,

then a hundred, and then a thousand more,

then another hundred, and another thousand,

and keep kissing and kissing me so many times

we get all mixed up and can't count anymore,

that way nobody can give us the evil eye

trying to figure how many kisses we've got.



Time was you said only Catullus could touch you,

that God in heaven couldn't have you before me.

I loved you then, not just as a guy does a girl,

but the way a father loves his sons and grandsons.

Now I know you, Lesbia, and if my passion grows,

you're also much cheaper to me and insignificant.

How's that? Because, hurt a man in love and he lusts for you more,

but the less he really cares.




Horace (65-8 B.C.)




The peace that the sailor seeks in the storm

And the rest that's the warrior's aim

Can't be purchased with wealth in any form

Nor, Grosphus, with power or fame.

The pauper who wants only what he can afford

Sleeps soundly. But he who would fly

To new fortunes, although he hastens abroad

Speedy vessels, sees his trouble stand by.

Fools nourish dreams of perfect joy;

I'll take less, having witnessed a hero

Die young and watched rotting old age destroy

Tithonus, reduced to a gibbering zero.

It may beI have just those things you need

Amidst your horses, fine clothing, and cattle--

Subsidence, and joy from the poems I read,

And no jealous mob doing me battle.




Martial (ca. A.D. 40-102)



VI, xxxi

You know your wife's playing around

with your physician, Charidemus,

but you don't do anything about it.

My guess is you won't have to wait

for a fever to carry you off.


XI, lxvi

You're a spy and a blackmailer,

a forger, a pimp, a pervert,

and a trainer of gladiators,

Vacerra. I can't understand

why you aren't rich.


II, xxxvi

I don't say you should curl your hair,

but you could comb it.

I don't say your body should be oiled,

but you could take a bath.

You needn't have a eunuch's beard

or a jailbird's. I don't insist

upon too much manliness,

Pannychus, or too little.

As it is, your legs are hairy

and your chest is shaggy with bristles,

but your mind, Pannychus, is bald.

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