Catullus 13

A quick break from current events can always be found in the timeless poetry of Catullus:

'Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus -
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam 
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster
cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
Sed contra accipies meros amores,
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque;
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum'

Here is my quick translation, I do not try to maintain the meter:

You will eat, my Fabullus, with me
if the gods are favorable, in a a few days - 
if you bring with you a good and large
meal, (and) not without a bright girl
and wine and salt and all the laughs
if, I say, you bring these things, our charming brother
you will eat well; for regarding your Catullus
his wallet is full of spiderwebs.
But in return you will receive undiluted affection,
or something sweeter and more elegant:
for I will give a perfume, which to my girlfriend
the Venuses and Cupids gave;
when you smell this, you will ask the gods,
to make you, Fabullus, all nose.

This is one of Catullus’s more playful clean poems. Normally his humor is caught up in vulgarity and sensuality. Or at the very least, desire. But this is a nice story about how he wants to eat with his friend but his friend needs to provide all the laughs, food, wine, salt, girls, etc. What is Catullus providing? Why, such a wonderful perfume! Even that Perfume is actually his girlfriends!


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