This poem, inspired by the famous Sappho’s fragment (fr.2 Diehl), describes the devastating effects of love.
Nevertheless, it is an evidence of the endless struggle of Latin authors between practical, traditional way of life, devoted to res publica, and innovative, fascinating otium, where feelings and literature were the most important values.
Head of Classics
Ille mi par esse deo videtur,
ille, si fas est, superare divos
qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit
dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
Lesbia, adspexi, nihil est super mi
lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures, gemina teguntur
otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis.
otium et reges prius et beatas
He looks like a god to me,
He seems, if possible, to be ahead of gods,
who is sitting in front of you
and ceaselessly listens to you
and stares at you softly smiling.
That’s what snatches away every sense from miserable me!
When I merely glance at you,
My tongue is dulled,
A subtle flame creeps under my limbs,
My ears are ringing with their own sound,
Both eyes are darkened by night.
Otium, Catullus, is troublesome to you.
In otium you delight and get too enthused.
Otium once led to the ruin of kings and prosperous cities.
Chosen and translated by Mariangela Labate, Classics Teacher, Reggio Calabria .
The above text is provided by the Perseus Digital Library.