Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dirty Latin, part one

In high school, my favorite class was Latin.  It was definitely one of the toughest -- we moved fast with none of those wishy washy let's-color-the-clothing worksheets a la Spanish or French -- but also the most fun and stimulating class I enjoyed.  Where my English teachers would ignore Shakespeare's bawdy jokes, my Latin teacher would encourage discussion and facilitate understanding of raunchy bits of classicism. 

One of my favorite poets (and my all time favorite Latin poet) is a fellow by the name of Catullus.  (Pronounced cah-TULL-us, for you language geeks like me out there!)  He lived from about 84 to 54 BC and was presumed to have died around the age of thirty.  Here are some more details about him.  His biography isn't important for our purposes; just the fact that he had a tumultous affair with a wealthy man's wife, Clodia, whom he referred to in many more well known poems as "Lesbia." 

Catullus 2 and 3 are what I like to call the "Sparrow" poems... and he's not necessarily talking about a sparrow.  Here's the translation to Catullus 3: "Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque", with an assignment I wrote my senior year.  It's not quite a rebuttal to this poem in particular, but parts of it could be read thusly....

Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque:

Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids!
And as much of you as love beauty:
My girl's sparrow is dead...
Sparrow, the delight of my girl,
Which she loved more than her own eyes.
For he was honey-sweet and knew
Her as well as the girl her own mother,
Nor did he move himself from her lap,
But hopping now here, now there
He chirped continuously for his mistress alone. 
Now he goes through the dark journey
From where they deny any return. 
But curse upon you!  Cursed darkness of
Pluto, swallowing all beautiful things:
You have taken my beautiful sparrow. 
O wretched deed! O miserable sparrow!
It's your fault my girl's little eyes
Are swollen and red from weeping. 

Lesbia's Reply: (click the link to view it larger; I couldn't get the fonts to work out correctly to place it strictly in blogger)  I have to warn you that I'm never this mean and nasty! I was trying to channel Lesbia when I was writing it :-)  I know many men suffer from ED and it's not a pleasant thing.

Lesbia's Reply

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The photo I found here via Tumblr!

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5 Comments:

Blogger Dioneo said...

That Lesbia is harsh! She definitely needs a spanking for that attitude.

Your translation is beautiful. I always wish I learned latin. It's such a prestigious language.

December 9, 2010 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Ida Virgin said...

Wow! How did I miss your comment, Dioneo? Thank you :-) I think that everything sounds better in Latin, hehe.

I think Lesbia needs a spanking!

December 14, 2010 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Ida Virgin said...

whoops! It's supposed to read that I think Lesbia -most definitely- needs a spanking!

December 14, 2010 at 4:44 PM  
Anonymous RememberToFeelReal said...

I remember this!!

January 7, 2011 at 2:17 AM  
Blogger Ida Virgin said...

Haha I remember being soo apprehensive about turning it in that way... but I think it works :-)

January 20, 2011 at 3:15 PM  

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