A Translation of “Catullus 13” by Matthew T. Warnez

Catullus 13

Fabúllus, friend! Prepare to feast with me,
if fate allows, two days from now, or three.
But you must bring the meal—and make it great.
Yes, a good meal! And bring your charming date—
and wine, and salty speech, and jokes to tell.
If you bring these, my friend, you will dine well.

(Your dear Catúllus owns a spacious purse,
yet only cobwebs will the purse disburse.)

But, in exchange, you shall receive my love
or something more delightful from above:
I’ll share the fragrance that my bride applies,
which love supernal sweetly magnifies.
Once it is whiffed, you’ll beg that heav’n bestows—
this gift: to be in love, or be a nose.

***Original Latin***

Cēnābis bene, mī Fabulle, apud mē
paucīs, sī tibi dī favent, diēbus,
sī tēcum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cēnam, nōn sine candidā puellā
et vīnō et sale et omnibus cachinnīs.
Haec sī, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cēnābis bene; nam tuī Catullī
plēnus sacculus est arāneārum.
Sed contrā accipiēs merōs amōrēs,
seu quid suāvius ēlegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabŏ, quod meae puellae
dōnārunt Venerēs Cupīdinēsque;
quod tū cum olfaciēs, deōs rogābis
tōtum ut tē faciant, Fabulle, nāsum.

Gaius Valerius Catullus was a poet of the late Roman Republic whose poetry focused on everyday life instead of classical heroes. A significant influence of Ovid, Virgil, and Petrarch, his surviving works are still widely read and influential in contemporary poetry and art.

Matthew T. Warnez, B.H., is a Catholic religious brother and a campus minister.

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