By chance I saw this poem by Catull on the Facebook Learning Latin site. I posted a poem by Catull, in which he laments the unfaithfulness of his mistress Lesbia. Some more post followed by other men with unflattering quotes about women. A female member took her revenge and placed this poem. I must admit that I have never read this poem before, or maybe I did and forgot about it: too much stench coming out of it….
Catull addresses a serious problem: a certain Rufus tries to lure girls into his bed, but without success. Catull knows why this happens all the time and gives some good advice.
Noli admirari, quare tibi femina nulla,
Rufe, uelit tenerum supposuisse femur,
non si illam rarae labefactes munere uestis
aut perluciduli deliciis lapidis.
laedit te quaedam mala fabula, qua tibi fertur
ualle sub alarum trux habitare caper.
hunc metuunt omnes, neque mirum: nam mala ualde est
bestia, nec quicum bella puella cubet.
quare aut crudelem nasorum interfice pestem,
aut admirari desine cur fugiunt.
Noli admirari: a negative command is constructed with noli + infinitive. admirari is of course not `to admire’ in this context, but `to wonder, be surprised’.
supposuisse = supponere to put under,
femur –oris (n): the thigh
rarae vestis: thin clothing was of course expensive
labefacto -avi –atum: to cause to totter, shake. Here: to corrupt
munus muneris: here; gift
perlucidulus: very bright, transparent
laedo –si –sum: to hurt, damage
fabula, qua tibi fertur: a rumour according to which
vallis –is: valley
trux trucis: fierce
caper capri (m): he-goat
mala bestia: for everyone who has never been in the neighbourhood of a he-goat: it spreads a certain smell….
quicum = cum qua (quicum is an archaic form)
cubo cubui cubitum cubare: to lie down, sleep
nasorum: gen. obj.
interficio –feci –factum: to kill
desino desii desitum desinere: to stop, cease
Be not surprised, Rufus, that no woman
will put her soft thighs under you,
not even when you corrupt her by a gift of fine clothing
or by the delights of a very bright stone.
Some evil rumour is hurting you, according to which
under the valley of your armpits a fierce he-goat is living.
Everyone fears him, no wonder: as it is a very bad
beast, and no pretty girl will sleep with that.
Therefore: either kill that cruel stench for noses,
or stop being surprised, why they run away.
Rufus before using deodorant……
Rufus after using deodorant!