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Catullus 51 Translation

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Catullus 51 Translation

Postby euripides » Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:22 pm

Salvete!

Here is my translation of Catullus 51. Comments and criticisms are more than welcome.

Ille mi par esse deo videntur,
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, aspexi, nihil est super mi
[vocis in ore.]

Lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures, gemina teguntur
lumina nocte.

Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes.


This man seems to be an equal of the gods.
This man, if it is right, appears to surpass the gods:
He who, sitting opposite you,
gazes at you and listens to your
sweet laughter again and again. Those things
from my misery snatch my senses: indeed,
the instant I look at you, Lesbia,
nothing of my voice is left in my mouth.

My tongue is tied, a thin flame of love
flows down through my limbs,
my ears ring with their own sound and
my eyes are covered with the twin night.

Catullus, leisure for you is troublesome:
In leisure do you rejoice and delight too much:
Leisure has, in the past, ruined kings and beautiful cities.
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Postby Kasper » Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:58 am

Ille mi par esse deo videntur,
ille, si fas est, superare divos,

This man seems to be an equal of the gods.
This man, if it is right, appears to surpass the gods:


You did not translate ‘mi’
‘videntur’ does not appear right. Probably a typo for ‘videtur’
'deo' is singular


qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit
dulce ridentem,

He who, sitting opposite you,
gazes at you and listens to your
sweet laughter again and again.


Not ‘your sweet laughter’ but ‘you sweetly laughing’

misero quod omnis
eripit sensus mihi

Those things
from my misery snatch my senses:


I think misero is a verb here. ‘I am sad because…’


nam simul te,
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi [vocis in ore.]

indeed,
the instant I look at you, Lesbia,
nothing of my voice is left in my mouth.


not ‘the instant’, but ‘at the same time’
'aspexi' is perfect tense

Lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures, gemina teguntur
lumina nocte.

My tongue is tied, a thin flame of love
flows down through my limbs,
my ears ring with their own sound and
my eyes are covered with the twin night.


‘tied’ is a pretty liberal translation (although I think correct)
I think ‘tenuis’ goes with ‘artus’, not flamma. His limbs have gone weak.
i'm not sure the flame is one 'of love'. Is it a flaming jealousy? i don't know...

I wonder about ‘gemina lumina’ as meaning ‘eyes’, but you may well be right. I’m not sure what ‘twin lights’ he is referring to. Oh, I don’t think it is ‘twin night’, which would make even less sense.


A lovely poem, and nicely done.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby Twpsyn » Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:57 am

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Postby Kasper » Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:51 am

Hi Twpsyn

thanks for you comments!!

re 'simul', it seems (to me) to indicate that Catullus is looking at her 'at the same time' as Mr Divine, but feels rather rotten because he cannot match Mr Divine's divinity. In fact, Catullus is so out of sorts that he can't speak a word to her.

re 'misero', there is a verb 'miserare'. If it is dative, which i would be happy to accept, then what is 'quod' doing there? Is it something like 'with the result that...'?

Cheers!
K.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
Kasper
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Postby Twpsyn » Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:50 pm

True, misero exists is a variant of the verb miseror, but as such it means 'to have pity', not 'to be sad'. The quod is a relative pronoun in this case, its antecedent the entire sentence above. So euripides's translation was quite accurate.
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Postby auctor » Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:33 pm

'ille' = that chap rather than this one
'miser' is common in Catullus with the sense of lovelorn
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Postby euripides » Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:50 am

Awesome, thanks everbody!

Some bits, I realize, were rather liberal; the "tongue tied", "the instant" etc. My aim was to capture the sense in more or less idiomatic English.

Regarding the "flame of love"; my dictionary relates that, along with meaning merely "flame", the word also had the sense of "the fire or glow of passion", hence "flame of love"

Sorry about the typo.

Re Kasper:

I thought that Catullus was referring to himself at the beginning, albeit in the 3rd person. That is, Catullus feels like Mr Divine when he's around Lesbia, though, he can't work up the courage to say anything and becomes a lovelorn mess. He lusts after her but can't act on it. I never thought he could be talking about someone else :D

Ago gratias omnibus!
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Postby TamerOfHorses » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:07 am

I think it's a good translation. Ille = That man.

Magnam Laborem!
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Re: Catullus 51 Translation

Postby paulusnb » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:08 am

Euripides,

Nice translation. I like this poem better with the last bit kept on, like you have it here.

Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes.

I think this definitely puts a different spin on Catullus' poem and on Catullus. As rowdy as Catullus can seem, deep down he does seem to have a conservative strain where he longs for things like traditional marriage contracts or virtue. Being at leisure is also important for the poem where Catullus meets his firend's scortilla in the Forum. Rather than try to impress the Roman Quirites via arguments, he is trying to impress a little slut with tales of extravagance. O tempores, o mores!
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Catullus 51 Translation

Postby victoriaw » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:13 pm

Very nice poem!
I'm sorry for unearthing this old thread, but it seems important.
I've recently translated the Catullus 51 from Latin to Spanish. I'm a professional translator, i work in an enterprise doing live phone interpretation.
I would like to post the poem here.


Aquel, que me parece igual a un dios
Aquel, si es lícito decirlo, supera a los dioses,
Que sentado sin moverse frente a ti
Te mira y te oye reír dulcemente, lo que a mi,
Desgraciado, me arrebata todos los sentidos
Pues, tan pronto como te veo, Lesbia,
No me queda voz en la boca
La lengua se me traba,
Una suave llama se levanta bajo mis articulaciones:
Mis oídos zumban con su mismo sonido y ambos ojos
Se me cubren con la noche.
El ocio es nocivo para ti, Catulo,
Con el ocio te pones te entusiasmas y alegras demasiado.
El ocio ha echado a perder antes que a ti
A reyes y a dichosas ciudades.
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