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Sapphobilly

by Sapphobilly

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about

Sappho lived on the Aegean island of Lesbos around 600 BCE. She deserves to be remembered primarily as the first great song-writer of western civilization . That's "song-writer," not "poet," if by poet you mean someone who declaims in free verse. The ancient Greeks did not have poetry in that sense, or if they did, they called it oratory.

Sappho wrote songs, compositions in short stanzas meant to be sung to the tune of the lyre, the ancient guitar. She was a lyricist in the original sense of the word.

Little survives of Sappho's work. Her tunes have vanished completely. As far as we know, she never wrote them down. Some of her words are preserved in "fragments," quotations in other authors or literal fragments of ancient papyrus scrolls. There are only four really substantial fragments, ones that could pass for complete songs.

The melodies are gone, but the rhythms survive. Most of her poems were written in Sapphic stanzas: three rhythmically identical eleven-syllable lines followed by a five-syllable coda. Experts disagree on how such lines were meant to be performed – what sort of emphasis was given to which syllables – but it is clear that they were informed by a simple, repetitive rhythm. Furthermore, the words that fell into this rhythm were often interlocked by assonance, alliteration, and contraction. For instance, the first stanza of Sappho's "Hymn to Aphrodite," her longest surviving song, ends like this:

μή μ’ ἅσαισι μηδ’ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
πότνια, θῦμον.

mê m' asaisi mêd' oniaisi damna,
potnia, thumon.

What this means is, "O mistress (potnia), subdue (damna) me (m') in my spirit (thumon) neither (mê) with discomforts (asaisi) nor (mêd') with pains (oniaisi)." Mê sounds like "may;" mêd' like "made;" the ai diphthong corresponds to English "I." Asaisi and oniaisi both rhyme with "icy,": MAY m'uh SICee MADE o nee ICee DAMnah. It reminds you of lyrics like:

I'm wild again, beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again . . .


Sound is as important as meaning. It is what holds the listener's attention and propels it forward. As far as meaning is concerned, Sappho's songs, like most songs, were for everybody. They expressed basic feelings that were instantly recognizable then and still are.

This site contains translations of Sappho's four substantial fragments. Most frequently, these days, they are translated into free-verse poems. For the reasons intimated above, that strikes me as a misrepresentation. The translations that I offer are in the form of songs. I have no delusions about their merit as song lyrics in comparison with Sappho's -- or Hart's. My only hope is that they are more like Sappho's originals than the recent translations that I have seen and will therefore produce a better understanding of her spirit and achievement.

I have adhered as closely as possible to the general contours of Sappho's thought, but condense and pad as needed in the interests of rhythm and rhyme. For those curious about her exact words, I have included the original Greek and literal, prose translations. My translations were designed to be sung to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar, to the chord progressions of one's choice.

This site also includes lyrical translations of songs by two Romans who lived centuries after Sappho: Catullus and Horace. To judge by the literature that survives, they were classical antiquity's next best song writers. The four books of Horace's Odes consist almost entirely of songs written in short stanzas and were a self-conscious attempt to produce the Latin equivalent of the Sappho's songs and those of her fellow Lesbian (in a geographical sense) Alcaeus.

The case of Catullus is more complicated. Sappho's works were among his inspirations. His poem 51 is a translation of Sappho 31; his 11 is also written in Sapphic stanzas. The pseudonym that he uses for his mistress and muse was "Lesbia" (girl of Lesbos). On the other hand, most of his poems are in elegiac couplets or in stichic meters, not in stanzas, and such works were mostly recited rhythmically rather than being sung. Hence lyrical-translations of these poems have less formal justification. Still elegiac and stichic compositions were also sometimes set to music and Catullus' works are typically very song-like in spirit -- more so than many of Horace's, which tend to be a little cerebral for singing.

credits

released 04 September 2012

Recorded at Howl Street Recordings in August and November of 2011. Engineered by Shane Hochstetler. Produced by Jeffrey John Loomis. Mixed by Shane Hochstetler and Jeffrey John Loomis at Howl Street Recordings in June of 2012.

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Track Name: Sappho 1: Hymn to Aprodite
Your throne all draped in leopard skin,
child of Zeus, what tricks you spin!
You know how sorrowful I’ve been.
Don’t send me any pain,

but come to me if once before
you heard my distant voice implore
your help and left the golden floor
Hephaestus built your dad

and yoked your team. A handsome brace
of sparrows winged their way apace
from heaven’s height through outer space
and downward to the earth.

A sudden light! You smiled at me
(Ah blessed face of deity!)
and said to say what it could be
that prompted me to call

and what it was I wanted done.
“A love rekindled? One begun?
Just tell me, Sappho, has someone
been messing with your heart?

“If she flees you now, she’ll soon pursue,
from spurning gifts give gifts to you,
she’ll fall in love and quickly too.
It useless to resist.”

Come again once me to me!
End my anguish! Set me free!
Do the things my heart craves! Be
my comrade-in-arms.


Literal translation:

Dappled-throned, immortal Aphrodite,
deceit-weaving child of Zeus, I beg you,
do not subdue with sorrows and pains
my soul, lady,

but come hither if ever at another time
hearing my calls from afar
you heeded them, and leaving the house of your father,
the golden (house), you came

having yoked your chariot, and beautiful
swift sparrows brought you to the dark earth
beating their wings rapidly from heaven
through mid-ether.

They arrived quickly and you, O blessed one,
smiling with your immortal face
asked what indeed I had suffered and why
indeed I was calling,

and what I especially wanted to happen to me
in my crazed heart. “Whom indeed should I persuade
to take you back into her love? Who, O
Sappho, has done you wrong?

“For if she flees, she will quickly chase,
if she doesn’t accept gifts, she will, however, be giving them,
if she does not love, she quickly will,
even unwillingly.”

Come to me even now and free me from difficult
cares, and the things that my soul
wants to accomplish, accomplish them, and you yourself
be my ally.


Ancient Greek:

ποικιλόθρον’  θανάτ’ Ἀφρόδιτα,
παῖ Δίος δολόπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε,
μή μ’ ἄσαισι μηδ’ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
πότνιa, θῦμον,
 λλὰ τυίδ’ ἔλθ’, αἴ ποτα κ τέρωτα
τὰς ἔμας αὔδας  ίοισα πήλοι
ἔκλυες, πάτρος δὲ δόμον λίποισα
χρύσιον ἦλθες
ἄρμ’ ὐπασδεύξαισα· κάλοι δὲ σ’ ἆγον
ὤκεες στροῦθοι περὶ γᾶς μελαίνας
πύκνα δίννεντεσ πτέπ’  π’ ὠράνωἴθε-
ρος διὰ μέσσω,
αἶψα δ’ ἐξίκοντο· σὺ δ’, ὦ μάκαιρα,
μειδιαίσαισ’  θανάτῳ προσωπῳ
ἤρε’ ὄττι δηὖτε πέπονθα κὤττι
δηὔτε κάλημμι,
κὤττι μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
μαινόλᾳ θύμῳ· τίνα δηὔτε πείθω
ἄψ σ’ ἄγην ἐς ϝὰν φιλότατα; τίς σ’, ὤ
Ψάπφ’,  δικήει;
καὶ γὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει·
αἰ δὲ δῶρα μὴ δέκετ’,  λλὰ δώσει·
αἰ δὲ μὴ φίλει, ταχέως φιλήσει
κωὐκ ἐθέλοισα.
ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον
ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον· σὺ δ’ αὔτα
σύμμαχος ἔσσο.
Track Name: Sappho 31: A Rival of the Gods
To me the man who gets to sit
across from you and benefit
from your bewitching words and wit
‘s a rival of the gods.

In fact, it shakes my heart with fear
when I observe that you are near.
I want to talk and be sincere
but cannot say a word.

My tongue is broken. Flames ignite
beneath my skin. The sense of sight
deserts my eyes. It’s darkest night.
There’s ringing in my ears.

Streams of perspiration flow.
A palsy shakes me head to toe.
I’m green as grass. Look out below!
I think I’m going to die.


Literal translation:

That man seems to me to be
equal to good, whoever sits
opposite you and listens nearby
to your sweet voice

and lovely laughter. Indeed, that
makes the heart in my breast tremble,
for once I see you briefly, then for me to speak
is no longer possible,

But my tongue is broken, a delicate
fire instantly runs under my skin,
there is no sight in my eyes,
my ears hum,

and sweat pours down me. A trembling
seizes all of me. I am greener than grass.
I seem to myself to be
a little short of dying.


Ancient Greek:

φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν
ἔμμεν’ ὤνηρ, ὄττις ἐνάντιός τοι
ἰσδάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φωνεί-
σας ὐπακούει
καὶ γελαίσας ἰμέροεν, τό μ’ ἦ μὰν
καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν·
ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ’ ἴδω βρόχε’ , ὤ με φώναι-
σ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ἔτ’ εἴκει,
 λλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσά <μ’> ἔαγε, λέπτον
δ’ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν,
ὀππάτεσσι δ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ὄρημμ’, ἐπιρρόμ-
βεισι δ’ ἄκουαι,
κὰδ δέ μ’ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲ
παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας
ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ’ ὀλίγω ᾿πιδεύης
φαίνομ’ ἔμ ᾿ αὔ[τᾳ
 λλὰ πάν τόλματον, ἐπεὶ και πένητα
Track Name: Sappho 16: The Fairest Thing
Some people call the cavalry,
marching men or ships at sea
the fairest thing. I disagree.
It’s what a person loves.

The truth of this is manifest,
for Helen, mankind’s loveliest,
betrayed her husband with a guest,
a noble husband too,

and sailed to Troy unmindful of
her child, dear parents, gods above.
Without a thought! What else but Love
could lead a girl astray?

It makes me think of faraway
Anaktoria.

I’d rather see her brilliant smile
and graceful walk than half a mile
of men in arms, the rank and file
or chariots go by.


Literal translation:

Some say that a host of cavalry, others of infantry
and others of ships on the black earth,
is the fairest thing, but I say it is
whatever one loves.

It is entirely easy to prove
this to everyone, for she who far excelled
mankind in beauty, Helen, left her
excellent husband

and went sailing to Troy, and she
did not think of her child or dear
parents at all, but . . . led her
astray.
It now reminds me of Anaktoria
. . . not being present. .

I would rather see her lovely walk
and the bright sparkle of her face
than the Lydians’ chariots and men in armor
marching.


Ancient Greek:

ο]ἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον οἰ δὲ πέσδων
οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ’ ἐπ[ὶ] γᾶν μέλαι[ν]αν
ἔ]μμεναι κάλλιστον, ἔγω δὲ κῆν ὄτ-
τω τις ἔραται·
πάγχυ δ’ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
π]αντι τ[ο]ῦτ’,   γὰρ πόλυ περσκέθοισα
κάλλος [ νθ]ρώπων Ἐλένα [τὸ]ν ἄνδρα
τὸν [πανάρ]ιστον
καλλ[ίποι]σ’ ἔβα ᾿ς Τροΐαν πλέοι[σα
κωὐδ[ὲ πα]ῖδος οὐδὲ φίλων το[κ]ήων
πά[μπαν] ἐμνάσθη,  λλὰ παράγαγ’ αὔταν
]σαν
]αμπτον γὰρ[
]κουφως τ[ ]οησ [ ]ν
]με νῦν Ἀνακτορί[ας ὀνέμναι-
σ’ οὐ] παρεοίσας·
τᾶ]ς κε βολλοίμαν ἔρατόν τε βᾶμα
κ μάρυχμα λάμπρον ἴδην προσώπω
ἢ τὰ Λύδων ἂρματα κ ν ὄπλοισι
πεσδομ]άχεντας.
Track Name: Sappho 58: The New Sappho
Old age has dried and cracked my skin,
so baby-soft just yesterday.
My hair was thick and now it’s thin.
Its black has turned to grey.

My spirit’s reached an old-time low,
the strength my knees possessed is gone.
I used to dance on tippy-toe.
I’d frolic like a fawn.

The facts are those and hard to face,
but nothing’s gained by tears and rage.
If you are of the human race,
you must succumb to age.

They say that Dawn of rosy-wrist
was overcome by love one day.
Tithonus found himself being kissed
and carried far away.

For all his grace and loveliness
old age undid him by surprise.
And yet his wife was nothing less
than a goddess from the skies.

The facts are those and hard to face, etc.


Literal translation:

You yourselves, children attend zealously to the gifts
of the violet-bosomed Muses and the shrill, song-loving tortoise-shell lyre.

Old age has now taken possession of my skin that was previously
soft and my hair has become white from black.

My spirit has been made heavy, my knees do not support me.
Once indeed they were light for dancing like fawns.

I frequently bewail these things, but what might I do?
It is not possible for a human being to be ageless.

And once they say that rosy-armed Dawn . . . by love
went carrying Tithonus off to the ends of the earth

(Tithonus) being fair and young, but nevertheless grey age
seized him in time, although having a deathless wife.


Ancient Greek:

὜μμες πεδὰ Μοίσαν ἰ]οκ[ό]λπων κάλα δῶρα, παῖδες,
σπουδάσδετε καὶ τὰ]ν φιλάοιδον λιγύραν χελύνναν·
ἔμοι δ᾿ ἄπαλον πρίν] ποτ᾿ [ἔ]οντα χρόα γῆρας ἤδη
ἐπέλλαβε, ]γένοντο τρίχες ἐκ μελάιναν·
βάρυς δέ μ᾿ ὀ [θ]ῦμος πεπόηται, γόνα δ᾿[ο]ὐ φέροισι,
τὰ δή ποτα λαίψηρ᾿ ἔον ὄρχησθ’ ἴσα νεβρίοισι.
τὰ <μὲν> στεναχίσδω θαμέως·  λλὰ τί κεν ποείην;
 γήραον ἄνθρωπον ἔοντ᾿ οὐ δύνατον γένεσθαι.
καὶ π[ο]τα Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν Αὔων
ἔρωι φ . . αθεισαν βάμεν εἰς ἔσχατα γᾶς φέροισα[ν,
ἔοντα [κ]άλον καὶ νέον,  λλ᾿ αὖτον ὔμως ἔμαρψε
χρόνωι πόλιον γῆρας, ἔχ[ο]ντ᾿  θανάταν ἄκοιτιν.
Track Name: Catullus 39: Smiley
Ignatius smiles throughout the day
to keep his white teeth on display.

A lawyer pleading at a trial
to spare his client makes him smile.

A grieving mother’s quite undone.
It seems she’s lost her only son.

Here’s Ignatius drawing near.
He has a grin from ear to ear.

Ignatius, take advice from me.
If you were from (say) Tivoli

or any other Roman town,
I’d still suggest you try a frown.

Of all the faux-pas people make
untimely smiling takes the cake.

What makes it worse is you’re from Spain.
As seasoned travelers explain,

the nursling of the Pyrenees
removes his plaque with what he pees.

Your brilliant smile just makes us think
how much urine you must drink.


Literal translation:

Because he has white teeth, Egnatius
smiles constantly everywhere. If it’s a matter of going to the defendant’s
bench, when the orator stirs weeping,
that man smiles. If at the pyre of a pious son
there is mourning, when the bereft mother weeps for her only son,
that man smiles. Whatever it is, wherever it is,
whatever he is doing, he smiles. He has that disease,
neither elegant, in my opinion, nor urbane.
Wherefore, I must warn you, good Egnatius.
If you were urban or a Sabine or Tiburtan
or a thrifty Umbrian or a fat Etruscan
or a dark, toothy Lanuvian
or Transpadane (so that I might touch on my own people)
or anyone who cleans his teeth in a wholesome way,
I would still not want you to smile constantly, everywhere,
for nothing is more inept than an inept smile.
Now you are Celtiberian. In the Celtiberian land,
Everyone is accustomed to use in the morning that which he has peed
to brush his teeth and rosy-red gum,
so that the more polished those teeth of yours are
they more urine they declare that you have drunk.


Latin:

Egnatius, quod candidos habet dentes,
Renidet usque quaque. Si ad rei ventum est
Subsellium, cum orator excitat fletum,
Renidet ille. Si ad pii rogum fili
Lugetur, orba cum flet unicum mater,
Renidet ille. Quidquid est, ubicumque est,
Quodcumque agit, renidet. Hunc habet morbum
Neque elegantem, ut arbitror, neque urbanum.
Quare monendum est te mihi, bone Egnati.
Si urbanus esses aut Sabinus aut Tiburs
Aut parcus Umber aut obesus Etruscus
Aut Lanuvinus ater atque dentatus
Aut Transpadanus, ut meos quoque attingam,
Aut qui libet qui puriter lavit dentes,
Tamen renidere usque quaque te nollem;
Nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est.
Nunc Celtiber es. Celtiberia in terra,
Quod quisque minxit, hoc sibi solet mane
Dentem atque russam defricare gingivam,
Ut quo iste vester expolitior dens est,
Hoc te amplius bibisse praedicet loti.
Track Name: Catullus 45: Acme and Septimius
Septimius hugging his Acme proclaims,
“I am terribly smitten, devoured by flames!
I’m as dead as the world’s greatest expert in dying!
You can send me to Libya if I am lying
or to India’s desert (a horrible place)
and show me a lion. I’ll spit in his face.”

Depositing kisses on both of his eyes,
rosy-lipped Acme leans back and replies:
“Septimius darling, my love, let’s obey
Venus and Cupid whatever they say,
for a fire consumes my interior too
and it’s hotter by far than the fire in you.”

Cupid was listening mightily pleased
and to show his approval his majesty sneezed.1

The omens are good as they start their advance
loving and loved down the road of romance.
Septimius views other girls with disdain.
Arab and British are equally plain.
And Acme is faithful. There’s no other boy.
Only Septimius fills her with joy.

If you are lovers as happy as these,
when you’re together you’ll hear Cupid sneeze.


Literal translation:

Septimius holding his love Acme
in his lap says, “My Acme,
if I don’t love you to death and am not prepared
furthermore to love you
assiduously through all the years
as much as he who is able to die the most,
My I come face-to-face a tawny lion
alone in Libya or scorched India.”
When he said this, Love, as he had done previously on the left,
sneezed his approval on the right.
But Acme lightly bending her head back
and kissing her sweet boy’s drunken eyes
with her purple mouth
says, “Thus my life, my little Septimius,
let us constantly serve this one master,
since a much bigger and sharper
flame burns in my soft bones.”
When she said this, Love, as he had done previously on the left,
sneezed his approval on the right.
Having now set forth under good auspices,
they love, are loved with mutual passion.
Poor little Septimius prefers Acme alone
to Syrian and British girls.
Faithful Acme finds delight
and pleasure in Septimius alone.
Who has seen any happier
people? Who has seen a more fortunate Venus?


Latin:

Acmen Septimius suos amores
Tenens in gremio, “Mea,” inquit, “Acme,
Ni te perdite amo atque amare porro
Omnes sum adsidue paratus annos
Quantum qui pote plurimum perire,
Solus in Libya Indiaque tosta
Caesio veniam obvius leoni.”
Hoc ut dixit, Amor, sinistra ut ante,
Dextra sternuit adprobationem.
At Acme leviter caput reflectens
Et dulcis pueri ebrios ocellos
Illo purpureo ore saviata
“Sic,” inquit, “mea vita, Septimille,
Huic uni domino usque serviamus,
Ut multo mihi major acriorque
Ignis mollibus ardet in medullis.”
Hoc ut dixit, Amor, sinistra ut ante,
Dexrtra sternuit adprobationem.
Nunc ab auspicio bono profecti
Mutuis animis amant amantur.
Unam Sep[timius misellus Acmen
Mavult quam Syrias Britanniasque:
Uno in Septimio fidelis Acme
Facit delicias libidinesque.
Quis ullos homines beatiores
Vidit, quis Venerem auspicatiorem?
Track Name: Catullus 11: To His Faithful Companions
Suppose I reached the distant land
where Indians have settled and
the eastern waves’ assault on sand
is heard for miles away,

saw Arabs with their double chins,
the Hyrcani and Scythians
or went to where the Nile begins
discoloring the sea

or crossed the Alps without a top
to see where Caesar set up shop,
the Gallic Rhine, the ocean’s chop,
the British last of all,

I know that you’d be there as well.
You’d follow me, my friends, to hell,
but would you also dare to tell
my girl a thing or two.

Bid farewell to her and hers,
three-hundred swell adulterers,
the men she mounts with yips and purrs
and bursts their genitalia.

Then add this is my last goodbye.
She’s dead to me. Her guilt is why.
It was a passing plough and my
true love a broken flower.


Literal translation:

Furius and Aurelius, Catullus’ companions
whether he will go among the most remote
Indians
where the shore is beaten by the far-resounding eastern wave
by the far-resounding eastern
wave is beaten,

or among the Hyrcani or soft Arabs,
or the Scythians or arrow-bearing Parthians
or the seas which the seven-mouthed
Nile colors

or walk across the high Alps
seeing the monuments of great Caesar,
the Gallic Rhine, the bristling sea
the British last of all,

prepared to try all these thing together
whatever the will of the heavenly ones
brings,
announce a few things to my girl,
not good wishes.

Let her live and farewell with her adulterers,
whom she holds in her embrace three-
hundred at a time,
loving none truly repeatedly bursting
the genitals of them all;

and let her not look back as before for my
love
which has fallen by her guilt like a flower
on the edge of a meadow after it has been
touched
by a passing plough.


Latin:

Furi et Aureli, comites Catulli,
sive in extremos penetrabit Indos,
litus ut longe resonante Eoa
tunditur unda,

Sive in Hyrcanos Arabasve molles,
seu Sagas sagittiferosve Parthos,
sive quae septemgeminus colorat
aequora Nilus,

sive trans altas gradietur Alpes,
Caesaris visens monimenta magni,
Gallicum Rhenum horribile aequor ulti-
mosque Britannos,

omnia haec, quaecumeque feret voluntas
caelitum, temptare simul parati,
pauca nuntiate meae puellae
non bona dictea.

Cum suis vaivat valeatque moechis,
quos simul complexa tenet trecentos
nullum mans vere, sed identidem omnium
ilia rumpens;

nec meum respectet, ut ante, amorem
qui illius culpa cecidit velut prati
ultimi flos, praetereunte postquam
tactus aratro est.
Track Name: Catullus 31: Sirmio
Sirmio, isles and peninsulas’ gem,
in Neptune’s domain you’re the creme de la creme.
How simply delightful to see you again!
How happy I am to be home!

Bithynia’s landscape was hard to endure.
The rest of my travels are only a blur.
Now looking at you I feel safe and secure.
I hardly believe my own eyes!

What can compare with forgetting your cares
when one is exhausted by foreign affairs
and climbs to the top of his creaky old stairs
and sinks in the bed of his dreams?

For labor so hard that’s the only reward.
Now beautiful, Sirmio, smile for your lord,
releasing your laughter wherever it’s stored
across your Tyrrhenian waves.


Literal translation:

Sirmio, almost-islands and islands’
jewel, whichever either Neptune supports
in still waters or the vast sea,
how gladly and how happy I see you,
hardly believing it myself that I have left Thynia
and the fields of Bithynia and see you in safety!
O what is more blessed than loosened cares,
when the mind sets its burden down and worn
out from foreign labor we come to our household god
and lie down in our longed-for bed?
This is the one thing that we get in return for such great labors.
Hail, O lovely Sirmio, and rejoice for your master.
And you rejoice, O Lydian waves of the lake.
Laugh whatever guffaws are at home.


Latin:

Paene insularum, Sirmio, insularumque
Ocelle, quascumque in liquentibus stagnis
Marique vasto fert uterque Neptunus,
Quam te libenter quamque laetus inviso,
Vix mi ipse credens Thyniam atque Bithynos
Liquisse campos et videre te in tuto!
o quid solutis est beatius curis,
Cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
Labore fessi venimus larem ad nostrum
Desideratoque adquiescimus lecto?
Hoc est quod unum est pro laboribus tantis.
Salve, o venusta Sirmio, atque ero gaude;
Gaudete vosque, o Lydiae lacus undae;
Ridete, quidquid est domi cachinnorum.
Track Name: Catullus 32: Ipsithilla
Be a sweety, Ipsithilla,
my delicious macaroon,
let me join you at your villa
for a nap this afternoon.

Please say yes for love or pity,
doing just a few things more.
Don’t go walking in the city,
see that no one locks your door.

Don your darling little teddy.
Stoke the fires down below.
Spend the morning getting ready
for nine orgasms in a row.

Answer quickly, Ipsithilla.
Skip the girly song and dance.
Action’s needed else I’ll drill a
tunnel through my coat and pants.


Literal translation:

Please, my sweet Iphsithilla,
my delight, my charm,
command that I come to you for a mid-day rest.
And if you are going to give this command, provide additional help,
seeing that no one block the doorway
and that you do not decide to go out.
Rather stay at home and prepare for us
nine continuous copulations.
If indeed you are going to do anything, give the order at once.
For I have dined and am lying on my back, full,
and am piercing my tunic and cloak.


Latin:

Amabo, mea dulcis, Ipsithilla,
Meae deliciae, mei lepores,
Jube ad te veniam meridiatum.
Et si jusseris illud, adjuvato,
Ne quis liminis obseret tabellam,
Neu tibi libeat foras abire;
Sed domi maneas pareque nobis
Novem continuas fututiones.
Verum si quid ages, statim jubeto;
Nam pransus jaceo et satur supinus
Pertundo tunicamque palliumque.
Track Name: Catullus 101: Ave atque Vale
Through many lands and many seas
I come to these sad obsequies,

Day and night full speed ahead
to do my duty to the dead

and talk to ashes on a shelf
since death has taken you yourself

leaving me an empty shell.
Forever hail and fare thee well!

Accept the presents that I bring,
the customary offering,

tokens that our parents said
would please the spirits of the dead

and help discharge the mourner's debt.
I'm sorry if they're a little wet.

I couldn't help the tears that fell.
Now brother, hail and fare thee well.


Literal translation:

Carried through many races and many seas
I come to these sad funeral rites, brother,

that I might confer on you the final service of death
and address your mute ashes in vain,

since fortune has taken you yourself from me,
Heu! poor brother unworthily taken from me!

Still now meanwhile these gifts, which by the ancient rites of parents
are given as a sad duty at funeral rites,

take them though dripping with fraternal tears
and into eternity brother hail and farewell!


Latin:

Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
Advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias,

Ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
Et mutam nequiquam adloquerer cinerem,

Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum,
Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi!

Nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum
Tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,

Accipe frataerno multum manantia fletu
Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale
Track Name: Horace Odes 1.23: Chloe
You flee me, Chloe, like a fawn
on trackless mountains, ill at ease,
not knowing where his mother's gone,
afraid of woods and breeze.

Suppose the foliage stirs and sighs,
a sign that spring is coming back,
or lizards meet him by surprise,
he has a heart attack!

I'm not a tigress set to spring,
I'm not a lion from Sudan.
So stop at long last following
your mother. Find a man!


Literal translation:

You avoid me like a fawn, Chloe,
seeking on trackless mountains his timid
mother, not without the vain
fear of breezes and forest.

For whether the coming of spring has shivered
in the mobile foliage or green lizards
have parted a bush,
he trembles in heart and knees.

But I am not following you like a rough
tigress or Gaetulian lion to break you.
Stop following your mother at last
being ripe for a man.


Latin:

Vitas hinnuleo me similis, Chloe,
quaerenti pavidam montibus aviis
matrem non sine vano
aurar' et siluae metu.

Nam seu mobilibus veris inhorruit
adventus foliis seu virides rubum
dimovere lacertae
et corde et genibus tremit.

Atqui non ego te tigris ut aspera
Gaetulusve leo frangere persequor:
tandem desine matrem
tempestiva sequi viro.
Track Name: Horace Odes 1.37: Cleopatra
Now's the time to dance a jig,
faithful friends, and fill our jars,
have a holy feast as big
as leaping priests of Mars.

We did decline the vintage wine
lately seeing a queen's insane
designs against the Capitoline
and Rome's eternal reign.

Amid her flock of sickly men
she nursed each hope desire shaped,
drunk on sweet success, but then
a single ship escaped.

Her fleet in flames, it made her think.
"Caesar is a man to fear.
Cork that sweet Egyptian drink
and get my battle gear."

On oars from Italy like a hawk
chasing doves or a hunter who
braves a snowy field to stalk
a rabbit Caesar flew.

He meant to chain the beast, but she
eyeing a nobler death forbore
to flee from steel all womanly
to some far distant shore.

She calmly watched her kingdom reel,
seized the serpents, felt no fright,
braced her body, hot to feel
their dark and deadly bite.

By dying she rose above duress,
would not walk dethroned behind
vaunting foes, a woman, yes,
but not the humble kind.


Literal:

Now there must be drinking, now with a free foot
the earth must be shaken! Now was the time
to decorate the couch of the gods
with Salian banquets, comrades.

It would have been unholy before this
to break out the Caecuban wine from ancestral cellars
while a queen was preparing mad ruin
for the Capitol (The Temple of Jupiter) and death for the empire,

together with her contaminated flock of men
foul with disease, mad to hope for anything
and drunk with sweet fortune.
But this diminished her madness,

scarcely one ship safe from the flames,
and Caesar drove her mind drunk
with Mareotic wine into true fears,
pressing after her on oars from Italy

as she flew away. He was like a hawk
after gentle doves or a quick hunter
after a rabbit in the fields
of snowy Thessaly, intending to place in chains

the deadly monster. She seeking
to perish more nobly did not in womanly fashion
tremble at the sword nor did she seek
hidden shores with her fast ships.

She dared to view her fallen palace
with a serene face, and was brave enough to
handle the rough serpents, so that
she could drink their black poison with her body.

She was all the fiercer in her deliberate death,
obviously begrudging it to the savage Liburnians
to be led as a private citizen in a proud
triumph, not being a humble woman.

pressing after her on oars


Latin:

Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero
pulanda tellus, nunc Saliaribus
ornare pulvinar deorum
tempus erat dapibus, sodales.

Ant'hac nefas de-promere Caecubum
cellis avitis, dum Capitolio
regina dementes ruinas
funus et imperio parabat

contaminato cum grege turpium
morbo virorum, quidlibet impotens
sperare fortunaque dulci
ebria. Sed minuit furorem

vix una sospes navis ab ignibus,
mentemque lympha-tam Mareotico
redegit in veros timores
Caesar, ab Italia volantem

remis adurgens, accipiter velut
molles columbas aut leporem citus
venator in campis nivalis
Haemoniae, daret ut catenis

fatale monstrum: quae generosius
perire quaerens nec muliebriter
expavit ensem nec latentes
classe cita reparavit oras.

aus' et jacentem visere regiam
voltu sereno, fortis et asperas
tractare serpentes, ut atrum
corpore combiberet venenum,

deliberata morte ferocior
saevis Liburnis scilicet invidens
privata deduci superbo
non humilis mulier triumpho.
Track Name: Horace Odes 1.9: Mt. Soracte
Soracte's head is snowy white.
Laden branches lose their will.
A bitter freeze explains the sight
of rivers standing still.

Bring more logs to smash the cold,
stoke the fire, then unplug
the noble little four-year-old
inside that Sabine jug.

Trust in the gods. When they suppress
the war of winds that rile the deep,
the cypresses shall rustle less,
and ancient ash trees sleep.

The future is not ours to learn.
Bless the day that fortune grants.
In youth it never pays to spurn
a love affair or dance.

Until your green turns sickly white,
fields and courtyards offer you
endearments whispered late at night,
a furtive rendez-vous,

a telltale laugh escaping from
a hiding girl, the jewel you seize
and her resistance overcome
with unexpected ease.


Literal translation:

You see how Mt. Soracte stands white
with snow on high and its laboring forests
no longer sustain their burden,
and the rivers have come to a stop in the sharp chill.

Dissolve the cold by piling logs
abundantly on the hearth and pour
the four-year-old wine more generously
from the two-handled Sabine jug, Thaliarchus.

Leave other things to the gods. Once they
have leveled the winds struggling
on the seething deep, neither the cypresses
nor the old ash trees shake.

Avoid asking what tomorrow will be and
whatever day Fortune gives, classify
as profit, and as a boy do not spurn sweet
love affairs or dances,

as long as peevish grey is absent
from you youthful bloom. Now both the field,
courtyards and gentle whispers at night
at the agreed-upon time should be sought,

now also the pleasing traitor laugh
of a girl hiding deep in a corner
and the token snatched from her arm
or poorly resisting finger.


Latin:

Vides ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte, nec jam sustineant onus
silvae laborantes geluque
flumina constiterint acuto.

Dissolve frigus ligna super foco
large reponens, atque benignius
deprome quadrimum Sabina,
O Thaliarche, merum diota.

Permitte divis cetera, qui simul
stravere ventos aequore fervido
deproeliantes, nec cupressi
nec veteres agitantur orni.

Quid sit futurum cras, fuge querer' et
quem Fors dierum cunque dabit, lucro
appone, nec dulces amores
sperne puer neque tu choreas,

donec virenti canities abest
morosa. Nunc et campus et areae
lenesque sub noctem susurri
composita repetantur hora,

nunc et latentis proditor intimo
gratus puellae risus ab angulo
pignusque dereptum lacertis
aut digito male pertinaci.
Track Name: Horace Odes 2.14: Postumus
Postumus, years just disappear,
and prayer's a waste of pious breath
when wrinkled age is getting near --
not to mention Death.

Daily hecatombs won't sway
impassive Pluto, god of Hell,
if Geryon can't get away
and Tityus must dwell

imprisoned by the gloomy wave
that all must navigate who get
their food on earth, the king, the slave,
the farmer deep in debt.

No use avoiding bloody wars
or cancelling trips on storm seas.
Little's gained by staying indoors
when Auster spreads disease.

We all must view the black abyss,
Cocytus flowing, that disloyal
Danaid clan, and Sisyphus
condemned to endless toil.

Bid lands and charming wife adieu.
You care for them has no reward.
You cypress trees alone being true
will join their transient lord.

An heir will open jars you store
in hidden vaults at daily feasts
and stain your tessellated floor
with wine too strong for priests.


Literal translation:

Eheu! Postumus, Postumus, the fugitive
years glide by, and piety will not postpone
wrinkles, imminent old age,
or unconquerable death,

not if you placate with three hundred
bulls every day, friend,
tearless Pluto, who restrains
thrice-ample Geryon and Tityos

with the sad wave that clearly must
be navigated by all of us who are nourished
by the fruit of the earth, whether we are
kings or poor settlers.

In vain shall we abstain from bloody warfare
and the raucous Adriatic's breakers.
In vain shy away in autumn from Auster
that harms our bodies.

These must be seen: dark Cocytos wandering
with its languid current and Danaus' infamous
offspring and Sisyphus, son of Aeolus,
condemned to long labor.

The land, your home and pleasing wife must be abandoned,
and not of those trees that you cultivate
will follow you, their brief master,
except the hated cypresses.

A worthier heir will use up the Caecubans
preserved with a hundred keys,
and he will stain your pavement with proud wine,
stronger than at the banquets of priests.


Latin:

Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,
labuntur anni nec pietas moram
rugis et instanti senectae
afferet indomitaeque morti,

non si trecenis, quotquot eunt dies,
amice, places illacrimabilem
Plutona tauris, qui ter amplum
Geryonen Tityonque tristi

compescit unda, scilicet omnibus,
quicunque terrae munere vescimur,
enaviganda sive reges
sivd' inopes erimus coloni.

Frustra cruento Marte carebimus
fractisque rauci fluctibus Hadriae,
frustra per autumnos nocentem
corporibus metuemus Austrum:

visendus ater flumine languido
Cocytos errans et Danai genus
infame damnatusque longi
Sisyphus Aeolides laboris.

Linquenda tellus et domus et placens
uxor, nequ' harum, quas colis, arborum
te praeter invisas cupressos
ulla brevem dominum sequetur.

Absumet heres Caecuba dignior
servata centum clavibus et mero
tinget pavimentum superbo,
pontificum potiore cenis.