Friday, March 11, 2011

Catullus, Poem 22

Gaius Valerius Catullus
84-54 BCE (over 2,000 years ago)
Trans. RMBullard
Latin (Golden Age)

Suffenus iste, Vare, quem probe nosti/homo est venustus et dicax et urbanus/idemque longe plurimos facit versus.
(This Suffenus, Varus, whom I have properly become acquainted, is a charming and interesting and urbane man, and at the same time, he writes quite a large amount by far of verses;)

puto esse ego illi milia aut decem aut plura/perscripta, nec sic ut fit in palimpseston/relata:
(I myself think that there are at least ten thousand many, written in detail, nor does it wind up for them to be copied onto the manuscript:)

cartae regiae, novi libri/novi umblici/ lora rubra membranae/derecta plumbo et pumice omnia aequata.
(They are regal sheets, new books, new bindings, red thongs for the cover, and everything is leveled by iron and pumice;)

haec cum legas tu, bellus ille et urbanus/Suffenus unus caprimulgus aut fossor/rursus videtur:
(Since you say these things, this great and urbane Suffenus alone seems, at another glance, like a goat-herder or a ditchdigger:)

tantum abhorret ac mutat.
(So much does he shudder away and change;)

hoc quid putemus esse?
(What should I think this?)

qui modo scurra/aut si quid hac re scitius videbatur/idem infaceto est infacetior rure/simul poemata attigit, neque idem umquam/aeque est beatus ac poema cum scribit:
(A man who just now seemed a louse or more learned, if this is the case, now is more uncharming than the uncharming countryside, and at the same time, he tries his hand at poetry, and still, he is never truly happy, unless he writes his poems:)

tam gaudet in se tamque se ipse miratur.
(How he rejoices for himself, and how this guy is amazed by himself;)

nimirum idem omnes fallimur, neque est quisqum quem non in aliqua re videre Suffenum possis.
(All of us aren't fooled at the same time, and there is nobody in whom you cannot detect a Suffenus in some way or another;)

suus cuique attributus est error;
(A man's fallacy is stuck only to himself;)

sed non videmus manticae quod in tergo est.
(But we never look to the knapsack on our back.)