Catullus 61 Translation

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Introduction

 

In poem 61, Catullus wrote another bridal song. This poem is written in stanzas of varying length and they end with a refrain to “O Hymen Hymenaeus!” the god of marriage. In line one, Catullus writes about the haunter of the Mount Helicon, who is Hymen, the son of Urania. He “bearest away” the maid to her bridegroom. 

In lines six through 15, Catullus talks about how Hymen has a halo of flowers and a marriage veil as well as a yellow shoe on his white foot. The god wakes, sings songs and beats the ground with his feet and shakes a pine torch, too. Then, Catullus talks about why Hymen is so busy: the wedding of Vinia and Manlius. Vinia is as beautiful as Venus. Vinia comes with a good omen, which is good for Manlius. Catullus then talks about how she is like the Asian myrtle and continues with the simile for several lines. 

Then, Catullus returns back to Hymen. He tells him to leave his cave and call Vinia to her wedding. He asks Hymen to “bind her heart with love” and uses another plant simile – comparing her love to clinging ivy. Then, in lines 36-40, Catullus returns to the idea of the unwedded virgins and replays the refrain “O Hymenaeus Hymen!” to help the virgins find husbands. Hopefully, Hymen will hear the call and come bless the wedding, and therefore, the marriage since he is the “coupler of honest love” as mentioned in line 45. 

Catullus says that Hymen is the only God worthy of being invoked by lovers. Men should worship Hymen more than any other god. When he is invoked, maidens loose their garments and bridegrooms listen fearfully. Catullus boldly says that even Venus cannot rival what Hymen does, as no one can rest unless he is sated. 

 

Carmen 61

 
LineLatin textEnglish translation
1

COLLIS o Heliconii

O haunter of the Heliconian mount,

2

cultor, Vraniae genus,

Urania’s son,

3

qui rapis teneram ad uirum

thou who bearest away the tender maid

4

uirginem, o Hymenaee Hymen,

to her bridegroom, O Hymenaeus Hymen,

5

o Hymen Hymenaee;

O Hymen Hymenaeus!

6

cinge tempora floribus

Bind thy brows with the flowers

7

suaue olentis amaraci,

of fragrant marjoram,

8

flammeum cape laetus, huc

put on the marriage veil, hither,

9

huc ueni, niueo gerens

hither merrily come, wearing on thy snow-white

10

luteum pede soccum;

foot the yellow shoe,

11

excitusque hilari die,

and wakened on this joyful day,

12

nuptialia concinens

singing with resonant voice

13

uoce carmina tinnula,

the nuptial songs,

14

pelle humum pedibus, manu

beat the ground with thy feet,

15

pineam quate taedam.

shake with thy hand the pine torch.

16

namque Iunia Manlio,

For now shall Vinia wed with Manlius,

17

qualis Idalium colens

Vinia as fair as Venus

18

uenit ad Phrygium Venus

who dwells in Idalium, when she came

19

iudicem, bona cum bona

to the Phrygian judge;

20

nubet alite uirgo,

a good maiden with a good omen

21

floridis uelut enitens

like the Asian myrtle

22

myrtus Asia ramulis

shining with flowering sprays,

23

quos Hamadryades deae

which the Hamadryad goddesses

24

ludicrum sibi roscido

with dewy moisture nourish

25

nutriunt umore.

as a plaything for themselves.

26

quare age, huc aditum ferens,

Hither then, come hither, haste

27

perge linquere Thespiae

to leave the Aonian caves

28

rupis Aonios specus,

of the Thespian rock,

29

nympha quos super irrigat

which the nymph Aganippe besprinkles

30

frigerans Aganippe.

with cooling shower from above;

31

ac domum dominam uoca

call to her home the lady of the house,

32

coniugis cupidam noui,

full of desire for her bridegroom;

33

mentem amore reuinciens,

bind her heart with love,

34

ut tenax hedera huc et huc

as here and there the clinging ivy

35

arborem implicat errans.

straying clasps the tree.

36

uosque item simul, integrae

Ye too with me, unwedded

37

uirgines, quibus aduenit

virgins, for whom a like day

38

par dies, agite in modum

is coming, come, in measure

39

dicite, o Hymenaee Hymen,

say, “O Hymenaeus Hymen,

40

o Hymen Hymenaee.

O Hymen Hymenaeus!”

41

ut libentius, audiens

that hearing himself summoned

42

se citarier ad suum

to his own office, the god may come

43

munus, huc aditum ferat

more readily hither,

44

dux bonae Veneris, boni

the herald of genial Venus,

45

coniugator amoris.

the coupler of honest love.

46

quis deus magis est ama-

What god is more worthy to be invoked

47

tis petendus amantibus?

by lovers who are loved?

48

quem colent homines magis

whom of the heavenly ones shall men worship

49

caelitum, o Hymenaee Hymen,

more than thee? O Hymenaeus Hymen,

50

o Hymen Hymenaee?

O Hymen Hymenaeus!

51

te suis tremulus parens

Thee for his children the aged father

52

inuocat, tibi uirgines

invokes, for thee the maidens loose

53

zonula soluunt sinus,

their garments from the girdle:

54

te timens cupida nouos

for thee the bridegroom listens fearfully

55

captat aure maritus.

with eager ear.

56

tu fero iuueni in manus

Thou thyself givest into the hands

57

floridam ipse puellulam

of the fiery youth the blooming maiden

58

dedis a gremio suae

from her mother’s bosom,

59

matris, o Hymenaee Hymen,

O Hymenaeus Hymen,

60

o Hymen Hymenaee.

O Hymen Hymenaeus!

61

nil potest sine te Venus,

No pleasure can Venus take

62

fama quod bona comprobet,

without thee, such as honest fame

63

commodi capere, at potest

may approve, but can

64

te uolente. quis huic deo

if thou art willing. What god

65

compararier ausit?

dare match himself with this god?

66

nulla quit sine te domus

No house without thee can

67

liberos dare, nec parens

give children, no parent rest

68

stirpe nitier; ac potest

on his offspring ; but all is well

69

te uolente. quis huic deo

if thou art willing. What god

70

compararier ausit?

dare match himself with this god?

71

quae tuis careat sacris,

A land that should want thy sanctities

72

non queat dare praesides

would not be able to produce

73

terra finibus: at queat

guardians for its borders–but could

74

te uolente. quis huic deo

if thou art willing. What god

75

compararier ausit?

dare match himself with this god?

76claustra pandite ianuae.release the bolts of the door
77

uirgo adest. uiden ut faces

the bride is coming. See you how the torches

78

splendidas quatiunt comas?

shake their shining tresses?

79

tardet ingenuus pudor.

noble shame delays. . . .

80

quem tamen magis audiens,

Yet listening rather to this,

81

flet quod ire necesse est.

she weeps that she must go.

82

flere desine. non tibi Au-

Weep no more. Not to you

83

runculeia periculum est,

Aurunculeia, is there danger

84

ne qua femina pulcrior

that any fairer woman

85

clarum ab Oceano diem

shall see the bright day

86

uiderit uenientem.

coming from ocean.

87

talis in uario solet

So in the gay garden

88

diuitis domini hortulo

of a rich owner

89

stare flos hyacinthinus.

stands a hyacinth flower–

90

sed moraris, abit dies.

but you delay, the day is passing;

91

prodeas noua nupta.

come forth, O bride.

92

prodeas noua nupta, si

Come forth, O bride, if

93

iam uidetur, et audias

now you will, and hear

94

nostra uerba. uiden? faces

our words. See how the torches

95

aureas quatiunt comas:

shake their golden tresses!

96

prodeas noua nupta.

come forth, O bride.

97

non tuus leuis in mala

Your husband will not,

98

deditus uir adultera,

lightly given to some wicked paramour,

99

probra turpia persequens,

and following shameful ways of dishonour,

100

a tuis teneris uolet

wish to lie away

101

secubare papillis,

from your soft bosom.

102

lenta sed uelut adsitas

but as the pliant vine entwines

103

uitis implicat arbores,

the trees planted near it,

104

implicabitur in tuum

so will he be entwined in your

105

complexum. sed abit dies:

embrace. But the day is passing;

106

prodeas noua nupta.

come forth, O bride.

107

o cubile, quod omnibus

O bridal bed, to all

108

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

109

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

110

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

111

candido pede lecti,

white foot . . . bed,

112

quae tuo ueniunt ero,

What joys are coming for your lord,

113

quanta gaudia, quae uaga

O what joys to know in the fleeting

114

nocte, quae medio die

night, joys in the full day!–

115

gaudeat! sed abit dies:

but the day is passing;

116

prodeas noua nupta.

come forth, O bride.

117

tollite, o pueri, faces:

Raise aloft the torches, boys:

118

flammeum uideo uenire.

I see the wedding veil coming.

119

ite concinite in modum

Go on, sing in measure,

120

‘io Hymen Hymenaee io,

“Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

121

io Hymen Hymenaee.’

io Hymen Hymenaeus!”

122

ne diu taceat procax

Let not the merry Fescennine

123

Fescennina iocatio,

jesting be silent,

124

nec nuces pueris neget

let the favourite boy give away nuts to the sla ves

125

desertum domini audiens

when he hears how his lord

126

concubinus amorem.

has left his love.

127

da nuces pueris, iners

Give nuts to the slaves,

128

concubine! satis diu

favourite: your time is past,

129

lusisti nucibus: lubet

you have played with nuts long enough: s.

130

iam seruire Talasio.

you must now be the servant of Talassius.

131

concubine, nuces da.

Give nuts, beloved slave.

132

sordebant tibi uillicae,

Today and yesterday

133

concubine, hodie atque heri:

you disdained the country wives,

134

nunc tuum cinerarius

now the barber shaves

135

tondet os. miser a miser

your cheeks. Wretched, ah! wretched

136

concubine, nuces da.

lover, throw the nuts!

137

diceris male te a tuis

They will say that you,

138

unguentate glabris marite

perfumed bridegroom, are unwilling .

139

abstinere, sed abstine.

to give up your old pleasures; but abstain

140

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

141

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

142

scimus haec tibi quae licent

We know that you are acquainted

143

sola cognita, sed marito

with no unlawful joys: but a husband

144

ista non eadem licent.

has not the same liberty.

145

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

146

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

147

nupta, tu quoque quae tuus

You too, O bride, be sure you refuse not

148

uir petet caue ne neges,

what your husband claims,

149

ni petitum aliunde eat.

lest he go elsewhere to find it.

150

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

151

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

152

en tibi domus ut potens

See how mighty and rich for you

153

et beata uiri tui,

is the house of your husband;

154

quae tibi sine seruiat

be content to be mistress here,

155

(io Hymen Hymenaee io,

(Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

156

io Hymen Hymenaee)

io Hymen Hymenaeus!)

157

usque dum tremulum mouens

even till hoary old age,

158

cana tempus anilitas

shaking a trembling head,

159

omnia omnibus annuit.

nods assent to all for all.

160

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

161

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

162

transfer omine cum bono

Bear over the threshold with a good

163

limen aureolos pedes,

omen your golden feet,

164

rasilemque subi forem.

and enter within the polished door.

165

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

166

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

167

aspice intus ut accubans

See how your husband within,

168

uir tuus Tyrio in toro

reclining on a purple couch,

169

totus immineat tibi.

is all eagerness for you.

170

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

171

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

172

illi non minus ac tibi

In his inmost heart

173

pectore uritur intimo

no less than in yours glows

174

flamma, sed penite magis.

the flame, but deeper within.

175

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

176

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

177

mitte brachiolum teres,

Let go, young boy,

178

praetextate, puellulae:

the smooth arm of the damsel,

179

iam cubile adeat uiri.

let her now come to her husband’s bed.

180

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

181

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

182

uos bonae senibus uiris

Ye, honest matrons, well wedded

183

cognitae bene feminae,

to ancient husbands,

184

collocate puellulam.

set the damsel in her place.

185

io Hymen Hymenaee io,

Io Hymen Hymenaeus io,

186

io Hymen Hymenaee.

io Hymen Hymenaeus!

187

iam licet uenias, marite:

Now you may come, bridegroom;

188

uxor in thalamo tibi est,

your wife, is in the bride-chamber,

189

ore floridulo nitens,

shining with flowery face,

190

alba parthenice uelut

like a white daisy

191

luteumue papauer.

or yellow poppy.

192

at, marite, ita me iuuent

But, husband, so the gods help me,

193

caelites, nihilo minus

you are no less fair,

194

pulcer es, neque te Venus

nor does Venus

195

neglegit. sed abit dies:

neglect you. But the day is passing.

196

perge, ne remorare.

Go on then, delay not.

197

non diu remoratus es:

Not long have you delayed.

198

iam uenis. bona te Venus

Already you come. May kindly Venus

199

iuuerit, quoniam palam

help you, since openly

200

quod cupis cupis, et bonum

you take your desire and

201

non abscondis amorem.

do not hide your honest love.

202

ille pulueris Africi

Let him first count up the number

203

siderumque micantium

of the dust of Africa

204

subducat numerum prius,

and of the glittering stars,

205

qui uestri numerare uolt

who would number

206

multa milia ludi.

the many thousands of your joys.

207

ludite ut lubet, et breui

Sport as ye will, and soon

208

liberos date. non decet

bring children forth. It is not fit ldren

209

tam uetus sine liberis

that so old a name should be without chi

210

nomen esse, sed indidem

but that they should be ,

211

semper ingenerari.

ever born from the same stock.

212

Torquatus uolo paruulus

I would see a little Torquatus,

213

matris e gremio suae

stretching his baby hands

214

porrigens teneras manus

from his mother’s lap,

215

dulce rideat ad patrem

smile a sweet smile at his father

216

semihiante labello.

with lips half parted.

217

sit suo similis patri

May he be like his father

218

Manlio et facile insciis

Manlius, and easily be recognised by all,

219

noscitetur ab omnibus,

even those who do not know,

220

et pudicitiam suae

and declare by his face

221

matris indicet ore.

the fair fame of his mother.

222

talis illius a bona

May such praise, due to his

223

matre laus genus approbet,

chaste mother, approve his descent,

224

qualis unica ab optima

as for Telemachus son of Penelope

225

matre Telemacho manet

remains unparagoned the honour

226

fama Penelopeo.

derived from his noble mother.

227

claudite ostia, uirgines:

Maidens, shut the doors.

228

lusimus satis. at boni

We have sported enough. But ye,

229

coniuges, bene uiuite et

happy pair, live happily,

230

munere assiduo ualentem

and in your office exercise joyously

231

exercete iuuentam.

your vigorous youth.

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Resources

 

VRoma Project: http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/VRomaCatullus/061.html

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