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When to me sore opprest by bitter chance of misfortune
This thy letter thou send'st written wi' blotting of tears,
So might I save thee flung by spuming billows of ocean,
Shipwreckt, rescuing life snatcht from the threshold of death;
Eke neither Venus the Holy to rest in slumber's refreshment
Grants thee her grace on couch lying deserted and lone,
Nor can the Muses avail with dulcet song of old writers
Ever delight thy mind sleepless in anxious care;
Grateful be this to my thought since thus thy friend I'm entitled,
Hence of me seekest thou gifts Muses and Venus can give:
But that bide not unknown to thee my sorrows (0 Manius!)
And lest office of host I should be holden to hate,
Learn how in Fortune's deeps I chance myself to be drownèd,
Nor fro' the poor rich boons furthermore prithee require.
What while first to myself the pure-white garment was given,
Whenas my flowery years flowed in fruition of spring,
Much I disported enow, nor 'bode I a stranger to Goddess
Who with our cares is lief sweetness of bitter to mix:
Yet did a brother's death pursuits like these to my sorrow
Bid for me cease: Oh, snatcht brother! from wretchedest me.
Then, yea, thou by thy dying hast broke my comfort, 0 brother;
Buried together wi' thee lieth the whole of our house;
Perisht along wi' thyself all gauds and joys of our life-tide,
Douce love fostered by thee during the term of our days.
After thy doom of death fro' mind I banishèd wholly
Studies like these, and all lending a solace to soul;
Wherefore as to thy writ :—"Verona's home for Catullus
Bringeth him shame, for there men of superior mark
Must on a deserted couch fain chafe their refrigerate limbs:"
Such be no shame (Manius!): rather 'tis matter of ruth.
Pardon me, then, wilt thou an gifts bereft me by grieving
These I send not to thee since I avail not present.
For, that I own not here abundant treasure of writings
Has for its cause, in Rome dwell I; and there am I homed,
There be my seat, and there my years are gathered to harvest;
Out of book-cases galore here am I followed by one.
This being thus, nill I thou deem 'tis spirit malignant
Acts in such wise or mind lacking of liberal mood
That to thy prayer both gifts be not in plenty supplièd:
Willingly both had I sent, had I the needed supply.
Nor can I (Goddesses!) hide in what things Allius sent me
Aid, forbear to declare what was the aidance he deigned:
Neither shall fugitive Time from centuries ever oblivious
Veil in the blinds of night friendship he lavisht on me.
But will I say unto you what you shall say to the many
Thousands in turn, and make paper, old crone, to proclaim
And in his death become noted the more and the more,
Nor let spider on high that weaves her delicate webbing
Practise such labours o'er Allius' obsolete name.
For that ye weet right well what care Amathúsia two-faced
Gave me, and how she dasht every hope to the ground,
Whenas I burnt so hot as burn Trinacria's rocks or
Mallia stream that feeds Œtéan Thermopylae;
Nor did these saddened eyes to be dimmed by assiduous weeping
Cease, and my cheeks with showers ever in sadness be wet.
E'en as from aëry heights of mountain springeth a springlet
Limpidest leaping forth from rocking felted with moss,
Then having headlong rolled the prone-laid valley downpouring,
Populous region amid wendeth his gradual way,
Sweetest solace of all to the sweltering traveller wayworn,
Whenas the heavy heat fissures the fiery fields;
Or, as to seamen lost in night of whirlwind a-glooming
Gentle of breath there comes fairest and favouring breeze,
Pollux anon being prayed, nor less vows offered to Castor:—
Such was the aidance to us Manius pleased to afford.
He to my narrow domains far wider limits laid open,
He too gave me the house, also he gave me the dame,
She upon whom both might exert them, partners in love deeds.
Thither graceful of gait pacing my goddess white-hued
Came and with gleaming foot on the worn sole of the threshold
Stood she and prest its slab creakihg her sandals the while;
E'enso with love enflamed in olden days to her helpmate,
Laodamía the home Protesiléan besought,
Sought, but in vain, for ne'er wi' sacrificial blood shed
Victims appeased the Lords ruling Celestial seats:
Never may I so joy in aught (Rhamnusian Virgin!)
That I engage in deed maugrè the will of the Lords.
How starved altar can crave for gore in piety poured,
Laodamia learnt taught by the loss of her man,
Driven perforce to loose the neck of new-wedded help-mate,
Whenas a winter had gone, nor other winter had come,
Ere in the long dark nights her greeding love was so sated
That she had power to live maugrè a marriage broke off,
Which, as the Parcae knew, too soon was fated to happen
Should he a soldier sail bound for those llian walls.
For that by Helena's rape, the Champion-leaders of Argives
Unto herself to incite Troy had already begun,
Troy (ah, curst be the name) common tomb of Asia and Europe,
Troy to sad ashes that turned valour and valorous men!
Eke to our brother beloved, destruction ever lamented
Brought she : 0 Brother for aye lost unto wretchedmost me,
Oh, to thy wretchedmost brother lost the light of his life-tide,
Buried together wi' thee lieth the whole of our house:
Perisht along wi' thyself forthright all joys we enjoyèd,
Douce joys fed by thy love during the term of our days;
Whom now art tombed so far nor 'mid familiar pavestones
Nor wi' thine ashes stored near to thy kith and thy kin,
But in that Troy obscene, that Troy of ill-omen, entombèd
Holds thee, an alien earth-buried in uttermost bourne.
Thither in haste so hot ('tis said) from allwhere the Youth-hood
Grecian, farèd in hosts forth of their hearths and their homes,
Lest with a stolen punk with fullest of pleasure should Paris
Fairly at leisure and ease sleep in the pacific bed.
Such was the hapless chance, most beautiful Laodamia,
Tare fro' thee dearer than life, dearer than spirit itself,
Him, that husband, whose love in so mighty a whirlpool of passion
Whelmed thee absorbed and plunged deep in its gulfy abyss,
E'en as the Grecians tell hard by Phenéus of Cylléne
Drained was the marish and dried, forming the fattest of soils,
Whenas in days long done to delve through marrow of mountains
Daréd, falsing his sire, Amphtryóniades;
What time sure of his shafts he smote Stymphalian monsters
Slaying their host at the hest dealt by a lord of less worth,
So might the gateway of Heaven be trodden by more of the godheads,
Nor might Hébé abide longer to maidenhood doomed.
Yet was the depth of thy love far deeper than deepest of marish
Which the hard mistress's yoke taught him so tamely to bear;
Never was head so dear to a grandsire wasted by life-tide
Whenas one daughter alone a grandson so tardy had reared,
Who being found against hope to inherit riches of forbears
In the well-witnessed Will haply by name did appear,
And 'spite impious hopes of baffled claimant to kinship
Startles the Vulturine grip clutching the frost-bitten poll.
Nor with such rapture e'er joyed his mate of snowy-hued plumage
Dove-mate, albeit aye wont in her immoderate heat
Said be the bird to snatch hot kisses with beak ever billing,
As diddest thou :—yet is Woman multivolent still.
But thou 'vailedest alone all these to conquer in love-lowe,
When conjoindd once more unto thy yellow-haired spouse.
Worthy of yielding to her in naught or ever so little
Came to the bosom of us she, the fair light of my life,
Round whom fluttering oft the Love-God hither and thither
Shone with a candid sheen robed in his safflower dress.
She though never she bide with one Catullus contented,
Yet will I bear with the rare thefts of my dame the discreet,
Lest over-irk I give which still of fools is the fashion.
Often did Juno eke Queen of the Heavenly host
Boil wi' the rabidest rage at dire default of a husband
Learning the manifold thefts of her omnivolent Jove,
Yet with the Gods mankind 'tis nowise righteous to liken,
Rid me of graceless task fit for a tremulous sire.
Yet was she never to me by hand paternal committed
Whenas she came to my house reeking Assyrian scents;
Nay, in the darkness of night her furtive favours she deigned me,
Self-willed taking herself from very mate's very breast.
Wherefore I hold it enough since given to us and us only
Boon of that day with Stone whiter than wont she denotes.
This to thee—all that I can—this offering couched in verses
(Allius!) as my return give I for service galore;
So wi' the seabriny rust your name may never be sullied
This day and that nor yet other and other again.
Hereto add may the Gods all good gifts, which Themis erewhiles
Wont on the pious of old from her full store to bestow:
Blest be the times of the twain, thyself and she who thy life is,
Also the home wherein dallied we, no less the Dame,
Anser to boot who first of mortals brought us together,
Whence from beginning all good Fortunes that blest us were born.
Lastly than every else one dearer than self and far dearer,
Light of my life who alive living to me can endear.

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  • Commentary references to this page (34):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 1
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 101
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 104
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 109
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 13
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 15
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 17
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 2
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 3
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 30
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 35
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 36
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 38
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 4
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 45
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 50
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 6
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 61
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 63
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 65
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 66
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 67
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 68a
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 68b
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 71
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 74
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 77
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 8
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 9
    • Sulpicia, Carmina Omnia, 6
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 1258
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 4.794
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes, 3
  • Cross-references to this page (9):
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