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He who scanned all the lights of the great firmament, who ascertained the rising and the setting of the stars, how the flaming splendour of the swift sun was darkened, how the planets disappear at certain seasons, how sweet love with stealth detaining Trivia beneath the Latmian crags draws her away from her airy circuit: he that same Conon saw me, a lock of hair from Berenice's head, in the celestial light, gleaming brightly, which she outstretching graceful arms promised to all of the gods, when the king, magnified by his recent marriage, had gone to lay waste the Assyrian borders, bearing the sweet traces of nightly contests, in which he had borne away her virginal spoils. Is Venus abhorred by new brides? And are the parents' joys turned aside by feigned tears, which they shed copiously within the threshold of the bedchamber? Their groans are untrue, by the gods I swear! This my queen taught me by her many lamentings, when her bridegroom set out for stern warfare. Yet, when deserted, you did not grieve the widowed couch, did you, but the tearful separation from a dear brother? How care consumed your marrow, sad deep within! Such that, your whole bosom being agitated, and your senses being snatched from you, your mind wandered! But in truth I have known you great of heart ever since you were a little maiden. Have you forgotten that noble deed, by which you gained a royal marriage, than which none dared other deeds bolder? Yet what grieving words you spoke when bidding your bridegroom farewell! Jupiter! how often with sad hand [you wiped] your eyes! What mighty god changed you? Was it that lovers are unwilling to be long absent from their dear one's body? Then did you promise me to the whole of the gods on your sweet consort's behalf, not without blood of oxen, if he should be granted safe return. In no long time he added captive Asia to the Egyptian territory. For these reasons I, bestowed amidst the celestial host, by a new gift fulfil your ancient vow. Unwillingly, O queen, did I quit your brow, unwillingly: I swear to you and to your head; if anyone swears lightly, may he bear a suitable penalty: but who may claim himself equal to steel? Even that mountain was swept away, the greatest on earth, over which Thia's illustrious progeny passed, when the Medes created a new sea, and the barbarian youth sailed its fleet through the middle of Athos. What can locks of hair do, when such things yield to iron? Jupiter! may the whole race of the Chalybes perish, and whoever first began to seek the veins beneath the earth and invent the hardness of iron! Just before severance my sister locks were mourning my fate, when Ethiop Memnon's brother, the winged steed, beating the air with fluttering wings, appeared before Locrian Arsinoe, and he bearing me up, flies through aethereal shadows and lays me in the chaste bosom of Venus. Zephyritis herself had dispatched him as her servant, a Greek settler on the Canopian shores. For it was the wish of many gods that the golden crown from Ariadne's temples stay fixed, not alone in heaven's light, but that we also should gleam, the spoils dedicated from your golden-yellow head; when moist with weeping I entered the temples of the gods, the goddess placed me, a new star, among the ancient ones. For touching the Virgin's and the cruel Lion's gleams, hard by Lycaonian Callisto, I turn westwards, a guide before the slow-moving Bootes who barely sinks into the vast ocean. But although the footsteps of the gods press upon me in the night, and the daytime restores me to the white-haired Tethys, (grant me your grace to speak thus, O Rhamnusian virgin, for I will not hide the truth through any fear, even if the stars revile me with ill words, yet I will unfold the pent-up feelings from truthful breast) I am not so much rejoiced at these things as I am tortured by being forever parted, parted from my lady's head, with whom I, in all ointments having not a share, drank many thousands when she was still a virgin.

Now do you, whom the gladsome light of the wedding torches has joined, yield not your bodies to your desiring husbands nor throw aside your robes and bare your nipples, before your onyx cup brings me delightful gifts, your onyx, you who seek the dues of chaste marriage-bed. But she who gives herself to foul adultery, ah! may the light-lying dust responselessly drink her vile gifts, for I seek no offerings from folk that do ill. But rather, O brides, may concord always be yours, and constant love ever dwell in your homes. But when you, O queen, while gazing at the stars, will propitiate the goddess Venus with festal torch lights, let not me, your own, be left lacking of unguent, but rather gladden me with large gifts. Why do the stars hold me back? would that I become a royal tress, that Orion might gleam next to Aquarius.

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load focus English (Sir Richard Francis Burton, 1894)
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  • Commentary references to this page (25):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 1
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 116
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 14
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 2
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 29
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 34
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 35
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 50
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 51
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 58b
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 6
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 61
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 62
    • 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, 67
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 68b
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 69
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 8
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 88
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 9
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 96
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 97
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 3.1003
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