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A free translation of the ode of Sappho given below, which is preserved in Longinus De Sublim. 10.2

φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν
ἔμμεν ὤνηρ, ὅστις ἐναντίος τοι
ἰζάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φωνεί-
σας ὐπακούει

καὶ γελαίσας ἰμερόεν, τό μοι μάν
καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόασεν:
ὡς γὰρ εὔιδον βροχέως σε, φώνας
οὐδὲν ἔτ᾽ εἴκει,

ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε, λέπτον δ᾽
αὔτικα χρῶ πῦρ ὑπαδεδρόμακεν,
ὀππάτεσσι δ᾽ οὐδὲν ὅρημ᾽, ἐπιρρόμ-
βεισι δ᾽ ἄκουαι,

δέ μ᾽ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲ
πᾶσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας
ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ᾽ ὀλίγω 'πιδεύης
φαίνομαι ἄλλα.

It will be noticed that for the fourth stanza of Sappho Catullus substitutes one entirely his own, and that elsewhere he adds, omits, and modifies details at his pleasure.—Written at about the same time as Catul. 2.1ff. and Catul. 3.1ff., and perhaps the earliest of the poems addressed to Lesbia, and the one which first drew her regard.—Meter, lesser Sapphic.

[2] si fas est: a not infrequent, and peculiarly Roman, expression; cf. Cic. Tusc. 5.13.38humanus animuscum alio nullo nisi cum ipso deo, si hoc fas est dictu, comparari potest.

[5] dulce ridentem cf. Catul. 61.219 Hor. Carm. 1.22.23dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo dulce loquentem” .

[5] misero: cf. 35.14n. misellae.

[6] eripit sensus: cf Catul. 66.25sensibus ereptis” .

[6] simul: cf. 22.15n. With the thought cf. Pl. Mil. 1271dum te optuetur interim linguam oculi praeciderunt” , Publ. Syrus 40amor, ut lacrima, ab oculis oritur, in pectus cadit” ; Shakespeare Merch. Ven. 3.2(of Fancy) “it is engender'd in the eyes, With gazing fed.”

[8] See Crit. App.

[10] suopte: cf. Catul. 34.8n.

[11] gemina: by transfer of epithet from lumina; cf. Catul. 17.19n.

[11] teguntur nocte: cf.

“ Aber wenn du nah gekommen,
Kann ich doch dich nimmer sehn,
Weil vor Freud' und Schmerz und Zagen
Mir die Augen übergehn.

Ernst Schulze

[13-16] The prisoner of love is torn with conflicting emotions; he rejoices in his chains and yet shrinks from the power of his own passion, which he perceives has been fostered by his lack of active occupations. With the thought cf. Ov. Rem. Am. 138[otia] sunt iucundi causa cibusque mali, otia si tollas, periere Cupidinis arcus.

[13-16] otium: a similar emphatic repetition of otium at the beginning of closely connected verses is found in Hor. Carm. 2.16.1ff.

[13] molestum: of a disease, as in Hor. Ep. 1.1.108pituita molesta est” .

[14] exsultasgestis: similar phraseology is used by Cicero, speaking of the slave to passion, in Cic. Tusc. 5.6.16exsultans et temere gestiens” .

[15-16] Probably Catullus had no especial case in mind, but Croesus and Sybaris might have served him as well-known examples of such ruined kings and cities.

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hide References (10 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (10):
    • Catullus, Poems, 2
    • Catullus, Poems, 3
    • Catullus, Poems, 61
    • Catullus, Poems, 66
    • Ovid, Remedia Amoris
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 4.6
    • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 3.2
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 5.13
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 5.6
    • Longinus, De Sublimitate, 10
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