Catullus 16

gaius valerius catullus

Catullus 16 is a poem by Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC – ca. 54 BC). The poem, written in a hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) meter, was considered so explicit that a full English translation was not openly published until the late twentieth century:

I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,
Cock-sucker Aurelius and his kept-man Furius,
You who think, because my verses
Are delicate, that I am immodest
For it’s right for the devoted poet to be chaste
Himself, but it’s not necessary for his verses to be so.
Verses which then have taste and charm,
If they are delicate and sexy,
And can incite an itch,
And I don’t mean in boys, but in those hairy old men
Who can’t get their flaccid dicks up.
You, because you have read of my thousand kisses,
You think I’m a sissy?
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.

Latin is an exact language for obscene acts. Carmen 16 is significant in literary history as an artistic work censored for its obscenity, but also because the poem raises questions about the proper relation of the poet, or his life, to the work. Later Latin poets referenced the poem not for its ear-searing invective, but as a justification for subject matter that challenged the prevailing decorum or moral orthodoxy.

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.