Catullus: A Brother's Tears (From Latin)

During a journey to Bithynia in what is now northwest Turkey, Catullus visited the grave of his brother. There, he made the traditional gift to the dead which consisted in his time of wine, milk, flowers and honey.

Line 1 of this poem alludes to lines 3 and 4 of the Odyssey:

πολλῶν δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
πολλὰ δ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
(Many were the men whose cities he saw; whose mind he learned, many the woes he suffered in his heart at sea)

Brotherly Tears
By Gaius Valerius Catullus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me recite the original in a reconstruction of the urban pronunciation of about 50 B.C.

I've trekked through many a nation, weathered many an ocean,
To come at last for this last rite of passing,
To offer you, dead brother, the last gifts of the living,
To speak in vain at your unspeaking ashes
Since bitter fortune barred me, stole you to a shade,
Poor brother, cruelly taken from my life.
So now in sorrow, now in custom of our fathers
I bring these meager offerings of mine,
Small gifts damp with a brother's tears. Accept them, and this
Now and forevermore: hello, goodbye.

The Original:

Carmen CI

Multās per gentēs et multa per aequora vectus
adveniō hās miserās, frāter, ad īnferiās,
ut tē postrēmō dōnārem mūnere mortis
et mūtam nēquīquam alloquerer cinerem.
Quandoquidem fōrtūna mihi tētē abstulit ipsum.
Heu miser indignē frāter adēmpte mihi,
nunc tamen interea haec, prīscō quae mōre parentum
trādita sunt trīstī mūnere ad īnferiās,
accipe frāternō multum mānantia flētū,
atque in perpetuum, frāter, avē atque valē.

1 comment:

  1. man thanks this translation rocks!


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