Catullus: Poem 5 (From Latin)

Poem 5: Kiss Counting
By Gaius Valerius Catullus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me recite the original in a reconstruction of cultured urban Roman pronunciation from around 50 BC

It's time to live and let love, Lesbia,
Knowing the rumors of the scandalized
Gray-headed men worth less than any penny!
The sun gone down can rise again to day:
but when our short and final light is done
we will go down into a dawnless slumber.
So give a thousand kisses up to me.
A hundred and a thousand and a hundred.
Don't you dare stop. Another thousand. Hundreds.
Then scramble them all with me into a hot mess
Beyond our power to sort, and so protect us
From evil eyes that jealous jerks would give us
If ever they got all our kisses straight.

The Original:

Vīvāmus mea Lesbia, atque amēmus,
rūmōrēsque senum sevēriōrum
omnēs ūnius aestimēmus assis!
sōlēs occidere et redīre possunt:
nōbīs cum semel occidit brevis lūx,
nox est perpetua ūna dormienda.
dā mī bāsia mīlle, deinde centum,
dein mīlle altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mīlle, deinde centum.
dein, cum mīlia multa fēcerīmus,
conturbābimus illa, nē sciāmus
aut nē quis malus invidēre possit,
cum tantum sciat esse bāsiōrum


  1. Hi A.Z.,

    just a note to say thanks for this site, often come here and enjoy your fine work quietly and you may be interested to know that yesterday I posted a link back to here (including a credit to your name and work) as this poem (and to some extent translation of poetry in general) is being discussed at

    I can't honestly remember how I find your site, it may be that you're well aware of the Grauniad poetry blogs and possibly even posted the link to here, there, yourself. If so, apologies and more thanks are in order!

    Keep up the great work.

  2. I don't remember if I've shown you my translation of this one. :)


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