Catullus: Poem 33 (From Latin)

Sometimes I like seeing just how much obscene Catullan wit can survive in modern English, when Roman notions of sexuality and gender (particularly when it comes to homosexual behavior) could not be more foreign to most readers- or at least those readers who have never been to prison. (That's not a joke. Really. What I've read about prison sexuality, though it is obviously not an exact parallel, seems to have more in common with Roman guy-on-guy dynamics than anything else.)

Poem 33: Hand to mouth
By Catullus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Latin in reconstructed classical pronunciation

O greatest of all grabbers at the bathhouse,
Vibennius and his son, that little bitch!
Father whose hand is as rapacious
As his boy's asshole is voracious!
Why don't you two leave town, and head for hell

Now that the whole town knows of daddy's thefts,
And you, son, have no chance of any buyer
Paying one penny for those hairy buttcheeks.

The Original:

Ō fūrum optime balneāriōrum
Vībennī pater et cinaede fīlī
Nam dextra pater inquinātiōre
Cūlō fīlius est vorāciōre:
Cur nōn exilium malāsque in ōrās
Ītis, quandoquidem patris rapīnae
Nōtae sunt populō et natēs pilōsās
Fīlī, nōn potēs asse vÄ“nditāre.

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