June 30, 2007

The Ace of Spades HQ Poet Laureate: Gaius Valerius Catullus
— Ace

One of the few things I remember from college was the wonderful versifying of famous (seriously! -- people study him and write thesis papers on him) Roman poet Catullus.

Green's translation should encourage readers of all kinds to read or re-read Catullus, one of the greatest and most influential of all classical poets.

Born in the provincial northern town of Verona sometime around 84 B.C.E., Catullus died in Rome, possibly of consumption, about thirty years later. He was an inspiration for the Augustan poets of the subsequent generation: Horace, Virgil, Propertius, and Ovid all look back to his work. So do many later European and American poets: Catullus's sparrow poems, for instance, have inspired many English imitations and acts of poetic homage, from John Skelton's remarkable poem "Phyllyp Sparowe" (written around 1500), to Carol Muske-Dukes's collection Sparrow (2003).

Catullus came from a wealthy family; unlike Virgil and Horace, he seems to have had no need to cultivate a rich patron to support him while writing poetry. His father was friendly with Julius Caesar and often invited him to dinner. Catullus wrote several vicious attacks on Caesar, which suggest that his military campaigns in Britain and Gaul are being criminally mismanaged by his chief engineer Mamurra, and that they are motivated by revolting avarice and greed on the part of Caesar himself, who is a "voracious/and shameless gut." Catullus also sneers at Caesar's bisexual promiscuity: "They're well matched, that pair of shameless buggers,/Bitch-queens both of them, Caesar and Mamurra" (Green's translation).

It gets worse, believe me.

My friend chose Catullus as the subject of his final term paper. I was so jealous at his brilliance. I did some gay one on Cicero. He seemed to have a lot more fun with his.

Here are some. I dedicate these to Larry "Super-Spy" Johnson, especially Catullus97. And they're quite real, and very accurate translations. Very Strong Content Warning For Extreme Profanity And Strong Sexual Content. Here's the cite for the two that follow below.

Catullus 16

I'll fuck you up the ass, and you can blow me,

you cocksucker Aurelius and you faggot Furius,

for suggesting that my little verses

are effeminate and not pure enough.

A good poet should be virtuous,

but his verses don't need to be.

Who cares if verses that have spice and wit

are soft and not very pure?

They can also get you going.

I'm not talking to boys here, but to two hairy men

who can't even move their creaky old loins.

Are you two putting me down

just because you've read about my thousands of kisses?

Fuck you both. You can blow me.

And rappers think their rhymes are hard-core, huh?

Catullus 33

O most distinguished of the bathhouse thieves,

father Vibennius, and o buttfucking son,

(for the light-fingered father is quite foul,

and the son is voracious with his asshole),

why don't you go on a trip to someplace miserable,

since everyone knows about the robberies of the father.

And as for you, son, can't you manage

to sell your hairy ass to anyone for even a penny?

Pretty good. But it's Catullus 97 [The Foul Mouth of Aemelius] where he works his greatest poetical artistry.

You wouldn't think it made much difference

sniffing around Aemilius' mouth or his asshole,

one being no better or worse than the other,

but I figure his ass is a whole lot better,

it's got no teeth. His mouth has teeth in it

a half a yard long, the gums are all rotten,

sagging down loose as an old covered wagon,

and when he smiles the lips spread open wide

like a mule's cunt dripping on a hot summer day.

This is the big lover the ladies all fuck for?

I'd plug his face with a horse dick instead.

A girl who'd go near a creep like that, she

could get down and ream a sick hangman's ass.

I know a lot of you guys think poetry is teh ghey, but I'm sorry, I'm teary-eyed at this gorgeous imagery.

I wish Nostradamus had had half the talent Catullus did. Then we might have quartos like this:

Qaurtro XXVIII

When the Leader of the East rises

a real cocksucker by the way, and a butt-fucker of syphillitic fishmongers,

There will be rumors of war and raging fires,

crumbling mountains, boiling seas,

and a couple of old faggots with lupus monkey-fucking each other in a ditch.

At the place of the river Hister, where my retarded neighbor

jacks himself off with an old boot, and drops his load on passing gophers,

Then there will be great tumult, and then I think maybe I'll fuck my snaggletooth neighbor

up his dirty ass, because, seriously, he's such a fucking dick,

but he'd probably like it too much. The fairy.

I'd take his prophecies more seriously if they had that level of skill and detail.

Posted by: Ace at 01:50 PM | Comments (54)
Post contains 827 words, total size 5 kb.



My Alma Mater! This is the proudest day of my life...

Posted by: jhc at June 30, 2007 01:55 PM (nHRdf)

2 Juvenal:

What! Postumus, are you, you who once had your wits, taking to yourself a wife? Tell me what Tisiphone, what snakes are driving you mad? Can you submit to a she-tyrant when there is so much rope to be had, so many dizzy heights of windows standing open, and when the Aemilian bridge offers itself to your hand?

Posted by: steve_in_hb at June 30, 2007 01:58 PM (7FHPf)

3 I don't like it.  It doesn't talk about butt-fucking and assholes.

Posted by: Ace at June 30, 2007 01:59 PM (1UCRY)

4 Monty is going to be so jealous....

Posted by: Jack M. at June 30, 2007 02:06 PM (T93tD)

5 One of the other ones has the delightful image of a husband stepping in a puddle of piss that his drunken wife and her lesbian lover created the night before. That one always brought a tear to my eye.

Posted by: steve_in_hb at June 30, 2007 02:06 PM (7FHPf)

6 That's actually kinda hot.

Did I just write that out loud?

Posted by: Ace at June 30, 2007 02:09 PM (1UCRY)

7 Two roads diverged in the woods and I
took the one where I could get my cock sucked.

Posted by: Eric J at June 30, 2007 02:11 PM (5PRM2)

8 You had me at "Extreme Profanity And Strong Sexual Content". Brilliant stuff and very a propos.

Posted by: ahem at June 30, 2007 02:18 PM (zuUb1)


Oh dear.  I guess the classics aren't always boring.  Perhaps not terribly classy, but not boring.


Posted by: funky chicken at June 30, 2007 02:19 PM (EZWY4)

10 A totally gratutious post for the sole purpose of moving this blog into an XX rating.


Posted by: JackStraw at June 30, 2007 02:19 PM (t+mja)


Oh, and that was published at Furman?  I drove by there the other day.  South Carolina.

I think we need to find one for Lindsay Grahamnesty.

Posted by: funky chicken at June 30, 2007 02:22 PM (EZWY4)

12 Catullus in haiku form:

Shut your mouth you cocksucker!
Seriously, you stupid cocksucker you shit me!
Fucking horses! You like it!

Posted by: Amos at June 30, 2007 02:25 PM (eaIhP)


I met a traveller from an antique land
whose mouth was all stretched out from blowing Bedouin queers,
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.  Plus a really massive cock.
You can blow me if you don't believe me, faggot.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and suck my dick!'
Nothing beside remains, except this mincing queer
that keeps asking me to finger-fuck his sister.
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away
But off in the distance I see that faggot Furiuis
getting plugged up the ass by priapic hyena.

Posted by: Ace at June 30, 2007 02:33 PM (1UCRY)


Posted by: Ace at June 30, 2007 07:33 PM (1UCRY)


One of my favorite poems has now been ruined forever and ever by that fucking faggot ace o' holes.

PS Very funny.

Posted by: max at June 30, 2007 02:42 PM (OYeDg)

15 And you non-poet reading illiterates thought I was just a drunk asshole.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at June 30, 2007 02:45 PM (QTv8u)


Ace, I bow to the master. Ozymandias will never be the same to me. Meanwhile over at Weasel's, we've been writing haiku for the Islamic Rage Boy.



Posted by: Steamboat McGoo at June 30, 2007 02:47 PM (41Dd+)

17 And to think I only knew of Seutonius' gossip about Julius' nigthtime activites.  Catullus certainly makes Seutonoius' quip, "Caesar may have conquered the Gauls, but Nicomedes conquered Caesar" appear limp in comparison.

Posted by: John at June 30, 2007 02:47 PM (7itTb)



There's a lot of man in you,

Naso, and a lot of men also.

Posted by: ramms at June 30, 2007 02:58 PM (cqSR5)

19 Anyone finish that review?

'Cause I'm not reading seven paragraphs about a fucking sparrow unless in the eighth it gets jammed in somebody's ass.

Posted by: And Two In The Bush at June 30, 2007 03:01 PM (JLI/R)

20 The great man...

Posted by: Slublog at June 30, 2007 03:02 PM (jXijA)


Sparrow jammin'?

I don't want this to be. I want the evoked image erased.

I never knew reading the Classics was so...intense.

Posted by: Steamboat McGoo at June 30, 2007 03:07 PM (41Dd+)


Hickory Dickory Dock

Furius is getting banged by Caeser's horse,

fucked right up the ass!



Little Miss Crassus

had a cock up her assus,

The cock not from a man,

because Aurelius - hey -

what a fuckin' pussy that guy is



Posted by: Gaius 'Dice' Valerius at June 30, 2007 03:12 PM (wieXQ)

23 I just finished 1st year latin this spring and we read a bit of Cattulus at the end.

If you read him you have to get a new English translation, as all the old translations are heavily edited and cut out all the good parts.

Oh and make sure to read some Martial as well.

Posted by: Jason at June 30, 2007 03:17 PM (+HOzK)

24 And who said that Ana Marie Cox and Jessica Cutler weren't classically inspired?

Posted by: Misha I at June 30, 2007 03:17 PM (/9Zc9)


What fortitude the cock contains,

That it can so endure

The accent of an orgasm,

The opening of a box!

-Not Emily Dickinson

Posted by: lauraw at June 30, 2007 03:29 PM (DbybK)

26 Well, his name was Gaius, so I can't say I'm surprised.

Posted by: wahhaw at June 30, 2007 03:31 PM (KyHUV)

27 Eesh, it's so wrong to violate Emily Dickinson.

Posted by: lauraw at June 30, 2007 03:31 PM (DbybK)

28 Oh yeah?  Let me tell you about that, lauraw...

Posted by: susan gilbert at June 30, 2007 03:42 PM (X9IHf)

29 Do not go gentle into that...

Nah, I just can't do it.

Posted by: Slublog at June 30, 2007 03:42 PM (jXijA)

30 Nah, I just can't do it.

I just can't do it well.

Posted by: geoff at June 30, 2007 03:58 PM (zxGzv)


Posted by: Spurwing Catullus at June 30, 2007 04:16 PM (uTYho)

32 Does anyone remember JULIUS CAESAR?  He had a PET CHIMP and drove around ROME solving MYSTERIES.

Posted by: acewing plover at June 30, 2007 05:17 PM (1UCRY)

33 That's ancient Rome for you, all gay sex and monkeys, all the time. Plus little clown cars, and when they stop, like, a hundred clowns got out. That's just how they used to roll.

Those were the days, my freind, those were the days.

Posted by: Amos at June 30, 2007 05:32 PM (eaIhP)

34 There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins
And there the grass grows soft and white
And there the suns burns crimson bright
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
And a schitzophrenic transient is fisting a pigeon.

Posted by: Andrew at June 30, 2007 06:59 PM (E0tEU)


Those were the days, my friend

You thought they'd never end

You'd fist a tramp, forever and a day

You'd jam a cattle prod

You'd take the whole nine yards

And - god forbid - an elk got in your way!

Posted by: Steamboat McGoo at June 30, 2007 09:05 PM (41Dd+)


I come here not to praise Caesar, but to put my dick in his ass one last time.



Posted by: emanicus magnus at July 01, 2007 03:23 AM (FWrFx)

37 Horse cock!  Horse cock!  My kingdom for horse cock!

Posted by: Richard III at July 01, 2007 05:23 AM (eXdIs)


I did my Masters on Catullus. I was forced to study Latin to do grad school in Classics, having come to Greek solely because of Plato, then fairly much abandoned Greek once I discovered Latin verse.

In grad school, I used to have a shirt that had the first and last lines of XVI in Latin ("Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo", which I prefer to render as "I'll poke you and choke you", losing some of the explicit vulgarity but gaining more in rhythm). While visiting a friend at another school, while walking into the library, walking out was a priest who had taught at my high school. We chatted briefly before I realized to my embarassment that I was wearing that very shirt at that very moment, and I was talking to a Latin-literate priest, for he had indeed taught Advanced Latin there. Fortunately, he wasn't offended but rather overjoyed that another person had pursued Classics.

My favorite Catullus, though, is the Lesbia cycle. "Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire...nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive" was unwisely-ignored advice about a sequence of women that lasted until I was in my late 20s and finally grew up emotionally.

But of course my favorite turn of phrase in the Carmina Catulli is LVIII, regarding his lost love Lesbia, who having dumped his ass, "now in intersections and alleyways peels like bananas (=glubit) the scions of the great Remus."

Posted by: Lapsed Leftist at July 01, 2007 08:52 AM (Inaqm)


The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab
and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

What can I say?
That goddamn hawk just pissed me off,
So I grabbed it by its beak and buttfucked it savagely.
And when I broke its neck just before my release,
The intensity overwhelmed me like a tsunami of cum.

Posted by: Walt Whitman at July 01, 2007 10:23 AM (cxkbW)


Famous military statements:

"Nothing is more exhilarating that to be butt-humped by a water buffalo without prolapsing!"

"...and remember gentlemen, a sparrow that can be mis-jammed, will be mis-jammed!"

Posted by: Steamboat McGoo at July 01, 2007 11:18 AM (41Dd+)


Ooo, I've got to run one through the dialectizer

I'll fuck ya' down de ass, and ya' kin blow me, ya' cocksucka' Aurelius and ya' faggots Furius, fo' suggestin' dat mah' little verses are effeminate and not pure enough. Lop some boogie. A baaaad poet should be virtuous, but his verses duzn't need t'be. Who cares if verses dat gots spice and wit are soft and not real pure? Dey kin also dig ya' goin'. I'm not rappin' t'boys here, but t'two froy men who kin't even move deir creaky old loins. Is you two puttin' me waaay down plum a'cuz ya''ve eyeball about mah' dousands uh kisses? Fuck ya' bod. You's kin blow me.


Posted by: esoterica at July 01, 2007 02:40 PM (LTZS/)

42 112

There's a lot of man in you,
Naso, and a lot of men also.

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