Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How Many Kisses, Catullus? Catullus 7


Lesbia, you ask me how many kisses

I want—and how many are too many for me.

I want as great a number as sands in the Saharan desert

Between the Oracle of Ammon

And the sacred tomb of ol’ Battus.

As great a number of stars in the dead of night

That watch over the meetings of secret lovers.

That’s the number of kisses your Catullus wants to kiss,

Enough kisses that nosy people cannot count

Nor evil tongues can curse.

--Catullus 7

 Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes

tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.

quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae

lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis

oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi

et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum;

aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,

furtivos hominum vident amores:

tam te basia multa basiare

vesano satis et super Catullo est,

quae nec pernumerare curiosi

possint nec mala fascinare lingua.



Name:  Gaius Valerius Catullus

Date:  84 – 54 BCE

Works:  Poems



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



Catullus was a Roman statesman born in Verona  (Cisalpine Gaul, located in northern Italy) who lived during the tumultuous last days of the Roman Republic.  His poetry offers rare insight into the mores of the time period. Like Propertius and Tibullus, Catullus used a pseudonym for the objects of his attention; many of his love poems were addressed to either “Lesbia” or “Juventius.”


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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