Dilexi

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Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum,
Lesbia, nec prae me velle tenere Iovem.
dilexi tum te non tantum ut vulgus amicam,
sed pater ut gnatos diligit et generos.
nunc te cognovi: quare etsi impensius uror,
multo mi tamen es vilior et levior.
qui potis est, inquis? quod amantem iniuria talis
cogit amare magis, sed bene velle minus.
(Catullus 72)

You told me once, Lesbia, that Catullus alone understood you,
That you wouldn’t choose to clasp Jupiter rather than me.
I loved you then, not just as the common herd their women,
but as a father loves his sons and sons-in-law.
Now, though, I know you. So yes, though I burn more fiercely,
yet for me you’re far cheaper, lighter. “How,”
you ask, “can that be?” It’s because such injury forces
a lover to love more, but to cherish less.
(tr. Peter Green)

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