Insulsa

litter

Varus me meus ad suos amores
visum duxerat e foro otiosum,
scortillum, ut mihi tum repente visum est,
non sane illepidum neque invenustum.
huc ut venimus, incidere nobis
sermones varii, in quibus, quid esset
iam Bithynia, quo modo se haberet,
et quonam mihi profuisset aere.
respondi id quod erat, nihil neque ipsis
nec praetoribus esse nec cohorti,
cur quisquam caput unctius referret,
praesertim quibus esset irrumator
praetor, nec faceret pili cohortem.
‘at certe tamen,’ inquiunt ‘quod illic
natum dicitur esse, comparasti
ad lecticam homines.’ ego, ut puellae
unum me facerem beatiorem,
‘non’ inquam ‘mihi tam fuit maligne
ut, provincia quod mala incidisset,
non possem octo homines parare rectos.’
at mi nullus erat nec hic neque illic
fractum qui veteris pedem grabati
in collo sibi collocare posset.
hic illa, ut decuit cinaediorem,
‘quaeso’ inquit ‘mihi, mi Catulle, paulum
istos commoda: nam volo ad Serapim
deferri.’ ‘mane’ inquii puellae,
‘istud quod modo dixeram me habere,
fugit me ratio: meus sodalis—
Cinna est Gaius—is sibi paravit.
verum, utrum illius an mei, quid ad me?
utor tam bene quam mihi pararim.
sed tu insulsa male et molesta vivis,
per quam non licet esse neglegentem.’
(Catullus 10)

My friend Varus saw me lounging in the Forum,
dragged me off with him to meet his girlfriend.
“Little scrubber” was my first impression—
not unsmart, though, not entirely witless.
When we got there, conversation turned to
every kind of subject, and among them
how were things in Bithynia, what was happening,
had my posting brought me in a windfall?
I replied with the truth: not even praetors,
much less aides, could find even the slightest
hope of deals that would fatten their resources—
not least when said praetor was a fuckface
and didn’t give a shit for his poor staffers.
“Well, at least,” they said, “you must have picked up
some of what we hear’s their major export—
litter-bearers?” Anxious to impress his
girlfriend, make her suppose I was a fat-cat,
“Sure,” said I, “though I got a lousy province,
life wasn’t all that bad for me—I somehow
found myself eight able-bodied porters.”
(Truth was, neither here nor there so much as
one spent shag did I own, the kind who’d barely
manage to heft an ancient broken bed-leg.)
At this—predictable bitch—she said, “Catullus,
darling, please, please, lend me them—I only
need them a little while, I want a ride to
Serapis’s temple.” “Whoa,” I told her, “what I
claimed just now that I had, I really hadn’t,
my mind was slipping, actually it’s my colleague
Cinna, first name Gaius, bought them—though why
should I care who it is that they belong to?
I still use them just as though I owned them.
Not but what you’re a bore, a walking pest,
who won’t let pass even slight exaggerations.”
(tr. Peter Green)

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