Up your ass and in your mouth
Aurelius, you too Furius, you cocksuckers
calling me dirt because my poems
have naughty naughty words in them.
But right now I'm interested in the direct, engaging way Catullus begins a poem and plan to copy him. Here are some of his openers:
Hello, sparrow . . .
Just how many kisses do I want . . .
You feel bad, Catullus, but quit acting stupid . . .
Calvus, old buddy . . .
Aurelius, you father of every hunger . . .
Look Thallus, you fat little fairy . . .
Listen kid, go bring us something/ decent to drink . . .
I hate her and I love her . . .
You're invited to a feast, Fabullus, my place . . .
Lively, profane, irreverent, the most secular of ancient poets, Catullus speaks with what Bunuel called "virile insolence." He insults Caesar:
I've no big wish to please you, Caesar,
or to know who or what the hell you are.
I know very little Latin, but the liquidity of Catullus's lines comes through: Mellitos oculos tuos, Iuuenti . . . Your honeyed eyes, Juventius.
Next week we'll be talking about Catullus in our readers group. I've succumbed to his charms and won't say a word against him.
He was born in Verona, where this Roman road has been worn smooth, and died too young.