Questions on Reading

Matthaeus

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I recommend Catullus XVI. :devilsmile:
great for a beginner...
 

Bestiola

Sciura Tigrina Croatica

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Matthaeus dixit:
I recommend Catullus XVI. :devilsmile:
great for a beginner...
hahaha well, what if I mentioned Martial? :innocent:
 

Nikolaos

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Poetry kind of has to be deconstructed, at least until you get used to the word order.

Catullus 16: If you have ever read anything near as filthy as this poem, it was probably either restroom graffiti or swiftly deleted YouTube spam. It was written to express his hatred for some certain people in very explicit language.
 

Bitmap

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Nikolaos dixit:
It was written to express his hatred for some certain people in very explicit language.
I actually think the poem has a different message
 

Nikolaos

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Bitmap dixit:
Nikolaos dixit:
It was written to express his hatred for some certain people in very explicit language.
I actually think the poem has a different message
Ah, I haven't looked into it much, and only glanced over the details about a year ago or so.
 

Bitmap

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Catullus should not be mistaken as a perverted poet who wrote obscene verses at random (i.e. with no other purpose than being insulting). This is particularly true for XVI.
I have no good overview over the literature on Catullus, but it seems like this particular poem has not received much attention so far. I haven't seen any really good translation of it, either, yet. Most translators try to be too formal or cautious and end up writing things like "I shall have anal sex with you" or "I will sodomize you" when it should really be "I'll fvck you in the arse/ass" or maybe even "I'll fvck you in the arse/ass like little boys" if you really want to render the meaning of p(a)edicare. I like the second part of the translation on rainbeam's website where it says "I will face-fvck you" - that looks like a proper rendering.

Despite the obscenity, it should be noted that those lines are designed with a lot of meticulous stylistic consideration, so there's probably more to them than mere insults:

There is a chiasm between persons and actions:
verb (pedicabo) - person (ego) - X - person (vos) - verb (irrumabo)

X

person (Aurelius) - noun implying an action (pathicus) - X - noun implying an action (cinaedus) - person (Furius)

As you can see, the chiasmi occur within the verses themselves (red vs white) as well as between the verses (inverted order of red and white)
(it would be more obvious if I could centre the text)
Unfortunately, most dictionaries I have are not really precise as to the meaning of pathicus and cinaedus. If the translation on rainbeam's website is right (and I think it is because I've also read it like that in a German translation), then pathicus is along the lines of a cocksucker and cinaedus is along the lines of a (male [underage?!]) sex slave (for males). If that's true, you also have a chiasm in the semantics:

arse-/assfvcking (pedicare) - cocksucking (irrumare)
X
cocksucking (pathicus) - arse-/assfvcking (cinaedus)

There is even more tension between the two lines due to their antithetic composition: verse 1 contains active performance (pedicare/irrumare: arse/ass- and face-fvcking), verse 2 expresses passive indulgence (pathicus from paschein lit. 'to remain passive')

The second verse also has a certain symmetry in its syllable count:

Au-re-li pa-thic / et / ci-nae-de Fu-ri
5 - 1 - 5
a similar symmetry is known from the poem that this one refers to, even though it is much more refined there:
so-les / oc-ci-der / et / re-di-re / pos-sunt
2 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 2 (loosely also 5-1-5)

Such an accumulation of stylistic devices does not happen at random and it usually points to a passage that is of special importance.
In this poem, the obscenity is exaggerated for a reason. The core idea can be found in lines 5-6:
Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necesse est


with the translation of rainbeams:
For it's right for the pious poet to be chaste
Himself, but it's not at all necessary for his verses to be so.

(I changed "devoted" to "pious", though, and "not" to "not at all")

Pietas and castitas are qualities of a (good) poet - however, he should be free to do away with them in his verses.
This poem draws a clear distinction between the actual poet and the content of his poetry. The exaggerated extent of obscene and abusive language is simply there to underline this distinction and to make it clearly visible for everyone - the personal insults are just a side-effect (just like in my forum posts). in a way, this may be one of the first instances where the idea of a lyrical I occurs in Roman poetry (which is usually only attributed to Tibullus, I think)
 

rainbeams

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[Shakes head] Alas, glancing at Bitmap's post, I'm certain I shall never reach his level of Latin understanding. (Quite impossible with no classical training.)
 

Manus Correctrix

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I just can’t see ‘ass-fecking’ in such translations and not think miseros asinos! It’s a poem about gay rape, and they want to throw bestiality into it too.
 

Bitmap

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I had arse/ass somewhere in the beginning to cater to both ends of the English varieties, but I confined myself to the (more common) American of describing a derrière. Sorry to the British-minded who still understand ass the way Shakespeare did. Sit venia verbo

If you can suggest a better word, I might still be able to edit it

edit: I tried to edit it to suit your needs
 

Bitmap

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Cursor Nictans dixit:
btw, the poem is not about raping happy people ;>
 

Manus Correctrix

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Bitmap dixit:
btw, the poem is not about raping happy people ;>
Catullus seems to be having a jolly time though.
 

Nikolaos

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Hearing a friend say something about the ancients not having profanity like we have (an uninformed opinion, of course) brought my mind back to this topic. I went ahead and read through Cat. XVI myself, Bitmap, and I agree with your assessment. Not that you need my approval in order to be right, but it's still nice to have :p

All the same, this isn't a poem that I intend to expound on and tell all of my friends about.
 

Bitmap

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Nikolaos dixit:
Hearing a friend say something about the ancients not having profanity like we have
That impression may be created by
a) the censorship Latin texts had to undergo when they were passed on by Christian scribes
b) the hesitant behaviour of classics scholars in dealing with such texts (Catullus XVI does not get translated in many editions)
c) the fact that literature does not fully mirror everyday conversations, anyway (why would a philosophical text, for instance, have to resort to profanity?!), so we can only reconstruct Vulgar Latin to a very limited extent

We need to be careful about the conclusions we draw regarding the antiquity, because our perspective is rather limited at times. Imagine a future civilisation researching our age with the only sources they have being the TV shows we produce ... What impression would they get? ;(


(an uninformed opinion, of course) brought my mind back to this topic. I went ahead and read through Cat. XVI myself, Bitmap, and I agree with your assessment.
Thank you.
My post was a discussion about a piece of Latin literature, the point being that although it's obscene, it's not about obscenity at core. I don't know why some moderator moved it to this off-forum.

All the same, this isn't a poem that I intend to expound on and tell all of my friends about.
I wouldn't hesitate to do it with a school class
 
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