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Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  Variations on Catullus 11 (Carmen 11)

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AuthorMessage
Brendan
Posted on Tue Nov 01, 2005 19:45:47  
My AP Latin class translated this recently, and I found some differences between my translation and the translation already posted. Here is my translation, including rationale for various parts.

Furius and Aurelius, friends of Catullus,
whether he will penetrate the most extreme parts of an Indian, 1
where the shore is beaten by the long resounding
eastern waves,

Whether in Hyrcanians or voluptuous Arabs, 2
or the Scythians or the arrow carrying Parthians,
or the water which is dyed by the sevenfold
great Nile,

Whether he proceeds to cross the high Alps,
seeing Caesar's great monuments, 3
and the terrible water of the Gallic Rhine and 4
the farthest away Britons,

All these things, whatever the will of the gods will
bring, prepared they will try these things together,
go and tell my girl a few
not good words. 5

Let her live and let her be well with her adulterers, 6
whom she holds, all 300 of them at the same time,
truly not lonving one of them, but bursting again and
again all their balls; 7

Do not let her look back to me, as before, for my love,
which on account of her fault has fallen like a
flower at the farthest part of the field, after it is
cut down by the plough. 8

1: Indos, in the original text, means "a person living in India"; this begins the list of people rather than places, which in turn relates directly to his attack on the betrayal of his girl (probably Lesbia)
2: The use of "voluptuous" plays into the phallic sense of the play - the reference is not meant to be kind or just a descriptive character of the people, it is a reference with reason.
3: "Visens" in the original Latin is a Present Active Participle, which is to be translated with "-ing"
4: The "terrible water" is the most acceptable translation for this line, given that sailing was considered dangerous, the Rhine is a huge and violent river, and that the Gauls on the other side were harsh and violent in the eyes of the Romans.
5: Litotes: explanation of something through its opposite: "non bona dicta", the not good words
6: Related directly to Poem 5, "let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love" - a sign of the betrayal of Lesbia, and this also leads to the conclusion that the object of love has to be Lesbia herself.
7: Metaphorical sign of castration - Lesbia isn't going around smashing testicles, rather she has many suitors exactly where she wants them, and is not faithful to Catullus
8: This is a phallic reference; according to Ronnie Ancona, this is a commonly used Greek and Latin metaphor. The ploughing of the field is a metaphor for the act of sexual intercourse. The ultimate meaning of this is Catullus saying he is no longer going to be taken advantage of by Lesbia, rather he is a "flower", or the female counterpart in a male bonding scenario. This is a purely metaphorical relation: in no way does Catullus seriously reference being castrated or becoming the female in a homosexual relationship.
semper ubi sub ubi
Guest
Posted at Tue Dec 04, 2007 04:55:53  Quote
The translation posted by the AP studet here is actually far better than the one being displayed in terms of faith and accuracy toward the text.
Guest
Posted at Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:13:21  Quote
Quote:
  My AP Latin class translated this recently, and I found some differences between my translation and the translation already posted. Here is my translation, including rationale for various parts.

Furius and Aurelius, friends of Catullus,
whether he will penetrate the most extreme parts of an Indian, 1
where the shore is beaten by the long resounding
eastern waves,

Whether in Hyrcanians or voluptuous Arabs, 2
or the Scythians or the arrow carrying Parthians,
or the water which is dyed by the sevenfold
great Nile,

Whether he proceeds to cross the high Alps,
seeing Caesar's great monuments, 3
and the terrible water of the Gallic Rhine and 4
the farthest away Britons,

All these things, whatever the will of the gods will
bring, prepared they will try these things together,
go and tell my girl a few
not good words. 5

Let her live and let her be well with her adulterers, 6
whom she holds, all 300 of them at the same time,
truly not lonving one of them, but bursting again and
again all their balls; 7

Do not let her look back to me, as before, for my love,
which on account of her fault has fallen like a
flower at the farthest part of the field, after it is
cut down by the plough. 8

1: Indos, in the original text, means "a person living in India"; this begins the list of people rather than places, which in turn relates directly to his attack on the betrayal of his girl (probably Lesbia)
2: The use of "voluptuous" plays into the phallic sense of the play - the reference is not meant to be kind or just a descriptive character of the people, it is a reference with reason.
3: "Visens" in the original Latin is a Present Active Participle, which is to be translated with "-ing"
4: The "terrible water" is the most acceptable translation for this line, given that sailing was considered dangerous, the Rhine is a huge and violent river, and that the Gauls on the other side were harsh and violent in the eyes of the Romans.
5: Litotes: explanation of something through its opposite: "non bona dicta", the not good words
6: Related directly to Poem 5, "let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love" - a sign of the betrayal of Lesbia, and this also leads to the conclusion that the object of love has to be Lesbia herself.
7: Metaphorical sign of castration - Lesbia isn't going around smashing testicles, rather she has many suitors exactly where she wants them, and is not faithful to Catullus
8: This is a phallic reference; according to Ronnie Ancona, this is a commonly used Greek and Latin metaphor. The ploughing of the field is a metaphor for the act of sexual intercourse. The ultimate meaning of this is Catullus saying he is no longer going to be taken advantage of by Lesbia, rather he is a "flower", or the female counterpart in a male bonding scenario. This is a purely metaphorical relation: in no way does Catullus seriously reference being castrated or becoming the female in a homosexual relationship.


In my extension class, we presented a similar translation, though my teacher (being young and male in a class of teenage girls) endeavored to keep the translation as clean as possible.

"...but bursting again and again all their balls" we had as "repeatedly rupturing the loins of all" (but it's just a word choice), as well as translating moechis as "sluts", rather than adulterers.
Guest
Posted at Fri Sep 19, 2008 02:03:34  Quote
Yeah thats pretty good, but there is one thing i think youve all left out... in line 11:

seeing the monuments of the great Caesar,
the Gallic Rhine, the horrible sea (the north Sea), [/b] and the furthest part of Britain.

I believe horribile aequor refers to the North Sea as well not just the Rhine.
Guest
Posted at Fri Dec 12, 2008 05:29:37  Quote
My AP class actually also dug quite far into this poem and I think your variation is superb and much more accurate (the translations on this site often try to adapt to proper English and lose much of the meaning along the way). The only problem I have is in

or thewater which is dyed by the sevenfold
great Nile,

Aequor literally means flat surface or plain. Our class chose to translate it as plain which is dyed by the Nile. Our rationale was an allusion by Catullus to the flooding of Egyptian plains every year. It would make much more sense as the whole of the plains is dyed with water and becomes a river while the water doesn't actually undergo a change in color.
 


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