Whorehouse, and all you backroom soldier boys,
nine pillars down from the Brothers of the Beanie,
you think you're the only ones who've got the tool?
Do the girls hand you special screwing permits?
You call the rest of us a herd of goats?
Well listen, I'll hand the whole crew of you,
200 at a time, sitting in a row with your feet
in your mouth, something better to suck on —
I'll plaster pricks all over the walls!
Because this girl of mine, who ran out on me,
(no girl will ever get the loving I gave her)
a girl who got me into one fight after another,
ends up inside, and all you high society glamor boys
sleep with her, which is a dirty shame, because
you're a pack of crawling, back-alley sneak fuckers.
But the worst of the lot, of all you curly headed wonders,
is that Celtiberian refugee from the rabbit country,
Egnatius. He's a black bearded phony, and on top of this,
he brushes his teeth with Spanish piss.
Egnatius has white teeth, that's why
he's always smiling. Go to court
when the lawyer's got the crowd in tears,
he smiles. At a family funeral,
a mother weeping at a grave of her only son,
he smiles. Whatever or wherever it is,
you name it, he smiles. It's sick
if you ask me, not nice or even civilized.
So let me tell you something Egnatius my man.
You could be Roman or Sabine or Tiburtine,
an Umbrian skinflint or a fat assed Etruscan,
or some bucktoothed black from Lanuvium,
or a Transpadane, just to mention my own,
anyone who cleans his teeth with fresh water,
and I still couldn't take your smiling all the time —
I mean there's nothing dumber than a dumb smile.
But now you're Celtiberian. In Celtiberian country
they take a leak and save it for the morning
to brush their teeth and rub their gum up red,
so the whiter and brighter your teeth sparkle,
the more piss of yours we know you've been drinking.
Selected Poems of Catullus
translated by Carl Sesar
(Mason & Libscomb, 1974)
Catullus was born in the town of Verona, 250 miles north of Rome, in about 84 B.C. He lived and wrote in both Rome and Verona, stayed at times in Tibur, a suburb of Rome, and at Sirmio, a peninsula in present-day Lake Garda, and traveled as far as Bithynia and a few other places out in Asia Minor. He died at the age of 30 or so, in about 54 B.C. Of his works, a total of 113 poems and a few fragments survive.
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