Catullus 16  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Catullus 16 is famous among Catullus's Carmina because it is so sexually explicit that a full English translation was not openly published until the late twentieth century. Several editions of Catullus omit the more explicit parts of the poem. An interesting example is the 1924 Loeb Catullus: this omits lines 1 and 2 from the English translation, but includes them in the Latin; lines 7-14 are omitted from both Latin and English; a later Loeb edition gives the complete text in both languages. Other editions have been published with the explicit words blanked out. The poem is famous among classicists as a benchmark of Latin profanity and invective.

Catullus addresses the poem to two unknown men, Furius and Aurelius, who are perhaps competing poets, perhaps mere constructs, since invective poetry was popular at the time. Modern Catullus scholarship speculates that they are likely the same people referred to in Catullus 11 and other poems. Apparently, Furius and Aurelius find Catullus's verses to be mollici (soft, perhaps "wussy" in modern (2007) slang). Catullus responds with intense abuse and invective.

Rough translation

The following rough translation attempts to convey the attitude of this poem:

I'll fuck you up your ass and down your throat,
you cock-sucker Aurelius and fudge-packed Furius!
Just because my verses are tender doesn't mean
that I've gone all soft. Sure, a poet should focus
on writing poetry and not on sex; but does that
mean they can't write about sex? If a poem is
in good taste, well-written and sexy,
it can tingle and stiffen even hairy old men,
not just horny teenagers. You think I'm a wuss
because I write about thousands of kisses?
I'll fuck you up your ass and down your throat!




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Catullus 16" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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