Catullus 85  

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

Catullus 85 is a poem by the Roman poet Catullus for his mistress Lesbia. Its declaration of conflicting feelings "I hate and I love" (in Latin, Odi et amo) is renowned for its force and brevity.

The meter of the poem is the elegiac couplet.


Line Latin English (literal translation) English (free verse)
1 odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? I hate and I love. Why do I do this, perhaps you ask? I hate and I love. How can I explain this apparent contradiction?
2 nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior. I know not, but I feel it happening and I am tortured. I cannot, I can only feel it, and I am in agony.

Chiastic structure

The contrast in feelings that love provokes is one of the most common subjects of today's world literature. The motif, however, is not original. Anacreon had already said:

Ἐρέω τε δηὖτε κοὐκ ἐρέω,
καὶ μαίνομαι κοὐ μαίνομαι.
I love and yet I do not love,
I am crazy and I am not crazy.

(fr. 46 Gentili)

But with Catullus there seems to be something more; it is of course the experience of trouble, like with Anacreon. But the drama is exacerbated by the sad realization that this trouble arises independently of the human will. It is beyond logic and only in the realm of feeling. The poet has perhaps no choice but to take note of the situation and suffer terribly (the verb excrucior literally means "to be put on the cross").


The poem Odi et Amo was set to music by Carl Orff as part of his Catulli Carmina (1943). It was also set by Jóhann Jóhannsson on his first album Englabörn (2002).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Catullus 85" 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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