Latin poets to know and love.

Boethius

c. 480 - 524 CE

Boethius was a sixth-century statesman and scholar who met a cruel death on suspicion of treason, but whose writings were hugely influential during the middle ages.

The Consolation of Philosophy, 4. 6. lines 1 - 18

Some things never change

Si vis celsi tonantis iura pura sollers cernere mente

Boethius's reminder that some things never change

Catullus

Catullus

84BC - 54BC

The first of the Big Four to write was Catullus. He was reportedly born in 84 BCE in Verona, but spent much of his adult life in Rome, and died young in about 54 BCE, ten years before the death of Julius Caesar. References in the poems suggest that he spent a year abroad at some point on the staff of the Governor of the Province of Bithynia, near the Bosphorus and Black Sea in modern Turkey.

Catullus 2

Passer, deliciae meae puellae

Passer, deliciae meae puellae

Lesbia's sparrow

Catullus 3

Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque

Lugete, o Venerese Cupidinesque

A lament for Lesbia's sparrow

Catullus 5

Vivamus, mea Lesbia

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus

Let's live and love

Catullus 4

Phaselus ille

Phaselus ille quem videtis, hospites

Catullus's yacht

Catullus 7

How many kisses

Quaeris quot mihi basiationes

Catullus tries again to count the kisses

Catullus 8

Poor Catullus

Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire

Catullus resigns himself to losing Lesbia

Catullus 101

Catullus’s farewell to his brother

Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus

Catullus mourns his loss

Horace

Horace

65BCE - 8BCE

Horace, with Virgil, is one of the twin giants of poetry in the time of Augustus. While Virgil was taking the Greek tradition of epic poetry and giving it a new set of completely Roman clothes with the Aeneid, Horace was taking the Greek tradition of lyric poetry that was the established stock-in-trade for much non-epic Roman poetry, and giving it a new and distinctly Roman character.

Odes 1.5

Pyrrha

Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa

Horace escapes drowning in the sea of love

Odes 1.11

Gathering rosebuds: carpe diem

Tu ne quaesieris (scire nefas) quem mihi, quem tibi

Carpe diem

Odes 1.9

Soracte

Vides ut alta stet nive candidum Soracte

Life is short – enjoy it while you are young

Horace Odes, Book 1.22

Horace, the wolf and the upright life

Integer vitae scelerisque purus

The upright life protects Horace from a wolf

Ode 1.32

Poscimur

Poscimur. Si quid vacui sub umbra

The strapline for the first line

Odes 1.37

Horace’s Cleopatra ode

Nunc est bibendum

Horace celebrates the defeat of Cleopatra

Odes 2.6

Tibur or Tarentum: a poet’s dilemma?

Septimi, Gadis aditure mecum

Tibur or Tarentum: a poet's dilemma?

Odes 2.7

Horace welcomes his army comrade

O saepe mecum tempus in ultimum

Horace welcomes his army comrade

Odes Book 2. 19

Horace’s reverence to Bacchus

Bacchum in remotis carmina rupibus

Horace's hymn to Bacchus

Odes 3.5

Courage and decadence: the Regulus ode

Caelo tonantem credidimus Iovem regnare

Horace's Regulus ode

Odes 3.13

O Fons Bandusiae

O fons Bandusiae, splendidior vitro

Horace's tribute to a spring

Odes 3.21

Horace’s prayer to a wine-jar

O nata mecum consule Manlio

Horace's prayer to a wine-jar

Odes 3.28

Celebrating Neptune’s feast day

Festo quid potius die festo Neptuni faciam?

Horace celebrates Neptune's feast day

Odes 3.30

Horace’s monument

Exegi monumentum aere perennius

Horace concludes the Odes - or so he thinks

Odes 4.7

Diffugere nives

Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis

Death comes to us all

Lucretius

c. 99 - c. 55 BCE

Lucretius wrote De Rerum Natura, a work exploring cosmology, physics and theology in order to explain and justify the philosophical basis for Epicureanism.

De Rerum Natura, lines 1.44 - 1.48 and 3.894 - 911

Lucretius’s consolation

omnis enim per se divum natura necessest

Lucretius offers the rational view of grief and fear

Ovid

Ovid

43BC - c.18CE

Ovid built a glittering career as the fashionable poet of Love and mythology, but made an enemy of the Emperor Augustus and died around 18 CE after a long and unhappy exile. Meet him at Pantheon Poets.

From Amores 3.14

Ovid’s broad-minded advice to his mistress

Sit tibi mens melior

Kiss, but don't tell!

Metamorphoses Book 8, Lines 200 - 235

Daedalus and Icarus

postquam manus ultima coepto inposita est

The story of Daedalus and Icarus

Ovid Amores Book 2. 12

Ovid’s triumph

Ite triumphales circum mea tempora laurus

Ovid congratulates himself on success with Corinna

Metamorphoses Book 2, lines 843 - 875

Europa and the bull

dixit, et expulsi iamdudum monte iuvenci

The story of Europa

The Metamorphoses, Book 11, Lines 100 - 128

The Midas touch

Huic deus optandi gratum, sed inutile, fecit muneris arbitrium

Midas and the golden touch

Metamorphoses Book 6, Lines 103 - 145

Minerva and Arachne have a weaving contest

Maeonis elusam designat imagine tauri Europam

The mortal Arachne versus the Goddess Minerva

Propertius

Propertius

About 55 BCE - after 16 BCE

Much of Propertius’s work is love poetry to a mistress he calls Cynthia. A love/hate element often features in the feelings that poets express for their mistresses, and in Propertius both elements are particularly vivid.

Book 1, Elegy 1

Cynthia

Cynthia prima suis miserum me cepit ocellis

Propertius introduces Cynthia

Book 1, Elegy 3

Propertius and his sleeping beauty

Qualis Thesea iacuit cedente carina

Propertius returns from a night out

Propertius Elegies 1.16

The lover’s complaint to the door

Quae fueram magnis olim patefacta triumphis

The lover's complaint to the door

Propertius Elegies Book 2.22A

Propertius on the razzle

Scis here mi multas placuere puellas

Propertius in insatiable mood

Virgil

Virgil

70BC - 19BC

Virgil was born in 70 BCE. Like Catullus, according to ancient commentators, he came from the North, near Mantua. His was a family of farmers, reasonably prosperous, to judge from his upbringing, but lower in the scale of wealth and social position than Catullus. He had a thorough education, reportedly studying Greek, Epicurean philosophy and rhetoric at Cremona, Milan and Naples.

Eclogue 4, lines 1-17

Virgil predicts a forthcoming birth and a new golden age

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas

Virgil predicts a momentous birth

Aeneid Book 1, lines 1-7

The Aeneid begins

Arma virumque cano

The Aeneid begins

Aeneid Book 1, lines 441-63

The Trojans reach Carthage

Lucus in urbe fuitmedia, laetissimus umbrae

Tears for the human predicament

Aeneid Book 2, lines 1-13

Aeneas prepares to tell Dido his story

Conticuere omnes

Aeneas prepares to tell Dido his story

Aeneid Book 2, lines 40-49

Laocoon warns against the Trojan horse

Primus ibi ante omnes, magna comitante caterva

Laocoon warns against the Trojan horse

Aeneid Book 2, lines 199-227

Laocoon and the snakes

Hic aliud maius miseris multoque tremendum

Laocoon and the snakes

Aeneid Book 2, lines 234 - 245

The Trojan Horse enters the city

Dividimus muros et moenia pandimus urbis

The Trojans seal their fate

Aeneid Book 2, lines 286-313

Hector visits Aeneas in a dream

ille nihil, nec me vana quaerentem moratur

The sack of Troy begins

Aeneid Book 2, lines 526 - 558

The death of Priam

Ecce autem elapsus Pyrrhi de caede Polites

The death of Priam

Aeneid Book 2, Lines 679 - 710

Aeneas rescues his Father Anchises

Talia vociferans gemitu tectum omne replebat

Aeneas rescues his Father Anchises

Aeneid Book 2 lines 707 - 746

Aeneas saves his son and father, but at a cost

Mihi parvus Iulus sit comes

Aeneas flees with his family as the foh of war descends

Aeneid Book 3, lines 231 - 267

The Harpy’s prophecy

Instruimus mensas arisque reponibus ignem

Aeneas and his men encounter the Harpies

Aeneid Book 3, lines 374 - 395

How Aeneas will know the site of his city

Nate dea, nam te maioribus ire per altum

Aeneas learns how he will know the site of his city

Aeneid Book 4, lines 65 - 89

Dido falls in love

heu vatum ignarae mentes!

Dido's fatal passion begins

Aeneid Book 4, lines 129 - 172

Dido and Aeneas: royal hunt and royal affair

Oceanum interea surgens Aurora reliquit

The splendid hunt, the lovers' cave

Aeneid Book 4, lines 173 - 195

Rumour

ille dies primus leti primusque malorum

Dido and Aeneas: the monster Rumour spreads the news

Aeneid Book 4, lines 238 - 258

Mercury’s journey to Carthage

Dixerat. ille patris magni parere parabat

Mercury's journey to Carthage

Aeneid Book 4, lines 362 - 393

Dido and Aeneas: Hell hath no fury …

Talia dicentem iamdudum aversa tuetur

Dido and Aeneas: the confrontation

Aeneid Book 4, lines 393 - 411

The Trojans prepare to set sail from Carthage

At pius Aeneas, quamquam lenire dolentem

The Trojans prepare to set sail from Carthage

Aeneid Book 4, lines 642 – 668

The death of Dido.

at trepida et coeptis immanibus effera Dido

The death of Dido

Aeneid Book 4, lines 685 - 705

Dido’s release

Sic fata gradus evaserat altos

Dido's final release

Aeneid Book 5, lines 680 - 699

Fire strikes Aeneas’s fleet

non idcirco flamma atque incendia viris indomitas posuere

Fire in Aeneas's fleet

Aeneid Book 5, lines 719 - 740

Anchises’s ghost invites Aeneas to visit the underworld

Talibus incensus dictis senioris amici

Anchises calls Aeneas to visit the underworld

Aeneid Book 5, lines 833 - 861 and 867-871

Palinurus the helmsman is lost

princeps ante omnis densum Palinurus agebat agmen

Palinurus the helmsman is lost

Aeneid Book 6, lines 77 - 101

The Sibyl’s Prophecy

At Phoebi nondum patiens immanis in antro

The Sibyl of Cumae prophesies

Aeneid Book 6, lines 124 - 155

Aeneas learns the way to the underworld

Talibus orabat dictis arasque tenebat

Aeneas learns of the way to the underworld

Aeneid Book 6, lines 236 - 268

The journey to Hades begins

His actis propere exsequitur praecepta Sibyllae

Aeneas and the Sybil take the road for the underworld

Aeneid Book 6, lines 295 - 330

Charon, the ferryman

Hinc via Tartarei quae fert Acherontis ad undas

Charon, the ferryman of the dead

Aeneid Book 6, lines 450 - 476

Aeneas finds Dido among the shades

Inter quas Phoenissa recens a vulnere Dido

Aeneas finds Dido among the shades

Aeneid Book6, lines 548 - 579

Aeneas comes to the Hell of Tartarus

Respicit Aeneas subito et sub rupe sinistra

Aeneas hears of the punishments of Hell in Tartarus

Aeneid Book 6, lines 608 - 627

Souls awaiting punishment in Tartarus, and the crimes that brought them there.

Hic, quibus invisi fratres, dum vita manebat

Crime and punishment in the underworld

Aeneid Book 6, lines 637 - 659

Aeneas reaches the Elysian Fields

His demum exactis, perfecto munere divae

Aeneas and the Cumaean Sibyl reach the Elysian Fields.

Aeneid Book 6, lines 788 - 805

Aeneas is shown the future Augustus Caesar

huc geminas nunc flecte acies, hanc aspice gentem

Aeneas's father sings the praises of the future Emperor Augustus.

Aeneid Book 6, lines 880 - 886

Aeneas sees Marcellus, Augustus’s tragic heir

Atque hic Aeneas (una namque ire videbat

Aeneas sees Augustus's tragic heir Marcellus

Aeneid Book 6, lines 886 - 901

The portals of sleep

Sic tota passim regione vagantur

Aeneas returns to the upper Earth through the gates of sleep.

Aeneid Book, lines 54- 78

Omens for Princess Lavinia

Multi illam magno e Latio totaque petebat

Strange omens for a Princess

Aeneid Book 7, lines 116- 147

Aeneas arrives in Italy

"heus, etiam menses consumimus!", inquit Iulus

The Harpy's prophecy is harmlessly fulfilled

Aeneid Book 7, Lines 166 - 193

In King Latinus’s hall

Cum praevectus equo longaevi regis ad auris

King Latinus awaits the Trojan envoys in his ancestral hall