Catullus 13

An invitation from Catullus

by Catullus

Catullus invites his friend Fabullus to dinner – sort of. We need not worry too much that the high-born Catullus might starve, and poets in the classical world were by convention poor. Romans enjoyed anointing themselves with perfumed oils and unguents as part of the luxury of a feast, unattractive though it might seem to most of us now. We can have no idea what Fabullus’s nose looked like, but, knowing Catullus, it is tempting to speculate.

See the illustrated blog post here.

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Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

You’ll dine well at my house, my dear Fabullus,
in a day or two, gods willing, if you bring
a good, big dinner with you, not forgetting
a fair-skinned girl, and wine, and wit,
and plenty of hearty laughter. If
you bring this with you, as I say, my charming friend,
you will dine well, for your Catullus’s
purse is full of cobwebs. On the other hand,
you will get undiluted love, if not undiluted wine,
or something nicer and more elegant,
for I will give you an unguent
that the Venuses and Cupids gave my girl,
and when you smell it, you will pray the Gods,
Fabullus, to turn you into one – big – nose.