Catullus 7

How many kisses

Catullus on kisses again: for more, see here. Nights were dark in the ancient world but the stars, remote but attentive, can see well enough what is going on. See the blog post for Van Gogh’s starry night.

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Quaeris quot mihi basiationes
tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.
quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae
lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis
oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi
et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum:
aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
furtivos hominum vident amores:
tam te basia multa basiare
vesano satis et super Catullo est.
quae nec pernumerare curiosi
possint nec mala fascinare lingua.

You ask, how many of your kisses, Lesbia,
might be enough for me and more.
As big a number as the Libyan sands
that lie in incense-bearing Cyrene between
the oracle of sweltering Jupiter
and the sacred tomb of ancient Battus;
or the number of stars, when the night is still,
that look down on the furtive love-affairs of men:
that’s the number of kisses to give you that
would be enough and more for mad Catullus,
which pryers could not count, or cast
a spell on with malicious tongues.