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Catullus 99: Sweet Juventius

Surripui tibi, dum ludis, mellite Iuventi,
suaviolum dulci dulcius ambrosia.
verum id non impune tuli: namque amplius horam
suffixum in summa me memini esse cruce,
dum tibi me purgo nec possum fletibus ullis
tantillum vestrae demere saevitiae.
nam simul id factum est, multis diluta labella
guttis abstersisti omnibus articulis,
ne quicquam nostro contractum ex ore maneret,
tamquam commictae spurca saliva lupae.
praeterea infesto miserum me tradere amori
non cessasti omnique excruciare modo,
ut mi ex ambrosia mutatum iam foret illud
suaviolum tristi tristius elleboro.
quam quoniam poenam misero proponis amori,
numquam iam posthac basia surripiam.

I stole while you played, sweet Juventius
a little kiss of the sweetest ambrosia.
But it didn’t go unpunished: from that hour
I see I’m fixed on the highest crucifix
unpurged and unable with all of my tears
to assuage a little of your rage.
When I gave you that kiss you wiped off your lips
with some spit on your soft fingertips
washing what of me might be left as if
my mouth were a whore’s dripping syphilis.
That sweet little kiss you’ve changed, Juventius
to the bitterest bitter bitterness
and Cupid’s wings, you’ve ripped them off:
he howls my every thought
but the worst is
how can I steal another kiss?



Anonymous (Egyptian). ‘Male Portrait Mask,’ late 1st century. encaustic (wax, pigments) on wood. Walters Art Museum (32.3): Acquired by Henry Walters, 1913.

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