Take a minute and enjoy 5 lines from the most celebrated poets of ancient Rome that will make you appreciate their timeless power. In English and in Latin.
1. Catullus V
Catullus wrote in the late Roman Republic about personal themes, such as love. Here is a line from Catullus V, telling lovers to defy the haters out there:
Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,
then another thousand, and then another hundred,
and, when we’ve counted up the many thousands,
let us confuse them so as not to know them all,
so that no enemy may cast an evil eye,
when he finds out that there were so many kisses.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.
2. Ovid, Amores I, 2
Ovid was a hugely popular poet during Augustus’ reign, and he was actually exiled, probably for his poetry, but historians aren’t certain. This line from Ovid is from a poem about the burden of his love for an upper-class and thus unattainable woman.
Thus it will be; slender arrows are lodged in my heart,
and Love vexes the chest that it has seized
Shall I surrender or stir up the sudden flame by fighting it?
I will surrender – a burden becomes light when it is carried willingly.
sic erit; haeserunt tenues in corde sagittae,
et possessa ferus pectora versat Amor.
Cedimus, an subitum luctando accendimus ignem?
cedamus! leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus.
3. Horace, Odes, Book I/9
Another Roman poet renowned in Rome. Quintilian said: “He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace”. Here is Horace telling us to live in the moment:
Leave off asking what tomorrow will bring, and
whatever days fortune will give, count them
as profit, and while you’re young don’t scorn
sweet love affairs and dances,
Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quaerere, et
quem fors dierum cumque dabit, lucro
adpone nec dulcis amores
sperne, puer, neque tu choreas,
4. Virgil, Eclogues
Oh, you may have heard of Virgil. Wrote a little something called The Aeneid. Here is Virgil being plain and direct about love:
Love conquers all things, so we too shall yield to love.
Amor vincit omnia, et nos cedamus amori.
5. Ovid, The Amores
Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.
Dolor hic tibi proderit olim
I hope that helps you deal with whatever you need to deal with today.
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