Catullus 16 - a Roman poem that is the dirtiest poem of all time

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Art Fag
Catullus 16

Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC – ca. 54 BC) was a Roman poet of the 1st century BC. His Latin poem Catullus 16 is famous among Catullus's Carmina because it is so sexually explicit that a full English translation was not openly published until the late twentieth century.[1] Several editions of Catullus omit the more explicit parts of the poem. A noteworthy example is the 1924 Loeb Catullus: this omits lines 1 and 2 from the English translation, but includes them in the Latin; lines 7-14 are omitted from both Latin and English; a later Loeb edition[2] gives the complete text in both languages. Other editions have been published with the explicit words blanked out.[3] The poem is famous among classicists as a benchmark of classical obscenity and invective.

Catullus addresses the poem to two unknown men, Furius and Aurelius, who are perhaps competing poets, perhaps mere constructs, since invective poetry was popular at the time. Modern Catullus scholarship speculates that they are likely the same people referred to in Catullus 11 and other poems.[4][5][6] Apparently, Furius and Aurelius find Catullus's verses to be mollici (soft, perhaps "wussy" in modern slang). Catullus responds with intense abuse and invective.


Notes and technical terms

Latin is an exact language for obscene acts, such as pedicabo and irrumabo, which appear in the first and last lines of the poem. The term pedicare is a transitive verb, meaning to "insert one's penis into another person's anus",[11] and derives from an analogous Greek word, παιδικω, itself derived ultimately from the Greek word παις, παιδος (child). The term cinaede in line 2 refers to the "bottom" person in that act, i.e., the one being penetrated.[12] The term irrumare is likewise a transitive verb, meaning to "insert one's penis into another person's mouth for suckling",[13] and derives from the Latin word, ruma meaning "teat". A male who suckles a penis is denoted as a fellator or, equivalently, a pathicus (line 2).[14] Thus, there is an elegant poetic chiasm (an "criss-cross" rhetorical structure) in the first two lines. Each line has two obscenities; the first of the first line, pedicabo, matches the second of the second line, cinaede, whereas the second of the first line, irrumabo, matches the first of the second line, pathice.

The central pun of the poem occurs in line 4 with quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum. The word molliculi refers to Catullus' verses and means "soft and tender little verses", as in love poetry. However, mollis can also mean "effeminate fellator", as well as "soft" in the sense of "flaccid penis". Likewise, parum pudicum refers to Catullus, and can mean "wanton" or "fellator". Thus, in explicit modern English, the pun suggests that "just because my verses are little and soft, doesn't mean that I'm the same, that I'm some hussy cock-sucker who can't get it up". This may be translated more delicately with the analogous English pun, "that I've gone all soft".

The rest of the poem plays upon that pun. On the contrary, says Catullus, although my verses are soft (molliculi ac parum pudici in line 8, reversing the play on words), they can arouse even limp old men. Should Furius and Aurelius have any remaining doubts about Catullus' virility, he offers to fuck them anally and orally to prove otherwise.
Niccolo and Donkey
Bob Dylan Roof

Ancient Roman muh dik :thumbsup:


Not bad, but doesn't touch my material.


It's interesting that Catullus writes that it is right for the poet to remain chaste while his verses remain highly eroticized and obscene. While homosexual and pederastic acts certainly occured with some frequency in Ancient Rome, it was a far cry from the sort of rampant fuckathons promoted by homos today. Pederasty was often tied up with pedagogy. A sexual act with an adolescent boy was thought more to be a learning experience as only men could teach other men about such things. Anal penetration was also extremely rare as it was considered demeaning to the subject.

Homoerotic desire was more a symptom of the fact that male beauty was exalted due to the proper recognition of the superiority of men and the masculine. As such, male beauty was often the subject of contemplation and proved to be the inspiration for great works of art and literature. Engagement in homosexual acts certainly occured but it was deemed a privilege by the upper classes, not something to be promoted for the whole of society.

The almost spiritual contemplation of male beauty is a persistent theme in Western literature and one that is often tied closely with death. Consider the word fey which today is mostly used to describe someone as slightly efeminate, whimiscal or delicate. A more exact definition means either "fated to die" or "appearing under a spell." Now consider the plot of Death in Venice where Aschenbach, a widowed writer, becomes obsessed with the beauty of Tadzio, an adolscent boy he sees on vacation. While never even speaking to the boy (notice the lack of actual engagement), the protagonist finds his beauty increasingly rapturous. Could it be that Tadzio is actually representative of beauty itself, rather than a simple physical desire? As Aschenbach's obsession increases, he finds himself becoming increasingly ill. He dies shortly after a brief visual acknowledgement by Tadzio on the beach.

Niccolo and Donkey