aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Catullus, Poems 60

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num te leaena montibus Libystinis
aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte
tam mente dura procreauit ac taetra,
ut supplicis vocem in novissimo casu
contemptam haberes, a nimis fero corde?

Was it a lioness from the Libystinian mountains or barking Scylla who produced you from the lowest part of her groin, you with your mind so harsh and foul that you hold in contempt the voice of a suppliant in the very final misfortune, from a heart too savage?

Roman poets often played with acrostics, but GP Goold seems to have been the first modern reader to notice that in this poem reading the first and last letters of each line anti-clockwise gives the hidden message ‘natu ceu aes’ (‘by birth like bronze’), a pithy summary of the whole poem.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Catullus

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