The Poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus/43

Text & TranslationEdit

Meter - Hendecasyllabic

Line Latin Text English Translation
1 salve, nec minimo puella naso Hello, girl without the smallest nose
2 nec bello pede nec nigris ocellis Nor pretty feet nor dark eyes
3 nec longis digitis nec ore sicco Nor elegant fingers nor dry mouth
4 nec sane nimis elegante lingua Nor language in the least refined
5 decoctoris amica Formiani. Girlfriend of that bankrupt from Formia.
6 ten provincia narrat esse bellam? So country people call you beautiful?!
7 tecum Lesbia nostra comparatur? Our Lesbia is compared with you?!
8 o saeclum insapiens et infacetum! Oh, what a stupid and tasteless age this is!

Connotations of The TextEdit

This poem is in hendecasyllabic metre. It regards a girl who has been compared in beauty to Catullus's love, "Lesbia". As offensive as it sounds, it can be assumed that it was intended really as a compliment to Lesbia, rather than an insult to the girl adressed.

Line 2Edit

  • nigris ocellis - dark eyes

Dark eyes were considered a sign of beauty in Roman times.

  • nec... nec... - nor... nor...

This poem uses liberal use of anaphora with phrases containing nec. This emphasises the negativity of the girl from Formia.

Line 5Edit

  • Formia

Formia was a city not far from Rome. It could also be a subtle reference to the word "formosa" which means beauty.

Lines 6-7Edit

  • provincia - country people

There is an air of snobbery here, sneering at country people who Catullus deems to be ignorant of what real beauty is.

  • ...bellam? ....comparatur?

Ending these two lines with forceful questions shows the reader the passion that Catullus feels and clearly indicates his view on such a thing.

Line 8Edit

  • insapiens et infacetum - stupid and tasteless

The alliteration here emphasises his disgust at girls that people will label as 'beautiful' in the countryside.


  • Oxford Latin Reader Maurice Balme and James Morwood (1997)

External LinksEdit