Marital: A Literal Translation
by Laurie Tupper '08
I. I had a friend Gemellus who pursued an older girl
He chased and begged and gave her gifts to set the brain awhirl
"Is she so pretty then?" I asked. "Her features like a song?"
"She's hideous and so's her voice, but she won't be singing long!"
II. There's something about you, I don't know what;
I can only say that I hate your guts.
III. To greet your pals, a friendly kiss you lend;
I'd rather not be quite so good a friend.
IV. You always serve the best of wine.
Though rumor says the worst...
I don't believe those lies, it's just
I can't work up a thirst.
V. Your friends are wrapped in faded furs,
Not young, and ugly when they were.
With one you chatter, smile, and purr
You always trail her like a burr—
'Cause hey, you look good next to her.
VI. Up and down, happy, sad, always such a teaser.
I can't live without you but I can't live with you either.
VII. I have a wonderful neighbor
His door is a few feet away.
How wonderful living so closely
And meeting him every day!
But frankly for all that I see him
He might as well live in Paris
You'd never find any two people
As close and as distant as we.
I do want to see him more often,
I'd better move off to the Seine.
And if you do not like my neighbor
And don't want to see him again,
Move to the room next to his then.
VIII. Damned if I don't want, Decianus my friend,
Each day and night to see you once again.
But it's a journey, getting to your place,
Two miles and two back, just to see your face.
Sometimes I get there, you're not home at all.
Or you can't see me, busy with a call.
Two miles to see you, at the miles I scoff;
Four miles for nothing, that can piss me off.
IX. You have wealth and fine estates, yours all by yourself
Gold and gems for tableware, silver by the shelf
All the finest wines of Rome, Greece and Egypt too,
Business sense and moral life, all reserved for you.
How could I deny that yours is the perfect life?
Everything is yours alone—all except your wife.
I. I went to your dinner, for fun I prepared,
The favors were lovely, the food wasn't there.
Doused in perfume, but no food and no drink,
It's kind of funny, we starve but we stink.
People who do that are dead, don't you think?
II. We drink from glass cups, Ponticus, and you from agate fine.
The glasses, then, are different. Is the same true of the wine?
III. He only dines where the big men meet—
If he's not invited, he doesn't eat.
IV. You say three hundred guests will all be there
And I into this mass of strangers thrown...
You ask me why I have declined to come:
My friend, I don't prefer to dine alone.
V. You yell at me for being late,
But this is your fault, fool!
I can't get anywhere on time
If I have to ride your mule.
VI. You promise me presents with some drunken wink.
In the morning there's nothing. Here, I brought you a drink.
VI (alt). You're a generous drunk by night; then without warning,
Your offers are gone. Can't you drink in the morning?
VII. In a dark colonnade see an unhappy man
As he wails and laments just as loud as he can.
See his head hanging down with a heartbroken stare,
As he beats on his sad breast and tears out his hair.
Yet although he is mourning with sadness so great,
Neither good friend nor brother has met with his fate;
All his family is quite well (and so may they stay)
And his goods and his wealth are increasing each day.
By all rights he should wear a contented, wide grin.
So what is his worry? Tonight he dines in.
VIII. I angle for a place at your next dinner.
You seek a seat with one of higher name.
I come to see you early every morning,
You've gone to greet your lord. Aren't we the same?
I clear the road for you, my lord and master
But you in turn are someone else's fool.
I'll serve, but I don't want to serve a servant
For rulers, Maximus, should not be ruled.
IX. You never invite me to any good parties,
But I'll get you back for those tears that I've wept:
I'll sulk, and you'll cry and you'll plead and you'll beg me
To come to the next one. But ha! I'll accept.
I. Alone she does not mourn her dad;
In company she cries and moans.
Tears shed for praise are never true:
He truly grieves who grieves alone.
II. Fleeing from the battle, he stabbed himself and died
Saved from the risk of death—by suicide?
III. You know Phidiacus? This, made by him,
Has a pattern of fishes; add water, they'll swim.
IV. You're poor? You never will escape that ditch—
Money is only given to the rich.