Thomas Maitland

Against Gilla

This poem and the poem following (d2_MaiT_020) are directed against Gilla, who is portrayed as sexually voracious and as an adulterer. Like the hendecasyllabic poem against Gallus (d2_MaiT_018), this poem features vocabulary and stylistic conceits that heavily imitate the work of Catullus. The pointe of the poem relies on the reader's understanding of the play on words between 'mens' and 'mentula', which cannot be entirely satisfactorily replicated in the translation. Metre: phalaecian.

[175]

In Gillam

1Nuper pomiferae arboris sub umbra,
matronae, juvenes, puellulaeque 1
lascivarum avidi facetiarum, 2
atque aurae cupidi serenioris,
5vitabant rapidos Canis furentis
ardores: variis simul jocisque
laeti labile tempus eximebant.
Hic (ut sit) posita severitate, 3
adversam juvenis rogat puellam,

[176]

10'dic quaenam furiae (malum) tenebant,
cum tot nobilium procos haberet,
Gillam? Delitias viro suas ut
tantis criminibus 4 daret notato?
Thrasoni sine viribus superbo,
15loquaci cuculo loquatiori,
qui terris oneri, virisque probro est:
qui Dîs est odio, et Deum ministris,
in quo nil quod ames referre posses:
rubro sanguine 5 rubriore vultu,
20laesus lumine, rufulo capillo,
et claudus pede, mente diminuta.'
Tunc illa ingenio venustiore
se nobis, ut erat, volens probare, 6
'heus', inquit, 'juvenis resiste paulum,
25non spectat Veneris nimis sacerdos
os, vultus, habitum, aut comam virilem.
Sunt haec ludicra, parva sunt, nec ista
curat Gilla.' Quid ergo? Nempe mentem
illam deperit illa diminutam,
30uno nomine mentulam vocamus. 7

[175]

Against Gilla

A little while ago, beneath the shade of a fruit-bearing tree, women, youths and little girls, eager for fun and frolics and hungry for a fairer wind, were keeping out of the blazing heat of the raging Dogstar: and at the same time, with a variety of jests the happy folks were wasting fleeting time. Here (so it is believed) with seriousness put to one side, a youth asked the reluctant girl

[176]

'tell me sweetheart, what furies, pray, have taken hold of Gilla, when she has so many noble suitors? So that she gives her delights to Thraso, a man marked out by such great faults: proud, useless in bed, chattier than a chatty cuckoo, who is a burden on the earth and a reproach to men, who is a source of hatred to the gods, and the servants of the gods, in whom there is nothing which you might wish to mention as worth loving, with his red blood and redder face, who is vexed by daylight thanks to his red-tinged hair, and who is lame-footed, with a diminished mind?' Then she, eager (as it were) to justify herself before us with a lustier spirit, said 'hey, leave off a little, young man: the servant of Venus does not care over much for looks, appearance, behaviour or a full head of hair. These are trifling things, these are petty, and Gilla cares nothing for them.' So what? Namely she loves to death that diminished mind, that we give the unique name of 'member'.

Notes:


Original

1: 'puellula': Terence, Phormio 81; Catullus, Carmina LVII.9, LXI.57, 175, 181

2: 'facetiarum' (in same metrical position: Catullus, Carmina XII)

3: 'deposita severitate': Martial, Epigrammata I.35.12; 'seposita severitate': Martial, Epigrammata IV.14.6

4: 'tantis criminibus': Cicero, In Verrem II.2.26.14, II.2.142.11

5: Horace, Odes III.13.7

6: 'probare volens': Iustinian, Digesta XL.12.41.pr.2

7: See discussion of 'mentula' in d2_MaiT_018.