Translation:Catullus 84

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Catullus 84
by Catullus, translated from Latin by Wikisource

Elegiac couplets. This humorous poem is about a man named Arrius, who insisted on placing the "h" sound in his words in order to sound more Greek, and thus more educated. Naturally, Catullus loathed this and wrote this poem to express his deep dislike of this ploy. This poem serves as a dramatic contrast with Catullus' usual love poems about Clodia.

116531Catullus 84Catullus
Literal English Translation Original Latin Line

"Hadvantages", Arrius was saying, whenever he wished to say advantages
And ambush he was saying "hambush,"
And then he was hoping that he had spoken wonderfully
when he would say "hambush" as much as he was able;
I believe, thus his mother, thus his free uncle,
Thus his maternal grandfather and grandmother had said.
With this man having been sent into Syria, the ears of all had rested:
They were hearing the same things more softly and more lightly,
Nor afterwards were they themselves fearing such words,
When suddenly a horrible message is brought:
The Ionian waves, after Arrius had gone there,
Were now no longer Ionian but "Hionian."

"Chommoda" dīcēbat, sī quandō "commoda" vellet
  dicere, et "īnsidiās" Arrius "hinsidiās".
et tum mīrificē spērābat sē esse locūtum,
  cum quantum poterat dīxerat "hinsidiās".
Crēdō, sīc māter, sīc līber avunculus eius,
  sīc māternus avus dīxerat atque avia.
Hōc missō in Syriam requiērant omnibus aurēs:
  audībant eadem haec lēniter et leviter,
nec sibi postilla metuēbant tālia verba,
  cum subitō affertur nuntius horribilis,
"Īoniōs" fluctūs, postquam illūc Arrius isset,
  iam nōn Īoniōs esse sed "Hīoniōs".