EGNATIUS, QUOD CANDIDOS HABET
DENTES ...
EGNATIUS OF THE WHITE
TEETH
Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus) tr. Humphrey Clucas
Egnatius, quod candidos habet dentes,
renidet usque quaque. Si ad rei ventum est
subsellium, cum orator excitat fletum,
renidet ille; si ad pii rogum fili
lugetur, orba cum flet unicum mater,
renidet ille. Quidquid est, ubicumque est,
quodcumque agit, renidet: hunc habet morbum,
neque elegantem, ut arbitror, neque urbanum.
Quare monendum est te mihi, bone Egnati.
Si urbanus esses aut Sabinus aut Tiburs
aut pinguis Vmber aut obesus Etruscus
aut Lanuvinus ater atque dentatus
aut Transpadanus, ut meos quoque attingam,
aut quilubet, qui puriter lavit dentes,
tamen renidere usque quaque te nollem:
nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est.
Nunc Celtiber es: Celtiberia in terra,
quod quisque minxit, hoc sibi solet mane
dentem atque russam defricare gingivam,
ut quo iste vester expolitior dens est,
hoc te amplius bibisse praedicet loti.
Egnatius of the white teeth
Is always smiling. If they stand
By the prisoner's bar and hear his counsel
Moving the crowd to tears - he smiles.
If they mourn at a young boy's
Funeral, and the stricken mother
Grieves for her only son - he smiles.
Wherever he is, whatever he does,
On every conceivable occasion,
He smiles. It's a disease, neither
Elegant, nor in good taste.
Here's some advice, my dear Egnatius.
Roman, Sabine, or Tiburtine,
Umbrian pig, or plump Etruscan,
Swarthy, massive-toothed Lanuvian,
or (to include my own people)
Transpadane - were you any
of these, or anyone else who cleans
His teeth with fresh water, still
I'd bar that everlasting grin.
Nothing's worse than a fool's laughter.
As it is, you're Celtiberian:
The natives there scrub their teeth
And gums with what their bladders pass.
The more dazzling your smile,
The more you've swilled your mouth with urine.

Transl. Copyright © Humphrey Clucas 1985 - publ. Agenda Editions & Hippopotamus Press


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