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Catulli carmen sternutamentorum

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I've finally located Catullus's sneeze poem, which joins the Petronius passage as the top Latin sneeze reference.

Acmen Septimios suos amores

tenens in gremio 'mea', inquit,'Acme,

ni te perdite amo atque amare porro

omnes sum assidue paratus annos

quantum qui pote plurimum perire,

solus in Libya Indiaque tosta

caesio veniam obvius leoni.'

Hoc ut dixit, Amor, sinistra ut ante

dextram sternuit approbationem.

At Acme leviter caput reflectens

et dulcis pueri ebrios ocellos

illo purpureo ore suaviata

'sic',inquit, 'mea vita Septimille,

huic uni domino usque serviamus

ut multo mihi maior acriorque

ignis mollibus ardet in medullis.'

Hoc ut dixit, Amor, sinisra ut ante

dextram sternuit approbationem.


"This beautiful and delicate piece remains the despair of the translator", it says, mostly because there's some problem with all the sneezing on the left and right stuff.

Very roughly, it goes a bit after this wise;

'Septimius, holding his love Acme on his lap, said "My Acme, if I don't love you madly and am not ready todo so assiduously all my days until I die, may I alone in Libya or toasted India meet my death in a shaggy lion."

As he said this, Cupid on the left as before, sneezed his approval that all was right [geddit?]

But Acme lightly bending her head and kissing the sweet boy's intoxicated little eyes with that purple mouth, said "So, little Septimius , my life, let us ever serve this one master, as a much greater and sharper fire burns in my heart".

[sneezing as before]

Now my interpretation of this is that they are doing the sneezing; ie love makes them sneeze and they sneeze on each other's le ft side to avoid too much direct spraying [the idiots]. It just doesn't hang together otherwise, now does it?

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