Translation of Catullus XXIII

by Kjell Nykvist

FURIUS, you've neither slave nor moneychest
Nor spider nor little bug nor watch fire,
But a father and a stepmother
Whose teeth can break even the hardest rocks.
A joyous time you must have with your father
And with your father's wooden, wiry wife.
It’s no miracle: you're all in tip-top shape
Have fine digestions, tremble at nothing;
Fear neither house fires nor crumbling walls
Nor wicked deeds nor malicious plots
Nor any other terrible event.
And you've sturdy bodies drier than bone
Or whatever thing may be even drier
From harsh light, frigid winds, and hunger.
Why shouldn't you be the merriest of men?
Besides you neither break a sweat nor spit;
You’ve neither chest mucus nor nasal drip.
To such cleanliness, add something cleaner:
An asshole pristine as a saltcellar—
You shit fewer than ten times per year
With shit that's hard as beans and pebbles,
And if you squeezed the shit in your hands
You wouldn't begrime a single finger.
You've been given wonderful gifts, Furius,
So don't belittle or scorn your blessings.
And stop begging for those hundred sesterces—
You're free from most of life’s great miseries.

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