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« The Pathetic Gropings of a Former Linguistics Major, or Walter Benn Michaels, the Insufficient Refutation, Part II | Main | Reason #981 in Favor of a Class Weblog »

Sunday, 29 May 2005


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While auditing Latin at the U of C, I once watched a professor traumatize some innocent undergraduates by making them translate those lines from Catullus. ("We're supposed to say...what?! In class?!?!") Ultimately, he gave up and just read the poem's Dirty Parts himself. I tried to imagine the most euphemistic paraphrase possible, and came up with "Two men. One threatening to use an organ unique to the male of the species. Multiple orifices will be involved."


As I think Miriam points out, your translation is off by a letter.

A. Cephalous


My Latin's sufferin' from the seven-year rust. That I even recognized it as Latin is a miracle of modern science.


Funny Catullus story: Latin 5000--the fifth semester, I think it'd be Latin 500 in the UC-system--in which we did nothing but translate The Aeneid book by book. Excellent class. Really got to know the ins-and-outs of Virgil's style and diction. Really didn't think I had to study for the final. Really didn't. Teacher really handed out three dirty and damn near untranslatable epigrams by Catullus. Book VII of The Aeneid I could've translated in my sleep. But not only could I barely parse Catullus' dense syntax, when I could, I was sure I'd done it incorrectly. "What's wrong with me? Why am I putting these words in some nice Roman's mouth? Surely 'he will reach his end, but with a dick in his mouth' is a product of my perverted mind. Prof. D. would be fired for sexual harassment if he forced Suzy Hornisflopper to think, much less write, 'not many men do not use him for anal sex.' And what? 'Beneath his armpits dwells a ferocious goat'? Do I even know Latin?" Etc. etc. etc.

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