Catullus Carmen 5

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Catullus Carmen 5

By Dara Sanchez



Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love

and let us value all the rumors

of severe old men to (the price of) a single penny!

Suns can set and rise again; 

when once the brief light sets

for us, one everlasting night must be slept.

Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred;

then another thousand, then a second hundred;

then continuously another thousand, then a hundred.

Then, since we have made many thousands,

we will confuse those (kisses), so that even we do not know,

so that no one evil may envy us,

since he shall know that there are so many kisses.


Original Latin

Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,

rumoresque senum severiorum

omnes unius aestimemus assis!

soles occidere et redire possunt:

nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,

nox est perpetua una dormienda.

da mi basia mille, deinde centum,

dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,

deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,

conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,

aut ne quis malus inuidere possit,

cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.


Author’s Statement

Live, laugh, love. A unifying anthem for mothers across America. Yet, in Carmen 5, Catullus finds a way to enthrall us with his amorous descriptions of thousands of kisses. He reminds us of our morality, emphasizing the delights of love that must be enjoyed before our final rest in the afterlife. Still, there is a monetary theme present as Catullus mentions the worthless rumors of old men and calculates the number of kisses to intensify their value. In this way there is a contrast between Catullus’ not valuing the opinions of hardened old men, but treasuring the hundreds and thousands of kisses that he requests. To capture this in my translation, I used the term “penny” (even though the Romans did not have pennies) because readers would be familiar with its lack of value.



A Companion to Catullus, edited by Marilyn B. Skinner, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Klimt, Gustav. The Kiss. 1908. Wikipedia


Dara Sanchez (she/her) is a student at the University of Pennsylvania (C’25) studying Classical Studies.