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Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

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2.2 Parallel text 2: Catullus

Now look at the opening lines of Catullus and the dictionary entries in Table 4 below.

Catullus, Poems, 1.1−2.

Catullus introduces his book of poetry.

English

To whom do I give my charming, new booklet

recently polished with dry pumice?

Latin

cui dōnō lepidum nouum libellum

āridā modo pūmice expolītum?

Table 4 Dictionary entries for parallel text 2: Catullus
LatinEnglishDictionary entry
cuito whom?quis? – ‘who?’
dōnōdo I givedōnō – ‘I give’, ‘I present’
lepidummy charminglepidus – ‘pleasant’, ‘charming’, ‘elegant’
nouumnewnovus – ‘new’, ‘novel’
libellumbookletlibellus – ‘little book’, ‘booklet’
āridādryāridus – ‘dry’
modorecentlymodo – ‘recently’
pūmicewith pumicepūmex – ‘pumice-stone’
expolītumpolishedexpoliō – ‘polish’

Activity 6

Jot down the Latin equivalent for the following:

  1. To whom do I give
  2. booklet
  3. with dry pumice
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Answer

EnglishLatin equivalent
To whom do I givecui dōnō
bookletlibellum
with dry pumiceāridā pūmice

Activity 7

The parallel text of Pliny suggested that Latin tends to use fewer words than English. Does the extract from Catullus support this idea or contradict it? Or does it have no implication either way?

a. 

It supports it


b. 

It contradicts it


c. 

It has no bearing one way or the other


The correct answer is a.

Discussion

The passage of Catullus supports this idea, with 14 English words being used to represent 9 Latin ones.