The Tears of Simonides

“Cornificus, things are bad for your Catullus, and – oh God! – his pain increases daily, increases hourly. Yet, though it be the easiest thing in the world, what comfort have you given him? I’m wondrous wroth with you – is this what my love is worth? Talk to me just a little, in that tone which is sadder than the tears of Simonides.”

Catullus, 38

Malest, Cornifici, tuo Catullo
malest, me hercule, et laboriose,
et magis magis in dies et horas.
quem tu, quod minimum facillimumque est,
qua solatus es allocutione?
irascor tibi. sic meos amores?
paulum quid lubet allocutionis,
maestius lacrimis Simonideis.

I am inclined to think that this poem of Catullus, in addition to emphasizing Simonidean sadness, in some ways parallels a passage taken from Simonides, Fragment 15 (which is, incidentally, one of my all-time favorite Greek poems):

“A trifling thing is human power,

and saddened thoughts can do much less.

Our toil increases with every hour,

and no one will escape his death.”

ἀνθρώπων ὀλίγον μὲν
κάρτος, ἄπρακτοι δὲ μεληδόνες,
αἰῶνι δ’ ἐν παύρωι πόνος ἀμφὶ πόνωι•
ὁ δ’ ἄφυκτος ὁμῶς ἐπικρέμαται θάνατος•

Specifically, I see in the “…laboriose, et magis magis in dies et horas” a clear echo of “αἰῶνι δ’ ἐν παύρωι πόνος ἀμφὶ πόνωι•”

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