Martial, 3.78

“Paulinus, you urinated off the side of the ship as it drove fast – do you have to take a piss again? Then you’ll be Palinurus!”

 

Minxisti currente semel, Pauline, carina.

     Meiere uis iterum? Iam Palinurus eris.

 

The joke here is not easy to catch in translation, as it depends on an interplay of Greek pun and mythic allusion. Palinurus was the helmsman of Aeneas’ ship who, after being lulled to sleep at the helm, fell to his death in the ocean. The Greek pun is on πάλιν (palin = again) and ὸυρέω (oureo = urinate).

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