A Rather Crass Poem: Ovid’s Priapeum (NSFW!)

Ovid leaves off of verbal foreplay and penetrates to the matter at hand:

“I could say to you, ‘Give me that which you could constantly give without diminishing at all. Give me that which you will at some time wish to give me in vain, when an ugly beard holds your cheeks hostage, or give me that which Ganymede gave to Jove; Ganymede, who was seized by a sacred eagle and now mixes fine wine for his lover. Give me that which a maiden gives to her eager lover on the first night, while she in her ignorance fears a prick in another place.’ Ah, but it is much simpler to say in plain Latin, ‘Let me fuck you in the ass.’ What can I say? My Minerva is rather crass.”

Translator’s Note: This particularly jocular poem – as is more generally true of both jokes and poetry singularly – poses substantial obstacles to effective translation. I expanded a bit beyond the Latin to make the line of thought somewhat clearer, but the final line contains a totally untranslatable pun. The adjective “crassus” can mean something like our “crass” or “rude,” but it also has another, perhaps topically appropriate signification:

001

Obscure poteram tibi dicere “da mihi, quod tu

des licet assidue, nil tamen inde perit.

Da mihi, quod cupies frustra dare forsitan olim,

cum tenet obsessas invida barba genas,

quodque Iovi dederat, qui raptus ab alite sacra

miscet amatori pocula grata suo,

quod virgo prima cupido dat nocte marito,

dum timet alterius vulnus inepta loci.”

simplicius multo est “da pedicare” Latine

dicere: quid faciam? crassa Minerva mea est.

5 thoughts on “A Rather Crass Poem: Ovid’s Priapeum (NSFW!)

  1. Neither my wife nor I are classicists by any means (although I enjoy translations of Cicero and Plutarch), but we both laughed out loud at this. My wife, especially.

    1. We are always glad to hear that others share our rather *base* sense of humor! If anything, Classical literature teaches us that there really is an art to the dirty joke.

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