Have You Heard about Lesbia?

Catullus 58a

Caelius, our Lesbia, that Lesbia,
that Lesbia, whom alone Catullus loved
more than himself and all of his family,
now, at street corners and in alleyways
pleasures the grandsons of great-souled Remus.

*Pleasures: the latin is “glubit,” and whether this vulgarity involves the hands or the mouth is anybody’s guess.

Caeli, Lesbia nostra, Lesbia illa,
illa Lesbia, quam Catullus unam
plus quam se atque suos amauit omnes,
nunc in quadriuiis et angiportis
glubit magnanimi Remi nepotes.

Picasso. Bust of a Woman. 1931. Not especially subtle.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

Inside Menophilia’s Universe: A Tawdry Tuesday Classic (NSFW)

Last year, I was alerted to this poem by a friend. I won’t out him to the world. This is some tasteless stuff.

Greek Anthology 5.105 [Attributed to Marcus Argentarius]

 “The lusty ladies claim that Menophila’s universe is different,
Since it contains a taste of every kind of vice.
Come here and check her out, Astrologers, for her sky
Can fit both the dog and the twins inside.”

῎Αλλος ὁ Μηνοφίλας λέγεται παρὰ μαχλάσι κόσμος,
ἄλλος, ἐπεὶ πάσης γεύεται ἀκρασίης.
ἀλλ’ ἴτε, Χαλδαῖοι, κείνης πέλας· ἦ γὰρ ὁ ταύτης
οὐρανὸς ἐντὸς ἔχει καὶ κύνα καὶ διδύμους.

The joke (and the filth) depends on a double entendre. The Dog and the Twins are celestial bodies [Sirius, the Dog-star and Gemini, the twins]. But “dog” (κύων) and “twins” (διδύμοι) can also mean “cock and balls”. ὄρχεις is the more clinical word for “testicles”.  The “sky” here may be euphemistic for Menophila’s mouth (As our friend below notes, “Aristotle (at least) uses “ouranos” for “the roof of the mouth,” so this is definitely about fellatio.”)

A Facebook correspondent (S. C. Stroup) has suggested some useful improvements to this post. First, “the name “Menophila” (Μηνοφίλα) can be read as “month” / “moon” lover (from μήνη, “moon”); so her name is an astronomical pun, as well.” This adds a nice, though mind-bending visual possibility, which Stroup picks up on:

“I would render the second line as “Hers is different, as it tastes of all mixtures.” The joke, I think, is that the Twins and the Dog—Gemini and Sirius—don’t appear right next to each other. So she mixes it up.”

So, here is Stroup’s full translation:

“Ladies of luxury claim that Moongirl’s delights are different;
Different (they say) because she enjoys all mixtures.
Come, Astrologers: and check her out:
Her vault of heaven holds both cock and balls.”

Image result for ancient Greek brothels

What Menophila’s Universe Contains: Tawdry Tuesday Returns (NSFW)

I was alerted to this poem by a friend. I won’t out him to the world. This is some tasteless stuff.

Greek Anthology 5.105 [Attributed to Marcus Argentarius]

 “The lusty ladies claim that Menophila’s universe is different,
Since it contains a taste of every kind of vice.
Come here and check her out, Astrologers, for her sky
Can fit both the dog and the twins inside.”

῎Αλλος ὁ Μηνοφίλας λέγεται παρὰ μαχλάσι κόσμος,
ἄλλος, ἐπεὶ πάσης γεύεται ἀκρασίης.
ἀλλ’ ἴτε, Χαλδαῖοι, κείνης πέλας· ἦ γὰρ ὁ ταύτης
οὐρανὸς ἐντὸς ἔχει καὶ κύνα καὶ διδύμους.

The joke (and the filth) depends on a double entendre. The Dog and the Twins are celestial bodies [Sirius, the Dog-star and Gemini, the twins]. But “dog” (κύων) and “twins” (διδύμοι) can also mean “cock and balls”. ὄρχεις is the more clinical word for “testicles”.  The “sky” here may be euphemistic for Menophila’s mouth (As our friend below notes, “Aristotle (at least) uses “ouranos” for “the roof of the mouth,” so this is definitely about fellatio.”)

A Facebook correspondent (S. C. Stroup) has suggested some useful improvements to this post. First, “the name “Menophila” (Μηνοφίλα) can be read as “month” / “moon” lover (from μήνη, “moon”); so her name is an astronomical pun, as well.” This adds a nice, though mind-bending visual possibility, which Stroup picks up on:

“I would render the second line as “Hers is different, as it tastes of all mixtures.” The joke, I think, is that the Twins and the Dog—Gemini and Sirius—don’t appear right next to each other. So she mixes it up.”

So, here is Stroup’s full translation:

“Ladies of luxury claim that Moongirl’s delights are different;
Different (they say) because she enjoys all mixtures.
Come, Astrologers: and check her out:
Her vault of heaven holds both cock and balls.”

Image result for ancient Greek brothels