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Wednesday: July 6, 2005

Petronius On Kisses

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:04 PM UTC

Since today is International Kissing Day, here’s a little poem attributed to Petronius (Fragment 54 in the collections, though it doesn’t look particularly fragmentary):

Foeda est in coitu et brevis voluptas
et taedet Veneris statim peractae.
non ergo ut pecudes libidinosae
caeci protinus irruamus illuc
(nam languescit amor peritque flamma);
sed sic sic sine fine feriati
et tecum iaceamus osculantes.
hic nullus labor est ruborque nullus:
hoc iuvit, iuvat et diu iuvabit;
hoc non deficit incipitque semper.

And here is Ben Jonson’s translation (Underwood 88):

Doing, a filthy pleasure is, and short;
And done, we straight repent us of the sport:
Let us not rush blindly on unto it,
Like lustful beasts, that only know to do it:
For lust will languish, and that heat decay,
But thus, thus, keeping endless Holy-day,
Let us together closely lie, and kiss,
There is no labour, nor no shame in this;
This hath pleased, doth please and long will please; never
Can this decay, but is beginning ever.

Line 6 (“thus, thus”) seems to depict or enact the kiss itself, and is even more effectively alliterative in the Latin (sed sic sic sine fine). Jonson’s “Holy-day” is what we would call a holiday. I doubt that our author is particularly sincere in impugning “doing” (coitus) in favor of kissing.

1 Comment

  1. FRAGMENT 54
    Foeda est in coitu et brevis voluptas et taedet Veneris statim peractae. non ergo ut pecudes libidinosae caeci protinus irruamus illuc (nam languescit amor peritque flamma); sed sic sic sine fine feriati et tecum iaceamus osculantes. hic nullus labor e…

    Trackback by Pejmanesque — Sunday: August 14, 2005 @ 4:09 PM UTC

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