verpa [obscene words]

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Casquilho, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. Casquilho Senior Member

    São Paulo, Brazil
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Hello, can you please help me?
    I've stumbled on the word verpa in Catullus (Carmen 28), and I'm with a tricky problem: how can I know how obscene and usual is that word to translate it more accurately? I've found also nervus in the notoriously obscene Epode 12 by Horace, and the dictionary gives mentula and columna as synonyms for the male genital organ in Latin.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. asanga Member

    The carmina addressed to Piso (and Catullus's other political enemies) are all delightfully vicious, so the general tone warrants an obscene translation of verpa. The only reason not to do so is that Catullus uses the humorous euphemism trabs earlier in the poem. It might be a little jarring to switch from euphemism to direct obscenity, but I think this is exactly the effect Catullus was going for. Catullus was not a prude; "[I heard] that you got fucked by just as big a dick" seems closer to what he was going for than "you got stuffed by no less of a poker", or something similar. Plus it's good iambic pentameter!

    The only other use of verpa in the Perseus database is even more obviously obscene. Martial's Epigram 11.46:

    Iam nisi per somnum non arrigis et tibi, Mevi,
    Incipit in medios meiere verpa pedes,
    Truditur et digitis pannucea mentula lassis
    Nec levat extinctum sollicitata caput.
    Quid miseros frustra cunnos culosque lacessis?
    Summa petas: illic mentula vivit anus.

Share This Page