Varus and His Mistress, by Catullus

Varus and His Mistress

As I was idling time away
Just by the Forum t' other day,
My Varus took me thence
To see the wanton, his delight;
And, faith! She struck me at first sight
To want nor charms nor sense.   We then fell into conversation
About Bithynia's situation,
The value of the land,
And what my profit there had been:
I mention'd truly all I'd seen,
And how things really stand.   That not the Pretor nor his train
Could there afford from any gain
More sumptuous dress or fare;
And sure not we, that Pretor's slaves,
The worst of profligates and knaves,
Who prized us not a hair.   "Of course, " she said, "as they relate
'Tis usual, you some slaves for state
To bear your litter bought."
I felt a little pride arise;
And was not willing in her eyes
To be a pauper thought.   So cried, "Oh, yes. Though luck was bad,
It was not on the whole so sad,
That I eight slaves should lack."
In truth, I never here nor there
Possess'd a single slave to bear
My litter on his back.   Said she, a harlot thorough bred!
"Catullus, lend me, pray, that bed,
I wish but to be taken
To where Serapis holds his fain"--
"Stay! Stay!" said I, "let's think again--
I've none--I was mistaken."   "'Tis Cinna's bed, scarce his alone,
I use it just as 'twere my own:
Who's owner nought care I.
Thou'rt an uncivil troublous jade,
Whose artful mercenary trade
Won't let one tell a lie." - Catullus