Catullus 51 is a poem by Roman love poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 – c. 54 BC). It is an adaptation of one of Sappho's fragmentary lyric poems, Sappho 31. Catullus replaces Sappho's beloved with his own beloved Lesbia. Unlike the majority of Catullus' poems, the meter of this poem is the sapphic meter. This meter is more musical, seeing as Sappho mainly sang her poetry.
The following Latin text of Catullus 51 is taken from D.F.S. Thomson; the translation is literal, not literary.
Ille mi par esse deo videtur, ille, si fas est, superare divos, qui sedens adversus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnes eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi <vocis in ore;> lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte. otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est: otio exsultas nimiumque gestis: otium et reges prius et beatas perdidit urbes.
He seems to me to be equal to a god,
he, if it is permissible, seems to surpass the gods,
who sitting opposite again and again
watches and hears you
sweetly laughing, which rips out all senses
from miserable me: for at the same moment I look upon you,
Lesbia, nothing is left for me
<of my voice in my mouth;>
But my tongue grows thick, a thin flame
runs down beneath my limbs, with their own sound
my ears ring, my twin lights (eyes)
are covered by night.
Idleness is a troublesome thing for you, Catullus:
In idleness you revel and delight too much:
Idleness has destroyed both kings and
blessed cities before.
Catullus here builds upon a common interpretation of the lost original verse from Sappho. For a reconstruction of the original Greek first verse, see Sappho 31.
Line 8 is missing from the original manuscript. Oxford Classical Texts (ed. R.A.B. Mynors) provides no substitution.