Catullus 39

Catullus 39

Egnatius, because he has white teeth,
Grins endlessly everywhere. If someone has gone
To the defendant’s bench when the speaker elicits tears,
He grins; If  one laments at the pyre of his loyal
Son, when a bereft mother cries for her only son,
He smiles. Whatever it is, and wherever it is,
And wherever he goes, he smiles: he has this affliction
Neither elegant, as I judge, nor chic.
Perhaps it is for me to warn him, good Egnatius.
If he were urbane or Sabine, or Tiburian,
Or frugal Umbrian, or heavy-set Etruscan,
Or dark and toothy Lanuvian, or
Transpadanine (I touch also upon my people),
Or whomever it pleases to cleanly wash his teeth,
Still would I wish you not smile everywhere and endlessly;
For nothing is more absurd than an absurd smile.
Now you are Certiberian: in the Celtiberian land,
What each man has pissed, he is accustomed with this
in the morning to brush his teeth and red gums,
That by which your teeth are more polished,
It shows that you have drunk your piss the more.


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