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Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  Carmen 51  ::  Catullus 51: gemina lumina OR gemina nocte? (Carmen 51)Subscribe  •  Add new message

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Posted on Wed Mar 22, 2006 23:42:44  Quote
Okay, well on this site if you look at the english translation it would seem that the translator takes gemina as agreeing with nocte, but the french seems to take gemina as agreeing with lumina. This is the trouble i've just come across trying to translate it myself. I'm utterly hopeless at scansion, and it doesn't help that the latin text as scanned on this site has "et" after gemina thus elliding that crucial a. I have to use the OCT however, which doesn't include the "et", but as i said, i can't scan . If someone could enlighten me, i'd be most grateful. Perhaps though the existence of translations allowing for either interpretation (or as on Perseus just ignoring it all together!) might suggest that this is just a matter of using common sense... what is "double night" anyway?!
Posted at Mon Jan 29, 2007 17:34:18  Quote
According to most texts there is no et after "gemina." In this case the "A" in "gemina" scans long so it is ablative, therby matching with "nocte."

my lights (eyes) are being covered by twin night.
Posted at Fri Jun 01, 2007 06:49:02  Quote
Loeb Classical Library translation has this note: "or (geminae) "both my ears...my eyes are shrouded in night." this of course would also scan long...or maybe we should just accept that we lost the chance 2,000 years ago to understand this allusion/idiom. LCL states further that 'gemina has MS. authority.'
Posted at Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:30:19  Quote
Grammatically you should translate 'gemina nocte' because of the long 'a' of gemina (sapphic strophe) which means this is ablativus. The 'a' of lumina is short, so this word cannot match with gemina.

But this is an enallage. So theoretically gemina belongs to nocte, but the meaning is gemina lumina.
Posted at Tue Jan 15, 2008 04:54:44  Quote
The text uses a transferred epithet, taking an adjective and have it modify a word you didn't expect to, like with twin night instead of twin eyes.
Posted at Thu May 15, 2008 04:33:14  Quote
Yes, this is transferred epithet! We would of course think that gemina would modify lumina - we after all have two/twin eyes. But grammatically it matches nocte, because the meter forces it to, as mentioned before.
What is interesting about this is that it is the only occurrence of transferred epithet in the whole body of Catullus's work. Why would he choose to use it now? Well, transferred epithet is used commonly in Greek Homeric Epic. Catullus is telling the educated reader to look at 51 in a Homeric light. The "reges et beatas urbes perditos" in the final stanza suddenly become the Iliad's Priam and Troy, respectively. And "Ille" in Line 1 (Metellus, Lesbia/Clodia's husband) is Menelaus, Lesbia herself is Helen, and Catullus is Paris. This gives insight into the relationship of Catullus and Lesbia. If he is saying that they are like Paris and Helen, then he says that their relationship is doomed and will ultimately end in destruction.
For more evidence to this end, see all of the whining Catullus does about his on-again off-again love Lesbia in many of his other poems.
Posted at Mon Nov 10, 2008 23:00:03  Quote
The word "gemina" could also be translated as "twofold." This "gemina nocte" could be a "twofold night," one that is perhaps darker than a regular night. I think that Catullus is by this stressing the depth of the emotion he feels.
Posted at Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:28:08  Quote
I thought of the gemina nocte as referring to two different types of night/darkness- physical blindness and a dark melancholy or perhaps, cluelessness and depression.

'Lumina' can mean 'the light of life,' as well as 'eye,' so "teguntur lumina nocte" can mean either:

1) "my eyes are covered in darkness," or

2) "the light of my life is shrouded in gloom"

and the "gemina" unites these two meanings


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