A Kiss is Just a Kiss - in Latin!
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The ancient Romans knew a little something about celebrating love - but it was March, not February when they had their fun. "Love celebrations did not show up on the ancient Roman calendar until March 1, which was sacred to Juno, goddess of marriage. On that day husbands would pray for the health of their wives and give them presents, and wives would dress up," says Classics Professor Judith Hallett at the University of Maryland.
Poems were a favorite way to express that love - for instance, the poet Catullus (ca. 55 BCE) sent this missive to his married lover (translation by Dorothea Wender (1934-2003) :
Let's live, my Lesbia, and let's make love And let us value all the gossip of Prudent old men at pennies. When the sun Sets he can rise again; when we have done For good and all with our one little light We sleep forever in one dawnless night. Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred, Another thousand, then a second hundred, Then still another thousand, then a hundred, Then, when our number's countless, then, my dear, Scramble the abacus! So we won't fear The evil eye of hate, for no one bad Must know how many kisses we have had.
Hallett says there are many, many examples of romantic poems sent by one Roman lover to another.
But for a romantic looking to express his or her love in the 21st Century, Hallett suggests something a bit...different. A more modern love song - translated into Latin, for example, might just be the perfect way to woo a lady's heart. Take the classic "As Time Goes By" (by Herman Hupfeld. Copyright 1931 by Warner Brothers) made famous in the movie Casabanca.
Listen to As Time Goes By in Latin - sung by:
John Starks Assistant Professor of Classics State University of New York at Binghamton
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