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Lesbia mi dicit semper male

By Mark D. Templeton

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Choir, SATB - Intermediate
Composed by Mark D. Templeton. 21st Century, Modern, Neo-Classical. Sheet Music Single. 12 pages. Published by Mark Templeton Choral Music (S0.139699).

Item Number: S0.139699

Lesbiami dicit semper male,commonly known as Catullus 92,consists of two elegiac couplets written by Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54B.C.E) for his lover, Lesbia. Lesbia was the name believed to have been givenby Catullus to his mistress. Her real name was Clodia, the sexually promiscuouswife of proconsul Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer, known as Metellus. Catullus’earlier poem, 83, brings some contextto 92. In the first part of 83, Catullus says:

Lesbia keeps insulting me in frontof her husband:

this fills the fatuous idiot withdelight.

Mule, do you perceive nothing? Ifshe shut up and ignored me

that’d show healthy indifference;…

In 92, Catullus expounds on the idea of whyClodia insults him in front of Metellus. Catullus reckons that he is alwayscursing her, and he loves her. She always curses him, so she must love him aswell. In his desperation, Catullus uses his wit and humor to reason that hisobsessive love for Coldia is reciprocated. This setting of 92 uses incessant driving rhythms in the women’s voices to paintthe words, “Lesbia mi dicit semper malenec tacet umquam de me” (Lesbia always speaks ill of me, never shutsup about me). The repeating rhythmsreturn in the men’s voices when Catullus says he does the same, “quia sunt totidem mea: deprecor illamassidue” (…it’s the same with me: I’m continually complaining.) The piececomes to a final rest after Catullus realizes the he will always be cursed tolove her.

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