Pervigilium Veneris

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A Latin poem of 93 trochaic tetrameters catalectic (see metre, greek), has caught the romantic imagination perhaps more than any other poem in ancient literature. But while its beauty is unquestioned, interpretation is problematic; date and authorship are uncertain. The setting is Sicily, on the eve of the spring festival of Venus, and the poem celebrates the procreative power of the goddess in nature. The mood is mostly one of exhilaration, which is reflected in the metre and in numerous cases of verbal repetition, most notably the famous refrain (Crās amet quī numqu(am) amāvit, quiqu(e) amavit cras amet (the two bracketed syllables were not pronounced) ‘Let who has never loved love tomorrow, and tomorrow let who has loved love’); but a serious, philosophical side is also evident, and the poem ends on a disquieting note as the poet asks anguishedly when his spring will come. A 4th cent. ad date is probable.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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