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Nepalese Notebook: September 8th, 2014

September 8th, 2014

Chitwan

Chitwan: the Nepalese Terai, the land of the Tharu.  These are the lowlands of the Himalaya, a vast jungle filled with rhinos, tigers, and crocodiles, interspersed with the irrigated fields of the natives.  From Kathmandu it is a 5 hours bus ride along narrow and sometimes precipitous roads in which the drivers take every advantage of passing one another regardless of blind curves or the stories of overturned buses only days before.  And yet the driving is not reckless; for when you see your driver passing another bus without any hope of gauging a head-on collision, you are able to find in his unshakeability a small comfort, knowing that the danger he has put you in, he may now save you from, as he swerves back with amazing dexterity only seconds before another bus would have brought upon your ruin. This is only one of the shocks though; the city of Kathmandu itself holds more than one could ever imagine; danger becomes no more than an inability to understan…

A New Translation of Catullus!

Here is a new translation of Catullus: please scroll down to read or visit the Society of Classical Poets by clicking on the following link: A Translation of Catullus’s ‘Ad Sirmium Insulam’ by Douglas Thornton

The important events in the life of Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 B.C.) are recounted through the poems he has left.  The particular poem below was written on his return from Asia Minor, where he had attempted at a public career by following Memmius, the patron of the poet Lucretius, into the province of Bithynia.  But his hopes being dashed, he took refuge after the long journey at his home in the present-day village of Sirmione, in northern Italy, on Lake Garda.

Ad Sirmium Insulam

Of the islands which in stagnant
Waters and vast seas Neptune holds,
Sirmio--the pearl of islands!--
Now my heart with you rejoices
Safe and sound, still scarce believing
Thynia and Bithynian
Fields have gone.  What more fortunate
Care, after so many struggles,
When the mind shrugs off its burden,
Dr…