Carmen 74 – Dilemma


Gellius audierat patruum obiurgare solere,
     si quis delicias diceret aut faceret.
hoc ne ipsi accideret, patrui perdepsuit ipsam
     uxorem, et patruum reddidit Arpocratem.
quod voluit fecit: nam, quamvis irrumet ipsum
     nunc patruum, verbum non faciet patruus.


Gellius is the target in seven poems (cf. glossary s.v.). This one presents a fairly
absurd scenario (Godwin I999, I88), in which, to protect himself against his uncle's
moral lectures on sexual impropriety, Gellius seduces his wife, thus forcing
Uncle to keep quiet for fear of scandal: the "Holy Child" (the Greco-Egyptian deity,
Harpocrates) was portrayed with one finger to his mouth, as though enjoining
silence. Even if Gellius now commits irrumatio on Uncle (5-6), Uncle will still keep
quiet, the joke here being thatfellatio makes conversation difficult in any case. The
debased echoes of 72 make this apparently simple squib uneasy reading.






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