Ancient Narratives

Catullus and Furius: A Tale of Friendship Mockery and Contentment

Catullus and Furius: A Tale of Wealth, Relationships, Health, and HygieneIn the world of ancient Rome, friendships could be both passionate and contentious. One such example is the relationship between the poet Catullus and his friend Furius.

Through his poems, Catullus addresses Furius in a series of biting, humorous, and sometimes scathing verses. In this article, we will explore two main topics: Catullus addressing Furius’s lack of wealth and relationships, and Catullus commenting on Furius’s health and hygiene.

Let’s dive into the world of Catullus and Furius and explore their intriguing dynamic. Catullus addressing Furius’s lack of wealth and relationships

Accusing Furius of being poor and lacking possessions

Catullus does not shy away from criticizing Furius’s financial status. He playfully mocks Furius for not having slaves, saying, “Furius, you with no slaves, and money boxes as empty as a bugs arse!” This biting remark highlights Furius’s perceived lack of wealth and possessions.

Catullus further belittles him by comparing his possessions to a spider’s web – fragile and easily destroyed by the fire of misfortune. Commenting on Furius’s family situation

Catullus also makes references to Furius’s family, specifically his father and stepmother.

He cheekily comments on Furius’s father being “sharp as a flintstone,” alluding to his stern and unyielding nature. Catullus playfully suggests that Furius’s stepmother must have sharpened her teeth on flintstone as well, implying her harsh and demanding presence in Furius’s life.

Catullus commenting on Furius’s health and hygiene

Praising Furius’s good health and lack of fear

Contrary to his previous remarks about Furius’s lack of wealth, Catullus shifts the tone when it comes to his friend’s health. He praises Furius’s sturdy constitution and fearless nature, claiming that he could endure anything.

Catullus vividly describes Furius’s ability to brave hardships: “Neither dilapidations, impious tricks nor misfortunes nor life’s treacheries have bereaved you with a bleary eye of a single celery leaf.”

Describing Furius’s dryness and cleanliness

Catullus also comments on Furius’s dryness and cleanliness. He humorously accentuates Furius’s lack of bodily fluids, describing him as dry as a horn or the sun.

He cheekily suggests that Furius’s fasting habit keeps him dry, as his body does not produce enough sweat, spittle, or mucus. In his signature playful tone, Catullus vividly describes Furius’s cleanliness, stating that his anus is polished more times than a bean with pebbles and his fingers, suggesting meticulous hygiene practices.


Catullus’s poems about Furius provide us with a glimpse into their friendship, filled with both admiration and mockery. Catullus uses his sharp wit and wordplay to address Furius’s lack of wealth, relationships, and hygiene, while also praising his friend’s good health and fearlessness.

Through the lens of these poems, we gain insight into the complexities of friendship and the way ancient Romans both celebrated and teased each other. Catullus reminds us that friendships are multifaceted, with moments of warmth and humor intermingled with moments of playful criticism and mockery.

Catullus urging Furius to appreciate his blessings

Reminding Furius of the positives in his life

In his characteristic playful tone, Catullus reminds Furius of the blessings he already possesses. He emphasizes the importance of family, highlighting the love and support he receives from his parents.

Catullus mentions Furius’s parents, depicting them as loving and caring figures. He playfully refers to Furius’s wife as “coniuge lignea,” suggesting that she is the perfect match for him, complementing his own idiosyncrasies.

Catullus encourages Furius to appreciate these positive aspects of his life, remarking, “You are fortunate, Furius, more fortunate than any man. You have parents who love you dearly and a wife who suits your eccentricities.”

Furthermore, Catullus draws attention to Furius’s comfortable lifestyle, emphasizing his neatness and cleanliness.

He playfully teases Furius, exclaiming, “You live happily, tidiness would envy a mudlark!” This light-hearted comment highlights Furius’s commitment to maintaining an orderly and well-kept environment. Catullus suggests that Furius should take pride in his ability to keep his surroundings clean, as it reflects his attention to detail and his appreciation for a polished existence.

Advising Furius to be content and stop praying for more wealth

While Catullus acknowledges the importance of appreciating one’s blessings, he also advises Furius to find contentment in what he already possesses. He playfully scorns Furius’s prayers for more wealth, saying, “You heap up your own sestertia, you idiot, and still ask for one more.” Catullus uses sharp wordplay to criticize Furius’s constant pursuit of material wealth, highlighting the futility of always desiring more.

He suggests that Furius would find true happiness by being satisfied with what he has instead of endlessly yearning for greater riches. Catullus, known for his poetic eloquence, emphasizes the concept of being “beatus” or content.

He advises Furius to find joy in the present moment and to let go of materialistic desires. Catullus encourages Furius to stop praying for more riches and reflect on the already abundant blessings in his life, reminding him, “Live now.

Let your life be blessed with contentment, and cease to hanker for more.”

Through his clever use of language, Catullus strives to convey a valuable life lesson to his dear friend Furius. He encourages him to cherish the love and support of his family, appreciate his own unique qualities, and find contentment in the present moment.

By highlighting Furius’s positive attributes and gently teasing his pursuit of more wealth, Catullus reminds us all of the importance of gratitude and contentment. In a society often consumed by the desire for material possessions, Catullus urges us to find fulfillment in the intangible treasures that surround us – the love of family and the joy of embracing our individual eccentricities.

In conclusion, Catullus’s poetic verses addressing Furius’s life situation open a window into their complex and multi-faceted friendship. Through his witty wordplay and playful remarks, Catullus encourages Furius to reflect on his blessings and find contentment in what he already possesses.

By emphasizing the significance of family, cleanliness, and appreciating the present moment, Catullus offers timeless wisdom that resonates with readers even today. Let us all learn from Catullus and Furius’s dynamic friendship, embracing gratitude, and finding contentment in the simple pleasures of life.

In this article, we explored Catullus’s witty and scathing poems directed towards his friend, Furius. Through the themes of wealth, relationships, health, hygiene, and contentment, Catullus uses his words to both criticize and encourage.

We saw how Catullus addressed Furius’s lack of wealth and relationships while also praising his good health and cleanliness. Additionally, Catullus advised Furius to appreciate his blessings and find contentment, urging him to let go of the constant pursuit of wealth.

Through these poetic verses, Catullus reminds us of the importance of gratitude, cherishing loved ones, and finding joy in the present moment. Let us reflect on these timeless teachings and strive for contentment in our own lives.

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