Perhaps the dead language still has some salt in it after all.
Last night, in reporting on the latest outrage by embattled British financier Mark Lowe, All Things Considered bleeped five Latin words.The background, in brief: Lowe, who is already under investigation on prostitution and harassment charges, sent a saucy email to an internship applicant consisting of the first line of Catullus 16 (since we’re not a family news source, I’m happy to include the line here): Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo*.
Observe NPR’s transcript of the exchange between Guy Raz and Mary Beard, a professor at Cambridge and classics editor at the Times Literary Supplement:
Prof. Beard: … and I will give it you only in Latin – (BEEP), which is a quotation from a poem of Catullus.
Guy Raz: And what’s it mean in English?
Prof. Beard: I can tell you what it means in English, and you will have to bleep it out. It means (BEEP).
Guy Raz: Oh, my gosh. [Ed. note: ‘gosh’? Really?] Well, here’s roughly what it means.
Prof. Beard: What it indicates is that what you should do to your enemies is something quite different from love them in the Christian sense.
To hear the longest bleep in NPR history, listen to last night’s item. Quite possibily the first time anyone’s redacted Latin on radio. What—were they worried the children might Google pedicabo irrumabo &c. and wind up on this Wikipedia page?
Catullus, one imagines, would be proud.
*City Paper‘s official translation: “I will sodomize you and rape your face.” Though the original is naughtier still.