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29. But the first date in the life of Catullus that can be definitely fixed by the aid of his own poems is that of his absence from Italy after the final rupture with Lesbia (cf. § 24). He went to Bithynia (cc. 10.7; 31.5; 46.4) on the staff of the governor, Memmius (c. 28.9). Such expeditions on the part of young Romans of that day are so familiar that it is needless to cite other instances than those (cc. 9, etc., 28) of Veranius and Fabullus, the poet's friends. The ordinary motive was not only a love of adventure, but the desire for acquiring wealth at the expense of the provincials in one of the dozen ways possible under a friendly and not too conscientious official patron. Catullus apparently had not been poverty-stricken, however jestingly he claimed that common distinction of the society-man at the capital, though an increase of income may not have been without attractions for him. He had up to this time, too, apparently loved Rome above all other cities, and had not cared to leave it for any considerable period of time, even that he might visit Greece. But now there were two motives that might lead him to look with desire upon a journey to Bithynia. In the first place, it offered him an opportunity to visit the Troad and to pay the final offerings of love at the grave of his brother (cf. § 22). In the second place, he had been passing through a terrible mental struggle that was perhaps not yet over, and Rome had become painful to him. In the distraction of travel and residence in a foreign clime he might find that absence from himself for which he sighed.

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