38. Yet all this experience appears to have touched him in no wise deeply. It was but a passing diversion, and his jealousy not the bitter passion felt against his rivals with Lesbia. With far more earnestness did he throw himself into the political quarrel of his time. The year of his return from Bithynia (56 B.C.) had witnessed the so-called renewal of the triumvirate at Luca, and Caesar appeared to have won everything. In accordance with the agreement made at the Luca conference, Pompey and Crassus were consuls a second time for the year 55, and the senatorial party was at its wits' end. Catullus was apparently not an active political worker, but he did not hesitate to join his political friends in personal attacks upon the foe. Perhaps his earlier shafts were those aimed against Mamurra (cf. § 73), Caesar's notorious favorite (cc. 29, 41, 43, 57), whom Catullus sometimes celebrates under the nickname of Mentula (cc. 94, 105, 114, 115), and these opened the way for the direct attack upon Caesar himself (cc. 54, 93). But whatever the order of attack, that Caesar was piqued by it we know from Suetonius (Iul. 73). That he made a successful effort to win over Catullus, as he did Calvus, we are also assured from the same source. Caesar understood better than most Romans that political power in that city and that day must rest largely upon personal popularity, and he was not above exerting himself to win the good will of individuals of high or low degree. And aside from the fascination due to his great political and military success, he had personal traits that gave him a power over young men. It was the mysterious influence of a natural leader of men; and in many more than these two instances the number of his friends was recruited from the ranks of the younger of his fiercest foes. There was another element also that must have tended to promote the reconciliation between Caesar and Catullus. The father of Catullus was resident at Verona within the limits of Caesar's Cisalpine province. He may not have taken an active part in politics, but at any rate he was a personal friend of Caesar, and often his host (Suet. l.c.). This intimacy may well have led him to see clearly what the result of the approaching struggle for supremacy in Rome was likely to be, and to desire the more eagerly to see his son arrayed for Caesar and not against him.
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Friends and foes.
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