47. Cicero, in his later years, professed contempt for the whole tribe of these poetae novi (like Catullus and his friends) who had forsaken all the traditions of Ennius (Or. 161; Tusc. III.45; Att. VII. 2.1); and Horace mentions Catullus but once, and then with definite disparagement (Sat. I.10.19); but even from these references it may be fairly inferred that the poetry of Catullus was well and acceptably known among his immediate generation of Romans, and had not to wait till the time of the elegiasts for a purely posthumous fame. It was, indeed, not so very long after his death that Cornelius Nepos ventured to rank him in quality alongside Lucretius (Att. 12.4). His fame, then, was contemporary with himself. But even a cursory examination of his extant book of poems shows evidence that it was not published till after the poet's death. For although it has come down to us mutilated by the accidents of time in a most unseemly manner, no mutilation can account for the condition of c. 58b, which is clearly but a rejected trial-sketch for the poem afterward elaborated as c. 55, and not a misplaced part of c. 55 itself (note the much greater frequency of dactyls in the second place in the verses of c. 58b than of c. 55). Would Catullus himself have published such a mere fragment? Still more, would he after the reconciliation with Julius Caesar have published, or republished, the poems in which Caesar is bitterly assailed? For this same reason, if for no other, it is also impossible to suppose, with certain critics, that Catullus himself arranged the book for publication, but was overtaken by death before it was actually published.
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