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An invitation to an otherwise unknown poet, Caecilius of Como, to visit Catullus at Verona, with incidentally a little pleasantry about a love-affair of Caecilius, and a neat compliment about his forthcoming poem. This address could not have been written before 59 B.C. (cf. v. 4 n.), and was written while Catullus was at Verona. Two occasions only are surely known on which he was at his ancestral home after 59, once immediately on his return from Bithynia in the summer of 56, and again somewhat more than a year later, a few months before his death. The poem may well date from one or the other of these periods.—Meter, Phalaecean.

tenero: as a writer of love-poetry; cf. Ovid (with whom it is a favorite word) Ov. Ars Am. 3.333teneri carmen Properti” ; Ov. Rem. Am. 757teneros ne tange poetas” ; Mart. 4.14.13tener Catullus” ; Mart. 7.14.3teneri amica Catulli.

sodali: implying warm intimacy; cf. Catul. 10.29; Catul. 12.13; Catul. 30.1; Catul. 47.6.

[2] Caecilio: possibly an ancestor of C. Plinius Caecilius Secundus (circ. 62-113 A.D.), whose home was in Novum Comum, where inscriptions show that the Caecilii flourished.

[2] papyre: apostrophe to his book by the author is not uncommon, especially in Ovid (e.g. Ov. Trist. 1.1) and Martial (e.g. Mart. 7.84, also sent to a Caecilius).

[3] relinquens: cf. Catul. 31.6liquisse” .

[4] Comi: in the year 59 B.C., in accordance with the Vatinian law, Julius Caesar settled 5O0O colonists at Comum, a town already established under Cn. Pompeius Strabo, and called the place Novum Comum. Como, the modern town, lies at the southern end of the westem arm of Lacus Larius (Lago di Como), about thirty miles north of Mediolanum (Milan).

[5] cogitationes: Catullus desires to entice his friend to visit him, and so speaks with playful vagueness of certain weighty matters that can be communicated only by word of mouth. The whole tone of the poem is opposed to any serious interpretation of the phrase.

[6] amici sui meique: the same playful mysteriousness of expression is kept up here, but Caecilius undoubtedly interpreted it correctly to mean that the friend was the writer himself. So Catullus speaks of himself to Alfenus in Catul. 30.2 as tui amiculi.

[7] viam vorabit: an unusual, but perfectly intelligible phrase, perhaps favored by the alliteration, and augmenting by its exaggerated character the playfulness of the urgency.

[8] candida: cf. Catul. 13.4.

[10] roget morari: for the more usual construction of rogare with ut see Catul. 13.14.

[12] illum deperit: is dying for him; cf. Catul. 100.2; Pl. Cas. 449hic ipsus Casinam deperit” ; Nem. Bucol. 2.70rusticus Alcon te peream” ; and in Catul. 45.5perire” used absolutely.

[12] impotente: violent; cf. Catul. 4.18n.

[13] quo tempore: denoting the starting-point of a continued action, as indicated by v. 14 ex eo; cf. Catul. 68.15tempore quo” with Catul. 68.20, where the continuance of activity from the initial period is clearly indicated.

[13] legit: sc. illa; she read the opening verses lent her by the author; cf. Catul. 42.1ff., where Catullus was unable to recover his tablets lent, perhaps, under similar circumstances. The custom of public recitation by the author himself was introduced later by Asinius Pollio (cf. Catul. 12.6).

[14] Dindymi dominam: i.e. a poem, or play, based on the story of Cybele; cf. Catul. 63.13, Catul. 63.95, and introductory note to that poem.

[14] misellae: she is pitied only as suffering love's pleasing pain; cf. Catul. 45.21; Catul. 50.9; Catul. 55.5.

[15] ignes: of the flames of love; cf. Catul. 2.8n. ardor; Verg. A. 4.66est mollis flamma medullas” ; Ov. Am. 3.10.27tenerae flammam rapuere medullae.

[15] interiorem: cf. Catul. 64.93imis medullis” ; Catul. 64.196extremis medullis” ; Catul. 66.23penitus exedit medullas.

[15] medullam: the word occurs only here in Catullus in the singular, but seven times in the plural in the same sense; cf. Catul. 25.2medullula” .

[16] ignosco tibi: sc. for falling deeply in love with Caecilius, and therefore seeking to detain him.

[16] Sapphica musa: i.e. than the inspired Sappho herself; perhaps with a reminiscence of the frequency with which, in the Palatine Anthology, Sappho is ranked among the Muses.

[17] doctior: an epithet commonly applied to poets, especially of this school, which disdained the rude simplicity of its predecessors, and sought inspiration among the polished Alexandrians (Catullus is styled doctus by Ovid in Ov. Am. 3.9.62, by Lygdamus in Tib. 3.6.41, and by Martial in Mart. 7.99.7 and Mart. 14.152.1); Catullus means that a girl so appreciative of the best poetry must have within herself the attributes of a poet: so Propertius calls Cynthia docta (Prop. 3.13.11), and in Catullus Catul. 65.2 the Muses are doctae virgines.

[18] magna Mater: i.e. Cybele; cf. Catul. 63.9n.

[18] incohata: there is no reason to suppose, as some have done, any playful implication that Caecilius had been unwarrantably long in getting beyond the beginning of his work.

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  • Commentary references from this page (25):
    • Catullus, Poems, 10
    • Catullus, Poems, 100
    • Catullus, Poems, 12
    • Catullus, Poems, 13
    • Catullus, Poems, 25
    • Catullus, Poems, 30
    • Catullus, Poems, 31
    • Catullus, Poems, 42
    • Catullus, Poems, 45
    • Catullus, Poems, 47
    • Catullus, Poems, 50
    • Catullus, Poems, 55
    • Catullus, Poems, 63
    • Catullus, Poems, 64
    • Catullus, Poems, 65
    • Catullus, Poems, 66
    • Catullus, Poems, 68
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 4.66
    • Ovid, Remedia Amoris
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 3
    • Plautus, Casina, 2.8
    • Ovid, Amores, 3.10
    • Ovid, Amores, 3.9
    • Ovid, Tristia, 1.1
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 7.84
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