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On Asinius Marrucinus, a napkin-thief, concerning whom see Intr. 58. For the theme cf. Catul. 25.1, and the well-known epigrams on Hermogenes, Mart. 12.29, and on an unnamed thief, Mart. 8.59. —On the date of composition, see Catul. 12.9n. and Catul. 12.15n. —Meter, Phalaecean.

sinistra: as the right hand was given in token of friendship, the left was proverbially the one devoted to theft; cf. Pl. Pers. 227illa altera furtifica laeva” ; Ov. Met. 13.111[nec clipeus] conveniet natae ad furta sinistrae:” the word occurs in Catul. 47.1 in the figurative sense of ‘accomplices’ in thieving.

[2] in ioco atque vino: cf. Catul. 50.6; Catul. 13.5.

[3] lintea: no clear line seems to have been drawn between handkerchiefs, napkins, and even towels, for lintea, mantelia, mappae, and sudana are used indiscriminately of all these articles. Sometimes the mappae are mentioned as a part of the regular table-furnishing (cf. Varr. L. L. 9.47; Hor. S. 2.4.81), and sometimes each guest provides his own, as here, and in Mart. 12.29.11attulerat mappam nemo, dum furta timentur.

[4] fugit te: that's where you're wrong; cf. Catul. 10.29n.

[4] inepte: dunce, since you apparently think this business funny; cf. Catul. 25.8n., where the same word is used with slightly different application to characterize a similar thief of clothing.

[5] quamvis: utterly; used by Catullus in this sense only here; but cf. Pl. Ps. 1175quamvis pernix hic homost” , and elsewhere.

[6] Pollioni fratri: see Intr. 57.

[7] talento: of an indefinitely large sum of money; cf. Pl. Epid. 701in meum nummum, in tuom talentum, pignus da.

[8] mutari velit: as if it were a business transaction; Pollio is so chagrined at your conduct that he would give a talent to change the facts.

[8] leporum ac facetiarum: cf. the union of the same or similar words in one expression in Catul. 50.7f., Catul. 16.7

[9] disertus: i.e. Pollio has the feelings and training of a gentleman; for disertus implying, as here, distinctness of mental vision rather than of speech, see Ter. Eun. 1009numquam pol hominem stultiorem vidi nec videbo; at etiam primo callidum et disertum credidi hominem.

[9] puer: frequently used somewhat loosely of a young man, as puella is of a young woman; cf. Catul. 45. 11; Catul. 62.47; Catul. 78.4; Hor. Carm. 1.5.1quis te puer urget, Pyrrha?Cic. Phil. 4.1.3nomen clarissimi adulescentis, vel pueri potius” (of Octavianus at the age of 19); Sil. Ital. 15.33non digne puer” (of Scipio at the age of 20); cf. also Catul. 63.63n. As Pollio was born in 75 B.C., he might have been called puer up to the end of Catullus's life; but the date of this poem is established within narrower limits by Catul. 12.14 ff.

[10] hendecasyllabos: iambics like those of Archilochus were the traditional weapons of satire; cf.Catul. 36.5; Catul. 40.2n.; Catul. 54.6; but Catullus used hendecasyllables for the same purpose, as in Catul. 42.1; yet cf. Plin. Min. Ep. 5.10.2.

[10] trecentos: cf. Catul. 9.2n.; Catul. 11.18n.

[12] non aestimatione: i.e. the associations, and not the intrinsic worth, of the napkin make it valuable.

[13] mnemosynum: a Greek word, used only here for the pure Latin monimentum, as in Verg. A. 5.536cratera quem Anchisae Cisseus sui dederat monimentum.

[13] mei sodalis: the singular is used since the two friends, Veranius and Fabullus, are identified in the affections of Catullus; note also how in Catul. 12.15ff. all expression of preference is avoided by reversal of the order of two names, and by the reduction of Veranius to the diminutive form to correspond with Fabullus (cf. Intr. 68; Catul. 28.3n.).

[14] sudaria Saetaba: cf. Catul. 25.7; Saetabis (now Jativa) was a city of Tarraconensis near the eastern coast of Spain, and was noted for its manufacture of flax; cf. Plin. NH 19. 9.

[15] miserunt: not far from 60 B.C. (cf. Catul. 9.1, and Intr. 68, Intr. 69), within a comparatively short time after which year, this poem, then, was probably written.

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  • Commentary references from this page (25):
    • Catullus, Poems, 12
    • Catullus, Poems, 13
    • Catullus, Poems, 16
    • Catullus, Poems, 25
    • Catullus, Poems, 36
    • Catullus, Poems, 42
    • Catullus, Poems, 45
    • Catullus, Poems, 47
    • Catullus, Poems, 50
    • Catullus, Poems, 54
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    • Catullus, Poems, 78
    • Catullus, Poems, 9
    • Cicero, Philippics, 4.1.3
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 13.111
    • Plautus, Persa, 2.2
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 4.7
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.536
    • Horace, Satires, 2.4.81
    • Plautus, Epidicus, 5.2
    • Terence, The Eunuch, 5.6
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 19.9
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 5.10.2
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 12.29
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 8.59
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