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An unknown woman, apparently a courtezan with whom Catullus has quarrelled, refuses to return to him his tablets, and hence these verses are marshalled to enforce the demand. The woman was certainly not Lesbia, for on no occasion does Catullus speak of her or to her in a tone of careless brutality, without any trace of former regard. Some critics, especially comparing v. 9 with Catul. 43.3, Catul. 43.6, have thought her to be Ameana, but the position of 42 between two others concerning her is perhaps an indication that such was not the opinion of the original editor of the liber Catulli; see Intr. 48.—Meter, Phalaecean.

hendecasyllabi: as the vehicle of satire; cf. Catul. 12.10n.

quot estis: etc. i.e. every single one of you, no matter how many ye are.

[3] iocum, her laughing-stock; in the sense of ludibrium; cf. Prop. 3.24.16me fallaci dominae iam pudet esse iocum” ; Petron. 57spero me sic vivere ut nemini iocus sim.

[4] vestra: since they contained verses. With the close conjunction of mihi vestra note the repeated identification throughout of the poet with his own verses.

[5] pugillaria: perhaps a colloquialism for the more commonly occurring pugillares; cf. also Gell. 17.9.17pugillaria nova, nondum etiam cera illita” . The tablets in question may have contained the first sketch of a poem lent the woman for perusal before the quarrel intervened (cf. Catul. 35.13n.), or may have been used by Catullus for extempore composition at an entertainment at her house (cf. Catul. 25.7; Catul. 50.1ff.), and kept by her.

[5] Si pati potestis: i.e. only imagine it, if you can; cf. Catul. 29.1quis potest pati.

[6] reflagitemus: ἅπαξ λεγόμενον.

[8] turpe incedere: even her gait betrays her wanton character; so Cicero speaks of Clodia ( Cic. Cael. 20.49Si denique ita sese geret non incessu solum sed ornatuut meretrix videatur” ; and Vergil of a different character ( Verg. A. 1.405vera incessu patuit dea” ; cf. Prop. 2.2.6incedit vel Iove digna soror.

[8] mimice ac moleste ridentem: i.e. wearing the sickening grin of a mime; and the characterization is still more offensively pushed by comparison with the unjoyous grin of a dog (cf. also v. 17). With moleste in this sense cf. Catul. 10.33. Note the alliteration.

[9] Gallicani: perhaps used because the woman was of Gallia provincia, though the adjective may be only a chance one, since Gallic dogs were a breed approved in Italy.

[13] assis facis: cf. Catul. 5.3n.

[13] lutum: cf. the similar use as a term of abuse in Pl. Pers. 413 possum te facere ut argentum accipias, lutum? Cic. Pis. 26.62o tenebrae, o lutum, o sordes!

[14] aut si: etc. with the form of expression cf. Catul. 13.10n.

[15] sed non: etc. i.e. we are evidently accomplishing nothing by simply calling her bad names; let us shout more loudly, that for very shame of public scandal, she may comply with our demand.

[16] potest: sc. fieri; for similar easy ellipses with posse see Catul. 72.7; Catul. 76.16, Catul. 76.24.

[17] ferreo: brazen, showing none of the mobility of sensitiveness; cf. Cic. Pis. 26.63os tuum ferreum senatus convicio verberari noluisti.

[17] canis ore: cf. the Homeric epithet κυνώπης and among other nations the dog has been the type of shamelessness.

[22] mutanda: etc. i.e. perhaps success is impossible, but if there is any chance, it lies in a complete change of front.

[24] Cf. the similar irony in the address to Canidia, Hor. Epod. 17.38ff.

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hide References (14 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (14):
    • Catullus, Poems, 10
    • Catullus, Poems, 25
    • Catullus, Poems, 29
    • Catullus, Poems, 43
    • Catullus, Poems, 50
    • Catullus, Poems, 72
    • Catullus, Poems, 76
    • Cicero, For Marcus Caelius, 20.49
    • Cicero, Against Piso, 26.62
    • Cicero, Against Piso, 26.63
    • Plautus, Persa, 3.3
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.405
    • Petronius, Satyricon, 57
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 17.9.17
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