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A love-idyl, marked by a most charming simplicity and abandon of sentiment and expression. It is impossible to determine whether the poem is purely ideal, or was written in honor of the love of some actual friend (cf. Catul. 6.16ff.). With it cf. the lesser intensity of Hor. Carm. 3.9.—Date, 55 B.c. (cf. v. 22 n.).—Meter, Phalaecean.

Acmen: the Greek name suggests a libertina, while Septimius is the nomen of an honored Roman family.

amores: cf. Catul. 6.16n.

[2] tenens in gremio: he was reclining on a couch, and she sitting on its edge close to him, and resting back in his arms; cf. the well-known illustrations of symposia.

[3] perdite amo: cf. Catul. 104.3; Ter. Phor. 82hanc amare coepit perdite.

[3] porro: in time to come; cf. Catul. 68.45.

[5] pote: for potest; cf. Catul. 17.24n.

[5] perire: usually with the person loved as direct object; cf. Pl. Poen. 1095earum hic alteram efflictim perit (cf. deperire in Catul. 35.12; Catul. 100.2); or as instrumental ablative, a construction common in he Augustan poets.

[6] solus: etc. cf. Hor. Carm. 3.27.51utinam inter nuda leones” .

[6] Libya: i.e. Africa; on its lions cf. Hor. Carm. 1.22.15Iubae tellus, leonum arida nutrix” ; Plin. NH 6.195.

[6] India tosta: cf. Verg. G. 4.425rapidus [rabidus?] torrens sitientis Sirius Indos ardebat caelo” ; Tib. 2.3.55comites fusci, quos India torret.

[7] caesio leoni: cf. Hom. Il. 20.172[λέων] γλαυδιόων δ᾽ ἰθὺς φέρεται μένει” ; Ellis quotes Plin. NH 8.54leonum omnis vis constat in oculis.

[8-9] (= 17-18). The reading seems correct as it stands here, so far as the contrast of sinistra and dextra is concerned, but a satisfactory interpretation of sinistra ut ante is impossible. Sneezing was apparently a good omen, however occurring, and there is no indication that Amor had sneezed before at all, or that he had ever been unpropitious (sinister) toward the lovers. Ut ante may be corrupt, but none of the emendations proposed (see Crit. App.) are at all satisfactory. Bonnet suggests that the difficulty may lie in our lack of detailed knowledge of the interpretation of this omen among the ancients.

[9] sternuit adprobationem: sneezing was early regarded as a good omen; cf. Hom. Od. 17.541ff.; Xen. Anab. 3.2.9πτάρνυταί τις: ἀκούσαντες δ᾽ οἱ στρατιῶται πάντες μιᾷ ὁρμῇ προσεκύνησαν τὸν θεόν” ; Ov. Epist. 18.152sternuit, et nobis prospera signa dedit” ; Prop. 2.3.24candidus argutum sternuit omen Amor.

[10] caput reflectens: i.e. bending backward so as to turn her face upward toward that of Septimius.

[11] pueri: cf. Catul. 12.9n. puer.

[11] ebrios: i.e. swimming with passion, drunk with love; so Dido ‘drank’ love ( Verg. A. 1.749longum bibebat amorem” ).

[11] ocellos: on the kissing of the eyes cf. Catul. 9.9n.

[12] purpureo: = roseo ( Catul. 64.49tincta roseo purpura fuco” ); cf. Catul. 63.74; Catul. 80.1rosea labella” (as a mark of youthful and almost feminine beauty); Verg. A. 2.593rosea haec insuper addidit ore” ; Ov. Am. 3.14.23purpureis condatur lingua labellis” ; Apul. Apol. 9oris savia purpurei.

[13] mea vita: cf. Catul. 68.155; Catul. 104.1; Catul. 109.1, and many instances in colloqnial and amatory writers.

[14] huic domino: i.e. Amori.

[14] usque: i.e. from now on forever; cf. Catul. 48.2.

[14] serviamus: cf. Catul. 61.134servire Talasio” .

[16] medullis: cf. Catul. 35.15n.

[17-18] (=8-9). Amor declines to decide which loves the more ardently, and impartially sneezes his approbation of the professions of each.

[20] amant amantur: for similar collocations of active and passive see Cic. Catil. 2.10.23amare et amari” ; Phaedr. 2.2.2ament amentur” ; Tac. Germ. 38ut ament amenturve.

[21] misellus: cf. Catul. 35.14; Catul. 51.5.

[22] Syrias Britanniasque: the allusion suggests that the poem was composed in 55 B.C., for in that year Caesar invaded Britain and Crassus took command in Syria. Syria was proverbially a country of great wealth, and Britain was supposed to be so till the expedition of Caesar proved it otherwise (cf. Cic. Fam. 7.7.1in Britannia nihil esse audio neque auri neque argenti” (to Trebatius after the expedition); Att. 4.16.7Britannici belli exitus exspectatur; … etiam illud iam cognitum est, neque argenti scripulum esse ullum in illa insula neque ullam spem praedae nisi ex mancipiis” ). The plural is used to indicate, not the several parts of the countries themselves, but such rich countries as Syria and Britain; cf. Prop. 3.16.10alias Illyrias” .

[24] facit: etc. i.e. centres all her affections.

[24] delicias: see Catul. 2.1n., and cf. Catul. 68.26; Catul. 74.2; Cic. Cael. 19.44amores autem et hae deliciae, quae vocantur.

[25] quis: etc. with a similar triumphant appeal close Catul. 9.1ff. and Catul. 107.1ff., and with an indignant appeal, Catul. 29.1ff., Catul. 47.1ff., Catul. 52.1ff., and Catul. 60.1ff.

[26] auspicatiorem: cf. v. 19.

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  • Commentary references from this page (38):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.7.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.16.7
    • Homer, Iliad, 20.172
    • Homer, Odyssey, 17.541
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.2.9
    • Catullus, Poems, 100
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    • Catullus, Poems, 109
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    • Catullus, Poems, 9
    • Cicero, For Marcus Caelius, 19.44
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 2.10.23
    • Plautus, Poenulus, 5.2
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.749
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 2.593
    • Vergil, Georgics, 4.425
    • Tacitus, Germania, 38
    • Ovid, Epistulae, 18.111
    • Terence, Phormio, 1.2
    • Phaedrus, Fables, 2.2
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.35
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.21
    • Ovid, Amores, 3.14
    • Apuleius, Apologia, 9
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