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This epigrammatic address is evidently one of the series of attacks upon the Caesarians, and was perhaps written in 55 B.C., when the excitement against Vatinius was at its height, and Catullus wrote Catul. 29.1ff. and other poems of the same general character.—Meter, iambic trimeter.

quid est: an appeal of impatient indignation, cf. Pl. Amph. 556quid est? quo modo? … tibilinguam abscidam.

quid moraris emori: i.e. what pleasure can you take in life when such disgraceful things are possible? cf. Hor. Carm. 3.27.58quid mori cessas?Ov. Her. 9.146impia quia dubitas Deianira mori?

[2] sella in curuli: apparently indicating that Nonius had just attained the first of the curule offices, the curule aedileship, perhaps as part of the program settled upon at the conference at Luca in 56 B.C. This would very well fit Nonius Asprenas, who was an officer of Caesar in the African War in 46 with the title of proconsul (Bell. Afr. 80.4; Bell. Hisp. 10.2), and perhaps not so well M. Nonius Sufenas, who so late as 56 was only tribunus plebis.

[2] struma: a scrofulous tumor, used here as an uncomplimentary nickname, from the manner in which rascals were attachmg themselves to the high offices of the state; cf. Cic. Sest. 65.135strumam civitatis” ; Plin. NH 37.81Nonius senator, filiusstrumae Nonieius quem Catullus poeta in sella curuli visum indigne tulit” , where the reproduction of the order of the words in Catullus seems to indicate that Pliny understood Struma to be an epithet and not a true cognomen.

[3] perierat: παρὰ προσδοκίαν, for iurat.

[3] Vatinius: in the year 55 the Caesarians succeeded in electing Vatinius praetor over Cato. Already in 56 Cicero had charged him with impudent assurance regarding a future consulship, and to the same characteristic Catullus refers here. But the coveted advancement was doubtless promised by Caesar at Luca, and this promotion to the praetorship was regarded but as a step thereto by Vatinius and by Catullus as well, whose indignation was all the more fired by it.

[4] The first verse is identical with the last also in Catul. 16.1ff. and Catul. 36.1ff.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Catullus, Poems, 16
    • Catullus, Poems, 29
    • Catullus, Poems, 36
    • Cicero, For Sestius, 65.135
    • Ovid, Epistulae, 9.105
    • Plautus, Amphitruo, 2.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 37.21
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