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An anecdotal jesting compliment to the oratorical power of Calvus, as Catul. 50.1ff. was a compliment to his poetical talent. Tacitus (Tac. Dial. 21) speaks of the orations of Calvus against Vatinius as still read, “praecipua secunda ex iis oratio”, as if there were at least three of them. He also says (Tac. Dial. 34) that Calvus was not much more than 22 years old when he attacked Vatinius iis orationibus quas hodie quoque cum admiratione legimus. This remark may well apply to the prosecution mentioned by Cicero (Cic. Vat. 14) as occurring in 58 B.C., when Calvus was 24 years old. No records exist of any further prosecution of Vatinius by Calvus until that of August, 54 B.C., when Cicero appeared for the defence. But when Cicero in 56 B.C. cross-examined Vatinius (see In Vatinium ) while conducting the defence of Sestius, Calvus promised to indict Vatinius, apparently at once (Cic. Quint. Fr. 2.4.1), and the trial may well have come off speedily, though doubtless an acquittal was secured by the same influences that immediately gave Vatinius the praetorship for 55 B.C., and hurried him into office (Cic. Quint. Fr. 2.7.3) to escape further prosecution. At this unrecorded trial in 56 B.C. the famous second speech of Calvus was probably delivered, and to it Catullus doubtless refers here.— Meter, Phalaecean.

corona: a circle of auditors, especially at a trial; cf. Cic. Flac. 28.69a iudicibus oratio avertitur, vox in coronam turbamque effunditur” ; Hor. Ep. 1.18.53scis quo clamore coronae proelia sustineas campestria.

[2] Vatiniana: the adjective is here equivalent to an objective genitive, while in Catul. 14.3 it is subjective.

[4] manus tollens: the instinctive gesture of amazement: cf. Cic. Acad. 2.19.63vehementer admiransut etiam manus saepe tolleret” .

[5] di magni: cf. Catul. 14.12

[5] Salaputium: apparently a comical slang word, referring to the short stature of Calvus; cf. Ov. Trist. 2.431exigui licentia Calvi” ; Sen. Contr. 7.4 erat enim [Calvus] parvulus statura, propter quod etiam Catullus in hendecasyllabis vocat illum ‘salaputtium disertum.’ Except in these two places the word nowhere occurs, though Salaputis is found as a man's name in an African inscription (CIL 8.10570). The etymology is uncertain.

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  • Commentary references from this page (11):
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.4.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.7.3
    • Catullus, Poems, 14
    • Catullus, Poems, 50
    • Cicero, Against Vatinius
    • Cicero, Against Vatinius, 14
    • Cicero, For Flaccus, 28.69
    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 21
    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 34
    • Cicero, Lucullus, 63
    • Seneca the Elder, Controversiae, 7.4
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