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An epithalamium, but, unlike 61, apparently without reference to a particular marriage, and, like 61, without archaeological precision. The form is that of a song divided between a chorus of youths and one of maidens singing alternately, but not always in precisely equal strophes, the former the praises of Hesperus and of marriage, the latter the fears and sorrows of surrendered maidenhood. The youths sing vv. 1-5, 11-19, 26-31, 33-38 (with lost verses preceding v. 33) 49-66; and the maidens, vv. 6-10, 20-25, 32 (and lost verses following it), 39-48. The setting throughout is Greek rather than Roman, though the fragments of Sappho and the Epithalamium of Helen by Theocritus (18) furnish no ground for postulating direct imitation on the part of Catullus. On the place of action cf. vv. 1, 3, 7 nn.—Date, uncertain. Meter, dactylic hexameter.

Vesper: cf. Plin. NH 2.36sidus appellatum Venerisante matutinum exoriens Luciferi nomen acclpitcontra ab occasu refulgens nuncupatur Vesper” ; Cic. ND 2.20.53stella Veneris, quae Φωσφόρος Graece, Lucifer Latine dicitur, cum antegreditur solem, cum subsequitur autem,Ἕσπερος ” ; Censor. Die Nat. 24.4eius stellae quam Plautus [Pl. Amph. 275] Vesperuginem, Ennius Vesperum, Vergilius Hesperon appellat.

consurgite: sc. a mensis; cf. v. 3 n.

Olympo lumina tollit: the appearance at twilight of the evening star, though of course in the west, is by analogy spoken of as its rising; cf. Hor. Carm. 2.9.10nec tibi Vespero surgente decedunt amores nec rapidum fugienti solem.” Here the star stands above the Thessalian (cf. v. 7 Oetaeos) Olympus; though the poets also speak of Vesper as leaving Olympus (the dwelling of the gods) or Oeta to usher in the night; cf. Verg. Ecl. 6.86invito processit Vesper Olympo” ; Cul. 203piger aurata procedit Vesper ab Oeta” ; Cir. 350gelida venientem ignem ab Oeta” . For the ablative with tollere without a preposition cf. Ov. Met. 15.192clipeus terra cum tollitur ima” .

[3] surgerelinquere mensas: cf. Verg. A. 8.109relictis consurgunt mensis.

[3] pinguis: here = opimas, as in Verg. A. 3.224dapibusque epulamur opimis.

[3] mensas: the feast is doubtless that spread at the house of the bride's parents. Contrary to the usual Greek custom, women were present, but were seated at tables by themselves. From the house of her parents the bridegroom at evening escorted the bride to her new home in solemn procession to the music of hymeneal songs, which were also sung outside the closed door of the bride-chamber.

[4] iam veniet virgo: sc. from her chamber, to take her seat beside the bridegroom in the carriage in which she is to be drawn to his house.

[4] hymenaeus: the marriage-hymn; with this meaning first in Hom. Il. 18.491 e)n th=| me/n [po/lei] r(a ga/moi t' e)/san … polu\s d' u(me/naios o)rw/rei; elsewhere in Catullus of the god Hymen (Catul. 61.4; Catul. 62.5, and often), and of marriage itself (Catul. 66.11, etc.). On the lengthening of the preceding short syllable see Intr. 86g.

[5] Cf. Theocr. 18.58, where the dactylic hexameter opens in the same way, and Catul. 61.4n.

[6] innuptae: for virgines, as in Catul. 64.78.

[6] contra, on your side, i.e. from your position at a table opposite theirs.

[7] nimirum: i.e. it must be that the youths have already caught sight of the evening star, and that is the reason for their rising.

[7] Oetaeos: Mt. Oeta is the name of the range in the district of Oetaea, just at the head of the Maliae Gulf between Thessaly and Aetolia. Upon it the funeral pyre of Heracles was erected. It is sometimes connected with the Thessalian Olympus; cf. v. 1 n. Olympo.

[7] ostendit ignes: cf. Hor. Carm. 3.29.17iam clarus occultum Andromedae pater ostendit ignem.

[7] Noctifer: cf. Calp. Buc. 5.120iam sole fugato frigidus aestivas impellit Noctifer horas.

[8] sic certe est: the explanation at first only suggested appears convincing, and is reaffirmed as sure; cf. Catul. 80.7.

[8] viden ut: cf. Catul. 61.77n.

[8] perniciter exsiluere: i.e. they show the eager swiftness of confidence in their ability to surpass their competitors in song.

[9] non temere: i.e. not in mere bravado, nor in baseless self confidence.

[9] quod: direct object of vincere. The two choruses will vie with each other in responsive song, as do the swains in the bucolics of Theocritus and Vergil.

[9] par: (sc. nobis) it is our task.

[11] palma: i.e. victory

[11] parata. cf. Petron. 15nec victoria mi placet parata” .

[12] secum meditata requirunt: i.e. they are conning verses already learned and practised, and are not depending, like us (v. 15), merely upon ability in improvisation.

[13] non frustra meditantur: i.e. their study will not prove fruitless. Meditari is almost the technical word for poetic composition; cf. Verg. Ecl. 6.82; Hor. S. 1.9.2; Hor. Ep. 2.2.76. The verse corresponds closely with v. 9.

[14] nec mirum: cf. Catul. 23.7n.

[14] quae laborant: but cf. the subjunctive mood in similar causal clauses in vv. 21 and 27. So Plantus and Terence apparently use the indicative and subjunctive indiscriminately with the causal relative, and even change from one to the other, as here, while in later Latin the subjunctive becomes the rule.

[15] nos: with strong emphasis upon the contrast with the absorption of the maidens in their coming task.

[15] allo mentes, allo aures: i.e. while they have practised earnestly, following their leader tota mente (v. 14), we have attended to our leader with our ears only, while our thoughts have been far from him and from the task that lay before us; alioalio are correlative, referring to distinct directions.

[15] divisimus: cf. in slightly different meaning Verg. A. 4.285 (and Verg. A. 8.20) atque animum nunc huc celerem nunc dividit illuc.

[17] saltem: with nunc.

[17] convertite: sc. ad rem; cf. Cic. ND 1.27.77quo facilius animos imperitorum ad deorum cultum a vitae pravitate converterent.

[20] Hespere: the same form of the name is followed in vv. 26, 32, and 35, and in 64.329; but cf. v. 1 Vesper (and the yet different name Noctifer in v. 7). With the sentiment of the strophe cf. Catul. 61.3ff.

[20] caelo fertur: traverses the heavens; Baebrens cites Germ. Progn. 2.2per idem Cythereius ignis fertur iter.

[20] ignis: cf. Hor. Carm. 1.12.47velut inter ignes luna minores” ; Germ. l.c.

[21] possis: cf. v. 14 n. laborant.

[21] complexu matris: cf. Catul. 61.58; Catul. 64.88.

[21] avellere: not with direct reference to the show of force with which in the Roman ceremony the bride was taken from her mother's arms, but in general of the rude interruption of the peaceful simplicity of her life of maidenhood; cf. Catul. 61.3rapis” .

[22] retinentem: clinging.

[23] iuveni ardenti: cf. Catul. 61.56fero iuveni” , and observe the sequence of the contrasted epithets ardenti castam.

[24] capta urbe: the comparison of great woes to those endured by a conquered city was traditional; cf. Hom. Il. 9.592κήδε᾽, ὅσ᾽ ἀνθρώποισι πέλει τῶν ἄστυ ἁλώῃ” ; Verg. A. 2.746quid in eversa vidi crudelius urbe?Prop. 4.8.56spectaclum capta nec minus urbe fuit” ; Ov. Met. 14.578et sonus et macies et pallor et omnia captam quae deceant urbem.

[27] desponsa: ordinarily used only of the betrothed maiden.

[27] firmes: cf. v. 14 n. laborant.

[28] viriparentes: i.e. marriage-contracts arranged by husbands on the one side and parents on the other. viri is used by anticipation as in v. 65 genero; cf. also 64.328maritis” . With the change of form of the repeated tense for metrical reasons and for variety cf.

verum haec ludus ibi susque omnia deque fuerunt,
susque haec deque fuere inquam, omnia, ludu' iocusque

Lucil. 3.11 Müll.ff.

illum etiam lauri, etiam flevere myricae,
pinifer illum etiam sola sub rupe iacentem
Maenalus et gelidi fleverunt saxa Lycaei

; Lucr. 6.2-5.dididĕrunt, recreavērunt, rogarunt, dedĕrunt, genuēre.

[29] iunxere: cf. Catul. 78.3dulces iungit amores” .

[30] Cf. similar sentiments at the end of 9, 45, and 107.

[32] Of this strophe, sung by the maidens, only the first verse remains, but the comparison of its key-note with vv.33ff., sung by the youths, indicates that the two fragmentary strophes stood in immediate succession. The strophe of the maidens ended, of course, with the refrain Hymen o Hymenaee, etc.

[33-36] The maidens had complained of Hesperus for robbing them of a companion, and in general for ushering in the night, the time of fear and depredation. The youths denied in the lost verses that Hesperus is the harbinger of danger, and in vv. 33-36 support their denial by two reasons and by an argumentum ad hominem: possible danger at night is averted by ordinary watchfulness; Hesperus himself acts as thief-taker by ushering in the unexpected dawn; and finally, maidens themselves but feign fear of the darkness.

[33] custodia: for custodes; cf. Verg. A. 6.574 cernis custodia qualis vestibulo sedeat? Ov. Met. 14.371abest custodia regi” . —Neither in this nor in the two following verses is there any reference to furtivos hominum amores (Catul. 7.8) save by merest indirection; the maidens complained, and the youths are responding to the charge, that the darkness makes possible acts of violence.

[34] nocte latent fures: perhaps quoted verbatim from the song of the maidens, but neutralized as far as it is a charge against Hesperus, by the following clause.

[34] idemmutato nomine: the poet disregards the scientific fact that the same planet is not both morning and evening star at the same season of the year. The identity of Hesperus and Lucifer (cf. Cic. l.c. on v. 1) was known about the time of Pythagoras, whether established by him or by Parmenides, and is freqaently alluded to by the Romans; cf Varr. RR 3.5.17stella Lucifer interdiu, noctu Hesperus” ; Cir. 350 [ignem] quem pavidae alternis fugitant optantque puellae (Hesperium vitant, optant ardescere Eoum); Cinna Zmyrna (ap. Serv. on Verg. G. 1.288) te matutinus flentem conspexit Eous, et flentem paulo vidit post Hesperus idem: also

Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
For what is one.

Tennyson In Mem. 121

[34] saepe: modifying comprendis.

[35] comprendis: if the thefts were furtivi amores, deprendis would be the more natural term, but the prime reference in fures is the patent one, and Hesperus acts as constable.

[35] eosdem: to correspond to v. 34 idem.

[36] ficto questu: cf. Catul. 66.16falsis lacrimulis” .

[37] requirunt: as if filled with longing for the return of what was once offered and rejected; cf. Catul. 8.13.

[39] ut flos: etc. the comparison of blooming maidenhood to a flowering plant is a favorite one; cf. Catul. 61.22n. Ellis cites the fuller imitation of this passage by Ben Jonson in The Barriers, and by Robert Browning Ring and Book 3.233ff.

[40] convulsus: the feelings of the maidens lead them to use a word implying more than ordinary violence (cf. Catul. 64.40), while in Catul. 11.24, for a different reason, the lightest possible word is used of the action of the plough upon a tender plant.

[41] mulcent aurae: on the generative and nourishing power of the breezes cf. Catul. 64.90, Catul. 64.282; Lucr. 1.11reserata viget genitabilis aura Favoni” ; Hor. Carm. 1.22.17nulla arbor aestiva recreatur aura” ; Prop. 4.7.60mulcet ubi Elysias aura beata rosas” ; Ov. Met. 1.107ver erat aeternum, placidique tepentibus auris mulcebant zephyri natos sine semine flores” ; Ov. Fast. 5.209est mihi fecundus hortusaura fovet.” —The exact correspondence of v. 42 to v. 41 as of v. 44 to v. 43 (quemillum; idem cumillum), and comparison with the next strophe, where v. 53 hanc follows immediately upon vv. 49-52 ut vidua vitiscontingit, make it unreasonable to suppose a lacuna of one verse after v. 41, as required by a fictitious theory of precise correspondence in the number of verses between this and the following strophe.

[42] Imitated by Ovid in Ov. Met. 3.353multi illum iuvenes, multae cupiere puellae.

[43] idem: subject of defloruit; cf. Catul. 22.3n. idem.

[43] tenui carptus ungui: cf. Verg. A. 11.68virgineo demessum pollice florem” ; Prop. 1.20.39decerpens tenero pueriliter ungui florem” ; Ov. Her. 4.30tenui primam delegere ungue rosam” .

[45] dumdam: Quintilian explains as follows (Quint. Inst. 9.3.16):Catullus in Epittalamiodumest,’ cum prius dum significet quoad, sequens usque eo” . In illustration of his view might be cited Pl. Truc. 232dum habeat dum (MSS. tum) amet; ubi nil habeat, alium quaestum coepiat” (cf. Haupt Opusc. 2. p. 473). But comparison with v. 56 indicates that Quintilian misunderstood the meaning of Catullus as much as did the less learned emendators of V and T, who changed the second dum to tum. The two dum-clauses are not correlative, but coordinate, both modifying sic virgo (sc. est), while sic is emphatic, referring to v. 42. Thus v. 45 corresponds alone to vv. 39-42, while vv. 46-47 correspond to vv. 43f.

[45] intacta: cf. Catul. 34.2n.integri.

[45] cara suis: the maidens use the second dum-clause as a sort of definition of the first, and so indicate their belief in the dependence of family and friendly affection upon the virginity of its object. The sentiment is more definitely declared in vv. 46-47. Observe the neat way in which the youths in vv. 46f. repeat after the maidens the first dum-clause, but define it very differently by the second.

[46] The fierce virginity of the chorus views even marriage as a compromise of chastity.

[46] castum florem: = castitatis florem; cf. Cic. Balb. 6.15ipsum florem dignitatis infringere” ; and cf. the indication of chastity as the crowning virtue in the familiar euphemism flos aetatis (Liv. 21.2.3; Suet. Iul. 49)

[47] iucunda: with substantially the same meaning as the following cara; cf. Catul. 14.2n.

[49] vidua: (= caelebs) unwed, i.e. not trained upon a tree; more frequently used of trees themselves; cf. Hor. Carm. 4.5.30vitem viduas ducit ad arbores” ; Mart. 3.58.3vidua platano” ; Juv. 8.78stratus humi palmes viduas desiderat ulmos” ; Hor. Carm. 2.15.4platanus caelebs” .

[49] nudo: i.e. bare of trees; cf. Ov. Trist. 3.10.75aspiceres nudos sine fronde, sine arbore campos.

[50] mitem: ripe; cf. Verg. G. 1.448heu male tum mitis defendet pampinus uvas.

[51] prono pondere: cf. Cir. 26prono gravidum provexit pondere currum” ; Val. Fl. 3.564detrahit; adiutae prono nam pondere vires” .

[52] iam iam: cf. Verg. A. 2.530iam iamque manu tenet et premit hasta” ; Hor. Epod. 2.68iam iam futurus rusticus” .

[52] contingit radice flagellum: a peculiar inversion for contingit radicem flagello.

[52] flagellum: a young vine-shoot; cf. Varr. RR 1.31.3vitem, quam vocant minorem flagellum, maiorem et iam unde uvae nascuntur palmam” .

[53] accoluere iuvenci: of ‘cultivating’ between the rows of vines; cf. Varr. R. R. 1.8.5[vineae] intervalla pedamentorum qua boves iuncti arare possint.

[54] ulmo: cf. v. 49 n. vidua. The elm is most frequently mentioned by the poets as the tree on which the vine is trained; cf. Hor. Ep. 1.16.3amicta vitibus ulmo” ; Verg. G. 1.2 ulmis adiungere vites; Ov. Am. 2.16.41 ulmus amat vitem, vitis non deserit ulmum; Calp. Buc. 2.59inter pampineas ulmos” .

[54] marito: with the figure cf. ll. cc. and Cato RR 32arbores facito uti bene maritae sint” . Catullus apparently uses the masculine (as appositive) instead of the concordant feminine for the sake of the figure.

[56] dum … dum: cf. v. 45 n.

[57] par conubium: i.e. a marriage with one of equal station; cf. Ov. Her. 9.32siqua voles apte nubere, nube pari” . On the synaeresis see Intr. 86c.

[58] magis: the comparison is not with reference to her husband's love for her, but to her condition before marriage (v. 45 sic); she has gained affection instead of losing it, for a husband is better than a friend, and there is no danger of her presence becoming irksome to her father (who desires to see his daughters settled in marriage; cf. Catul. 61.51ff.; Catul. 66.15ff.).

[59] et: connecting the general expression of approval of marriage with its application to this specific tase.

[63] tertia: cf. Lucilius (on Virtus) commoda patriae prima putare deinde parentum, tertia iam nostra.

[64] noli pugnare duobus: Passerat cites the proverbial Platonic expressions from Plat. Laws 11.919bπρὸς δύο μάχεσθαι και ἐναντία χαλεπόν” . Plat. Phaed. 89cπρὸς δύο λέγεται οὐδ᾽ Ἡρακλῆς ” Catullus is the first to use pugnare with a dative, but he is followed by the later poets, who admit the same construction with other verbs of contest (cf. Gr. μάχεσθαί τινι); cf. Verg. A. 4.38placitone etiam pugnabis amori?Hor. Epod. 2.18desinet imparibus certare” .

[65] genero: used by anticipation, as v. 28 viri; Catul. 64.328maritis” .

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  • Commentary references from this page (52):
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