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A panegyric on Allius for his assistance in furthering the poet's affair with Lesbia, into characterization of whose love as like that of Laodamia the poem straightway glides, to be recalled to Allius once more only with v. 149. —The Allius addressed is otherwise unknown, though the name is found not infrequently in inscriptions; he must, however, have been a man of some position in Rome for Clodia's visits to his house (v. 68) not to arouse question. —The involution of theme, with the introduction of the Laodamia episode, itself interrupted by the lament over the death of the poet's brother is thoroughly Alexandrian. —See also introductory note to Catul. 68a.1ff.

[41] non possum reticere: the earnestness of the poet's feeling is well expressed by the abruptness of the opening, carried out by the emphatic repetition of iuverit.

[41] deae: the poem opens, in epic style, with an address to the Muses; cf. Theocr. 17 (the panegyric upon Ptolemy).

[43] ne: etc. it gives an easier passage of thought to v. 45 sed dicam to take vv. 43 and 44 as a final clause directly dependent upon non possum reticere, rather than to read with the MSS. nec and understand the clause as a parenthetical wish (for a potential subjunctive here seems impossible). With MS. nec for a genuine ne cf. v. 103; Catul. 21.13; Catul. 62.59; Catul. 99.9.

[43] fugiensaetas: the flight of time through ages of forgetfulness; cf. Catul. 64.232.

[45] porro: in time to come; cf. Catul. 45.3.

[46] anus: with the adjectival use of the word cf. Catul. 9.4n.; Catul. 78b.4; Mart. 12.4.4 [hoc te] fama fuisse loquax chartaque dicet anus; Mart. 1.39.2famaque novit anus” .

[48] magis atque magis: a frequent and classical phrase; but cf. the asyndetic form in Catul. 38.3n.; Catul. 64.274.

[49] The figure is of a forgotten memorial inscription. The spider-web as a sign of human desertion is as old as Homer; cf. Hom. Od.16.34Ὀδυσσῆος δέ που εὐνὴ χήτει ἐνευναίων κάκ᾽ ἀράχνια κεῖται ἔχουσα” ; and the reminiscence in Prop. 4.6.33putris et in vacuo texetur aranea lecto” ; also

vel pede quod gracili deducit aranea filum,
cum leve deserta sub trabe nectit opus


[51] duplex: of the twofold character of Venus as causing grief as well as joy; cf. v. 18 n.; Catul. 64.95; but the expression is sometimes understood to refer to the hermaphroditic statue of the goddess at Amathus.

[51] Amathusia: i. e. Venus; cf. Catul. 36.14n.

[52] in quo genere: after what manner.

[52] corruerit: overwhelmed; love's visit to him was with a vigorous assault that carried all defenses at once. With the active meaning of the verb cf. Lucr. 5.367quae possint forte coorta corruere hanc rerum summam” .

[53] quantum: etc. the comparison of figurative flames to the fires of Etna is not uncommon; cf. Hor. Ep. 17.30ardeo quantumnec Sicana fervida virens in Aetna flamma” ; Ov. Epist. Sapph. 12me calor Aetnaeo non minor igne tenet” .

[53] rupes: for mons, as in Catul. 61.28; cf. Grat. Cyn. 430in Trinacria rupe” .

[54] lympha: etc., the waters referred to are the hot springs that by their vicinity gave its name to the pass of Thermopylae.

[57] qualis: etc., i. e. the lover's tears ran as freely and constantly as an unfailing mountain-brook. The development of the details of the figure is but a poetical embellishment. With the figure in general cf. Hom. Il. 9.14ἵστατο δάκρυ χέων ὥς τε κρήνη μελάνυδρος” , etc.; Hom. Il.16.3; and a similar comparison of tears to melting snows in Sen. Phaedr. 389 ff.

[57] perlucens: of the thread-like sheen of a stream seen afar off on a mountain-side.

[59-61] 59-61. The stream rises among lofty mountains, finds its way down through a valley, and finally emerges from its solitudes upon the plains in the midst of the paths of a great people (v. 60), whom it furnishes with refreshment on their journeys.

[63] hic: temporal, as in Catul. 64.269.

[63] nigro turbine: cf. Verg. A.10.603torrentis aquae vel turbinis atri more furens” .

[64] lenius: etc. cf.

levis inde secunda
adspirans aura propellit carbasa flatus

Sil. Ital. 15.162

[65] Pollucis: objective genitive; cf. Verg. A. 11.4vota deum victor solvebat” ; Liv. Praef. 13cum precationibus deorum dearumque” ; and on the divinities appealed to, Catul. 4.26n.

[65] implorata: probably a nominative modifying aura (cf. Hor. Ep. 2.1.135caelestes implorat aquas docta prece blandus” ), though Nipperdey and Jordan believe it to be an ablative with prece absolute, after the analogy of Pl. Rud. 258qui sunt, qui a patrona preces mea expetessunt?Corn. Nep. Ep. Corn.non pudet te deum preces expetere?

[66] nobis: for mihi, as in vv. 68 and 156, where Lesbia (domina) is mentioned separately.

[67] clausum: etc. i.e. he gave us free course, by allowing us to meet under the protection of his roof; with the figure cf. Sen. De Ben. 1.15.2minus laxum limitem aperire” .

[68] domum dedit: with the order cf. Catul. 30.3n.

[68] dominae: i. e. Lesbia, as in v. 156 and elsewhere; the emendation appears certain for MSS. dominam (from dominē; cf. v. 73 MSS. amorem for amore).

[69] ad quam: for in qua (sc. domo); cf. Cic. Verr. 2 4.2ad aedem Felicitatis” ; Cic. Att. 12.36.2ad villam;Liv. 39.4.2ad aedem Apollinis in senatu;” and Draeger Hist. Synt.1.2 p.585.

[69] communes: i.e. shared mutually by Catullus and Lesbia; cf. Lucr. 4.1200est communis voluptas” (sc. to two lovers); Ov. Am. 2.5.31haec tibi sunt mecum, mihi sunt communia tecum” .

[70] molli: an almost formal epithet, as often.

[70] diva: only here as an appellation of a mistress, though comparisons to particular deities are not uncommon; cf. v. 133 where Lesbia is invested with the attributes of Venus.

[71] trito: a formal epithet of a threshold, as worn smooth by use; cf. the Homeric οὐδὸς ξεστός, and v. 115 tereretur.

[71] fulgentem: of the smooth, luminous skin; cf. Hom. λιπαροὶ πόδες.

[72] arguta: apparently of sound rather than of shape (cf. Catul. 6.11), but whether some omen was connected with the creaking of the sandal, or it was simply the happy presage of her coming to the eagerly listening lover, is doubtful.

[73-130] The comparison of the warmth of Lesbia's love to that of Laodamia's. The episode is thoroughly Alexandrian in its length and complexity. It seems unnecessary and unfitting after observation of other similar mythological illustrations in Catullus to suppose the comparison to extend to the details of the unrighteous beginning (vv. 75, 76) and fatal effects (vv. 85, 86) of the passion, even if Catullus could have admitted to himself such an extension of the resemblance. —Part of the story is as old as Homer (cf. Hom. Il. 11.695 ff.), though nothing is said there of the final cause of the death of Protesilaus. Euripides in his Protesilaus appears first to embody the tale of the hero's return to earth for one day in accordance with his wife's prayer (cf. also Hyg. Fab. 103, and Wordsworth Laodamia). On the subject cf. also Ov. Her. 13.

[75] inceptam frustra: i.e. his home-life was indeed begun, but was not to last; cf. Hom. Il. 2.701δόμος ἡμιτελής” .

[76] hostia: probably not with reference to a special pre-nuptial sacrifice, but to the sacrifices thought necessary before entering upon any new undertaking.

[76] caelestis eros: the lords of heaven; repeated, without distinguishing epithet, in v.78.

[77] Cf. Verg. A. 2.402heu nihil invitis fas quemquam fidere divis” .

[77] Rhamnusia virgo: cf. Catul. 64.395n.; Catul. 66.71.

[77] invitis eris: cf. Catul. 76.12dis invitis” ; Hom. Il. 12.8θεῶν ἀέκητι” , where the lack of divine favor was due solely, as here, to the omission of preliminary sacrifice (Hom. Il. 12.6).

[79] quam ieiuna, how thirstily; with the adjective in this meaning cf. Prop. 4.15.18vilem ieiunae saepe negavit aquam” .

[80] amisso: i. e. by his departure for Troy, whither he was compelled to go by the other Greeks.

[82] una atque altera hiems: i.e. winter after winter; cf. v.152.

[84] vivere: i. e. to endure life; cf. Catul. 5.1n.

[85] quod, etc., which (i. e. the final severing of the marriage bond by death) the Fates knew to be not far distant.

[85] scibant: as if the Fates were powerless to alter this decree of Necessity, and could only register it; with the form cf. Catul. 64.319custodibant” ; Catul. 84.8audibant” .

[85] abesse: the MSS. abisse can be only the perfect for the future in a definitely decided contingency, and that effect is interfered with by the occqrrence of a phrase (non longo tempore) pointing definitely to the future. With the MSS. error cf. Prop. 3.16.32 where V reads abire for abesse.

[89] Troia: the word leads the poet into a digression on his brother's death, from which he returns to the main digression with v. 101.

[89] nefas: a parenthetical exclamation, as in Verg. A. 7.73visa (nefas) longis comprendere crinibus ignem” .

[89] commune sepulcrum: so of the earth itself in Lucr. 5.259omniparens eadem rerum commune sepulcrum” ; but of a public burying-ground in Hor. S. 1.8.10hoc miserae plebi stabat commune sepulcrum” .

[90] virum et virtutum: cf. Verg. A. 1.566virtutesque virosque” .

[90] acerba: of the ‘untimely’ death of young warriors; cf. on this meaning of the word Mayor on Juv. 11.44, who gives numerous citations.

[90] cinis: funeral pyre; found only here in this sense. The noun is feminine also in the singular in Catul. 101.4 (as in Lucr. 4.926 and not infrequently in late Latin), but masculine in the plural in Catul. 68.98; cf. Non. 198[cinis] feminino apud Caesarem et Catullum et Calvum lectum est, quorum vacillat auctoritas” .

[91] quaene = quippe quae: cf. Catul. 64.180n.; Catul. 64.183.

[92-6] hei, etc. cf. vv. 20-24.

[98] compositum: in the meaning of buried the word is poetical and post-Augustan only; its next appearance is in Hor. S. 1.9.28omnes composui” .

[99] obscena: malign. The word was originally applied to things of ill omen.

[99] infelice: baleful. Elsewhere in Catullus the ablative in -i (of the simple adjective) occurs; cf. Catul. 62.30; Catul. 64.373.

[100] extremo: far distant; cf. Catul. 11.2in extremos Indos” .

[102] penetralis focos: the sacred hearths that formed the centre of the home and its life.

[103] libera: unchallenged; cf. Catul. 64. 402.

[105] quo casu: i. e. by the sudden despatch of a Greek army against Troy.

[106] vita dulcius atque anima: cf. Catul. 3.5n.

[107-134] tanto: etc. explaining vita dulcius, etc.; he was dearer to you than life; for your love was deeper than the abyss of Pheneus (vv. 109-118), and your joy in him greater (vv. 129, 130) than that of the aged grandfather in the birth of an heir (vv. 119-124), or of a dove in the endearments of her mate (vv. 125-128). And such was the joy with which Lesbia came to me (vv. 131-134).

[107] coniugium: cf. Catul. 66.28n.

[107] absorbens: etc. cf. Verg. A. 3.421[Charybdis] imo barathri ter gurgite vastos sorbet in abruptum fluctus” .

[108] barathrum: this name was sometimes applied by the Greeks to an artificial, in many cases subterranean, channel for the draining of a lake or overflowing river; cf. the emissarium of the Albam Lake.

[109] Pheneum: Pheneus was a city in northwestern Arcadia, near Mt. Cyllene. Pausanias (Paus. 8.14) mentions the ascription to Heracles of an existing outlet for the swollen waters of the neighboring river Olbios.

[111] montis medullis: cf. the more common figure in Verg. A. 3.575viscera montis” .

[112] audit = dicitur; perhaps only here in this sense with an infinitive; but cf. Grk. ἀκούειν, and Latin cluere (e.g. Lucr. 4.46imago cuiuscumque cluet de corpore fusa vagari” )

[112] falsiparens: ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, possibly suggested by Call. Hymn. Cer. 99ψευδοπάτωρ” (though in a different sense from that). Heracles was the reputed son of Amphitruo, but really the son of Zeus.

[113] Stymphalia: the place lay just to the east of Pheneus, and the destruction of the ravenous birds congregating there was the fifth of the labors imposed upon Heracles by Eurystheus, the deterioris eri (v. 116).

[113] certa sagitta: cf. Hor. Carm. 1.12.23metuende certa Phoebe sagitta” .

[114] deterioris eri: cf. the words of Heracles himself in

μάλα γὰρ πολὺ χείρονι φοτὶ
δεδμήμην, δέ μοι χαλεποὺς ἐπετέλλετ᾽ ἀέθλους


[115-118] The mighty deeds of Heracles were proving his fitness for a place among the gods and for the hand of Hebe.

[116] Hebe: called Iuventas by the earlier Romans; her marriage with Heracles is mentioned as early as Homer (Hom. Od. 11.602).

[118] qui: sc. amor.

[118] tunc: i. e. at the time of v. 107 f.

[118] indomitam: sc. prius; cf. Hor. Carm. 3.3.14tigres indocili iugum collo trahentes” : with the comparison of the maiden to an untamed heifer cf. Hor. Carm. 2.5.1nondum subacta ferre iugum valet cervice” : on the yoke of love, Hor. Carm. 3.9.17Venus diductos iugo cogit aeneo” ; Hor. Carm. 1.33.11formas atque animos sub iuga aenea saevo mittere cum ioco” ; Stat. Silv. 1.2.138thalami quamvis iuga ferre secundi saepe neget maerens” .

[119-124] With 119-124 cf. Hom. Il. 9.481καί μ᾽ ἐφίλησ᾽ ὡς εἴ τε πατὴρ ὅν παῖδα φιλήσῃ μοῦνον τηλύγετον

[119-124] confecto aetate parenti: cf. Verg. A. 4.599confectum aetate parentem” .

[120] caput: cf. Catul. 15.16n.

[121-124] The birth of an heir finally sets at naught the joy of the next-of-kin at the prospect of his own succession to the old man's wealth. By the Voconian Law (B.C. 169) no woman, not even an only daughter, could be the heir; cf. Gaius 2.274; Aug. Civ. Dei 3.21.5lata est etiam illa lex Voconia, ne quis heredem feminam faceret, nec unicam filiam” .

[121] qui: sc. nepos.

[121] inventus: sc. heres.

[122] testatas tabulas: i.e. the will, as duly signed and sealed in the presence of witnesses. After the completion of this legal form in favor of the grandson, the old man for the first time feels safe from the greedy expectations of the gentilis

[123] impia: becaase his joy was over the childlessness (save for a daughter) of a relative.

[123] derisi: as the gentilis has rejoiced over the disappointed hope of the old man, so his own disappointment now becomes the object of mockery; for a similar example see Hor. S. 2.5.55.

[123] gentilis: the next-of-kin was not even one of the nearest relatives, the order of legal heirs established in the Twelve Tables being sui heredes, agnati, gentiles.

[124] vulturium: i.e. the presumptive heir, awaiting the old man's death as a vulture circles above his expected prey; cf. Sen. Epist 95.43at hoc hereditatis causa facit: vultur est, cadaver exspectat” ; Mart. 6.62.1 and Mart. 6.62.4amisit pater unicum Salanuscuius vulturis hoc erit cadaver?” and (probably in the same sense) the reference to the corvus in Hor. S. 2.5.56.

[124] capiti: a very rare form of the ablative; see Neue Formenlehre 1.2 p.238.

[125-130] 125-130. Doves were patterns of conjugal affection and fidelity; cf. Prop. 3.15.27ff.extemplo iunctae tibi sint in amore columbae, masculus et totum femina coniugium” ; Plin. NH 10.104columbae coniugi fidem non violant communemque servant domum;” Porph. on Hor. Epod. 16.32dititur columba nulli alii concumbere quam cui se semel iunxit” .

[126] improbius: more wantonly.

[128] multivola: from the cornparison to the dove, apparently with the meaning of multa oscula volens, rather than of multos amatores volens like v. 140 omnivoli. The word occurs elsewhere only in the Vulgate (Sir. 9.3).

[131] aut nihil: etc. the theme now turns back to Lesbia, whom it left with v. 72.

[132] lux mea: cf. the same pet-name in v. 160; Tib. 4.3.15; (Sulp.)Tib. 4.12.1; Ov. Am. 1.8.23.

[133] The lover ascribes to Lesbia the attributes of Venus; cf. Hor. Carm. 1.2.33Erycina ridens, quam Iocus circum volat et Cupido” .

[133] hinc illinc: cf. Catul. 3.9n.

[134] crocina in tunica: on the less common representation of a draped Eros see Sappho Frag. 64[Ἔρωτα] ἐλθόντ᾽ ἐξ ὀράνω πορφυρίαν περθέμενον χλάμυν” ; and illustrations in Baumeister Denkmäler 1 p.498. The saffron color is chosen perhaps because it was the color of Hymen's garb also; cf. Catul. 61.8 and Catul. 61.10.

[135-136] 135-136. Catullus has apparently been informed (perhaps by Manlius; Catul. 68.27) of the other infidelities of Lesbia, but now at first is trying to compromise with his love for her by pleading that they are but few (rara), and do not indicate a settled defection from his love, since they are so carefully concealed (verecundae erae); that even Queen Juno puts up with the multitudinous wanderings of her husband, and that after all Lesbia is not his wife, and, therefore, he ought rather to be grateful for the favors he does receive than to be overjealous of others.

[136] furta: the word occurs first here in the erotic sense, but is found often in this sense in Vergil and the elegiasts; cf. however v. 145 furtiva munuscula; Catul. 7.8furtivos amores” .

[136] erae: cf. v. 68 dominae; v. 156 domina.

[140] omnivoli: i.e. omnes puellas volens; ἅπαξ λεγόμενον

[140] plurima furta: see the list in Hom. Il. 14.317ff.

[141] componier: cf. Catul. 61.42n. citarier. The very evident loss of at least two vv. between vv. 141 and 142 makes the point of v. 141 unintelligible.

[143] tamen: after all.

[143] dextra deducta paterna: not literally that the father conducted the bride in the marriage procession to the bride-groom's house, but figuratively only, in that marriages were arranged with the consent of the head of the family; cf. Catul. 62.60.

[144] Assyrio odore: cf. Catul. 6.8n.

[148] lapide candidiore: cf. Catul. 64 a.; Catul. 107.6; Hor. Carm. 1.36.10Cressa ne careat pulchra dies nota” , which Porphyno explains by saying that the Cretans were accustomed to drop a white pebble into their quivers as a memorial of a day of happiness, and a black pebble to mark a day of sorrow. Bentley on the same passage gives further citations.

[149-160] The panegyric concludes with a direct address to Allius, which some critics have taken as a distinct poem, or as a strongly marked division of c. 68 as a threefold, though single, poem.

[151] vestrum: as the name belonged, not to Allius alone, but to his family; cf. Catul. 64.160vestras sedes” .

[152] haec atque illa dies: apparently a unique expression for ‘today and tomorrow’ (i. e. the course of time). Cf. with the entire verse v. 82.

[152] alia atque alia: cf. Plin. Ep. 1.3.4reliqua rerum tuarum post te alium atque alium dominum sortientur” .

[153] huc: i.e. to this small tribute of mine.

[153] Themis: the goddess of justice, often identified with Astraea, on whom see Catul. 66.65n. virginis.

[155] sitis felices: so also with reference to a love affair in Catul. 100.8sis felix” .

[155] vita: see Catul. 45.13n., and cf. Catul. 104.1; Catul. 109.1.

[156] lusimus: cf. Catul. 17.17ludere” .

[156] domina: i. e. Lesbia; together with nos the word is the subject of lusimus; not together with tu, etc., of sitis, since the wish for Lesbia's prosperity is expressed in v. 159 f.

[157] The verse apparently refers to some person whose assistance antedated that of Allius, perhaps is that he introduced Catullus to Lesbia or to Allius.

[158] primo: on the hiatus following see Intr. 86d.

[158] omnia bona: the love of Lesbia was all in all to Catullus; cf. Catul. 77.4.

[159] longe ante omnes: sc. sit felix.

[159] me carior ipso: cf. Verg. Culex 211tua dum mihi carior ipsa vita fuit vita” ; Ov. Ex. Pont. 2.8.27per patriae nomen, quae te tibi carior ipso est;” and for similar compassons in Catullus, Catul. 3.5n.

[160] lux mea: i. e. Lesbia; cf. v. 132 n.

[160] qua viva: etc. cf. Hor. Ep. 1.5nos quibus te vita si superstite iucunda, si contra, gravis” .

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