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The poet, somewhat vainly, appeals to himself to return Lesbia's coldness with coldness. The puella of this poem is undoubtedly Lesbia, for of no other does Catullus speak as in v. 5 (see note), nor, indeed, as in the whole poem. Catullus had evidendy fallen in the favor of his inconstant mistress, and was ill able to put up with her coldness in a dignified manner. While, therefore, he complains of the unreasonableness of her treatment of him, he seems to have one eye open for a reconciliation. Far different is the swift and brief-worded bitterness that characterizes the poems written after he had become convinced of Lesbia's utter unworthiness. This was evidently written in the time of temporary estrangement which was ended by the voluntary act of Lesbia (cf. Catul. 37.1ff., Catul. 107.1ff., Catul. 36.1ff., and Intr. 18f.).—Date, about 59 B.C. Meter, choliambic.

Catulle: the poet is fond of soliloquy in the form of self-address, and of speaking of himself in the third person (cf. Catul. 6.1n.); but especially noteworthy in this poem is the change from the second to the third person (v.12) and back again (v. 19).

ineptire: a colloquial word, occurring twice in Terence (Ter. Ad. 934; Ter. Phor. 420), not at all in Plautus nor in any classical writer after Catullus.

[2] perisse perditum: cf. Pl. Trin. 1026quin tu quod periit periisse ducis?

[3] candidi soles: days of good fortune and happiness; cf. Hor. Carm. 4.5.7gratior it dies et soles melius nitent;” and the opposite figure in Hor. S. 1.9.72huncine solem tam nigrum surrexe mihi !

[4] cum ventitabas: etc., not of a definite place, as into the house of Allius (cf. Catul. 68.68), but in general, when you were submitting to her rule and guidance.

[5] amata nobis: etc., cf. Catul. 37.12 and Catul. 87.1f. for the same expression of his love for Lesbia, and for similar comparisons of affection, Catul. 3.5n.

[6] ibi tum: temporal, contrasted with v. 9 nunc iam; cf. Pl. Curc. 648tum ibi nescio quis me arripit;Ter. Andr. 634ibi tum eorum impudentissuma oratiost” ; Cic. Caec. 10.27ibi tum Caecinam postulasse. Ibi” is used alone in the temporal sense in Catul. 63.4, Catul. 63.42, Catul. 63.48, Catul. 63.76; Catul. 66.33.

[6] iocosa: cf. Ov. Trist. 2.354vita verecunda est, Musa iocosa mea” .

[9] impotens: if the emendation impotens noli be correct, the adjective must mean ‘weakling,’ the prey to his own passions; different from its meaning in Catul. 4.18 and Catul. 35.12.

[10] nec quae fugit sectare: cf. Theocr. 11.75τί τὸν φεύγοντα διώκεις;” which passage Catullus may have had in mind, though in Theocritus the words retain more of their literal meaning.

[11] perfer, obdura: cf. Ov. Trist. 5.11.7perfer et obdura” ; Hor. S. 2.5.39persta atque obdura” . The asyndeton adds to the tone of rugged determination.

[14] rogaberis: as in v. 13,without the accusative of the thing desired.

[14] nulla: a somewhat colloquial and emphatic use for non; Catul. 17.20; Pl. Asin. 408is nullus venit” ; Pl. Mil. Glor. 786nam cor non potest quod nulla habet” (i.e. because she has none); Ter. Hec. 79si non quaeret, nullus dixeris” ; Cic. Verr. 2.2.43hereditas ea, quae nulla debetur.

[15] scelesta: Catullus fans his anger and waxes more indignantly reproachful, and yet so immediately runs into the details of past happiness that in spite of his vale, puella he almost seems to be wishing to tempt Lesbia back to himself. Observe also from the rhetorical questions that he has yet no notion that Lesbia's coldness to himself is connected with other intrigues.

[15] vae te: though the dative is commonly used in connection with vae (cf. Catul. 64.196n. vae miserae), yet the accusative of exclamation is sometimes found; cf. Pl. Asin. 481vae te” ; Sen. Apocol. 4vae me” .

[15] tibi manet: i.e. will from now on continue to be yours (cf. Catul. 61.229; Catul. 76.5); while te manet would mean ‘will come upon you in the future’ (cf. Prop. 3.28.58mors sua quemque manet” ) .

[17] cuius esse diceris, who will call you his own?

[18] cui labella mordebis: cf. Pl. Ps. 67teneris labellis molles morsiunculae” ; Hor. Carm. 1.13.12impressit memorem dente labris notam” ; Tib. 1.6.14quem facit impresso mutua dente Venus” .

[19] As the verses that contain the history of the past were closed by the refrain in v. 8 which repeated the opening in v. 3, so those that declare the purpose of the future close with the refrain in v. 19 in repetition of the opening in v.11.

[19] destinatus: the word first occurs here in the sense of obstinatus; it gives, as compared with obstinata of the corresponding v. 11, the same slight variety that is secured in vv. 3 and 8 by the change from quondam to vere. A similar effort after variety can be observed in other passages; cf. proponis and promittere in Catul. 109.1ff.

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  • Commentary references from this page (28):
    • Theocritus, Idylls, 11
    • Catullus, Poems, 107
    • Catullus, Poems, 109
    • Catullus, Poems, 17
    • Catullus, Poems, 35
    • Catullus, Poems, 36
    • Catullus, Poems, 37
    • Catullus, Poems, 4
    • Catullus, Poems, 61
    • Catullus, Poems, 63
    • Catullus, Poems, 66
    • Catullus, Poems, 68
    • Catullus, Poems, 76
    • Catullus, Poems, 87
    • Cicero, For Aulus Caecina, 10.27
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.2.43
    • Plautus, Curculio, 5.2
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 1.1
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 4.3
    • Horace, Satires, 1.9.72
    • Horace, Satires, 2.5.39
    • Terence, The Mother-in-Law, 1.2
    • Terence, Phormio, 2.3
    • Plautus, Asinaria, 2.4
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 3.1
    • Terence, The Brothers, 5.8
    • Terence, Andria, 4.1
    • Ovid, Tristia, 5.11
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