previous next

Friends and foes.

55. A few of the persons distinguished by the love or by the hatred of Catullus may conveniently be mentioned here. Some such persons, however, as Caesar, Cicero, and Clodius, are so well known otherwise to the ordinary reader as to need no biographical notice in a work of this sort. Others, like Lesbia, nave been sufficiently noticed in previous paragraphs of this Introduction. Still others are of so little present importance, or are so little known to us outside the mention of them by Catullus, that the brief references to them in the commentary on the individual poems may suffice. The names of all these, with references to the poems in which they are addressed or mentioned, may be found in the Index of Proper Names at the end of this volume.

56. It is a temptation to identify the Alfenus to whom the remonstrance of c. 30 is addressed with P. Alfenus Varus, consul suffectus 39 B.C., especially if he, in turn, can be identified with the Alfenus Varus who protected Vergil's property at Mantua (Ecl. 1, 6, 9), who was perhaps a native of Cremona (though falsely identified by the scholiasts on Horace with Alfenus vafer of Sat. 1.3.130). For if Varus was at Cremona during the winter and spring of 55-54 B.C., while Catullus was at Verona (cf. § 40), we perhaps have a key to the difference in tone between c. 30 and c. 38. From Cornificius at Rome the poet could expect in his growing illness only written comfort, and that is all he asks. Alfenus Varus at Cremona was within easy reaching distance of Verona by a direct highway, the Via Postumia, and might have visited Catullus in person, but did not. Hence the deeper feeling of slight with which Catullus addresses him.

57. The “'Pollio frater'” of c. 12.6 is very likely the only Pollio known to us from this period, C. Asinius, Cn. f. (born 75 B.C., died 5 A.D.), who became praetor in 45 B.C. and consul in 40, in which year he gained a triumph over the Parthini. At first a Caesarian, he might have been won over to the senatorial party after Caesar's death, but finally cast in his lot with Antonius, from whom, however, he became alienated, but without entering the circle of the intimate friends of Augustus. As orator, dramatic and lyric poet, historian of the first triumvirate, and literary critic, he gained lasting fame, and is frequently quoted by succeeding writers. Among his intimate friends were Vergil and Horace; cf. Verg. Ecl. 3.84; 4; 8.6; Hor. Carm. II. 1; Sat. 1.10.42, 85.

58. Nothing further is known of the older brother of Pollio addressed in c. 12. The family of the Asinii sprang from Teate, the capital of the Marrucini, but it is doubtful whether “Marrucine” in c. 12.1 is simply a distinguishing epithet. C. Asinius Pollio is the first of the family known to bear a cognomen, and perhaps that custom was introduced in his generation, his elder brother taking the cognomen Marrucinus from the seat of the family.

59. The Caelius of c. 58 is probably identical with the Caelius of cc. 82 and 100, and with the Rufus of cc. 69 and 77 (and also cc. 73 and 59?), the names and circumstances suggesting M. Caelius Rufus, born, according to Pliny (N.H 7.165), on the same day with C. Licinius Calvus, May 28, 82 B.C. (though perhaps this date is too late, by a few years, for the birth of Caelius). Caelius is well known as an ambitious politician and an orator (Cic. Brut. 79.273; Quint. Inst. VI. 3.69; X. 1. 115; 2.25; Tac. Dial. 18, 21, 25). He was at first a partisan of the optimates; but after filling the offices of tribune (52 B.C.), quaestor, and curule aedile (50 B.C.), and contracting immense debts by his extravagant life, he became a follower of Caesar, and was by him made praetor for the year 48. But being shortly thereafter deposed for attempts at revolutionary legislation, he tried to seduce certain of Caesar's troops, and was finally killed under the walls of Thurii. He was an active and interesting correspondent of Cicero, by whom he was defended (56 B.C.) in the famous speech pro Caelio against the charge of attempted poisoning brought by Clodia (Lesbia), whose favored lover he had been. He himself appears to have broken this connection, and perhaps to have opened the eyes of Catullus to Lesbia's real character, after which the friend-ship was again cemented between him and Catullus which had been severed by their rivalry (cf. §§ 25, 26). The poems addressed to him were apparently written in about the following order: cc. 100, 82, 77, (73), 69, (59), 58

60. C. Licinius Macer Calvus, apparently the most intimate friend of Catullus, was the son of the annalist, Licinius Macer and was born May 28, 82 B.C. (cf. Plin. l.c.). He died in, or not very long before, the year 47 B.C. (cf. Cic. Fam. XV. 21.4). He was renowned as a most able and skilful orator, though of low stature (cf. 53.5; Sen. Contr. VII. 4.7; Ov. Trist. II.431), and as a writer of epic, lyric, and epigram (cf. Cic. Brut. 279, 283; Tac. Dial.18; Quint. Inst. 10.1.115; Plin. Ep. I. 16. 5; Gell. XIX. 9.7; Serv. on Verg. Ecl. 6.47; 8.4) - On account of his intimacy with Catullus and the similarity of their political principles (cf. Suet. Iul. 73) and of their writings they are often named together (cf. with above Hor. Sat. I. 10. 19, and indexes to Propertius and Ovid). The few extant fragments of his works are appended to the editions of Catullus by Lachmann and L. Muiller. The death of Quintilia, apparently from the tone of c.96 the wife of Calvus, gave occasion for one of the finest and most touching of the briefer poems of Catullus.

61. The Cornificius to whom Catullus addressed the pathetic appeal of c. 38 was a poet (cf. vv. 7 and 8), and is doubtless to be identified with the Cornificius mentioned by Ovid (Trist. II.436) in connection with other verse-writers of the period of Catullus. It is not so clear, though quite possible, that he is the Q. Cornificius to whom Cicero wrote friendly letters (Fam. XII. 17-30), dated between 45 and 43 B.C. This Cornificius was an active officer of Julius Caesar, a member of the college of augurs, and later governor of the province of Africa, which he endeavored to hold against T. Sextius, the general of the second triumvirate. His death is mentioned by Jerome under date of 41 B.C.: “Cornificius poeta a militibus desertus interiit, quos saepe fugientes 'galeatos lepores' adpellarat.Jerome If this be the friend of Catullus, he may perhaps be counted as another of the group of young writers won over by Caesar from the ranks of his political foes. His interest and activity in rhetorical studies are distinctly indicated by Cicero, and there seems to be no good reason to doubt that he is the “Cornificius rhetor” not infrequently quoted by Quintilian. With but slightly less probability may be attributed to him the work on the derivation of the names of the gods ascribed by Macrobius and Priscian to an author of his name: but the verse in criticism of a grammatical point in Vergil attributed by Cledonius (V. 43.2) to Cornificius Gallus may have been written, as some have thought, by Cornelius Gallus. Only two fragments of the verses of Cornificius have been preserved, one a hendecasyllabic (Macr. VI. 4. 12), and the other the latter part of a hexameter from his Glaucus (Macr. VI. 5. 13). They are appended by L. Müller to his edition of Catullus.

62. The Cato to whom c. 56 is addressed was probably not that pattern of ancient Roman strictness, M. Porcius Cato, later called Uticensis, but the grammarian, Valenus Cato, who was a countryman of Catullus (Suet. Gram. I i), and whose amatory poems are mentioned by Ovid (Trist. II.436) in connection with those of Cinna (cf. § 63), Cornificius (cf. § 61), and Anser.

63. C. Helvius Cinna, a companion of Catullus on the staff of Memmius (cf. c. 10.30 and § 30), whose epic poem, the Zmyrna, is praised in c. 95, was probably the Caesarian tribune mistaken for L. Cornelius Cinna, the anti-Caesarian, in the riots attending the funeral of Julius Caesar, and killed by the populace (Plut. Brut. 20, Iul.68; Suet. Iul.85; cf. Shakspere Jul. Caes.III. 3). The insignificant extant fragments of his poems are appended by L. Müller to his edition of Catullus.

64. The Cornelius of c. 1.1 seems to be Cornelius Nepos, the historian; witness Ausonius, who says

'Cui ... libellum'
Veronensis ait poeta quondam,
inventoque dedit statim Nepoti

(XXIII. 1-3)
. Nepos (circ. 94-24 B.C.) was certainly a provincial from Cisalpine Gaul ( Plin. N. H. 3.127Nepos Padi accola” ), and probably a native of Ticinum (Plin. Ep. IV. 28.1; Mommsen in Hermes III. p.62). His acquaintance with Catullus, though nothing certain can be traced concerning it was doubtless fostered by their similarity of origin (cf. § 12). Nepos was author not only of the work De Viris Illustribus, of which a part, with lives of Cato and of Atticus, is still extant, but also of other historical works (cf. c. 1.6 n.) and of poems (Plin. Ep. V. 3. 6).

65. Q. Hortensius Ortulus (114-50 B.C.), Cicero>'s greatest rival as an orator, was also somewhat of a historian (Vell. II. 16. 3), and wrote erotic poems (Ov. Trist. II.441; Plin. Ep. V. 3. 5), which the Greeks at the banquet of Antonius Julianus (Gell. XIX. 9.7) characterized as invenusta, though they admitted that Catullus and Calvus wrote some verses comparable with those of Anacreon. Presuming, perhaps, upon his own gifts as a poet, Hortensius asked Catullus for a poem (c. 65.18-19), and the poet complied with the request, though with an absence of compliment that indicates no intimate friendship with his petitioner, whose much greater age and high position gave him, however, the power to become an influential patron. That the friendship made no progress seems to be indicated by the uncomplimentary allusion to the verses of Hortensius in c. 95.3 (cf. however § 25 ad fin.).

66. The Varus of c. 10 is apparently identical with the Varus of c. 22, who is a friend of Catullus and a critic of poetry, if not a poet himself. This may well be the distinguished Quintilius Varus, the Augustan critic (Hor. AP. 438 ff.) and poet (Acro and Comm. Cruq. on l.c.). He is called a native of Cremona; and his death in 23 B.C. (according to Jerome) drew from Horace a touching address of sympathy to Vergil (Carm. 1.24). Judged from the tone of the passage in the Ars Poetica , Quintilius must have been somewhat older than Horace, while yet he could hardly have been born long, if at all, before Catullus. The attempt to identify the Varus of c. 10 and c. 2 with Alfenus Varus of c. 30 is unsatisfactory.

67. The Manlius Torquatus, whose marriage with Vinia Aurunculeia is celebrated in c. 61, was perhaps the L. Manlius Torquatus whose father was consul in 65 B.C. (cf. Hor. Carm. III.21., Epod. 13.6), and who was himself praetor in 49. He allied himself with the Pompeians, and was killed in Africa in 47 (cf. Bell. Afr. 96). In 62 B.C. Manlius prosecuted P. Cornelius Sulla on the charge of conspiracy with Catiline. Cicero and Hortensius appeared for the defence and secured an acquittal. In Cicero's speech on that occasion (Pro Sulla), and especially in his Brutus (76. 265), Manlius is highly praised.

68. A certain Veranius is mentioned in cc. 12, 28, and 47 in connection with a Fabullus, evidently an intimate friend of his, as both were of Catullus. Beside these three references to them jointly, c. 9 is addressed to Veranius alone, and c. 13 to Fabullus alone, the equal recognition thus scrupulously given them by Catullus suggesting the existence of a close bond of intimacy between the two friends. Nothing more is known of them than can be gathered from Catullus himself. Veranius has in c. 9 just returned from a residence in Spain, and in c. 12 the presence there of Fabullus also is noted. The 13th poem, too, a jesting reference to a prospective dinner offered Fabullus, appears to have been written while Fabullus was absent somewhere, or had just returned, and may well refer to the same occasion as c. 9, the different tone of the individual poems, one sportive, and one affectionate, corresponding to characteristic differences in the dispositions of the two friends. In cc. 28 and 47 Veranius and Fabullus have been away from Rome as members of the retinue of a certain Piso, a provincial governor. They returned to Rome apparently not long after the time of the return of Catullus himself from Bithynia (56 B.C.; cf. § 31 ff.).

69. If, then, there be such a connection as indicated between cc. 9 and 13, the absence in Spain cannot have been that with Piso, and must have preceded it by several years; for the reference to Lesbia in c. 13.11 clearly antedates the break of Catullus with her, and that occurred before his journey to Bithynia. But it is not incredible that two friends so intimately connected as Veranius and Fabullus should have been together on more than one journey after fortune; and the journey to Spain like the later one with Piso (cf. § 70) may well have been on the staff of a provincial governor, - probably about 60 B.C., as the reference to Lesbia indicates (cf c. 13.11 n.).

70. The Piso unfavorably commented upon in cc. 28 and 47 (cf. § 68) is probably L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, consul in 58 B.C. (the year of Cicero's exile), and in 57-55 governor of Macedonia, where he made an honorable record. After his return to Rome in 55 B.C. he attempted to reply to certain strictures of Cicero uttered in his absence, and drew down upon himself the overwhelming invective power of his adversary in the famous speech In Pisonem, in which the whole life, character, and actions of Piso were held up to undeserved obloquy.

71. The service of Catullus on the staff of C. Memmius, governor of Bithynia, has already been discussed (§ 29 ff.). Concerning Memmius himself we may add further that neither his political nor his personal character was above reproach. He was in 54 B.C. party to a most barefaced attempt to secure the consulship by bribing the consuls of that year (Cic. Att. IV. 18. 2), and was charged with the seduction of the wives of Lucullus (Cic. Att. I. 18. 3) and Pompey (Suet. Gram 14). He appears to better advantage as a scholar and the patron of literary men, especially of Lucretius, who dedicated his great poem to him. Cicero (Brut. 70.247) speaks well of his Greek scholarship, and of his ability in oratory, though blaming him for lack of application. Accused of ambitus in 53 B.C., on account of the operations of the preceding year, he went into exile in Greece (cf. Cic. Fam. XIII.1), where he died about the year 49.

72. Prominent among the invective poems of Catullus is a group directed against a certain Gellius. This comprises cc. 74, 80, 88, 89, 90, 91, 116, but the poems are not arranged in chronological order. Apparently the earliest in composition is c. 16, and the second c. 91,-- the first indicating that Catullus had tried to avert the hostility of Gellius by sending him translations from Callimachus, but declaring from that time open war, while the second asserts that Gellius had broken the bond of friendship with Catullus by becoming a lover of Lesbia. In c. 80.1 the youth of Gellius is indicated, and in all the series except c. 116 he is charged with various abhorrent crimes. The most acceptable suggestion of his identity was originally made by Pantagathus († 1578), who judged him to be that son of L. Gellius Publicola (consul 72 B.C.) who is said by Valerius Maximus (V. 9.1) to have been accused before the senate of “in novercam” (cf. c. 88.1, etc.) “commissum stuprum et parricidium cogitatum”. This younger Gellius was himself consul in 36 B.C., and his age therefore also accords with the intimations of Catullus. The patruus of c. 74 is identified by some critics with the Gellius Publicola attacked by Cicero in Pro Sestio 51. 110, while yet others have supposed, but with no sufficient reason, that this Gellius, and not the one of Valerius Maximus, is the Gellius assailed by Catullus.

73. The attacks of Catullus upon Mamurra have already been mentioned (§ 38). That he is identical with the 'Mentula' of cc. 94, 105, 114, and 115 we may be tolerably certain on noting the use of that name for Mamurra in c. 29.13, and on comparing the wealth and extravagance of the two men (cc. 114 and 115 with cc. 29, 41, and 43), their literary pretensions (c. 105 with c. 57.7), and their licentiousness (cc. 94 and 115.7-8 with cc. 29.7-8 and 57) - These latter indications, however, but support that of c. 29.13, and would not independently establish the identity.

74. A sufficient biography of Mamurra is given by Pliny (N. H. XXXVI. 6.48), who says he was an eques of Formiae and praefectus fabrum of Caesar in Gaul, and quotes Nepos as authority for the statement that Mamurra first of the Romans incrusted the entire walls of his house on the Caelian with marble, and had within it none but solid marble columns. Cicero, too, mentions Mamurra's ill-gotten wealth (Att. VII. 7.6), and in Att.XIII. 52. 1 (written in 45 B.C.) refers to the calm way in which Caesar received news of his death (so Nipperdey interprets the allusion). The connection of Mamurra with the provincial Ameana (cc. 41, 43) may be assigned to the time when he was in attendance upon Caesar in his winter journeys to the nearer province.

75. The poet Volusius of cc. 36 and 95 is probably not to be identified with Tanusius Geminus, as Muretus and other later writers would have it. The only ground for such identification is a remark made by Seneca ( Ep. 93.11annales Tanusii scis quam ponderosi sint et quid vocentur” ). But of all the names that appear in Catullus, Lesbia and Lesbius are the only ones known to be pseudonyms (for Mentula is hardly a name, but an easily recognized epithet). And the “quid vocentur” of Seneca may readily refer to some other popular characterization of the work of the annalist, and not to the “cacata charta” of c. 36.1.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 28th, 82 BC (2)
56 BC (2)
54 BC (2)
49 BC (2)
47 BC (2)
45 BC (2)
58 AD (1)
5 AD (1)
75 BC (1)
72 BC (1)
65 BC (1)
62 BC (1)
60 BC (1)
55 BC (1)
53 BC (1)
52 BC (1)
50 BC (1)
48 BC (1)
41 BC (1)
40 BC (1)
39 BC (1)
36 BC (1)
23 BC (1)
hide References (84 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (84):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 12.17
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 13.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 15.21.4
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.52.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.18.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.18.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.7.6
    • Catullus, Poems, 1
    • Catullus, Poems, 10
    • Catullus, Poems, 100
    • Catullus, Poems, 105
    • Catullus, Poems, 114
    • Catullus, Poems, 115
    • Catullus, Poems, 116
    • Catullus, Poems, 12
    • Catullus, Poems, 13
    • Catullus, Poems, 16
    • Catullus, Poems, 2
    • Catullus, Poems, 22
    • Catullus, Poems, 28
    • Catullus, Poems, 29
    • Catullus, Poems, 30
    • Catullus, Poems, 36
    • Catullus, Poems, 38
    • Catullus, Poems, 41
    • Catullus, Poems, 43
    • Catullus, Poems, 47
    • Catullus, Poems, 53
    • Catullus, Poems, 56
    • Catullus, Poems, 57
    • Catullus, Poems, 58
    • Catullus, Poems, 59
    • Catullus, Poems, 61
    • Catullus, Poems, 65
    • Catullus, Poems, 69
    • Catullus, Poems, 73
    • Catullus, Poems, 74
    • Catullus, Poems, 77
    • Catullus, Poems, 80
    • Catullus, Poems, 82
    • Catullus, Poems, 88
    • Catullus, Poems, 89
    • Catullus, Poems, 9
    • Catullus, Poems, 90
    • Catullus, Poems, 91
    • Catullus, Poems, 94
    • Catullus, Poems, 95
    • Catullus, Poems, 96
    • Cicero, For Marcus Caelius
    • Cicero, For Sulla
    • Cicero, For Sestius, 110
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 1
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 3
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 4
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 6
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 8
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 9
    • Horace, Satires, 1.10.19
    • Horace, Satires, 1.10.42
    • Horace, Satires, 1.3.130
    • Horace, Ars Poetica
    • Horace, Ars Poetica, 438
    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 18
    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 21
    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 25
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 73
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 85
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 36.6
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.18
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7.49
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 1.16.5
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 4.28.1
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 5.3.5
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 5.3.6
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 6, 3.69
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 10, 1.115
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 10, 1.25
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 19.9.7
    • Seneca, Epistulae, 93.11
    • Servius, Commentary on the Eclogues of Vergil, 6.47
    • Plutarch, Brutus, 20
    • Plutarch, Caesar, 68
    • Seneca the Elder, Controversiae, 7.4.7
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 5.9.1
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: