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On Suffenus, a conceited and voluminous poetaster, though a good fellow in other relations.—Meter, choliambic.

Suffenus. mentioned as a bad poet in Catul. 14.19, but otherwise unknown.

Vare: probably Quintilius Varus of Cremona, mentioned also in Catul. 10.1; cf. Intr. 66.

probe nosti: apparently a colloquialism; cf. Ter. Heaut. 180hunc Menedemuni nostin?” Probe; Cic. De Or. 3.50.194Antipater, quem tu probe meministi.

[2] venustus, dicax, urbanus: see Quintilian's definition of these three qualities in Quint. 6.3.17, Quint. 6.3.18,Quint. 6.3.21; and cf. Sen. Const. Sap. 17.3

[3] idem: at the same time, notwithstanding this; to point an unexpected contrast; cf. Catul. 22.15; Catul. 25.4; Catul. 30.9; Catul. 62.43; Catul. 103.4.

[3] longe plurimos: i.e. an absolutely unprecedented number; longe is rare in the sense of multo before Cicero, but occurs frequently in his writings, and in later prose and poetry; cf. Caes. B. G. 1.2apud Helvetios longe nobilissimus fuit et ditissimus Orgetorix” ; Hor. S. 1.5.2Heliodorus, Graecorum longe doctissimus.

[4] milia: cf. Catul. 9.2n.

[4] autaut: when correlatives, usually introducing mutually exclusive alternatives, as in Catul. 12.10; Catul. 64.102; Catul. 69.9; Catul. 103.1; while only a single aut is used in the sense of “‘or even,’” as in Catul. 29.14; and this is apparently the only instance where the latter aut of two correlatives has that meaning.

[5] sic: with a strongly demonstrative force, pointing to what precedes, ‘such being the case,’ ‘though the verses are so many’; cf. Liv. 1.5.4crimini maxime dabant in Numitoris agros ab iis impetum fieri: sic ad supplicium Numitori Remus deditur.

[5] ut fit: as commonly; for mere scribbling, notes, and first drafts, wax tablets were generally used, or, especially when the writing was considerable in amount, parchment, on account of the facility with which writing on these substances could be erased. Surely the enormous amount of the verses of Suffenus must indicate that they are but a first draft, to be greatly reduced by revision, and therefore calling for the use of cheap materials. But, behold, he actually publishes them all just as they stand, and regardless of expense.

[5] palimpsesto: writing-fabric from which previous writing has been erased, from a motive of economy, to make room for later. Parchment lent itself most readily to such erasure by washing, or erosion of the surface, though palimpsests of papyrus were certainly not unknown (cf. Marquardt Privatleben der Romer p.815; Birt Antike Buchwesen pp. 57, 58, 63); but it is by no means certain that they are referred to here.

[6] relata: with especial reference to the form, as perscripta (Catul. 22.5) to the fact, of the writing. Referre commonly takes in this meanmg the accusative with in; but for the ablative with in see Cic. N. D. 1.12.29Democritus imagines earumque circuitus in deorum numero refert” ; Cic. Rosc. Com. 2.5nomen in codice accepti et expensi relatum” (edd. in codicem), and the ablative may be justified by the fact that here relata does not refer to technical entry in a book, but simply to writing in general.

[6] chartae regiae: the best quality of paper appears to have been originally so called, and later to have received successively the names hieratica and Augusta (Marquardt, p.810; Birt, p.247).

[6] noui libri: i.e. no cheap palimpsest, but the best of paper, and that brand-new, ‘new books of royal paper’; and the emphasis effected by the parathetic construction is supported by the asyndeton preserved throughout the following two verses.

[7] umbilici: the rods, tipped sometimes with bosses, on which the rolls were wound (cf. the rollers with bosses at the lower edge of modern wall-maps); the name came originally from the central position of the tip of the rod at the end of the roll.

[7] lora: probably the soft and elaborately decorated straps used instead of common cords to fasten the roll in shape when properly wound on the umbilicus.

[7] rubra membrana: the cover of brightly colored parchment in which the completed roll was enclosed for greater protection; cf. Ov. Trist. 1.1.5nec te [librum] purpureo velent vaccinia fuco” ; Tib. 3. [Lygd.]1.9lutea sed niveum involuat membrana libellum” ; Mart. 3.2.10te [libellum] purpura delicata velet” ; Mart. 10.93.4carmina purpurea culta toga.

[8] derecta plumbo: for securing greater regularity, a thin, circular plate of lead guided by a ruler was used to draw lines for the writing, and to mark off the space reseived for margins. derecta, like aequata, modifies omnia, and is written rather than directa because motion in a single, fixed direction is indicated; cf. Catul. 63.56derigere aciem” .

[8] pumice omnia aequata: the poet enumerates in detail and in logical order (chartaemembrana), as if with the author's own delight, the materials of this edition de luxe, and then sums up the particular operations upon them by mentioning the first and the last; ‘the whole thing ruled with the lead and smoothed off with the pumice.’ On the last operation cf. Catul. 1.2n.; Hor. Ep. l.20.2[liber] pumice mundus” ; Prop. 3.1.8exactus tenui pumice versus eat; Tib. 3. (Lygd.) 1.10pumicet et canas tondeat comas [libelli]” ; Ov. Trist. 1.1.11nec fragili geminae poliantur pumice frontes” ; Mart. 1.66.10-12pumicata fronte si quis est non dum, nec umbilicis cultus atque membrana, mercare” (and Mart. 1.117.16; Mart. 4.10.1; Mart. 8.72.1).

[9] legas: subjunctive of general statement (tu being unemphatic), as in Plautus and Cicero, and less commonly in other writers.

[9] bellus: apparently here with no uncomplimentary meaning; but cf. the satirical definition of a bellus homo in Mart. 3.63.

[10] unus: a mere; cf. Cic. Att. 9.10.2me haec res torquet quod non Pompeium tanquam unus manipularis secutus sim;” from this use developed the indefinite article of the Romance languages.

[11] rursus, on the contrary; cf. Catul. 67.5.

[11] abhorret ac mutat: sc. “a se”, with the absolute use cf. Cic. De Or. 2.20.85sin plane abhorrebit et erit absurdus” ; Cic. Or. 31.109an ego tragicis concederem ut crebro mutarent?

[12] modo: on the lengthening of the final syllable, see Intr. 86g.

[12] scurra: a wit, in the older English sense of a polished town gentleman as distinct from a country booby; cf. Pl. Most. 14tu, urbanus vero scurra, deliciae popli, rus mihi tu obiectas?

[13] aut si quid: cf. Catul. 13.10n.

[13] tritius: if the emendation be correct, the meaning must be ‘more polished,’ ‘more fastidious in taste’; cf. Cic. Fam. 9.16.4ut Servius facile dicerethic versus Plauti non est; hic estquod tritas aures haberet consuetudine legendi.

[14] infaceto rure: the stupid country, as contrasted with the urbanitas of the city; cf. Catul. 36.19; Plaut. Most. l.c.; Hor. Ep. 2.1.158-160grave virus munditiae pepulare, sedhodie manent vestigia ruris.” With the collocation infaceto infacetior cf. Catul. 27.4ebrioso ebriosioris” ; Catul. 39.16inepto ineptior” ; Catul. 99.2dulci dulciusCatul. 99.14tristi tristius

[15] simul: for simul ac as in Catul. 51.6; Catul. 63.27,Catul. 63.45, Catul. 64.31,Catul. 64.366, Catul. 99.7; and often in poetry

[16] aeque est: etc. with the sentiment cf. Hor.Ep. 2.2.106 ridentur mala qui componunt carmina; verum gaudent scribentes et se venerantur.

[18] Catullus falls here into an unusually reflective vein, quite in the style of Horace.

[20] attributus: i.e. in the act of creation.

[20] error: i.e. some mental idiosyncrasy.

[21] Cf. Hor. S. 2.3.299dixerit insanum qui me, totidem audiet atque respicere ignoto discet pendentia tergo;” and Porph. on the passage, “Aesopus tradit homines duas manticas habere, unani ante se, alteram retro: in priorem aliena vitia mittimus, ideo et videmus facile; in posteriorem nostra, quae abscondimus et videre nolumus. Hoc Catullus meminit.” To this Persius refers in Pers. 4.23ut nemo in sese temptat descendere, nemo, sed praecedenti spectatur mantica tergo. ” The fable of Aesop is told in Babrius 66 and Phaedrus 4.10.

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hide References (33 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (33):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 9.16.4
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 9.10.2
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.2
    • Catullus, Poems, 10
    • Catullus, Poems, 103
    • Catullus, Poems, 12
    • Catullus, Poems, 14
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    • Cicero, For Sextus Roscius of Ameria, 2.5
    • Plautus, Mostellaria, 1.1
    • Horace, Satires, 1.5.2
    • Horace, Satires, 2.3.299
    • Terence, The Self-Tormenter, 1.2
    • Phaedrus, Fables, 4.10
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    • Ovid, Tristia, 1.1
    • Persius, Saturae, 4
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 3.63
    • Cicero, Orator, 31.109
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