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On the thievery of a certain Thallus: cf. Catul. 12.1 on a similar subject.—Meter, iambic tetrameter catalectic.

Thalle: nothing further is known of him, though unsatisfactory attempts have been made to identify him with Asinius Marrucinus of Catul. 12.1, by reason of the similar charge against him, and even with Juventius, by reason of the characterization in Catul. 25.1-2. His thieving may have been carried on at the baths (cf. the Vibennius of Catul. 33.1), but to judge from the articles taken, he more probably, like Asinius and Hermogenes, found his opportunity at a dinner where he was a guest.

mollior: the traditional adjective to characterize the peculiar unmanliness here charged upon Thallus; cf. also Catul. 16.4 ; Tac. Ann. 11.2Suillio postremum mollitiam corporis obiectante.

cuniculi: the Spanish rabbit described by Martial in Mart. 13.60; cf. also Varr. R. R. 3.12.6tertii generis est, quod in Hispania nascitur, similis nostro lepori ex quadam parte, sed humilis, quem cuniculum appellant. … cuniculi dicti ab eo, quod sub terra cuniculos ipsi facere solent, ubi lateant in agris” ; Plin. N. H. 8.217. Catullus had doubtless been instructed in Spanish matters by Veranius (cf. Catul. 9.6-7).

[2] anseris medullula: the delicate inner feathers of the goose; cf. Priap. 64.: quidam mollior anseris medulla.

[2] imula auricilla: the lobe of the ear; cf. Cic. Q. Fr. 2.13.4

[2] Cic. Q. Fr. 2.13.4auricula infima molliorem” (written in June, 54 B.C.); Bücheler conjectures that Cicero copied the expression from the liber Catulli, which must, therefore, have been published before the middle of the year 54 B.C. But the comparison is of precisely the homely sort that might be proverbial; cf. for example Amm. Marc. 19.12.5ima quod aiunt auricula mollior,” where it is unsafe to judge that quod aiunt points to a proverbial comparison that spread from a mere invention of Catullus. auricilla is a diminutive from auricula, itself a diminutive, as ocellus (Catul. 3.18, etc.) from oculus. With the diminutive forms of noun and adjective in the same phrase cf. Catul. 3.18turgiduli celli;” 64.316 aridulis labellis.

[4] idem: cf. Catul. 22.3n.

[4] rapacior: indicating bold robbery; cf. Cic. Pis. 27.66olim furunculus, nunc vero etiam rapax.

[5] diva: etc. the verse is unintelligible, and no satisfactory emendation has yet been suggested. The general meaning seems to be that Thallus does his thieving boldly,—because there is nothing to fear, since he chooses an occasion when no one watches against thieves. If oscitantes be the correct reading, it must mean off their guard, rather than half-asleep, as the thefts were probably committed at dinners (see Catul. 25.1n.).

[6] pallium: a Greek garment, resembling somewhat the Roman toga, but square-cornered, freer in the arrangement of its folds, and often brightly colored.

[6] involasti: pounced upon, when the wine went round, and the pallium had been thrown back from the shoulders of the wearer; cf. Mart. 8.59.9ff.lapsa nec a cubito subducere pallia nescit, et tectus laenis saepe duabus abit.

[7] sudarium Saetabum: cf. Catul. 12.3n., Catul. 12.14n.; perhaps this was one of the set there mentioned.

[7] catagraphos Thynos: the former word is so little used as to make impossible its sure interpretation here: nor is it certain even which of the two words is noun and which is adjective. But as catagraphi is used of outline drawings (in Plin. NH 35.56), and as tablets were commonly made of box ( Prop. 4.23.8vulgari buxo sordida cera fuit” ), a Bithynian wood (cf. Catul. 4.13n.), it is quite possible that the objects referred to here were pugillares, carved or otherwise decorated on the outside, and so more valuable and tempting to a thief than was the ordinary kind. Perhaps they were a memento of the journey of Catullus himself to Bithynia. It would not be strange for the poet to bring his tablets to some dinner parties (Catul. 50.1ff.).

[7] Thynos: cf. Catul. 31.5n.

[8] inepte, stupid, in expecting te be able to escape detection while flaunting his spoils openly: by the same word Asinius is addressed in Catul. 12.4, but with a slightly different application.

[9] reglutina: as if whatever was touched by a thief's fingers stuck to them; cf. Lucil. 28.58M ff.omnia vescatis manibus leget, omnia sumet, crede mihi; presse ut dicam, res auferet omnis.

[10] laneum: a figure derived from the softness of wool; the meaning is doubtless the same as that of mollicellas, with a sneer at the unnatural mollitia of Thallus (Catul. 25.1ff.), to which the sarcastic diminutives lend effect.

[10] manus: as he tries with them to cover his back from the blows.

[11] inusta: so Horace speaks of the burning of the lash in Hor. Epod. 4.3Hibericis peruste funibus latus” ; Hor. Ep. 1.16.47habes pretium, loris non ureris.

[11] turpiter: i.e. with the punishment of a slave.

[11] conscribillent: perhaps with a play upon the word, in that the lashes threatened are really those of satiric verse (Catul. 12.10ff.; Catul. 42.1ff.; and the figure in Hor. Carm. 3.12.4patruae verbera linguae” ), and not those at the hands of the law; cf. Pl. Ps. 544ff.quasi quom in libro scribuntur calamo litterae, stilis me totum usque ulmeis conscribito.” On conscribillo beside scribo see Lachmann on Lucr. 1.360.

[12] aestues: i.e. bend into all sorts of shapes, like a school-boy flinching from the lash.

[12] velut: etc. the poem, like several others in Catullus, ends with a comparison.

[12] minuta navis: so Cic. Att. 16.1.3minuta navigia.

[13] deprensa in mari: i.e. unable to make harbor before the storm breaks; cf. Verg. A. 5.52Argolico mari deprensus” ; Hor. Carm. 2.16.1in palenti prensus Aegaeo.

[13] vesaniente vento: observe the effect of alliteration and final consonance.

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hide References (19 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (19):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 16.1.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.13.4
    • Catullus, Poems, 12
    • Catullus, Poems, 16
    • Catullus, Poems, 25
    • Catullus, Poems, 3
    • Catullus, Poems, 33
    • Catullus, Poems, 42
    • Catullus, Poems, 50
    • Catullus, Poems, 9
    • Cicero, Against Piso, 27.66
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 1.5
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.52
    • Tacitus, Annales, 11.2
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 1.360
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 35.56
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.81
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 19.12.5
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 13.60
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