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A sharp attack upon Julius Caesar for his patronage of Mamurra, with a snap at the end of the lash for Pompey, whose conduct of affairs in the city was alienating the optimates; cf. Intr. 38. The poem was written after the first invasion of Britain (cf. vv. 4, 12, 20), which took place in 55 B.C., and during the lifetime of Julia, Caesar's daughter and Pompey's wife (v. 24), whose death, in the fall of the year 54, weakened the bond between the two leaders.—Meter, pure iambic trimeter (but see note on v. 3).

The writer has before his mind the characteristics he believes Caesar to possess, as v. 10 indicates: but cf. Catul. 16.1n.

quis potest pati: cf. Catul. 42.5si pati potestis.

[3] Mamurram: perhaps with the first syllable long, as in Catul. 57.2;Hor. S. 1.5.37; Mart. 9.59.1; Mart. 10.4.11; and in several derivatives from the same stem; though this would then be the only irrational foot in this poem, if vv. 20 and 23 be emended so as to introduce none but iambic feet. On the person see Intr. 73f.

[3] quod: etc. i.e. Mamurra has already absorbed and squandered all the proceeds of former conquests of Caesar (cf. vv. 18 and 19), and now shall the present conquests go the same road?

[3] comata Gallia: i.e. Gallia transalpina, so called from the barbarian custom there prevailing of men wearing long hair; cf. Diod. 5.28; Cic. Phil. 8.9.27Galliam togatam remitto, comatam postulo” ; Plin. NH 4.105 Gallia omnis comata uno nomine appellataSuet. Iul. 22initio quidem Galliam cisalpinamaccepitmoxcomatam quoque.

[4] ultima Britannia: cf. v.12; Catul. 11.11n. Caesar took command in Gaul in 58 B.C., and the first entry into Britain was made in the summer of 55 (cf. Caes. BG 4.20ff.). On the lengthening of the final syllable before initial br, see Intr. 86g.

[5] cinaede: here probably used simply as a word of general abuse (cf. Intr. 32), though Catullus may have in mind such reports about Caesar as those set down by Suetonius in Suet. Iul. 49.

[5] Romule: Caesar is apparently so termed because of his posing as the chief man of the state domi et militiae.

[6] et ille: etc. i.e. shall he come back to Italy newly enriched from the conquests in Gaul and Britain, and carry on more insolently than ever his life of debauchery?

[6] superbus et superfluens: both adjectives refer to his wealth.

[7] perambulabit: the word is selected to suit the comparison in columbus (v. 8).

[8] columbus: etc. i.e. a favorite of Aphrodite, and so an irresistible suitor. Doves were sacred to the goddess, and drew her chariot, and Adoneus is but another form for Adonis; cf. Pl. Men. 144ubi Venus [raperet] Adoneum” ; Aus. Ep. 30.6Arabica gens [me existimant] Adoneum.

[9] The appeal is repeated from v. 5, because in vv. 3f. the reference was only to the ill-gotten wealth of Mamurra, while in vv. 6ff. it was to the expected revival of his licentious career.

[10] The verse embodies the stinging conclusion following upon the major premise implied in vv. 1-4, with 6-8, and the minor in vv. 5 and 9.

[10] impudicus: has a technical reference to cinaede.

[10] vorax: doubtless refers to gluttony and wine-bibbing, and is not used in the sense of Catul. 33.4 and Catul. 57.8, nor in that of Catul. 80.6 and Catul. 88.8; yet Suetonius (Suet. Iul. 53) reports that Caesar was abstemious in regard to food and drink.

[10] aleo: gambling had grown to be such a passion among the young Romans that it was deemed a serious vice and restrained by law; cf. Cic. Phil. 13.11.24in lustris, popinis, alea, vino tempus aetatis omne consumpsisses” ; Cic. Catil. 2.10.23in his gregibus omnes aleatores, omnes adulteri, omnes impuri impudicique versantur.

[11] eo nomine: on this account, one of the most frequent of the phrases borrowed from book-keeping. The demonstrative refers onward to the ut-clause in v. 13.

[11] imperator unice: in ironical praise; repeated in Catul. 54.7.

[12] ultima: etc. cf. v. 4 n.—Wildest rumors had long been afloat about the vast wealth to be found in the interior of Britain, and many young Roman spendthrifts had desired to join Caesar's expedition there. He actually secured nothing of value, but evidently the true news had not yet spread through Italy.

[13] ista vestra mentula: of a debauchee, as Catul. 17.21iste meus stupor” , of a dull fellow. Mamurra is of course the man referred to (cf. Catul. 94.1ff., Catul. 105.1ff., Catul. 114.1ff., Catul. 115.1ff., and Intr. 73). The possessive points to Pompey as sharing blame with Caesar in the matter; cf. also vv. 21-24.

[14] ducenties aut trecenties: Sc. centena milia sestertium, as regularly with numeral adverbs in the expression of sums of money. Ducenti as well as trecenti (on which cf. Catul. 9.2n.) is used of indefinitely large number; cf. Catul. 37.7; Hor. S. 1.10.60amet scripsisse ducentos ante cibum versus.

[14] comesset: cf. the same figure for squandering in v. 22 devorare.

[15] alid: for aliud, as Catul. 66.28alis” for alius; so Plautus, Lucretius, and others. cf. Catul. 34.8n.

[15] sinistra liberalitas: since the giving was made possible by robbery (cf. Catul. 12.1n.); see Cato's strictures (on Caesar?) in Sall. Cat. 52.11ff.quia bona aliena largiri liberalitasvocatur,” etc. The question in this verse touches upon the fitness of giving such gifts; that in the next verse upon Mamurra's fitness to receive them.

[17] cf. Catul. 41.4; Catul. 43.5..

[18] praeda Pontica: probably not that brought back by Pompey in 62 B.C. from the conquest of Mithradates, but that from the capture of Mitylene in 79 B.C., when Caesar was an officer in the army of the governor of Pontus and Bithynia. Thus early was the patrimony of Mamurra already squandered, and thus early, when gains were but small, did Caesar begin to lavish wealth upon him.

[19] Hibera: sc. praeda; when Caesar, in 61-60 B.C., governed Further Spain as propraetor.

[19] scit: is witness to; cf. Verg. A. 11.258scelerum poenas expendimus omnes; … scit triste Minervae sidus” ; Ov. Met. 12.439ast egoscit tuus hoc genitorgladium spoliantis in ima ilia demisi.

[19] aurifer Tagus: the Tagus had a reputation like that of the Pactolus; cf. Ov. Am. 1.15.34auriferi ripa a benigna Tagi” ; Mart. 10.16.4aurea divitis unda Tagi” ; Mart. 10.96.3auriferum Tagum.

[20] nunc: carrying on the series of primasecundainde tertia; reports have just arrived of the completed conquest of Gaul and of the invasion of Britain, and the same fate now threatens them that befell former conquests, —to be devoured by Mamurra.

[20] Galliae timetur et Britanniae: sc. ab incolis; cf. Sen. Med. 893iam domus tota occidit, urbi timetur.

[21] hunc malum: this rascal; cf. Catul. 64.175malus hic” ; Pl. Merc. 974ut dissimulat malus” ; Hor. S. 1.4.3siquis erat dignus describi, quod malus ac fur.

[21] fovetis: sc. Caesar and Pompey.

[21] quid hic potest nisi: etc. what is he good for except, etc.; i.e. it cannot be that you favor him because of his efficient services [Mamurra was praefectus fabrum under Caesar], for he is utterly useless except to swallow up money.

[22] uncta: cf. Catul. 10.11n.

[22] devorare: cf. v. 14 comesset; Cic. Phil 2.27.67non modo unius patrimonium sed urbes et regna devorare potuisset” ; Vulg. Marc. 12.40qui devorant” ( Matt. 23.14qui comeditis) domos viduarum.

[22] patrimonia: of the wealth that replaced the paterna bona (v. 17) first squandered.

[23] eone nomine: etc. i.e. was it for the sake of Mamurra's pockets that this last deal for the final ruin of Rome was made and cemented by a marriage? With this final appeal cf. Catul. 9.10n.

[23] urbis: etc. see Crit. App.

[24] socer generque: perhaps with a sneer at the political interests that dictated the marriage of Caesar's daughter to a man over twenty years her senior, who had lately divorced his wife on suspicion of adultery with Caesar himself. Yet the marriage had actually proved a very happy one on both sides.

[24] perdidistis omnia: the familiar cry of the optimates at this time, when they had become more estranged from their former idol, Pompey, by events following upon the famous council of the so-called triumvirs at Luca in 56 B.C., in accordance with which Pompey and Crassus were this year consuls, with the government of Spain and Syria respectively to follow, while Caesar had just had his command in Gaul extended for five years.

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    • New Testament, Matthew, 23.14
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