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Catullus calls upon the Annals of Volusius to aid him in the discharge of a vow made by Lesbia, invokes Venus to recognize the payment, and with the word throws the Annals into the fire.—The poem was evidently written ahout 59 or 58 B.C., in the short period of reconciliation after the temporary coolness marked by Catul. 8.1ff.; cf. Intr. 19f.—Meter, Phalaecean.

annales: probably chronicles in verse, after the fashion of the famous Annals of Ennius.

Volusi: cf. Intr. 75.

cacata charta: defiled sheets; the verses were so wretched that they but spoiled good paper.

[2] mea puella: i.e. Lesbia; cf. Catul. 3.3n.

[3] sanctae: divine; cf. Catul. 68.5sancta Venus” ; Catul. 64.95sancte puer [Cupido]” ; Catul. 64.298pater divum sancta cum coniuge” ; Catul. 64.268sanctis divis.

[3] Veneri Cupidinique: cf. Catul. 3.1n.

[5] truces iambos: the traditional weapons of satire since the time of Archilochus; cf. Catul. 12.10n.; Hor. Carm. 1.16.22me quoque pectoris fervor in celeres iambos misit furentem” ; Hor. AP 79Archilochum proprio rabies armavit iambo” : the poems here meant are Catul. 8.1ff. and, perhaps, Catul. 37.1ff., possibly with others not included in the final liber Catulli.

[6] electissima: choicest from their badness, the worst; with the frony of meaning cf. Catul. 33.1optime” ; Catul. 37.14boni beatique

[6] pessimi poetae: so Lesbia had in a pet called Catullus, in that he made her uncomfortable by his truces iambi; and she would, of course, dedicate to Vulcan not the bad poetry of some undetermined poetaster, but the particular verses that had stung her, which would naturally be destroyed after a reconciliation as painful memorials (cf. Hor. Carm. 1.16 on a similar occasion). Catullus now playfully ignores the real meaning of her words, and pitches upon Volusius as the pessimus poeta of his acquaintance, whose works are therefore due to Vulcan.

[7] tardipedi deo: i.e. Vulcan, who was lamed by the fall from heaven to Lemnos (Hom. Il. 1.586ff.); cf. Tib. 1.9.49illa velim rapida Volcanus carmina flamma torreat” ; Quint. 8.6.24Vulcanum pro igne vulgo audimus.

[8] infelicibus lignis: cf. Macrob. 3.20.3arbores quae inferum deorum avertentiumque in tutela sunt, eas infelices nominantquibus portenta prodigiaque mala comburi iubere oportet” ; Legg. Regg. ap. Liv. 1.26infelici arbori reste suspendito [perduellionem].

[9] hoc: sc. votum.

[9] pessima puella: spoken jestingly (cf. Catul. 55.10), but in reminiscence of the same term applied by her to him (v. 6), which he now attempts to pass on to the unfortunate Volusius.

[10] iocose lepide: Catullus asserts (of course without foundation) that the vow was made sportively in the sense in which he has just interpreted it.

[11] nunc: the moment of consummation of the vow has come, and the poet as officiating priest stands ready with the offering, and begins the final prayer.

[11] caeruleo creata ponto: by early tradition Aphrodite was born of the sea-foam: cf. Hes. Theog. 195; Anacr. 54, etc. Note the solemn effect of the manifold address, with which cf. the prayer of Chryses to Phoebus, Hom. Il. 1.37ff., etc.

[12] Idalium: a town and wooded mountain of Cyprus, whereon stood a renowned temple of Aphrodite; cf. Catul. 61.17; Catul. 64.96; Verg. A. 1.680hunc super alta Cythera aut super Idalium recondam” ; Verg. A. 1.692in altos Idaliae lucos.

[12] Urios: apparently an otherwise unknown parallel form for Urium (Ptol. 3.1.17; Strab. VI. 3.9.), the name of a town which lay at the foot of Mons Garganus in Apulia, on the bay of Urias (Mela 2.4.66). Its connection with the worship of Venus is unknown, though Ellis ascribes it to the association of this district with Diomedes (Verg. A. 8.9), who founded cities (e.g. Venusia) and temples in honor of Aphrodite (Serv. on Verg. A. 11.246).

[12] apertos, storm-beaten; Mela says the bay was pleraque asper accessu.

[13] Ancona (from the Greek form Ἀγκών): this well-known city of Picenum contained a temple of Venus Marina; cf. Juv. 4.40domum Veneris, quam Dorica sustinet Ancon.

[13] Cnidum: in this famous city at the extremity of the Cnidian Chersonese in Caria were several temples of Aphrodite, and the renowned statue of the goddess by Praxiteles.

[13] harundinosam: the reeds of Cnidus were a great article of export on account of their excellence for manufacture into paper; cf. Plin. NH 16.157; Aus. Ep. 7.49nec iam fissipedis per calami vias grassetur Cnidiae sulcus harundinis.

[14] Amathunta: a seaport town of southern Cyprus, where the Adonis cult was especially carried on; cf. Catul. 68.51duplex Amathusia” (of Venus).

[14] Golgos: this town of Cyprus held, according to Paus. 8.5.2, the oldest shrine of Aphrodite; cf. Theocr. 15.100δέσποιν᾽ Γολγώς τε καὶ Ἰδάλιον ἐφίλασας” .

[15] Durrachium: formerly called Epidamnus, a seaport in southern Illyria, and the common port of arrival and departure for the passenger traffic between Italy and the East; hence Hadriae tabernam.

[16] acceptum face: i.e. discharge the account, now that the vow is to be paid; cf. the commercial term in Cic. Rosc. Com. 1.4in codice accepti” . On face see Catul. 34.8n.

[17] Si: etc. cf. Catul. 6.2 and Catul. 10.4; if Catullus had not departed from the strict form of the vow by offering a witty equivalent for the forfeited pledge, there would be no point to the si-clause. With si in this sense, putting deferentially a fact that must be generally conceded (= si quidem), cf. Catul. 76.19.

[18] at: turning from the previous thought and beginning the final malediction, as in Catul. 3.13; Catul. 27.5; Catul. 28.14.

[18] interea: cf. Catul. 14.21n.

[19] pleni ruris: etc. cf. Catul. 22.14n.

[20] annales: etc. with the repetition of the opening verse cf. Catul. 16.1ff., Catul. 52.1ff., and Catul. 57.1ff.

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hide References (32 total)
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