previous next

An address to Ortalus accompanying a translation from Callimachus (which is quite possibly Catul. 66.1ff.), and explaining that it is sent instead of an original poem because the death of the poet's brother has made all poetic composition impossible for him; cf. in general Catul. 68a, and with the lament Catul. 68.20ff. and Catul. 68.92ff. Date of composition, about 59 B.C. (see Intr. 22). Beginning with c. 65, all the remaining poems of the liber Catulli are in the elegiac meter, which is used in none of the previous poems. See Intr. 48.

defectum: the word apparently occurs here first in this sense, and even later is more common either in the absolute use or with an ablative of specification than with an ablative of means; cf. Ov. Ex Pont. 3.4.37his [incitamentis] ego defectus” ; Phaedr. 1.21.3defectus annis et desertus viribus.

[2] doctis virginibus: i.e. the Muses; cf. Ov. Art. Am. 3.411doctis Musis” ; Ov. Met. 5.255doctas sorores” .

[2] Ortale: Q. Hortensius Ortalus (see Intr. 65).

[3] Musarum fetus: cf. Cic. Tusc. 5.24.68animi fetus” .

[4] mens animi: cf. Pl. Epid. 530pavor territat mentem animi” ; Lucr. 4.755cum somnus membra profudit mens animi vigilat” .

[4] fluctuat malis: for the same figure carried a little further see Catul. 64.62curarum fluctuat undis” ; Catul. 68.3, Catul. 68.13.

[5] Lethaco gurgite: the river of forgetfulness is first mentioned by Plat. Rep. 621 C. Riese cites the (earlier) phrase of Simonides 171Λήθης δόμοι” , where the reference, however, is only to the lower world in general (cf. Hor. Carm. 4.7.27Lethaea vincula” ). Vergil (Verg. A. 6.705) describes the river as far within the lower world, Lethaeumque domos placidas qui praenatat amnem; but in Verg. Culex 215Lethaeas transnare per undas” is clearly meant, as here, the boundary-stream of Orcus, from beyond which there is no return (elsewhere the Styx); cf. Prop. 4.7.91; Tib. 3.3.10nudus Lethaea cogerer ire rate” ; Tib. 3.5.24cognoscere Lethaeam ratem.

[6] pallidulum: the diminutive of affection; the paleness is that of death.

[6] adluit unda pedem: as a general expression for crossing a river, although it strictly refers only to fording, while Lethe was crossed by boat; cf. Prop. 1.20.8sive Aniena tuos tinxerit unda pedes” .

[7] subter: the idea is closely connected with that of v. 8 obterit, crushes, the utterance of the brotherly love that shudders at the grave; contrast the familiar sit tibi terra levis.

[10] te: etc. the fresh grief of the writer carries him away from his theme into an apostrophe to his dead brother.

[10] vita amabilior: cf. Catul. 64.215n.

[14] Daulias: so the transformed Philomela (Ov. Met. 6.424 ff.) was called, according to Thuc. 2.29, from Daulis, the town of Phocis, where Tereus lived; Homer, however (Hom. Od. 19.518 ff.), represents Itylus as the only son of Zethus, king of Thebes, by Aedon, daughter of Pandareus, king of Crete, and slain unwittingly by his own mother, who was jealous of the motherhood of Niobe, and supposed herself to be killinig Niobe's eldest son.

[15] sed tamen: after the long parenthesis the poet returns to his theme, sed, as often, being resumptive.

[16] haec: probably Catul. 66.1ff. is referred to.

[16] expressa: translated; cf. Ter. Ad. 11verbum de verbo expressum extulit” .

[16] Battiadae: Callimachus, the famous Alexandrian scholar and poet at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus, was the son of a certain Battus of Cyrene, and claimed descent from the founder of that city; cf. Catul. 7.4ff n.; Catul. 116.2.

[17] credita ventis: with the figure cf. Catul. 30.10n.

[19] ut: etc. the comparison is of the irrevocable swiftness with which the apple falls and the reminders vanish.

[19] missum munere: cf. Catul. 101.8tradita munere” .

[19] sponsi: the secrecy of the gift, and the confusion of the maiden at its discovery, show that a secret lover is meant.

[19] malum: apples were proverbially the gifts of lovers; cf. the Callimachean story of Cydippe; Theocr. 3.10, et al.; Verg. Ecl. 3.71aurea mala decem misi” ; Verg. Ecl. 3.64malo me Galatea petit” ; Prop. 1.3.24nunc furtiva cavis poma dabam manibus;Petron. Frag. 33.1 Büch.aurea mala mihi, dulcis mea Marcia mittis.” Cf. also the story of Atalanta, and the explanation of the aureolum malum (Catul. 2.12) by the quotations from Vergil and Petronius

[20] procurrit: etc. Festus (p.165) refers to a proverb based on such accidents.

[20] casto: the girl is not of loose character, but a carefully trained daughter who has not learned how not to blush.

[20] gremio: the girdle around the body just below the breasts made the upper part of the robe a convenient, if not safe, receptacle for small objects.

[21] miserae oblitae: with this use of the adjective instead of the adverb misere with another adjective cf. Catul. 64.57.

[21] molli: carries still further the general impression of gentle innocence conveyed by casto, and thus emphasizes the painful blush of her embarrassment.

[22] prosilit: the girl rises respectfully as her mother enters, but hastily, because she is surprised while dreaming of her lover, and is at first oblivious of other matters; thus her sudden movement dislodges the apple.

[23] The spondaic verse well expresses the girl's dismay, which makes even the swift fall of the apple seem to occupy a life-time.

[24] huic: contrasted with v.23 illud; the eye turns from the tell-tale apple to the tell-tale face of the maiden.

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Thebes (Greece) (1)
Daulis (1)
Cyrene (Libya) (1)
Crete (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (22 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (22):
    • Homer, Odyssey, 19.518
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.29
    • Theocritus, Idylls, 3
    • Catullus, Poems, 101
    • Catullus, Poems, 116
    • Catullus, Poems, 2
    • Catullus, Poems, 64
    • Catullus, Poems, 66
    • Catullus, Poems, 68
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 5.255
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.424
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.705
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 3
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 3
    • Plautus, Epidicus, 4.1
    • Terence, The Brothers, prologue.0
    • Phaedrus, Fables, 1.21
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 4.755
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 5.24
    • Ovid, Ex Ponto, 3.4
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegies, 1.20
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegies, 1.3
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: