Why is this the first poem in the Sulpician collection? It may give the beginning of the story: Sulpicia has met someone with who she has fallen in love. But the arrangement of poems in a collection need not have anything to do with any story-lines that run through them; Catullus 11, the end of the Lesbia affair, comes before 51, the beginning. Kirby Flower Smith, in his commentary on the Tibullan corpus, speculates that this poem chronologically follows 4: Sulpicia and Cerinthus quarrel, he protests that he really does love her, and she, convinced, writes this poem.

venit: Present or perfect? How do you know?

pudori, mihi: This is the "double dative" construction. Prose equivalent: “Amor est qualis, ut fama eum texisse mihi magis pudori sit quam alicui nudasse.

[3] illum: Emphatic, he, the man she loves. We will learn in poem 2 that his name is Cerinthus.

Cytherea: Venus has this name because she was born on the island of Cythera.

Camenis: The Camenae were Italian goddesses (or perhaps nymphs) associated with music. Roman poets sometimes invoked them in contexts in which Greek poets could call upon the Muses. The most famous example is the beginning of the translation of the Odyssey by Livius Andronicus: “Virum mihi, Camena, insece versutum(fr. 1), corresponding to Homer's “ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον(1.1). Sulpicia has “Camenis” rather than “a Camenis” because she is personifying her songs: they are a means, not an active agent.

This is almost a golden line, though it is centered on a pronoun rather than a verb.

[4] nostrum sinum: Note how deposuit is placed in “nostrum sinum” just like Cerinthus in Sulpicia's “sinus”. Is “sinus” more likely to be literal or figurative here? The usual constructions would be “in sinu deponere” or “ad sinum adferre”; since Sulpicia has both verbs in this sentence, she compromises on “in sinum”. Nostrum refers to Sulpicia alone.

[5] narret, dicetur: Mixed conditional: “si quis dicetur, Venus narret”. Note indirect discourse, depending on “dicetur”, subordinate to the protasis.

quis: “aliquis”.

[7] signatis tabellis: A letter, written on wooden tablets, and sealed with sealing-wax.

[8] meus: Cerinthus again, "my guy" or "my man". A male poet can write “mea puella”, but “meus puer” would mean “meus servus”, not at all what Sulpicia wants to say.

quamante: “antequam

nenemo: Strong negation; sometimes a double negative cancels out, with an effect of litotes, for example in “non nullus”, but sometimes two negatives reinforce each other. This is not as colloquial or slangy in Latin as it would be in English.

[9] iuvat: sc. “mihi”.

vultus: Since “taedet” is usually used impersonally, “vultus” really can't be its subject. It must therefore be accusative plural, object of “componere”.

famae: Dative, not genitive. “Vultus componere famae” means “bene videri”.

[10] cum digno digna: A somewhat colloquial turn of phrase.

ferar: More likely subjunctive than future indicative.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Homer, Odyssey, 1.1
    • Catullus, Poems, 11
    • Catullus, Poems, 51
    • Sulpicia, Poems, 2
    • Sulpicia, Poems, 4
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