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A delicate foot on the well-worn threshold: paradoxical imagery in Catullus 68b.

In poem 68a Catullus tells his friend Manlius that he cannot write poetry because of the intense grief he is experiencing over the death of his brother. In 68b, on the other hand, although he is in the throes of the very same grief - to which he makes reference by repeating almost verbatim what he said in 68a (19-26 [similar to] 91-96) - the poet states that he cannot refrain from writing a poem. The poet then has captured two completely different experiences: (1) his inability to write poetry, despite his desire to honor a friend's benefaction, because of his brother's death, and (2) his inability not to write poetry, despite his brother's death, because of a friend's benefaction.(1) Throughout 68b Catullus employs phraseology and imagery that would appear to run counter to Callimachean sensitivities. As I hope to show, these phrases and images highlight a paradox that lies at the heart of this challenging poem. Before turning to 68b, a few words about 68a are in order.

Manlius wrote to Catullus asking for a poem to relieve his despondency, a state which he compares to being shipwrecked and at death's door (68a.3-4). As he tells the poet, neither Venus nor the poetry of the old writers offers him any solace (nec veterum dulci scriptorum carmine Musae / oblectant, 7-8). Unfortunately Catullus cannot oblige his troubled friend by sending him munera et Musarum et Veneris (10).(2) At first glance we are led to believe that the poet will not comply with Manlius' request, for two reasons. First, since the death of his brother the poet has lost any inclination to "play" (15-18). Given his acknowledged familiarity with Venus (17-18) - ludere in an erotic sense - and given Manlius' present request for poetry - ludere in a literary sense - Catullus would seem to say that in present circumstances he has forgone his usual erotic and literary activity.(3) One thing is clear: he is not in a state of mind to do either. As a second excuse, the poet states that he does not have with him a large supply of books (quod scriptorum non magna est copia apud me, 33); only one box of books out of many, he tells us, accompanied him (una ex multis capsula me sequitur, 36). Inasmuch as Manlius had reported that the verse of ancient writers did not offer him any pleasure in his crise d'amour, we should probably assume that he wanted modem verse (munus Musarum) which in some way was descriptive of love and/or accompanied by a lover (munus Veneris). One question arises that I need to address, as it pertains directly to what I have to say about 68b: is 68b the poem requested by Manlius?

I would posit that Catullus did honor Manlius' request for a poem in the new style concerning love, but it is not 68b; rather, that poem is 68a. To Manlius, who has been figuratively shipwrecked (naufragum [sc. Manlium] . . . ejectum spumantibus aequoris undis, 3), Catullus sends a description of his own psychological shipwreck (accipe, quis merser fortunae fluctibus ipse, 13). Like Manlius, Catullus finds no consolation in love. Both Manlius and Catullus sleep alone (desertum in lecto caelibe, 6 [similar to] frigida deserto tepefactet membra cubili, 39). Like Manlius, Catullus is in a literary bind: the former finds no joy in the writers of old (veterum scriptorum Musae, 7), while the latter lacks a copious supply of writings (scriptorum copia, 33).(4) I suggest, therefore, that Catullus' response to his friend's request for a love poem in the modern mode as a consolation for his grief is the composition of a brand new poem in which he expresses his empathy by showing that his own situation closely parallels that of Manlius. By disclosing his own suffering, Catullus reveals that he understands all too well the torment his dear friend experiences, and that that suffering manifests itself in his similar inability to find relief in love and in verse.

The literary figure that informs this empathetic response is a recusatio, the rhetorical ploy that would seem to originate with Callimachus' refusal to write "one continuous poem in many thousands of lines about kings and heroes" and was adopted with great success by Augustan writers to honor their friends and benefactors, especially the princeps. A delicate refusal to celebrate great feats and virtues, particularly in epic, is itself a celebratory poem, or, as Cairns succinctly puts it, "the refusal is a means whereby what is refused is indirectly granted"(5) Thus in 68a Catullus' refusal is itself the amatory consolation.(6) Moreover, Catullus expresses his empathy in a way suited to the conceit employed: the statement that a lack of copia is in part a rationale for the refusal well suits a poem conceived and articulated in the Callimachean mode.(7)

Non possum reticere (68b.41). With these words Catullus introduces the very next poem.(8) It would be difficult to imagine any words more contrary to the sentiment expressed in the previous poem.(9) Whereas reticence was an appropriate response to Manlius' plight, Allius' benefaction was such that it prompts an exuberant expression of the poet's gratitude. This striking contrast provides us with the first indication that what follows in the poem will be a mirror image of the previous piece.

The poem begins with a request to the Muses that they report to many thousands (that is, of readers) Allius' great favor which Catullus will proceed to tell: sed dicam vobis, vos porro dicite multis / milibus (45-46). For a poet supposedly inspired by Callimachean poetics, the request seems odd; the truly doctus poeta would hardly want to see his subtle poetry in the hands of the masses, the illepidi lectores, who could not appreciate the sophistication of his verse. Another detail calls attention to the unusual nature of this request: not only is the scenario that Catullus envisages the opposite of the one imagined by Callimachus in Aetia (there the poet receives his poetry from the Muses; here Catullus provides the Muses with what they are to sing), but the unorthodox solicitation would appear to have a particular Callimachean line in mind: eipe, thee, su mev ammiv, ego d' eteooisv aeiso (H. 3.186).(10) Moreover, given the decidedly anti-Callimachean tenor of these opening lines and the specific inversion of H. 3.186, the words multis milibus might also look to a particular text. The words call to mind the phrase ev rollaiz khiliasiv at Aetia 1.3 Pf., a recollection fostered by the ellipsis of aliis, or some other similar word, in the Catullan phrase. The poet would almost seem to have "contaminated" the two Callimachean lines. (Roughly speaking, "You sing to me, goddess, and I shall sing to others" and "I have not sung in many thousands of lines" come out in Catullus' version as "I shall sing to you and you in turn sing to thousands of others.") Be that as it may, it seems sufficiently clear that in the opening words and the inverted invocation to the Muses, Catullus establishes a mood that contrasts sharply not only with the previous poem but with Callimachean restraint and exclusivity in general.

Other possible inversions of the Callimachean aesthetic emerge once we recognize that many of the images used by the poet in this section of the poem have been applied elsewhere to modes of poetic discourse. Catullus prays that the poem he dedicates to Allius not sit in some corner covered with cobwebs:

nec tenuem texens sublimis aranea telam in deserto Alii nomine opus faciat. (49-50)

The immediate sense of the prayer is a wish that a spider, hanging in the air, not spin a web on Allius' name.(11) The image conjures up a statue or bust identified by a titulus. Yet the wording, on closer analysis, reflects the basic tenor of the opening lines. Poliakoff has recently observed that these lines carry a programmatic sense.(12) Tenuis, he points out, is well known as a Roman equivalent of the Callimachean shibboleth lertoz, and the weaving of a spider is a clear symbol for poetic composition (he cites Culex 1-3). I would add two additional points that support an appeal to its secondary meaning here. First, Tenuis and its derivatives were employed as early as the 50s as literary terms describing a mode of composition (cf., Cic. De Inv. 2.51, De Orat. 3.212; for later instances cf. Brut. 64; Or. 29).(13) Second, and more to the point, Catullus used the adjective tenuis to translate lertoz at 51.9, as Newman has recently noted.(14) What led Poliakoff to his observation was that line 49 is one of the very few instances in which Catullus, contrary to his practice in 64 and in the other neoteric elegiacs, violates Hermann's Bridge.(15) From the use of tenuis and the metrical violation he drew the following conclusion: "Catullus' violation of Hermann's Bridge is not a sign of roughness, rather it is a sign of his intense awareness of his poetic program." I agree, but for different reasons. Whereas Poliakoff believes that Catullus is hinting at the kind of verse which should not be written if Allius' praise is to be lasting, I suggest that the negation of tenuis and the violation of Hermann's Bridge underscore the non-Callimachean mode that the poet assumes in this poem. Even the word sublimis is potentially significant in this context, for it too was a literary-critical term, descriptive of a grandiloquent style.(16) By praying that a lofty spider will weave a nonsubtle web on Allius' name, Catullus would appear to suggest that what Allius' munificent favor requires is not restraint, as was appropriate in the preceding poem, but the exuberance or copia that a spider, characterized as sublimis, might produce. The breaking of the metrical nicety at this point is thus itself a subtle reflection of just how unsubtle such praise should be.(17)

Catullus proceeds to describe in a series of similes what Allius' favor meant to him (51-66) and he does so in a manner that one might well call copiose.(18) He likens his passion to Aetna and the hot springs of Thermopyle. He then compares his tears of frustration to a mountain stream. In a sudden shift from himself to Allius, the distant stream becomes a river that flows through the middle of a dense population and gives refreshment to weary travelers in the heat of the day.(19) He concludes this complex sequence by comparing Allius' aid to a favorable wind that rescues sailors in distress on the high seas. Water as a symbol for poetic inspiration and the poetry it inspires is quite common. Subtle, discreet, and original poetry addressed to the doctus lector is represented as the clear spring located in a mountainous and inaccessible locale; awkward and banal poetry, the kind appreciated by the masses, is envisaged as a huge and muddy river (cf. Call. H. 2.107-12 for instances of both good and bad water sources) or a public well (cf. Ep. 28 Pf.). Catullus has combined both types of water sources in a daring fashion: the poet's tears, envisaged as a clear mountain stream (qualis in aerii perlucens vertice montis / rivus muscoso prosilit e lapide, 57-58), cascade down to the plain and become available to all (qui cum de prona praeceps est valle volutus, / per medium densi transit iter populi, 57-60). In the confluence of water sources that convey such contrary literary implications, Catullus offers a paradoxical image that captures the transformation of his personal suffering (a distant mountain stream) into a public expression of joy and gratitude (a river with easy access).

The striking combination of seemingly contradictory imagery continues in the following lines, as Catullus explains how Allius helped him:

is clausum lato patefecit limite campum, isque domum nobis isque dedit dominae, ad quam communes exerceremus amores. quo mea se molli candida diva pede intulit et trito fulgentem in limine plantain innixa arguta constituit solea . . . (67-72)

In the first line Catullus describes Allius' favor as the opening up of a closed field by means of a wide road. The closed field, though by no means a familiar symbol for verse, suggests at any rate an exclusive domain, available only to the select few. On the other hand, the wide road is a celebrated image that calls to mind the literary path Apollo enjoined Callimachus not to follow (cf. Aetia fr. 1.25-28). Moreover, the house lent by Allius is the setting where the pair celebrates communes amores. While love is an appropriate topic for Callimachean verse, the epithet does not evoke Callimachean aesthetics. For although communis at first glance might appear to mean nothing more than "mutual," in a suggestive literary context such as this the adjective can assume a secondary sense, much as demosia in Callimachus' Epigram 28.4.(20)

The third juxtaposition of contrasting imagery is even more striking. At the moment when Lesbia enters Allius' house,(21) she is said to set her foot trito in limine. This phrase, like lato limine above, also evokes the well-worn path so vigorously avoided by poets writing in a Callimachean tradition. Yet while the threshold that Lesbia crosses over is tritum, her foot is described as mollis and her shoe as arguta (7072). Both words are positive, when used of poetic composition. Mollis was later used by the Augustan elegists to describe their delicate (Callimachean) love poetry, often in contrast to epic verse.(22) Although it would be unduly optimistic to argue on the basis of this poem alone that poets were already using mollis in this quasi-technical sense in the 50s, the adjective was nonetheless applied at that time by Cicero to a smooth and delicate style of oratory (De Orat. 2.95, written in 55; cf. Brut. 38, Orat. 40) and even of poetry (O poema tenerum et moratum atque molle, De Div. 1.66).(23) Even more significantly, the word that it modifies has an obvious poetic resonance: as Hinds notes, "Few word-plays are more familiar in Latin poetry than the one between the bodily and metrical senses of the word pes."(24) Argutus too - with its connotation of thinness - is applied favorably to both musical animals (s.v. OLD la, TLL IA1) and instruments (s.v. OLD 1c, TLL IA3a) as well as to poets (s.v. OLD 2, TLL IA1); in particular, it is used of the cicada (e.g., Culex 153), with whose shrill sound and ambrosial diet Callimachus associated himself (cf. Aetia fr. 1.29-36 pf.).(25) In sum, the picture of Lesbia, whose foot is mollis and whose shoe is arguta, stepping on a tritum limen leading to a trysting place opened by a wide path, where "common" love is celebrated, is of a piece with the discordant imagery seen thus far in the poem - lofty spiders spinning nondelicate webs, and mountain streams that course through the middle of a valley.

Lesbia's crossing of the threshold turns the poet's mind to the tragic marriage of Laodamia and Protesilaus (73ff.). We thus turn from panegyric to myth. In brief, Laodamia did not offer a sacrifice to the gods prior to their wedding. As a result, after only one year of marriage her husband left for Troy and was killed as soon as he disembarked. Never afterwards was she able to satisfy her longing for Protesilaus. The story as told contains elements that reveal a similar contrast of excess and restraint reflected in the imagery seen thus far. Following the loss of Protesilaus, the Thessalian bride falls into a chasm of longing as large as the trench excavated by Hercules to drain the marshes around the town of Pheneus in Arcadia (107-18). Through this simile Catullus draws our attention to a less than famous parergon of Hercules. This recherche heroic achievement, we are told, was one of a series of deeds leading to the increase in the number of gods (pluribus ut caeli tereretur ianua divis, 115) which resulted in his marriage to Hebe - a feature of Herculean legend in keeping with the theme of the second half of the poem, marriage. The comparison between the two abysses not only provides a heroic contrast to Laodamia's love(26) but also expands upon the theme of enormity in two ways. First, there are now more gods as a result of Hercules' feat. Second, the locus of the suicide turns out to be a foil for Laodamia's passion: her love for Protesilaus is even bigger than the chasm excavated by Hercules (sed tuus altus amor barathro fuit altior illo, 117).(27)

Let us for the moment defer discussion of the central element in this story of Laodamia and Protesilaus - the poet's lament for his brother who died at Troy - and note that the tale concludes with two further comparisons. First, Laodamia's love for Protesilaus is likened to that of a grandfather whose only daughter gives birth to an heir to his property; secondly, her appetite for kisses is equated with that of the female dove (119-28). The second of these comparisons involves a quantitative point. Laodamia's appetite for kissing exceeds that of the dove, which is believed to be more wanton in this activity than a promiscuous (multivola, 128) woman.(28) Catullus concludes that Laodamia's passion surpassed the magnos furores of both the grandfather and the dove (129-30). In short, the poet envisages her passion for Protesilaus as something enormous, and he tries to capture this enormity in three disparate images: a Herculean trench, a grandfather's feeling for the heir who keeps his wealth within the family, and the dove's appetite for kisses.

The imagery used in qualifying Laodamia's passion, however, sharply contrasts with the event and the accompanying image that initiated the tragic sequence featured in the digression: Laodamia was punished by the Parcae because she withheld sacrificial blood from a ieiuna ara. The enormity of her passion thus results from her failure to express fully her gratitude for her marriage.(29) As it happens, ieiunus was a contemporary literary critical term for a thin style (cf. Cic. De Orat. 1.218).(30) Thus, the ieiuna ara at which Laodamia does not offer sacrifice could well be seen as emblematic of her unwillingness to express gratitude for her marriage to Protesilaus. In this, she differs markedly from Catullus. In the opening section of the poem, the poet employs imagery that underscores his desire to broadcast his exuberant (non-tenuis, sublimis, etc.) gratitude for Allius because it was he who enabled him to satisfy his frustrated passion in a rendezvous with Lesbia. Laodamia, on the other hand, while similar to Catullus in being flagrans amore (73; cf. 53), expressed insufficient (ieiunus) gratitude to the gods for her marriage, and as a result she conceived a passion that, reaching epic proportions, she was never able to satisfy. In the third and final section of the poem we observe that Catullus has both offered unrestrained thanks to Allius and learned how to control and thus find satisfaction in his torrid passion.(31)

Once Catullus leaves the mythological exemplum, he returns to his own relationship and describes how he has reevaluated it. First, he admits that Lesbia has not been faithful. Yet he can now accept this fact by evoking a quantitative contrast in Lesbia's favor: although she has indeed had escapades with other men, described as rara furta (136), these pale in number with the plurima furta of the omnivolus Jupiter (140). A second quantitative contrast brings to a conclusion what Catullus has to say in the poem about his affair with Lesbia. He states that it will be sufficient if she will mark her select days with him as better than those spent with others:

quare illud satis est, si nobis is datur unis quem lapide ilia dies candidiore notat. (147-48)

These lines entail a subtle comparison between his now realistic expectations with regard to Lesbia and Laodamia's uncontrollable passion for Protesilaus. Laodamia did not satisfy (saturasset, 83) her love for Protesilaus even though they spent long nights together for a whole year. Catullus states that he will find satisfaction (satis, 147) from the knowledge that Lesbia will prefer that day she has with him - and the implication is that there will not be many - to those spent with others. He is satisfied with the limitations of his relationship, with the furtiva munuscula (145) he now enjoys, especially as Lesbia finds them superior to her other liaisons.

Following the acceptance of restraint, Catullus returns to his unbounded gratitude for Allius' many favors (pro multis . . . officiis, 150). While he now appreciates those few special days with his beloved (illa dies, 148), on the other hand no day will find Allius' name encrusted with the rust of forgetfulness (illa dies, 152).(32) This point recalls his earlier prayer that spiders not weave their webs on Allius' name. Even the manner of expression parallels the spider image: the "very prosaic line" (Fordyce) haec atque ilia dies atque alia atque alia (152) recalls the metrically infelicitous line 48 and playfully suggests that Allius' name will be repeated over and over each day.(33) Moreover, the copia that characterizes this line continues to the end of the poem as Catullus makes a series of wishes marked by polysyndeton and an abundance of relative clauses:

sitis felices et tu simul et tua vita, et domus (ipsa) in qua lusimus et domina,(34) et qui principio nobis [dagger]terram dedit aufert[dagger], a quo sunt primo omnia nata bona, et longe ante omnes mihi quae me carior ipso est, lux mea, qua viva vivere dulce mihi est. (155-60)

The poem thus concludes with the same exuberance with which it began. Moreover, this catalogue of beloved people suggests to me that lines 157-58, regardless of whom they refer to,(35) belong in the order preserved by the manuscripts. They suit the copia that characterizes Catullus' gratitude and is a central theme of the poem.(36)

I return now to the very center of the poem, the pathetic recollection of the death of the poet's brother (89-100). The remembrance of this personal tragedy serves two important purposes, both outside and inside the limits of the poem. First, these lines are a slightly longer adaptation of 68a.20-26 and as such invite comparison between the companion pieces. From a sequential reading of 68a and 68b we can infer that Catullus' gratitude to Allius is so great that, despite his brother's death and its devastating effect, the poet, normally restrained as he shows us in 68a, now feels compelled to let out all the stops. This is high tribute to a friend and his favor. Second, comparison with Laodamia establishes an intimate bond between Catullus' love for Lesbia and his grief at the death of his brother. While the heroine's love for her ill-fated husband is the mythic analogue for Catullus' love of Lesbia, Laodamia's loss of Protesilaus at Troy parallels the loss that Catullus experiences at the death of his brother in the same locale. As we have seen, Laodamia's love for Protesilaus was excessive, whereas Catullus' acceptance of Lesbia's few infidelities was restrained. A comparable inverse relationship can now be seen between the ways in which Laodamia and Catullus responded to the deaths of their loved ones at Troy. Laodamia ultimately kills herself, a fate hinted at in line 84, because her boundless passion will remain forever unfulfilled. But Catullus is able to find life after the loss of his brother not only livable, but even sweet within the recognized limitations of his relationship with Lesbia. It is no wonder then that he refers to Lesbia as his salvation:

et longe ante omnes mihi quae me carior ipso est, lux mea, qua viva vivere dulce mihi est.(37) (159-60)

Poems 68a and 68b thus capture the remarkable transition in the poet from despair to hope. The gratitude Catullus feels for Allius derives not merely from the loan of a trysting place, but rather from what this place has done for Catullus: the juxtaposition of these two poems suggest that not even the death of his brother, which restrained the poet's urge to compose in 68a, can keep him from writing an uncharacteristically effusive poem.

Poem 68b entails the fascinating paradox that poetic exuberance emanates not merely from a timely favor but, more significantly, from the poet's newly found restraint that was ultimately reached in his encounter with Lesbia. This paradox is elegantly captured in the poem's striking imagery and the aesthetic tension that it suggests. In this way, the poet's enthusiasm for his salvation is appropriately envisaged as a nonsubtle web spun by a lofty spider. The river that is available for many thousands can be seen to originate in the distant mountain stream. The house where Catullus meets Lesbia, for him prior to Allius' favor a closed field, has now been opened by a wide path where we can contemplate the image that so perfectly captures the essence of this poem - a delicate foot upon a well-worn threshold.(38)



Assuming that Catullus arranged the poems as we have them,(39) I would like to address briefly the correspondence that exists between two pairs of poems: 65-66 and 68a-68b. Like 68a, 65 is an epistolary poem at the heart of which lies a recusatio,(40) but there is a significant difference. Catullus sends Hortalus, who like Manlius had requested some poetry, a completed poem: his translation of Callimachus' Lock of Berenice (sed tamen in tantis maeroribus, Hortale, mitto / haec expressa tibi carmina Battiadae 65.15-16), which follows in the collection as it comes down to us. On the other hand, in 68a Catullus explicitly tells his friend Manlius that he will not send him the requested poetry; that is, he will not send him a separate poem that is to constitute the munus Musarum (and/or munus Veneris) sought by Manlius (ignosces igitur si, quae mihi luctus ademit, / haec tibi non tribuo munera, cum nequeo, 31-32). What follows in the collection is a poem that appears to strike a pointedly anti-Callimachean pose. Such studied corresponsion and contrast in the Catullan corpus should not be surprising in poetry which looks to Callimachus as its literary model - or foil. Aetia in particular is a poem characterized by its correspondences and contrasts as much as it is by its aetiology and erudition. The fragmentary remains give strong evidence of the poem's balanced arrangement of thematically related episodes and, in some instances, of antithetical stories set side by side. I would add that even the witty assumption of an anti-Callimachean stance, as we have seen in 68b, is itself Callimachean: in doing this Catullus assumes for himself the same iconoclastic independence that characterizes Callimachus' self-conscious distancing from his classical models and his innovative contrasting of several registers in a single poem.(41)

1 I begin from the assumption that 68a and 68b are distinct poems, as the different structures, styles, and themes suggest: on 68a see Skinner, "The Unity of Catullus 68"; on 68b see Fordyce, Catullus 344; Witke, Enarratio Catulliana 31; Wiseman, Cinna 70-76; Traill, "Ring Composition"; cf. Hubbard, "Text as Self-Demystification" 37-49; on styles see Ross, Style and Tradition 120-21. The corresponsion between poems 65-66 and 68a-68b that would result from distinguishing these two poems provides another rationale for this arrangement; cf. Dettmer, "Catullan Corpus," and the Appendix, below. Since we are dealing with separate poems, I follow Wiseman (Cinna 88-90) in calling the addressee of 68a Manlius, and that of 68b Allius - pace Newman (Roman Catullus 228-45), who reads 68 as one poem addressed to Manlius Tarquatus, the addressee of 61.

2 The poet is annoyingly vague. For recent attempts to identify the referents, see, e.g., Woodman, "A Reading of 68a"; Hubbard, "Text as Self-Demystification" 39-40; Forsyth, "Muneraque et Musarum"; Powell, "Two Notes."

3 Erotic sense: cf. Cat. 17.17; OLD s.v. ludo 4; TLL IA1be; see also Forsyth, "Muneraque et Musarum" 179. Literary sense: see Cat. 50; OLD s.v. ludo 8a; TLL IA2b.

4 The age-old question whether scriptorum refers to scriptores (see, e.g., Fordyce, Catullus ad 33; Yardley, "Copia Scriptorum") or to scripta (as Quinn, Catullus ad 33; Sandy, "Indebtedness") need not be answered here. No matter how one interprets the word in this context, it refers to completed works, and the main point is after all the amount of them, whatever they are.

5 Cairns, Tibullus 164; see also Williams, Tradition 46-47. The earliest example of this conceit among the Augustan writers is Verg. Ecl. 6.1-12, honoring Varus. Other examples involving the princeps or his associates include Hor. S. 2.1, Carm. 1.6, 2.12, 4.15; Prop 2.1, 3.9.

6 To anticipate an objection, even if Woodman ("A Reading of 68a") is correct in identifying the munera Musarum as a poetry book and not an individual poem, this does not invalidate my suggestion, since refusals of epics are often expressed in nonepic forms. Manlius asks for poetry, and he gets a poem on Catullus' terms.

7 The degree to which Catullus has personalized the recusatio poem is also very Callimachean; cf. Cameron, "Genre and Style."

8 This phrase provides another reason for seeing 68b as a new poem: cf. Milanese, "Non possum reticere," who shows that on comparison with other poems (esp. Tib. 1.8.1-2), the sentiment expressed in these words is an appropriate beginning for a poem.

9 Edwards ("Theology of Catullus 68b" 80) nicely summarizes the irreconcilable nature of these two poems. Moreover, as Catherine Connors has pointed out to me, what Damon ("Poem Division") says of Ov. Am. 2.9 and 3.11 very nearly parallels Catullus' pairing of 68a and 68b.

10 Observed by King, "Catullus' Callimachean Carmina" 389.

11 Stephen Hinds points out to me that Ovid seems to have imitated these lines at Am. 1.14.7-8 (vel pede quod gracili deducit aranea filum, / cure leve deserta sub trabe nectit opus?), which might well themselves have a programmatic meaning.

12 Poliakoff, "Clumsy and Clever Spiders"; cf. Hubbard, "Text as Self-Demystification" 33.

13 The last example cited is particularly noteworthy; speaking of Pericles, Cicero says: Qui si tenui genere uteretur, numquam ab Aristophane poeta fulgere, tonare, permiscere Graeciam dictus esset. Thus thundering, envisaged as the opposite of the tenuis style, a contrast that finds its parallel in Callimachus (cf. Aetia 1.19-20 Pf.), can be found at least as early as 46 B.C. in Rome. Feeney's comments on the Arachne episode in Ovid's Metamorphoses are instructive (cf. The Gods in Epic 190-94).

14 Newman, Roman Catullus 7 n. 16.

15 See Ross, Style and Tradition 129-30.

16 Cf. Hor. Ep. 2.1.165 and Ov. Am. 1.15.23; on the latter see McKeown, Ovid: Amores 2.407-8. See also Quint. 10.66, describing Aeschylus as sublimis et gravis et grandiloquus saepe usque ad vitium. For other instances cf. OLD s.v. sublimis 7c. Although I have found no instance of this use earlier than the Augustan age, an extension of the basic meaning of the word in order to describe exuberance of style seems obvious.

17 Several other phrases in the poem reflect the "copiousness" that characterizes the poet's expression of gratitude: magis . . . atque magis (48), una atque altera rursus (82), haec atque illa dies atque alia atque alia (152), and et tu et tua vita . . . et domus . . . et qui . . . et longe . . . (155-60).

18 Feeney ("'Shall I compare thee'") offers to my mind the best analysis of the similes in this challenging poem.

19 On the psychological dimensions of the simile see Rankin, "Water and Laodamia," and Phillips, "Pattern of Images." Callimachus makes a similar point in H. 1.17-32, where a mega kheuma brings relief to Rhea, as Joy King has pointed out to me.

20 The adjective will assume yet another sense near the end of the poem as Catullus admits that Lesbia has other lovers. On communis as an anti-Callimachean term see Clauss, "Lycian Farmers" 302-3.

21 I use the name Lesbia here for convenience. The lover of course is not actually named in the poem, and Feeney, referring to her as the beloved (see "'Shall I compare thee'" n. 12), offers a compelling argument for leaving her unnamed.

22 Cf. Clauss, "Lycian Farmers" 301-2 n. 12.

23 Cf. TLL s.v. mollis IIAlae.

24 Hinds, Metamorphosis of Persephone 16.

25 See della Corte ("Arguta solea"), who convincingly argues that both the shrill sound of Lesbia's foot and her description later on in the poem (131-34) as one accompanied by Cupid, associate the poet's lover with Aphrodite and her adultery; cf. Baker, "Lesbia's Foot," and Kroll, Catullus ad 68.133. Luppino ("Echi omerici"), on the other hand, sees Lesbia's crossing of the threshold as a somewhat baroque adaptation of Iris' entrance at II. 23.201-2. For further discussion of the literary precedents of the phrase see Brenk, "Lesbia's Arguta Solea" and "Arguta Solea on the Threshold."

26 The comparison would also seem to suggest that Laodamia, like Hercules, will achieve a kind of immortality because she has fallen into a metaphorical barathrum that recalls the one through which Hercules in part made it to Olympus.

27 Cf. King, "Catullus' Callimachean Carmina" 390 n. 24.

28 Such an appetite for kisses recalls Catullus' poems 5 and 7. The latter is of particular note. Mention of Battus (7.6) calls to mind Callimachus, who claimed descent from Battus (and note that Catullus refers to Callimachus as Battiades at 65.16 and 116.2). Such a reference could be of the same nature as the anti-Callimachean pose of 68b. For in this poem Catullus avers that he wants an enormous number of kisses and in the same breath alludes to the poet known for his restraint in verse. Catullus' reference to the fascinare of the curiosi might well recall Callimachus' attack against his critics at the beginning of the Aetia, and in particular the line [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] (fr. 1.17); one thinks also of the celebrated conclusion of the Hymn to Apollo (105-112), where phthovoz argues for the mega BiBliov.

The multivola mulier, given the Callimachean subtext of the poem, might well call to mind the [GREEK TEXT OMITTED] of Ep. 28.4.

29 To a limited extent her situation recalls the punishment of Erysichthon, whose sin against Demeter resulted in his inability to satisfy his hunger, as told by Callimachus in the Hymn to Demeter.

30 For other instances see OLD s.v. ieiunus 2c; TLL s.v. ieiunus BlaB.

31 Even the Herculean comparandum seen above entails a contrast between style and content that parallels and reinforces the central paradox of the poem. While the barathrum excavated by Hercules is huge, as befits the greatest of Greek heroes, the story itself is rare and the language rarified (cf. in particular Pheneum prope Cyllenaeum, 109; and the very studied audit falsiparens Amphitryonides, 112).

32 It is noteworthy that the phrases, while in different syntactical relationships in their respective clauses, are in the same metrical sedes.

33 As Bright has suggested ("Allius and Allia").

34 In a forthcoming paper John Morgan will argue that 155-56 allude to the penultimate line of the epilogue to Aetia ([GREEK TEXT OMITTED], 112.8 Pf.). If so, the shift from salutation of the royal house of Ptolemy to the unpretentious house where he discovered satisfaction with Lesbia involves a change that is very Callimachean.

35 Various solutions have been offered: e.g., Jupiter (e.g., Pennisi, "Il carme 68" 227, followed by Vretska, "Das Problem der Einheit" 323), Eros (so Macleod, "A Use of Mythology" 86 n. 8), Catullus' brother (Kinsey, "Some Problems"), Allius (Perrotta, "L'elegia di Catullo" 146, and Coppel, Das Alliusgedicht 137), or Mallius (Natoil, "La chiave," and Levine, "Catullus c. 68" 75-77).

36 Joy King has also pointed out to me that this Catullan copia parallels the conclusion of Callimachus' hymn to Zeus (1.91-96), where the poet prays in a similarly repetitive manner.

37 The word lux carries two of its figurative senses here, both of a special person (OLD 10), already met in line 132, and of a deliverer (OLD lib).

38 I am happy to acknowledge the helpful advice and comments I received at various stages in this project from Catherine Connors, Daniel Harmon, Joy King, Michael Halleran, Stephen Hinds, Richard Thomas, and the editor of this journal.

39 The position maintained by all contributors in a recent special issue of Classical World 81 (1988), dedicated to this topic. Ferguson (Catullus 14-15) summarizes well why the present arrangement could not be by "any hack editor"; cf. also his "Arrangement of Catullus' Poems." Granarolo ("Catulle 1948-1973" 61), following Copley ("Catullus c. 1") and Wiseman (Catullan Questions 1-31), concludes: "l'antiquite n'a pas connu d'autre recueil de poesies catulliennes que celui qui nous est parvenu, et que l'ordonnateur de ce recueil, du moins pour l'essentiel, fut l'auteur de ces poesies: Catulle en personne." See also Macleod, "Catullus 116"; Forsyth, "Comments on Catullus 116"; Schmidt, "Catulls Anordnung"; Arkins, "Catulli Veronensis Liber" and "Two Notes." On a related point, although Skutsch ("Metrical Variation") has made a convincing case that 2 marked the first poem in the collection Martial knew as Passer, this does not necessitate the conclusion that 1 was inserted in its place in a posthumous edition. As it stands, 1 is a programmatic dedication that introduces a book of poetry, whose first poem begins passer. As a parallel, I would mention that Aetia was later referred to by reference to Somnium, and not the prologue, as AP 7.42 and Propertius 2.34.32 show.

40 Cf. King, "Catullus' Callimachean Carmina" 383-85.

41 Distancing: see, e.g., Bing, The Well-Read Muse, esp. 50-90. Contrasts: see Hopkinson, Hellenistic Poetry 26-84.


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Author:Clauss, James J.
Publication:American Journal of Philology
Date:Jun 22, 1995
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