Catullus, C. 37, and the Theme of Magna Bella.
Salax taberna uosque contubernales, a pilleatis nona fratribus pila, soils putatis esse mentulas uobis, solis licere, quidquid cst puellarum. confutuere et putare ceteros hircos? 5 an, continenter quod sedetis insulsi centum an ducenti, non putatis ausurum me una ducentos irrumare sessores? atqui putate: namque totius uobis frontem tabernae sopionibus scribam. 10 puella nam mi, quac meo sinu fugit, amata tantum quantum amabitur nulla, pro qua mihi sunt magna bella pugnata, consedit istic. hanc boni beatique omnes amatis, et quidem, quod indignum est, 15 omnes pusilli et semitarii mocchi; lu praeter omnes une dc capillatis, cuniculosae Celtiberiac fili, Egnati, opaca quem bonum facit barba et dens Hibera defricatus urina. 20 Raunchy pub and you the regular tent-sharers, ninth pillar from the felt-capped twins, do you really think you're the only ones with pricks, that you alone can fuck your way through the supply of girls. and that the rest of us are he-goats? Or, because you morons perch in a row one or two hundred strong, do you think I'm not man enough to mouth-fuck two hundred of you bums in one hit? Well, think again because I'm going to smear filth about you all over the pub walls. For the girl who has fled from my arms, loved by me as no girl will ever be loved, for whom great wars have been fought by me, has taken her scat there. Her all you good and well-favored men love, an well as, which is shameful, all you petty, alley-lounging adulterers. You above all, "Mr. Elect" of the hairy brigade, son of Celtiberia, land of fluffy bunnies, Egnatius, whom a woolly beard has made a "good man," and teeth rubbed raw with Spanish piss. (1)
Scholars have tended to focus on the obscenity of Catullus' C. 37 for obvious reasons. This infamous indictment of Lesbia and her sexual partners was, not surprisingly, placed among C. J. Fordyce's collection of scurrilous verse unfit for classicists' consumption. In more recent times it has received attention of a more enlightened and productive kind. (2) Despite the insights offered in these later treatments, I aim here to explore further the interpretative possibilities of C. 37.
Amid the rude words and vivid imagery, Catullus has produced a poem with a distinctly Roman flavor, a poem that demonstrates his talent for creating scenes that simultaneously evoke the wider environment of late Republican Rome and his private life. (3) Such themes can be found in the attacks on the taberna and the contubernales who inhabit it, since Lesbia frequents the venue and mixes with the regulars. Catullan imitatio of Ciceronian rhetoric and allusions to the Trojan War constitute additional interpretative possibilities; they are part of the overt Roman tone, continuing and augmenting the ostensibly military theme, even while being equally applicable to the presentation of Lesbia and the poet's relationship with her.
I. Roman Reality: The "Military" Environment
C. 37 opens with the addressees: taberna and contubernales. The words are etymologically linked: contubernales ("tent-sharers," "comrades-in-arms") plays on its common origin with taberna, which was a temporary military dwelling. (4) Likewise, both words have dual meanings: taberna = military tent/tavern, and contubernales = tent-sharers/drinking-partners. (5) Catullus makes the most of his linguistic selections for, as the poem progresses, we discover that the contubernales fit only one of the two definitions of their collective title and, in fact, are the antithesis of military trainees. As we shall see, the very use of the word contubernales facilitates from the outset one of Catullus' main preoccupations in the poem, namely, the effective communication of the image of the barflies as grotesque parodies of the great men who have performed deeds on behalf of Rome.
The noun contubernales not only heralds this satiric attack; it sets the scene for the blurring of the military theme with Catullus' personal life. Contubernales groups the addressees, whom we soon discover are Lesbia's sexual partners, as an unidentified mass. Similar forms of presentation are the moechi of C. 11, the nobiles of C. 28, and the Remi nepotes of C. 58. This hostile method of portrayal is continued in 37.7 with the elliptical use of an (6) in the phrase centum an ducenti, thus accentuating the confusion as to how many men actually constitute the cohort; and again we recall the imagery of C. 28 with its collective of cohors inanis (28.1). (7) Through such attacks, Catullus builds up a contrast between himself as an isolated individual and the numerous persons who compose his rivals. As C. 37 progresses, a wider circle of sexual partners emerges, and in lines 14-17 the complete tripartite gang of contubernales is presented: a group of boni beatique (14); a less appealing mass comprised of pusilli et semitarii moechi (16); and finally Egnatius (17-20). Catullus' order of merit, interpreted hermeneutically, may well be a mock representation of the general's tent. Instead of the sons of the nobility, equites, prominent provincial leaders and client princes, we have--besides the boni beatique (14)--a group of tent-sharers consisting of petty, alley-lounging adulterers and, in Catullus' eyes, a foreigner. (8) In the upside-down world of satire, Catullus makes Egnatius a leader. We may note the cleverness of the closeness of praeter (17) and praetor, as well as une (17) with its echoing of C. 29.11 (imperator unice) and C. 54.7 (unice imperator). The expression imperator unice, which is associated with Caesar in Cc. 29 and 54, is clearly meant to be ironic, as is the use of une in connection with Egnatius. The overt military meaning in Cc. 29.11 and 54.7 enhances the martial image of Egnatius, the repulsive embodiment of everything abhorrent to the Roman mind about the military quagmire that was Spain. (9)
From the collective we move to the individual, for in such a pessimistic parody of warfare and soldiery Catullus also participates. His contribution to the war, the threats of irrumatio and graffiti, is no more heroic than the activities of the contubernales. As discussed by Marilyn B. Skinner in her analysis of sexual activity and passivity in antiquity, the Greeks and Romans regularly categorized "asymmetrical social relations in terms of gender" and used "images of sexual intercourse to articulate messages of political and financial success or failure." (10) The expression of such attitudes is exemplified in Roman satire and invective; and indeed, in C. 37, which falls into both categories, Catullus resorts to such imagery to voice personal outrage. Now if Catullus' threats of oral rape and graffiti are to be interpreted as traditional Priapic abuse, (11) the words facilitate self-empowerment and release from anxieties. (12) But when we examine Catullus' threats more closely, especially in terms of the mi litary images as they apply to the contubernales, his Priapic stance is diminished. In combating the contubernales, those embarrassing indictments of soldiery, even Catullus had to resort to sordid warfare and in the process become a degraded figure reduced to unheroic warnings. If this interpretation is taken one step further through intratextual reading, Catullus' threats can be juxtaposed with the activities of Memmius. In Cc. 10.12-13 and 28.9-13, Catullus accuses Memmius, the propraetor in Bithynia during his time there, of performing irrumatio on him. The tone and intent of the two poems are unambiguous and we are meant to hold Memmius in contempt, for here is another Catullan arraignment of the Roman militia. Similar accusations are leveled at Mamurra, the sexual aggressor, in C. 29.13 (who is later classed a cinaedus and pathicus in C. 57). Such intratextual comparisons may well suggest self-contempt in C. 37. (13) Skinner also interprets Catullus' obscenity and threats in poem 37 as ultimately disemp owering: "[The poems,] in which Catullus helplessly deplores Lesbia's promiscuity, invert the Priapic model of obscenity by foregrounding the speaker's inability to do anything more than hurl feeble curses at those who have injured or betrayed him" (1991: 3). The poetic juxtaposition of the iambicist and the thwarted lover as speakers in poems such as 11, 37, and 58 is a key technique in the achievement of Catullus' anti-Priapic posture, for it enhances the "pathetic impotence of the amator . . all the more" (1991: 7). (14)
Catullus introduces the casus belli, Lesbia, at line 11 and the portrait of her is hostile yet regretful, melancholic, and romantic. Here Catullus begins with puella, a standard word in the Lesbia Cycle, (15) which takes the reader back to positive poems (2 and 3) as well as negative ones (8 and 11). In C. 37.12, the emotional impact of Catullus' use of the word is intensified by the cross-referencing of C. 8.5 (amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla ("loved by me as no girl will ever be loved"]) and C. 87.1-2 (nulla potest mulier tantum se dicere amatam / uere quantum a mea Lesbia amata mea est ["No woman can ever claim that she has been loved as much I as my Lesbia has been loved by me"]). Catullus' use of the noun in such a diverse range of poems strengthens the word within this Cycle and it comes to epitomize the dynamics, tensions, and contradictions inherent in his view of Lesbia. In C. 37 the word thereby summons up an emotionally disparate range of meanings. Puella, however, is rendered even more complex because of line 4 where it denotes an anonymous group of girls associated with the contubernales. The aggression leveled against Lesbia is established by the poetic tirades directed at her partners, as already discussed, and by the application of the verb consedit (14). This word, like taberna and contubernales, has a dual meaning: in military vocabulary it means "to occupy a position," (16) while in colloquial language it refers to a common prostitute, (17) thereby branding Lesbia as one. Again Catullus exploits the games inherent in his choice of words and Lesbia-the greatest debauchee of the lot-is seen as the ultimate leader of this group of contubernales. Lesbia is the epitome of whoredom, and the contubernales follow her to learn ars amatoria, not ars militaria.
The locus belli is the taberna of the commandress/whore, which is located a pilleatis nona fratribus pila (37.2). In Roman religious belief and military iconography from Republican times and beyond, the Dioscuri "were known as helpers on the battlefield and . . . had become a symbol of victory." (18) As with the taberna, the templum symbolized the distorted world of late Republican Rome and its values. We have Cicero's accounts of P. Clodius Pulcher's use of the site for the storage of weapons and the related attacks on Sestius (19) by Clodius and his gang inside the temple. (20) These events of 57 B.C.E. provide historical examples of the use of a pseudo-taberna by a group of fake contubernales led by a bogus commander. There is a rich irony in that Clodius, a renegade from a family characterized in part by its non-military reputation. (21) engaged in demeaning gang activity in the very location where the Dioscuri miraculously appeared after the battle of Lake Regillus in c. 499 B.C.E. (22) Clodius' activit ies took place while Catullus was in Bithynia, but their controversial nature, in addition to Cicero's anecdotes and descriptions, would have kept them very much alive in the imagination of the Romans. As the temple served as a meeting place of the Senate, (23) this political function, in addition to Cicero's emphasis on its sacred origins (for the purpose of branding Clodius sacrilegious), renders it a powerful symbol of degenerated political, military, and religious values.
II. Cicero: Between Rome and Troy
Thus far I have discussed Catullus' treatment of contemporary Rome, particularly its military and moral disintegration. Cicero's evocation of the same world, and the same people in some instances (as touched on above), demonstrates not only Catullus' likely debt to him, (24) but also similarity in each writer's approach to material that clearly caused them anxiety. In Cicero's second speech against Catiline, we are presented with a series of images that are remarkably close to Catullus' depiction of the contubernales. In a descending order that foreshadows Catullus' gang and may well be a parody of the six-tiered structure of the Comitia Centuriata, (25) Cicero describes the abominations who follow Catiline. The sixth group, Catiline's pseudo-praetorian guard, are depicted thus:
....quos pexo capillo, nitidos, aut imberbis aut bene barbatos videtis, manicatis et talaribus tunicis, veils amictos, non logis; quorum omnis industria vitae et vigilandi labor in antelucanis cenis expromitur. in his gregibus omnes aleatores, omnes adulteri, omnes impuri impudicique versantur. hi pueri tam lepidi ac delicati non solum amare et amari neque saltare et cantare sed etiam sicas vibrare et spargere venena didicerunt. num suas secum mulierculas sum in castra ducturi? nisi idcirco se facilius hiemem toleraturos putant, quad nudi in conviviis saltare didicerunt.
These are the men you see with the suave hair-styles, the in-crowd. some clean-shaven, some full-bearded, wrapped in long-sleeved and ankle-length tunics--drapes--not togas. Every activity of their lives and every endeavor of their waking hours are dutifully spent at parties that last till sunrise. Among this rabble are found all the gamblers, all the adulterers, all the infamous and immoral. These boys, so sort and delicate, have learnt not only to love and be made love to, not only to dance and sing, but also to brandish daggers and sprinkle poisons.... They're not going to take their working girls to camp. are they? ... Maybe they think they'll endure the frost because they've learnt to dance naked at parties. (2.10.22-23) (26)
This degenerate group, following a revolutionary who is no more a traditional Roman military leader than his successor," is characterized in part by their hair and beard styles--a theme to which Cicero returns in the Pro Caelio (14.33) and which Catullus raises in C. 37 in relation to Egnatius. The followers are, like Catullus' contubernales, inversions of soldiers, with dresses instead of togas, frequenting banquets instead of the Campus Martius or the military tent, brandishing daggers and using poisons instead of proper weapons, and utterly illequipped and inexperienced to endure a real expedition. Like the trainees of C. 37, Catiline's grex is unable to do without its camp followers, and Cicero envisages the mulierculae accompanying the conspirators on campaign in the same way as Catullus does the nameless puellae and the supreme whore who sits as a general in the taberna to be serviced by her recruits (amatis, 37.15) in the manner of Catiline (Cat. 2.4.7-8). Cicero's vocabulary of aleatores, adulteri, im puri, and impudici (Cat. 2.23) also looks forward to Catullus' list. (28) Cicero, playing "on the old theme of real warfare/erotic warfare," (29) sets the scene for Catullus.
The reference to the temple of Castor and Pollux in C. 37.2 is the first of our allusions to the Trojan War. The locale has connections with the Claudii; not only is it the site of Clodius' activities, but his sister, Clodia Metelli, the woman most commonly identified as Lesbia, (30) is said to have lived in the vicinity. Kenneth Quinn has noted that the temple, "on the south side of the Forum close to the steep north face of the Palatine, was near Clodia's house." (31) This observation adds a tantalizing edge to the poem, with Catullus possibly identifying Lesbia's/Clodia's house as the salax taberna. (32) Catullus may well have thought a Lesbia/Helen comparison, based on Clodia's proximity to the temple, an appealing conceit. Though the poet does not state such a connection, Cicero does. His Pro Caelio was delivered in April 56 B.C.E. at approximately the same time as Catullus' return from Bithynia:
praegestit animus lam videre, primum lautos iuvenes mulieris beatae ac nobilis familiaris, deinde fortis viros ab imperatrice in insidiis atque in praesidio balnearum conlocatos. ex quibus requiram quem ad modum latuerint aut ubi, alveusne ille an equus Troianus fuerit qui tot invictos viros muliebre bellum gerentis tulerit ac texerit.
Now the mind delights to see, firstly, the elegant young men, intimate friends of a prosperous and noble woman; and then the brave men posted by the imperatrix in ambush and on guard at the baths. I seek to discover from them how or where they remained concealed--whether it was a bathtub, or a Trojan Horse, which received and protected so many invincible men, waging a woman's war. (28.67) (33)
Cicero stresses a military environment in a way that is very close to the style employed by Catullus in C. 37. Cicero substitutes the Roman baths for the battlefield, while Catullus replaces the military tent with the tavern. Cicero portrays Clodia's lovers as infantrymen who guard the tent/baths, while Catullus depicts Lesbia's moechi as barflies and degraded "soldiers" who meet at the tent/tavern. Cicero's Clodia is the imperatrix, while Catullus' Lesbia is the military leader who assumes her position of authority (consedere). Finally, Cicero extends his military analogies to the Trojan War in which Clodia, the commandress par excellence, is juxtaposed with Helen, and the bathhouse guards become the Greeks at Troy. Catullus may well go this far too, for just as Cicero used location and legend to create the image of the Trojan War heroine--in addition to his infamous Palatina Medea conceit (Cael. 8.18)--so Catullus may have adopted a similar, though more subtle, device for literary presentation of the same w oman, as he cast her as the Palatina Helena, complete with a house adjacent to the temple of her legendary brothers and the site of the infamous activities of her real brother. Of related interest here is Caelius' nickname for Clodia, quadrantaria Clytaemnestra (34) (another Trojan War reference, this time to Helen's sister), which Cicero echoes in the Pro Caelio. (35) These allusions to the Trojan War, overtly in Cael. 28.67 and (possibly) covertly in C. 37, may reflect contemporary jokes based on the location of Clodia's house near the aedes Castoris. Such a climate is summed up well by D. F. S. Thomson: "The social circles in which the two men moved so deeply intersected that literary exchanges between them were altogether to be expected. Consider the common friendships: Cornificius, Cornelius Nepos, Caelius Rufus, Manlius Torquatus" (1967: 228).
III. Trojan Analogy
The reference to the temple of the Dioscuri is the closest Catullus gets to an allusion to the Trojan War; yet in his eulogy and ridicule of Lesbia he may well be introducing another, more oblique conceit:
puella nam mi, quae meo sinu fugit,
amata Cantum quantum amabitur nulla,
pro qua mihi sunt magna bella pugnata,
For the girl who has fled from my arms,
loved by me as no girl will ever be loved,
for whom great wars have been fought by me,
has taken her seat there. (C. 37.11-14)
The use of the phrase magna bella (37.13), in conjunction with the focus on a woman as the cause of war, may be interpreted as an allusion to the greatest of wars. In the story of the Trojan War we see the earliest treatment of the theme of "real warfare/erotic warfare" (36) -a theme previously explored in relation to the Cicero/Catullus analysis. If we accept such an allusion, Lesbia, being the object of great military exertion, may be seen as comparable to Helen. Inherent in such an interpretation are certain ironies, and herein lies a possible consistency between the surface-level treatment of the Roman military theme and this additional layer of meaning. Just as Catullus uses military imagery to satirize the contubernales of his own era, his handling of the Trojan War conceit is satirical, namely, his "Helen" is a habitual adulterer and he as Menelaus-figure must fight many wars. Skinner discusses the imagery in her study of Catullus' dual narrative voice: "Here the seemingly disparate roles of lover and polemicist are coupled together, turning the satiric tirade into a defensive weapon in the war over the beloved and the speaker into a Menelaus vainly trying to keep his unwilling Helen" (1991: 7). The degraded image of the poet as Menelaus is accentuated when one considers the weapons Catullus uses, to wit, graffiti and threats of irrumatio. While the latter may well allude to the archaic Roman punishment for adultery, (37) consequently enhancing Catullus' misguided image of himself as Lesbia's husband, it hardly demonstrates his virility. Instead, the threat of oral rape contributes further to Catullus' isolation and unheroic stance.
The Trojan War Cycle in Greek and Roman literature was extremely malleable; the images, ideas, and presentations of the legend and its protagonists were altered in accordance with the era, the text, and the literary purpose. While Helen is no exception to this pliant legend, there is a constant element in her literary makeup, namely, her 'undecidability" (38) Helen is both beautiful/irresistible and terrible/repulsive, (39) and herein lies a potential comparison with Lesbia. As a multifaceted or contradictory figure, Helen symbolizes the concept of the Other, the alien feminine threat that opposes masculine certitude and defies order. Cicero's parody of the Trojan War at Cael. 28.67 clearly acknowledges the iconographic similarities between Helen and Clodia, depicting both females as the Other. (40) Like the Greek and Roman writers' Helen and Cicero's Clodia, Catullus' Lesbia is also the Other, a creature the poet continually fails to understand, largely because she is perceived as constantly changeable. Lik e the figures from Greek myth and legend who represent this concept--women like Medea and Clytemnestra (41) -- Lesbia as the Other is ultimately blameworthy because her very liminality, her defiance of a definitive classification, leaves Catullus, the Subject or Self, grasping for his own identification (42) and sense of worth. Such images of the pair are best exemplified in Cc. 11, 37, and 58 where Lesbia's repulsive Otherness is represented in the imagery of the adulteress (43) and whore and where Catullus' masculinity is shown to be under threat. (44) Despite the anxieties she incites in her ex-lover, and although she has fled Catullus and has taken her seat among an endless string of moechi, Lesbia is still valued, still the object of desire. The ultimate symbol of this intrinsic worth is encapsulated in the phrase pro quo mihi sunt magna bella pugnata; Lesbia, like Helen, (45) is worth fighting for. Herein lies their power. (46)
Finally, what of Egnatius? In keeping with the Trojan War interpretation, he can be defined as a particularly revolting Paris. The men who comprised the intermediate group of Lesbia's partners were especially shown to possess qualities directly opposed to the values of the Catullan "set," for they are defined by words denoting inactivity and antisocial behavior: insulsi presents them as silly and insipid; pusilli reveals their insignificance and pettiness; and semitarii continues such imagery and adds a sexual component, namely, their attraction to alley-ways and the whores who inhabit them. Egnatius, coming at the end of the line, is the worst because he is the one, the "Mr. Elect" (une, 37.17) of the collective. As the epitome of the decay in Roman society, Egnatius is crucial to Catullus' satire on contemporary life. Egnatius, like Paris, is an intruder who enters a world alien to him and his values. As the archetypal outsider, Paris is a contaminating force, breaking the Greeks' much prized value of gues t-friendship by taking Helen. Egnatius is also the outsider, the provincial who tries desperately to assimilate but who unavoidably bears the taint of not belonging. In C. 37, this taint has the physical manifestation (47) of the beard that Egnatius mistakenly believes still denotes membership of the boni or senatorial party, (48) and a predilection for urinal toothpaste. Egnatius, like Homer's Paris, is clearly the antithesis of the soldier. As Hector observes in the Iliad, Paris is more interested in sex than warfare, (49) more at home in his boudoir with Helen, (50) just as Egnatius is in the taberna with Lesbia. Finally, the theme of adultery is paramount to the depiction of both men: Catullus places Egnatius as the leader of the moechi and Paris is infamous for taking another man's wife. (51) In the scheme of things, both men are morally reprehensible, yet Egnatius is ultimately more embarrassing than his Asiatic counterpart; Paris may be a poor fighter, but at least he came to the "civilized" world as a king's son devoid of any disgusting personal habits.
C. 37 is a poem of mixed, complex emotions conveyed through the use of indecency and aggression. Yet Catullus does more than construct the Priapic stance of the iambicist and play hermeneutic games. Ultimately C. 37 defies generic typecasting--it is a satirical, invective love poem--and offers contradictory images of Catullus as Subject (iambic hater and elegiac lover) and Lesbia as Object (ghastly imperatrix in the manner of Catiline and ambiguous heroine like Helen). His poetic discourse is "polysemous," (52) exploiting to the fullest extent a series of potential meanings, even as he gives us 20 lines of insight into his inner world and the crumbling world outside. (53)
MARGUERITE JOHNSON is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Newcastle. She has written on Catullus and Martial, and is currently completing a source-book on Greek and Roman sexuality, of which she is the coeditor.
(1.) The text is Mynors'. All translations in this article are mine.
(2.) Richlin 1981, 1992: Skinner 1991. See also Lateiner and the collection of articles in Helios 20 (1993), esp. Skinner and Pedrick.
(3.) This is a standard feature of the Lesbia Cycle, See Ross 80-95 and, more recently, Vinson.
(4.) OLD, s.v. "taberna," p. 436.
(5.) Thomson 1997: 300.
(6.) Ellis 132.
(7.) See Skinner 1979: 137-40 and Vinson 168-70.
(8.) On Egnatius, see Neudling 58.65 and Booth.
(9.) Spain was a running sore throughout the second century B.C.E., subsequent to its acquisition during the Hannibalic War. In the generation preceding Catullus, Spain had been a theatre for much military activity when Sertorius declared it independent of Rome. The 70s saw extensive campaigning under Metellus Pius and Pompeius Magnus. culminating in its recovery by 71. In the 60s. Spain Continued to require military commanders as governors. That Spain still generated considerable military activity is evidenced by Caesar's expectations of a triumph upon his return in mid-60.
(10.) Skinner 1991: 3. Skinner makes extensive use of Rieblin's 1983 edition of The Garden of Priapus (later revised in 1992; see WORKS CITED) and Foucault; her views were expanded in her 1993 article (see note 2, above).
(11.) On the motifs of traditional Priapic poetry, see Richlin 1981: 42-44 and 1992: 57-80, 116.27, and Parker.
(12.) On obscenity as release, see Richlin 1992: 57ff. See alto Lateiner 17 and 27.
(13.) Richlin 1992 addresses the dual use of the Priapic figure in the Catullan corpus: "In one [pose] he [Catullusl espouses the brutal, violent attitude of Priapus toward a world composed of his own garden and of thieves subject to rape; in the reverse, Catullus finds it useful to decry the Priapism of others" (145).
(14.) Skinner's understanding of the amator of Roman lyric and elegy as a man experiencing an inversion of "conventional norms of masculinity" (4) is crucial to the persuasiveness of her argument,
(15.) See Watson 1983 and 1985: also Lieberg.
(16.) Thomson 1997: 302.
(17.) Skinner 1991: 6. See also Herescu 1959 and 1960; Adams 165-66 and 241.
(18.) Poulsen 119. On the temple, see Nielsen. (My thanks to Hugh Lindsay of the University of Newcastle for bringing these references to my attention.)
(19.) On Sestius, see Neudling 160-62 and Newman 378-80. Catullus and Cicero seem to have shared a similar view of Sestius: see C. 44 (regarded by Newman 379 as a poem "on a political/satiric theme") and ad Art. 3.23.4, 7.17.2, 13.2.2. Sestius' connections with Cicero and Catullus' circle are evidenced by the list of men who defended him in the trial of February-March 56: Ciccro, Hortensius, Crassus, and Calvus.
(20.) See, e.g., Sest. 15.34, 37.79, 38.83: De Dom. 21.54, 42.110: Mil. 7.18, 33.91.
(21.) For a list and discussion of the ancient sources on the achievements of the Claudii, see Lindsay(55-56.
(22.) For the appearances of the Dioscuri at Lake Regillus and later in the Forum, see Cicero, Nat. D. 2.6; Dionyius of Halicarnassus 6.13; Plutarch, Coriolanus 3.4. See Livy 2.20.12 for the promise of a temple by Postumius.
(23.) Nielsen 242: "At least from 160 BC, the temple served frequently as a meeting place of the Senate . . . In the 1st cent. BC the temple was . . . referred to in its capacity as a political institution rather than as a religious building."
(24.) The influences of Cicero's vocabulary on Catullus' poetry have been noted by scholars, often in relation to Catullus' only direct reference to Cicero (C. 49). See, for example, Thomson 1967, who also notes that "in poetic vocabulary the influence is, apparently, mutual" (228) and cites several examples. See also Newman 367-92. In my analysis of C. 37 and the two passages from Cicero, Cat. 2.10.22-23 and Cael, 28.67, I am inclined to see a Catullan debt to Cicero rather than a Ciceronian debt to Catullus. The first speech was delivered in November 63 and the second in April 56. (For the theory that Cicero sent Catullus a copy of the Pro Caelio, which in turn prompted C. 49, see Schwabe and Baehrens 251-53.) The date of Cat. 2 supports the likelihood of it having been known to Catullus at an early phase in his relationship with Lesbia. while the Pro Caelio is later--indeed, much closer to the end of the relationship--its subject matter suggests that the poet would have familiarized himself with it. Such interpretations are hypothetical because we cannot date the composition of C. 37 with certainty. That the poem belongs to the later stage of the affair is plausible, however, because of the sentiments it expresses. The negative emotions, in addition to Catullus' use of vocabulary and imagery, are in keeping with C. 11 (datable to c. 55/54) and C. 58 (not datable but possibly close to the trial of Caclius in 56). (On the similarity of Catullus' handling of his subject matter in Cc. 11, 37, and 58 see Quinn 202-03: Wiseman 1979: 11-13; Fredricksmeyer 71; Skinner 1991.) If we were to accept an approximate date of c. 56-54 for the composition of C. 37, the poem would obviously postdate the circulation of Cat. 2 and the delivery of the Pro Caelio.
(25.) I would like to thank Terry Ryan for this suggestion.
(26.) The text is MacDonald's. Booth 116 also refers to Cicero's representation of Catiline's gang. On Cicero's presentation of Catiline, see Habinek 69-87. (My thanks to Andrew Gulan of the University of Newcastle for bringing this reference to my attention.)
(27.) Cicero's presentation of Clodius as a second Catiline is well documented. The first recorded occurrence of the comparison is in February 61 when Cicero refers to the followers of Clodius as grex Catilinae (ad An 1.14.5). A more direct series of comparisons follow (e.g., ad Au 1.16.9); for this see Lintott.
(28.) This treatment of imitatio is indebted to the work of Conte, who writes: "Allusion will occur as a literary act if a sympathetic vibration can be set up between the poet's and the reader's memories when these are directed so a source already stored in both. Reference should be made to a poetic setting rather than to individual lines. A single word in the new poem will often be enough to condense a whole poetic situation and to recover its mood" (35-36).
(29.) Newman 382. Newman discusses Cicero's language and imagery of "real warfare/erotic warfare" in relation to the influence of Verr. 5.26 on C. 37.13, Verr. 5.96 as a possible influence on C. 11, and Verr. 5.27 as a possible influence on C. 10.
(30.) I accept the Lesbia/Clodia Metelli identification. On this immense topic, see, in addition to the commentators. Neudling 97-98; Wiseman 1969: 46-60, 1974: 104-18, 1975; Levens 362-65: Rankin; McDermott; Hillard; Skinner 1983.
(31.) Quinn 203. See also Frank 280 n. 11, who posits that the taberna was the house rented by Caelius from Clodius.
(32.) Skinner 1991 discusses the building "denoted by the cryptic reference to a pilleatis nona fratribus pila" (6-7) as likely being "a private residence such as Lesbia's own house" and Cites (8 n. 24) Syndikus 212-13 who interprets the line as serving the function of a street directory.
(33.) The text is Austin's.
(34.) ad Quint, 8.6.53. Austin vii-viii writes on Caelius' expression quadrantaria Clytaemnestra and other such gibes: "Caelius in fact shows himself . . . as usual, a master of gibes and flouts and jeers; his remarks, akin as they are to the spirit of Catullus' lampoons, point to the existence of a circle of wits who would understand and relish such allusions (cf. also ad Att. I.18.3)."
(35.) Cael, 26.62 and 29.69. On the verbal jokes quadrantaria Clytemnestra and Palatina Medea, Skinner writes: "The barbed sobriquets . . . summon up memories of tragic queens whose passions, indulged to an extreme, brought catastrophe down on themselves and their houses" (1983: 275). See also Booth 114 who notes Catullus' use of the quadrantaria Clytemnestra joke in C. 37.
(36.) Newman 382. On this theme in the Iliad, see Collins, 229-30.
(37.) Richlin 1981: 44.
(38.) See Suzuki 18ff.
(39.) Examples of this literary tradition of Helen can be traced as far back as the Iliad. See, for example, thc reaction of the Trojan elders to her awesome, godlike beauty (It. 3.154-60). Clader comments on this passage, especially the comparison of Helen to the goddesses at line 158: "Traditionally, it is dangerous for a man to come face to face with a goddess, for he is liable to leave the encounter crippled or unmanned. The simile employed by the elders is thus an expression more of Helen's effect on them than of any objective quality in her. She is at once irresistibly attractive and terrible to behold" (12). Lieberg 13 also discusses this passage in relation to his thesis on Lesbia. For further works on the dichotomy of Helen as beautiful/terrible, see Suzuki, Clader, Austin, Worman. Catullus comes close to echoing these sentiments in his version of Sappho's frag. 31 in C. 51, his homage to Lesbia. What is common in both pieces is the emphasis on the impact of the object of desire, the impact of physic al beauty that is godlike and unnerving to the point of being dangerous. Sappho's fragment has been compared to the passage from Iliad 3 (discussed above); see Wormell.
(40.) For a discussion of woman as the Other in Latin literature, see Richlin 1984 and Hallett. See also Janan.
(41.) Skinner 1983: 275.
(42.) Skinner's 1991 identification of Catullus' dual voice in C. 37. that of iambicist and amator, lends itself to this interpretation.
(43.) Helen is also depicted in Greek and Latin literature as an adulteress. An early extant reference to this is Hesiod's Catalogue of Women. frag. 176 (Merkelbach and West). Euripides' plays, with the exception of the Stesichorean inspired tragicomedy Helen, present a strong series of images of Helen as adulteress and whore; see, for example. Hecuba's speech at Tr. 981-97 and Peleus' speech at Andr. 590-615 (where Helen's lack of chastity is seen in the context of her Spartan heritage). Euripides' description of Helen as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("snatched willingly," El. 1065) may well be the locus classicus of Catullus' abducta moecha (68.103).
(44.) Skinner 1991: 6. Of the three poems in question, C. II is the strongest representation of Catullus' loss of manhood and Lesbia's acquisition of masculinity.
(45.) To cite another example from the Iliad. we have Hera's acknowledgement that many men have died fighting for Helen, but with the strong implication that she is a woman worthy of sacrifice and struggle (II. 2.157-62).
(46.) As Groten points out in relation to Helen, "We learn that the Greeks considered Helen important enough to send an expedition to a distant land at the risk of their lives and reputation. A person who can occasion such an undertaking must, we suppose, possess mental and physical endowments beyond those of an ordinary mortal" (33).
(47.) Homer presents Paris as bearing physical signs of not belonging. See, for example, Il. 3.17-20 where Paris' costume and equipment are described, Of particular note is the leopard skin worn over his shoulders, which is unusual attire: see Kirk 267. Although he brandishes javelins in this scene, Paris usually fights as an archer, another slight on his soldiery when we consider that "spearmanship seems to imply strength and courage": Collins 229.
(48.) See Quinn 205. Quinn refers to Cael. 14.33 where Cicero notes Clodia's liking for the shorter style of beards as opposed to the old-fashioned bushy type. Either way, as Quinn points out. Egnatius "never gets things quite right." See also Booth.
(49.) See, e.g., Il. 3.38-75. Catullus makes a similar point in relation to Paris in 68.104.
(50.) On Paris' time in the bedchamber with Helen in Iliad 3 and 6, and its comic elements, see Meltzer 272.78.
(51.) Il. 3.46-53. Suter 51 comments of the marriage of Paris and Helen: "This relationship is also the source of Paris' own fame, and of the poem itself which confers that fame." Egnatius also gains fame, or notoriety, from his association with Lesbia.
(52.) Peradotto 21.
(53.) 1 would like to thank Terry Ryan, Marilyn B. Skinner, and the anonymous referees of Helios for their advice and suggestions.
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|Article Type:||Critical Essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1999|
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