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Liminality and Catullus's Attis.

Michael Putnam (1982, 46) singles out "personality" as Catullus's genius. One only needs to think of a few memorable characters such as (H)Arrius, Suffenus, the constantly grinning Egnatius, the abominable Gellius, and the abandoned Ariadne for this statement to ring true. In c. 63 Catullus deals with, arguably, the most difficult personality in the whole collection. The young Attis, who castrates himself of his own free will in a fit of madness, is not a very appealing protagonist; however, he does manage to evoke the reader's sympathy with his plight. Towards the end of the poem, Attis finds himself on a literal and figurative threshold: between the sea, which connects him to his former life, and the wilderness representing his new life, and between his former masculine self and the emasculated servant to Cybele that he has become. He is doomed to the life of a liminary a threshold person, but without the forgetful ecstasy associated with the liminal phase. He is fully aware of the before and the after, and deeply regrets ever having engaged in the goddess's ritual.

The theory of liminality, which is now widely applied in many disciplines, has its origin in the work of French folklorist Arnold van Gennep. Van Gennep studied various ritual ceremonies in tribal as well as complex industrial societies and came to the conclusion that a person's life entails a sequence of "rites of passage," procedures, conditions, or ceremonies, which signal a transition from one state of being to another (I960, 2-3). Such rites may include initiation, birth, marriage, and funeral rites, as well as those associated with the passage from one occupation to another, or one economic or intellectual group to another (Van Gennep 1960, 1-3). Van Gennep identifies three stages that are in essence common to all ritual ceremonies despite cultural differences: rites of separation, transition rites, and rites of reincorporation. These stages may also be called preliminal, liminal, and postliminal (Van Gennep 1960, 10-11). Apart from this recurring pattern, which may be detected in a variety of ritual ceremonies, Van Gennep in the conclusion to The Rites of Passage stresses two further points that would be taken up by his successors: (1) the transitional phase may obtain a form of independence, such as betrothal, where adolescence is seen as the preliminal phase and marriage as the postliminal; and (2) "the passage from one social position to another is identified with territorial passage, such as the entrance into a village or a house, the movement from one room to another..." (1960, 191-192). It is with this last point that the concept of limen (threshold) comes into play.

Victor Turner, in developing his concept of liminality, takes Van Gennep as his starting point. His three stages of rites of passage--or what he calls "transition" rites (1969, 94--are as follows. In the first phase of separation, the individual (or group) is removed from her position or state in society. In the liminal phase, the "ritual subject" acquires ambiguous characteristics as she passes through a stage with none of the features of the former or future phase. In the final phase, which Turner calls reaggregation (or reincorporation), the passage is complete and the ritual subject again finds herself in a state of relative stability and structure (1969, 94). The stability of the reaggregation phase demands that the individual abide by the norms and the behavioral code required by her new social position (1969, 95).

Turner, whose main focus is on the qualities of the threshold or liminal phase, identifies the following characteristics of "liminal personae" or "threshold people." Their nature is "necessarily ambiguous" since their situation cannot be defined in terms of the normal categories of cultural states. They are "neither here nor here; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial" (Turner 1969, 95). These ambiguous qualities are conveyed through different symbols in various societies, with the liminal situation often compared to death, invisibility, darkness, bisexuality and the wilderness (Turner 1969, 95).

Its inherent ambiguity allows the liminal situation to offer an intriguing combination of "lowliness and sacredness," "a moment in and out of time" (Turner 1969, 96). Within the liminal phase the liminaries are stripped of their secular ranks or statuses and a feeling of "communitas" develops among them, that is, a "homogeneity and comradeship" without the ties of structure associated with the preliminal and postliminal phases (caste, class, rank, etc.). In this sense, communitas appears in phases of "antistructure" as the necessary social bond that constitutes a society (Turner 1969, 96-97). For society to function, both structure and antistructure are needed in succession: diversity and uniformity, inequality and equality, structure and communitas (Turner 1969, 97).

This play between structure and antistructure, between civilization and wilderness, between sanity and insanity, lies at the heart of Catullus's c. 63. The poem starts in medias res: Attis is eagerly on his way to the Phrygian woods, "across the high seas" (super alta... maria, l), (1) to reach the haunts of the goddess. There, in a fit of frenzy, he castrates himself and starts to dance and sing, encouraging his comrades--whom the reader only becomes aware of now--to join in (4-11). The comrades have followed his lead across the sea (15-16) and have also castrated themselves "out of a burning hatred for Venus" (Veneris nimio odio, 17). Attis now inspires them to come with him to the house of Cybele, offering a detailed description of the rites performed at her abode (12-26). After this exhortation the "new initiates," accompanied by the tambourine and cymbals, run singing to their destination where they quickly fall into a deep sleep because of their exertion (27-38). With the light of sunrise also comes clarity of mind and Attis wakes up with the horrible realization of what she has done and lost (39-46). (2) She hurries back to the shore and looks across the sea with tear-filled eyes, addressing her fatherland "in misery" (miseriter, 49). A twenty-three-line soliloquy follows in which Attis mourns for all that is familiar and dear to her: house, country, possessions, friends, parents (domo / patria, bonis, amicis, genitoribus, 58-59), the marketplace and sports facilities (foro, palaestra, stadio et gyminasiis, 60), as well as her former state as an athletic and desirable young man (64-67):
ego gymnasi fui flos, ego eram decus olei:
mihi ianuae frequentes, mihi limina tepida,
mihi floridis corollis redimita domus erat,
linquendum ubi esset orto mihi Sole cubiculum.
I was the flower of the gymnasium; I used to be the pride of the
wrestling ring. For me doors were filled; for me thresholds remained
warm; for me the house was adorned with floral garlands, when it was
time for me to leave my bedroom, the sun already in the sky.

This is put in stark contrast with what Attis perceives as the lot that awaits her now. Having been the star of the sports fields (gymnasi jlos, decus olei, 64) and the leader (duce, 15) of a group of young men, she will now be a servant and a slave (ministra, famula, 68) to Cybele. Moreover, instead of the light, openness, and culture associated with the gymnasium and palaestra, Attis will now be subjected to the cold and mountainous landscape of Phrygia where wild animals roam the dense vegetation (70-72):
ego viridis algida Idae nive amicta loca colam?
ego vitam agam sub altis Phrygiae columinibus,
ubi cerva silvicultrix, ubi aper nemorivagus?
Am I to stay in the freezing, snow-clad sites of lush Ida? Am I to
spend my life beneath the towering heights of Phrygia, where the
wood-dwelling doe, where the wild boar of the forest roams?

As Attis explicitly states her regret, the words reach the ears of the goddess. Unyoking her tame lions, choosing the wilder one on the left-hand side (laevumque pecoris hostem, 77), Cybele sends the beast to frighten Attis back into the woods and back into submission. The poem ends with a direct address of the goddess by the Catullan speaker, requesting her to overlook him when searching for candidates to drive mad.

C. 63 is, for the modern reader, perhaps the least accessible of all of Catullus's poems. The myth is obscure, and the protagonist at best a pathetic fool. In Catullus's Rome, the cult of Cybele had been established in 204 BCE and his readers would have been familiar with the main characters in the poem (Bremmer 2004, 557). (3) However, as Jan Bremmer (2004, 566) notes, the first reference to Attis in extant Roman literature is in Catullus. Although Catullus wrote in a time where there seems to have been a growing interest in Cybele's cult, (4) Attis was never a key figure in Republican myth or religion (Bremmer 2004, 567). Moreover, in contemporary society the attitude towards Cybele's cult, and in particular towards her eunuch priests, the Galli (who were inspired by the mythical Attis to castrate themselves), was at best ambivalent. Valerius Maximus reports with approval that a certain Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus, consul in 77 BCE, gave the verdict that a Gallus could not inherit from a Roman citizen as he was neither man nor woman (Wiseman 1985, 204). In Roman eyes, as Vassiliki Panoussi (2003, 105) suggests, the Gallus's "transgression of the gender binary" negates any claim to social identity. A more positive view may be found in M. Terentius Varro's Eumenides where the protagonist dresses like a woman in order to enter the temple of Cybele. There he marvels at the beauty and exotic clothing of the Galli; he is enchanted by their music and at first is impressed with their morality until he speaks out against their self-castration and has to flee (Wiseman 1985, 204-205; Roller 1999, 308). "The attraction is admitted but the Roman ethos prevails" (Wiseman 1985, 205), such a willful act of self-injury being seen as madness in Roman eyes. And so, alarmed by the rowdiness, hypnotic music, and self-mutilation, the Roman state kept tight control over the performance of Cybele's rites. The rites were restricted to her temple on the Palatine except for the Megalensia festival where a procession and games were held in honor of the goddess (Vermaseren 1977, 96). Both Roman citizens and slaves were forbidden to participate in these rites and to castrate themselves (Bremmer 2004, 567). What these literary accounts and tight regulation by the state reveal is the Roman people's combined sense of repulsion for, and fascination with, the Eastern cult of Cybele. Catullus's prayer at the end of c. 63 might suggest a similar feeling. However, he makes some significant changes to the myth that, in the end, reveal a much more sympathetic, 'Roman' protagonist, who allows the Catullan speaker to comment on the complexities of identity in late Republican Rome.

As Steven Harrison (2004a, 520) has noted, in all of the extant versions of the Attis myth his Eastern origin, whether Phrygian or Lydian, is a given, but in Catullus's poem Attis has travelled across the high seas, together with his companions, to reach the Phrygian wood (Phrygium namus, 2). His status as foreigner in Phrygia (and that of his comrades by implication) is confirmed in the second half of the poem when he sadly looks across the sea in the hope of catching a glimpse of his homeland: ubinam aut quibus locis te positam, patria, reor? / cupit ipsa pupula ad te sibi derigere aciem (Where then, or in what location, Fatherland, am I to think you rest? The very pupils of my eyes desire to fix their gaze on you, 55-56). Already he feels the absence of the marketplace, the palaestra, the race track, and the gymnasium (abero faro, palaestra, stadio et gyminasiis?, 60) and he mourns for the manly glory of those sports grounds, which had been his until very recently. Attis is clearly describing a Greek city. In this respect, Catullus's poem introduces an East-West contrast as one of its main features (Harrison 2004a, 522; cf. Rubino 1974, 157): the youth, having left behind the heart of Greek civilization, ventures into the Phrygian wilderness. (5) In another change to the myth, noted by Phyllis Forsyth (1976, 556), Catullus has Attis castrate himself of his own free will. (6) This introduces a new element to the story. Yet there is a tension between free will and forced submission throughout the poem. In the final scene of the poem, before the speaker's prayer, Cybele sends one of her lions to frighten Attis back into submission. In the pre-Catullan versions of the encounter between a Gallus and a lion, it is Cybele who saves the Gallus (through his playing of the tambourine, her instrument): the lion either runs away in fright or is "converted" to Cybele's cult and the Gallus is very grateful (Courtney 1985, 90). (7) K. M. W. Shipton (1987, 446) lists the main differences between Catullus's version of the story and that of his Hellenistic predecessors: in c. 63 the lion is sent by Cybele herself and the animal remains a threat to the protagonist, who is then forced into worshipping the goddess; he does so voluntarily out of gratitude in the other versions. In Catullus, therefore, the story acquires a distinctly negative note. The Attis from c. 63 is not the Attis from myth or ritual. So who is he?

It is often observed that Catullus's Attis is a tragic figure (Forsyth 1976, 556; Courtney 1985, 90; Thomson 1997, 374). Harrison (2004a, 526) traces echoes of Euripides' Medea in Attis's second speech in the poem (50-73) where he regrets what he has done and mourns for his homeland and all that is dear and familiar. Medea, having fled from her native Colchis with Jason, laments the abandonment of her father and city (Euripides, Med. 166-167). Furthermore, both Attis and Medea leave their homelands in a state of "madness": he in a religious frenzy, she with "a crazed heart" ([phrase omitted], Med. 433-435). And like Attis, Medea represents a clash between East and West, for Euripides portrays her as "an Eastern barbarian who is not accepted in the Western culture of Corinth" (Harrison 2004a, 526). These parallels lend an unmistakable tragic tone to Catullus's retelling of the Attis myth. (8) However, Catullus's Attis is an ambiguous character in many respects, not only in terms of gender. While he recalls a figure from tragedy on the one hand, he also resembles a devotee of Bacchus on the other. This resemblance brings yet another element into play.

The similarities between Cybele's cult and Dionysus/Bacchus's cult have often been noted, even in ancient times (Bremmer 2004, 560, referring to Strabo 10.3.12-16). In c. 63, Catullus exploits the resemblances between these two cults to emphasize the liminal position of his protagonist. Bacchic rites are primarily associated with the god's female followers, the Maenads, who venture into the mountains for the performance of their ritual. This is precisely the way in which Catullus depicts Cybele's feminized devotees. He underscores the connection by referring to the goddess's home as the place "where the Maenads with their crowns of ivy fiercely toss their heads" (ubi capita Maenades pi iaciunt hederigerae, 23). Both cults make use of the same instruments, the tambourine and cymbals (tympanum... cymbala, 29) (Panoussi 2003, 109; Bremmer 2004, 562). Furthermore, Attis's group of fellow-devotees is described as a thiasus (27), the standard term for a band of Maenads. When Attis summons them to the woods, his cry of agite ite ad alta... nemora (Come, go to the lofty woods, 12) recalls the traditional cry that urged the Maenads into the mountains ([phrase omitted] [To the mountain, to the mountain!, Bacch. 116, 165) (Bremmer 2004, 562).

With the connection between the cults of Cybele and Bacchus firmly established, Catullus is able to introduce yet another theme into his poem. Panoussi (2003, 103, 106) detects in the Bacchic rites the three phases of ritual identified by Van Gennep: separation, transition, and reintegration. The women leave their homes to go into nature where, intoxicated and entranced by loud music and dancing, they enter into a state of delirium where they are temporarily 'freed' from their bodies and are able to commune with the god (cf. Cole 2007, 330). When the effects of the wine and ecstasy subside, they return to their normal, stable, and structured lives. Panoussi (2003, 109) notes that Catullus involves the theme of marriage by incorporating Maenadism in his poem: through its liberation of the female, Maenadism entails "a temporary negation of male authority," which shows resemblances with marriage rites. (9) The young woman about to be married acts out a seeming unwillingness to enter the new phase of her life and her new household by running back to her birth family in wild defiance. This is the transitional phase where the young woman is regarded as an animal that will shortly be tamed by the civilization of marriage and male authority--the final, stable stage of reintegration (Panoussi 2003, 106). Apart from the castration, which renders Attis gender-ambivalent, Panoussi (2003, 107-108) suggests that Catullus employs the similarities between the Bacchic and marriage rites to cast his protagonist in the role not only of a female, but also of a virgin bride. Attis's act of self-castration and consequent bleeding (8) recalls both the sacrifices of ritual and the young woman's loss of virginity as she enters the marital phase (Panoussi 2003, 110). This is further hinted at by the simile of Attis as heifer (veluti iuvenca vitans onus indomita iugi [like a heifer, unbroken, who avoids the weight of the yoke, 33]), which recalls the description of Laodamia in Catullus, c. 68b: qui tamen indomitam ferre iugum docuit ([the love] which taught you, though unbroken, to bear the yoke, 118). Gerald Sandy (1971, 192-193) interprets the yoke as a metaphor for the binding commitment of marriage, while Justin Glenn (1973, 60) suggests a broader application of the yoke image, arguing that the taming of female livestock is a common metaphor in ancient erotic literature and often associated with the image of "taming the virgin." By avoiding the yoke, Attis is shunning the experience of sexual love (Glenn 1973, 61). (10) Yet ironically, Attis has already been "deflowered" through his own self-castration and in the process has submitted himself to a binding commitment of another kind. Maria Carilli (2003, 92-93) argues that Catullus's deliberate changing of the original myth (in which the relationship between Attis and Cybele is portrayed as a kind of love affair and the goddess is madly in love with the youth) shifts the meaning of iugum from solely a metaphor for marital union to a more generic symbol of enslavement. (11) Both meanings, I suggest, are at play here. When, in his morning-after lucidity, Attis realizes his state of bondage, he rebels against Cybele and runs back to the shore, the boundary between his old life and the new. (12) Yet even before Cybele sends her lion to chase him back into the woods, Attis so much as admits that it is too late: "Shall I now be called a servant-girl of the gods and a lady's maid to Cybele?" (ego nunc deum ministra et Cybeles famula ferar?, 68). The yoke Cybele lifts from her lions at the end of the poem (84) symbolizes the yoke that will tie him to her forever.

In seeking freedom Catullus's Attis has found perpetual slavery. Christian Fordyce (1961, 262) argues that contrasts of this kind are fundamental to the poem as a whole: civilization versus nature, Western humanism versus Eastern fanaticism. (13) To this list Carl Rubino (1974, 157) adds sea versus land, freedom versus slavery, identity versus loss of identity, male (Attis) versus female (Cybele). The most unsettling contrast in the poem, however, is found in the protagonist himself: male versus female within the same psyche. Through the figure of Attis the poem draws attention to gender as a determining element in the construction of identity: when gender becomes ambivalent the self is under threat (Janan 1994, 104). In this respect c. 63, like c. 51 where the speaker loses control of all his faculties when he looks at Lesbia, is concerned with the "dissolution of the subject" (Janan 1994, 102). With the forceful repetition of first-person pronouns in his regretful morning-after speech, Attis seems to be clutching desperately at a sense of self. (14) But as Micaela Janan (1994, 105) and Benjamin Stevens (2013, 244) also note, even language fails him. Not only is Attis struggling to define himself as a being-in-language, unable to find words that could describe his new self (ego Maenas, ego mei pars, ego vir sterilis ero? [Shall I be a Maenad, I a part of me, I a sterile man?, 69]), but his utterances are ultimately met with the noise of the wilderness. Although Cybele hears Attis's mournful speech (geminas deae turn (15) ad aures nova nuntia referens [(The sound) bringing fresh news to the twin ears of the goddess, 75]), she 'replies' not with words directed at him but with a command to her lion. Stevens (2013, 246) notes that the only 'response' to reach Attis's ear, and the final sound in the world of the poem, is the lion's roar (fremit, 86). Frightened back into a frenzy (demens, 89), Attis's reaction is also the animalistic one of flight (fugit, 89). This regression to the uncivilized is underscored by his return to the woods, now for the first time in the poem described as "wild" (fera, 89). The return is an unwilling one: "he" (ilk, 90) is frightened into it, and into the life of a maidservant (famula, 90). The final image we see of Attis is of a gender-ambivalent figure caught between his former male self and the feminized servant he resists becoming.

The Attis of Catullus's poem is the ultimate liminary: identityless, sexless, submissive, and ultimately silent (Turner 1969, 102-103). (16) In leaving his homeland he enters the stage of separation, the first phase of the ritual process. Next he castrates himself, performing the initiation rites of Cybele's cult. In this liminal phase he experiences communitas with his fellow initiates as they sing and dance on their way to the goddess's house. This is the stage of invisibility, wilderness, and "antistructure" where the initiates are ambiguous entities in between their former and new selves. Attis and his companions have literally entered the dark wilderness (per opaca nemora, 32) and in their state of ecstasy they are not yet able to grasp what they have become. However, the reaggregation, which should be the next and concluding stage in the ritual process, does not take place. Woken up to the shocking truth of his/her 'new' life, Attis is not united with Cybele in a new phase of structure and stability, but instead finds himself unable to abide by the behavioral code of this stage and accept the new identity that goes with it. Attis's response is rebellion and he runs back to the sea, symbolically returning to the phase of separation. But unfortunately there is no turning back to the pre-liminal stage: the castration cannot be reversed and the incorporation into Cybele's retinue is permanent (cf. Van Gennep 1960, 72). This is the devastating realization that dawns on Attis as he looks across the sea, standing on the literal boundary of the shore. He is cut off from his homeland, both literally and figuratively. Having scarred his former self, he cannot go back, but he has not been able to embrace the new self either. This is underscored by the many references to his identity crisis: "I a woman, I a young man, I a lad, I a boy" (ego mulier, ego adulescens, ego ephebus, ego puer, 63); (17) "Shall I now be called a servant-girl of the gods and a maidservant to Cybele?" (ego nunc deum ministra et Cybeles famula ferar?, 68); "Shall I be a Maenad, I a part of me, I a sterile man?" (ego Maenas, ego mei pars, ego vir sterilis ero?, 69). This is in stark contrast with his former status as darling of the sportsgrounds (64) and desired sexual object (65-67). What Attis's wavering between past and present in these lines accentuates is the contrast between his current status and the marriage as the social institution that signifies the transition into manhood (Nauta 2004, 606-607). (18) He resisted that transition by castrating himself and in the process he failed in his duty to his homeland. (19) Nauta (2004, 616) notes that Lucretius describes castration as the appropriate fate for those who show no gratia towards their parents, or those who lack gratia and pietas in general. (20)

Duty to the homeland forms an integral part of pietas. When Attis looks across the sea and bemoans his lot as eunuch, his emphatic repetition of the vocative patria in the opening lines seems to suggest that he realizes his violation of pietas: patria o mei creatrix, patria o mea genetrix (O fatherland my creatress, o fatherland my birth mother, 50) and again patria (55). However, Attis was not punished with castration for forsaking his homeland: his willful act of self-castration is what caused his failure of patriotic duty. (21) H. Wakefield Foster argues that Catullus presents the reader with two very divergent images of Attis: on the one hand, he functions as a parody of the traditional, manly epic hero, and on the other, he is a "disturbingly realistic Greek or Roman 'Everyman', who awakens from a hellish dream" only to find himself in a dreamscape that is in fact very real (2009, 77-78). The self-castration of the Attis from myth was not likely to elicit any sympathy from Catullus's contemporary readers, but by making his Attis a youth from the Greco-Roman world the poet-speaker is able to create an unsettling image of one of their own people gone mad (Foster 2009, 82). This Attis, for a Roman audience, is close to home.

In c. 63 Catullus therefore presents the reader with an ironic adaptation of the Attis story aimed at a contemporary audience. Attis represents an ordinary young man (22) who found himself unable to make the transition from puer delicatus to married man, as expected of him by society (Quinn 1972, 250; Clay 1995, 145-146). (23) Shunning the yoke of marriage he physically and emotionally separated himself from that society by seeking out the Phrygian goddess and performing self-castration, thereby removing any possibility of fulfilling the role of husband. However, even though he willfully turned away from his duties to the homeland, he fails in severing his connections with the society that shaped him. (24) Through his yearning for the cultural institutions of that society and the admiration he could only gain as a male, he also fails in the role he has chosen for himself in his ecstatic state at the start of the poem--eunuch devotee to an Eastern goddess. At the end of the poem Attis is frightened into obedience by a creature that is equally under her control, and we are left with an image of him forced into lifelong submission as a servant girl: ibi semper omne vitae spatium famula fait (There, for his entire lifetime, he remained a maidservant forever, 90). Panoussi argues that by means of the close correspondences between the cult of Cybele, Maenadism, and traditional marriage rites, Catullus supplies Attis with "a new, stable gender identity as a virgin bride," but that he fails, even in this new role, to pass into the next phase of marriage and so he must remain "a perpetual [M]aenad, excluded from the social milieu and devoid of a social identity" (2003, 114). However, he is a Maenad without the communitas of his fellow devotees because he has looked back from the wilderness and he yearns for what he has left behind. (25) Catullus's Attis is isolated from the society that shaped him as a young male, and he defies the new structure that forces him to be female. His physical gender-ambivalence is also an emotional one that threatens his very self. (26) Alone in the knowledge of his mistake, Attis becomes the ultimate outcast, alienated both in body and mind: neither man nor woman, neither Greek nor foreigner, neither free citizen nor willing devotee. He/she must remain forever in the in-between space where the one self ends and another begins, but where they can never be reconciled into a stable whole.

For Attis, the liminal stage has gained an independency: it has become a state of existence. Having left his homeland and crossed the sea in pursuit of a passion (like Medea), he wakes up the next day to the horror of a new reality. As he looks longingly across the sea and grieves for what he has lost and what could have been, he is brought close to the reader through the description of his state of mind. (27) It is this intimacy with the character which has led a number of scholars to argue that there is a bit of the Catullan persona to be detected in Attis. (28) Wiseman (1977, 177) remarks that Catullus "deliberately brings himself into the Arte" (63.91-93)--where the speaker directly addresses Cybele and asks to be overlooked by her--in the same way in which he brings himself into the Laodamia story in c. 68b (77-78) where he similarly speaks to Nemesis, expressing the wish that he may never undertake anything rashly which would be against the will of the gods. (29) The fact that Catullus prays to be overlooked negates the argument of straightforward autoallegory; however, it suggest that he perceives a sense of communitas between himself and Attis. The Catullan speaker is a liminary in his own right.

One of the few things we know for certain about Catullus is that he was born in Verona into an influential family and came to Rome as a young man. Although his privileged position in Verona offered him access to the Roman elite, inhabitants of Verona and the rest of Transpadane Gaul acquired full Roman citizenship only in 49 BCE (Wiseman 1987, 297). The only datable poems in his corpus fall in the period 56-54 BCE (Wiseman 1969, 47; Skinner 2003, xxi). Catullus thus arrived in Rome as a domi nobilis (noble at home), someone who was not yet fully integrated in the socio-political circles of the Roman elite (Gaisser 2009, 7). This made him, in many respects, a liminal figure in Rome. (30)

A recurring problem in Catullan scholarship is the poet's self-definition and its relation to his "Italian identity" (Tatum 1997, 487). The tension between city and country, Rome and its provinces, finds expression in a number of Catullus's poems as he negotiates the identity of the Catullan speaker and unmasks aspiring sophisticates from the position of someone who has mastered the polished habits, appearance, and speech associated with long-term inhabitants of the city (e.g., cc. 12, 22, 37, 44). (31) The two sites of Verona and Rome specifically become symbolically laden spaces in Catullus's work when his subject matter appears to be more personal (cc. 65, 68a, 68b). With the death of his brother in the Troad, the Catullan speaker experiences a profound sense of displacement on an emotional, social, and also geographical level.

In c. 68a Catullus writes to Manlius in response to a request for poetry, an obligation (officium, 12) which he is unable to fulfil. (32) As in c. 65, a similar 'cover letter' in response to a poetry request from Hortalus, Catullus's poetic abilities have been diminished by the death of his brother: "I have driven from all my mind these undertakings and all the delights of the soul" (tota de mente fugavi / haec studia atque omnes delicias animi, 25-26). Furthermore, he is in his hometown of Verona where he does not have access to written sources that he could consult in writing his own poems: "To this place only one chest out of the many follows me" (hue una ex multis capsula me sequitur, 36). In questioning Catullus's absence from Rome Manlius has revealed a vulnerability in the Catullan speaker which is underscored by the latter's reference to books: in order to remain part of Roman society he now has to rely on writing instead of performance (Theodorakopoulos 2007, 320). The physical distance has become an emotional distance from his regular circle of friends. Catullus's diminished agency as poet is accordingly closely linked with the problem of 'home': he is a Transpadane poet with a successful literary career in Rome, a career based to a great extent on his effective appropriation of Greek literary models (Fitzgerald 1995, 202). The tension between belonging and not-belonging, between home and non-home, resurfaces repeatedly throughout cc. 68a and 68b. The domus becomes a symbolically loaded space.

Rebecca Armstrong (2013, 43) notes that the recurrent theme of travel and homecoming in the Catullan oeuvre reveals an ambivalence in the poet-speaker, both a wanderer and a nostalgic, as well as in his conception of home. The emotional side of these journeys--joy, grief, or anger--is closely linked with Catullus's own social as well as poetic positioning and self-portrayal. (33) In cc. 68a and 68b this manifests as a conflict between Rome as the seat of his poetic career and his provincial roots in Verona and Rome (Fitzgerald 1995, 202). Catullus has returned to his hometown of Verona as a result of his brother's death in the Troad and the familial obligations brought about by this tragedy. He therefore corrects Manlius's description of his absence from Rome as turpe and calls it rather miserum (30), explicitly stating that Rome is now his home. There is something almost defensive in his threefold repetition of this "fact": "Because in Rome I live: that is my home; that my centre; there my age is spent" (quod Romae vivimus: ilia domus, / ilia mihi sedes, illic mea carpitur aetas, 68a.34-35). Yet in line 22 and in line 94 of c. 68b, Catullus claims that his domus (or that of the Valerii Catulli clan as a whole) has been "buried" with his brother: tecum una tota est nostra sepulta domus. Domus, as already suggested above, can have a variety of meanings. The Oxford Latin Dictionaiy defines as "house; home; country, town, etc., of one's residence or birth; family, household, or dependants collectively of the head of a house," and so on. Throughout cc. 68a and 68b, the word domus creates tension as it refers to the household of the Valerii Catulli, to Catullus's residency in Rome and Verona, to the home of Protesilaus and Laodamia (inceptam frustra, 68b.74-75), and to the house that Allius offered to Catullus and Lesbia (34) for their secret rendezvous (68b.68) (Armstrong 2013, 65). The latter is a physical meeting place for the lovers to share an intimate moment, but becomes a symbol of transgression. (35) The domus of Protesilaus and Laodamia represents both the household and the building they would have created if Protesilaus had not died. The domus of the Valerian Catullan clan "is the least substantial [of these three] since it refers not to Catullus's ancestral seat but rather to the ideal family unit for which the house stands as synecdoche" (Miller 2004, 53). What of Catullus's reputed domus in Rome? Armstrong (2013, 66-67) contends that Rome has become Catullus's "intellectual and poetic core," and this, combined with the grief over his brother, leads Catullus to feel ill at ease in Verona. Fitzgerald, however, sees in carpitur an ambivalent attitude towards his Roman "home": "In the passive [the verb] is more likely to convey the erosion of life (aetas) than the full enjoyment of it" (1995, 283 note 30). (36) And as it turns out at the end of c. 68b, the domus itself is merely a product of wishful thinking: Catullus does not actually own a house there (Skinner 2003, 144, 168): "May you be happy, you and the love of your life, and the house in which we had so much fun" (sitis felices et tu simul et tua vita, / et domus <ipsa> in qua lusimus, 155-156). (37) Just as the initial image of his beloved--the Candida diva arriving at the borrowed house for a night of passion (70)--is deconstructed throughout the course of c. 68b, so the different references to domus become increasingly sinister until finally the house in Rome is also revealed to be not quite positive. The Roman home which Catullus claims to be his real home is in fact a non-home, a false symbol of belonging. (38)

With the death of his brother Catullus not only lost a loved one and a family line--an integral part of his identity--but his very essence as a poet is threatened as ultimately the speaker's words are met by the silence of death: advenio... frater... ut... mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem (I come, brother, to address in vain your mute ash, 101.2-4). Poetry has become an obligation to friends, acquaintances, and the deceased and no longer the offspring of the Muses. His brother dies at Troy, the Romans' place of origin; as a consequence Catullus has to leave his new life in Rome and go to his own place of origin, provincial Verona. In the process the Catullan speaker's "complicated cultural affiliations" come to the fore (Fitzgerald 1995, 211) and his liminal position is revealed. He belongs in neither Rome nor Verona and is truly "betwixt and between."

On a more abstract level, personal relationships also have a center and a periphery, the potential for liminality. When a relationship is not balanced, one party is in the compromised position of being on the symbolic periphery of that relationship at the mercy of the other in the center. This was true of many of Catullus's relationships--erotic, platonic, as well as professional--where his love and commitment turn out to be very one-sided (e.g., cc. 28, 30, 38, 72, 73, 75, 76, 77, 87). By interacting with the 'other,' Catullus reveals his own liminal status in the relationship as well as the broader issues that cause the relationship to be imbalanced in the first place. In c. 63 the liminal character of the mythic Attis allows Catullus to explore at length imbalances in relationships as well as the problematic question of home and its connection to identity, all issues that the Transpadane poet in the power-hungry world of late Republican Rome faced.

In Catullus's version of the Attis-Cybele story the religious aspects hardly figure. Instead, the speaker is concerned with the emotions of his protagonist, which he analyses "with a degree of personal passion" (Thomson 1997, 374). (39) Like Attis, Catullus was also driven by a mad passion (vesano Catullo, 7.10; vesana flamma, 100.7) to devote himself to Lesbia, and like Attis he regrets his actions, realizing his mistake far too late. (40) Not only was he also like a slave to his mistress, but in pursuing a relationship with her he too turned his back on his familial duties (Wiseman 1985, 181). (41) Cybele, who castrates her devotees, is not too different from the Lesbia of c. 11 who "bursts the loins" of her many lovers (ilia rumpens, 11.20). And Attis, like the flower (flos) of Catullus's love growing in the distant meadow that was "touched" in passing by the unfeeling Lesbia-as-plough (11.22-24), used to be the flos of the gymnasium (63.64) before he fell under Cybele's spell, thereby robbing him of his manhood (Putnam 1974, 80; Janan 1994, 106). Janan furthermore suggests that the displacement of the flower on the edge of a field and away from Rome corresponds with the mental displacement of the speaker in the same way Attis's separation from his Greek city answers his separation from his former identity (1994, 106). As Attis looks across the sea that separates him from the life he has now lost, he recalls the Catullan speaker who mourns for his dead brother. In cc. 65 and 101, water is also the boundary between Catullus and his brother, first that of the unbreachable river Lethe in the Underworld (namque mei nuper Lethaeo in gurgite fratris / pallidulum manans alluit unda pedem [For recently in Lethe's flood, the rolling wave has washed my brother's palish foot, 65.5-6]) and then that of the sea he had to cross to reach his brother's grave (multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus [Through many nations and across many seas I have been carried, 101.1]). Even though Catullus could get across the latter, the futility of the 'conversation' with his brother in c. 101 underscores the inefficacy of such a journey. The many tears he sheds as his bids his brother a final farewell once more establish water as a permanent divide: accipefraterno multum manantia fletu (Accept [these gifts] drenched with the many tears of a brother, 101.9).

Through its mythical refiguring, c. 63 may therefore present both the emasculating Lesbia from c. 11 as well as the intoxicating Lesbia from c. 51 and combines them in the figure of Cybele (Janan 1994, 107), thereby allowing us to draw parallels between the Catullan speaker from the love poems and Attis as Cybele's "lover." (42) Moreover, the sea as physical boundary symbolizes the liminal state of both the bereaved Catullus and the outcast Attis. The same liminality applies to the abandoned Ariadne who gazes from the shore of Naxos at her lover's receding ship; (43) her story is also one of infatuation turned into regret and may be compared to Attis's and Catullus's. (44) From the multidirectional correspondences between Attis and Catullus, Ariadne and Catullus, as well as Attis and Ariadne, a fellowship of the mind is revealed. (45) The mythical figure of Attis, like Ariadne, is therefore not an autoallegory of the Catullan speaker, but a fellow liminary with whom the Catullan speaker can experience a sense of communitas.

On a more public level, as Panoussi (2003, 101-102) suggests, the mythical figure of Attis allows the poet to explore the vulnerability of gender identity in the turbulent socio-political world of late Republican Rome. This is a vulnerability the Catullan speaker himself has experienced as a result of the often uneven relationships typical of the time. In cc. 11 and 68b we see the speaker cast himself in the female role to comment on the corrupt state of traditional Roman institutions, as well as on the exploitation of their subjects by Rome's politicians. (46) By inverting traditional gender patterns in c. 63 as well as in his shorter poems, Catullus is able to convey the "social alienation" threating an independent male in a time when individual autonomy was increasingly limited and a talented provincial was side-lined by the distorted socio-political system (Skinner 1997, 131, 142). Catullus achieves this by making Attis someone close to home (a young Greek instead of a Phrygian). Through Attis the poet reflects on the threat to individual identity inherent in his time and reaches his most in-depth analysis of the problem of liminality. The new initiate wakes up to a liminal phase that should have been over but, instead of the stable phase of reaggregation and joy in his new role and union with Cybele, he is overcome by an acute awareness of not-belonging. His new 'home' is a non-home, a cold and dark wilderness. (47) For Attis the liminal stage turns out to have two phases. In the first there was joy and communitas induced by furor; in the second, disillusion and the realization that reaggregation is impossible. In the end Attis experiences furor of a different kind, a furor that does not come from within himself, but is enforced by his changed circumstances. Perhaps the Catullan speaker is suggesting, through Attis, that for those who do not fit society's mold the liminal is the only way of life.

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(1.) I use the Latin text of Thomson 1997. All translations are my own.

(2.) After the castration the speaker refers to Attis in the feminine, although not consistently (see below).

(3.) See Bremmer 2004 for a thorough study of the development of the cult and the different versions of the Cybele-Attis myth in extant sources. Vermaseren (1977) offers an older, but still useful account. His study is broader than Bremmer's and includes visual art as well as temples and shrines.

(4.) The cult appears in the writings of Varro (to be discussed) as well as in Cicero (Bremmer 2004, 558). In c. 35 we also see Catullus's poet-friend Caecilius wTiting (probably) an epyllion on the Mater Magna.

(5.) Foster (2009, 72) argues that this "new twist" to the myth serves to portray Attis's act as self-castration as particularly shameful: contemporary Romans were familiar with Cybele's cult and her eunuch priests, but that a civilized Greek or Roman youth would voluntarily commit such self-mutilation was unthinkable.

(6.) Forsyth (1976, 555) points out that in other extant versions of the myth Attis is driven to madness by a jealous Cybele and so castrates himself

(7.) This episode, concerning an unnamed Gallus and a lion, appears in the Greek Anthology (Simonides 6.217; Alcaeus 6.218; Antipater 6.219; Dioscorides 6.220 in Paton 1916, 410-414). It does not traditionally form part of the Attis myth.

(8.) This is picked up in Ariadne's lament in c. 64 where Medean echoes lend an unmistakable ambiguity to the sympathetic, abandoned girl; see Clare 1997.

(9.) The theme of marriage is often seen as an overriding theme in the longer poems. C. 63 is no exception although it portrays 'marriage' of another kind; cf. Forsyth 1970 and Sandy 1971.

(10.) Shipton (1986, 268-270) reads the heifer's shunning of the yoke as essentially an enactment of the ritualistic head tossing associated with Cybele's devotees, and regards the inherent metaphor of submission as a side issue. However, the recurrence of the yoke at the end of the poem (76, 84) suggests that there is more to the image than mere head tossing (pace Shipton).

(11.) This reading is supported by the two references to the iuga with which Cybele controls her lions (63.76, 63.84): Carilli 2003, 92.

(12.) In his act of running away, Panoussi (2003, 1 13) detects similarities between Attis and young Roman brides who ritualistically run back to their families before they yield to their new circumstances.

(13.) Cf. Kroon 2004.

(14.) Ego appears fifteen times in lines 50-73, and its derivatives six times (mei, mihi); the possessive adjective mea appears twice (50, 58).

(15.) Thomson (1997, 149, 384) prints the problematic deorum in keeping with the manuscript tradition, calling this a "'generalizing' plural" comparable to deum of line 68 (quoted and translated above). However, in line 68 the plural suggests a generic state the speaker foresees (that of being "a servant-girl of the gods"). This is then followed by a description of his specific role as "a lady's maid to Cybele." In line 75 the reference is clearly to Cybele alone, whose immediate reaction to the news is the focus in the next lines. In light of this I prefer Harrison's conjecture deae turn (2004b, 518). For a detailed apparatus see Daniel Kiss's online repertory of conjectures on the Catullan text (

(16.) Even before his castration Attis was in a precarious position. Skinner (1997, 136) notes that in Greek sources adolescence is often portrayed as a liminal period in the life of a male citizen: he is both desirable to adult males but himself a would-be male citizen. This makes him sexually ambiguous (1997, 136).

(17.) Thomson (1997, 383) prints puber in place of mulier, stating that "the expression is surely strained; it is better to emend, in the interests of consistency in Attis' list." Heyworth (1999, 104-105), in a similar vein, refers to mulier as "an obvious interpolation by a reader who could not wait for the contrasting account of the present in line 68: ego nunc deum ministra." He goes on to suggest iuvenis, originally proposed by Schwabe, in which case the line would represent four stages of a man's life in reverse order. I would argue that mulier of the Veronensis manuscript is specifically suitable to Attis's state of mind and gender confusion; cf. Nauta 2004, 606 note 38. The latter is attested to by the switch between male and female references towards the end of the poem (hum, 78; qui, 80; tenerumque, 88; ille, 89; famula, 90). The very fact that Attis is inconsistent underscores the loss of identity that accompanies a loss of gender.

(18.) Procreation was regarded as the right of an adult male citizen; cf. Carilli 2003, (87.)

(19.) Tuplin (1981, 119) suggests that c. 63 "contains the theme of the wrongness of allowing furens rabies to carry one away from one's fatherland, friends, parents, and proper social interests."

(20.) Lucretius 2.614-617: Galios attribuunt, quia, numen qui violarint / Matris et ingrati genitoribus inventi sint, / significare volunt indignos esse putandos, / vivam progeniem qui in oras luminis edant ([To Cybele] they assign the Galli, because they wish to show that those who dishonor the divinity of the Mother and have proved themselves ungrateful towards their parents should be deemed unworthy to contribute living progeny to the shores of the light); and 2.261-263: telaque praeportant, violenti signa faroris, / ingratos animos atque impia pectora volgi / conterrere metu quae possint numine divae (They carry weapons in the front, symbols of their violent fury, so that they may terrorize the ungrateful minds and impious hearts of the masses into fear, aided by the goddess's power). I use the Latin text in Rouse 1992, 142-144.

(21.) Bremmer (2004, 564) notes the irony of Attis's choice of words creatrix and genetrix: they underscore the reality that Attis himself would never be able to have offspring.

(22.) Cf. Elder 1947, 395.

(23.) Skinner (1997, 137) suggests that Attis's self-mutilation may be seen as an attempt on his part to preserve his status as puer delicatus.

(24.) Rubino (1975, 293) argues that, in this respect, he is not that different from the Catullan speaker of the erotic poems who employs in his love poems the very values of the Roman system he defies. In cc. 50 and 51 Catullus openly rejects the male world of negotium (traditionally Roman serious business) and opts for the insignificance of otium (leisure and idleness); cf. Segal 1970 and Greene 2007, 138-141. In c. 5 he makes light of the disapproving talk of the older generation when he indulges in kisses shared with Lesbia. Yet he calls his relationship with Lesbia "an eternal treaty of sacred friendship" (aeternum... sanctae foedus amicitiae, 109.6), recalling the sociopolitical alliances that shaped the lives of Roman men, and lays claim to the traditional values which accompany such amicitiae: fides, pietas, officium, gratia, and benevolentia (cc. 72, 75, 76, 87); cf. Ross 1969, 80-90.

(25.) In discussing the role of Attis's companions throughout the poem Carilli (2003, 107) notes that they disappear from the scene towards the end, representing a dehumanized group's passive acceptance of dominance in contrast with the individual who resists the disintegration of the self.

(26.) Examining exile in Catullus, Cicero and Seneca, Citroni (2001, par. 1, 19) highlights the connection between the individual's detachment from a community, which shapes both personal and gender identity, and his/her loss of self

(27.) Cf. Forsyth 1976, 559.

(28.) Cf. Harkins 1959; Forsyth 1970, 69; Putnam 1982, 64; Carelli 2003, 98-99; Stevens 2013, 206. Similar arguments are made for Ariadne from c. 64.

(29.) Nil mihi tam valde placeat, Rhamnusia virgo, / quod temere inritis suscipiatur eris.

(30.) With regard to his peripheral position in Roman society, Catullus is described in various ways in recent scholarship: having "a social handicap" (Fitzgerald 1995, 10); "amicus inferior" (Tatum 1997); "a decentred identity" (Konstan 2000); the master of a Roman discourse that he "possesses fully by mastery, but never fully owns bv membership" (Wray 2001, 45); "domi nobilis" (Gaisser 2009, 7); and possessing an "outsider perspective" (Stevens 2013, 9).

It is not improbable that Catullus could have acquired Roman citizenship. If his father had been a magistrate in Verona he would have obtained citizenship for himself and his closest family members (Konstan 2007, 72). Catullus's stint in Bithynia, where he served under Memmius (cc. 10 and 28), seems to support this theory (Skinner 2003, xxii). However, this would not diminish his liminal position in Rome. As an 'honorary' Roman citizen, hailing from the provinces, he was still not a member of the Roman elite and not on equal footing with those citizens who had been born into old Roman families.

(31.) Tatum 1997, 483: "Literary texts [are] locations for the contesting and negotiation of societal dynamics."

(32.) Manlius's request for "gifts of the Muses and of Venus" (muneraque et Musarum hinc petis et Veneris, 68a. 10) has been a point of contention in Catullan circles. The scholarship on this line is overwhelming, ranging from arguments for hendiadys, thus "love poetry" as Manlius's request (e.g., Sarkissian 1983, 46-47 and Nisbet 1995, 92), to arguments in favor of a request for both a poem and a girl, either Manlius's own girl restored to him or a share of Catullus's (e.g., Wiseman 1974, 95; Tuplin 1981, 115; King 1988, 388; Powell 1990, 206; Simpson 1994, 565), to arguments for Manlius requesting a poem and an erotic liaison with Catullus himself (Kinsey 1967, 41-42 and Forsyth 1987, 180). In more recent scholarship the focus is on the recurring overlap between the erotic and the aesthetic in the Catullan oeuvre when an individual or a poem has vcnustas, the crucial neoteric element of charm (e.g., cc. 12, 35, 36, 50, 86); see Fitzgerald 1995, 34-37 and Theodorakopoulos 2007, 318. Lowrie (2006, 120) argues for a deliberate blurring between the Muses and Venus in line 10, underscored by the elision between Musarum and hinc (thereby crossing over the caesura), as a reflection of the interwovenness between poetry and life. Skinner (2003, 168-169) likewise draws a link between Catullus's erotic and poetic life. The death of his brother necessitated a change of the sensual lifestyle which had served as the inspiration for this poetry: "Catullus' renunciation in whole or part is poetic activity."

(33.) E.g., cc. 4, 9, 10, 11, 31, 44, 46, 63, 64, 84, 101.

(34.) I follow the majority of scholars who accept Lesbia to be the Candida diva of c. 68b.70.

(35.) There are jarring notes in the lovers' arrival at Allius's house. Apart from providing the physical building, Allius had to make the house accessible by opening up an enclosed field with a broad path (is clausum lato patefecit limite campum, 68b.67): Catullus and Lesbia are entering a private space where they do not belong. The limes (lata... limite) is itself indicative of boundaries and demarcation, denoting a pathway that divides land. When Lesbia then steps on the threshold the transgression is confirmed, both by the deliberate nature of the act (constituit, 73) and the ill omen it brings.

(36.) Tuplin (1981, 115) also notes the ambiguous note of "to be alive" inherent in vivimus (quod Romae vivimus, 68a.34); the Catullan speaker is in survival mode ever since his brother's death.

(37.) C. 68a is subsequent in time to 68b, although it is presented as a pre-script: Hubbard 1984, 39 and Skinner 2003, 167.

(38.) See Lotman 1990, 191.

(39.) Wiseman (1977, 177-178) argues that it is precisely in Catullus's handling of the emotions of his characters in cc. 63 and 64 that he is unmatched by any of his predecessors.

(40.) C. 75.1: hue est mens deducta tua mea, Lesbia, culpa (To this point has my mind been diminished, Lesbia, through your fault); 76.17-18: o di... si quibus umquam I extremam iam ipsa in morte tulistis opem (O gods, if ever you have brought help at the end, to those on the very brink of death). Forsyth (1976, 558) makes a similar argument: in the case of both Catullus and Attis an overwhelming furor has turned into regret.

(41.) C. 58.3: plus quam se atque suos amavit omnes ([Lesbia whom Catullus] loved more than himself and all his clan); 79.1-2: quern Lesbia malit / quam te cum tota gente, Catulle, tua (Lesbia prefers him to you and your whole family, Catullus). A number of scholars detect a similar tension between the speaker's realization of family obligations and his overpowering love for a married mistress in the apple simile at the end of c. 65; see, e.g., Fitzgerald 1995, 189; Skinner 2003, 18-19; Stevens 2013, 171.

(42.) Skinner (1997, 133) makes a similar argument, stating: "The same sequence of passion, self-destruction, and remorse narrated as mythic event is re-enacted as putative autobiography in the love poems."

(43.) In c. 68b the lines between the loss of a lover and the loss of a brother become blurred as the Catullan speaker draws parallels between himself and Laodamia, both of whom have lost a loved one in the Troad; cf. Hubbard 1984, 34 and Janan 1994, 126.

(44.) E.g., Sandy 1971, 188-189; Forsyth 1976; Putnam 1982, 54; Martin 1992, 55; Skinner 1997, 145; Stevens 2013, 206.

(45.) Miller (1994, 111) refers to "a swirling vortex of mutual identifications, all of which take place within the territory delimited by the Catullan poetic ego."

(46.) C. 11 starts with an elaborate list of far-off places conquered by the Roman imperialist machine. By referring to the peoples instead of the places, the subjugated are cast as victims of rape (penetrabit, 2). At the end of the poem, Catullus's love is a flower cut down (that is, destroyed and deflowered; cf. Miller 1994, 66) by Lesbia in the role of ploughshare, a symbol of colonization that recalls the conquering Rome from the beginning of the poem. In c. 68b Catullus compares himself to Juno in her supposed tolerance of Jupiter's infidelities (138-140). By casting himself in the female role of Juno, Lesbia is equated to the "all-desiring" (omnivoli, 141) and adulterous Jupiter. This enables the speaker to comment on the distortion of Roman marriage ideals in contemporary Rome: Vinson 1992, 177.

Cc. 10, 28, and 47 comment on the corrupt state of the patronage system, shedding light on those individuals who are both products of and outsiders to that system. In the process Catullus's own peripheral position in the socio-political system, as well as that of his dear friends Veranius and Fabullus, is revealed.

(47.) In his furor-induced state, Attis referred to Cybele's haunt as "home" (domum: 63.20, 63.35). Having woken up from his delirium he longs for the home he has left behind in his homeland (domo, domus: 63.58, 63.66) and now perceives his new surroundings as alarmingly hostile: egone a mea remota haec ferar in nemora domo? (Cut off from my home am I to be carried into these woods?, 58); cf. lines 70-72, quoted and translated above.

[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]
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Author:De Villiers, Annemarie
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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