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H.R. Dettmer: Catullus 29.2323 A Fresh Approach to Catullus 29.23 Helena R. Dettmer eone nomine urbis +opulentissime+ socer generque, perdidistis omnia? The communis opinio is that opulentissime at Catullus 29.23 is corrupt.1 The superlative adjective is problematical for two reasons. First, the third syllable violates the pure iambic trimeter in which the poem appears to be written.2 Second, the vocative urbis opulentissime, which must refer to Crassus, introduces a third person at the end of the poem;3 such an intrusion disturbs the obvious symmetry in which the recipients of vv. 1-10 (Pompey) and of w. 11-20 (Caesar) are addressed jointly in the final four verses.4 Most attempts to repair opulentissime involve reading an interjection o and a masculine plural superlative adjective to agree with socergenerque in verse 24. A recent critic, however, appears to be driven to despair over healing the passage; he proposes that "the MS reading opulentissime reflects a gloss [which] makes restoration of the line a fruitless endeavor."5 This paper will suggest that the 1 Most commentators accept urbis as genuine. 2 The spondee nunc Galliae at the beginning of verse 20 also is problematical. As for the spondaic Mamurra in the first foot of verse 3, most critics allow Catullus the liberty, practiced by other Latin poets, of shortening or lengthening the quantity of a syllable in a proper name to fit the meter. 3 For a defense of the manuscript reading, however, see J.D. Minyard, "Critical Notes on Catullus 29," CP 66 (1971) 174-81. 4 M.B. Skinner, "Parasites and Strange Bedfellows: A Study in Catullus' Political Imagery," Ramus 8 (1979) 151-52, note 31. 5 H.Y. McCulloch, Jr., "Mamurra, Caesar, and Pompey: A Textual Note on Catullus 29.2324 ," CW 78 (1984) 111. S.G.P. Small also observes that the textual "problem is as yet unsolved" (Catullus: A Reader's Guide to the Poems [Lanham and London 1983] 61). 24Syllecta Classica 2 (1990) line can be repaired. I intend to show how the close connection of C. 28 and 29 points to a solution.6 C. 28 and 29 are attacks on the Roman system of patronage. In the one Piso and Memmius fail to reward members of their pretorial staffs, while in the other Mamurra is "over-rewarded" for his services as a result of the misguided generosity (sinistra liberalitas) of Caesar and Pompey. C. 28 focuses on the disappointment of Catullus and of Fabullus and Veranius at their failure to make money from their service abroad. The poem opens with Catullus' friends returning to Rome empty-handed,7 having endured cold and hunger, but without any financial reward to show for their time in Macedonia on the staff of Piso (1-5): Pisonis comités, cohors inanis, aptis sarcimilis et expeditis, Verani optime tuque mi Fabulle, quid rerum geritis? satisne cum isto vappa frigoraque et famem tulistis? Catullus can sympathize with their situation, for his own experience in Bithynia under Memmius was financially disastrous too (6-8): ecquidnam in tabulis patet lucelli expensum, ut mihi, qui meum secutus praetorem refero datum lucello? The poem takes an unexpected turn at the center; thoughts of lack of profit lead to the topic of sexual violation (9-10): o Memmi, bene me ac diu supinum tota ista trabe lentus irrumasti. "Memmius, with that whole shaft of yours you raped me long and well as I lay on my back, and you took your time about it." Catullus then suggests that Fabullus and Veranius have suffered a fate similar to his own (11-13): sed, quantum video, pari fuistis casu: nam nihilo minore veipa farti estis. pete nobiles amicos! "With no less a prick have you been stuffed." Farti estis at verse 13 recalls and responds to the earlier imagery of emptiness and hunger at verses 1 and 5 (inanis; famem). The final section shifts from Catullus' friends to a curse against Piso and Memmius, the perpetrators of their financial failure (14-15):° Critics who see a relation between 28-29 include E. Badián, "Mamurra's Fourth Fortune," CP 72 (1977) 322; H. Offermann, "Einige Gedanken zum Aufbau des Catull...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5157
Print ISSN
1040-3612
Pages
pp. 23-27
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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