Translation as Muse: Poetic Translation in Catullus's Rome 9780226280080

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Translation as Muse: Poetic Translation in Catullus's Rome

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Translation as Muse

Translation as Muse Poetic Translation in Catullus’s Rome E l i z a b e t h M a r i e Yo u n g

The University of Chicago Press Chicago and London

Elizabeth Marie Young is assistant professor of classical studies and the Knafel Assistant Professor of Humanities at Wellesley College, where she also teaches in the comparative literature program. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London © 2015 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved. Published 2015. Printed in the United States of America 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15

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ISBN-13: 978-0-226-27991-6 (cloth) ISBN-13: 978-0-226-28008-0 (e-book) DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226280080.001.0001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Young, Elizabeth Marie, author. Translation as muse : poetic translation in Catullus’s Rome / Elizabeth Marie Young. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-226-27991-6 (cloth : alk. paper) — isbn 978-0-226-28008-0 (e-book) 1. Catullus, Gaius Valerius. 2. Greek poetry—Translations—History and criticism. I. Title. pa6276.y68 2015 874'.01—dc23 2014050141 Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from the Bevington Fund. ♾ This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48–1992 (Permanence of Paper).


Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Finding Catullus in Translation 1 1 The Task of Translation in Catullus 64 24 2 Excavating the Poetic Emporium: Material and Cultural Capital in the Polymetrics 52 3 Catullus 4 and the Demographics of Late Republican Alexandrianism 89 4 Intimate Acts of Reading: Imitation and Self-Expression in the Translation Prefaces (50 and 65) 116 5 Constructing Callimachus 139 6 Surpassing the Gods: Infatuation and Agonism in Catullus’s Sappho (51) 166 Epilogue: Toward a Poetics of Lyric Appropriation 182 Bibliography 235 General Index 253 Index of Catullan Poems Discussed 259


My heartfelt thanks go out to the many teachers, colleagues, and friends who helped me write this book. Kathleen McCarthy’s unforgettable seminars and energizing conversations were the crucible for this project. Without her brilliance and guidance this book would not exist. Ellen Oliensis has been an ongoing delight and inspiration. I thank her for being a lighthearted Latinist and a serious lover of poetry who knows the difference between Wales, whales, and wails but also delights in their confusion. Lyn Hejinian’s curiosity, generosity, and creativity shaped the intellectual communities that fostered this project. Knowing her is a constant revelation about the ways in which poetry bridges the mind and the heart. Leslie Kurke’s formidable intellect has goaded and inspired me. I have been lucky to have her as a teacher and mentor. I am likewise indebted to many other members of the UC Berkeley faculty who have helped me become a better reader, writer, and thinker, especially William Fitzgerald, Mark Griffith, and Victoria Kahn. The anonymous readers for the University of Chicago Press offered invaluable commentary, and my editor, Susan Bielstein, unflagging encouragement and assistance. The Berkeley Lunch Circle, in particular Laurialan Reitzammer and Curtis Dozier, continually buoyed me with their inimitable blend of wisdom and hilarity. Many other academic friends have also sustained me with the fierceness of their intelligence and the depth of their humanity. Among these I would like to thank, above all, Hélène Bilis, Jessica Fisher, Siobhán McElduff, Joel Nickels, Karla Nielsen, and Margaret Ronda.



My Wellesley colleagues Bryan Burns, Carol Dougherty, Kate Gilhuly, and Ray Starr have supported me through the writing of this book in more ways than I could enumerate here. They have also ushered the evolving manuscript through draft after draft after draft. Megan Wilson, Madeline Thayer, and Meredith Santaus lavished meticulous attentions upon the manuscript at different phases of preparation. Delving further into this project’s past, I owe a great debt of thanks to the many teachers who aided and enlivened me over the years, especially those who initiated me into the pleasures of reading Latin poetry and writing English prose: Peter Amram, Diane Close, Tyler Knowles, and the rest of the Winsor School English department. I would also like to thank James Zetzel, whose brilliance and expertise guided my first thoughts on Catullus. I could not have written this book without generous financial support from the following individuals and organizations: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California at Berkeley, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Sidney Knafel, who supported my research through Wellesley College’s Knafel Assistant Professorship in the Humanities, and various research grants from both Wellesley College and the University of California at Berkeley. I would also like to thank the readers and audiences who responded so acutely to this book over the course of its development, in particular participants in the MACTe Junior Faculty Colloquium; Boston University’s Study Group on Religion and Myth in the Ancient World; and the judges of the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2010 Charles Bernheimer Prize, Chris Bush, Craig Dworkin, and Yopie Prins. Finally, thank you to my family for love and support, especially Leah Abel, my life and my love.


Finding Catullus in Translation

Is all poetry “lost in translation”?1 As we leaf through bilingual editions of our favorite poets, many modern readers are inclined to believe so. But ancient Romans would have found this notion absurd, for translation is precisely where their poetry was found. According to Cicero, among others, this discovery began at the Ludi Romani (“Roman Games”) in 240 BCE.2 On this probably apocryphal but oft-cited occasion, a trilingual freedman from Tarentum, a former Greek colony in Southern Italy, is said to have singlehandedly inaugurated Roman literature by staging a play he had translated from the Greek. This same improbable prodigy, Livius Andronicus, likewise authored Rome’s foundational epic, a Latin version of Homer’s Odyssey transposed into the native Italic Saturnian meter. Laboring to please his citizenpatrons, this foreign-born polyglot ushered a new literature into the world. There is one catch to this tale of literary birth through translation—it seems not to be true. The same Cicero who furnishes us with a date for Livius’s groundbreaking performance also speaks of verses praising famous men sung at feasts in an age before his own (Brutus 75). Such tantalizing references to native verbal arts suggest that the early Italians had burst into song long before translated dramas ever graced the stage. The Tarentine poet’s use of a purportedly native meter as a vehicle for Homer confirms these suspicions. Saturnians must have predated the Odyssia by some time for Rome’s earliest known poet to wield them with such finesse. Livius’s supposedly seminal work was built on the armature of an Italic tradition robust enough to generate a metrical system of its own. On occasion, we glimpse this prehistory by way of native genres (e.g., the Fescennine Verses) that continued to thrive after the craze for Greek-based forms took hold.3 But the strains of this early song culture are muffled at best, for they are doggedly



ignored by the first-century authors who furnish our first accounts of Rome’s literary history. These late Republican literati consistently pose their native verbal arts as emerging from translation, not Italic oral tradition. But this now familiar tale is a willful fabrication—and its evident constructedness should give us pause. However far it is from historical truth, this myth of borrowed beginnings reveals Roman attitudes toward translation to be unlike our own. While we tend to discount translation as uninspired hackwork, the Romans proudly proclaimed themselves a nation of translators. Romans did not copy the Greeks out of any creative malaise: translation was, for them, the preeminent act of literary creation. Their decision to posit translation as the crucible of their literature suggests the Romans valued translation to a degree nearly unthinkable to readers of English today. As Lawrence Venuti has shown, contemporary Anglophone readers tend to denigrate translation rather than esteem it.4 We rely on translations, of course, to watch Iranian films or read Japanese novels, but most of us wish we did not need to do so. Making a stark distinction between translation and original creation, we celebrate the latter and deem the former “second-hand” and, thus, “second-rate.”5 Despite the interventions of Venuti and other translation scholars, most modern readers continue to view translation as a necessary evil, at best ignoring it and at worst condemning its betrayals. As a result, our translators are rarely celebrated and often obscured, their names written in small, illegible print, sometimes on the back covers of books they spent years of their lives producing. Our own view of translation as the antithesis of invention has shaped the stories we tell about Rome’s literary history. Typically, such accounts have read as Hegelian dramas in which the Romans evolve from their slavish dependence on Greek texts through phases of increasingly free translation toward the sublime originality of the Augustans. In one influential, if now dated, instance of such an account, Beard and Crawford chart the development of Latin literature as a linear progression from “translation” to “adaptation” to “cultural explosion,” using these terms as the subheadings for three consecutive chapter sections.6 Even as they rightly note that translation “remained as one significant element, alongside more complex and original forms of cultural production,” they posit an antithesis between translation and originality that clearly favors the latter.7 It is this antithesis that runs counter to the Roman perspective.8 Though scholars have been nuancing this traditional narrative, its basic outlines continue to exert a good deal of force.9 According to this schema, translation is but a childhood growing pain a nation of soldiers suffered

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before their imaginations matured. This evolution seems self-evident, for it mirrors our own ideals. But when we view Rome’s literary history unclouded by our biases, we find it pulling against this teleological vision.10 Moving past our own assumptions to consider translation from a more expansively Roman perspective, we can see that translation shaped their literature all along—even during eras of the most sparkling invention. Catullus tends to play a leading role in the traditional account, for he has long been viewed as the poet whose passionate heart gave Latin literature its soul. He has been hailed as heralding the advent of “individual genius” at Rome and lauded as the first Latin poet capable of writing “poetry and not merely verse.”11 For many scholars and students of the last century, he stood as a paragon of spontaneous Latin lyricism, a proto-Romantic who burst from the shackles of translation into a torrent of metered song.12 Though few professional Latinists now subscribe to this view, a great many poetry lovers still cherish this Keatsian vision.13 For most readers outside the walls of Classics departments, Catullus remains a vital voice crying from the wilderness of Latin verse, a “lyric genius” whose depth of emotion and flights of invention save Roman literature from being a wholly grim and callous affair.14 From the modern perspective, such a poet would have no time for the drudge-work of translation—he would be too busy answering the call of his own unfettered muse. Catullus’s extant corpus corroborates this idea. Of the 116 poems that remain to us, only two (51 and 66) appear to be translations by modern criteria—and even these can strain against our demands for faithful replication of a single source. This paucity of full-length versions of particular Greek texts has, unsurprisingly, dampened critical interest in Catullan translation. To the modern eye, the poet of Verona had little use for this technique. But the absence of dutifully Latinized versions of Greek lyrics or epigrams does not signal a lack of translation as the Romans conceived it. The gulf separating Roman translation from our own has obscured the extent to which it infuses his corpus. This book argues that translation permeates Catullus’s oeuvre but in forms that are frequently unrecognizable to us. Time and again, we find that poems we would tend to label originals have been shaped by translation practices different from our own. We will also notice, perhaps with a certain amount of consternation, that Catullus flaunts his use of translation rather than conceal it. Refusing the “invisibility” of the modern-day translator, he takes a jubilant pride in forms of literary appropriation that might strike us as evidence of a diminished talent.15 When we approach Catullus in light of Roman translation mentalities, this attitude no longer baffles. As we shall see throughout this



book, translation was not a liability at Rome but rather a sign of power— and the spark of much of its most restless poetic invention. Thanks to Denis Feeney, among others, we are now increasingly aware that practices we tend to perceive as “‘secondary’ or ‘derivative’” were, in the hands of the Romans, “radically innovative and creative.”16 Re-reading Catullan translation from this perspective exposes new layers of ingenuity within a familiar corpus. This wildly creative poet frequently uses translation to spark poetic invention. In fact, some of his oeuvre’s most characteristic features (his dramatically vulnerable persona, the poetic beloved he calls Lesbia) prove to be outgrowths of translation in distinctly Roman forms. Attending to the ways translation has shaped this corpus reconfigures our understanding of a poet we thought we knew. It also asks us to rethink post-Romantic assumptions about poetic invention by inviting us into a literary world where translation itself was a muse. In the modern era, Catullus has rarely suffered neglect. But the cautious communion that now unites literary theory and classical philology has spurred a surge of significant monographs in the past decades. Using new theoretical frameworks to reorient this poet far beyond faded questions of passion and biography, these studies have deepened our understanding of this poet tremendously.17 My book likewise seeks to find new ways to read Catullus and it shares with most of these studies the conviction that this familiar author becomes all the more fascinating the less familiar he seems. It also shares with many of these newer studies an interest in applying highly textured reading techniques within an expansive conceptual frame. But while those studies typically read Catullus from a particular theoretical angle, I maintain a strategic eclecticism. My discussions move through a range of theoretical modes that I apply with the aim of illuminating Catullan translation as fully as possible. The approaches I draw on most (though not always in overt or orthodox form) are deconstruction, gender studies, cultural poetics, and thing theory, as well as translation theory in various guises. Despite this theoretical pluralism, my method is consistent throughout. I would describe it as a mode of deep reading that pursues textual particulars within networks of broader cultural currents while remaining rigorously attuned to the play of poetic language. Though my discussion is wide-ranging (I cover poems from every section of Catullus’s eclectic corpus), it is also admittedly partial. I aim to offer a series of starting points that invite continuation, to model an approach to reading Latin poetry that might be applied elsewhere, both within Catullus and beyond. This book also aims to enrich the historical scope of translation studies, a new field with a habit of tracing its origins back to Rome. Translation histo-

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ries often begin with an authorizing Roman sound bite, most commonly an aphorism from Cicero or Horace. But these shards of Roman gravitas are so severed from their sources that they tend to distort their authors’ thinking beyond recognition. What Cicero really meant when he refused to translate verbum pro verbo (“word for word,” De Optimo Genere Oratorum 14) or Horace when he rejected the techniques of the fidus interpres (“faithful translator,” Ars Poetica 133–34) is impossible to discern without knowledge of cultural context.18 Until recently, such contextualized discussions were difficult to come by because Roman translation studies was still an incipient field. Despite translation’s importance to Roman literary history, scholars have tended to shy away from the topic. This avoidance, one suspects, has stemmed from a kind of scholastic chivalry: well-meaning Latinists have often viewed it as their unspoken task to counter the charge that the Romans were but glorified plagiarists. It seemed counterproductive to highlight translation when the aim was to coax Roman letters from beneath the Olympian shadow of Hellenic precursors. But developments in translation theory have refashioned translation itself into a privileged locus of both creative invention and scholarly investigation. No longer holding up the source text as the exclusive site of creative ferment, critics now prefer a target-oriented approach that views translations as embedding their own culturally specific concerns. Rather than asking ontological or evaluative questions (e.g., “Is this, in fact, a translation?” or “Is this translation a success?”) translation scholars now make cultural, political, and ideological queries (e.g., “What cultural forces dictated this translator’s choices?”).19 Translation studies has become a branch of cultural studies and translations are now celebrated as rich sources of information about domestic ideologies and processes of cultural exchange. From this perspective, the imitation-happy Romans become a fascinating test case and their translationheavy literature a cynosure, not an embarrassment. Not surprisingly, Roman translation studies is a fast-ascending field. Several major works have been published in the past few years, most notably Siobhán McElduff ’s Roman Theories of Translation (2013) and Maurizio Bettini’s Vertere (2012).20 Until recently, work on Roman translation was primarily linguistic and comparative in focus: the main task was to assess how the Latin text compared to its source.21 In contrast, the new wave of Roman scholarship follows upon the cultural turn of translation studies more generally. Building on the insights of Theo Hermans, André Lefevere, and others, such studies pose translation as a culturally embedded practice and stress the differences that distinguish Roman translation theories and practices from our own. I too insist on the cultural particularity of Roman translation—or, to



be more specific, elite poetic translation in the mid-first century BCE. Like McElduff and Bettini, I call attention to the ways that modern assumptions obscure Roman translation practices.22 Most importantly, I aim to approach Catullan translation, inasmuch as possible, from the Romans’ own celebratory perspective. The Romans were not ashamed of their status as translators and there is no reason we should continue to blush on their account. Consequently this book proceeds, at times, as a scholarly exposé, unveiling moments of translation in unexpected passages. Such disclosures reveal the extent to which Catullus’s much-touted “lyric genius” was shaped by specifically Roman translation mentalities and practices. Translation was a crucial spark for this poet’s abundant invention. Exprimere, reddere, vertere: Defining the Roman Field of Translation Of what did the Romans speak when they spoke of translation? This question is a challenge, not least because they rarely spoke of translation at all. Despite the centrality of translation to their intellectual life, the Romans rarely paused to reflect upon the practice. Even authors who translated fervently discuss it infrequently—and their comments tend to be technical or brief.23 The paucity of ancient discussion makes modern research arduous. We are left to reconstruct whole theories on the basis of tossed-off comments, or to extrapolate mentalities from the meager evidence of practice remaining to us. These efforts are further complicated by the widespread disappearance of the Greek texts that served as source material. To study ancient literature is to court such frustrations, but to study ancient translation amplifies the uncertainty. Latin’s translation lexicon adds to the confusion: it is astoundingly rich and entirely unlike our own. Though we can trace the English “translation” back to Roman roots (from translatio, literally, “the act of carrying across”), our notion of what that word implies differs starkly from the assumptions that inform the panoply of terms Romans applied to the practice. Exprimere, vertere, mutare, interpretari, reddere, explicare, and transferre are just some of the verbs that include “to translate” among their English definitions.24 Yet none directly maps onto what we mean when we say that word. Each of Latin’s translation terms covers a range of meanings that extend well beyond interlingual translation. What is more, their core definitions are surprisingly distinct.25 For instance, exprimere means, at base, “to squeeze out, stamp or make an impression”; vertere “to turn” and, by extension, “to transform or alter”; reddere “to restore, give back or render”; explicare “to disentangle or unfold.” Though certain ancient authors prefer one term over the other, none rises to the surface as an all-around dominant term.26

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Thankfully, we can pinpoint a common feature within this diversity. As McElduff notes, “Roman terms for translation all carry with them not just the notion of physical movement, but of force and sometimes complete alteration.”27 For the Romans, translation was fundamentally about change. In the modern era we tend to emphasize fidelity of target to source, posing unaltered duplication as the impossible ideal. In contrast, the Romans thought of translation as a metamorphosis that subjected the source to what Bettini calls a “radical transformation” (trasformazione radicale).28 The result is often a text that strikes the modern reader as either heretical or hardly a translation at all. Our translators are generally presumed to work in service to the source, reproducing it with minimum interference. In Rome, a literary translator was expected to alter his source to showcase his creative acumen and demonstrate his power. “The overriding concern,” as McElduff notes, “was not fidelity or free translation, but control.”29 Although Roman poets were capable of reproducing Greek texts with remarkable fidelity, this was not their ultimate goal and an exacting replication in Latin was the exception not the rule.30 Instead, the Romans dramatically reworked their sources, manipulating them to a degree that can unnerve us today. In fact, literal translation was considered downright perilous: it obliterated the translator’s own presence within the text and risked a “slavish” submission to the source’s influence.31 Attius Labeo’s notoriously literal translations of the Iliad and Odyssey (1st c. CE) were derided by Persius as being “drunk with hellebore” (i.e., both insane and lacking in inspiration).32 Even the scholiast on Persius could not resist making his own jab, explaining that “Labeo absurdly translated the Iliad and Odyssey word for word.”33 When elite literary authors did translate in this way, it was generally with some ulterior motive, not out of any desire to maintain the integrity of the source.34 The Romans aimed to control their sources rather than submit to them. They also competed with these sources—and intended to win. Literary translation was one of many arenas for elite competition, yet one more place to establish dominance over non-Romans and one’s peers. While the author of the source was the immediate rival, the challenge of one’s contemporaries was rarely out of mind. Fuscus, an Augustan-era declaimer, summarizes this position well when he says of a translation he made from the Greek lyricist Adaeus: “I aim to compete with the best turns of phrase . . . and I try not to degrade (corrumpere), but to conquer them (vincere)” (Seneca the Elder Controversiae 9.1.13). Translation was viewed as a kind of cultural warfare, a certamen (“contest, struggle”) with the source that replicated Rome’s triumph over Greece in the military arena.35 Within this context, the “cardinal sin” was failure to outstrip one’s source.36



The principles that guided Roman poetic translation all hinged on this ideal of radical transformation. Mark Possanza summarizes the five hallmarks of Latin poetic translation as follows: “Subjectivity, innovation, assimilation to the Roman world of discourse [i.e., domestication], incorporation of new material found in literary, critical or exegetical sources [i.e., piecemeal translation of multiple sources or contaminatio], and variation in mode [between free and literal techniques].”37 All these tendencies (which he sums up as the “poetics of Latin translation”) clearly stem from the idea of translation as change and the imperative to rewrite one’s source.38 Such transformations could play out in any number of ways: one might replace the Muses with the Camenae (Italic water nymphs), as Livius did in his Odyssia; one might shift the focus of an encomium from Zeus to a Roman emperor, as Germanicus Caesar did in his version of Aratus’s Phaenomena; one might tack a translated passage from Thucydides to a hexameter rendition of Epicurean thought, as Lucretius did in De Rerum Natura; one might combine the amended scripts of multiple New Comedies into a single Latin play, as both Plautus and Terence did with some frequency. In each of these cases, the aim was not to reproduce the source but to transform it into a Roman text that showcased its Roman author.39 These techniques remained remarkably stable throughout Rome’s history and we will see all of them at play in Catullus. From Livius Andronicus onward, the Romans continued to employ the same basic methods until a massive conceptual shift changed Western translation forever in the Christian era.40 With the creation of the Septuagint and, later, the translation of the entire Bible into Latin, a new preoccupation with perfect fidelity arose.41 Radical transformation becomes decidedly problematic when translating the Word of God. In fact, any deviation from the target text threatens the sanctity of that original logos. This impossible ideal of unaltered replication—enshrined in the myth of the Septuagint—has shaped all subsequent thinking about translation in the West.42 Modern Anglo-European ideas about translation do not derive from Horace and Cicero so much as from the Judeo-Christian approach to translating Scripture. This biblical ethos has so permeated all subsequent thinking that translation study’s “cultural turn,” with its newfound investment in target over source, has had to wait for nearly two thousand years. In this regard, modern translation theory is, in fact, circling back to Roman views. Despite such emerging theoretical correlations, we moderns still conceptualize—and practice—translation unlike Catullus and his peers. The gulf separating these divergent translation landscapes poses another challenge, for our own cultural scrim invariably obfuscates the discussion. As McElduff

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points out, the Romans have a “field that they define as translation,” though it overlaps only partly with our own. Following Theo Hermans, she accepts that, when speaking of translation “we translate according to our concept of translation, and into our concept of translation.”43 The same, of course, holds true for the language in which we articulate these concepts. The Romans had over a dozen different words for translation. We have only one. And so we must repeat its dreary refrain to intone the diversity of Roman translation practice. But I, like McElduff, will use the word “translation” in reference to practices that both overlap with and diverge from the modern notion. If we hope to capture the breadth of translation as the Romans practiced and understood it, we must allow our single term a new degree of elasticity. This elasticity is especially important because the Romans positioned translation within an expansive conceptual field of appropriative practices. Linguistic translation lay along what Marco Fantuzzi and Richard Hunter term a “continuum” of other “allusive, intertexual practices.” These included procedures that we would be inclined to distinguish as intertextuality, allusion, paraphrase, citation, and so on.44 All such techniques were subcategories of imitatio (“imitation”), the fundamental motor of Roman literature. The highly conservative Romans valorized imitation as a way of acting in the present while maintaining a link to the past. As Catherine Connors explains: “To be truly Roman is to imitate one’s ancestors” as, for instance, the ritual wearing of ancestral personae (“funeral masks”) implies.45 This rage for imitation filtered into Rome’s literary practice in forms ranging from purely verbal imitation (paraphrase, quotation, translation, etc.) to the replication of tropes, characters, genres and themes.46 Operations we tend to view as distinct coexisted for the Romans within this expanded field of inter- and intralingual imitative possibilities. It is not that Catullus, Cicero, and the rest did not recognize any difference between these various forms of appropriation. They were simply not as invested as we are in keeping these subcategories distinct.47 While translation was not considered fundamentally distinct from other forms of literary appropriation, it was unique in offering special opportunities for experimentation and novelty. The Romans especially valued modes of imitation whose very constraints fomented deviation. One such technique that has received much modern attention is contaminatio, the melding of two or more models.48 Since a text that combines two sources cannot directly replicate either, this strategy was guaranteed to result in something new.49 Translation itself was a similarly privileged form of imitatio because direct replication of the source was impossible. This idea comes up frequently in discussions of writing and rhetorical exercises where working from the Greek is discussed as allowing for greater creative freedom than working with Latin models. In



his Institutio Oratoria, Quintilian cites a long-standing belief that translation is the best way to foster originality in rhetorical training, explaining: “When translating Greek authors we can use our very best language, for that which we use is entirely ours” (10.5.3). In a letter to Fuscus Salinator, Pliny the Younger advises him to take up this same sort of translation exercise recreationally, explaining that “by imitating the best writers one gains a similar capacity for invention” (Epistulae 7.9.1). Within the deeply conservative literary culture of Rome, translation afforded enticing openings for creativity. A similar conceptual expansiveness linked linguistic translation with nonverbal forms of appropriation. Literary translation was one among many ways in which the Romans imported resources from abroad in service of their own ends. Roman authors in Catullus’s period are especially sensitive to this fact and frequently discuss translation in conjunction with other forms of cultural co-option. From within this mindset, translating an Epicurean tract, compelling a Greek grammarian to serve as your lector (“reader”), and erecting a statue group from Corinth in the garden of one’s villa were all part of the same overarching project. These were just some of the many ways in which the Romans might, as Cicero puts it, “snatch praise from the now-declining Greece” (Tusculanae Disputationes 2.5). Cicero makes the conceptual overlap of such appropriative practices clear in the passage from which the above citation is drawn. The Tusculanae Disputationes (45 BCE) are a series of five philosophical dialogues that, as Cicero explains it, aim to “illuminate” Greek philosophy in Latin, presenting in a palatable form a variety of Greek literature that had “languished in neglect until this day” (1.5).50 In the introduction to the second book he urges his readers to follow his lead and help him usher in the birth of philosophy in Latin letters (2.5). He poses this generic translation project as a kind of civic duty that follows upon the conquests of earlier generations. Quam ob rem hortor omnes, qui facere id possunt, ut huius quoque generis laudem iam languenti Graeciae eripiant et transferant in hanc urbem, sicut reliquas omnes, quae quidem erant expetendae, studio atque industria sua maiores nostri transtulerunt. (2.5) On this account, I encourage all who are able to do so to snatch from the now declining Greece the praise inherent in this form of study [philosophy] and to transfer (transferant) it into this city, just as our ancestors transferred (transtulerunt) with zeal and industriousness, all other available sources of praise, at least whatever they deemed worth seeking out.

The transposition of Greek philosophy into Latin is here posed as one of many ways in which the Romans forcibly transferred Greek resources to

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Rome. Cicero’s use of the verb eripere (“to snatch away,” “take by force”) foregrounds the violence inherent in this co-option. It likewise figures Cicero and other aspiring Roman philosophers as the intellectual perpetuators of Rome’s military conquest of Greece. This is the speech of a would-be general rousing a cultural army to plunder a new kind of spoil. In evoking his ancestors’ transfer (transtulerunt) of Greek renown “into this city,” he evokes the hoards of material wealth that were so often carted into the city from conquered provinces. The transfer of material wealth (along with personal and national glory) into Rome had long been ritualized in the form of the triumph, a military spectacle wherein paintings, statues, and prisoners of war were paraded through Rome’s streets behind a victorious general. Cicero’s discussion of his ancestors’ zealous transfer of objects of praise into his city conjures this triumphal scene, blurring the gap between the intellectual’s leisured pursuit of Greek philosophy and a soldier’s frenzied looting of some far-flung palace. In both instances above, Cicero uses the verb transferre in reference to conveyance or transplantation rather than translation specifically. But a third use of the word later in the passage further blurs the line between physical transfer and literary translation. His call to action culminates in the observation that “once these studies have been transferred (traducta erunt) to us, we shall no longer have any need of Greek libraries” (Tusculanae Disputationes 2.6). This comment makes vividly clear that a massive translation project is what Cicero has in mind. He himself had been amassing personal libraries in his villas to serve as the raw material for projects such as the Tusculan Disputations themselves. But Cicero here evokes such libraries in order to displace them with shelves of Latin books. He envisions a world in which the “endless number of books” (2.6) proliferated by Greek authors might be streamlined into a more manageable set of Roman volumes. The physical transfer into Rome of Greek glories and goods is hereby aligned with the comprehensive (and sensibly abridged) translation of Greek philosophy into Latin. Though these dialogues would not be deemed translations in modern terms, Cicero intends them as the opening volleys of a generic translation project that is far bolder and more ambitious than the linguistic translation of any one text. Cicero poses his own era, indeed, his own philosophical tract, as the very birth of philosophia in Latin. As he presents it, this new generic arrival follows swiftly upon the death of rhetoric in his beleaguered period (1.5). Now that one Greek genre has flourished and failed at Rome, he envisions himself and his fellows filling in the gap with a new literary mode.51 In the Tusculan Disputations, translation is bound up with other forms of what we might term “cultural translation.” The text as a whole is modeled after Greek philosophical dialogues and engages a range of philosophical



ideas, from Plato to Stoicism. But this recreation of Greek philosophy is not simply textual. As Cicero describes it, the Tusculan Disputations transcribe peripatetic conversations he staged with a group of friends in his Tusculan villa. Following the practice of Philo of Larissa (a Greek philosopher who taught a Stoic-inflected version of Aristotle some decades earlier at Rome), Cicero invited his friends to join him in a two-part intellectual adventure. The day began with rhetorical exercises in the morning and continued with philosophical discussion in the afternoon. These latter colloquies were staged in Cicero’s private “academy” (academia, his term for his villa’s downstairs gymnasium) (2.9). The transcribed dialogues themselves are, thus, just one facet in a far-reaching attempt to re-create not just Aristotle’s academy, but also ancient Athens at large in living diorama. The format, substance, and setting of the conversations he transcribes are all part of this attempt to transfer into Italy an entire mode of living, albeit selectively. Though especially striking in this regard, the Tusculan Disputations are not an anomaly: literary translation at Rome invariably intersects with various kinds of cultural translation. The Captive Captors: Translation and Colonization Literary translation was one facet of the broader cultural phenomenon we now warily refer to as “hellenization.”52 Rome was a remarkably permeable civilization and much of Roman culture had its origins in Greece. Even so vital a feature of Roman culture as their legal system had its purported roots in Greece. According to tradition, the Twelve Tables upon which were enshrined Rome’s original legal code were written after sending a delegation of Romans abroad to study Athenian law.53 The Sibylline Books are another instance of a venerable Roman institution founded in translation from the Greek. These oracular books, purportedly delivered to Rome by the Cumaean Sibyl during the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, were written in Greek hexameters, which were then interpreted by Roman priests.54 As these two examples alone make clear, there never was any pure ground of Romanitas untouched by outside influence.55 The Romans had incorporated foreign practices and beliefs since the earliest days of the city’s settlement and would continue to do so throughout the rest of their history. That said, certain periods did witness an upsurge of enthusiasm for the cultural products of certain areas, in particular, Greece. These successive waves of hellenization tended to coincide with military developments.56 The most dramatic of these came in the third century BCE, when Rome’s military ventures prompted increased contact with both mainland Greece and the Greek

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populations that had colonized southern Italy. The Roman conquest of Macedonia in 168 BCE intensified this discomfited fascination and prompted a massive wave of imports and influence.57 At this juncture, Rome acquired its first library, which the victorious Aemilius Paulus seized from King Perseus of Macedonia and carted home in 167 BCE (Plutarch Life of Aemilius Paulus 28.6). Greek scholars and teachers soon flooded the city in the wake of these books.58 Roman literature was, in this regard, a byproduct of war, a treasure looted from the trove of another nation’s intellect. Reflecting upon this historical fact, a long line of translation theorists have discussed the Romans as paradigmatic imperialists who harnessed translation to achieve another “form of conquest.” As Nietzsche memorably puts it: How forcibly and at the same time how naively it [Roman antiquity] took hold of everything good and lofty of Greek antiquity, which was more ancient! . . . How deliberately and recklessly they brushed the dust off the wings of the butterfly that is called moment!59

Latin translators certainly did batter Homeric butterflies in the service of Roman imperium—but such lepidopteral carnage is only part of the story. While the Romans often translated in order to strengthen the Latin tongue and the Roman state, this task was ever haunted by a sense of Rome’s intellectual debts to the land of Pindar and Plato.60 Rome’s undeniable urge to power is clear from the way translation was regulated in the public sphere. One of the few explicitly stated policies governing translation was rooted in an evident desire to increase an expanding Republic’s sometimes tenuous prestige. Quite early in Rome’s imperial history, restrictions were set on translation among diplomats undertaking statesanctioned business. Whether speaking with foreign delegates in the senate or addressing potentates in Africa, officials could not converse in any language other than Latin—and this despite the fact that most of them knew Greek.61 Such regulations meant that foreign ambassadors, citizens, and kings were forced either to speak through interpreters or to learn Latin themselves. As legend has it, this policy developed in response to the linguistic mishap of a third-century ambassador named L. Postumius Megallus. Sent to Tarentum in 281, he is said to have spoken such mangled Greek that the locals expressed their disgust by defecating on his toga.62 This one man’s debacle encapsulates the anxieties of an imperialist Republic that felt its intellectual finesse to lag behind its martial clout. The policies adopted eased these fears by affirming Roman dominance through linguistic sovereignty. As Valerius Maximus notes, Rome’s insistence on conducting official business in Latin greatly in-



creased the status of that language while also compelling widespread recognition of Roman authority (2.2.2).63 But when it came to intellectual life, translation was governed by altogether different practices. In this context, the institutionalized monolingualism of their international policy was replaced by an equally uncompromising bilingualism.64 Amid the polyglot world of the ancient Mediterranean (and, for that matter, of Italy itself), upper-class Romans claimed allegience to only “each of the two languages” (utraque lingua)–Latin and Greek.65 The education of the Roman elite hinged on gaining command over both these languages, often by translating between them.66 Well-born infants learned to babble from Greek nurses. Schoolboys learned the alphabet not in Latin, but in Greek and then began to read by dipping into Homer. After learning the basics, a student could progress to translation exercises such as rendering Aesop’s fables, first with a word-for-word version (mutatis verbis interpretari), then in bolder paraphrase (paraphrasi audacius vertere; Quintilian Institutio Oratoria 1.9.2–3). The subsequent stages of grammatical and rhetorical training likewise consisted of work in both languages, with ample translation between them.67 This was true even at the highest levels of instruction. According to Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria 10.5.2), translation was considered the “best possible” (optimum) type of training for the orator and discussions of such techniques surface in authors ranging from Cicero, to Pliny the Younger, to Seneca the Elder.68 Nor was translation relegated to the classroom. Nearly the whole of Rome’s literary culture was modeled upon established Greek genres.69 This fixation on appropriating a literary tradition from a single source language is, perhaps, the most distinctive feature of both Roman translation and Roman literature more generally.70 Almost every Roman text we know gestures back to one or more Greek sources in some regard, whether through citation, allusion, meter, genre, or theme. In their capacity as soldiers, senators, and diplomats, the Romans refused to acknowledge any language other than Latin, insisting that “in every circumstance the pallium [a characteristically Greek cloak] should submit to the toga” (Valerius Maximus 2.2.2). But in matters of learning and letters, they would figuratively—or even literally—don that foreign mantle and submit themselves to the doctrina of a people Rome’s army had crushed.71 In a modern colonial context, the path of cultural domination most often follows the direction of military conquest. The colonized inhabitants of India, Africa, and Latin America typically assimilated the language and letters of European powers, whether willingly or under duress. But intellectual transfer went in the other direction far less frequently. Schoolboys in colonial

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India learned to enjoy the plays of Shakespeare, but in Britain the study of Sanskrit—or even Hindi—remained an esoteric pursuit. In this way, cultural dominion came to reinforce military clout, stamping out native traditions and affirming the colonizer’s supremacy in the cultural sphere.72 At Rome, however, the situation was just the reverse. Far from dismissing Greek learning as arcane or irrelevant, Rome nurtured a centuries-long obsession with the language and literature of this particular colony. As Horace so famously put it: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit (“captive Greece took her wild victor captive,” Epistulae 2.1.155). This paradox can be explained by a feature of ancient history that finds no equivalent in modern colonialism: by the time Rome began asserting power beyond the Italian peninsula, Greece had long been the dominant political and cultural force throughout the Mediterranean. The Hellenic conquest of Persia, followed a century later by the triumphs of Alexander the Great, had established Greek rule through much of the region Rome would later occupy. Greece’s military success precipitated a generalized diffusion of their literary tradition throughout the Mediterranean world. By the second century BCE, Greek served as the region’s lingua franca and Greek literature was considered the pinnacle of intellectual refinement. Rome inherited an empire in which aesthetic Hellenism was already a dominant feature of cosmopolitan life. The conceptual complexity arising from this historical relationship manifests in Rome’s ongoing ambivalence toward Greek culture. As we shall see, this ambivalence is on vivid display throughout Catullus’s oeuvre. Despite their general openness to translation as such, the Romans did not translate indiscriminately. They had always adopted Greek thinking selectively, embracing what seemed useful and rejecting the unappealing or threatening, either through indifference or vehement refusal.73 The mathematical, scientific, and musical treatises so central to Greek thought generated little interest. Meanwhile, Romanized versions of Greek religion, myth, rhetoric, and literature flourished.74 But even within these fields, the Roman purview was selective and many literary genres never made their way to Rome. Each genre’s translation history depended on how well it conformed to Roman conventions and tastes. Greek drama, for instance, was a culturally familiar form. It meshed with native performance traditions such as Atellan Farce and integrated well with Rome’s urbanism, civic-mindedness, and love of public spectacle.75 It is no wonder that much of Rome’s earliest hellenizing literature consists of translations from Greek plays, in particular New Comedy and tragedy. From the time of Livius onward, the city had a voracious appetite for such productions and a number of early authors made their living rendering versions of Greek scripts into Latin. Terence himself



is even rumored to have died while sailing to Greece to hunt down works by Menander as fodder for his own productions. Even after the initial heyday of Roman drama, plays continued to be staged without interruption and attending the festivals that showcased such productions became an everyday Roman pastime. Meanwhile, the small-scale poetic genres Catullus would pursue were ignored for almost another two centuries. There is little doubt that the Romans were aware of their existence. The lyric was considered a major mode by the Greeks and had been exhaustively catalogued by Hellenistic scholars. Epigram was tremendously popular in Hellenistic times and had even spawned widely circulating anthologies (e.g., Meleager’s Garland, ca. 100 BCE). Such texts had been available to Roman readers at least a half century prior to Catullus, but aside from the native genre of satire, an occasional erotic epigram, and Laevius’s Erotopaegnia (“Pornographic Playthings”), small-scale first-person poetry languished in generic obscurity. Latin dramas and epics were composed, often at a furious pace. But few authors were inclined to write what we would now call “lyric” poems. The earliest Latin poems we moderns would put into that category were a flurry of erotic epigrams composed around 100 BCE. But such forms did not begin to thrive until Catullus and a group of like-minded authors (often referred to as “neoterics”) developed a passion for the poetry of Hellenistic Alexandria.76 At that point, a number of mavericks began to experiment within this poetic tradition, gravitating especially to forms that had been popularized by Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 305–240 BCE). The fame of this spectacularly learned poet-scholar would come to eclipse all but Homer’s in Catullus’s period and the generations that followed. Callimachus’s popularity signaled a radical break from tradition, for he staunchly rejected the old fashioned and the grand, formulating a poetics of craft and erudition that proclaimed “a big book a big evil” (μέγα βιβλίον μέγα κακόν, fr. 465 Pfeiffer). Heeding this maxim, Catullus and his fellows adopted a range of unabashedly minor verse forms including lyrics, epigrams, invectives, hymns, epithalamia, and miniature epics. As different as they seem to us, these forms would have been viewed by the Romans as sharing some essential features: all are aggressively trivial and defiantly private poems. All pull against the core Roman values of militaristic virility and civic engagement. The lush emotionality and sensuous beauty of such texts were perceived as something strange—and not a little bit dangerous. Cicero—who himself wrote in a range of previously marginal genres—contemptuously declared that if he had two lives he would still have no time to read the lyric poets (Seneca the Younger Epistulae Morales 49.5).

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Beyond Egestas Linguae: the Richness of Literary Translation in Catullus’s Rome Why did heretofore-unappealing, trifling poetic forms suddenly seize the Roman imagination? The answer to this question is complex but hinges, in part, on the late- Republican elite’s general investment in Greek aestheticism. Catullus lived during “the first great intellectual flowering at Rome,” a period when aesthetic Hellenism was becoming compulsory among the upper classes.77 In the literary sphere, this imperative manifested through a sudden surge in authorship among elite Romans, many of whom tackled formerly neglected genres such as philosophical dialogues and erotic epigrams. The period’s three most touted authors—Lucretius, Cicero, and Catullus himself— all devoted themselves to such overlooked forms. In each case, the project amounted to an act of generic translation. As James Warren notes of Lucretius, he “is a translator not in the sense of merely rendering an original Greek text into Latin. Rather, he introduces, packages, and explains Greek thought for a new audience and culture and time.”78 This repackaging consisted, partly, in a shift from prose to verse, a bold move considering that Epicurus himself disapproved of poetry.79 The phrase most closely associated with Lucretian translation is egestas linguae (“the poverty of the native tongue,” De Rerum Natura 1.139, 1.832, 3.260), which, the poet says, makes it difficult for him “to illuminate the obscure findings of the Greeks in Latin verses” (1.136–37). But this plaint is likely not so much conceding Latin’s inferiority as vaunting the poet’s ability to overcome such limitations.80 Lucretius was well aware of the immense “labor” (laborem, 1.141) he undertook in repackaging Epicurus for a Roman elite whose way of life ran contrary to everything that philosopher stood for. He is wary of the dangers, but also unabashedly proud that his sleepless nights might spur his co-citizens toward lives of greater freedom and pleasure (1.140–145). Alongside such large-scale generic translation projects, first-century elites did, on occasion, write more straightforward linguistic translations. One well-known instance is Cicero’s version of Aratus’s astronomical treatise, the Phaenomena, which he rendered into Latin as a young man and later cited at some length in his own De Natura Deorum (104–14).81 But such translations were unusual among elite authors, who were never content to dutifully reproduce a source. In keeping with the poetics of Latin translation outlined above, they were far more inclined to scatter snippets from a range of translated sources throughout their own texts. To take just one example, each of Lucretius’s hexameters is inimitably his own, yet his poem is studded with fragments of Homer, Callimachus, Sappho, Thucydides, and Euripides, along



with numerous Greek philosophers.82 Aulus Gellius foregrounds similar strategies in Vergil when praising his skill and good taste in selectively translating passages by Homer, Hesiod, Apollonius, Parthenius, Callimachus, and Theocritus (Noctes Atticae 9.9.3). Piecemeal translation was a key mark of elite authorship, something that distinguished upper- from lower-class translators. The distinction Cicero makes between himself and the lesser translators he terms interpretes (“middlemen, interpreters”) in the De Finibus is, precisely, the patchwork nature of his own project, which, “while preserving what has been said by those of whom we approve, add[s] our own judgments and arrangement” (De Fin. 2). Despite the intellectual openness of the era, such work was often met with suspicion. All three authors address themselves to real or phantom censors, defending their choice to compose Latin versions of marginal genres.83 Of the three, Cicero seems the most acutely aware that others might object to his translation projects. The apologias that result offer some of the most extensive statements on Latin translation prior to Jerome.84 One of the main problems inherent in writing for an audience of erudite Romans was that they could already read the source in its original language. Cicero flags this issue in his Academica when he has the eminent scholar and polymath Varro explain: “And so, I was unwilling to write works that the unlearned could not understand and the learned would have no desire to read” (1.5). Greek had long been the language of intellectual life in Italy and some resisted reading anything in Latin, much less works they could already enjoy in a far more prestigious original tongue.85 This objection made the need to transform one’s source all the more pressing. A bilingual audience’s interest in the Latin version would rest largely on curiosity about what the Roman author had done to transform it.86 But renditions by and for elites were not the only translations composed in this period. On several occasions, Cicero alludes to another kind of translation geared toward an audience different from his own. In the passage from the Academica cited above, Varro contrasts his own aspirations with the Epicurean translations of two hacks, Amafinius and Rabirius, who, he asserts, “artlessly discourse on obvious matters in everyday language” (Academica 1.5).87 This comment intimates a bifurcated audience for Epicureanism in this period: erudite elites well-versed in Greek were reading philosophy alongside a less educated audience who could only access it in Latin. Cicero’s objections to the artlessness of his Epicurean rivals reveals a class divide that preoccupies him in other dialogues as well. McElduff intriguingly proposes that the orator’s famous condemnation of interpretes as indiserti (“ineloquent,” De Finibus, 3.15) gestures toward such translators’ lack of train-

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ing in rhetoric, the culminating phase of an elite education.88 The word-forword technique Cicero attributes to these interpretes may be a reference to (and a by-product of) their intensive training with grammarians who busied themselves with the minutia of word-based analyses. Elite Romans trained this way as well, but would have distanced themselves from such techniques after progressing to rhetorical training.89 Cicero’s wording betrays an elitist scoffing at a translation style that advertises a lack of advanced education. His recurring dismissal of these interpretes is one index of how powerfully class inflected literary practice in the late Republic. By this time, Livius, Ennius, and the other lower-class semi-Graeci (“half-Greeks,” Suetonius De Grammaticis 1.2), who first fashioned a hellenizing literature in Latin, no longer dominated the cultural landscape. Literary creation in general and translation in particular were becoming elite activities. Translation as Muse Each of my chapters circles around one or more features of first-century translation outlined above. In each instance, I locate Catullus’s work within this broader context while exploring how that context illuminates particular poems. Because I argue that translation, in its uniquely Roman forms, permeates the collection at every level, my discussion reaches well beyond the two overt translations that normally feature in studies of Catullus as translator. Apart from its last two chapters, the book revolves around poems that would not be considered translations today. The goal is to be neither eccentric nor exhaustive. Rather, I aim to highlight some principal facets of late-Republican translation and to show how reading with these in mind can reawaken our wonder at poems we thought we knew. In accordance with this objective, my chapters move from the unfamiliar to the familiar, beginning with culturally distant forms of translation and ending with Catullus’s two most conspicuous versions of specific Greek texts. To track the changes that have defined Catullan studies through the past century or so, it would suffice to chart the fortunes of his longest poem (64). This mythic extravaganza has been subject to a series of critical reassessments that show no sign of abating. Amid this flurry of new insights, one easily forgets that scholars once believed this poem to be a translation. My first chapter harkens back to this now murky critical past to propose a different kind of translation-based reading. I argue that poem 64, though original by modern standards, is shot through with forms of translation that were common at Rome, in particular, what I term generic translation. This poem is the first extant miniature epic in Latin. This Hellenistic form, now known as the



“epyllion,” is notorious for its outlandish eroticism and intricate construction. Importing such an unwieldy genre was a formidable task, as the poet himself seems well aware. Frequently, the narrative flow is put on pause to lavish attention on items associated with the ancient transfer of culture from East to West. I propose that these diversions allow for internal reflection on the poem’s own appropriative genesis. By showcasing highly charged symbols of Roman Hellenism, poem 64 layers a contemporary subtext beneath its assemblage of Greek myths and probes its own unsettling status as a translation of the epyllion into Latin form. Even as it offers new ways to navigate a difficult poem, this chapter introduces several key arguments of the book. First, it shows how a Latin text might hinge upon Roman translation techniques while striking the modern reader as an original composition. Next, it suggests that even the most rarified Catullan texts do not necessarily revel in an inward-turning aestheticism. Instead, they tend to use self-reflection to explore their own genesis, an appropriative process grounded in material history. Lastly, the discussion highlights a point I will return to in several subsequent chapters: that translation often appears as a thematic concern in Catullus, even in places where we would not expect to find it. This thematic tends to link poetic translation with other forms of cultural transfer. Such an association makes sense when we recall that literary translation was one small, if dazzling, facet of Roman hellenization more broadly. Catullus regularly positions his own translation project along a conceptual continuum that ranges from the lexical to the cultural, the textual to the material. When we approach his poems with an eye toward this conceptual cluster, we find the leitmotif of translation threaded through his oeuvre. If the Roman copy looms large in the popular imagination, it is exceeded by modern visions of Rome’s material excess. My second chapter intervenes where these two ideas converge, at the nexus of literary translation and material luxury. Here, I read an assortment of short poems from the first part of the collection (the so-called “polymetrics”) to reveal the ways in which they use foreign luxury objects as sites to contemplate processes of cultural appropriation. The Romans associated textiles, unguents, spices, and the like with the penetration of Greek culture into Italy. Their discourse surrounding these items is, thus, a place where concerns about Hellenism tend to constellate. Mention of such objects in the polymetrics is generally marginal, off-hand, or otherwise submerged. Yet these fleeting textual moments chart the processes by which foreign imports—including poetry itself—were being naturalized in the late Republic. Attending to the verbal traces of these exotic materials discloses some of the strategies by which Catullus and his genera-

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tion transformed Greek ideas, words, and things into new kinds of cultural capital. Our poet’s evident immersion in the life of luxury highlights the shifting demographics of authorship in his period. What began as a commercial activity pursued by polyglot slaves and freedmen had become a leisured pastime enjoyed by powerful elites. My third chapter foregrounds this shift, examining the social identity of first-century poet-translators as well as the invisible middlemen who made their projects possible. The first part of the chapter highlights the vital role foreign intellectuals played in enabling the transfer of Alexandrian poetry into Latin. Greek-speaking immigrants—many of them slaves or freedmen—remained central to this process because their linguistic expertise and scholarly acumen mediated Roman access to the intractable texts they sought to recreate in Latin. My discussion centers on a reading of poem 4, an odd, if inviting, poem narrated by a talking ship. This curious protagonist is, I suggest, best understood within the networks of travel, plunder, and intellectual exchange that attended Rome’s annexation of Bithynia, a newly conquered region of Asia Minor. The poem’s ambiguous presentation of a Bithynian ship stages a defining first-century concern about the Roman ability to control a poetic tradition drawn from a captive Greece and mediated by low-status Greek intellectuals. The chapter’s second half considers the identity of the translators themselves, who were, by this period, mostly members of the Italian elite. It is a puzzling fact that poets of this era hailed disproportionately from Transpadane Gaul. I discuss this phenomenon via the pseudo-Vergilian Catalepton 10, an ancient parody of poem 4. This pasquinade rewrites the biography of the original’s talking ship as the life story of an upwardly mobile muleteer from Catullus’s own region of Northern Italy. I propose that the parody was written by and for urban elites who had misapprehensions about the role northern provincials played in codifying an Alexandrianizing poetic canon. The supercilious parodist uses his derisive tale of a Gallic muleteer to mock the social ascension of two great Transpadanes, Catullus and Vergil. But in the midst of this irreverent attack, he demonstrates the manifest ascendency of these authors: within only a generation, each of these pioneers had, themselves, become objects of avid imitation. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Catullus refused to limit his translation projects to the dry erudition of Aratus or the detached precepts of philosophy. Instead, he rendered into Latin patently erotic, first-person poems by Callimachus and Sappho. Translation’s habit of permeating personal and cultural borders is especially pronounced in the case of such poems, for it requires the author to ventriloquize the voice of another, letting a foreign af-



fect infuse his tongue. In my fourth chapter, I argue that Catullus harnesses the intimacy of first-person poetic translation as a powerfully transformative tool that facilitates his elaboration of novel voicings and postures. I make this argument through a reading of two poems (50 and 65) that serve as preludes to the two full translations in the surviving collection. I identify these poems as versified translation prefaces that were written under the influence of the translations they accompany. Both prefaces abound in features derived from the translations they were written to introduce. More specifically, they apply postures and affective cues displayed by the speakers in the translations to intensify the emotional range of the Catullan speaker who voices them in the first person. In these sets of poems, then, we witness the invasive intimacy of translation allowing a Roman author to expand the possibilities of poetic expression in his own tongue. The result is the miser poeta (wretched poet), a new kind of persona that had not yet been seen in Latin literature but would shape the development of love poetry in Latin thereafter. The interaction between each poem and its preface thus showcases some of the ways in which the intimacy of translation can serve as a catalyst for poetic novelty. My last two chapters turn toward the poems most readers would expect to find in a book on Catullan translation: his full-length versions of Callimachus (66) and Sappho (51). Despite—indeed, because of—their surface familiarity, these poems demand an analysis unclouded by modern assumptions. As we shall see, even these recognizable Latin translations are governed by culturally specific techniques and preoccupations. When read within this framework, these poems come to seem quite different than the ones we thought we knew. One of the more perplexing texts in Catullus’s collection is his translation of Callimachus’s paean to the stellified lock of Queen Berenice II. For a long while, this offbeat addition to Catullus’s corpus was of interest to scholars primarily for holding out the promise of reconstructing its fragmentary source. Offering a spin on this now discredited methodology, I look at how 66, along with its preface and the set of elegies that follow, creates the very source it appears to replicate. Despite its apparent fidelity to its source, the translation constructs a version of the Greek text and its author that serves the needs of its Roman translator. When viewed at the level of the poetic book, this poem no longer seems so faithful. Instead, we find it fragments and reconstructs the earlier text along with the celebrated poetic book it came from. Though startling to us, this is entirely in keeping with Roman translation norms. Using the widespread Roman technique of recombinant piecemeal translation, poem 66, its preface, and the elegies that follow refashion Callimachus into an archetypal elegist and the forefather of Catullus’s variation on that eclectic genre.

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And finally, we arrive at Catullus’s version of Sappho (51), quite possibly the most famous of all poems translated into Latin. My last chapter offers a new reading of this celebrated translation that shows it orbiting the poles of fondness and aggression. I suggest that Sappho’s tale of erotic longing allowed Catullus and his readers to investigate their own fraught infatuation with the cultural products of Greece. The ambivalent passions outlined in the Latin version of Sappho’s erotic plaint voice the aggressive intimacy of poetic translation itself. To translate, at Rome, was not to copy, but to compete—with a revered precursor as well as one’s peers. My reading shows how poem 51 refashions Sappho’s text into a metapoetic drama that stages the agonistic passions of Roman translation as a tale of jealous love. This translation allegory’s core scene of thwarted desire between a Roman poetlover (Catullus) and a female beloved identified with the texts and territories of Greece (Lesbia) also dramatized the emotional ambivalence of Roman Hellenism more broadly. Catullus’s poem thus harnesses the conflicting passions of the translator and his readers as the motor for a striking new form of literary love. Though I focus my study upon a two-thousand-year-old oeuvre and pursue a historical analysis throughout, my hope is that a translation-based reassessment of this seminal collection will have something to contribute to how we understand poetry in the present. If we accept Catullus as a progenitor of modern lyricism, to view his little book as an outgrowth of translation is to rethink our assumptions about what a lyric poem might be. My epilogue pursues one potential consequence of this reorientation. Here, I shift my focus from translation to appropriation more generally, via Catullus’s rendition of an epigram by Callimachus (70). I show how the Latin version presents poetic innovation as a fundamentally appropriative process, in contrast to the original’s focus on absolute newness. I then show that the appropriative poetics informing this Latin poem correspond surprisingly closely to debates currently raging about originality and appropriation in contemporary American poetry. Catullus’s epigram drives a useful wedge into these debates, problematizing the lyric genealogy they typically assume. The Greeks maintained the illusion that their literature arose without precedent from their own rocky soil. Some two millennia later, the Romantics seized upon this posture as the cornerstone of a spontaneous lyric poetics that continues to dominate our own understanding of lyricism today. But a Roman poet like Catullus did not share this impulse. His art was grounded in an array of appropriative practices that included—and, indeed, privileged—various modes of translation. Far from getting lost in translation, his poems were—and continue to be—found there.


The Task of Translation in Catullus 64

Twenty-first-century readers might not expect Catullus 64 to feature prominently in a book on translation.1 After all, this dazzling miniature epic is frequently hailed as a crowning example of Roman ingenuity. But the idea that this poem showcases Catullus’s unique poetic prowess is, in fact, quite new: for a long time, it was thought by many to be a translation. Through much of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, critical discussion centered on a hypothetical Greek prototype.2 The hunt for this phantom precursor has, thus far, been in vain. As far as scholars can tell, there never was a Hellenistic source and few now believe the poem corresponds to any lost original. Arthur Wheeler was crucial in dispelling the myth of poem 64’s supposed source text. In Catullus and the Traditions of Ancient Poetry he performs a wonderfully detailed analysis of the ways translation works in this poem. What he discovers is this: aside from a single line (111), no significant portion is translated from any particular source.3 Translation happens throughout, but only at the level of the word, trope, or phrase, and these moments of microtranslation rarely gesture back to specific lines from specific authors.4 Wheeler sums up his findings as follows: “In fine, Catullus’s epyllion contains in detail both translation and imitation, but it is not as a whole a translation or a mosaic of translations and close imitations.”5 Instead, he proposes that the poem aimed to replicate characteristic modes of expression used by the Greek poets of Alexandria, in particular, Callimachus: “In the sixty-fourth poem we have in a late and exaggerated form an example of that modern narrative art with which the name of Callimachus was connected in the time of Catullus.”6 In other words, the aim is to stylistically replicate the Alexandrian epyllion in Latin. This idea has been fundamental to scholarship on the poem ever since.7

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Wheeler was eager to foreground Catullan originality by downplaying the role translation plays in his longest and most technically stunning poem. His analysis was written to counter the then-common charge that Catullus’s great epyllion was merely an imitation of another author’s masterpiece. His ultimate purpose was to reveal poem 64 as a work of Roman genius that replicates Alexandrian style while avoiding slavish imitation of any specific passages. In this chapter, I take Wheeler’s findings on the lack of translation in Catullus’s Latin epyllion as the starting point for a somewhat paradoxical claim. Veering away from current critical consensus, I argue that translation is essential to this poem. But my interest in translation has little to do with the nineteenth-century rage for unearthing elusive “originals” and I do not propose that the poem is a version of any particular text. Rather, I suggest that Catullus 64 positions itself as the definitive Latin rendition of the Greek epyllion, a translation not of a given poem but of an entire genre. This poem is guided by a general first-century rage for rendering Hellenistic works into Latin. Indeed, some of the Greek poems Catullus draws on during the course of his epyllion were translated in their entirety in the lateRepublican period. Apollonius’s Argonautica, for instance, was rendered into Latin by Varro Atacinus, and Aratus’s Phaenomena (whose ending Catullus echoes extensively during his epilogue) received its first of several renditions by the youthful Cicero.8 But rather than devoting his time to creating such a holistic translation of a single text, Catullus chooses a bolder method that will ensure he is never dismissed as a “rote translator of a foreign work” (interpres operis alieni), as Quintilian says of Varro (Institutio Oratoria 10.1.87). In a sense, my argument is quite close to Wheeler’s. But it differs in one essential respect: I am interested in the ways this poem presents itself as a translation despite being what we would now consider a uniquely Catullan text. The poet proudly positions his entirely original poem as an act of translation and invites his readers to understand it as such. The task of translation was taken seriously at Rome, perceived as a vital engine for original poetic invention. “Rote translators” (interpretes) were deemed inferior not because they translated, but because they translated badly (which, for the Romans, often meant too closely). In poem 64, Catullus takes on the task of translation with the aim of showing how it ought to be done. I begin my discussion by pointing out an ongoing subtext that foregrounds 64’s status as an aesthetic artifact transferred to Italy from the Greek East. Myths, objects, and characters linked to the westward migration of culture are given pride of place throughout this little epic. Descriptions of such items are, I propose, metapoetic moments that flag the appropriative genesis of this aggressively Alexandrianizing text. At such junctures, the author of this Latin epyllion


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pauses to examine his own role, as poet-translator, in flooding Rome with outlandish cultural objects drawn from the Greek East. But even as the poem expresses apprehension about its own imported status, it poses the poet-translator as a contemporary hero. During the course of this decidedly unheroic epic, the appropriating poet emerges as the only viable protagonist. Having valiantly succeeded in the task of translating a new genre from Greek into Latin, he becomes the only possible hero in a belated world where all deeds have already been done, all seas have already been crossed, and all texts have already been written. Internal Emblems of Translation In the mid-first century BCE, the so-called epyllion was a new generic arrival at Rome.9 Such whimsical compositions first emerged in the third century among the poets of Alexandria.10 It took two centuries for the form to migrate to Rome but, when it did, it became wildly popular, at least for a time. Catullus’s period witnessed a sudden craze for these erudite little epics. Poem 64 is the only extant first-century Latin epyllion. But a number of lost poems by contemporaries were written in this mode: Cinna’s Zmyrna, Calvus’s Io, Valerius Cato’s Dictynna (or Diana), and Cornificius’s Glaucus were, it appears, similarly diminutive mythical epics written in an aggressively Alexandrianizing style.11 This glut of contemporary titles makes it clear that Catullus was not venturing into wholly uncharted waters with this poem but, rather, riding a wave of poetic activity in this genre.12 It seems that composing a miniature epic in Latin functioned as a kind of initiation rite among the more adventurous poets of late Republican Rome.13 Despite this form’s popularity among more daring first-century authors, these iconoclastic poems were not universally admired by their original audience of often hidebound upper-class Romans. As Catullus’s polemical defense of Cinna’s Zmyrna in 95 suggests, the epyllion’s hallmark stylistic preciosity and thematic frivolity were far removed from the canons of conservative taste. There is even some indication that Cicero’s derogatory label neoteroi (“nouveau,” “faddish”) might have referred, specifically, to authors of such diminutive epics.14 These pioneering poets wrote works that we might term “Greakish,” a portmanteau coinage whose combination of “Greek” and “freakish” captures the alien quality of these poems. If Cicero’s neoteroi refers specifically to the authors of recherché little epics, we can surmise that this kind of poem was considered especially Greakish, even amid the glut of Alexandrianizing projects that define this historical period. Given the aggressive exoticness of such poems, it is not particularly surprising to find Catullus betraying an anxious awareness of the novelty inherent in his own appropriative project.

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As many have noted, 64 showcases an array of elaborately wrought artifacts that mirror its own involuted complexity (a divinely crafted ship, an embroidered coverlet, a Daedelian labyrinth, etc.).15 A number of studies, many written in a deconstructive vein, have traced the poem’s self-reflexive obsessions through these internal analogues.16 My own analysis accords with such projects, but features a crucial twist. Rather than viewing such resonant objects as portals to a textual abyss, I see them as sites that explore the appropriative genesis of this novel text. Throughout my discussion, I investigate ways in which this epyllion’s self-reflexive emblems flag the poem’s status as a literary artifact that has been transferred, via generic translation, from Greece to Rome. The metapoetic items that stud this epic adventure are, I argue, also sites where the poem probes its own uncomfortable status as a Latin translation of the Hellenistic epyllion. Threading this self-reflexive subtext throughout his wayward poem allowed Catullus—and his readers—to meditate upon the historical processes of literary translation and cultural appropriation that brought this Greakish epic into being. This subtext begins in the opening lines, which show a ship, the Argo, uprooting itself from the top of Mt. Pelion and diving into the sea: Peliaco quondam prognatae vertice pinus dicuntur liquidas Neptuni nasse per undas Phasidos ad fluctus et fines Aeeteos, cum lecti iuvenes, Argivae robora pubis, auratam optantes Colchis avertere pellem ausi sunt vada salsa cita decurrere puppi, caerula verrentes abiegnis aequora palmis. diva quibus retinens in summis urbibus arces ipsa levi fecit volitantem flamine currum, pinea coniungens inflexae texta carinae. (1–10) Long ago, pine trees born on the peak of Mt. Pelion are said to have swum through the limpid waters of Neptune to the waves of Phasis and the realms of Aeetes, when chosen young men, the strength of the Argive youth, hoping to steal the Golden Fleece from the people of Colchis, dared traverse the open sea on their swift ship, sweeping its azure surface with fir-wood oars. The goddess who holds the citadels on the top of their cities, she herself made them this ship that flew upon the light breeze, joining together the woven pines of the bent keel.

The Argo is an especially appropriate vessel to launch this poem, for its voyage in quest of the Golden Fleece readily allegorizes the processes of generic translation that brought poem 64 into being. The Argo is quite clearly


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a metapoetic object, whose woven timbers parallel the intricate structures of Catullus’s poem. Just as the goddess of craft fabricated this marvel of a ship with technical precision for the Argonauts, Catullus has constructed a versified tour de force to narrate the exploits of these same heroes. The line describing Athena’s creation of this mythic ship draws out the equivalence by mimicking the woven textures of the vessel’s fitted beams. It displays not one but two distinct varieties of poetic patterning. Interlocked word order on the level of grammar (pinea coniungens inflexae texta carinae) and a chiastic sonic texture (pinea coniungens inflexae texta carinae) combine to replicate weaving at the level of the word. This phrasing self-consciously represents the “woven” (texta) Argo as an internal analogue for Catullus’s own text. But this association between Argo and epyllion goes beyond abstract textuality. The Argo is an ideal vessel to launch a Greakish little epic for it mirrors the poem’s status as an outlandish Eastern import.17 In Catullus’s period, the Argo was considered the world’s first ship. This poem flags it as such with its eerily personifying description and the detail that the “marveling” (admirantes) Nereids, who gaze in rapt confusion as it floats by several lines later, view it as a monstrum (“prodigy”—or any unprecedented thing) (line 15).18 In antiquity, the image of crossing the ocean often functioned as a metaphor for the poetic journey.19 In these opening lines, Catullus activates a personalized version of this trope, using the inaugural voyage of the world’s first ship to launch his own poetic adventure. This outlandish prodigy of the Argo is a perfect emblem for Catullus’s Greakish epyllion, a Latin version of an eccentric Greek genre that had just recently washed up on the shores of Italy.20 The Argo also shares with Poem 64 the direction of its journey. The Argonauts’ theft of the Golden Fleece from Colchis offers a mythic precursor to the westward movement of texts that gave rise to Catullus’s poem. Ancient scholars had long viewed this myth as harkening back to the early phases of Greek colonization.21 Aia, the mythic endpoint of Jason’s outward voyage, was regularly identified with Colchis, a reputedly barbaric region on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. The Greeks had, in fact, colonized Colchis in the sixth century.22 This association ascribes a colonialist undercurrent to the Argonauts’ journey. At least one ancient commentator took this interpretation one step further, viewing Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece as a covert search for gold.23 By this reading, Jason is less a hero than a marauder who invades a foreign land to seize what treasures he can find.24 Sailing back to Greece with golden booty in its hull, the ship thus offers itself as an internal version of the Latin poem that describes it, a text that transfers a literary treasure of Ptolemaic Egypt westward to Rome. In these opening lines, Catullus steals Jason’s theft of the Golden Fleece and turns it into a tale of his epyllion’s own creation.

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As the poem continues, the Argo quickly disappears along with the Argonauts themselves. But a new object soon surfaces to occupy our attention— and it holds us riveted for nearly two hundred lines. The purple coverlet is introduced into the poem as an ornament draped over the marriage bed of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of Achilles. “Elaborately decorated with the forms of men of old” (50), this coverlet serves as the substrate for an in-depth narration of the Theseus-Ariadne myth depicted on it. In one sense, then, this item marks a departure from the Argonaut opening into a new tale circling around Ariadne’s abandonment. But even as it signals a new juncture in the poem, the coverlet, as we shall see, links back to the Argo through its association with the Golden Fleece.25 Catullus’s Argonauts are floated out of the poem before they can find their Fleece.26 But this opening treasure is never completely left behind. For the duration of the Ariadne segment, the Fleece dangles in full view for any “neoteric reader” who shares the poet’s detailed knowledge of Greek myth.27 Such a reader might well recall Apollonius’s version of the tale where the Golden Fleece had served as Jason and Medea’s impromptu marriage bed.28 That Fleece’s erotic utility links it with the coverlet draped over Peleus and Thetis’s couch. What’s more, as many an Apollonian scholiast could have told you, the Golden Fleece might not have been gold at all: certain auctores thought its color was closer to purple.29 Many of Catullus’s more erudite readers might have looked at this purple coverlet and seen nothing less than the Golden Fleece itself. Even without the mythic connection, these two objects are closely linked, for purple and gold were both paradigmatic luxuries associated with the East.30 This fleece-turned-coverlet introduces a new set of concerns to this little epic, shifting the narrative away from the mythic quest of the opening toward more contemporary—and aesthetic—escapades. Instead of the Fleece itself, our prize is now an embroidered coverlet that allows Catullus to explore the stakes of writing—and reading—Latin epyllia in late Republican Rome: pulvinar vero divae geniale locatur sedibus in mediis, Indo quod dente politum tincta tegit roseo conchyli purpura fuco. haec vestis priscis hominum variata figuris heroum mira virtutes indicat arte. (47–51) And the goddess’s wedding couch is set up in the middle of the palace, gleaming with Indian ivory and covered with a purple coverlet tinged with the rosy dye of the mollusk. This coverlet, elaborately decorated with the forms of men of old, represents the virtuous deeds of heroes with wondrous art.


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Much like the Argo with its woven keel, this “elaborately decorated” (variata) coverlet is patently metapoetic, its woven scenes clearly analogous to the ornate lines of Catullus’s text.31 This association is made all the stronger by the fact that varietas is the Latin translation for poikilia, the Callimachean tenet of poetic variety and an aesthetic principle that well applies to this multifaceted epyllion. But, as with the Argo, the association extends beyond the purely textual for, as we shall see, purple tapestries at Rome were frequently linked with the migration of cultural objects from east to west. The vestis thus evokes the same idea of cultural transfer introduced by the Argo but, rather than addressing it from the distant realm of myth, it draws the issue much closer to home. Purple had long been the color of royalty in the ancient Mediterranean world. This association alone explains the presence of a purple coverlet amid a poem’s palace décor. But this detail would also have resonated more complexly with Catullus’s first readers. In this era, purple textiles would have called to mind the contemporary discourse surrounding the enervating effect foreign imports were often said to have on the stalwart people of Rome.32 From the writings of the second-century BCE historian, Calpurnius Piso, to the work of Sallust and Livy, contemporary social corruption (in particular luxuria or “extravagance”) was regularly blamed on the introduction of foreign items into the city.33 Wallace-Hadrill (2008, 315) surmises that Calpurnius Piso was responsible for “the whole thesis of the seeds of luxury,” which was well developed by Catullus’s time. Sallust, for instance, famously elaborates on this topos in his Bellum Catilinae, where he locates the decline as beginning with Lucius Sulla’s campaigns in Asia:34 Loca amoena, voluptaria facile in otio ferocis militum animos molliverant. Ibi primum insuevit exercitus populi Romani amare, potare, signa, tabulas pictas, vasa caelata mirari, ea privatim et publice rapere, delubra spoliare, sacra profanaque omnia polluere. (11.5–6) Those pleasant and luxuriant regions easily softened the fierce spirits of the soldiers in their periods of leisure. It was there that the army of the Roman people first became accustomed to indulge in sex, to drink, and to marvel at statues, paintings, and engraved vessels—also to steal such things from private and public locales, to despoil shrines, and to desecrate everything, whether sacred or profane.

Within such diatribes on foreign-born decline, paintings, statues, vessels, and other objets d’art often received pride of place. One particularly vivid articulation of this habit comes from Livy’s discussion of Gnaeus Manlius

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Vulso’s return from his campaign in Asia, an episode he identifies as sowing the “seeds of the future extravagance” (futurae luxuriae, 39.6.9) that would debase the social fabric of the city. He reports that Vulso carried an array of luxury items into Rome during his triumph: Luxuriae enim peregrinae origo ab exercitu Asiatico invecta in urbem est. ii primum lectos aeratos, vestem stragulam pretiosam, plagulas et alia textilia, et quae tum magnificae supellectilis habebantur, monopodia et abacos Romam advexerunt. (Livy Ab Urbe Condita 39.6.7–9) For the source of foreign extravagance was carried into the city by the army stationed in Asia. Those men first brought to Rome bronze couches, costly coverlets, tapestries, and other textiles, as well as items which were, at the time, considered magnificent furniture: one-legged tables and sideboards.

The textiles that feature so insistently on this list were clearly deemed a particular threat. If “costly coverlets” were generally seen as harbingers of doom, purple textiles were especially ominous. Purple was a fabulously expensive dye derived from the murex shells that washed up on the beaches of Tyre. This precious color advertised its wearer’s wealth and power, but it was also derided as the preferred costume of women, tyrants, and effetes. Cicero, for instance, delights in “staining” his opponents with this disreputable hue.35 He sets little purple stripes on P. Clodius’s tunic as part of a more broadly effeminizing description that includes a mitra (a type of Greek headband), a breast band, women’s sandals, and a lute (In P. Clodium et Curionem fr. 22). More than once during the course of his Verrine orations, the orator evokes the image of the corrupt governor sitting enthroned in a litter, clad in a purple cloak and a sleeved tunic (In Verrem 5.86 and 5.31). In moderation, purple could be a sign of status and nobility (e.g., the purple stripe on the toga praetexta). But in excess it symbolized the decadence of the supposedly tyrannical East. Mentions of purple textiles thus tended to embed concerns about the arrival of foreign objects, behaviors, and ideas at Rome. Catullus’s purple coverlet gestures toward this broader debate over the arrival of foreign luxuria while pointing, specifically, to his own poem’s status as a new kind of decadent—and potentially dangerous—literary luxury. Purple textiles lent themselves especially well to figuring the introduction of “exotic” or otherwise flamboyant passages or texts into a more somber surround (whether textual or cultural) for, among Greeks and Romans alike, purple cloth often figured the ostentatious use of language. One such purple patch appears in Horace at the start of his Ars Poetica:


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Inceptis gravibus plerumque et magna professis purpureus, late qui splendeat, unus et alter adsuitur pannus, cum lucus et ara Dianae et properantis aquae per amoenos ambitus agros aut flumen Rhenum aut pluvius describitur arcus. (Ars Poetica 14–18) Some purple patch or another, of the sort that glitters far and wide, is sewn onto a work that begins solemnly and makes grand promises, as when the grove and altar of Diana and the winding of water hastening through pleasant fields or the river Rhine or a rainbow is described.

Horace’s purpureus pannus is part of a diatribe against artworks that dispense with unified form. As he describes it here, a purple patch is a sudden eruption of descriptive inventiveness in the midst of a more somber narrative passage. He warns the addressees of the Ars that such deviations are downright unnatural (he famously likens them to a hybrid creature with a human head, a horse’s neck, a bird’s body and a fish’s tail), suggesting that a work of poetry ought to be “singular and unified” (simplex . . . et unum, 23). As Andrew Laird has shown, Horace deploys his memorable metaphor to offer an account of poetic descriptio, a class that included ecphrasis.36 There is reason to believe that excessive use of such descriptive passages was a habit cultivated by the neoteric poets in their little (and larger) epics. John Ferguson has proposed that Horace’s examples refer to specific passages from poets associated with high neoteric style. By this theory, the “altar of Diana” refers to a passage from Valerius Cato’s Diana while “the river Rhine” designates a section from Furius Bibaculus’s epic on Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.37 If this is true, Horace’s purple patch is a pointed dismissal of the floridly descriptive aesthetic that had been cultivated by neoterics of the prior generation. Even if we are wary of giving credence to Ferguson’s conjecture, we can be sure of this: Catullus’s epyllion is precisely the kind of hybrid beast Horace is warning against, a poem that promises “great things” at the outset (i.e., epic events), only to veer into a sequence of endless, over-the-top descriptions. His poem begins with the promise of an epic quest. But the Argo’s grandeur soon skids upon the shoals of a different kind of writing. The epic inaugurated in the opening lines grinds to a halt with the unveiling of Ariadne lamenting from the midst of a purple coverlet. Once patched into the scene, the elaborate description of this piece of cloth spins off to hijack the narrative. The result is a disproportionately massive ecphrasis that is neither singular nor unified. With this ecphrasis, poem 64 gleefully gives itself over to poetic description. To use Horace’s terms, it allows its purpureus pannus to extend so widely that it consumes the rest of the poem. This extension of the ecphrasis to such

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inordinate length disregards the standard ancient injunctions about poetic descriptiones. When ancient theorists discussed verbal ornaments, it was almost invariably with the warning that they must be used sparingly. Quintilian (8.5.2.) deploys this metaphor in his discussion of sententiae, cautioning against overly dense incorporation of rhetorical purples. While commenting on Aeneid 10.653, Servius similarly notes that “descriptions ought to be fitting and sparing, just as Horace teaches in the Ars Poetica.” Poem 64 is written in exuberant defiance of such precepts. By making a purple patch the centerpiece of 64, Catullus puts his poem’s aesthetic insubordination on vivid display. Setting a purple textile at the center of his text also foregrounds the cultural threat represented by this poetic project. Like Livy’s imported textiles, this coverlet evokes the luxuria the Romans so often associated with the Greek East. As such, it promises pleasure—but it also threatens to foment a dangerous indulgence in “foreign extravagance” (Livy Ab Urbe Condita 39.6). In this way, the poem presents itself as yet another object in the endless parade of Eastern luxuries that supposedly threaten to corrupt the city of Rome. The opening passage of the ecphrasis brings this danger to life in the eroticized form of Ariadne herself: quem procul ex alga maestis Minois ocellis saxea ut effigies bacchantis, prospicit, eheu, prospicit et magnis curarum fluctuat undis, non flavo retinens subtilem vertice mitram, non contecta levi velatum pectus amictu, non tereti strophio lactentis vincta papillas, omnia quae toto delapsa e corpore passim ipsius ante pedes fluctus salis alludebant. (60–67) And the Cretan lady looks out at him, far off, from the strand with sorrowful eyes, like a stone statue of a maenad, she looks out at him, alas, and she tosses upon great waves of care, no longer holding her finely-worked headdress on her blond head, her chest no longer covered by her delicate garment, her milkwhite breasts no longer bound by a smooth breast-band; the waves of the salt sea were toying with all of these items which had slipped off her body and now lay at her feet.

The Cretan princess appears here bemoaning her abandonment on the island of Dia. As she laments, she is elaborately stripped of her clothes. Her headdress, her mantle, and her breast-band disappear line by line until she is left entirely nude, her garments floating in the waves. I would propose that this striptease enacts the notorious allurements of Eastern luxuries, literal-


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izing the seductive effects of foreign treasures, whether they be one-legged tables, costly coverlets, or jewel-like epics. It is no coincidence that this dripping Ariadne is likened to “a stone statue of a maenad,” for both statues and maenads featured prominently in the Roman discourse on importation and decline.38 As Euripides’s Bacchae attests, even in Greece, Dionysus and his ecstatic followers fomented anxieties over cultural influence from the East. Such concerns were even more prevalent at Rome, where worshippers of Bacchus (the Roman Dionysus) had been famously persecuted during the Bacchanalia affair of 186 BCE. In the late Republic and beyond, that cult remained an emblem for the supposed excesses of the Greek East, as Livy’s scathing account of the social “evils” (malorum, 39.9) associated with the rise of Bacchus worship in Rome implies (Livy Ab Urbe Condita 39 8–19). A statue of a bacchant had a double resonance in this regard, for statues were a favorite form of Eastern booty, paraded in triumphs and often blamed for precipitating Rome’s decline. The denuded Ariadne thus stands as an emblem for the dangers of Hellenization many times over: she is an exotic Cretan princess, an ornate purple tapestry, a crazed maenad, and a statue all at once. All of these highly charged symbols of the supposedly enervating arrival of otherness at Rome converge in this epyllion’s seductive protagonist. The link between the Ariadne coverlet and the beguiling pleasures of Greek aesthetic objects in particular is clinched by the presence of an internal audience that is aligned with Catullus’s own readers. The coverlet has its own set of internal admirers, the Thessalian wedding guests who throng Peleus’s palace to celebrate his union. Though these rustics ostensibly leave their land to attend a wedding, they never witness an actual ceremony. As far as the reader can tell, they do nothing in this palace beyond ogling the Ariadne tapestry. Their role within the poem is, quite simply, to have an aesthetic experience. In this regard, they are the internal equivalent of Catullus’s readers. This equivalence is drawn out in the lines leading out of the ecphrasis: talibus amplifice vestis decorata figuris pulvinar complexa suo velabat amictu. quae postquam cupide spectando Thessala pubes expleta est, sanctis coepit decedere divis. (265–68) A coverlet magnificently adorned with such figures was draped over the wedding couch, embracing it with its folds. And after the Thessalian youths had their fill of eagerly gazing upon it, they began to make way for the holy gods.

As the pun embedded in this passage indicates, the “shapes” (figurae) that decorate this coverlet correspond to the “verbal constructions” (figurae) the

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poem uses to represent these images in words. Gazing in rapture at these verbal and visual figures, the Thessalian youths offer an internal portrait of Catullus’s own readers, who have spent the last 130 lines enthralled by Ariadne’s seductive tragedy. The passage preceding the ecphrasis intimates that it is, specifically, a first-century Roman reader that Catullus has in mind: Pharsalum coeunt, Pharsalia tecta frequentant. rura colit nemo, mollescunt colla iuvencis, non humilis curvis purgatur vinea rastris, non glebam prono convellit vomere taurus, non falx attenuat frondatorum arboris umbram; squalida desertis robigo infertur aratris. (37–42) They gather together at Pharsalus; they throng the Pharsalian homes. No one tills the countryside; the necks of the cattle grow soft; no low-lying vine is cleared by curved rakes; no bull turns up a clod of soil with down-turned plowshare; no pruner’s hook lessens the shade of the tree; rough rust attacks the deserted plows.

This striking image of neglected fields clearly evokes the mythic Golden Age, an idyllic era when humanity purportedly lived off the fruits of a land that bestowed her gifts without the coaxing of human labor. But we might better understand this scene in terms of an Iron Age closer to home. This passage is not so much about nature’s once-benevolent powers as about the negligence of her human stewards. The image of these farmers abandoning their fields and orchards to gaze at a figured tapestry recalls a leitmotif seen in many late-Republican texts: the notion that Rome had degenerated from a nation of hardy citizen-soldiers into a breeding ground for decadent aesthetes.39 This oft-repeated tale was, in part, a collective fiction, but it also reflects a historical fact: the gentleman farmer had long faded into oblivion, to be replaced by elites who spent more and more of their time amassing statue collections and dreaming up lines of verse. The accusation of “softness” (mollitia) often hurled at those who indulged in the pleasures of luxurious living is here transferred to the neglected cattle whose necks “start to grow soft” (mollescunt) without the roughening friction of their yokes.40 This softening picks up on the discourse of decline as articulated, as we saw, by Sallust when he insists that the voluptuous lands of Asia “had softened” (molliverant) the warlike spirits of Sulla’s soldiers (Bellum Catilinae 11.5). These degenerate rustics are mythologized versions of those Romans who were supposedly transformed from hard-working farmers or soldiers into otiose art-lovers, letting their bodies soften and their fields go to waste as they “marvel at statues, paintings and engraved vessels” (Bellum Catilinae 11.6).


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What’s more, the place these erstwhile farmers go to inspect the tapestry evokes the place where Romans typically went to indulge their aesthetic fancies. The ivory thrones, glittering goblets, and richly woven fabrics that decorate Peleus’s palace (lines 43–49) have struck some commentators as a nod to the palaces of Hellenistic kings. But such objects are likewise associated with the late-Republican elites’ appropriation of such regal trappings for their own domestic pleasure. David Konstan, for one, sees Catullus as modeling Peleus’s palace upon “a Roman villa, complete with atrium and marriage chamber.”41 An internal allusion to a Roman villa would make a good deal of sense at this juncture, for villas were spaces designated for aesthetic experiences.42 This was where rich Romans went to read, write, philosophize, or admire the statues that dotted their gardens. Abandoning labor in the fields to feast their eyes on embroidered pictures in a palace setting, these mythic guests present in narrative microcosm the story the leisured elites of Catullus’s day were telling about themselves. The association of these mythical farmers with late-Republican elites is brought to a spectacular culmination with the simile that marks their exit. As these sated aesthetes flow out of the palace and back to their overgrown fields, they are likened to waves stirred up by the wind and reflecting the hues of dawn: hic, qualis flatu placidum mare matutino horrificans Zephyrus proclivas incitat undas, Aurora exoriente vagi sub limina Solis, quae tarde primum clementi flamine pulsae procedunt leviterque sonant plangore cachinni, post vento crescente magis magis increbescunt, purpureaque procul nantes ab luce refulgent: sic tum vestibuli linquentes regia tecta ad se quisque vago passim pede discedebant. (269–77) Hereupon, just as the Zephyr, roughening the placid sea with a morning breeze, spurs on the tumbling waves while Dawn rises up toward the threshold of the roving sun, and the waves advance slowly at first, driven by the mild breeze, and lightly resound with a splash of laughter, then, as the breeze grows stronger, they crowd in more and more and, floating far off, they gleam with purple light; in this way, upon leaving the royal buildings of the entryway, the wedding guests were dispersing, here and there, on wandering foot, each one going his own way.

This simile draws on an image used in Iliadic battle scenes. On occasion, Homer had likened the roar of an army or the force of a battalion to wind

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driving waves to thunderously strike the shore (e.g., Iliad 4.422–23, 7.63–64). Catullus transposes this potent image to a notably placid sea. Where Homer’s waves might break into crests and spew back brine, Catullus’s frolicsome waters sparkle in roseate light. This transformation of Homer’s simile from a scene of brute force into one of serene beauty replicates the evolution of the Thessalian pubes (“youths”) from hardworking farmers into delicate art viewers. The shift hinges upon the simile’s use of purple, a color inserted here in dramatic deviation from the Homeric template. Catullus’s simile ends with the detail that his waves (which, we should recall, describe the Thessalian youths) “crowd in more and more and, floating far off, they gleam with purple light.” The “purple” (purpurea) here is positioned at the beginning of its line. This placement draws attention to what we have seen is a symbolically charged color. With this detail, Catullus stains his farmers the same color found on the coverlet itself, imbuing them with this not entirely wholesome hue. Because this internal audience of youths parallels poem 64’s own readers, their lavender glow reflects on this external audience as well. This simile’s purple waves indict Catullus’s readers with the moral laxness so often attributed to the Greek East. By figuratively staining his Thessalian art viewers with this hue, Catullus implicates his audience in the same accusations we saw Cicero make against the purple-clad Clodius and Verres. The color itself calls their manhood into question and impugns their Romanitas. But Catullus’s metaphorical assault is more ambivalent than Cicero’s vitriol, for it simultaneously denounces and elevates the epyllion’s readers. Even as their manly virtue is called into question, consumers of Greek tapestries (and Greakish poetry) are here absorbed into a rapturously gorgeous simile that offers a redemptive vision of the aesthetic realm. These tapestry-viewers-cum-epyllion-readers have been both heightened and debased by their encounter with Ariadne. It is not surprising to find this ambivalent portrait of the consumers of aesthetic Hellenism embedded within Catullus’s luxuriant Greek epyllion. As Brian Krostenko has shown, Catullus was writing during a period when the value of Greek aesthetics was very much up for grabs.43 Worries about the social dangers of hellenization were rife in this period and they are starkly manifest in this simile’s contradictory portrait of the Thessalian youths. By lavishing so much attention on these eagerly gazing aesthetes, Catullus preemptively absorbs the objections of any potential critic into his own poem. As his culminating move, he takes the “purple” that might serve such critics as rhetorical ammunition and uses it to adorn his own triumphant aesthetic moment. Catullus does something similar at the end of the poem with an incongruous epilogue that likewise foregrounds the anti-hellenizing rhetoric that was circulating in his period. Contemporary allusions notwithstanding, most of


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64 is set in the misty realm of myth, ostensibly removed from contemporary concerns. But as it ends, the present intrudes upon this mythic idyll. Following the song of the Fates, the poem sets up a contrast between the age of myth, when the gods still mingled with men, and the postlapsarian era that followed, when they withdrew from human presence. Here, a poem that was, in its first line, bracketed off from the here and now with an emphatic “once upon a time” (quondam, 1) suddenly hurtles forward into a debased “thereafter” (postquam, 397). The lines that follow veer away from the mythic past to describe a fallen world marked by fratricide, incest, and general social decay. “The earth,” we are told, “has been drenched in unspeakable evil” (tellus scelere est imbuta nefando, 397) and this moral degeneration has turned the gods away “from us” (nobis, 406). The fallen world these lines describe echoes both Hesiod’s Age of Iron as presented in the Works and Days and Aratus’s presentation of the withdrawal of Dikē (“Justice”) from the earth in the Phaenomena.44 But to Catullus’s first readers, this unexpected epilogue would have also resonated with something closer to home, for it echoes the contemporary discourse of decline that, as we have seen, is also alluded to earlier in the poem.45 Catullus here makes the same move we saw in Sallust’s account of the social havoc precipitated by Sulla’s campaigns in Asia. What begins as a discussion of a new openness to Greek aesthetics swiftly broadens into a vision of generalized social decay. In the space of a single sentence, Sulla’s army goes from learning to admire “statues, paintings, and engraved vessels” to habitually “desecrating everything, whether sacred or profane” (sacra profanaque omnia polluere, 11.6). This precipitous movement from aesthetic indulgence to collective ruin likewise marks Catullus’s poem, which invites its readers to linger in admiration over an ecphrastic tapestry, then ends with a vision of decline that at times even echoes Sallust’s hyperbolic phrasing: omnia fanda nefanda malo permixta furore iustificam nobis mentem avertere deorum. (405–06) All things speakable and unspeakable, confounded in depraved madness, have turned the righteous will of the gods away from us.

This presentation of mankind’s estrangement from the gods draws on precisely the language Romans used to talk about their own moral degeneration in the wake of “foreign extravagance” (Livy Ab Urbe Condita 39.6.7). This vision of a fall from the Golden Age of myth is likewise a portrait of Roman society as presented by the discourse of decline.

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My observations here are not entirely new. In a brief but incisive discussion of poem 64, Andrew Feldherr suggests we understand its closing gesture in relation to “contemporary anxieties about the social effects of Hellenization.”46 Threading the discourse of decline through a poem that joyfully plunders the treasure trove of Greek literature and myth allows Catullus to explore how “Hellenic culture becomes both Medea and Muse, an import at once indispensable and corrupting and an immortal refuge and escape from contemporary society.”47 But I have something to add to Feldherr’s spot-on analysis of this incongruous epilogue. I propose that its purpose becomes even clearer when it is viewed through the lens not just of hellenization generally, but of translation more specifically. Translation theorist Lawrence Venuti offers a useful framework for thinking through the appearance of such distinctly Roman preoccupations in Catullus’s Greakish poem. Translations, Venuti argues, never offer a straightforward communication of their source texts. Even the most accurate translation entails the “release” of a “domestic remainder,” a set of deviations from the source that respond to the target culture’s concerns and ideals.48 This is precisely what seems to be happening at the end of 64. As a poet in the process of transferring the Greek epyllion to Italy, Catullus was well aware that he too might be seen as fomenting Rome’s indulgence in “foreign vice.” In a canny subversion of this critique, he incorporated it directly into his Greakish poem in the form of a purple tapestry, one of the objects most closely associated with Rome’s obsession with “foreign luxury.” Setting a purple textile at the center of his text, the poet put on display an object that alludes to the controversial status of his own project. This tapestry, along with the poem’s many other East-inflected analogues, encodes Roman anxieties about the moral dangers that might attend translating the Greek epyllion into Latin form. If we understand this poem as a generic translation of the Greek epyllion, we might conceptualize its incongruously contemporary epilogue—along with the entire translation-based subtext we have been exploring—as domestic remainders that foreground this poem’s own role in transferring a literary form of Greek luxuria to Rome.49 T r a n s l at o r a s H e r o Epilogue I bring you the spoils, my nation, I who went out in exile Am returned to thee with gifts.


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I, who have labored long in the tombs, Am come back therefrom with riches. Behold my spices and robes, my nation, My gifts of Tyre. Here are my rimes of the south; Here are strange fashions of music; Here is my knowledge. Behold, I am come with patterns; Behold, I return with devices, Cunning the craft, cunning the work, the fashion. (Ezra Pound. Composed 1912. Collected Shorter Poems, 1968)

Pound’s “Epilogue” is useful in offering an explicit statement of a subtle—but central—notion underlying Catullus 64: the idea that the poet-translator is a modern-day hero whose labors can procure for his nation a trove of foreign “spoils.” “Epilogue” was written to conclude five books’ worth of “mediaeveal studies, experiments and translations.”50 Pound’s self-aggrandizing lyric presents the past as a foreign country dotted with tombs for the “cunning” poet-translator to raid.51 The poem poses Pound’s translations, in turn, as a coffer brimming with treasures (spices, robes, knowledge, rimes) that he proudly offers up to his “nation.” As one commentator notes, Pound the poettranslator here “takes on the role of the imperialist-explorer whose claim to notice rests partly upon the sheer splendor of the things themselves . . . and partly upon their presumably arduous extraction from the exotic and distant country of the past.”52 This assimilation of the work of translation to a narrative that assumes what Paul Morrison has termed the “heliotropic” (i.e., eastto-west) movement of culture is an attitude Pound evinces frequently in his early work.53 As Morrison comments, this poem is clearly penned by a man who “conceived of translation as an occasion for cultural imperialism, as an opportunity to appropriate so many museum pieces of ‘Splendour and Magnificence.’”54 Pound was also a man who had steeped himself in the classical canon and who was savvy enough to authorize his own poetic project with aggrandizing claims that had been well developed two thousand years before he began making music of his own. In Catullus, the idea of the poet-translator as marauding hero is more oblique but equally present. Even as it betrays some nervousness about its own exoticism, his epyllion offers a celebratory portrait of the poet as a new kind of hero whose “cunning . . . craft” might “gift” his “nation” with the glorious “riches” of Greek literature and myth. This self-heroization is achieved

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through an ongoing identification of the poet-narrator with the questing Argonauts, in particular Theseus. In Catullus’s hands, Jason’s hunt for the Golden Fleece becomes an allegory for his own quest to lay claim to the cultural treasures of Greece by means of generic translation. The mythic labors of Greek heroes figure the labor of poetic translation, which had become, in Catullus’s period, a new way for Roman elites to make their own bid for kleos (“everlasting renown”). Readers have long been troubled by this miniature epic’s apparent lack of heroes.55 At the outset, the narrator announces his intention to extol the Argonauts in song: “O, . . . heroes, hail . . . it is you, it is you, whom I will invoke with my song,” (22–24). The ecphrastic coverlet is later presented as a compendium of the “valorous deeds of heroes” (51). Yet, no straightforward heroes are anywhere to be found. The Theseus of 64 is a feckless liar; Achilles is a bloodthirsty killer; the Argonauts are snatched from the poem before performing one heroic deed. But I contend that we might catch some glimpse of a hero at last if we broaden our definition of heroic action to include the labor of translation. Catullus’s poem prompts us toward such a revised notion of heroism by linking the labor of translation to Theseus and the Argonauts’ quest for the fleece and by showing how the Roman translator triumphs where these mythic heroes fail. Catullus connects the task of translation to the deeds of his mythic heroes most explicitly during the ecphrasis. Here he veers explicitly into translation at the very moment when Theseus kills the Minotaur, the one valiant exploit portrayed in the course of the poem. The poem’s rendition of this famous deed culminates in a simile that likens the fallen beast to a giant tree that has been uprooted by the wind and tumbles down a mountain, shattering everything in its path. The simile concludes with these lines: sic domito saevum prostravit corpore Theseus nequiquam vanis iactantem cornua ventis. (110–11) Thus, Theseus broke the savage creature’s body and lay him low as he tossed his horns in vain upon the empty winds.

Though dramatic, this scene is relatively unimportant in the overall scheme of the poem. The episode is recounted quickly and these details blend into the fast-paced narrative background. Yet, there is something about the second of these lines that demands one’s attention: as far as we know, this is the only line of 64 that is, in its entirety, translated from the Greek. We know this because the original verse is tantalizingly preserved in one of Cicero’s letters to Atticus (8.5.1).56 The orator uses the line to describe the dramatic departure


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of a certain Dionysius who was seeking employment as a tutor for Cicero’s son. Cicero rejects the man’s services and Dionysius leaves in a huff, “raging greatly with his horns, in vain, upon the air” (πολλὰ μάτην κεράεσσιν ἐς ἠέρα θυμήναντα).57 This offhand quip is all the information we have on this line. Cicero offers no attribution, no contextualization, no further discussion. But this very lack of information does tell us something. This verse was apparently so well known that it required no attribution, at least for so erudite a philhellene as Atticus. The casual familiarity of Cicero’s quote indicates that Catullus likewise assumed that at least some of his more cultured readers would know the original version and recognize his own line as a translation. As is so often the case in Roman literature, we are, ideally, meant to read the Latin version against the Greek. When we compare the two versions, we find that Catullus is not simply replicating but outdoing his source. This is no easy task, for the earlier version is an exquisite showcase of Hellenistic technique. Its metrical refinements are impeccable: it sports a fifth-foot spondee, a bucolic diaeresis, and a pair of closing feet composed of a single tetrasyllabic word. Its sonic structures are equally striking. The euphonous surge of alphas and etas paired with the softness of the liquids pull against the violence of the slaughter being described. These sensuous sounds undercut their sense in coyly Hellenistic fashion.58 While the Greek line is a paragon of poetic sophistication, it is not without its flaws. Catullus takes it upon himself to improve this imperfect verse, besting the original at its own game. Although he forgoes the opportunity to recreate a spondaic ending, his line far exceeds the original’s poetic flair. For one, it displays the cardinal virtue of compactness. Exploiting the natural compression of Latin, the poet creates an elegant, five-word line that is even more densely structured than its source. He does so partly by avoiding the original’s glut of one- and two-syllable prepositions and adverbs (πολλὰ, μάτην, ἐς). In contrast, the Latin line foregrounds its only adverb (nequiquam, “in vain”) at the beginning of the line. This placement drives home the point that this grammatical filler word (nequiquam) is both polysyllabic and sonically chiasmic and thus does a good deal of ornamental work. The Latin hexameter also recalls the sonority of the original. It is similarly heavy in languorous consonants and open-mouthed vowels. In fact, every word includes some combination of an “n” and an “a” or “e” sound. The poet has managed to replicate the original’s languid sonic texture in a language that is far less mellifluous than the original Greek. And he does not stop there, for he supplements these sonic effects with another layer of euphony. The Latin version includes not one but two sets of internally rhyming units: an off rhyme in the second and fourth feet (nequiquam . . . iactantem) and homeo-

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teleuton at the main caesura, reinforced by alliteration (vanis . . . ventis). As if that were not enough, these two sets of chiming words are interlaced with one another in interlocked order. Catullus, it seems clear, aims to outdo the artfulness of his source, besting it according to the standard ancient practice of poetic aemulatio. This contest between translation and original resonates with the heroic action being described. Catullus has “laid low” (prostravit) a poetic saevum (“beast,” “savage creature”), a formidably well-constructed line of Greek. In succeeding at this task, he demonstrates a poetic acumen that mirrors Theseus’s defeat of the Minotaur. Like the hero featured in these lines, the Roman poet has proven himself a victor over a powerful rival, displaying his command over a poetic style as intricate as any labyrinth Daedelus wrought. Interestingly enough, a similar rivalry is implicit in the letter of Cicero’s that furnishes the Greek template for Catullus’s masterful line. The orator deploys this Greek hexameter to describe his own brusque dismissal of a wouldbe tutor who was most likely an expert in the intricacies of Greek language and literature. His use of this line displays his own command over the tutor’s area of expertise, foregrounding his knowledge of the Greek literary tradition and affirming that he and his son have no need for the man’s assistance. Both Cicero’s use of the Greek line and Catullus’s translated version are guided by the desire to display their superior mastery of Greek aesthetics. Each is attempting to lay low a formidable rival, to leave him tossing “his horns in vain upon the empty winds” of fruitless vaunting. This translation-related vaunting takes on additional weight if we view the original line not simply as an impressive hexameter, but as a one-line encapsulation of the epyllion genre. In Latin, as in Greek, the line is an over-thetop exemplar of epyllion style. With its coy divergence of sound and sense, its bucolic diaeresis, and—in the Greek version—its spondaic ending, this verse displays an aggressively Alexandrian panache.59 By foregrounding these hallmarks of epyllion stylistics, the line invites us to read it as a synecdoche for the genre as a whole. A second feature of this line makes it all the more tempting to view it in this way: it is likely that the Greek version came from Callimachus’s Hecale, considered by the Romans to be the preeminent epyllion of the Hellenistic era.60 If this is the case, a Roman reader (Cicero’s correspondent Atticus, for instance) would have recognized the line as exemplary and needed no prompting to construe it as symbolizing the genre writ large. A line from so famous an epyllion as the Hecale readily stands in for the epyllion itself.61 When the line is viewed in this way, the beast that is metaphorically laid low here is no longer limited to a single line of Hellenistic verse. Instead, it extends to the fiendishly difficult prodigy of the genre as a whole.


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The Hecale offered an eccentric account of Theseus’s defeat of the Marathon bull that focused upon the hospitality shown to Theseus by the rambling old woman who gave the poem its title. Though the bulk of the Hecale was devoted to this curious encounter, the extant fragments make clear that the poem also included a scene describing that hero’s capture of the Marathon bull. We do not know of any line from this now highly fragmentary poem that matches Cicero’s exactly. But the rich correspondences between 64 and Callimachus’s masterpiece certainly tempt one to make such an attribution. It would have been a brilliant allusive move for Catullus to have linked his own description of Theseus’s defeat of the Minotaur to Callimachus’s presentation of a similar exploit. 62 In this way, the two epyllia would become linked through their presentation of an analogous valiant deed—in the midst of poems that present Theseus in a generally un-heroic fashion. Such audacious undercutting of the heroic epic tradition is one of the epyllion’s most salient features.63 A poet as crafty as Catullus is very likely to have orchestrated an allusive convergence around this key facet of the genre. What is more, if the Greek line comes from the Hecale, the Latin version’s Alexandrian affectations extend beyond style to off-kilter allusion. What could be a more Callimachean deployment of myth than to describe Theseus’s slaughter of the Minotaur using a line that had first described that same hero’s subdual of a different bull? The wealth of such eccentric correspondences makes it likely, I think, that the line is of Callimachean origin. The passage that follows line 111 weaves a further connection between Catullus’s triumph over the epyllion and his Athenian hero’s triumph over the Minotaur: sic domito saevum prostravit corpore Theseus nequiquam vanis iactantem cornua ventis. inde pedem sospes multa cum laude reflexit errabunda regens tenui vestigia filo, ne labyrintheis e flexibus egredientem tecti frustraretur inobservabilis error. sed quid ego a primo digressus carmine plura commemorem, ut linquens genitoris filia vultum . . . (110–17) Thus, Theseus broke the fierce creature’s body and lay him low as he tossed his horns in vain upon the empty winds. From there, he turned back his foot in safety, with much praise, guiding his errant footsteps with a slender thread lest the unseen meandering of the structure trick him as he walks out of its labyrinthine windings. But why should I, having digressed away from my first song, relay more, how the daughter, abandoning her father’s face . . .

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Theseus is here shown emerging from the labyrinth in safety, guiding his steps with a thread lest the twists and turns of the labyrinth thwart him “as he walks out of ” (egredientem) the labyrinth. Following this description of the hero’s escape, the poet-narrator suddenly bursts upon the scene with a rather curious aside: “But why should I, having digressed (digressus) away from my first song, relay (commemorem) more?” he exclaims. The digressing poet of this line links himself to Theseus through a participle (digressus) that etymologically connects back to the language used two lines earlier to describe Theseus as he exits the labyrinth (egredientem, from egredior, egredi, egressus sum). This parallelism suggests that the carmen Catullus has walked away from is as fraught with complexities as Daedelus’s labyrinth— and that his successful navigation of this song is an artistic feat of mythic proportions. The poet, this passage implies, experienced a great deal of difficulty as he wended his way out of this “first song.” He seems to be breathing a sigh of relief at having emerged, like Theseus, “safe” (sospes) from the labyrinthine narration just completed. He also appears to be bidding his readers, with a wink, to accord him the same accolades that hero earned from posterity when he “turned back his foot in safety, with much praise” (pedem sospes multa cum laude reflexit, 112). The poet’s sense of pride and relief makes a good deal of sense when we recall that the type of song he has been composing is fraught with challenges. It makes even more sense if we take a more expansive view of the primum carmen alluded to here. The “first song” that the narrator has “digressed away from” here is often taken as referring to an earlier portion of Catullus’s poem (Ariadne’s lament, Peleus’s palace, the Argonauts’ journey, etc.).64 But certain cues beckon us to read it in another way as well. The abrupt emergence of the first-person narrating voice in the course of a third-person narrative is a common Alexandrian affectation.65 Most relevant to Catullus’s poem is its use by Apollonius in the Argonautica (4.1378–88) and by Ennius in one of the Annales’s more Alexandrianizing moments: Sed [quid] ego hic animo lamentor (6.201, Skutsch).66 The concatenation of earlier poetic egos embedded in this moment of “self-interpellation” suggests that the primum carmen may gesture toward some specific song that predates Catullus’s own.67 Specifically, I would venture that he had in mind the Hecale, the very song whose wayward line he has likely just finished translating. This reading hinges upon another common meaning of primus. This adjective can be used in Latin to mean “the foremost,” a definition that resonates powerfully in this context, for Catullus has just finished translating a line that was beautifully constructed, well regarded, and very likely written


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by the foremost poet of the Hellenistic age. Though the fragmentary state of the Greek material prohibits any definitive analysis, I join a number of scholars in suspecting that the play with Callimachean translation in this passage extends well beyond line 111 and that this translated hexameter signals the culmination of an extended passage that was working with at least this one Callimachean source.68 If this were so, it would not be out of place to find Catullus reflecting here on the folly of his own attempts to walk in Callimachus’s labyrinthine footsteps. Why, he asks, should I even bother continuing my own epyllion when I have just offered you choice snippets from the “preeminent” epyllion (primum carmen) by a—and for the Romans, the—preeminent Alexandrian poet? The anxiety of influence revealed by this quip continues to find expression in the indirect question that follows on line 117. As the poet-narrator begins to list the very events he hesitates to recount, he discloses a scene of filial betrayal that coyly mirrors the poetic coming-of-age we witness here. As Ariadne abandons her home, “leaving her father’s face” (linquens genitoris . . . vultum, 117), Catullus likewise turns his back on his own poetic forefather, sailing toward the uncharted territories of his Latin epyllion. The translation embedded in line 111—a translation that well-read Romans were likely to have recognized—gestures toward the broader task of generic translation Catullus pursues in this poem. By establishing a parallel between the labor of poetic translation and the labors of a mythic Athenian champion, Catullus establishes the poet-translator as a new sort of hero specific to contemporary Rome. In fact, this passage has the audacity to imply that Catullus is even more valorous than Theseus himself for, while that champion’s lack of memory has doomed him to a series of devastating failures over the course of 64, Catullus’s literary heroism is grounded in an acuity of recollection that Theseus fails to muster. Theseus’s most salient quality throughout this poem is that he is immemor (“forgetful”). This accusation is made directly by Ariadne and the narrator alike (lines 58, 123, 135, 248) and this character flaw is manifested during the poem’s excursus on Theseus’s failure to change his ship’s sails, a forgetful oversight that leads to his father’s death. But Catullus himself is defined by the very quality Theseus lacks. As one who cherishes the Muses, daughters of Mnemosyne (“Memory”), and who creates art by reviving the memory of past myths and poems, a poet has an especially close connection to memory. Indeed, poetic memory is flagged at line 117, when the poet-narrator asks what more he can “recount,” using a verb for his poetic activity (commemorem) that also means, simply, “to remember” and that etymologically picks up on the immemor refrain that follows Theseus through the poem. It is also very much

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on display in earlier lines of this passage which, as we have seen, include a translation followed by an emotive first-person apostrophe that harkens explicitly back to a gesture much used by Alexandrian authors. Catullus, I think, is making an argument for a kind of belated heroism based on the virtues of poetic memory. He is posing the Roman poet-translator as a necessarily retrospective hero who might succeed in an Iron Age where traditional heroism fails.69 It is risky to base an argument on a single line, striking and singular as that line may be. Happily, the passage about the dying Minotaur is not the only place where the poem links traditional heroic action to the labor of translation. We find a similar identification of the poet-translator and his heroes in the poem’s opening description of the Argonauts’ journey: cum lecti iuvenes, Argivae robora pubis, auratam optantes Colchis avertere pellem ausi sunt vada salsa cita decurrere puppi, caerula verrentes abiegnis aequora palmis. (4–7) When chosen young men, the strength of the Argive youth, hoping to steal the Golden Fleece from the people of Colchis, dared to traverse the open sea on their swift ship, sweeping its azure surface with fir-wood oars.

This passage invites a double reading that superimposes a tale of poetic translation upon its vision of epic heroism. The verb used to describe the Argives’ designs on the fleece (avertere “to steal, to carry off ”), contains an echo of vertere (“to turn, to translate”), one of the most common Latin verbs used for translation. Described in such terms, the Argonauts’ “theft” of a Golden Fleece from Colchis is aligned with Catullus’s own appropriation of literary treasures from Greece. This connection might seem far-fetched but there is an important precedent for embedding such self-reflexive references to the act of translation at the beginning of a Latin epic. According to Stephen Hinds, Livius Andronicus’s version of the Odyssey includes a similar linguistic nod to the translation process that produced it.70 A translation pun paired with an evocation of Latin literature’s inaugural translation suggest that Catullus thought of his own project as no less of a translation than Livius’s Odyssia. As though to underscore the point that his poem is embarking on a journey of translation, Catullus includes a snippet filched from Apollonius’s Argonautica as he makes the pun that links translation and Jason’s theft of the Fleece. The first and final words of line five translate the phrase “golden . . . fleece” (χρύσειον . . . κῶας) from the fourth line of that earlier poem, quite literally snatching a “golden fleece” from the myth’s most famous redaction, thus putting Catullus on par with the gutsy heroes he describes. The aura-


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tam . . . pellem (“Golden Fleece”) of this line likewise gestures back to the most famous Latin version of the Jason-Medea myth, Ennius’s Medea Exul.71 The opening passage of that now-fragmentary tragedy included a description of the Argonauts that Catullus is clearly playing with here: . . . quia Argivi in ea delecti viri vecti petebant pellem inauratam arietis Colchis . . . (212–14, Jocelyn) . . . because chosen Argive men, carried inside it [the Argo], were seeking the gilt fleece of the ram from the Colchians . . .

Catullus’s fifth line incorporates Ennius’s Fleece as well, taking his pellem inauratam (“gilt fleece”) as the lexical foundation for his version of Apollonius’s distinctively placed word pair. In the span of two words, Catullus draws on no less than three versions of the Jason-Medea myth: the Argonautica, the Media Exul, and the Medea of Euripides, which had served as Ennius’s own source text. Once we become aware of these sly translation references and the wealth of transposed and translated texts lurking in these opening lines, the lecti of line four begins to read quite differently. These “excellent” (lecti) youths have also “already been read” (lecti). What’s more, they have been “plucked out” (lecti) of other versions of the Argonauts’ story and repurposed for Catullus’s rendition of the tale. As these young heroes set out on the waves, “sweeping” (verrentes) the sea with their oars, Catullus is in the process of “sweeping away” or “carrying off ” (another meaning for verrere) the Argonaut myth away from an array of precursors to reappropriate it for his own off-kilter poem.72 As Richard Thomas has famously shown, a chorus of authors extending beyond those mentioned above hums from the interstices of these lines.73 This tissue of citations reveals the Argonauts and their latest redactor to be uneasy analogues. Jason and his crew had traversed an ocean that had never before been crossed. The seas Catullus must conquer are heaped with the errant driftwood of literary history. Still, this author does nothing to obscure the accumulated history that attaches to his poem. Instead, he foregrounds the various ways in which his own poem depends on previous acts of poetic creation by strewing shards of these poems throughout his opening lines. As Thomas notes, Catullus takes it upon himself to correct these earlier authors at every turn, positioning himself as a poet of superior subtlety and learning.74 Such self-aggrandizing corrections explain some of the pleasure Roman poets

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found in translating canonical texts. Indeed, at Rome, to translate was considered a position of strength rather than weakness. To vie with a poetic rival by translating something he had written (or, in the case of Ennius’s Medea Exul, by retranslating something he had translated himself) was one effective way of proving your own poetic chops. In the opening passage of his little epic, Catullus wears the status of translator as a badge of honor and turns the Argonauts, figures strongly associated with mythic firsts, into the patron heroes of his proudly secondary epic. As we have seen, in sharp contrast to most versions of the myth, these Argonauts are written out of the poem before they can seize their prize. They are thus deprived of the triumphant completion of their quest and, in this sense, fail in their heroic duties. But, just as Catullus presents himself, in contrast to the forgetful Theseus, as a triumphing translator who keeps memory alive through poetry, he poses himself as finding the Golden Fleece that eludes the Argonauts in his version of their tale. That Fleece is none other than 64 itself, a literary treasure transferred to Rome from the Greek East in a “heliotropic” journey that replicates Jason’s own seizure of the Golden Fleece from Colchis. A pun embedded in the opening passage affirms this connection between Catullus’s epyllion and the Fleece his heroes never find. In the word compellabo (“I will invoke,” 24), which the narrator uses to call upon his heroes, we catch a glimpse of the object this boatload of heroes is seeking. The term Catullus uses for fleece (pellis) in line 4 is nestled inside this word for poetic activity (compellabo). This confluence suggests that poem 64 in some way is the Golden Fleece. This idea is reinforced by the poem’s opening word, Peliaco, whose first syllable (pel) again offers a glimpse of the Fleece (pell-), if in slightly altered form.75 The Fleece’s cameo appearance as part of this epyllion’s first word would have carried extra weight in antiquity when Peliaco would have been part of the poem’s de facto title. Because they typically referred to poems by their opening phrases, the Romans might well have known this epyllion as the Peliaco quondam “The Formerly upon Mt. Pelion” and— almost—“The Formerly Fleece.” This opening word announces that, unlike his Argonauts, our poet intends to find a Golden Fleece of his own and bring it triumphantly home. The poem ends, rather abruptly, with a dour evocation of mankind’s current distance from the Golden Age of myth. Present readers, we are told, can no longer hope to witness a scene like the marriage of Peleus and Thetis because our unspeakable corruption has forced the gods to retreat from our sight:


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omnia fanda nefanda malo permixta furore iustificam nobis mentem avertere deorum. quare nec talis dignantur visere coetus, nec se contingi patiuntur lumine claro. (405–08) All things speakable and unspeakable, confounded in depraved madness, have turned the righteous will of the gods away from us. Wherefore they neither deign to attend such gatherings nor do they endure being touched by the clear light of day.

This passage poses the Golden Era when gods mingled with men as something no longer within reach. The unspeakable evils of humanity have “turned away” (avertere) the minds of the gods. The assertion that we no longer dwell in a divinely infused world creates a cavernous distance between the reader and the poem we have just been reading. This wording wrenches the world of myth from our sight in an act that replicates the initial disappearance of the Fleece. Yet a pun embedded in these final lines implies that a talented enough poet might heroically recapture the lost treasures of the Golden Age by bringing Greek myth and literature back to life. There is a hint here that a poet might reverse this process of “turning away” (avertere) through an act of translation (vertere) that draws the Golden Age of myth once more before our eyes.76 Catullus’s identification of the Fleece-stealing Argonauts with the poemstealing translator gestures toward a new kind of hero being constructed in late Republican Rome: the poet-translator willing to make audacious journeys to the far reaches of the Greek poetic canon so as to return home laden with spectacular literary prizes. Rather than bringing back fleeces, these new heroes were bringing back texts. Rather than slaying prodigious beasts, they vied with prodigious Greek authors. Poets like Livius and, later, Ennius had, of course, been absorbed in some version of this task for centuries before Catullus’s time. But, in the late Republic, two important factors had changed. First, the identity of the poet-translator was shifting away from the lowerclass semi-Graeci (“half-Greeks,” Suetonius De Grammaticis 1.2), who had traditionally undertaken such projects, toward wealthy provincials and, sometimes, even elite Romans at the epicenter of social and political life. Also, the kind of Alexandrianizing poems these elite translators were interested in replicating were even more conspicuously foreign than the dramas and epics that had occupied Roman translators up to that point. These shifts in the demographics of the translators and the type of works they chose to translate are, I’d surmise, what led Catullus to conceptualize his own generic translation project in heroic terms.77 Poem 64 offers Cinna, Calvus, Valerius Cato—

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and their entire generation of elite, Alexandrianizing adventurers—their own self-aggrandizing myth. Scholars have often posed the history of Latin literature as an ongoing development away from translation toward originality. According to this story, Latin literature in the late Republic was maturing beyond its infantile dependency on Greece.78 The Romans themselves perpetuated the notion that their literature evolved from savagery to refinement thanks to the influence of the Greeks (e.g., Horace Epistulae 2.1.139–63). But they did not posit this evolution as a shift away from translation specifically. Horace certainly flags translation as a technique Roman authors used early on when the “calm after the Punic War” afforded them the leisure to “see if they might translate” Greek drama “in a worthy fashion” (Epistulae 2.1.164). In the Ars Poetica, he urges the Pisos to “handle Greek models day and night” to develop their own poetic skills (Ars Poetica 268–69) and translation features prominently in his own work as well.79 When he notes in the Ars that some Roman poets earned praise because they “dared to leave behind the footprints of the Greeks and celebrate domestic deeds” (286–87), he is praising a shift toward Roman subject matter, not a move away from imitation. The idea of an evolution away from translation and toward innovation saddles Rome’s literary history with a thoroughly modern teleology. We will understand Catullus’s poems—and Roman literature—more deeply if we move beyond the idea that translation and creativity are necessarily at odds. Steeped as we modern readers are in ideals of originality and genius, many of us are not entirely comfortable with translation. It is hard for us to be rid of the nagging sense that translating another’s art is an inferior kind of creative adventure. The Romans, on the other hand, had no such qualms. Poem 64 displays this uniquely Roman sense of translator’s pride. Its author sets translation, in various forms, at the heart of his poem and aligns the task of poetic translation with the deeds of mythic heroes. This aggrandized vision of the poet-translator runs starkly counter to what Venuti has described as the modern Anglo-American translator’s “invisibility.”80 Throughout poem 64, Catullus makes the act of translation visible, insisting on our viewing his thoroughly original poem as an act of translation. As the various scenes of translation embedded throughout poem 64 reveal, Catullus did not understand himself as moving beyond translation. Rather, he thought of himself as developing the art of translation in new and dazzling directions.


Excavating the Poetic Emporium: Material and Cultural Capital in the Polymetrics And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn for her, because no one will buy their cargo any longer: cargo of gold and silver and precious stone and pearl and linen and purple and silk and scarlet; plus every kind of aromatic wood and every kind of ivory vessel and every kind of vessel made of precious stone, and of copper, iron, and marble; also cargo of cinnamon and spice and perfumes and unguents and frankincense and wine and oil and fine meal and wheat and herds and flocks and horses and carriages and slaves and the souls of men. (Revelation 18:11–14)

This passage is drawn from the Book of Revelation, a first-century CE biblical text that prophesizes the destruction of Rome’s terrestrial potentate and the rise of a new, celestial kingdom. While this description clearly privileges the spirit over the flesh it is, nonetheless, mired in earthly materials. Its extravagant vision of merchants lamenting a fallen Rome’s demise poses the city as an outrageous emporium. The vast reaches of a profligate empire are identified not with roads, amphitheaters, or military rule, but with the glut of foreign goods its populace consumes. According to this prophet, Rome is the sum of her opulent imports, her identity reducible to a grotesque catalogue of riches. This image of Rome as a rapaciously materialistic beast is clearly the product of an anti-Roman agenda. But Revelation’s kaleidoscopic array of imports is no eschatological fantasy. Rome’s hunger for foreign cargo was real and the merchandise crammed into this unwieldy sentence are items of which her citizens were famously fond. This fondness reached a peak of frenzy in Catullus’s era, a time of political chaos, social upheaval, and intensely opulent living. Wealthy Romans had been importing foreign luxuries for centuries but, in this era, the elite’s addiction to such items entered a newly extravagant phase. Thanks to continued success in campaigns throughout the kingdoms of Asia Minor, the elite were enjoying unprecedented wealth and becoming one of the most flagrantly materialistic cultures to plunder the earth. Evidence of such avid consumption is rife in the material record: starting in the mid-first century BCE and extending through the early empire, the number of known shipwrecks in the Medi-

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terranean exceeds that of any period prior to the Renaissance.1 The Romans who ruled these waters clearly indulged in a vast amount of trade, an enterprise facilitated by Pompey’s successful campaign to clear the sea of pirates in 65 BCE. From that time forward, the Romans had ready access to treasures from her expanding empire and the elites indulged their most opulent inclinations with ever more abandon. One of the images that best encapsulates the era’s obsession with foreign riches is a portrait Pompey had made of himself in pearls. This extravagant object was the centerpiece of his immense triumph of 61 BCE and it came, in later years, to emblematize the material excess that increased so much in the late-Republican era.2 Pliny the Elder, who describes this portrait in lavish detail, soundly condemns such narcissistic displays. He sums up with the comment: “austerity conquered, this was more truly the triumph of luxury (luxuria)” (Pliny Historia Naturalis 37.14–15). As Pliny’s remark makes clear, imported luxury objects flooded not just the city of Rome but the discourse of Roman authors. It also indicates that the discourse surrounding these objects was a place where anxieties about cultural change (here in the guise of luxuria) tended to constellate. In fact, long before Pliny, these items became flashpoints for working through issues of cultural assimilation among the Roman elite. My first chapter detailed the centrality of luxury objects to the discourse of decline that saturated the prose and poetry of Catullus’s period. As a physical index of the transfer of culture from East to West, foreign luxuries were strongly associated with the penetration of Greek culture into Italy. As such, they became a site where Roman authors could think through processes of cultural transfer—not least of all their own creation of a hellenized literature in Latin. Textiles, unguents, spices, and the like concretized the abstractions of cultural evolution, giving the Romans a way of thinking through their rapidly evolving world. We have tended to read Catullus in a way that severs him from the imperial mercantilism that supplied the Pompeys of Rome with their pearls. His poems typically provoke discussion of human subjects, not material objects.3 But to make a strict distinction between the two is a mistake. The rise of small-scale, Greek-style poetry in the late-Republican period was bound up with the era’s frenetic traffic in foreign-made luxury merchandise. When we allow our attention to drift beyond the poetic empyrean and into the object world, it becomes clear that Catullus is an abundantly materialistic writer who shares his era’s obsession with costly foreign goods. Syrian perfumes, Bithynian litter-bearers, Spanish napkins, and Greek cloaks quietly clutter his collection. This silent surround may not draw the same attention to itself as the host of peeping sparrows, squabbling lovers, and uncouth street-walkers


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who vie for the reader’s ear, but shifting our attention away from these clamoring hordes toward their inanimate counterparts can have surprising critical rewards. As we shall see, Catullus’s textual representations of foreign luxuries limn the sweeping cultural shifts that defined first-century Rome. In attending to offhand mentions of foreign materials in these poems, I take a methodological cue from Bill Brown, who pioneered the study of literary texts as privileged sites for excavating material history. According to Brown, “literature has the capacity to preserve (however marginally) residues of phenomena that remain in some sense unrecognizable (if not unrepresentable) in our existing historiographic genres.”4 Brown terms this textual archive of everyday objects literature’s “material unconscious.” Probing literary texts as an analyst probes the psyche, he focuses not on the main material of diegesis and description but on oblique, passing, and metaphorical moments. These, he suggests, are places where the material unconscious discloses itself.5 Sounding the inarticulate archaeologies of this material substratum can, Brown shows, amplify muffled layers of the historical record. The conflicting social pressures that both determine and respond to the materials of the past can surface in literature and be recovered there. As Brown puts it: “Within literature the detritus of history lingers, lying in wait.”6 Charting the material unconscious as it pulses through Catullus’s poems discloses some of the ways in which Romans discursively refashioned the foreign materials flooding Italy into specifically Roman forms of cultural capital. Foreign objects did not have fixed value or meaning when they arrived at Rome. Before they could be naturalized, they had to undergo a process of discursive realignment that endowed them with value in a new cultural context. My thinking on this process of semiotic realignment has been significantly shaped by Pierre Cordier’s discussion of Roman manipulation of Greek terms for leisure activities, a process he refers to as “resignification.”7 Cordier discusses the Roman habit of investing Greek words with new meanings that have little or nothing to do with their original semantic range. By dissociating signifiers from their original referents, “the Romans play with Greek categories,” and this “play with codes” is an “expression of symbolic domination.”8 Cordier is primarily interested in this phenomenon as it manifests in everyday speech. Catullus, I will be arguing, was a master of such strategies and played this game of resignification with skill and aplomb. In a number of his self-described nugae (“poetic trifles,” 1.4), in particular among the so-called polymetrics (1–60 in the extant collection), Catullus pictures foreign objects in a state of what I would call suspended translation. These poems show such objects in the act of being turned from items of dubious cultural worth into something that might bolster a Roman’s reputation.

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Catullus, I argue, uses his vignettes about the fate of such objects to think through issues of both cultural assimilation and poetic appropriation. In other words, his poems about foreign objects tell two separate, but overlapping, tales: one about the first-century elite’s ongoing efforts to refashion foreign imports into items that could bolster their own social worth, the other about Catullus’s personal campaign to transform foreign materials—in particular, words and poems—into an appropriately Roman form. Reading through his collection with an eye toward its material unconscious thus gives us greater insight into both late-Republican literary history and the world of Roman imperialism in which the poet was immersed. These peripheral objects offer insights into a process that was recurring throughout Italy in Catullus’s era: the transfer of foreign items—whether objects, words, or poems—from the margins of the empire into Rome and their subsequent resignification into items of value among elite Romans. A Spanish Napkin (poem 12) Marrucine Asini, manu sinistra non belle uteris: in ioco atque vino tollis lintea neglegentiorum. hoc salsum esse putas? fugit te, inepte: quamvis sordida res et invenusta est. non credis mihi? crede Pollioni fratri, qui tua furta vel talento mutari velit; est enim leporum differtus puer ac facetiarum. quare aut hendecasyllabos trecentos exspecta, aut mihi linteum remitte, quod me non movet aestimatione, verum est mnemosynum mei sodalis. nam sudaria Saetaba ex Hiberis miserunt mihi muneri Fabullus et Veranius; haec amem necesse est ut Veraniolum meum et Fabullum. Marrucinus Asinius, you put your left hand to ugly use: amid joking and drinking, you steal the napkins of over-careless men. You think this witty? You inept man, true wit escapes you. Your theft is exceedingly foul and graceless. You don’t trust me? Trust your brother Pollio, who should like to trade your thefts for a talent, for that boy is stuffed with humor and drollery. And so, either expect three hundred hendecasyllables or send the napkin back to me. I don’t care about the napkin because of what it costs; but because it is


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a souvenir of my friend. For these Saetaberian handkerchiefs were sent as a gift from Spain by Fabullus and Veranius; I must love them as I love my dear Veranius and Fabullus.

A versified threat flung at a napkin thief, poem 12 presents itself as a negligible little poem. But focusing on the hotly contested object at its core can offer insights into the ways in which Romans of Catullus’s period endowed foreign imports with new kinds of social value.9 The poem constructs its seedy drama around a linen napkin imported from Spain. This object receives far more attention than it seems to deserve, and I take its odd conspicuousness as a cue to probe its function with some intensity. We are told that the napkin is one of numerous sudaria Saetaba (literally, “sweatrags from Saetabis”) that two friends, Veranius and Fabullus, sent Catullus from abroad. Knowing that this sweatrag hails from the distant Iberian town of Saetabis adds a charming touch of realism. But this detail has another important effect: it links the poem to contemporary dealings in the provinces and, specifically, to the traffic in foreign luxuries that the work of provincial governance so often generated. The first hint that this apparently private, occasional poem is tackling broader themes of colonial expansion and material expropriation comes from the identity of the Catullan speaker’s two friends. Veranius and Fabullus appear as pitiful losers in the potentially lucrative business of colonial plunder in two other poems. In 28, Catullus laments the pair’s misfortune, along with his own, for being stuck on tours of duty with malevolent praetors. Poem 47 finds this same pair begging for dinner invitations at the crossroads while two rivals gorge themselves on sumptuous feasts. Their paired appearance in 12 thus draws us immediately into this world of colonial predation. There is another connection between this poem and those more obviously political poems as well. In 47, Catullus describes the pair who profit in opposition to Veranius and Fabullus as “the two left hands of Piso” (lines 1–2). This phrasing implies that their crooked natures have swamped their identities and transformed them into appendages of crime. In 12, Marrucinus’s thieving left hand establishes him as a shrunken version of those two bureaucratic thieves. The profiteering exposed in 47 is presented as a universal outrage whose effects reverberate through the entire world (those thieves are described as a “universal mange and famine,” 47.2). Poem 12 replicates these public events in private microcosm: the theft of Catullus’s napkin at a dinner party is a small-scale reenactment of the unscrupulous triumph of one functionary over another in a contest over gains from the provinces. Despite the “occasional” veneer of this little napkin poem, Catullus clearly has issues larger than stolen linens

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on his mind. In the midst of this personal vendetta, he is airing his culture’s province-related dirty laundry. On the surface, 12 reads as mini-narrative of the poet-speaker’s personal friendships and antagonisms. But it also details another biography, the life of an object that was transported from Spain into an Italian dining room.10 When we refocus our reading on this object’s own tale, we find that the poem details a significant portion of its life story, beginning with its origins in Spain, continuing with its exportation to Italy and, moving through its arrival in a Roman triclinium, where it was snatched up by a thief, culminating in its owner’s demand for its return. Yet this poem is no journalistic record of the object’s autonomous existence. Instead, it documents how the napkin has been used by a series of Romans who have appropriated—and reconfigured—it for their own purposes. This poem charts a remarkable biography of its unremarkable napkin, tracing its evolution through the various changes that a foreign object underwent when it entered the orbit of a resignifying Roman. In the course of seventeen lines, poem 12 takes its napkin on a metamorphic odyssey, transforming it over and over again through acts of verbal exchange. In making this recurring move, the poem showcases a process of semiotic realignment to which all foreign items (both objects and words) were potentially subject. As Cordier has shown, foreign luxuries often became the targets of fierce discursive contests between Romans vying with one another to circumscribe these items’ value and meaning. The uncertainty of such objects’ social worth made them prime targets for such high-stakes games of resignification. Contestants were drawn to such objects as places where they could demonstrate their powers of semiotic agility by transforming things of uncertain worth into something of value.11 The central drama of poem 12 exposes this particular phase in the life of a foreign object that had been imported to Rome. As we shall see, the value and meaning of Catullus’s Spanish napkin is frenetically reconfigured through the course of these lines. These repeated transformations, I argue, represent the attempts of contending Romans to profit from the unstable value of a foreign object that has become a pawn in the elites’ belligerent semiotic games. The place from which this napkin hails—modern-day Játiva—was known, in antiquity, for producing the best linen west of Arabia.12 Such a finely made object’s material worth was well established. But its social value was not. Throughout these lines, this expensive Spanish napkin is presented as a thing of remarkably unstable worth, and its value undergoes vertiginous shifts as it passes through the poem. The question of value is straightaway thrown into relief by the very fact that this napkin has been stolen—and that an entire poem was written to demand its return. From the start, the reader is primed


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to notice the napkin’s value. When she does, she finds that it oscillates with alarming frequency. Already in the opening lines, its value is uncertain. It is posed as one of the napkins used for a frivolous sort of banqueting that is summed up as occurring “amid joking and drinking” (in ioco atque vino). In addition, these stolen lintea (“napkins”) belong not to neglegentes, “overcareless” invitees. This is not an object that appears to be particularly enticing. And yet it has been “lifted” by Marrucinus, and this theft indicates that the napkin must have some value after all. It is worth, at least, the trouble of stealing—and of writing a poem to demand its return. Within the first three lines, Catullus’s napkin has already begun to gain and lose value with startling speed. This same sort of oscillation is even embedded into the poem’s first words. Asinius Marrucinus (as the thief would have been called outside this poem) has a name that begins with a Latin word. This word, (as, assis) refers to the least valuable of Roman coins. Once it has been touched by his manu sinistra (literally, “left” but also “perverse,” or “unfavorable hand”), the napkin apparently depreciates by metonymy. But its value skyrockets several lines down when Pollio claims he would trade his brother’s thefts for a “talent,” the highest Greek measure, and larger than any measure native to Rome. In the sentence that follows, Catullus threatens to retaliate for his stolen linteum with “three hundred hendecasyllables” (hendecasyllabos trecentos), a threat that is both a display of poetic prowess and a joke. “Three hundred” was Latin’s way of gesturing toward an abstractly huge amount of anything, so Catullus here threatens the thief with a colossal onslaught of verse. His wording begins to carry out this threat in advance by creating an effect of endless proliferation. This phrase includes a ludicrously large bilingual sum: three hundred (trecentos) in Latin times eleven (hendeca-) in Greek equals a number that goes beyond the proverbially huge. It is also quite a mouthful when inserted into a line of verse. Catullus has opted for two of the longest words he could find. These words occupy well over half their line and seem designed to prove that the poet is making no empty threat. Anyone who can so effortlessly insert this curious sum into the end of a Latin hendecasyllable appears to have the ability to spin off stylish verses ad infinitum. The linteum has become equated with a kind of poetic infinity—its absence promising to generate an endless stream of poems. At this point, poem 12 draws attention to the napkin’s value by referring explicitly to its cost. The speaker proclaims that his napkin does not interest him for its material worth but for its sentimental associations: “I don’t care about the napkin because of what it costs; it’s just that it’s a souvenir from my friend.” These lines foreground the question of value while shifting the terms

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in which the napkin’s value is to be understood. They broaden the notion of value beyond the monetary to encompass the emotional and social intangibles that dominate the poem’s closing lines. Exchanged between friends, this napkin is no mere commodity, but a gift that strengthens social allegiances and materializes affections. But such subtler forms of social value are clearly lost on Marrucinus. This thug can only understand the cruder forms of gain achieved through physical appropriation. His knowledge of napkins—and social relations—is limited to snatching away his dinner companions’ unguarded lintea. By reveling in such bumbling expropriations, Marrucinus puts his left hand “to ugly use” (non belle uteris), an expression that connotes a breach of decorum. By simply taking the object without attempting to change it, this thief has exposed his want of the verbal dexterity that allowed Romans to mold foreign objects to their needs. Or, as Catullus puts it, “You inept man, true wit escapes you” (fugit te, inepte). For, as this poem makes clear, the point of “stealing” Spanish napkins (whether from a Roman table or from far-off Spain) is to change them into items of social worth. Such operations might well be described as witty, something Catullus emphatically says Marrucinus’s deed is not. But instances of such dexterous transformations do appear within this poem, their adroitness in stark contrast to the inelegance of the poem’s opening theft. The first demonstration of the way things ought to be done comes from Marrucinus’s own brother Pollio, a boy whose witty behavior Catullus contrasts with the napkin thief ’s cluelessness. What makes this boy so clever? At first glance it seems to be the simple fact that he is on Catullus’s side: he too wants his loutish brother to give the napkin back. But, really, this should make him honest, not witty. His wit, I would venture, comes from how Pollio phrases his sympathetic quip. He wants to trade his brother’s thefts “for a talent,” a proposal that goes beyond exchanging stolen napkins for money—it also exchanges something Spanish for something Greek. A talentum was, as we have seen, a Greek unit of measurement, and the word derives from the Greek τάλαντον. By verbally equating these furta (“thefts”) with a Greek measure, Pollio changes them from social liabilities into a hoard of “Greek” riches. This treasure trove is only momentarily conjured through some felicitous phrasing, but this moment of verbal dexterity proves Pollio a more talented thief of language than his inept brother will ever be. It is not surprising that Pollio should accomplish this erudite exchange of furta for a Greek measure aligned with gods and kings. The hellenizing strategies glimpsed here would define this young man for the rest of his life. Asinius Pollio would become one of the most important figures in the flourishing of the arts that marked Augustus’s reign. An avid patron of poetry, he would


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be honored with dedications by Horace (Odes 2.1), Vergil (Eclogues 4), and Cinna. He also wrote poems himself—as well as history and oratory—and he amassed a celebrated collection of Greek art. He opened Rome’s first public library and instituted the practice of formal literary recitation (recitatio) among his peers. In sum, this clever boy would dedicate his life to transporting Greek culture into Rome.13 His witty response to his brother’s theft in poem 12 offers a telling prehistory of this illustrious hellenizing career. Pollio’s successful transformation of a Spanish napkin into “Greek” assets sets up Catullus’s far more audacious version of this move. The Catullan speaker likewise manipulates the meaning and value of the linteum by equating it with something Greek but he shifts the terms from material to cultural capital. The speaker twice proposes his own exchanges, each time equating the napkin with a word that evokes Greek poetry. As we have seen, he threatens to retaliate for the theft with three hundred hendecasyllabi—at once a Greek meter and a Greek word. At line 13, he recreates this Spanish napkin as Greek once again by explaining that it is primarily important to him as a mnemosynum. Mnemosynum is a Latinized version of the Greek μνημόσυνον (“reminder,” “remembrance,” “memorial”). The word appears only this once in Latin, where it is typically translated as “souvenir” or “keepsake.” Greek loan words were not a regular feature of literary Latin in the late Republic and this striking four-syllable hapax is especially marked for flaunting sounds that are so stereotypically Greek (neither the phoneme “mn” nor “syn” exists naturally in Latin).14 In fact, the word is so odd that it does not appear in any of the manuscripts, all of which include some nonsensical variation that imposes Latinate phrasing on these foreign-sounding syllables. But, along with most other modern editors, I agree with the Renaissance scholar who long ago saw in this corrupt line the vestiges of the Greek-derived mnemosynum.15 Though we cannot be certain that Catullus chose this word, it constitutes one of the poem’s most brilliant moves. What the word does here—at the most sonically, semantically, and textually obscure moment of the poem—is to expose the poet-speaker’s ultimate purpose: to demonstrate his skill at taking a costly Spanish napkin and transforming it into a far more valuable piece of cultural capital. He does so by referring to this Spanish object with a word that encapsulates the allure of a culturally, geographically, and temporally distant Greece. In calling his linteum a mnemosynum, Catullus reproduces a common Latin colloquialism. The Romans often used Greek words in reference to small-scale luxury items, in particular those to which they were sentimentally attached.16 But this word does more than enhance the poem’s linguistic realism. It likewise displays the

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speaker’s ability to manipulate a real object’s symbolic value, to transform a Spanish napkin into something redolent with the glamorous aura of Greek antiquity. In line twelve, Catullus declares that he does not “care about the napkin because of what it costs,” a statement that highlights the linteum’s monetary value at the same time as it rejects this form of valuation. Although napkins imported from Spain—a recognized capital of the ancient linen trade—were, in fact, sumptuous items that would have cost their owners dearly, in a single line, Catullus renders this form of assessment moot. He then lays the groundwork for his preferred form of appraisal by noting that the napkin “is a souvenir (mnemosynum) from my friend.” Most readers focus their attentions upon this friend, assuming that the napkin’s primary value lies in the bond it establishes between Catullus and his sodales (“companions”).17 This is true to some degree: the line ends by mentioning this companion and the poem itself ends on a similarly sentimental note. The final line is given over to a tender articulation of the names of “dear Veranius and Fabullus,” friends so close to the speaker that he refers to them as his own (meum).18 But the line that begins to steer the poem in this direction foregrounds the word mnemosynum instead. These exotic cadences are imported with great bravado smack into the center of a hendecasyllabic line. In fact, the word’s placement mirrors the position of hendecasyllabos in line 10, both beginning, as they do, with the metrically prominent long third syllables of their respective lines. Each of these words is directly associated with the napkin. The hendecasyllabi are a promise of what the thief will receive if he does not give it back and the mnemosynum is an alternative appellation. In using these words to refer to the napkin, Catullus performs a verbal exchange, transforming a Spanish linteum, momentarily, into a Greek object. Such verbal substitutions efface the napkin’s original provenance and make the dramatic leap of reimagining it as a far more valuable Eastern heirloom. In making this move, the poem showcases a process of semiotic realignment to which all foreign objects were potentially subject at Rome. The social value of a Spanish napkin might be dramatically increased if the vulgarity of contemporary Spain could be displaced by the aura of ancient Greece. Using the word mnemosynum in reference to the napkin does just that, refashioning the sudarium into something inescapably Greek and also appealingly far away. The Greece it conjures is not the contemporary province, wracked with contemporary problems. It is, instead, a land that exists in the realm of memory, a realm easily usurped to fulfill a Roman poet’s needs.19 Catullus here replicates a maneuver that was being made throughout


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the Roman world in various guises. His mnemosynum is a highly sophisticated version of what Cordier identifies as a common Roman strategy of resignification—borrowing a Greek term and investing it with a new, and thoroughly Roman, meaning.20 In Catullus’s case, this resignification is twofold. First, he uses the word mnemosynum to transform a Spanish napkin into a Greek “souvenir.” Then he redefines this beguiling mnemosynum as his own by associating it with his napkin (not incidentally, a lost napkin that now exists only in memory). The phrasing of mnemosynum mei (“a souvenir of my”) encourages us to recognize this link between Greece, “memory,” and “mine,” its bilingual sonic ring structure solidifying the connection. This symbolic refashioning of a Spanish napkin into a Latin poet’s personalized Greek memory is also eminently Roman in its willingness to symbolically manipulate an item’s place of origin. As Grant Parker observes in his study of Indian commodities at Rome, “cultural factors cloud any notion of the provenance of commodities.”21 The Romans’ mental mapping of their empire (and the places that lay beyond it) was wholly subjective and objects were frequently plotted according to a cultural terrain that bore little resemblance to fact.22 So, for instance, the Romans tended to conflate most barbarian (i.e., non-hellenized) lands as places devoid of material allure. The appeal of Spanish linens notwithstanding, it was the far East, not the far West, that the Romans tended to associate with commodities—especially luxurious ones.23 No matter how much a Spanish napkin may have cost, its value as cultural capital was tenuous unless it could be refashioned into something that hailed from the luxuriant lands of the East. But Catullus takes this resignifying game one step further, for the term mnemosynum has an even more specific association than those thus far discussed. Once relabeled as a mnemosynum, the sudarium is snatched from the realm of the material to become an ethereal repository of memory. There is a hint that the kind of memory at issue here is poetic memory in particular, for mnemosynum evokes Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses. Referring to the napkin by this name suggests that this “souvenir” from Spain is, in some way, aligned with poems that come from Greece. Catullus has already set us up for this idea with his threat to unleash three hundred hendecasyllables if the napkin is not returned. But by the end of the poem, this equivalence is made far clearer. At this point, the missing napkin has been memorialized in the form of Catullus’s own Latin hendecasyllables (a meter newly imported from Greece). In the course of these seventeen lines, the poet transforms a stolen linteum into a hellenizing poem that documents the napkin’s disappearance.24

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By stealing Catullus’s sweatrag, Marrucinus gives Catullus the fodder to write a poem that recreates the napkin as something spectacularly new. In place of his missing linen, Catullus presents us with a text, an alternative textile that replaces the lost object it describes. In his ultimate coup de grâce, our poet transforms a lost Spanish napkin into a hellenizing poem that invokes a vibrant Greek tradition of kleptomaniacal iambics and epigrams. In fact, Catullus here seems to be combining two varieties of Greek theft poems into one. First, the poem taps into the long-standing tradition of iambic slurs where the speaker poses as a wronged underdog who threatens retaliation for stolen goods. But toward the end, it retreats from its invective stance. Without warning, we find ourselves reading a kind of love poem that exposes the depth of the speaker’s affection for two of his dear friends. These final lines tap into the cultivated longing of the Hellenistic theft epigram where the thing that is stolen is—surprise!—the speaker’s heart. Catullus has refashioned the lost napkin into an insistently present poem that borrows from two antithetical Hellenistic genres (iambic and elegy). By filching meters, genres, and themes from the Greek poetic tradition and reworking them in Latin, Catullus too, is a thief, though one cannier than his addressee.25 His poem seems designed not so much to rebuke Marrucinus as to show him what the napkin is really worth and to demonstrate how one should go about stealing it. His recreation of a missing napkin as a hendecasyllabic poem exposes the fact that the original napkin was, all along, an empty sign that could be filled with new meaning by anyone skillful enough to do so. During the course of his poem, Catullus plays relentlessly with the emptiness of this sweatrag-cum-signifier. He hereby shows Marrucinus that, while his crude, left-handed theft might have gained him a napkin, his ignorance of wittier semiotic realignments left him without any sense of that napkin’s true worth. Being made of Spanish linen, the napkin had some monetary value. But that kind of value is proven to be comparatively worthless. The thief ’s possession of the napkin proves him to be a fool. The poet, on the other hand, can conjure this stolen napkin in the form of a poem and then transform it, line by line, into something that is worth more than the original napkin ever was. By turning his missing sudarium into a Greek object—and, more specifically, a hellenizing poem—Catullus increases its value and proves his adroitness at the semiotic game his poem both portrays and performs. The end result is a poetic mnemosynum (“keepsake”) that might circulate many times over between himself, his enemies, his friends, and all future readers who lay their hands on his collection.


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Greek Cloaks (Poem 25) Cinaede Thalle, mollior cuniculi capillo vel anseris medullula vel imula oricilla vel pene languido senis situque araneoso idemque, Thalle, turbida rapacior procella, cum diva Murcia arbitros ostendit oscitantes,26 remitte pallium mihi meum, quod involasti, sudariumque Saetabum catagraphosque Thynos, inepte, quae palam soles habere tamquam avita. quae nunc tuis ab unguibus reglutina et remitte, ne laneum latusculum manusque mollicellas inusta turpiter tibi flagella conscribillent, et insolenter aestues, velut minuta magno deprensa navis in mari, vesaniente vento. Pathic Thallus, softer than rabbit’s fur, or goose down or the tip of an earlobe, or an old man’s flaccid penis, or decay and cobwebs; Thallus, likewise more rapacious than a wild storm when Murcia [Goddess of Sloth] points out witnesses who are yawning; send back the cloak you stole from me, and the napkin from Saetabis, and the Bithynian embroideries [or “tablets”], things which you, inept man, hold onto openly as though they were heirlooms. Now, unglue them from your talons and send them back, lest the branding mark of the lash should foully scribble all over your wooly-soft side and tender hands, and lest you seethe in ways you are not used to like a tiny ship taken by a raging storm in midst of a vast sea.

Poem 25 offers a tale of semiotic realignment similar to 12’s, but with some ingeniously disturbing twists. It clearly belongs in the same basic category as poem 12, sharing its core scenario (the poet reprimands a thief) as well as some vocabulary and structural features. But there is one major difference between the two scenes: in this case, Catullus confronts a thief who is not Roman, but Greek. This difference, I shall argue, dramatically changes the stakes and strategies showcased by the two poems. As in 12, the stolen objects tell a story about the way late Republican Romans perceived and manipulated the symbolic value of imported luxury goods. But rather than focusing on the way foreign objects could be discursively controlled by members of the elite, this poem addresses some touchy issues of ownership and legitimacy that would have undergirded any act of Roman translation or translatio (“physical/ figurative transfer”): if these items belonged, originally, to a Spaniard or a Greek, what right did a Roman have to use them as his own? Doesn’t a Greek have a more legitimate claim to his own material and cultural legacy than any Roman? And won’t such a Greek be able to use those things

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with more skill and subtlety than a Roman ever could? The poem only takes its open-minded contemplation of these questions so far. In fact, it opens up its inquiry into colonial expropriation only to legitimate the ultimate dominance of its representative Roman, the Catullan speaker. But even as poem 25 reaffirms the right of the Roman conqueror to bend foreign objects—and people—to his will, it offers an unusual glimmer of self-reflexive doubt. This uncertainty allows for the creation of a strangely appealing poem that accords us a fuller understanding of attitudes toward cultural imperialism in Catullus’s era. In both structure and story line, poem 25 replicates the basic contours of the earlier napkin poem. This iambic slur is likewise addressed to a thief and details the poet-victim’s retaliation for his lost objects in a set of harshly abusive lines. The Spanish napkin of poem 12 resurfaces here as the object of a certain Thallus’s rapacious attentions. This time, the hoard has expanded to include two other items as well: catagraphi (variously understood as something ranging from “figured embroideries” to “box-wood tablets”) and a pallium (“cloak”). In both poems, Catullus’s counterattack proceeds in a similar fashion. Both begin with a direct invocation of the thief (Marrucine Asini, 12.1 Cinaede Thalle, 25.1) and then move into a volley of inventive abuse. Cajoling soon gives way to a direct demand for return of the stolen goods (“send back” [remitte, 12.11] / “send back” [remitte, 25.6, 25.9]) along with a threat of retaliation should they not materialize (“either expect three hundred hendecasyllables or send the napkin back to me” [aut hendecasyllabos trecentos / exspecta, aut mihi linteum remitte, 12.10–11] / “lest the branding mark of the lash should foully scribble all over you[r] . . . [ne . . . inusta flagella conscribillent . . . , 25.10–11]). In both cases, the form of retaliation promised is violent verse. In 12, the speaker threatens to counter with three hundred hendecasyllables. In 25 he warns that searing lashes “will scribble all over” (conscribillent) the thief ’s soft little flanks. Both poems then close on an oddly poignant note, with their iambic aggression softened into milder endings: poem 12 closes with a fond evocation of Veranius and Fabullus and 25 with the image of the thief as a tiny ship helplessly tossed on a vast and stormy sea. As in poem 12, the stolen objects are specified as being of foreign origin, though, in this case, their provenance is more diverse. We learn that Thallus has stolen a Greek cloak (pallium), a Spanish napkin (sudarium . . . saetabum), and Bithynian tablets/embroideries (catagraphos . . . thynos). Two of these items hail from provinces (Bithynia and Spain) that were major foci of rapacious governmental and military activity in the 60s and 70s BCE. The pallium evokes a Greek world that had been subdued with much fanfare a century earlier. But this world included Sicily, which had become synonymous with


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colonial extortion during the trial of Verres in the 70s. Bithynia, the source of the stolen tablets, was a recognized hotbed of avaricious activity. Part of the spoils Pompey had gained upon his defeat of Mithridates, this region was designated a province by that general in 63 BCE. It began to attract a flood of profiteers—including Catullus himself—in the decades that followed.27 Spain was likewise alive with frenetic treasure-hunting. In the late 60s, this province was the focal point for Caesar’s avaricious campaign to relieve himself of debt by accumulating booty to pay off his creditors. The points of origin for Catullus’s stolen objects are, thus, strongly associated with the contemporary spread of Roman power and the material advantages elite Romans were intent on gaining from their expanding empire. Elsewhere in his collection, Catullus devotes an entire poem (29) to railing against a prominent Roman in the act of plundering new provinces, including two of the provinces encapsulated by the stolen objects in poem 25 (Bithynia and Spain). An overt indictment of imperial plundering and extortion, poem 29 targets Mamurra, a military associate of Julius Caesar’s whom Catullus attacks in several other poems later in the collection. Poem 29 presents Mamurra as an oversexed monster who moves through provinces and bedchambers with equal voraciousness. Its vitriolic portrait of Caesar’s insatiable associate is reminiscent of Thallus’s unbound rapaciousness as portrayed in 25. Both men are figured as birds of prey scavenging another’s spoils. Mamurra tears to pieces his rightful inheritance (paterna prima lancinata sunt bona, 29.17) then moves on to the wealth of other lands. Thallus clings to his stolen items with a set of predatory talons (ab unguibus, 9) that paradoxically transform a man who has just been described as softer than goose down (mollior . . . anseris medullula, 1–2) into a ruthless vulture. Poem 29 maps Mamurra’s avaricious appetites with a cartography similar to that of the earlier poem. First, we are told, he tore through his “paternal inheritance” (Paterna . . . bona,17), that is, he depleted the treasures available in Italy. Next, he spent his way through the “Black Sea booty” (praeda Pontica, 18), a phrase that alludes to the prizes obtained during Pompey’s campaign against Mithridates. Third, we learn he consumed the plunder from Caesar’s campaign in Spain (18–19). But now, Catullus says, this profligate monster has set his sights on Caesar and Pompey’s winnings in Britain and Gaul, an area not alluded to in 25 but very much on the map in some of Catullus’s other expansion-related poems. With its explicit focus on colonial plunder, poem 29 makes clear the extent to which a Roman province might be associated with the wealth a lucky man might find there. This idea, I would venture, likewise governs poem 25. Catullus’s lost triad (Greek cloak, Bithynian tablets, Spanish napkin) spans

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the far reaches of the empire as the contending generals were mapping it out in his period. As such, those objects synecdochically represent the wealth potentially gained through imperial plunder. And here, as in 12, foreign plunder includes not just material but cultural capital. Despite his poem’s playful tone, Catullus’s contest with Thallus over this list of imported knick-knacks represents a far more significant struggle: that of the conquering Roman attempting to claim foreign patrimony—in particular cultural patrimony—as his own. The poem begins to read this way when we turn our attention to the origins of its actors. Unlike 12, which pits one Italian against another, 25 sets the Roman speaker against a Greek thief. Marrucinus Asinius had a distinctly Roman identity. The name Asinius, along with the mention of his soon-tobe-famous brother, links him to a prominent Roman family. There is some indication that the name Marrucinus, foregrounded by the inversion of nomen and cognomen, mockingly associated the thief with the rough-and-tumble Marrucini.28 But, however uncouth his early Italic origins, the addressee of 12 is clearly a Roman citizen and everything about the coy games the poet plays with him implies that he, like his brother Pollio, is well ensconced among the elite. Thallus is a different matter. Unlike the majority of Catullus’s addressees, his identity cannot be even speculatively correlated with any known figure from first-century Rome. That said, the name Thallus itself is real and appears as a cognomen in a number of inscriptions found throughout the empire. 29 This name derives from the Greek word for “green/tender shoot” (θαλλός), a derivation that has led at least one scholar to surmise that Catullus’s Thallus was, perhaps, a freedman.30 The poem plays a great deal with the sadistic image of showering Thallus with lashes, so the idea of a servile—or formerly servile—status is not out of the question. But there is not much else in the poem to indicate a specifically freedman status. What we do know for sure is that Thallus’s name derives from the Greek and that Catullus plays abusively upon this identification throughout. The poem’s mean-spirited portrait marks Thallus with an array of stereotypes that characterized Roman thinking about their Eastern neighbors. Prominent among these were softness, pompousness, and slipperiness of character.31 This dismissive triad summarizes Catullus’s primary charges against Thallus. Poem 25 presents this man as slothful, effeminate, bombastic, prideful, and given over to sexual wantonness. He is completely in thrall to his desires, and this lack of self-control manifests as both licentiousness and theft. All of these qualities are encapsulated in the derogatory jeer, cinaedus. There is much scholarly disagreement on how, exactly, we should understand the Roman cinaedus (defined by the Oxford Latin Dictionary as “a catamite”


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or “a man of effeminate or luxurious habits.”)32 But, whatever else he was—or was not—a cinaedus was strongly associated with the Greek East. This association stemmed, in part, from his appearance. The stereotypical cinaedus surrounded himself with the accoutrements of otherness, fingering foreign trinkets and draping himself in sumptuous fabrics. This open fascination with exotic trappings was thought to complement a cinaedus’s sexual proclivities: such men advertised the penetrability of their bodies by remaking themselves in the opulent image of the subjugated and supposedly effeminate East.33 But the associations with the East also had to do with the cinaedus’s supposed enslavement to supposedly base desires.34 The cinaedus was thought to be in thrall to his own perverted lust, and this trait aligned him, in the Roman mind, to subjugated territories. What establishes Thallus’s noncitizen status most powerfully is the speaker’s warning that “the branding mark of the lash” will “foully scribble all over” his “wooly-soft side” if he fails to return the stolen goods. This threat of lashing, so familiar from Roman comedy, poses Thallus as a slave whose body was typically subject to such tortures. I would suggest that these intimations of servitude allude above all to Thallus’s status as a Greek, in contradistinction to the speaker’s status as Roman. The Romans thought of the Greeks as slaves, both literally and figuratively. Slaves of Greek extraction were prized commodities in Roman households, making the association quite concrete. But the Greeks were also considered a morally weak populace, enslaved to their desires, senses, and compulsions—all accusations made of Thallus in poem 25. Whether Thallus was actually a slave or freedman we cannot know, but this poem certainly casts him in a servile position. The threat of lashing that is such a prominent part of this poem firmly establishes a rift between the speaker as a citizen and the addressee as a noncitizen and a potential slave. The foreignness of this poem’s addressee allows Catullus to adopt a different strategy in his retaliation than he does in poem 12. Rather than demonstrating his discursive control over the stolen objects, he demonstrates discursive mastery over Thallus himself, resignifying this “tender shoot” many times over the course of the poem. This nasty game begins with the poem’s opening invocation. In many of the inscriptions that bear this name, “Thallus” is appended as a cognomen to the name of a Roman gens, pointing to a bicultural figure, quite possibly a freedman.35 Catullus does not equip his Thallus with any such ennobling moniker. Instead, he dubs his Thallus a cinaedus (“pathic”) before we have a chance to learn the thief ’s actual name. With this opening gambit, Catullus seizes control of his addressee’s identity, molding it to fit his own unflattering end. Such ingenious manipulations continue through the course of the poem. Over and over again, Catullus af-

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firms his dominance over Thallus by realigning his identity and co-opting his name. The comparisons that structure the first five lines, for instance, offer two opposing versions of the man. Thallus is both “soft” (mollis) and “rapacious” (rapax)—vulnerable and dangerous at once. While this set of incongruous traits does not get us far in understanding the oxymoronic Thallus, it does a great deal to bolster our understanding of the man who pens this portrait. It leaves us to understand that our poet-speaker is in control of Thallus’s identity, for he is able to reshape him at will by calling him whatever contradictory names he pleases. This affirmation of discursive control is likewise embedded within the wonderfully inventive comparisons that cram these opening verses. The thief ’s softness is compared to rabbit’s fur, eiderdown, an earlobe, a flaccid penis, and a rotting cobweb in the course of just three lines. This colorful list showcases the poet-speaker’s ability to snatch Thallus out of the cinaedus costume he was forced to wear in the opening and endow him with one degenerate form after another. This wild array of images dismantles Thallus’s personhood, reducing him to a series of animals and objects that culminates in cobwebs, a paradigmatic image of disgust and decay. In so gleefully wrenching Thallus from one debased aspect into the next, Catullus reduces the thief to objecthood and affirms his own ability to remake his addressee in whatever form he chooses. In his most impressive—and disturbing—performance of verbal mastery over his rival, the poet seizes upon Thallus’s name as a tool to sonically lash the dehumanized thief into submission. Most everyone who writes on this poem has been struck by what Thomson terms the “rich and exuberant inventiveness of its defamatory language.”36 Thomson notes, in particular, the “effectiveness of the sounds,” especially the “liquid diminutives conveying mollitia.”37 His comment intimates something important about this poem’s sonic texture: this hypnotic sound play reinforces the speaker’s defamatory portrait of Thallus. As we have seen, Thallus means “green/tender shoot” in both Latin and Greek. Catullus takes this association between Thallus and a supple shoot to a vicious—if logical—conclusion: that Thallus deserves to be thrashed with the switch of his own name. The beating begins with the suppleness of the poem’s iambic meter, whose even pulses are perfectly suited for a rhythmic lashing. This effect is amplified by the preponderance of l’s and double ll’s within the opening two lines, where all but two words include the l-sound found in Thallus’s name (Thalle, mollior, cuniculi, capillo, vel, medullula, vel, imula, oricilla). Threading the liquid syllables of Thallus throughout these


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verses, Catullus uses sonorous language to torment his rival. These l-sounds continue, though with less intensity, through the middle of the poem, where languido, procella, pallium, involasti, palam, soles, and reglutina all pick up on the ll’s of the twice-repeated Thalle. There is a sudden surge of these sounds in lines 10 and 11 (laneum, latusculum, mollicellas, flagella, conscribillent). This uptick of l’s is not surprising, for in these lines the Catullan speaker formally declares what the sounds of his poem imply: that he intends to whip Thallus with words. If Thallus does not return the stolen goods, the speaker promises that “lashes” (flagella) will “scribble all over” (conscribillent) his hands and sides. The word flagellum is, in fact, a Latin synonym for thallus. It has the added benefit of drawing together the idea of Thallus and beating for it refers to both the young sprout of a plant and to the lash. Catullus uses a telling term for the action of these particular flagella: they will not strike or cut or sear Thallus’s soft sides— rather, they will “scribble all over them” (conscribillent). This idea of writing on Thallus with the whip makes explicit what the poem has been doing all along, verbally lashing the thief with the sounds of his own name. This image of lashing a thief into submission also makes clear the social hierarchies that structure this poem. It poses the speaker as a whip-wielding master prepared to punish the thieving Thallus with the lash. This threat of corporeal punishment affirms the Catullan speaker’s position as a masterful Roman who can manipulate and control this tender Greek thief. Most shocking of all, the damage has already been done. Though posed as a threat, this lashing has, in fact, already happened. By the time Thallus—and any other reader—arrives at this point in the poem, he has already subjected himself to the verbal beating promised in line 11. These grotesque—and poetically gorgeous—maneuvers reaffirm Thallus’s status as a slave and Catullus’s status as a master. They prove Catullus to be in control of Thallus once and for all. This sonic assault establishes Thallus not simply as a slave but as a cinaedus enslaved by his own passions. The poem manages to actually fashion Thallus into the cinaedus the speaker claims him to be through the sonic texture of its disarmingly soothing iambs. Once again, Catullus makes Thallus’s name do the dirty work of lashing him into abjection. The poem takes the link it establishes with its initial rhyming of cinaede and Thalle and confirms it again and again by embedding the l’s of Thallus’s name (and of flagellum, its Latin analog) into words describing the stereotypical softness (mollitia) of a cinaedus (capillo, medullula, oricilla, languido, etc). In drawing the flaccidness of Thallus’s name out of these words, the poet invests his fanciful accusation with an apparent facticity: of course Thallus is mollis, of course one can hail Thalle as Cinaede—the proof is embedded in his very name! Catullus here

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transforms Thallus’s name into an apparently motivated sign for cinaedus, semiotically wrenching away the addressee’s original identity and replacing it with one of his own making. This is an act of verbal violation that mirrors the invective and sonic assaults Thallus has been subjected to throughout the poem. As the poem unfolds, it continually confirms the idea of Thallus’s mollitia by forcing the reader to revel in the softness of its sounds. The sensuousness of the meter in combination with its insidiously supple sound-play drives home the speaker’s opening claim. The accusation that Thallus is a cinaedus is made with a list of sumptuously tactile and sonically irresistible metaphors in which Thallus is compelled to luxuriate—and the reader along with him. With their unremitting repetition of l’s, m’s, n’s, and r’s, these liquefied tetrameters stroke us into submission. The act of reading this poem suffices to prove Catullus’s point. Anyone who reads through these languorous lines is rhythmically licked into passivity. If Thallus is not a cinaedus to begin with, he has certainly been transformed into one by the time the poem is through. Simply reading these sinuous verses would be a form of self-abasement that proleptically performs the lashing threatened at line 11. The effect of these deceptive signs with their languid signifiers and violent signifieds mimics the description of Thallus as an outwardly harmless effete who is, in fact, prone to aggression. Thallus, the rapaciously aggressive cinaedus is a living oxymoron. This double personality finds its material analogue in the whip whose image is threaded through this poem. Thallus, the “tender shoot” is subject to this lash, but he is also the lash itself. This thorough sonic and imagistic trouncing proves Catullus to be in control of Thallus and capable of reshaping him into any form he may choose. His manipulations of Thallus’s name and identity are a variation on the resignification of the Spanish napkin we observed in poem 12. In both cases, Catullus is keying into the unstable meaning of a foreign word or thing as a place to prove his own dominance. But this operation is far more brutal in 25, where the addressee is a noncitizen and Catullus does not have to abide by the legal and social limitations that regulated his comparatively tempered banter with Marrucinus. Because Thallus’s name marks him as Greek, the poet has leeway to subject the man himself to this resignifying game. The result is both a scathing and a disturbingly beautiful poem. But Thallus’s etymological roots in the Greek language give him certain advantages as well. They intimate that he, as a Greek, might have a legitimate claim to at least some of the treasures he steals. This idea of cultural versus individual patrimony throws the Roman speaker’s claims to rightful ownership of a Greek cloak, a Spanish napkin, and Bithynian embroideries into


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turbulent question. When this Greek thief stretches his soft hands toward the treasures of Bithynia and Greece, he lays claim to a cultural patrimony that belongs more legitimately to him than to the Roman speaker. The poem calls our attention to this issue of legitimacy with a pointed aside: Thallus, we learn, is brazen about his theft, vaunting his loot “openly as though they were heirlooms” (palam . . . tamquam avita). Thallus’s confidence, I would venture, derives from the fact that these items are his legitimate cultural heirlooms, at least more so than they are Catullus’s own. Take, for instance, the pallium, a rectangular cloak equivalent to the Greek himation and a paradigmatic feature of Greek dress.38 The association between this article of clothing and the men who typically wore it was so strong that Greeks were often termed homines palliati (“men who wear the pallium”) in contrast with Rome’s homines togati (“men who wear the toga”).39 Romans customarily wore such cloaks only when living among Greeks.40 A Roman in a pallium had abandoned his native toga to parade around in the costume of another nation.41 The Catullan speaker’s casual mention of having owned such a cloak suggests a self-identification as a homo palliatus. This Roman revels in posing himself as more Greek than the Greeks.42 Thallus’s ancestors would, in fact, have worn the pallium, making it a legitimate heirloom for him, from a cultural perspective. We might understand his theft of Catullus’s cloak as a scene of repatriation, a Greek’s attempt to reclaim his rightful patrimony from a hellenizing Roman. But what right would a Greek have to Bithynian catagraphi and Spanish linens? The Spanish napkin of poem 12 gives us a clue. As we saw earlier, that sudarium Saetabum was ultimately equated with Catullus’s own poem, the unstable foreign textile becoming an emblem for Catullus’s hellenizing text. The same happens in 25 where all the objects are associated with either textiles (pallium, “cloak,” and sudarium, “napkin”) or writing (catagraphi, “embroideries/tablets”). In the case of the Bithynian catagraphi, these associations with both Greece and writing are overt.43 The word designating these mysterious objects has a Greek derivation, giving these embroideries/tablets a double point of origin. The etymology of catagraphi (kata-graphein, “to write upon”) extends this connection into the literary sphere, evoking Greek writing and, by extension, Greek literature. This etymology implies that the poem’s jeering demands for the return of material objects are infused with a literary subtext. These items are, I would venture, internal emblems for Greek or Greek-style texts, the kind of poems Catullus was attempting to write in 25 but that had been originally produced in Thallus’s homeland. Indeed, in order to write poem 25—like poem 12, a patchwork of Greek meter, style, vocabulary, and themes—Catullus had to do some stealing of his

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own. Writing in a poetic mode only recently filched from Greece, Catullus is partaking in his own poetic furta. What is more, the rapacious Thallus has a name that sounds very much like that of the Muse Thalia (Θάλεια).44 Seen through the lens of this etymology, Thallus becomes a stand-in for a Greek Muse attempting to steal back her own literary tradition from an upstart Roman. It is, perhaps, relevant here that cinaedus was a term applied to Sotades, a third-century Alexandrian author known for a set of obscene poems themselves titled Kinaedoi (see Martial 2.86.2). Once more, Thallus’s name (or in this case, lewd nickname) associates him with a tradition of Greek poetry (sexual invective) that Catullus is here appropriating. Catullus is using this scene of petty theft to talk about issues of cultural co-option in general and, more specifically, about his own project of writing hellenizing poetry at Rome. Thallus’s theft of these textiles and writing materials might be read as attempts to reassert control over a set of texts that had originated in his homeland. They offer a glimpse of a Greek fighting back against the rapacious claims of a hellenizing Roman poet. This scenario registers a rare acknowledgment that objects seized by the right of the captor may not be a Roman’s rightful possessions after all. The poem briefly opens up the self-reflective question of whether Romans had any legitimate claim to Spanish napkins or Greek poems. It opens with this question only to dismiss it with a poetic performance that poses brute force as the only guarantor of legitimacy. This poetic tour de force shows its author to be in full command of his invective performance and it suggests that Catullus’s skill at manipulating this form legitimates his own claims to rightful ownership of Greek objects, whatever they may be. In poem 12, the Catullan speaker proves himself a better thief than Marrucinus by showing that he can discursively steal foreign things and manipulate their meaning, turning them from items of uncertain value into things of social worth. In 25, Catullus once again proves himself a master at this resignifying game. Unlike Marrucinus or Thallus, who steal foreign objects, this poet steals words—and through these words he affirms his command over entire geographical regions. The words cinaedus, thallus, pallium, and cartagraphos stand as synecdoches for those far-flung places that supplied the material trappings of Roman otium. Throughout the poem, Catullus displays his mastery over this highly charged lexicon. In showing his ability to manipulate these words within an iambic poem, he likewise affirms his own mastery over the Greek poetic tradition that evolved the very meter in which he writes. Finally, this fact confirms the poet’s own alignment with more material—and overtly violent—forms of imperialist conquest that marked the stormy world outside his poem. The speaker’s bold contention that he will whip this thieving Greek into


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submission appeals to the right of the conqueror as its final coup. Catullus has proven himself a masterful manipulator of the Greek literary tradition that Thallus, the true homo palliatus, has tried to reclaim. But the poem’s glib positioning of the Greek Thallus and the Roman speaker as whipped slave and punishing master, respectively, poses brute force is the deciding factor here. The Roman speaker is the one who holds the power and he will, the poem implies, use it to reclaim and refashion pallia, people, and poems. Poem 25 effectively transposes the right of ownership over Greek culture from the Thalluses of the world to their new Roman masters, the homines togati, who had begun to flaunt themselves in Greek verses as well as Greek vestments. The poem’s closing image hammers this point home: et insolenter aestues, velut minuta magno deprensa navis in mari, vesaniente vento. (12–13) And lest you seethe in ways you are not used to like a tiny ship taken by a raging storm in midst of the vast sea.

Catullus here imagines that Thallus, buoyed by his successful thefts, has begun to fancy himself in command of an entire ocean (indeed, his name sounds rather like the Greek word for the sea, thalassa). But as swiftly as a Mediterranean storm, Catullus comes along and transforms the thief ’s hyperconfidence into abject helplessness. The final line poses Thallus as a tiny craft pathetically adrift in a raging storm, an image that reduces the man to an inconsequential speck. After lashing Thallus with the incriminating liquids of his name, Catullus sets this would-be colossus adrift upon the storm-tossed horizon of his own wishful thinking. Far from commanding the resources of an entire Mediterranean kingdom, this man, the poem implies, is destined to be set afloat upon the savage waves of Catullan eloquence. It is not incidental that the oceans around Italy were, at this juncture in history, controlled by Roman fleets. Catullus affirms his own participation in this imperial command through his imagistic control of Thallus’s fate. In the space of two lines, the prideful Thallus has been definitively deflated. The closing image implies that this audacious seafarer does not sail as the gloating captain of a trade vessel but as its slavish cargo, destined to be whipped into submission by powerful Roman winds that are sweeping over formerly Greek-dominated seas. A Thousand Kisses (Poems 5 and 7) The last two poems examined in this chapter (5 and 7) move us from the realm of invective abuse into erotic machinations. The brevity of human life

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as a spur to pleasure-seeking was a dominant sympotic credo that resounded through the work of the Greek lyricists and elegists. In one of his most celebrated poems, Catullus plucks this carpe diem theme out of its original context to unleash it within the whirlwind of a distinctively Roman courtship scene. Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis! soles occidere et redire possunt; nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux, nox est perpetua una dormienda. da mi basia mille, deinde centum; dein mille altera, dein secunda centum; deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum. dein, cum milia multa fecerimus, conturbabimus, illa ne sciamus, aut ne quis malus invidere possit cum tantum sciat esse basiorum. Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love and let us consider all the rumors of the sterner old men to be worth a single penny! Suns can set and rise again; as for us, once our brief light dies out, a single perpetual night must be slept. Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred; then another thousand, then a second hundred; then another thousand straightaway, then a hundred. Then, once we have fashioned many thousands of kisses, we will throw our accounts into confusion, lest we know how many kisses we have made, or lest some wicked man cast an envious glance at us once he knows that so many kisses exist.

Poem 5’s speaker addresses himself to a Lesbia whom readers of the Catullan collection will recognize as an ongoing obsession. It is, then, to be expected that the poem is generally read within the charged but cramped confines of this oft-discussed romance. Such an interpretive approach is not without some grounding in the text. The opening lines build up a strong sense of inward-turning passion by uniting its two lovers as a single node of desire that shrinks back from the world. Even the dispassionate realm of grammar confirms this feeling of self-containment with a series of first-person plural verbs that absorb the lover and his Lesbia into a single, seething “we” (vivamus, “let us live,” amemus “let us love,” aestimemus “let us consider”). This “we’s” solipsistic credo is summed up in the opening line, which formally mirrors the couple’s self-absorption with a vivid symmetry that sets the lover (in the form of a possessive pronoun) and his Lesbia (mea Lesbia) between the two trisyllabic verbs that encapsulate their mutual infatuation (Vivamus,


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mea Lesbia, atque amemus). This “we,” the poem’s structure implies, lives and loves as one. These grammatically entwined lovers make their reckonings together and they are doomed to fall together into a single sleep when their communal life force fades. The image of their “brief life/light” (brevis lux) collapsing once and for all compacts the action of two lifetimes into a counterfeit sun—a tiny speck of shared brilliance destined to flicker, then fade. Once faded, this “we,” the poem reveals, will sleep a single sleep (nox est perpetua una dormienda)—an image of two lovers commingling in the grave. The linear passage of human life from light to night is here contrasted with the perpetual rising and setting of the sun. Yet this metaphoric memento mori is phrased in such a way that the brief span of these shared lives assumes a cosmic scope: each life is figured as a light (lux) while death is framed as infinite night (nox). This pair of images aligns these lovers’ shared mortality with the spherical perfection of heavenly bodies. Still, theirs is a tiny cosmos compacted into the span of two monosyllables. Simultaneously cosmic and claustrophobic, this image leaves little room for imagining a world that may exist beyond the fever-dreams of shared passion. Such a sense of private communion is the dominant impression most readers take away from poem 5. But to read these opening verses as a declaration of romantic separatism requires a critical myopia that ignores the centrifugal force of the next seven lines. Within this glut of calculations and kisses, the closed unit of the opening is shattered and the lovers’ world expands. The proliferation of kisses scattered through the middle of the poem explodes their love beyond the private sphere. The speaker’s persistent request for kisses is also a very public declaration of the idea that their love is so immense it cannot be contained. Ticking upward toward infinitude, this volley of kisses indicates that this love was never so isolated as the opening lines imply. As it turns out, these lovers have never been alone: from the beginning, they are beset by censorious onlookers who chastise their shared passion and threaten to disrupt it. As early as line two, their dyad is disturbed by stern old men whose “rumors” they refuse to heed. Censors again surface at the end of the poem in the form of a malus, some “wicked man” who seems to be lying in wait to count and curse their kisses. The necessity of throwing their shared affections into confusion (conturbabimus) points to a “disturbance,” or perhaps a “multitude” (both meanings are encompassed by the turba embedded in this verb) impinging upon the edges of the poem. This suggests that the defiant “we” that is the poem’s insistent subject is part of a wider world that impinges on the most tenderly private lovemaking. In the discussion that follows, I trace patterns of interaction between these lovers and the world that lies beyond their enraptured dyad. Instead of con-

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centrating on the speaker and his beloved, I focus attention on a smattering of items that disrupt their self-containment by penetrating it from regions far removed from Rome. The peripheral presence of these objects structures poem 5 and its companion piece, poem 7, into documents not just of romantic passion, but of transvaluation and translation.45 As we shall see, these versified kisses encompass a far broader territory than the entangled emotional landscape of two lovers alone. While poem 5 disrupts its own blissful containment to some degree, the notion of a purely private love is unsettled all the more powerfully when we arrive at poem 7. A thematic expansion of poem 5, poem 7 brings us back to the topic of “kisses” (basia) in a way that unsettles the illusion of closure forged by the earlier poem.46 Quaeris quot mihi basiationes tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque. quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum; aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox, furtivos hominum vident amores; tam te basia multa basiare vesano satis et super Catullo est, quae nec pernumerare curiosi possint nec mala fascinare lingua. You ask how many of your kissifications, Lesbia, would be enough and more for me. As great as the number of Libyan sand grains that lie in silphiumproducing Cyrene between the oracle of sweltering Jove and the sacred tomb of old Battus; or as many as the number of stars that, when night lies silent, look upon the furtive loves of men; that you give me so many kisses is enough and more for crazed Catullus; kisses that meddlers would not be able to reckon up nor to bewitch with wicked tongue.

Beginning where its companion piece left off, poem 7 immediately throws poem 5’s confident delusions into doubt. That poem’s impassioned declaratives echo back here in the form of a question posed by a skeptical (and, we might imagine, exhausted) Lesbia: “You ask how many of your kissifications (basiationes), Lesbia, would be enough and more for me.” This reported query has an air of dismissal, twisting the last word of 5 (basiorum) into an affected shadow of itself (basiationes) that undercuts the enthusiasm of the Catullan speaker. This sardonic rejoinder deflates the deadly serious kisses of the earlier poem into so many “kissifications.”47 This is not, the word implies,


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a matter of life and death but a silly game played by a silly speaker whose fixations have reduced him to the “passionate babble” implied by the prattling cadences of dein . . . dein . . . dein and da . . . da . . . da.48 The form of Lesbia’s question parallels the closing words of 5 as well, registering impatience at the naive speaker’s vision of a kiss-filled eternity. Rather than merging herself with her lover in enraptured assent to his hedonistic program, Lesbia assumes the perspective of a meddling outsider, posing herself as a version of the malus (“wicked man”) who wanted to know, at the end of 5, how many kisses the two lovers had made. No evil interloper was needed to destroy this happy couple. The opposing pair of personal pronoun and possessive adjective at the beginning of 7 (mihi/tuae) make it clear that the “we” of poem 5 was, all along, an “I” and a “you” who, as we shall learn, have different ideas about what it means to live and love. Lesbia’s opening question in 7 troubles 5’s guiding assumption: that the lovers share a set of ideals and that they trust equally in the infinite value of their avalanche of kisses. The eager hortatory verbs of the first poem’s opening lines (vivamus . . . amemus . . . aestimemus, “let us live . . . let us love . . . let us consider”) had rhetorically swept the two into a shared system of countercultural ethics that rejected the condemnations of the social surround. But the beloved’s cynical stance at the beginning of 7 reveals that this ethical accord was, all along, a delusion cherished by the “crazed” (vesanus) Catullus alone. This revelation forces us back upon questions of value that had, as we shall see, been lurking in poem 5 from the start. Poems 5 and 7 are frequently read as the emblematic edict of a “Catullan revolution” that announced new ethics of erotic abandon to a traditionally sanctimonious Rome.49 Poem 5 certainly celebrates a vision of love that ruptures outworn frameworks of social propriety. It does so by setting up contrasting moral schemes: one represented by some rather stern old men (senum severiorum); the other by a pair of lovers who have a lifetime of defiant romance ahead of them. This couple’s indifference to the rumores of their wizened onlookers amounts to a rejection of the mores (“customs/practices/ conduct”) of a rather serious and old-fashioned Rome that had little use for kisses. No less famous a carping old man than the elder Cato was rumored to have cracked down on kisses: according to Plutarch, the censor once expelled a senator “because he kissed (κατεφίλησεν) his own wife in broad daylight with his daughter looking on” (Plutarch, Cato Maior 17.7). In Catullus, Rome’s outlawed kissers have their revenge, as the couple multiplies their contraband passions so fast the grumbling old men cannot even count—let alone condemn—them. These contrasting systems of ethics are embedded within a contrasting pair of words that enact this conflict on the level of sound. The old men fill

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the first half of the poem with their gossip, surrounding the lovers with a rumble of disapproving commentary. The murmur of these ill-humored rumores echoes through line two, picked up in the closing end-rhyme of senum severiorum. Our youthful speaker responds with a flurry of kisses. This response to the old men’s objections inverts their ethical imperative with a counterassault that hinges on a word for the act they condemn. The word basia (“kisses”) surges through the second half of the poem, intoned repeatedly, then multiplied sonically within other words. Even before basia itself appears, its sounds have been covertly floated into the poem. The opening syllables of the speaker’s kiss catalogue (da mi) pick up basia’s vowel sounds, which are then immediately repeated within basia itself. From this point on, the poem is awash in echoing kisses as basia’s twofold “a” cascades from the ends of other words (altera, secunda, milia, multa). Even more remarkable is the fact that all other closing vowels are almost entirely suppressed. With the exception of two mille’s, all words in the next four lines end either in consonants or in a’s. The reader’s ears thus ring with the sound of the kisses Catullus is counting. Once the contagious sound of these kisses takes hold, we are primed to notice proliferating bits of basia scattered throughout the poem: in the “ia” of sciat and sciamus, in the closing “a’s” of una dormienda, in the “a” of assis—even in the opening invocation, mea Lesbia. It is as though the word were sowing its seed, a suspicion that is confirmed when we arrive at the closing phrase that asserts the plenitude of these newborn kisses (“so many kisses exist,” tantum . . . esse basiorum). One need not read at the level of the syllable to hear the frenetic buzz of this replicating word: in the course of these two poems, basia is repeated five times in four different forms (basia, basiorum, basiationes, basiare). The repetition of such a word five times in twenty-five lines would be a striking excess under any circumstance. But, in this case, the recurrence is especially marked because basium is a new, and apparently fairly crude, addition to Latin’s poetic vocabulary. As far as we know, these poems mark the word basium’s inaugural appearance in Latin literature. For readers of Catullus, this novelty might come as a surprise, for he uses this word with such abandon.50 But basium appears in no texts prior to his own—and in remarkably few thereafter.51 The tendency of most authors to avoid the word—unless directly invoking Catullus or the polyglot landscape of imperial Rome—has led scholars to speculate that basium was drawn from Catullus’s native, Transpadane dialect.52 It also suggests that there was something about this word that struck most Roman authors as infelicitous. In asking Lesbia to give him not suavia (“kisses”), not oscula (“kisses”), but basia (“kisses”), Catullus gifts his readers with a foreign word whose propriety was likely as doubtful as the act of kissing one’s Lesbia.


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Catullus’s new ethics of abandon hinge on a word that would have fallen ill upon old Cato’s ears. Here we catch our unruly poet espousing unrefined behaviors by hauling in a dubious word from the North Italian hinterlands. Even Catullus, a native son, presents the region that lies beyond the Po as a philistine outpost where brides are not virgins (67.19–20), grown men act like infants (17.12–13), and very few people read books (68.33–36). This barbaric infiltration of kisses (both act and word) into poems 7 and 5 is accompanied by some additional imports, though of a very different kind. When we read these two poems as a pair, the crude behaviors and coinages introduced in 5 are balanced by a set of more refined imports that surface in the second poem. Poem 7’s opening parade of obscure knowledge has troubled commentators with its dry departure from the feverish passion of its companion piece. To recycle a memorable quip that encapsulates these concerns: “How can one reasonably make love by dragging in at once the Libyan desert, the astrafoetida-bearing district of Cyrene (with its association of foul odor), the oracle of sweating Jove and, worst, old Battus’ tomb?”53 To begin answering this question we might examine in more detail the odd epithet that disturbed this commentator with its evocation of unpleasant smells. The word lasarpicifer (“astrafoetida/silphium-bearing”) is another Catullan coinage, but it derives from a very different source than the Gallic basium. Silphium was an astrafoetida-like North African plant.54 Our poet’s highfalutin epithet is a coyly learned Latin rendering of the Greek σιλφιοφόρος (“silphium-producing”). Catullus transforms this pompous Greek compound into a more affected Latin equivalent by substituting for silphium the word laserpicium, a common—yet impressively four-syllabled—term Roman speakers used for both the plant and the resin it produced.55 Though long-extinct and so unfamiliar to us, silphium was one of the most coveted spices in the ancient world. It grew along the North African coast, most abundantly in the wild desert regions near Cyrene. This fennellike shrub was Cyrene’s main export and it was thanks to the city’s monopoly on silphium that it grew so rich.56 The plant was an emblematic Cyrenian product, so central to her economy that it appeared on the city’s coins.57 We even have preserved a fifth-century vessel that shows King Arcesilaus of Cyrene overseeing the production and distribution of silphium.58 The resin extracted from this plant was used in a number of ways. In Athens, it was treasured as a potent spice, considered an especially savory condiment for bird tripe, sow’s womb, and other pungent meat dishes. The Greeks and Romans alike used it as a digestive, a stimulant, a sedative, and a contraceptive.59 Thanks to the obsessively detailed documentation we can always expect from

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the elder Pliny, we also know a fair amount about this product’s popularity at Rome: the Italians adored it, largely for its medicinal value. Consequently, the plant was worth its weight in silver and when the Romans took control of the North African coast, they exported massive amounts across the Mediterranean. In 93 BCE, 30 pounds were shipped to Rome and Julius Caesar later discovered no less than 1,500 pounds in the treasury (Historia Naturalis 19.40). But, as Pliny tells it, the tale of this “most famous” spice (clarissimum laserpicium, 19.38) has a woeful denouement: For many years now, it has not been found anywhere on earth, since the contractors who hire out the pastureland seized upon it for land to graze cattle, believing they would make more money that way. In our memory, only a single stalk has been found and it was sent to the emperor, Nero. (Historia Naturalis 19.39)

This multipurpose African plant was a botanical treasure whose great value probably led to its eventual extinction. The preciousness of this product is mimicked, in Catullus, by the rarity of the word that refers to it: the poet refrains from multiplying laserpicium throughout his corpus, using it only once, here, in this overwrought—we might say precious—form. What’s more, the ostentatious compound lasarpicifer is, stylistically, a North African product as well. This word smacks of the obscure epithets preferred by Callimachus, who famously hailed from the same city as this spice. In the act of referring to Cyrene’s most celebrated commodity, Catullus has plucked a word from the linguistic treasure trove of that city’s most famous poet. What’s more, at least one scholar has surmised that this pointed reference to Catullus’s poetic mentor is more than just a cribbed piece of Callimachean vocabulary. Wheeler, who believes Catullus directly imitated the Greeks only rarely, views poem 7 as one of the few places where direct imitation is almost assured: “Among the Latinizations of single Greek words or very brief phrases a few are so unusual that we may infer the use of definite passages. For example, when Catullus humorously renders σιλφιοφόρος by laserpicifer (vii.4) he must have had a passage of Callimachus (let us say) in mind.”60 If Wheeler’s theory is right, it adds yet another import to the mix: a Greek poem that Catullus might have been using as his source. Though we cannot say whether poem 7 does, in fact, draw on any specific Callimachean poem, another detail does strengthen Wheeler’s intuition. Outside poem 7, Catullus refers to King Battus only twice. In both instances he calls upon this sixth-century monarch in the form of an obscure patronymic incorporated into the phrase carmina Battiadae—“verses of the son of Battus” (65.16, 116.2). Here, he is picking up on the Greek poet’s own


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self-identification as “the son of Battus” (Epigram, 37) to refer to poems that are in one case (65) certainly and in the other case (116) most likely his own translations of Callimachus. Whether poem 7 is likewise from a specific Callimachean original or merely harkens back to the style and ethos of this precursor, it foregrounds its allegiances to the Cyrenean author. With its long-winded periphrases, obscure geographical allusions, saccharine eroticism, and ingenious epithets, the poem exults in overzealous Callimacheanism. It even affirms this genealogy overtly. This jumble of allusions to North African topography in lines 4–6 all point back to that famous native of Cyrene who was prone to just this sort of cerebral geographical digression. Catullus’s detour through the Libyan desert thus alludes to our Transpadane poet’s own eager importation of Alexandrian poetry into the literary annals of Rome. By referring to silphium with a Callimachean lilt, the term lasarpicifer sets a valuable spice and trifling love poem side by side and bids us to compare them. In one sense, they are equivalents: it would probably be fair to call these Cyrene’s two most celebrated exports. But establishing this equivalence draws all the more attention to the difference in value that inheres in these two items: while silphium was unquestionably precious and had been for centuries, the value of Callimachean poetry was still up for grabs. Both poems draw explicit attention to the uncertain value of Alexandrianizing verse. As we have seen, 7’s Callimachean tics are so pronounced they teeter on the edge of absurdity. What is more, the poem includes its own internal critic to mock these pretensions. We have seen how Lesbia’s opening question belittles poem 5’s naive call to passion by reducing its basia mille to so many basiationes. This cynical revision packs an added punch by likewise mocking the pomposity of an Alexandrianizing diction prone to such ornate suffixes. This opening jab throws the value of Alexandrianizing poetry— poetry that uses fancy words to talk about trivial things like kisses—openly into question. Our crazed speaker’s response is to up the ante. Rather than back away from the features Lesbia mocks, he launches a Callimachean tirade that transforms a number of hackneyed similes into elegant gems. But following upon Lesbia’s opening jab, it is hard not to read them as faintly ridiculous: “As many kisses as grains of Libyan sand lying in laserpicium-bearing Cyrene between the oracle of sweltering Jove and the sacred tomb of legendary Battus” has a pompous ring to it. After plowing through this proliferating verbiage, we might well prefer a simpler version that had the decency to be brief. By showing the beloved mocking the lover’s language and refuting his assumptions, poem 7 calls into question the value of Callimachean verse and all it represents. In so doing, it taps into a wider discourse on the value of

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hellenizing aesthetics that was raging in Catullus’s time. Unlike silphium, the cultural value of certain kinds of Greek poetry was still unstable in the late Republic. As Brian Krostenko has shown, attitudes toward Greek aesthetics underwent a radical shift through the second and first centuries BCE.61 During this period, aesthetic Hellenism came increasingly to accrue social value. But its worth remained volatile throughout Catullus’s era. Despite its mounting popularity, the aesthetic realm retained its long-standing associations with effeminacy, excess, and debauchery. What Krostenko says of the language of social performance—a set of terms closely linked to aesthetic Hellenism and found in abundance throughout Catullus—could just as well be said of hellenizing poetry: “To use the language of social performance was . . . to venture onto the frontiers of social value.”62 That Alexandrianizing poetry was tightly bound up in issues of value and commerce is suggested by one of the comments that gave the so-called neoterics their name. In 50 BCE, a pleasant sea journey to Italy from Cilicia inspired Cicero to write the following lines to Atticus: ita belle nobis flavit ab Epiro lenissimus Onchesmites. hunc spondeiazonta si cui voles ton neoteron pro tuo vendito. (Ad Atticum 7.2). It was the most tender of Onchesmitean (i.e., Southeastern) breezes that wafted me hither from Epirus. If you so desire, sell that spondaic beauty off to one of the newfangled poets (neoteroi).

The general sense of these lines is clear: Cicero catches himself in the act of writing a kind of poetry for which he has little use. He proceeds to belittle the efforts of those who would be proud to produce such a thing by glibly pawning off his line on Atticus. But why couch this dismissal in commercial terms? Why bid Atticus to “sell that spondaic beauty off to one of the newfangled poets (neoteroi)”? This strange phrase intimates how precious such a “spondaic beauty” might have been in some circles. This comment implies that, among the neoteroi, an overwrought hexameter might have been worth its weight in silphium. But the orator’s casual marketing of his own spondaic line also reveals that its value is prone to fluctuation. By so theatrically giving up this gorgeous verse, he fixes its value (for him personally) at nil. Yet, in the same instant that he affirms the worthlessness of such poetry, Cicero attempts to capitalize on its apparent cachet: in the very act of putting the neoteroi down, he appropriates their style. By tossing off this line in the course of a letter, he displays his command over this ostensibly worthless form of verse. If writing spondeiazonta were really such a useless pastime, Cicero would not have wasted time doing it. Clearly, the orator suspects that


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writing such dross might bolster his own worth in the eyes of Atticus (a man whose very name affirms his sympathies for all things Greek).63 This passage finds Cicero in the grips of the uncertainty surrounding the value of aesthetic objects in the late Republic that Krostenko identifies. He is not so much wafted by the Eastern winds as rhetorically torn asunder by the conflicting currents of social value surrounding neoteric lines. Those vacillating currents likewise course through Catullus’s kiss poems, prompting detours through Libyan deserts and bookkeeping logs. A number of commentators have remarked (often in confusion) on the commercial language that saturates the first of these poems. First, there is line 3’s proposition that the lover and his Lesbia ought to deem the old men’s rumors “worth a single penny” (omnes unius aestimemus assis). Next, there is the counting of kisses, which Quinn reads in commercial terms. He speculates that the formula “da mi + name of article + quantity” was the phrase used for “placing an order with a merchant,” adding as a wonderfully quirky aside that the “pedestrian calculations” of lines 7–10 are “the sort of verse the elder Cato might have written, if he had written a poem on counting cattle, say.”64 Then, there is the conspicuous polysyllable conturbabimus, a word drawn from the technical language of bookkeeping that means “to throw accounts into confusion.”65 To these commonly cited instances, Quinn adds a pair of suggestive observations. He notes that line 13’s use of esse rather than fuisse in the phrase cum tantum sciat esse basiorum (“once he knows that so many kisses exist) poses the kisses “as though . . . [they] . . . were a commodity that remained to be stored up.” When commenting on lines 6–10, he likewise speculates that “we are invited, perhaps, to imagine the kisses stacked in rows (like stacks of grain, say) as the quantities specified are delivered—and then jumbled up in a single pile.”66 In support of this somewhat fanciful speculation, we might note that the kisses are posed as material products throughout. They enter the poem as tangible substitutes for the abstracts “living” and “loving.” They are then discussed in a way that gives them a distinctly material heft. The speaker bids his lover to “give” (da) him kisses, then proceeds to count them up. Not long afterward, we learn that this erotic inventory was not just given but made: “once we have fashioned (fecerimus) many thousands of kisses.” These kisses are material things that are crafted, counted, and exchanged, rather than transient flights of fancy or effervescent symbols. They are treated as a kind of merchandise that Catullus counts out with great care, much like King Arcesilaus weighing his silphium. But can a carefree stash of kisses compare to such a rare and coveted spice? The answer this poem elicits is a resounding yes. Over the course of these thirteen lines, kisses are transformed from a suspect behavior into a

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precious commodity. As these kisses accumulate through the course of the poem, they also accrue in value. This transformation is effected through a charming lexical twist: after the old men’s gossip is rejected as being worth but a “single penny” (unius . . . assis), this “penny” (as) reappears embedded in the word basia, which signals Catullus’s counterstance. By the end of the poem, the poet-lover has conjured hundreds upon thousands of basia, and the as that signals his indifference to external censure has multiplied as well, into an exuberant hoard of copper kisses. The sense that these worthless displays of affection are, in fact, a kind of trove is confirmed when we arrive at conturbabimus— bookkeeping parlance for “to throw accounts into confusion.” These worthless kisses have accrued into a sum that is large enough to be worth tampering with. It is not just cash that accumulates here, but also another kind of product much more commonly associated with kissing. In a radically reimagined scene of procreation, these two lovers repopulate a world doomed to die in darkness with a progeny of kisses. In reproducing kisses, they produce heirs. As though in direct denial of the speaker’s affirmation in line 6 that human life must end in death, the opening syllable of the next line introduces another type of urgency. This Da replicates the “da” of dormienda as a new imperative that gives life in the form of kisses. These kisses erupt in a burst of dental ejaculations (da, deinde, dein, dein) that introduce a new life force to reanimate these lovers and rekindle a dying poem. Kisses in Catullus frequently bespeak a certain fecundity, and giving them is often tantamount to spreading one’s seed. In poem 48 he speaks of “crops of kisses” (seges osculationis, 48.5) and this same notion of kissing as, itself, a type reproduction informs poem 5. The cycle of life and death is temporarily suspended while the lovers introduce a new kind of procreation, the offspring of which can neither be counted nor co-opted by the official structures of the Roman familia. These kiss-makers are exuberantly productive. But rather than creating sons, this pair craft kisses, and their progeny is so profuse that no onlooker can quell them. The evocations of the evil eye at the end of both poems (invidere, 5 and fascinare, 7) reconstitute these newborn kisses as a multitude of sons protected by the apotropaic talisman (fascinus) Roman children often wore to ward off the danger of the evil eye.67 These hints of sexual reproduction point ahead toward another odd detail in the geographical digression of the second poem. When attempting to explain the presence of lasarpicium here, commentators often note its use as a contraceptive.68 This association clearly folds the herb into the realm of sexual relations, but it is not at all self-evident why a contraceptive might be an apt reference here. An explanation might be found in the reversal of values


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effected throughout this pair of poems. While this frivolous love affair results in a massive crop of kisses in 5, the plant associated with material abundance induces sterility in 7. Catullus’s strange compound thus embeds a wry oxymoron: the silphium-bearing region of Cyrene produces a plant that prohibits the women of Rome from bearing children. This barrenness is reinforced by the sweltering desert landscape in which it grows. In the act of haggling with his girlfriend for sexual favors, our irreverent Catullus has effected an inversion of values that poses a precious spice as a seed of unfruitfulness while presenting a socially suspect word and behavior as a vital source of abundance. The extramarital kissing that was likely condemned precisely for its inability to produce legitimate heirs becomes a spontaneous source of both personal and material prosperity. The kisses pile up like heaps of cash and multiply like children. The word basium, grafted for the first time into Latin’s poetic lexicon, likewise gains value in the course of these poems. In what amounts to a guerilla act of linguistic sabotage, Catullus transforms this new and suspect word into a legitimate and necessary piece of poetic vocabulary by using it with casual persistence. As any student of Latin can attest, by the time one has finished reading these two poems, this delightful word has begun to trip readily off one’s tongue. This campaign to subvert traditional values also extends beyond the realm of language and morality into the realm of literature. The closest material analogue to these kisses is not a child, a head of cattle, or a stack of grain but, rather, the love poems written by the “crazed Catullus” who speaks these lines. This connection is first revealed at the start of poem 7 when basiationes, that wry twist in Lesbia’s diction, begins to intimate a connection between Catullus’s kisses and Callimachean poetry.69 The impudent mistress’s basiationes take poem 5’s basia and transform them into an example of precisely the kind of Alexandrianizing poeticism Catullus so frequently deploys. The kiss hereby becomes a sign for two actions at once: kissing one’s lover and writing flamboyant verses that elevate such risqué acts as kissing one’s mistress in public. This equivalence is strengthened by the series of similes that structure the rest of the poem. How many “kissifications” are enough and more for Catullus? asks the exasperated Lesbia. He answers not with a number but with a pair of wildly exaggerated Alexandrianizing similes: “Quam magnus numerus . . .”/ “quam sidera multa.” With this maddening answer, the vast quantity of kisses described in poem 5 is transformed into two Callimachus-tinged images of infinity.70 Once again, basia are equated with the kind of Greek verses Catullus is transposing into Latin. Any doubt that basia and erotic poems are one and the same is settled by 16, one of Catullus’s most memorable poems, which comes a little further

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on in the extant collection. This poem addresses itself to two critics, Furius and Aurelius, who have read Catullus’s molliculi (literally “soft little,” that is, “erotic” verses) and foolishly assumed their obscenity reflected the moral turpitude of the author. Near the end of the poem, we find the following question: Vos, quod milia multa basiorum legistis, male me marem putatis? (16.12–13) You, because you have read many thousands of kisses, think that I am less of a man?

Here, “many thousands of kisses” refers explicitly to the erotic content of indecent verse and, by synecdoche, to the verses themselves, specifically the verses in Catullus’s kiss poems. Catullus’s basia are no longer just things that are given, they are things that are read. From this point on in the Roman poetic tradition, basia (and even milia multa on its own) became a euphemistic shorthand for risqué love poetry.71 Once we accept this equivalence between kisses and poems, it becomes clear that the proliferating kisses in poem 5 point to the proliferation of amorous verses our crazed Catullus intends to write. We might now rephrase Lesbia’s opening question in another way: how many Callimachean love poems do you plan to compose? Catullus’s response announces his desire to proliferate such poems with the same prolix abandon with which he conjures up kisses. This act of romantic defiance likewise enunciates a poetics that insists upon the grandiosity of literary pursuits more commonly considered insignificant. In a supremely Callimachean move, poem 7 insists upon the grandiosity of “minor” poetry, posing poetic “kissifications” as an object of intense debate and envious fascination. We might now add Callimachean poetry to our list of foreign objects a Catullus poem might take it upon itself to reassess. The array of imports packed into these lines includes an offensive behavior (kissing one’s lover in public), a Transpadane word, a North African spice, Alexandrianizing stylistics, Callimachean turns of phrase, and possibly even portions of Callimachus’s poems. Of these items, only the silphium was unquestionably precious at Rome. The value, and even the meaning, of the rest were, as yet, undetermined. Catullus seizes upon this uncertainty to transform kissing, “kisses,” and Callimacheanism alike into newfound items of cultural capital. In his recent study of shifting cultural identities and consumerism in late Republican Rome, the historian Andrew Wallace-Hadrill has urged us to view the arrival of foreign luxuries at Rome not as something with a fixed start-


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ing point but as a series of waves.72 Pearls, gemstones, and “myrrhine” ware were some of the items that gained popularity following Pompey’s triumph of 61 BCE.73 We might add to this list the variety of small-scale Hellenistic verse that Catullus and his fellow neoterics were adapting into Latin. Catullus’s central role in importing this particular kind of luxury accounts, at least in part, for his recurring focus on material equivalents. Such object investigations certainly responded to the material realities of his day: Catullus was no doubt as smitten with foreign luxuria as any of his peers. But this poet found a unique utility in such objects as sites where he could display the cultural capital he had amassed through his own particular import business—the business of translating the Callimachean tradition into Latin.


Catullus 4 and the Demographics of LateRepublican Alexandrianism

Catullus 4 and Late-Republican Alexandrianism

Phaselus ille and the Bithynian Mediator Phaselus ille, quem videtis, hospites, ait fuisse navium celerrimus, neque ullius natantis impetum trabis nequisse praeterire, sive palmulis opus foret volare sive linteo. Et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici negare litus insulasve Cycladas Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam Propontida trucemve Ponticum sinum, ubi iste post phaselus antea fuit comata silva; nam Cytorio in iugo loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma. Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer, tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima ait phaselus: ultima ex origine tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine, tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore, et inde tot per impotentia freta erum tulisse, laeva sive dextera vocaret aura, sive utrumque Iuppiter simul secundus incidisset in pedem; neque ulla vota litoralibus deis sibi esse facta, cum veniret a mari novissime hunc ad usque limpidum lacum. sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita senet quiete seque dedicat tibi, gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.


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That ship whom you see, strangers, says he used to be the fastest of ships; and he says that no assault of any swimming plank was able to outstrip him, whether the work of flying was done with oars or sail. He also denies that the coast of the threatening Adriatic contradicts this claim, or the islands of the Cyclades, and celebrated Rhodes, and the fierce Thracian Propontis, or the savage Black Sea where that soon-to-be-ship was, before, a leafy forest. For on the ridge of Mt. Cytorus he often emitted a hiss with his speaking foliage. O Amastris-by-the-Black-Sea, O boxwood-bearing Cytorus, the ship says these facts were and are well known to you; he says he stood on your summit beginning at the distant moment of his birth, that he wet his oar blades in your sea, and that, from there, he carried his master through so many raging straits, regardless of whether a port or starboard breeze called him on his way, regardless of whether a favorable Jupiter blew evenly upon both sheets. He says he never made any vows to the shore gods when he came, finally, from the sea all the way to this limpid lake. But these things happened in the past. Now he is old and, in obscure repose, he dedicates himself to you, twin Castor and twin of Castor.1

Catullus 4 recounts the adventures of a personified ship who spent his lifetime traversing sea routes between Asia Minor and Italy. This ship’s journey is often understood as a playful reworking of Catullus’s own round-trip journey to Bithynia, a region the poet appears to have visited in 57–56 BCE as part of Gaius Memmius’s administrative cohort.2 As we traverse the poem’s meandering phrases, we are drawn along a recognizable itinerary. It begins in a tranquil lake lying upstream from the Adriatic, then moves by way of the Cyclades and Rhodes through the Propontis and the Black Sea to finally reach the Bithynian city of Amastris. The poem traces this voyage twice: first from west to east (6–12), then from east to west (13–24). This is, indeed, a route the poet might have followed as he sailed to Asia Minor, then left the “Phrygian fields . . . and rich land of sweltering Nicaea” (46.4–5) to make his way back home. This overlap has led to many insistently biographical readings.3 In this chapter, I will take a more expansive view of the poem’s itinerary, reading it within the context of Rome’s growing dominion over the eastern regions the poem evokes. Specifically, I will suggest that this versified tale of a speaking Bithynian ship and his shadowy Italian owner allegorizes the tensions surrounding the social complexities of Roman Alexandrianism in Catullus’s period. The rise of small-scale Hellenistic genres at Rome was bound up in geopolitical shifts of the first century BCE that gave Rome unprecedented access to the material and literary treasures of the Greek East. In this chapter, I explore the demographics of this literary-historical development, examining the social identity of the first-century poets who transposed

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Hellenistic poetry into Latin as well as the obscured middlemen who made the rise of this new kind of poetry possible. Though very different in style and mood from Catullus’s epyllion (64), poem 4 is so saturated with Hellenistic features that it too has been mistaken for a full-on linguistic translation. D.F.S. Thomson has suggested that it might be a version of a lost poem by Callimachus written in praise of a barge belonging to Queen Berenice II.4 Though this theory has not been corroborated and is unlikely to be true, it highlights the extent of this poem’s debt to the poets of Hellenistic Egypt, in particular the unique forms of epigram they developed. In the first section of this chapter, I propose that Catullus’s poem traces the journey not just of a talking ship but of the poetic tradition that taught versified ships to talk in this way. The transfer of Hellenistic poetry from Alexandria to Italy required the help of Greek-speaking intellectuals, who mediated Roman access to this often recondite poetic tradition. Though such figures were indispensable to Catullus and his peers, their services are rarely alluded to by Latin poets themselves. While telling the sprightly tale of its talking ship’s adventures, poem 4 offers its readers a rare glimpse into these ubiquitous mediators’ often obscured stories. My discussion builds upon William Fitzgerald’s elucidation of poem 4 as hinging on manipulations of reported speech. Fitzgerald views this poem as a demonstration of urbanitas, wherein the anonymous speaker harnesses an inferior’s voice to perform his own dominant social position.5 He shows that the narrator of this reported monologue treats the yacht’s tale with “patronizing” amusement (104), mocking the postures of a social inferior and affirming his own “playful sovereignty” (104) over speech. I agree with the outlines of this elegant reading. The phaselus is “very much the pawn of the poet” (109) and this poet is playing some complex games with poetic speech. But an even richer understanding of the poem results if we expand our view of this linguistic play to encompass the ship’s far-flung itinerary. Even as poem 4 taps into the elite Roman obsession with competitive displays of urbane speech, it gestures beyond the Italian metropolis toward the Eastern Mediterranean and the southern shores of the Black Sea.6 When we shift our gaze to include the ship’s Eastern origins, we unearth a foundation of cultural imperialism and human domination lying behind the poem’s discursive playfulness and we gain insight into an unsettling aspect of poetic production in late Republican Rome. My reading positions poem 4’s roving vessel within the networks of travel, plunder, and intellectual exchange that followed Rome’s annexation of Bithynia, the phaselus’s self-proclaimed homeland. In the mid-first century BCE, Rome was reaping the rewards of this recent acquisition. Pompey’s definitive conquest of the region in 63 gave Romans abundant access to local


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resources, while his defeat of the Cilician pirates four years earlier had opened up the waters of the Mediterranean for unprecedented circulation of people and goods between the Black Sea and Italy.7 A number of Catullus’s poems testify to these developments by posing Bithynia as a place that beckons with the opportunity of amassing fabulous wealth (e.g., poems 10 and 28).8 “How much money did you make there?” his companions ask him in poem 10 (line 8). Catullus responds that he made absolutely nothing (lines 9–11). Indeed, he consistently poses himself as a loser in this imperialist free-for-all. But his posture as an unjustly swindled victim belies the fact that he did not return empty-handed from Asia Minor. He may not have procured Bithynian litterbearers but he enhanced his poetry with a wealth of themes, genres, and styles made available to him by way of this erudite province. Catullus belonged to the first generation of Roman poets to make sustained attempts at translating small-scale Hellenistic genres into Latin.9 The development of this first-century Alexandrianism was importantly mediated by Bithynia, which supplied Italian authors with a wealth of Greek texts and Greek-speaking teachers. Cultured Bithynian captives, like Parthenius of Nicaea, aided Roman poets in their efforts to translate the Hellenistic poetic tradition into Roman form. I read poem 4 as an expression of the tensions inherent in this mediated translation process. The ship’s reported account of his travels between Bithynia and Italy embeds, I argue, an anxious discourse on Roman authors’ dependence upon books and scholars hailing from the Greek East to deepen their understanding of Hellenistic literature. Through its ambiguous presentation of a Bithynian ship as both subject and object, master and slave, poem 4 stages a defining first-century concern about the Roman poet’s ability to control a poetic tradition drawn from a captive Greece and mediated by a newly conquered region of Asia Minor. Catullus 4 is an aggressively upbeat poem. As one commentator notes, it “fairly ripples with sprightliness” thanks to the “buoyancy” of its iambic meter and the “jauntiness” of its geographical catalogue.10 Yet cracks in this veneer of chatty optimism indicate that this upbeat surface masks a subtext concerned with the mutual entanglement of enslavement and speech.11 The ship’s autobiography may project a sense of lighthearted freedom, but there are many indications that this cheery vessel is less a free spirit than a slave subject to the whims of a human master. This “fastest of ships” (2) has spent his life traversing the sea, paying his respects to distant straits, shores, and islands. But as presented in this poem, such freedom of movement is, in fact, a memory that is restricted to a nostalgic past tense (fuisse, 2 and 14; nequisse, 4, etc.). The ship’s present reality—the nunc we are brought back to in line 25—is one of constraint, not liberation.

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This adventurous vessel is now an enfeebled senex (senet, 26) whiling away his remaining years docked on a “limpid lake” (24). The young ship’s epic confrontations with threatening seas are now just stories this aging counterpart recalls while resting in still waters. The closing vision of the phaselus growing old on a lake is an image of peace, but also of confinement. This sense of restriction increases when we examine the structure of the ship’s monologue and find that this garrulous craft never actually speaks for himself. The poem’s intimate tone and recurring verbs of speaking (ait, 2 and 15; negat, 6; dicit, 9) charm us into feeling that our friendly phaselus is addressing us directly. These verses read as the autobiography of a well-worn traveler eager to share his escapades with anyone who will listen. But readers do not have direct access to the ship’s voice because his disclosures are contained within a framework of indirect speech.12 Grammatically, this vessel is as good as mute, for his entire monologue is reported by the anonymous narrator who utters the poem’s first and final lines (1 and 25–27). This unspecified speaker controls the ship’s confessions, first pointing out the phaselus as a kind of curiosity (phaselus ille, 1), then relaying its life story with uncanny authority. The ship’s language is imposed on him by a shadowy presence who determines what the reader can and cannot know about his life. The poem begins with a teasing turn of phrase that highlights this speaker’s position as the poem’s rhetorical mastermind. “That ship whom you see, strangers” (1), he quips, drawing attention to our distance from the object his demonstrative adjective so forcefully indicates. This phrase invites the readers, as “strangers,” or “guests,” into the scene and rebuffs them at the same time. We might imagine an internal audience who can actually view this ship, but those of us who make up the poem’s external audience of readers are forever barred from the scene. The narrator’s invitation to gaze upon an invisible spectacle positions him as the one who controls our access to the poem’s wide-ranging sights. Our knowledge of the diverse landscapes described here depends upon the benevolence of an anonymous narrating host. This controlling narrative structure finds its figurative parallel in personification, the poem’s dominant trope. Poem 4 does not simply tell the ship’s life story; it rhetorically brings this object to life by granting it the power of speech. Such awakenings are an inherent feature of ancient epigrams, which frequently hinge on the idea that we might hear ashes, hammers, and other objects speak. This poem gestures toward two distinct Hellenistic epigram traditions in its first and final lines.13 Addressing itself to an anonymous set of hospites, the poem evokes sepulchral epigrams, which typically begin by flagging down a passing stranger to serve as audience to the eulogy.14 Meanwhile, the closing dedication mimics ex-voto inscriptions, where anthropomor-


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phized objects are shaken from their material stupor to dedicate themselves to gods.15 Such epitaphs and object epigrams showcase the animating powers of poetry. Catullus 4 puts on display a similar set of rhetorical strategies that poems often use to bring objects to life. In so doing, it demonstrates the control a poem can claim over the material world.16 This personable ship is not a person at all, but an object coaxed into personhood by a narrator—and, ultimately, a poet—who likewise has the power to return him to inanimate slumber. The narrator of poem 4 exercises just this power in the closing lines when he turns the briefly vivified ship back into a votive offering. After giving free rein to the ship’s lively monologue for twenty-three lines, he abruptly brings this reported autobiography to a halt with a dismissive summation: “But these things happened in the past. Now he is old and, in obscure repose, he dedicates himself to you, twin Castor and twin of Castor” (25–27). With this closing statement, the anonymous narrator takes charge of the poem once again and reminds us that he has been controlling the ship’s language all along. The phaselus’s adventures are relegated to memory and the ship is transformed from a freewheeling speaker back into an inert thing.17 These closing lines highlight the fact that the ship is not a carefree subject but a malleable object whose life and language hinge upon a human speaker’s rhetorical intervention. This ship cannot actually speak, nor can he propel himself from place to place. Both his travels and the narrative account of these adventures depend upon a human master who gives him language and regulates every stage of his journey. At line 19, the idea that the phaselus does not control his own fate is cemented when we learn of his erus (“owner” or, better, “master,” for this term was often used to refer to slave-owners in particular).18 The ship declares that he “carried his master (erum) through so many raging straits” (18–19). Poised at the beginning of its line, this erum makes it instantly clear that these journeys were guided less by the wind than by the whims of a commanding passenger. The phrase erum tulisse “brands the craft as a slave”19 and confirms the sense that the structure of reported narration has given us all along: this ship neither speaks nor sails of his own accord. The ship’s servile associations are strengthened by his peculiar form of verbosity. As Kenneth Quinn, among others, has noted, this ship ventriloquizes “an old, garrulous slave . . . proud of a successful career of faithful service.”20 In his opening boast, he channels the familiar posture of comedy’s servus currens, bragging about his speedy travels with humorous bravado.21 Free Roman citizens were encouraged to maintain a slow and stately gait, while slaves were expected to complete their errands at a full run.22 The frenetic

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pace of this speedy ship’s journey, picked up in the relentless speed of the narration, carries implications of servitude. This “fastest of ships” (2) takes the comic topos of the running slave to an absurdist extreme, darting across the ocean as a Plautine trickster sprints across the stage. Once we begin to notice the servile undercurrents of the ship’s persona, we are forced to reconsider whether he is a free spirit after all. His passage through the aquatic byways of the Greek East no longer smacks of spontaneous adventure—there are too many suggestions that this was forced labor done at the bidding of a human master. Indeed, this talking ship recalls Varro’s definition of a slave as “a speaking tool” (instrumentum vocale, Res Rusticae 1.17.1).23 In a witty reversal of the idea that a slave was a human subject whose servile state had reduced him to objecthood, this ship is an object vivified through speech. Layered upon the manipulative relationship Fitzgerald recognized between the patronizingly urbane narrator and the garrulous ship, we discover a more overtly coercive pairing: master and slave. The poem’s geographical details add specificity to this tale of bondage, for they imply that master and slave are Roman and Bithynian, respectively. Born atop a ridge that hugs the Thracian coast, our phaselus hails from Asia Minor and has a Greek name.24 Phaselus derives from the Greek φάσηλος. Originally referring to a bean, the word was extended to apply to vessels that resembled bean pods, including ships that transported both passengers and cargo. This exotic legume inhabits this Latin poem with remarkable ease, gliding in to form its first three syllables. Typically, Catullus employs Greek words sparingly,25 but here he foregrounds a foreign word by setting it at the beginning of his poem. The ship’s reported monologue is delivered in language reminiscent of his Eastern origins. As many commentators have noted, these lines are riddled with Grecisms.26 As his speech begins, the poem veers into a distinctly Greek syntax (ait fuisse navium celerrimus, as opposed to the expected celerrimum in line 2). The non-Latinate sentence structure continues with the repeated omission of accusative subjects in indirect speech (for fuisse in line 2 as well as stetisse, imbuisse, and tulisse, 16, 17, 19). This foreign cadence is enhanced by a rush of Greek place names (Hadriatici, Cycladas, Rhodum, Thraciam, Propontida, Ponticum, Cytorio, Amastri, etc., 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 11, 13), two of them boasting distinctly Greek word endings (Propontida and Amastri). Like the compound-prone poets of Greece, this ship cannot resist the occasional compound epithet (buxifer, 13). His Greek cadences even manifest in the realm of metrics, with the lengthening of the final syllables of certain words (Propontida, impotentia, 9, 18).27 To borrow a phrase from George A. Sheets, this “personified Greek boat seems to speak Latin with a Greek accent.”28


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But a Roman authorial presence steers this ship’s itinerary. It is a Latinspeaking narrator who invites the hospites to view the ship. This host presumably inhabits the Lake Region of Northern Italy, where the ship appears to have anchored upon passing westward through the Adriatic.29 Presenting this Bithynian ship’s life story in the language of Rome is an imperial gesture that effaces the phaselus’s origins at the moment it announces them. It contributes to our sense that this Bithynian ship’s every word and move is guided by a Roman master. A first-century Roman reader would not have been surprised to find a Bithynian ship represented as a slave: in this period, numerous vessels making the journey between the Black Sea and Italy would have been carrying human cargo. In the years surrounding its annexation, Bithynia was at the center of the Roman slave trade.30 Catullus alludes to this development in poem 10 when he refers to Bithynian litter-bearers as the region’s most plentiful export: “But certainly nonetheless,” goad his cheeky interlocutors, “you managed to procure there [in Bithynia while on governmental duty] what is said to be a native product, men to bear your litter” (10.14–16). As it turns out, the would-be master of poem 10 did not manage to acquire Bithynian slaves to parade him through Rome. But the erus in poem 4 has brought back something even better, a slavish ship to convey him through the aquatic byways of Rome’s expanding empire. This Cytorian phaselus recalls, at once, Bithynian slaves and the ships that would have carried them into bondage. This ship is a metonymic stand-in for the captives who filled the hulls of so many vessels traveling between Asia Minor and Italy in this period. Poem 4 lays bare the Roman elite’s growing sense of themselves as masters of an expanding empire that extended all the way to the shores of the Black Sea. It also serves the interest of the slave-owning class to which Catullus belonged, by naturalizing the movement of resources from Asia Minor to Italy. Presenting the ship’s passage from Mt. Cytorus to an Italian lake as the trajectory of a contented life, the poem presents the arrival of Bithynian slaves and goods in Italy as a kind of manifest destiny. There is much implicit violence in this autobiography: saplings were toppled from a ridge, chopped into planks, and bent to form a hull. The ship then left its homeland to carry its master back and forth through stormy seas. Finally, this vessel was retired to an inland lake to grow old in obscurity. If presented from a less buoyant perspective, this same little vita (“life, life story”) could be viewed as a tale of exile, forced labor, and lonely death. But, instead, these trials are recounted as the youthful adventures of a well-satisfied senex (“old man”) who delights in rehashing a life of relentless toil. This assimilation of the ship’s Italy-bound journey to a happy life story naturalizes Roman ownership over the products

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of her new province and obscures the appalling realities of Roman slavery in a single narrative gesture. And yet, in certain ways, the relationship between this ship and his master is curiously inverted. At Rome, slaves were not normally granted the powers of full personhood and free speech.31 In this poem, however, the identification of masters with subjects and slaves with objects is curiously reversed. The “speaking tool” is granted a personality and a biography, while human actors fade anonymously into the woodwork. The narrator who recounts the phaselus’s tale may be in charge of this monologue, but he subordinates his selfhood to the ship’s by narrating its story instead of his own. What is more, the echo of funerary epigram embedded in the first line stifles this speaker even as he utters his opening words. In posing his addressees as hospites, the narrator assumes a speaking position familiar from funerary epigrams, which frequently address themselves to passing strangers in just this way. The speaker of such epitaphic utterances is typically the tomb itself. When seen through this generic lens, we are invited to imagine our narrator as an inscribed piece of stone. The first subject we encounter in poem 4 is thus swiftly transformed into an object through an act of prosopopoeia. The only other human actor, the erus, appears just once, as the object of the ship’s intrepid attentions and as the grammatical object in its clause (erum tulisse, 19).32 Both imagistically and grammatically, this master is reduced to an inert piece of cargo; meanwhile, the slavish ship emerges as nothing less than a wayfaring hero. As the poem progresses, the ship continues to be anthropomorphized, while human actors are ignored or effaced.33 Indeed, this talking ship is a kind of “latter-day Argo,” whose sea route recalls the heroic voyage of its famously personified precursor.34 His passage from Asia Minor to Italy is posed as a biography that begins with the inchoate babbling of infancy (line 12) and ends in the quiet contentment of old age (line 26). This sense of the ship’s flamboyant humanness is augmented by numerous anthropomorphizing descriptions (natantis . . . trabis, “swimming plank,” 3; palmulis, lit. “palms” for “oars,” 4 and 17; loquente . . . coma, lit. “speaking hair” for “rustling foliage,” 12) as well as the quirky characterizations of the landscape he encounters along his route. As portrayed by this vessel, the region lying between Asia Minor and Italy is abuzz with the chatter of personified landmasses and landmarks. The ship even enlists a number of high-profile topographic friends as witnesses to his preeminence. He boasts that his deeds are “extremely well known” (cognitissima, 14) to Amastris and Cytorus, and he cites the Adriatic, the Cyclades, Thrace, and Rhodes as places that might attest to the truth of his claims. Such phrasing


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suggests a rich social network that we might expect of a powerful Roman citizen but not of a ship or a slave.35 The poem’s positioning of the Romans as rightful proprietors of the Mediterranean is unsettled by this elaboration of a well-connected and boastful Greek ship’s life story rather than that of his Roman master. Furthermore, the ship speaks in an extravagant style that marks him less as an enslaved laborer than an aspiring poet or orator. We have already noted the poem’s many Grecisms. But we have yet to explore the literary affectations of the ship’s peculiar accent. During the course of his reported monologue, the phaselus emits a current of conspicuous poeticisms. This ornamentation includes metonymy, synechdoche, litotes, apostrophe, anaphora, archaisms, descriptive epithets, and learned periphrases. Gregson Davis has performed an extensive analysis of this poem’s “ostentatious” use of “stylistic affectation,” to argue that the ship speaks in a “flawed and overly mannered style” that is the antithesis of the sophistication and elegance displayed in Catullus’s other poems.36 Davis associates this style with the “tumidity and redundancy” of the Asianist rhetoric making its way to Italy in Catullus’s period.37 This ship does seem to be reveling in a flamboyantly ornate style. But I contend that this ostentatious mode of speaking echoes not only the rhetoric of Asia Minor but also the poetry of Alexandria. The ship’s reported speech makes conspicuous use of certain specifically Alexandrian affectations. Chief among these is his use of toponyms. As we have seen, the ship’s reported monologue is peppered with exotic place names, several of which retain their distinctive Greek endings. Peculiar toponyms were of great interest to poets like Callimachus, who did extensive research into geographical terminology and used this erudition to stud his poems with a wealth of unusual words.38 The ship in poem 4 does much the same thing. His description of his travels incorporates a catalogue of geographically, linguistically, and grammatically foreign names that recall the peculiar erudition of Alexandrian poet-scholars. This penchant for unusual toponyms culminates in the geographical apostrophe at line 13 (Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer, “O Amastris-by-the-Black-Sea, O boxwood-bearing Cytorus”). As Robinson Ellis comments, such an abrupt apostrophe to geographical locales is “more Greek than Latin”39 and recurs frequently in Callimachus and other Alexandrians poets.40 What’s more, these place names spread across the entire line, resulting in a verse that consists entirely of proper nouns and their attending epithets, yet another Hellenistic affectation. The line in which this poetic tour de force appears occupies an ambivalent position between the poem’s two speakers. As an apostrophe, it would seem to be the voice of the narrator interjecting his own spontaneous effusion. But

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this outburst is immediately absorbed back into indirect speech, and its style is remarkably close to the reported speech that precedes it. It is as though the narrator has begun to mimic the peculiar voice of the ship, assuming the voice of a Hellenistic poet intent on displaying his compositional mastery. As Davis clearly demonstrates, this mastery of poetic style is by no means complete. The ship’s mobilization of poetic speech is downright clumsy at times. But this stylistic ineptitude is part of the poem’s ambiguous drama. Our inability to pinpoint the source and style of the speaking voice throws us into perpetual confusion about whom we are hearing: is the speaker gifted or inept, human or ship, master or slave? In this poem, then, the respective positions of master and slave are destabilized, as the boundary between speaking subjects and silent objects is repeatedly blurred. This ambiguity reflects a peculiarity of this ship’s homeland’s export market. In the first century BCE, many of the items making their way from Asia Minor to Italy were, themselves, “speaking tools” that aided Latin authors with the challenges of writing Alexandrianizing verse. In the years following its annexation, Bithynia supplied spectacular libraries to members of the Roman elite, beginning with those plundered by Lucullus and continuing with King Mithridates’s personal collection, which Pompey himself carted back home. Nor did the Romans confine their booty to books. They also seized scholars and poets to educate them in the finer points of astrology, oratory, and medicine, among many other fields.41 One Bithynian intellectual who seems to have been especially important in Catullus’s period was Parthenius of Nicaea, a poet and mythographer enslaved during the Mithridatic Wars.42 Reportedly carried back to Italy by a man named Cinna (often identified with C. Helvius Cinna, Catullus’s friend and fellow poet), Parthenius was set free because of his erudition and came to exert tremendous influence over the development of Latin literature.43 Some scholars have singled him out as the most important figure to shape the evolution of late-Republican (and, later, Augustan) poetry.44 Though his influence was likely a bit more modest, the stories told about Parthenius’s life do point to recurring allegiances with a number of Roman authors. Beyond his possible link to Cinna, he is said to have bestowed a compendium of racy mythological themes on the poet Gallus to use as source material for his passion-filled elegies (the Erotika Pathemata, or Disastrous Love Stories).45 His lost Metamorphoses seems to have exerted an influence on Ovid’s poem of that title, as well as on Vergil’s Eclogues.46 He is even said to have been the grammaticus who taught Vergil his Greek.47 Whatever the truth of each individual detail, such recurring associations imply that Parthenius was a key figure mediating between Roman poets and


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the Greek literature they imitated with such enthusiasm. Christopher Francese has argued convincingly that Parthenius’s role as a grammaticus would have extended well beyond the tasks of a simple tutor. Grammatici of this period were often not so much language instructors as “learned literary collaborators” who helped Romans “appreciate and emulate Hellenistic authors at a new level of polish.”48 In his capacity as a grammaticus, Parthenius would have been responsible for “helping Roman authors to read, interpret and emulate Hellenistic models, and providing authoritative guidance on mythology and nomenclature.”49 Viewed in this way, Parthenius appears to have been an envoy of translation who helped Roman poets access and imitate the intricacies of Hellenistic verse. Despite his singular celebrity among contemporary Latinists, Parthenius was not alone in this task. We might think of him not so much as a maverick but as a name we now associate with a broader historical phenomenon. Many like him arrived from Asia Minor in Catullus’s period.50 As Elizabeth Rawson explains, “The Mithridatic Wars, from Sulla to Pompey, proved, in many respects a turning point. Greek scholars and teachers—like Greek libraries— were swept in the turmoil to Rome or Italy.”51 These newly arrived Greek intellectuals proved a pivotal influence on Romans of Catullus’s generation, an influence that Rawson and many others credit with inciting the “great intellectual flowering” seen at Rome during the ’50s and ’40s BCE.52 Together, these learned exiles revolutionized the literary landscape of Rome by guiding Latin-speaking authors through the intricacies of Hellenistic verse. Alexandrianism had, of course, been a feature of Latin poetry from early on.53 But Callimachean poetics did not come to dominate Latin poetry until the first century BCE,54 and the kind of polemical, detailed use of Hellenistic models that emerged in the mid-first century was a new phenomenon.55 This development was enabled, if not necessarily engendered, by Rome’s newfound command over the Greek East. If Bithynia had never been conquered, Catullus might well have found his way to Callimachus, but it is unlikely that he could have written such adroitly Callimachean poems. By playing such an important role in mediating Roman access to Hellenistic literature, educated captives came to exert unusual influence over their masters’ discourse in Catullus’s period. In the literary sphere, the roles of master and slave were, then, frequently reversed, and this reversal caused some conceptual problems for aspiring Roman authors. This subject/object quandary was, of course, a problem with any slave who, as a “speaking tool” was freighted with both identities at once but the problem was especially acute when it came to enslaved Greek intellectuals.56

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As Horace put it, Roman authors had been captivated by the literature of “captive Greece” (Epistulae 2.1.156), and anxieties over the influence this subject region had upon the aesthetic development of Rome was a perpetual quandary of Latin literature. During the late Republic, this dilemma was especially deeply felt, for the task of translating Greek literature into Roman forms had shifted away from those Suetonius later dubbed Semi-Graeci (De Grammaticis 1) to Italians, who had no direct cultural or linguistic ties to the East. Transpadane poets like Catullus and Cinna probably learned Greek as children but it was not their first langauge and they would have required “speaking tools”—books, grammars, and Greek-speaking slaves—to mediate their access to the notoriously recalcitrant poetry of Callimachus and his peers. Poem 4 is a prime example of this new phase in Roman literary translation when poets from Northern Italy revolutionized Latin poetry by importing Alexandrian techniques mediated by the scholars of Asia Minor. The poem is, itself, a product of this translation process. Written in a Greek meter (iambic senarii), it models itself after well-known varieties of Hellenistic epigram and incorporates numerous stylistic features favored by the poets of Alexandria. Even its choice of protagonist—a chatty ship, the workaday foil to the famously loquacious Argo—has a Callimachean edge. This iambic trifle sets itself in opposition to narrative epic, recalling a Callimachean preference for the small, the minor, and the recherché. Catullus’s phaselus poem is a product of stylistic and generic translation, and it appears to include an internal meditation upon some of the cultural complexities involved in such a project in first-century Rome. Its ongoing vacillations between subject and object, speaker and spoken, master and slave reflect the complex relations developing between Greek and Roman intellectuals in the late-Republican period. This ship and his various masters (the erus, the narrator, the poet himself) are locked in a state of interdependence that echoes the ambivalent intellectual realities of Catullus’s historical moment. The linguistic resources of the slavish ship’s homeland— the silva (“forest, timber,” a word used metaphorically to refer to the verbal constituents of poetry) shown murmuring atop a Cytorian ridge at lines 11–12—furnish the raw material for every line of this Latin poem. A poetic medium developed in captive Greece is the very language that poem 4’s anonymous Roman master—and celebrated Roman author—have chosen as the vehicle for their own utterances. At the same time as these masters control the phaselus’s story, the phaselus provides them with the language in which to tell their own.57


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Sabinus ille and the Transpadane Translator Sabinus ille, quem videtis, hospites, ait fuisse mulio celerrimus, neque ullius volantis inpetum cisi nequisse praeterire, sive Mantuam opus foret volare, sive Brixiam. et hoc negat Tryphonis aemuli domum negare nobilem insulamve Ceryli, ubi iste, post Sabinus, ante Quinctio, bidente dicit attodisse forcipe comata colla, ne Cytorio iugo premente dura vulnus ederet iuba. Cremona frigida, et lutosa Gallia, tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima, ait Sabinus; ultima ex origine tua stetisse dicit in voragine, tua in palude deposisse sarcinas, et inde tot per orbitosa milia iugum tulisse, laeva sive dextera strigare mula sive utrumque ceperat. neque ulla vota semitalibus deis sibi esse facta praeter hoc novissimum: paterna lora buxinumque pectinem. sed haec prius fuere: nunc eburnea sedetque sede seque dedicat tibi, gemelle Castor, et gemelle Castoris.58 That man Sabinus, whom you see, strangers, says he used to be the swiftest muleteer, and he says that no assault of any swift-flying wagon was able to outstrip him, whether the task was to fly to Mantua or Brixia. He also denies that the noble house of his rival Tripho contradicts this claim, and the tenement house of Caerulus where that soon-to-be Sabinus, before Quinctio, says he used to trim hairy necks with double-bladed tongs, lest the thick mane chafe, rubbed down by the Cytorian yoke. O chilly Cremona and muddy Gaul, Sabinus says these facts were and are well known to you; he says that, back in the day, he stood in your muck and set down his sacks in your marsh and that, from that point onward, he bore the yoke himself through so many thousands of rutted out roads, whether the right-hand mule or the left-hand mule began to flag, or both at once. And he says he never made any other dedications to the gods of the wagon-paths before this most recent one: his paternal reins and his boxwood horse brush. But these things happened before: now he sits on an ivory chair and dedicates himself to you, twin Castor and the twin of Castor.

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The first half of this chapter extrapolated a lengthy tale about the darker underside of Roman literary history from a brief poem about a talking ship. Remarkably enough, this improbable narrative is not the end of the story. Catullus’s poem clearly resonated in the minds of ancient readers, for it prompted a parody that has come down to us among the Catalepton, a set of epigrams included within the Appendix Vergiliana, an anonymous assortment of poems long considered Vergil’s juvenilia.59 Catalepton 10 rewrites Catullus’s biography of a Bithynian ship as the story of an enterprising muleteer named Sabinus who, after spending his life hauling loads along the byways of Mantua, Brixia, Cremona, and Gaul, winds up ensconced on the “ivory seat” that was the mark of Roman magistrates.60 In the discussion that follows, I suggest that this parody offers a continuation of the literary-historical tale that formed the subtext of Catullus 4. But where that poem drew attention to the role Eastern slaves played in mediating the rise of Roman Alexandrianism, the parody focuses on the identity of the poet-translators themselves who, in Catullus’s period, hailed overwhelmingly from the chilly, mud-soaked region of Northern Italy Sabinus called home. Much of the discussion surrounding this poem has focused on determining the identity of its protagonist, an identification that, it is hoped, might also fix the poem’s date. Such studies have turned up a wealth of possible identities for this boastful muleteer. These run the gamut from a suffect consul of 43 BCE, Publius Ventidius Bassus, to a mid-first-century army supplier named C. Calvisius Sabinus, to a well-connected freedman of the Flavian period.61 Thus far, such historically oriented studies have been inconclusive and done little to elucidate the inner workings of this curious poem.62 I propose that we can learn a good deal more about the elusive Sabinus and the poem he inhabits when we pay less attention to historical particulars and more attention Catalepton 10’s literary surround. As a parody that piggybacks on an earlier text, this poem is as implicated in textual networks as it might be in any “large-scale” Flavian-period “mule trade” or civil war-era “transport and army supply.”63 The texts the poem evokes extend beyond poem 4 itself to several additional poems in Catullus’s oeuvre, as well as the other pseudo-Vergilian epigrams of the Catalepton. When we approach the parody by way of these intertextual relationships, we find that it traces a literary-historical narrative alongside the surface story of its social-climbing muleteer. This second tale turns out to be a continuation of the one told in Catullus 4 about the demographic peculiarities of the rise of Roman Alexandrianism in the late Republic. We have seen how Catullus 4 meditates upon the fact that highly-educated Greeks from Asia Minor mediated the rise of Callimacheanism in Catullus’s period. The clash that poem


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stages between the voices of its narrating master and slavish ship exposes some of the tensions that arose when politically dominant Romans depended on socially inferior Greek scholars to gain access to the more esoteric pockets of the Greek literary tradition. The parody tells the flipside of this demographic tale by showcasing the peculiar social position of the poet-translator himself. One of the most singular features of poetic production in Catullus’s period centers on the geography this parody so vividly traces. Many of the most celebrated poets of the time hailed from the province of Cisalpine Gaul (Gallia Cisalpina), in particular the Transpadane region north of the River Po. Catullus, Cinna, Valerius Cato, Furius Bibaculus, Varro Atacinus, and, in the following generation, Vergil himself are just some of the authors who spent their youths riding along the same rutted-out roads that Sabinus travels with such enterprising speed (though they almost certainly did so in litters, not in wagons).64 Men from Gallia Togata (“Toga-wearing Gaul”), as Transpadane Gaul was often called, were especially well positioned to make outstanding contributions to Latin letters.65 The settlers in the Po Valley typically hailed from areas of central Italy that had strong traditions of Greek learning, and the scions of the region’s local elites tended to receive the highest-quality hellenizing education.66 And yet, the area was still a rough-and-tumble backwater far removed from the budding cultural center of Rome.67 This cultural marginality was reinforced by the Transpadanes’ official social status vis-à-vis the Roman state: they were not granted full citizenship rights until 49 BCE, and the province was not officially incorporated into Italy until 42, long after the end of Catullus’s own career.68 These factors left the poets who translated the Alexandrian tradition into Latin in a paradoxical social position that paralleled that of the Eastern intellectuals who helped them access and understand their Greek source texts. From the perspective of the urban aristocracy at Rome, a Transpadane poet was just as socially incongruous as a Bithynian philosopher: he was, at once, an object of admiration and derision, a hybrid figure whose command over Greek literary culture was shadowed by the social inferiority his background conferred. Catullus and his fellow colonists were convinced “they were Romans, not Gauls.”69 But, as Wiseman notes, the view from Rome was altogether different.70 From the urban center, an intellectual from Gallia Togata might appear only tenuously civilized, a good education away from the crazed Gallic warriors who raged on the far side of the Alps. As we shall see, Catalepton 10 is written from this dominant urban perspective from which Gaul appears a barely habitable backwater and its more ambitious or talented natives seem but crude and ludicrous social climbers.

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As such, the poem offers a window onto how the natives of “chilly Cremona and muddy Gaul” (12) were viewed by those closer to the center of power. In what follows, I argue that the poem offers insight, more specifically, into how the urban aristocracy perceived the rise to prominence of North Italian poets in elite Roman society. The tale of the social ascent of an upstart mule-driver parodies not just Catullus’s poem, but also the success of that poem’s author as well as the purported author of the Catalepton, two high-profile Transpadanes whose literary success was just as sudden and inescapable as Sabinus’s ultimate enthronement upon his ivory chair. All the contending speculation around Sabinus is grounded in one shared certainty about Catalepton 10: that it traces the social ascent of a mule-driver from Cisalpine Gaul. The bulk of the poem is spent locating Sabinus within the landscape of Northern Italy. We watch as he speeds his wagon between Mantua and Brixia (4–5) and then gets stuck in the muck of Cremona and Gaul (15). When he dedicates his “paternal reins” to the gods of the wagon-paths, we have little doubt about his genealogy: Sabinus is a Transpadane with deep roots in Cisalpine Gaul. And yet, dedicating his father’s riding gear to “the gods of the wagon-paths” may be less an act of filial piety than one of familial (as well as professional) abdication, for this mule-driver has changed his name from the distinctly lower-class Quinctio to Sabinus.71 This assumption of a new identity is enacted with great swiftness within the poem (post Sabinus, ante Quinctio, 8), as though the narrator shares Sabinus’s own desire to leave his original name behind. The new name, by contrast, becomes a kind of lynchpin of the poem, repeated twice after its initial appearance as the parody’s first word. We may never know who Sabinus was exactly, but we do know that this new name aligns our Transpadane muleteer with ancestral inhabitants of Rome: to assume the name Sabinus was to fashion oneself as a Sabine, as autochthonous an identity as a Roman could get. Quinctio’s assumed identity as a full-blooded Roman is reiterated by the closing image of him sitting on an “ivory chair” (24). This chair has been understood in a number of different ways: as the sella curulis (“curule chair”) of a high magistrate of the Roman state, as the chair of a local provincial magistrate, or even as the far more humble seat of a sevir Augustalis (local priest of the imperial cult).72 The poem does nothing to help us decide between these possibilities, and this very lack of specificity suggests we should not attempt to hammer out the specifics of Sabinus’s final position with too much precision. What seems to be important (and what we can know for sure) is that a former mule driver winds up occupying a place within the Roman political system, whether as a state magistrate, a municipal official, or a local priest.


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Sabinus’s culminating self-dedication to Castor and Pollux encapsulates, in a single gesture, his ascent from a lowly North Italian laborer to an official position within the Roman government. Though this last line and a half parallels the original phaselus’s self-dedication word for word, it takes on an entirely new set of meanings within the context of the parody. It was these divine twins’ position as the patron gods of sailors that made them relevant to Catullus’s successful little ship. But their spectacular manifestation as St. Elmo’s fire would have had little import for a landlocked muleteer whose only local approximation of an ocean was a Cremonian swamp. Happily, these gods had a set of alternate associations that aligned them closely with the parody’s mule-driver, whether in the guise of Sabinus or Quinctio. It so happens that the Dioscuri were quite popular in Gaul, where they often appear in visual representations and are mentioned in dedicatory inscriptions with remarkable frequency.73 It makes sense that a Transpadane laborer would dedicate the tools of his trade to gods frequently hailed near the “rutted out roads” (Catalepton 10.17) of North Italy and the Alps. But even as they gesture back toward Sabinus’s Gallic past, the Dioscuri affirm his Romanized present, for these gods were also aligned with the city of Rome. The Temple of Castor and Pollux had occupied a prominent position in the Roman forum since the beginning of the fifth century BCE, positioning these two gods, both physically and symbolically, at the very heart of the urbs. At Rome, these divine horsemen were associated especially closely with those of equestrian status who held a cavalry parade, the transvectio, each summer to celebrate the feast of the Dioscuri.74 When the self-proclaimed “Sabine” dedicates himself to these gods, he reiterates the associations his ivory chair implies—his links to Rome’s urban ruling elite. This poem tells a tale about a North Italian’s assimilation into mainstream Roman society. But, as the numerous failed attempts to pin down the mule driver’s identity make clear, this narrative is consistently unspecific. This abstract quality seems to be part of the poem’s point. To my mind, the closest any scholar has come to “identifying” Sabinus is Iiro Kajanto, who argues that he does not link back to any particular historical personality but is, rather, a literary fiction who represents the late-Republican homo novus (“new man”).75 Although precise historical anchors are not forthcoming, the poem does have a clear set of literary contextualizations that bring this abstract historical story into even greater focus. Threaded through the poem are a series of intertextual cues leading us back to two poetic biographies that run parallel to Sabinus’s own: Vergil’s life as presented in the Catalepton and Catullus’s life as presented throughout his oeuvre. When viewed through this intertextual scrim, we find that the poem’s story of a social-climbing muleteer intimates

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a corresponding story about the demographics of poetic production in the late-Republican and Augustan periods.

* Over a decade ago, Niklas Holzberg proposed that the Catalepton as a whole traces a biography of its purported author that follows the basic outlines of Vergil’s life in the Vita Suetoniana-Donatiana.76 When read linearly in conjunction with the three Priapea that precede them in the manuscripts, these poems trace the highlights of Vergil’s already fictionalized career.77 Geography plays a major role in this tale of poetic development. This set of poems begins by locating the poet at his father’s Mantuan state, then shows him moving to Rome and, ultimately, Naples, echoing the Vita’s comment that “Vergil made a transition from Cremona to [Mediolanus] and, a little while later, into the city [i.e., Rome] itself.”78 Holzberg sees the poet’s rural beginnings as being traced, primarily in the three preceding Priapea. He connects the erus pauper (“poor master,” line 4) whose garden Priapus guards in the second of these poems with Vergil’s father, then takes all three of the Priapea as operating under the fiction that they were composed before the youthful poet left his father’s country estate.79 The first Catalepton then positions its poet in an urban setting, a movement that could “represent Virgil’s move from Northern Italy to Rome (and later Naples).”80 The rest of the poems trace the poet’s education (first in rhetoric, then philosophy) and his early poetic career, charting his rise through the genres to poetic stardom to culminate in the Aeneid, which he is shown in the midst of composing in the final poem (Catalepton 16). Even if we are chary of accepting a linear reading that combines the three Priapea with the Catelepton proper, the poems of the Catalepton themselves reveal the outlines (however loose) of this geographically inflected vita. Catalepton 2 lambastes a hellenizing rhetor who, despite his feverish zeal for Greek, kills his brother by mixing a poisonous concoction of Gallic words. This poem gestures, in spectacular fashion, toward the region of Vergil’s youth with a rare and jarring showcase of the Celtic language spoken in Gaul.81 Catalepton 5 finds Vergil bidding farewell to the empty words of his early rhetorical tutors and seeking out “the learned language of Great Siro” (magni . . . docta dicta Sironis, 9), the Epicurean with whom he is said to have studied near Naples.82 Even as this poem traces a shift in disciplinary allegiances, it charts a shift in linguistic geography as the poet seeks to leave the “empty rattling of his youth” (5) by setting sail for “happier ports” (8). Though the poet’s journey seems, specifically, to be toward Naples, the movement away from the crude linguistic habits of his homeland seems also to be implied. Catalepton 5’s suggestion of a geographical movement away from


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rough-and-tumble Northern Italy is made explicit in Catalepton 8, where Siro is mentioned yet again. In this poem, “Vergil” hails a little villa that Siro has allowed him and his father to use as their new residence (presumably after their family estate was lost in the land redistribution of 41 BC).83 The poem ends with a line that mentions two North Italian towns, both of which feature in Catalepton 10: “you [the new villa] will now be to that man [Vergil’s father] what Mantua and Cremona were before, 5–6). These lines represent a final farewell to the rural lands of Vergil’s youth in favor of the more refined activities he pursues in Rome and the Bay of Naples. As presented in the Catalepton, the endpoint of this geographical transition is the composition of the Aeneid, a poem that had turned a poet from Mantua into the most celebrated literary spokesman for the Roman state. The collection’s closing poem (Catalepton 14) points directly to Vergil’s ultimate assimilation into the civic structures of Rome.84 This poem is a hymn to Venus that requests her presence to help the poet complete the Aeneid. It culminates in a couplet that foregrounds the poet of Mantua’s intimate connection with the emperor of Rome: Adsis o Cytherea: tuus te Caesar Olympo et Surrentini litoris ara vocat. (11–12) O Cytherean Venus, please be here: Your Caesar calls you from Olympus to the altars of the Surrentine shore.

In these closing lines of the Catalepton, the Vergilian speaker assumes the commanding tone of Caesar, requesting Venus’s presence in the emperor’s stead. The call is clearly made from the Bay of Naples (“the Surrentine shore,” modern-day Sorrento), but the speaker’s authority extends beyond the poet’s Campanian retreat to the political center of Rome. The poet here speaks for Caesar himself, and this conflation of poet and prince symbolically articulates the provincial poet’s ultimate integration into the heart of the Roman state. A man who began his life on a distant farm near the foothills of the Alps is here presented as a mouthpiece for Caesar, calling upon Augustus’s patron goddess in the emperor’s name. As even a brief analysis makes clear, the life of Vergil that is intimated within the Catalepton as a whole runs parallel to the life of the muleteer in Catalepton 10. Both Sabinus and the Vergil who purportedly created him began their lives in the relative wilds of Mantua and Cremona only to wind up in positions of prestige and power within the Roman state. Catalepton 10 reiterates, in the space of a single poem, the tale of Vergil’s own social ascent through the medium of poetry. Or, to put it slightly differently, the “Sabine”

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muleteer sitting on his ivory chair offers a humorous image of Vergil himself (as understood by ancient biographers), a poet whose dizzying ascent into poetic stardom belied the humble circumstances of his youth. Alongside the parallel lives of Vergil and Sabinus, a third biography is implicated here as well. As we shall see, Catullus’s own life story, as presented within his oeuvre, likewise shadows Sabinus’s tale. It makes sense to find Catullus’s biography hovering alongside Vergil’s in the interstices of a poem that is, in essence, authored by both poets at once (the original template by Catullus, the parodic overlay by Vergil, or, rather, his impersonator).85 The attention accorded to Catullus throughout the Catalepton as a whole likewise invites us to read with an eye toward discovering traces of this poet in Catalepton 10. Holzberg observes that the Catalepton “constantly draws on stylistic, metrical, thematic, and structural elements of Catullus’s poetry,”86 going on to surmise that the collection’s internal Vergilian vita amplifies these allegiances by presenting Vergil “as a poet following in Catullus’s footsteps” by writing erotic, invective, and political poetry presented to well-known addressees.87 But how, exactly, does this twenty-five-line parody manage to trace the outlines of Catullus’s life story? The first answer to this question might be “selectively,” for the poem has no interest in the biographical details that have preoccupied his modern biographers (his love affairs, his enmities, his brother’s death, and so on). Instead, the poem draws attention to a single salient feature of the vita Catulliana: his status as a Transpadane. It does so by intertextually cueing its readers to recall moments in Catullus’s oeuvre where the poet foregrounds his Northern origins. At the same time, as the parody models itself on poem 4 specifically, it gestures back to a trio of poems (17, 67, and 39) that highlight Catullus’s status as a native of Transpadane Gaul. The poem the parody recalls most powerfully is 17, which constitutes Catullus’s most detailed depiction of the culture and topography of his home province. That poem addresses itself directly to a colonia (“colonial town, settlement”) and circles around a cuckolded townsman and a local ritual that seems to have entailed good-naturedly tossing a victim from a bridge. The poet-narrator suggests that the colony selects this particular townsman as the object of their ritualized jest in the hopes that the fall might knock some sense into him. He stages his request as follows: quendam municipem meum de tuo volo ponte ire praecipitem in lutum per caputque pedesque, verum totius ut lacus putidaeque paludis lividissima maximeque est profunda vorago. (8–11)


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I would like a certain townsman of mine to topple head over heels from your bridge straight into the muck (lutum) but where the murky chasm (vorago) of the lake and of the putrid marsh (paludis) is especially deep.

The poem then goes on to explain why this townsman is an appropriate target for submersion, closing with the comment that he hopes, after the fall, the man might “leave his negligent soul behind in the deep mire / like a mule leaves its iron shoe in the tenacious depths” (et supinum animum in gravi derelinquere caeno / ferream ut soleam tenaci in voragine mula, 26). The earthy language that Catullus uses to describe the area below this colonial town’s bridge features prominently in the parody’s description of Sabinus’s homeland. The mud (lutosa Gallia, 12), the chasms (in voragine, 15), the marsh (in palude, 16), and the mules (mula, 18) that poor Sabinus had to contend with as he plied his trade are echoed by the muck (lutum, 9), murky chasm (vorago, voragine, 11, 26), putrid marsh (palude, paludis, 4, 10), and filthy mule (mula, 26) of poem 17. The parody is clearly drawing much of its geographical lexicon from Catullus 17, a poem that foregrounds Catullus’s own Transpadane allegiances. Catalepton 10 also points us toward two other Catullus poems that likewise accentuate their author’s ties to this region. The first of these, 67, stages a dialogue between the Catullan narrator and a house door that has witnessed the inhabitants’ erotic scandals. In one especially florid passage, the Catullan narrator refers twice in three lines to the region of Brixia, which he hails as “the beloved mother of my Verona” (34). The Brixia that Sabinus speeds toward at Catalepton 10.5 echoes this nostalgic autobiographical aside. This parody consistently picks up on language in Catullus’s oeuvre where the Veronan poet had foregrounded his own Gallic allegiances. This pointed allusive gesture is a hint that the parody aims to lampoon Catullus’s status as a Transpadane as much as its muleteer’s. The final Catullus poem alluded to in the parody confirms this suspicion. Poem 39 is the only place in the entire corpus where Catullus outright declares himself to be a Transpadane. This declaration surfaces as the Catullan speaker assaults the Spaniard Egnatius for flashing his toothy grin at inappropriate times in a misguided attempt to prove his urbanity. The poem includes as its centerpiece a four-line catalogue of various peoples of ancient Italy: si urbanus esses aut Sabinus aut Tiburs aut pinguis Umber aut obesus Etruscus aut Lanuvinus ater atque dentatus

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aut Transpadanus, ut meos quoque attingam aut quilubet, qui puriter lavit dentes . . . (10–14) But if you were a man of the city, or a Sabine, or a Tiburtine or an oily Umbrian or a fat Etruscan or a dark and toothy Lanuvinian or a Transpadane, so as to touch on my own people, or anyone at all who brushes his teeth in a sanitary fashion . . .

This list begins with a “man of the city” (urbanus) in Rome and moves progressively further away from that urban hub. Though the position of Transpadanus (Transpadane) as last on this list foregrounds the region’s geographical distance from the urban center, the uniformity of the concatenating aut’s along with the summarizing comment of line 14 suggest that all these peoples are, in some essential way, the same. The ultimate point of this list is that all of these Italians share sound forms of dental hygiene (and, by extension, social acumen) that elude Egnatius. In so demonstratively adding himself as a Transpadanus at the end of this list, Catullus underscores his people’s status as Italians among Italians, in sharp contrast to the supposedly unsanitary Spaniards. In Catalepton 10, Sabinus traces a journey that reverses the geographical list of poem 39. The mule-driver begins his life as the Transpadanus of line 13 and ends his days as Sabinus, one small step away from the urbanus who serves, in poem 39, as the gold standard for urbanity and sound oral health. But the parody uses its version of Catullus’s list to make precisely the opposite point that Catullus makes in his own poem. Sabinus’s sudden transformation from a lowly Transpadane mule-driver named Quinctio into a Roman magistrate is presented in so peremptory a manner as to be at best incomplete and at worst impossible. The vast majority of the poem is spent establishing the man’s Northern roots, at times by literally dragging him around in the Gallic mud. The joke of this epigram is that, despite his lightning-swift name change and sudden, illusionistic assumption of the curule chair, the muledriver formerly known as Quinctio cannot make any Houdini-style escape from the muck of his ancestry. The mean-spirited point of this xenophobic poem is that, even when ensconced in his ivory chair, Sabinus cannot escape the ignominy of his origins. I would propose that Catalepton 10 establishes its running parallelisms between its Gallic mule-driver and the two Transpadane poets who brought him to life in order to make a similar point about the demographics of literary production in the late-Republican and early-Augustan periods. Whoever wrote this parody is, I would venture, lampooning a particular feature of both


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poets’ biographies: the fact that they began life as North-Italian provincials but wound up, by dint of their poetic talents, gaining positions of prestige in Rome. Along with Sabinus’s status as a symbol for the late-Republican novus homo, he is, I will propose, a stand-in for another kind of new man in the late-Republican period: that class of talented and often high-powered authors who attained prominence among the urban elite through their literary skills and, in particular, through their command over the esoteric poetic traditions of Alexandria. The network of intertextual associations linking Sabinus to Catullus and Vergil encourages us to read their disparate biographies as a set of parallel lives characterized, primarily, by a rise from provincial obscurity to some form of Roman renown. The poem makes it clear that, from the perspective of the parody’s author, none of these three men actually escapes his roots. Instead, the taint of their provincial origins lingers even after they have achieved their social ascent. This idea is suggested as regards Sabinus by the degree to which the poem fixates on his Transpadane status. The poem paints a portrait of a man who has undergone some sort of spectacular social transformation that includes a name change, a change of careers (dedicating his ancestral reins and currycomb), and, perhaps, a change in locale (from Northern Italy to Rome). And yet all but the last three lines focus on the life this mule-driver leads before these changes occur. This exclusive fixation on the man’s ignoble past is well encapsulated by line 23, which introduces his new state: Sed haec prius fuere (“But these things happened before”), gesturing back to nearly the whole of the poem. The nunc (“now”) of Sabinus’s elevated present is relegated to these few peremptory closing lines. The structure of the poem insists we view Sabinus not as a successful Roman official but as a Transpadane muleteer, in defiance of his own attempts to escape his past. Once we view the poem from this perspective, the repetition of the name Sabinus, which at first appeared a capitulation to the man’s desire to escape his past, begins to seem less a term of respect than a taunt. To insist on this name while describing in detail the man’s previous trade is to inextricably link nunc (“now”) and prius (“before”). It is announced from the start that this poem describes Sabinus the mulio (“muleteer”). This message is reinforced by the ongoing description of his past life along with the fact that we are not given enough information about his present position to solidly envision it. Such vagueness about Sabinus’s present status is as purposeful as it is cutting. It implies that even while Sabinus sits in his ivory chair, he will forever be a Gallic muleteer. The parody’s tale of a provincial’s upward social mobility is told from the perspective of someone who does not believe such mobility is possible. This

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point is reiterated throughout the poem by the recurring humiliations to which the proud mule-driver is narratively subjected. He is shown knee-deep in muck, unable to control his mules, and in the degrading position of hoisting his wagon’s yoke on his own shoulders. In contrast to the phaselus poem, where the exploits described confirm the opening declaration that the boat was the mini-hero his opening epithet (“fastest of ships,” 2) implies, this poem shows Sabinus’s claim to be the “swiftest muleteer” (2) to be something of a joke. This incongruity makes sense once we recognize that Sabinus’s career is relayed by a narrator who looks upon his achievements with nothing but disdain. This mini-biography is ostensibly couched as the man’s own declarations (“That man Sabinus . . . says” etc., 1). But, as in Catullus 4, all of Sabinus’s words are dictated by a narrator whose presence is made manifest at the beginning of the poem. Sabinus seems to be speaking, but his words are controlled by the evidently contemptuous narrator who invites us “strangers” (1) into the poem. This same message about the impossibility of transcending one’s provincial origins is likewise developed in regard to the poets whose lives mirror Sabinus’s own. It is elaborated for Vergil by placing this mockingly xenophobic poem smack in the midst of a collection that traces that poet’s journey from a rural Mantuan to a refined Roman identity. The sudden appearance of a Sabinus-cum-Vergil figure so close to the end of the collection thwarts the upwardly mobile narrative of poems 2, 5, and 8. Suddenly, the young Vergil—by way of Sabinus—is wrenched out of his comfortable Campanian villula (8.1) back into the bogs and rutted roads of his native Mantua. The placement of the poem implies that no matter how impressively elegant his Callimachean flights of poetic fancy may be (and they are especially elaborate in the poems leading into and out of poem 10), Vergil will always be a poet from Mantua.88 This idea is elaborated in even greater detail as regards Catullus. The parody takes Catullus’s life, as described within his collection, as well as poem 4 itself and drags them through the same mud used to sully its protagonist. As we have seen, the parody includes a number of intertextual cues that link back to poems where Catullus foregrounds his own status as a Transpadane. The connections back to Catullus’s corpus are limited to these alone. This narrow set of intertextual references presents the poet in a far more limited social position than he does in his own poems. As Wiseman notes, Catullus “was a Transpadanus, and proud of it.”89 But his provincial allegiances were part of a hybrid identity that was just as insistently Roman as it was Veronan.90 The author of the parody does not appear to perceive Catullus in this way. Instead, the image offered of this poet by Catalepton 10 is of a man exclusively associ-


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ated with the wilds of the North, a man who may as well never have ventured south of the river Po. The social debasement inherent in this exclusive insistence on his Transpadane status is replicated by the parody’s debasement of the language of its Catullan model. Carlson and Schmidt have discussed the parody as “a masterpiece of transformation” which, with a few judiciously changed words, shifts “from the Catullan world of decorum to the tough mule-skinner’s world” (here discussing lines 10b–11 specifically).91 They likewise note that the Catalepton degrades the original’s “mock epic” tone by employing “vulgarizations of the heroic places we find in Catullus” and introducing crude objects of daily working life (e.g., “the barber’s tool forcipes a vulgar and unpoetical object”).92 Such debasement is, of course, the work of any parody, but this particular trivialization of the source seems unusually pointed in being combined with an ad hominem attack on the author’s provincial background. To make matters worse, the poem dismantles the very literary vehicle that had allowed the author of the original to rise to prominence at Rome. His unusual command over the intricacies of a sophisticated Callimacheanism was one of the poetic skills that set Catullus apart. He might not have been born in the city of Rome, but his poems proved him as urbane as the most sophisticated senator. The parody strips the original poem of such refinements, replacing its elegant Eastern place-names with provincial Italian towns and its Grecisms with the language of the everyday Roman laborer. By denying Catullus’s own status as an inhabitant of Rome and voiding his poem of its Alexandrian affectations, the parody effaces an entire episode of literary history: the moment when Transpadane poets effected the full flourishing of Alexandrianism at Rome, a literary feat that allowed these provincials to socially integrate themselves into the elite culture of the urbs. This parody is, I would submit, casting a wary glance at this particular fact of Roman literary history, and doing the only thing an objector might do generations after the fact: poke an acrid kind of fun at the whole business. The humor here is, I think, a mark of unease at the fact that the Catulluses, Sabinuses, and Vergils of the world had managed to make it so far. Through its imbricated set of Transpadane biographies, this parody articulates the sequel of the literary-historical tale told in Catullus 4. If that poem traces the history of the Bithynian slaves who mediated Latin poets’ access to the Callimachean tradition, the parody tells the tale of the poettranslators themselves. Both uncover essential features of the demographics of poetic translation in Catullus’s (and, to a certain extent, Vergil’s) period. The pairing of poem and parody offers a three-dimensional view of the demographics of this intensive phase of Roman Alexandrianism.

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The phaselus poem had focused on the tensions that developed between Italian poets and the highly educated Eastern subordinates who so frequently mediated their access to the challenging poetic traditions of Alexandria. The parody shifts the focus toward the poets themselves, drawing attention to the fact that a remarkably high percentage of Alexandrianizing poets hailed from the wilds of Transpadane Gaul. As we have seen, it likewise alludes to the social status of a third figure in this equation: the audience for this new glut of Alexandrianizing Latin poems. Whoever and whatever else he may have been, the anonymous author of Catalepton 10 is, fundamentally, a reader and, more specifically, a reader of Catullus. The poem’s contemptuous presentation of the Transpadane landscape and Sabinus’s social aspirations contrasts sharply with Catullus’s carefree celebration of his rough-andtumble homeland. This prejudice reveals this reader’s own social position. As Brent Shaw observes, this parody was apparently written by an “upper-class author” who finds humor in the attempts of upstart provincials (whether poets or muleteers) to achieve positions of “social elevation” at Rome. 93 Though Catullus’s first readers seem often to have been part of a tight-knit and supportive literary coterie, his broader audience would have consisted of ordinary Roman elites. As the parody suggests, such readers sometimes looked on the upward social mobility of the talented men who produced Alexandrianizing poetry with some degree of contempt, even as they enjoyed the poems themselves. As the parody ends, it finds its supercilious author in a version of the same double bind that dominated Catullus 4. Just as the poet-speaker in the earlier poem depended on socially inferior Eastern intellectuals to find a poetic language in which to voice his anxieties, the supercilious author of the Catalepton turns to Catullus’s poem as the medium in which to lambaste Transpadane social pretensions. Nothing could be better evidence of the degree to which the authors of Catullus’s generation had ensured the assimilation of Transpadanes within mainstream Roman society. Catullus and Vergil had become the voices of poetic sophistication and the literary mouthpieces of the Roman elite. They had so masterfully transposed their chosen pockets of the Greek tradition into Latin that the poets who followed willingly turned to them as models. After Catullus and Vergil, even the most aristocratic of Roman poets found themselves unable to escape the literary triumphs of Sabinus’s kin. Even as the author of Catalepton 10 paints the Transpadanes as little better than the mules they travel by, this snobbish parodist proves himself to be one of a breed of literary imitators who had apparently become widespread by the time Horace wrote his Satires: an “apish man who knows how to sing nothing other than Calvus and Catullus” (Horace, Satires 1.10.18–19).94


Intimate Acts of Reading: Imitation and SelfExpression in the Translation Prefaces (50 and 65)

Translation has been called “the most intimate act of reading.”1 While ordinary readers might skim certain passages or skip them altogether, a translator must delve deeply into her source, ceding to the “sensuous immersion” of mimesis.2 Because translation necessitates such intimacy with a foreign text, it has a way of destabilizing boundaries and troubling distinctions between languages, cultures, and selves. This destabilization often leads to a productive porousness: the source text is rarely the only thing to undergo change. Frequently, the target language is enduringly altered upon being confronted with new forms of expression.3 This transformative potential is also evident in literary traditions. To give an example familiar from English literature, Wyatt and Surrey’s translations of Petrarch gave rise to an intricately rhymed fourteen-line poem that had never before been seen in the British Isles. The sonnet would go on to become the most successful verse form in English.4 This chapter examines the role translation played in a similar revolution in Roman literary history: the emergence of a potent yet vulnerable first-person poetic ego pioneered in Catullus’s poems and developed by the amorous elegists of the generations that followed. It argues for translation as a key strategy in allowing this poet to develop the striking emotional range displayed through his “uniquely elusive and enticing voice.”5 From within a Romanticist frame of thought, nothing could be more personal—or less trainable—than a lyric poet’s “voice,” imagined as a subjective essence conveyed directly to the reader, as though in face-to-face communication.6 But from a Roman perspective, the “voice” of a poet, like that of an orator, was as rhetorical as it was personal. It had to be developed through the absorption of other, earlier voices. One of the most important ways of doing so was via translation. Roman orators often strengthened their ora-

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torical voices in this way, deliberately drawing the figurae, vis, and copia of Greek precursors into their own speeches by means of translation exercises.7 In this chapter I propose that Catullus does much the same thing in his firstperson translation prefaces, harnessing affective cues learned in the process of translating Greek texts to add poignancy and urgency to his own original utterances. His versions of Sappho (51) and Callimachus (66) are both paired with first-person poems that appear to function as translation prefaces (50 and 65).8 I show these inimitably Catullan poems to be suffused with features that derive from their respective translations. Both apply lessons learned from the translations they accompany to develop the affective techniques the poet then uses to “express himself ” in the prefaces. Misero . . . eripit sensus mihi: Poems 50 and 51 Sappho’s visceral account of erotic incapacitation (fragment 31) had seized imaginations at Rome before the time of Catullus. An earlier epigram that Aulus Gellius (19.9.11) attributes to a certain Valerius Aedituus recalls details from the now fragmentary Greek poem.9 The Latin verses catalogue a now familiar set of erotic symptoms in response to a woman named Pamphila: dicere cum conor curam tibi, Pamphila, cordis, quid mi abs te quaeram, verba labris abeunt per pectus manat subito mihi sudor; sic tacitus, subidus, dum pudeo, pereo. (fr. 1)10 When I try to speak of the love I have for you, Pamphila, in my heart, of what I yearn for from you, the words evaporate from my lips, all of a sudden sweat flows across my chest and I am in heat; thus silent and in heat, even while chaste, I perish.

After describing his “love” (curam, 1) in terms of Sappho’s speechlessness (2) and sweat (3), this “silenced” (tacitus, 4) speaker ends upon the word pereo (“I perish, I am undone”) in a concise echo of Sappho’s “I seem to be just short of dying” (fr. 31.16). In a second epigram that draws upon a similarly ardent erotic vocabulary, the speaker tells a slave, Phileros, that he has no need for a torch because “the flame in my heart offers enough light” (fr. 2.2).11 Aedituus was not the only Roman poet to complain of being physically tortured by love before that same slender flame seeped beneath Catullus’s limbs. In a poem inscribed on the walls of a theater in Pompeii, a certain Loreius Tiburtinus declared, around 75 BCE, that his “eyes” had led him straight into the proverbial erotic fire (oculei . . . deducxstis in ignem, 1), adding the pathetically gorgeous detail that even his tears cannot extinguish the flame


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(non possunt lacrumae restinguere flamam, 3).12 In addition to any direct reminiscences these early poems have of Sappho, they likewise draw on a tradition of Hellenistic epigram in which the poet presents himself as succumbing to an erotic illness.13 Writing around 55 BCE, Catullus would have been in conversation with the long-standing traditions of Greek epigram and lyric as well as with the Latin erotic tradition that began a generation earlier. But, despite the thematic and imagistic similarities, there is much about his version of Sappho that sets it apart. As far as we know, his is the first attempt to render this poem into its original meter, Sapphic hendecasyllables. Such a foray into lyric metrics is no inconsequential achievement, as Horace would later boast in his Odes.14 But this metrical triumph is upstaged by another, more audacious innovation. As we shall see, Catullus personalizes this poem to a remarkable degree, inhabiting it in a way that moves his work beyond the pioneering amorous epigrams of prior generations. Anyone translating a first-person poem must inhabit the source to some degree. Even an utterly faithful rendition of Sappho’s lyric plaint would have required the author to maintain the illusion that an archaic Greek poet’s pain might be felt by a Roman who gives voice to that pain in Latin. Replacing an ἐγώ with an ego necessarily confounds the Greek with the Roman speaker. But Catullus takes such ventriloquism still further in his translation of Sappho 31 by assuming his source’s subject position himself. In this poem (51), he writes himself into his source as its new speaker, taking on the role of Sappho, but in his own name.15 Ille mi par esse deo videtur, ille, si fas est, superare divos, qui sedens adversus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi

lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte. otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est; otio exsultas nimiumque gestis: otium et reges prius et beatas perdidit urbes.

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That man seems to me to be equal to a god, that man, if it is right to say so, seems to surpass the gods, the man who, sitting across from you, again and again gazes and listens to you sweetly laughing which snatches all senses from me, wretch that I am: for as soon as I have seen you, Lesbia, no voice is left in my mouth but my tongue goes numb, a slender flame seeps beneath my limbs, my ears ring with their own sound, my eyes are clouded over with twin night. Leisure, Catullus, is harmful to you; you exult in leisure and you get too worked up; leisure has destroyed formerly happy kings and cities.

Over the course of this poem, Catullus gradually displaces Sappho from her own strophes, posing himself as the lovelorn speaker whose suffering prompts this metered lament. This transposition is first signaled by the masculine ending of line 5’s misero (“wretch”). This one word radically transforms the source by changing the gender of its speaker. Some flamboyantly masculine wretch has wrenched Sappho’s words from her mouth to voice his own distress. As it turns out, the object of this miser’s unfulfilled desire is also a deviation from the source. We learn in the second stanza that this distraught lover has been undone by a woman named Lesbia. This Lesbia has much in common with Aedituus’s Pamphila. Both are female love-objects imported into what had been, until that point, a largely homoerotic verse tradition. The names of both (“The Lesbian—i.e., Sapphic—lady” and, with a slight slip of the tongue from “pam” to “pan,” “The Total Lady-Lover”) are less personal identifiers than erotic abstractions that equate the beloved with either love or love poetry writ large. But Lesbia has a degree of specificity that Pamphila lacks because her poetic existence transcends this one poem (not to mention the fact that “Lesbia” may be a veiled reference to a notorious Roman matron).16 Readers familiar with Catullus’s slender corpus will recognize this Lesbia as a beloved obsessively returned to in numerous other poems. To judge by the persistence with which the Augustan elegists link Lesbia to Catullus, it is clear that ancient readers of subsequent generations had read enough of these poems to identify her conclusively as the poet’s mistress.17 Familiarity with even one or two of these other poems would be enough to lend this Lesbia a greater sense of solidity than the long-forgotten Pamphila ever had. Once this “Lesbia” materializes mid-poem, those familiar with the Catullan corpus begin to suspect that the male speaker of 51 might just be Catullus himself. The final stanza confirms such suspicions. Here the poet-speaker addresses himself by name, putting the indelible stamp of his own subjectivity on Sappho’s poem. Whatever else it may mean, the declaration “Leisure, Catullus, is harmful to you” (13) poses the Latin poet, once and for all, as the translation’s speaker, establishing both this closing monologue and the Sap-


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phic verses that precede it as Catullus’s own. This shift in speakers requires Catullus to inhabit not just Sappho’s psyche, but her disintegrating body, running himself through a gauntlet of physical ordeals: his words dry up, his tongue goes numb, his body burns, his ears ring, and finally, his very life is metaphorically snuffed out as twin nights descend to blind him with passion.18 By assuming the battered form of the lamenting poetess, Catullus infects himself with the erotic malady she had so vividly described. This bold choice to inhabit Sappho’s poem and voluntarily contract her symptoms has consequences that reverberate beyond the limits of the translation itself. The Sapphic malaise to which the poet purposefully exposes himself in 51 does not stay contained within the bounds of this translation. As we shall see, it seeps beyond the limits of these Sapphic stanzas to assault the poet-speaker in the poem that precedes 51 in the surviving collection. I join a number of critics in viewing this poem (50) as the translation’s versified preface.19 The discussion that follows will build upon this premise and, perhaps, strengthen it in the process. Hesterno, Licini, die otiosi multum lusimus in meis tabellis, ut convenerat esse delicatos: scribens versiculos uterque nostrum ludebat numero modo hoc modo illoc, reddens mutua per iocum atque vinum. atque illinc abii tuo lepore incensus, Licini, facetiisque, ut nec me miserum cibus iuvaret nec somnus tegeret quiete ocellos, sed toto indomitus furore lecto versarer, cupiens videre lucem, ut tecum loquerer simulque ut essem. at defessa labore membra postquam semimortua lectulo iacebant, hoc, iucunde, tibi poema feci, ex quo perspiceres meum dolorem. Nunc audax cave sis, precesque nostras, oramus, cave despuas, ocelle, ne poenas Nemesis reposcat a te; est vemens dea: laedere hanc caveto. Yesterday, Licinius, being at leisure, we played a good deal on my writing tablets as we had decided to be frivolous. Each one of us, writing sweet little verses, would play now with this meter now with that, giving and taking in the midst of joking and drinking. And I left there so inflamed by your wit

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and your charm, Licinius, that food ceased to please me in my misery nor did sleep cover my eyes with repose but, untamed by madness, I tossed about the bed, wishing to see the light so that I could speak with you and simply be with you. But afterward when my limbs, tired from their labor, were lying half-dead upon my little couch, I made this poem, my darling, for you, so that through it you might perceive my pain. Now, I beg you, apple of my eye, do not be rash and reject my prayers lest Nemesis exact punishments from you. She is a vengeful goddess: take care you don’t offend her.

Poem 50 is the author’s wistful recollection of a day spent hard at play penning verses with a certain Licinius. We can be almost certain that his fellow versifier is C. Licinius Calvus Macer, another prominent first-century poet whom Catullus mentions several times, always with evident affection.20 As the poem begins, these two are shown in a flurry of activity, penning verse after verse on the author’s writing tablets. What kind of poems are these two writing exactly? The verses are described in terms that, though far from technical, give us a good idea. First, there is the lusimus (“we played,” 2), introduced in line two and repeated three lines later (uterque . . . ludebat, 4–5). This verb commonly referred to any kind of light, and especially erotic, poetry. We also learn that the poets are fiddling around with various meters (uterque . . . /ludebat numero modo hoc modo illoc, 4–5) and the erotic language that saturates these lines suggests they might be racy. The word ludere alone might connote something vaguely naughty, if not altogether indecent, for it could also be used to refer to sexual play. Next, there is the detail that this writing session came about because the two poets had agreed to be delicatos (“wanton, frivolous, frisky,” 3). This adjective has more than a hint of lasciviousness to it, setting the tone for the passionate outburst that follows. The diminutive versiculos in the next line adds to this suggestive tone, chiming cloyingly with the delicatos and reinforcing the idea of whimsical eroticism. Finally, the iocum atque vinum of line 6 sets the scene of composition firmly within the context of the convivium, a setting that is prone to erupt into wantonness. This convivial setting likewise hints at a generic particularity of these verses: the symposium was the scene of lyric and elegiac composition par excellence. Taken together, these descriptive terms imply that the friends are trying their hand at composing the kind of light, erotic lyrics and epigrams that the Greeks had sung at their symposia, one of which is showcased in the Sapphic poem that follows. Another detail in 50 leads the reader to conclude that 51 itself was the culminating product of this day of poetic play. At line seven, the poet-speaker returns home “fired up” (incensus) by his friend’s “wit” and “charm” and suffers a sleepless night, so crazed is he with desire to see his friend once more. But


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just as this self-described “wretch” (miserum, 9) seems on the point of total collapse, his limbs strewn “half-dead” upon the bed, he lights upon a cure: poetry. “I made this poem (poema), my darling, for you,” he says to Calvus, “so that through it you might perceive my pain (dolorem).” The poema of this statement could certainly refer to poem 50 itself, which catalogues the poet’s dolor in vivid detail. But the marked Greekness of “poema” has led some to suspect that it also gestures ahead to the translation that follows.21 Poem 51 could likewise be described as a a document of Catullus’s “pain” or “grief,” for it is a sumptuous description of its Catullan speaker’s wretchedness in the face of Lesbia, an ille and otium alike. If “poema” points ahead to the translation that follows, poem 50 is then functioning as a versified preface that tells the tale of how that translation came into being. When 50 is read in this way, 51 becomes the triumphant endpoint in a contest between two authors who spent an ecstatically creative day translating Greek lyrics and elegies. Reading these adjacent poems as a pair, one begins to notice that they both tell much the same story in much the same way.22 At first, surface differences might dissuade us from exploring such similarities. In 50, Lesbia is nowhere in sight and neither is the godlike ille. But the poems’ narrative and emotional structures are similar. Both are scenes about love (for Lesbia, for Calvus) that is prompted or expressed through a scene of writing (translating Sappho’s poem, scribbling verses with Calvus). The events of 50 are presented as a scene of passion that unfolds almost directly in parallel to the translation that follows. This sort of erotic crisis is a common enough scenario in Catullus’s corpus, but the details of how the passion develops in these particular poems are remarkably close. Both outline a painfully physical response to unrequited love that reduces the speaker to raw anatomy. They chart the progress of what appears to be an erotic illness as it ravages the Catullan speaker’s senses and reduces him to a state of near death. In neither poem is there any hint in the opening lines of the trouble to come. The first strophe of 51 presents an ethereal scene of romantic communion as the ille calmly basks in Lesbia’s presence. This opening gambit culminates in line five with the beloved “sweetly laughing.” But in the second half of that same line, the poem takes a sudden turn as the speaker reveals his own reaction to this scene, beginning by describing himself as misero (“wretched”). Poem 50 includes a remarkably similar shift. For its first six lines, it is nothing but fun and games, detailing the pleasures the poet derived from his friend’s creative company. Then, the speaker begins to describe what happens upon their separation and, as in 51, the lightness of the opening is swiftly disrupted by the speaker’s self-declared wretchedness. The speaker in both

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poems uses the same adjective, miserus, to describe his state upon being separated from the object of his affections (misero, 51.5/ miserum, 50.9). In each case, this word marks a tonal shift, the point in the poem when tranquility gives way to a painful depth of feeling. In both cases, the speaker’s misery is brought on by passion figured as flame or heat. A “slender flame” (tenuis . . . flamma, 9–10) drips down the Catullan speaker’s limbs in poem 51 while in 50, he leaves the scene of their poetic games “fired up” (incensus) by Calvus’s wit and charm. Once this fire has been kindled, it proceeds to spark a complete bodily breakdown that culminates in a malaise described as a state of near death. After the fire overtakes the poet’s limbs, the erotic symptoms of 51 progress through other parts of his body: his senses are “snatched” away (6) and he loses the power to speak (9) or to hear anything but the ringing in his own ears (11). This loss of function culminates in a vividly poetic image: the poet’s eyes being covered by “twin night” (11–12), a definitive darkness that is also, of course, an image of death. Though the symptoms are not identical, this same basic pattern of physical degeneration likewise ravages the speaker in poem 50. First, Catullus loses the power to eat, then to sleep. As the night wears on, his “half-dead” (semimortua, 15) limbs, “exhausted from their labor” (defessa labore, 14), lie strewn on the bed, turning the bedchamber into a veritable tomb. By this point in both poems, the speaker has become a detached witness to his own suffering, dissecting his own misery and cataloguing his body as a set of malfunctioning parts. The erotic illness that Catullus purposefully contracted in 51 by assuming the role of Sappho seems to be virulently contagious: it has seeped into that poem’s companion piece to infect its speaker with a remarkably similar malady. It seems that Catullus has learned his Sappho all too thoroughly, allowing the form of erotic selfhood she modeled to seep under his skin and into his own poem. This translation/preface pair reveals the intimacy of translation in action, showing its power to reshape the target language and culture. I would even go so far as to propose that in this pair of poems we witness the emergence of a new kind of literary character that had never before been seen in Latin, though it would become a staple of Latin love poetry in the generation after Catullus. This miser poeta, as I shall call him, is a literary persona identified with the poet himself who combines erotic vulnerability with rhetorical potency. We see a hint of this wretch in Aedituus’s perishing speaker (along with other early erotic Latin epigrams). But these poems do not identify the suffering speaker so closely with their author, nor do they display the razor’s edge play between erotic (or narrative) vulnerability and poetic (or rhetorical) potency that is central to 50, 51, and also Sappho’s fragment.


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This shift from narrative to rhetorical potency has been discussed by Neil Hertz in terms of a so-called “sublime turn” he derives from a reading of Longinus, whose tract on sublimity is our source for Sappho’s fragment. Hertz describes this sublime turn as the moment when “Sappho-as-victimizedbody” rises from near death to be reconstituted as “Sappho-as-poetic-force.”23 The little we know about the final strophe of Sappho’s original suggests that it showed her recuperating from a violent erotic malaise. In the few words remaining from her lost fourth strophe, the speaker collects herself from the shattered fragments of her broken body and begins to speak once more, in sententious tones. “But even a poor person . . . ,” she begins, shifting out of emotional autopsy to assume the authoritative voice of collective wisdom (31.17). In the context of that poem, we can imagine how the speaker might have used this aphoristic appeal to someone worse off than herself as encouragement to carry on in the wake of her erotic collapse. No matter what she said exactly in the lines that followed, this truncated phrase makes it clear that she has assumed a newfound rhetorical potency in the wake of her erotic malaise. The speaker whose tongue had only just snapped now speaks once again in stalwart tones. This shift from shattered, silenced body to vigorous poetic speech is the sublime turn that Hertz describes, the moment when the literal disintegration of Sappho’s malfunctioning body gives way to a “figurative reconstitution” effected by the force of her rehabilitated voice. Interestingly, the place where the sublime turn happens in Sappho—the boundary between her third and fourth strophes—is just the place where the Latin version veers away from a straightforward redaction of Sappho into an inimitably Catullan coda. Rather than an aphoristic evocation of poverty, the Latin stanza finds Catullus addressing himself and lamenting the destructive power of otium. The audacity of this departure has been a primary reason why many critics refuse to entertain this closing stanza as an integral part of poem 51. But I would contend that this narcissistic shift away from Sappho and toward a vociferously speaking Catullus is, itself, modeled after fragment 31’s original sublime turn.24 From this perspective, it becomes clear that the translation does not abandon its source but harnesses a pivotal moment in the Greek poem’s compositional architecture to construct its Latin translator as a poetic force of his own. Catullus’s closing stanza amplifies Sappho’s sublime turn, heightening both the severity of the bodily collapse and the potency of the voice that emerges from it. Like Sappho’s, his third stanza skids to a definitive halt. His speaker, on the other hand, is not just “a little short of dying” but is quite certainly dead, both eyes covered over with a “twin night” that shrouds the speaker in a metaphoric demise. But in his fourth stanza, Catullus resumes

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speaking, addressing himself with a sententious forbearance that recalls the final line of Sappho’s fragment. The stanza’s closing truism, posing otium as the destroyer of “formerly happy cities and kings,” replicates Sappho’s “poor person” quip. Rather than her line’s level-headed encouragement, Catullus opts for heckling self-rebuke, explaining in a series of anaphoric lines that his passion for otium is getting the best of him. The stanza’s threefold evocation of otium is, indeed, a stark departure from Sappho’s original, using a characteristically Roman word to highlight a characteristically Roman concern over the dangers of overindulging in “leisure.” But distinct from Sappho’s poem as this otium stanza may be, it remains structurally true to its source. Catullus, too, revives at this juncture to begin a newly fortified monologue that opens the poem beyond the confines of its erotic triangle. In so doing, he mirrors the original’s sublime turn, showing a speaker harnessing rhetorical strength from bodily deterioration. The boldness of his own self-castigating voice intensifies the vocal power Sappho musters at the end of fr. 31. What is more, this stanza exults in its own rhetorical intensity, putting on a peacocklike display of poetic prowess. The striking polyptoton of the otium that begins each line, the subtle use of rhyme and sound patterning (exsultas/reges // beatas/urbes), the lightning-swift shift from micro to macro scales (Catulle// reges . . . urbes) prove this victim of otium to be a poetic force to be reckoned with. Beyond this, the stanza’s self-apostrophe (Otium, Catulle) conjures a new self out of Sappho’s poem, a male and Roman self named Catullus whom the reader now understands to have been the speaker of the preceding stanzas. Catullus’s assumption of this newly powerful voice hinges on a double scene of bodily fragmentation. In an act of what we might call sublime translation, the Latin poet assumes poetic power and voice from the shattering collapse of his source’s original speaker, revising the original “shift from Sappho-as-victimized body to Sappho-as-poetic-force” to a shift in which the victimized translator emerges as a poetic dynamo from the rubble of Sappho’s Greek. In the immediate narrative context, this voice emerges from Catullus’s disintegrating body as it was presented in stanza three. But in the context of the scene of intimate reading that this translation implies, the Catullus of this stanza rises from shattered remnants of Sappho’s poem, a source he willfully fragments in the course of his own divergent translation. Despite the “twin nights” that threaten to overtake him at the end of his third strophe, Catullus is not destroyed in the process of penning his translation. Rather, he uses his translation to bring himself poetically to life, to assume Sappho’s words as his own and to use them to prove his own poetic power. As it is enacted in Sappho’s poem, the sublime turn is, fundamentally, “a


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transfer of power, reversing passive and active elements.”25 Catullus’s translation enacts this shift in the most dramatic and self-serving way, reversing the relationship between Sappho as actively-creating poet and himself as passively-receptive translator. Usurping the role of the author, he erases Sappho from her own poem, constructing himself as a poetic force from the ruins of her Greek.26 It is, perhaps, none too surprising to find a modified version of Sappho’s sublime turn in Catullus’s translation. Less expected is the discovery of this same sublime turn at the end of that translation’s preface. In poem 50, the speaker likewise undergoes a violent physical collapse only to revive in the closing lines and speak in newly commanding tones. As we have seen, its scene of erotic distress skids to a halt with the speaker’s limbs lying “half dead” upon his couch, a posture that replicates the speaker’s collapse in the third strophes of 51 and 31. But just as in those poems, the grim scene takes a sudden turn when its poet-lover suddenly rallies to speak with renewed vigor. As in 51, this shift from poet-as-victimized-body to poet-as-rhetorical-force hinges on an apostrophe, this one addressed to Calvus. The apostrophe of hoc, iucunde, tibi poema feci (16) mirrors the self-apostrophe at the start of 51’s fourth stanza (otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est, 16). Despite the tender form of address, the tone becomes increasingly virulent as the poem reaches its end. Catullus rebukes Calvus, warning him “not to despise his prayers,” lest Nemesis exact retribution. The speaker of these final lines hardly resembles the man who was helplessly splayed on his couch several lines earlier. This Catullus takes the commanding position of rebuke, an authoritative, moralizing stance that recalls both 51’s truisms about the destructive powers of otium and 31’s aphoristic meditation on the lot of the poor. In all three cases, the speaker at the end of the poem assumes an authoritative voice fortified by the commanding clichés of popular opinion. Catullus’s translation and its preface both conclude with a version of the sublime turn that originated with Sappho, showing the poet-speaker transformed from victimized body to poetic force. But the power inherent in the voice that emerges from these poems is decidedly ambiguous. Though the Catullan speaker of poem 51’s fourth stanza is more vivacious than a dead man, he remains awash in self-pity and despair. Much of Catullus’s strength as a poet comes from his mastery of this ambiguous voice that moves between rhetorical strength and narrative vulnerability. A certain kind of miser amator had long been familiar from the stock “young man” of Roman comedy, where miser was the adjective of choice to describe an overwrought lover.27 This comic adulescens was a desperate amator (“lover”) and often a desperate fool who staggered across the stage ejaculating variations on ego sum miser (“I

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am a wretch”) with hilarious frequency.28 But unlike these evidently fictional stock characters with flamboyantly Greek names, Catullus’s wretched lover is identified with the poet himself. This miser poeta cries out not from a stage decorated as some phantasmagoric Ephesus or Athens but from the space of otium (50.1, 51.16–18), a paradigmatically Roman setting. He is not only a Roman speaker acting within a Roman scene; he is posed as the author himself exuberantly advertising his emotional desolation. What is more, this wretched poet’s salvation comes not through the machinations of some clever slave, but through his own poetic prowess. The verbal fireworks of comedy’s “clever slave” (servus callidus) are here replaced by the rhetorical wizardry of the poet himself.29 A closer precursor to this Catullan character is the victimized lover who had begun to cry out from the wilderness of erotic epigram some fifty years earlier. As far as we know, those poems represent the first time a first-person speaker adopted this stance of erotic malaise in Latin literature. They are aglow with Latin-speaking personae complaining of having been singed by the fires of love. In Valerius Aedituus’s epigram, we encountered one of the most striking instances of this posture. That poem’s speaker cannot summon the language to express his affection for Pamphila. The moment he tries to reveal the love he harbors in his heart, “the words evaporate” from his lips and he is struck by an erotic fever that reduces him to the state of an animal in heat. By the end of the poem, this poor lover’s fate is sealed. As the closing word, pereo (“I perish”), implies, he is doomed to death-by-eros, assaulted by his inability to voice his arousal. Unlike in Sappho 31 and its Catullan variations, this speaker’s demise is definitive. But, despite this conclusively dire ending, this poem hinges upon a shift from erotic victimization to rhetorical power that is similar to that seen in Catullus 50 and 51. At the same time as these lines recount the lover’s failure to speak to Pamphila, they display the poet’s success at putting that failure into writing. The breakdown that leaves the lover speechless provides the poet with the fodder to express his cares most vividly in verse. This poem is, as its opening word declares, centrally concerned with “speaking.” But the speech at issue here is as much poetic as amorous. The cadences of these two couplets are a direct outgrowth of the speaker’s erotic demise. The wretch who perishes from his inability to speak is, in some way, synonymous with the poet who draws from this wretched scene inspiration for his own poetic declaration. We can theorize that the hint of Sapphic sublimity in this epigram results from Aedituus’s own intimate reading of Sappho, for his poem clearly draws upon the erotic malaise showcased in fragment 31 (failing speech, flowing


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sweat, etc.). This poem is not a translation per se, but its author is clearly drawing inspiration from Sappho 31, which he has read closely. Still, we cannot say that this epigram showcases a miser poeta like that in poems 50 and 51, for its speaker is not directly identified with Aedituus himself. The poem maintains a rift between its suffering lover and the Latin poet who puts this experience into words. Also distinct from Catullus is the poem’s lack of cues to locate it within a specifically Roman setting.30 The Aedituus epigram hovers in a liminal space between Italy and Greece, refusing full absorption into its new context. As this example makes clear, Catullus was by no means alone in his attempts to expand the repertoire of Latin erotic poetry through translation. He was working within a tradition that had already gained a certain amount of intimacy with Greek lyric and epigram and that had, for some time, been using the language of poets like Sappho as a way to formulate new modes of speaking—and feeling—in Latin verse. But the fact that his work lacks absolute novelty does not diminish his achievement. His miser poeta takes the posture of the erotically incapacitated but rhetorically powerful poet-speaker to a new level. Never before had miser been applied with such directness and intensity to a first-person persona associated with a Roman author himself. And Catullus does so with an almost manic abandon: he uses the word miser thirty-one times in the modern collection, and in over half of these instances (seventeen) he applies it to himself.31 The intensity of Catullus’s experimentation with this posture made a powerful impression on love poets of the generations that followed: his miser poeta’s combination of erotic victimization with rhetorical potency would become the affective crux of the elegiac lover.32 Tantis fluctuat ipsa malis: Poems 65 and 66 Etsi me assiduo defectum cura dolore sevocat a doctis, Hortale, virginibus, nec potis est dulcis Musarum expromere fetus mens animi, tantis fluctuat ipsa malis– namque mei nuper Lethaeo in gurgite fratris pallidulum manans alluit unda pedem, Troia Rhoeteo quem subter litore tellus ereptum nostris obterit ex oculis. . . . . . . numquam ego te, vita frater amabilior, aspiciam posthac? at certe semper amabo, semper maesta tua carmina morte canam, qualia sub densis ramorum concinit umbris

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Daulias, absumpti fata gemens Ityli.– sed tamen in tantis maeroribus, Hortale, mitto haec expressa tibi carmina Battiadae, ne tua dicta vagis nequiquam credita ventis effluxisse meo forte putes animo, ut missum sponsi furtivo munere malum procurrit casto virginis e gremio, quod miserae oblitae molli sub veste locatum, dum adventu matris prosilit, excutitur, atque illud prono praeceps agitur decursu, huic manat tristi conscius ore rubor. Even if care calls me, exhausted with constant grief, away from the learned virgins, Hortalus, and the mind of my soul is not able to bring forth sweet fruits of the Muses, it is wave-tossed by such hardships—for recently the flowing wave washed the pale little foot of my brother in the Lethaean whirlpool, my brother whom the Trojan earth now covers below the Rhoetean shore, snatched from our sight . . . never, brother more lovable than life, will I see you hereafter? But certainly I will always love you, I will always sing sad songs on account of your death, songs such as the Daulian bird sang beneath the thick-set shadows of the branches, lamenting the death of her departed Itylus. But nevertheless, in the midst of such lamentation, Hortalus, I send you these translated verses of the Son of Battus, lest you think that your words, entrusted in vain to the wandering winds have, perchance, flown from my mind, as an apple sent as a secret gift from a suitor rolls forth from the chaste lap of a maiden, which having been placed beneath the soft dress of the forgetful wretch is shaken forth when she leaps up at the arrival of her mother and the apple is driven headlong in a downward course, while a self-conscious blush suffuses her sorrowful face.

Poem 65 points forward to its companion piece far more clearly than poem 50, and most commentators confidently identify it as that translation’s epistolary preface.33 Whereas 50 makes no mention of translation per se and might stand on its own as a self-contained drama, 65 explicitly poses itself as the prehistory of a translation, describing the gloomy circumstances that lead its author to send Hortalus “translated verses of the son of Battus (i.e., Callimachus)” (15). The Latin version of Callimachus’s Lock of Berenice that immediately follows seems, logically, to be the poem referenced by this phrase, a hunch borne out by the intricate networks of connection commentators have traced between the two poems.34 Stripped down to its central message, 65 would be a somewhat a dull companion piece that served to explain the genesis of the translation it accompanies. Its paraphrasable content might be summarized as follows: “Grief about


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my brother’s death has kept me from composing poetry, but lest you think I’ve forgotten your request, Hortalus, I’m sending you some verses translated from Callimachus.” But poem 65 far exceeds this humdrum paraphrase. Its power lies largely in the way it spins its simple message nearly beyond the point of recognition through a series of concatenating ornaments and tropes. Its stylistic complexity is our first cue that this poem has absorbed some of the style and spirit of the translation it was written to accompany. As D.S.F. Thomson notes, this poem shows signs of having been “influenced” by the translation it accompanies, for it too is composed in “a somewhat ‘Alexandrian’ manner,” citing in particular the “typically Hellenistic simile” that rounds it out.35 In the discussion that follows, I focus on one particular aspect of this “Alexandrian manner,” examining features of the translation that chime with the sorrowful poetic ego unveiled in 65. Catullus, I propose, channels perspectives, postures, and speech patterns modeled in Callimachus’s poem to fashion the seductively lamenting voice that cries out from his preface. When we read the translation alongside its prelude, we catch a fascinating glimpse of Catullus in the process of expanding his own emotional repertoire through lessons learned from Berenice and her histrionic lock. Poem 66 (The Lock of Berenice or Coma in Latin) is a distinctly womancentered poem. It presents the intricacies of Ptolemaic politics from an outrageously slanted female perspective. It tells the improbably true tale of how a lock of hair shorn from the head of Berenice II, an Egyptian queen, wound up being “discovered” as a new constellation by the court astronomer. The relevant historical background is enough to fill volumes. But the lock who narrates the tale eschews military history and imperial politics to take us on a subjective tour of the Ptolemaic court’s emotional architecture. Her narration focuses almost entirely on the royal women’s deceptions, hopes, and fears. Historically momentous events are consistently reinterpreted in terms of the joys and sorrows they elicit in the lock and the women who surround her (most importantly, Queen Berenice herself). The king’s campaign in Assyria is absorbed into a tale about the “nocturnal struggle” (a euphemism for erotic tussling, 66.13) that took place between the departing general and his new bride. Ptolemy’s subsequent victory plays out as the catastrophic severing of an affectionate tress that Berenice had vowed in exchange for her husband’s safe return. The astronomer Conon’s discovery of a new constellation—a discovery that cleverly assured the political stability of a new royal couple—becomes an account of the lock’s anxiety at being separated from her queen. This politically marginal perspective is comically overdetermined by the lock’s quite literally marginal subject position. Inhabiting, as she does, the periphery of the Queen’s body, this lock views everything in appropriately

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marginal terms. Every politically significant event this lock relays is transformed into a treatise on her own emotional life and that of her companions. Even as it focuses exclusively on homosocial bonds between brothers and sodales (“companions”), poem 65 likewise immerses us in a narrowly feminized world. From the start, it aligns its grieving male speaker with the opposite sex. As early as the second couplet, Catullus assimilates himself with his mens (“mind,” 4), a feminine word in Latin. Such grammatical feminization would not be particularly significant in itself, but there is much in these opening lines that reinforces the sense of the male speaker’s femininity. He declares that “the mind of his soul” (mens animi) “is not able to bring forth sweet fruits of the Muses, it is wave-tossed (ipsa fluctuat) by such great hardships.” With this odd declaration, the poet creates for himself a feminine doppelganger, his suffering mens, whose gender is foregrounded by the feminine ending of the emphatic pronoun ipsa. The effeminacy of this mens goes beyond grammar, for it is here discussed in terms of two strikingly feminine activities: giving birth and ceding to a tsunami of emotion. This phrasing metaphorically poses the mens as a barren womb that cannot produce poetic progeny, which are pointedly described as the fruits (or “offspring”) of the Muses. The sentence then shifts to figure this mens as tossing upon a wave of grief. In an image reminiscent of poem 64’s description of Ariadne gazing out at the departing Theseus and being “wave-tossed (fluctuat) by great surges of care” (64.62), this mens “is wave-tossed” (fluctuat) by a brother’s departure to Hades. Such watery imagery was typically used in Latin poetry to describe female figures being flooded by emotion, and it solidifies the feminization intimated by the feminine gender of mens.36 In the course of these four lines, a male poet’s very “mind” has been transformed into a helpless Hellenistic heroine. As the preface proceeds, Catullus continues to present himself and his grieving mind in feminine terms through arresting figurative contortions. When he turns to address his dead brother in the middle of the poem, he promises that he will always sing sad songs because of his death, like “the Daulian bird” (Daulias, 13), or “nightingale” mourning the death of Itylis. According to Greek myth, the nightingale began life as the princesses Procne (or, alternately, her sister Philomela). These sisters were turned into avian symbols of grief after Procne killed her own son Itylus to take vengeance on Tereus who had raped Philomela, then torn out her tongue. In likening his own “sad songs” to the nightingale’s mournful cry, Catullus figuratively poses himself as an especially abject set of female protagonists. Such figurative feminization continues when he turns back to Hortalus in the second half of the poem, explaining that he is sending his addressee Callimachean verses “lest you think your words, entrusted in vain to the wandering winds have, per-


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chance, flowed from my mind” (17–18). In the simile that follows, he goes on to compare these evaporated words to an apple that rolls out of a virgin’s lap when she leaps up at the arrival of her mother (19–24). This simile inverts the opening image of the barren mens, presenting the poet’s mind as a virginal lap from which might roll an apple, common symbol of fertility. Though ostensibly a poem about a brother mourning his brother (and sending a translation to his friend), 65 is saturated with imagery that feminizes its Catullan speaker. This same eccentric figuration likewise links his loss of his brother to erotic scenarios: the barrenness of the Muses, the floods of Hellenistic heartache, the groaning of a nightingale who had once been a victim of rape, and the suggestive rolling of an apple from a virgin’s lap are all images that call forth thoughts of sex, not of grief. What prompts this eruption of the erotic into a poem about mourning? At least one answer to this question might be poem 66, the translation the Catullan speaker of 65 has completed to send to Hortalus. In the context of this translation-preface pair, the eroticized mourner of 65 finds his most immediate inspiration in the portrait of Queen Berenice presented in 66. As pictured by the lock, the Egyptian queen is shown in the grips of more or less the same trauma Catullus details in poem 65, lamenting the departure, and possible death in battle, of her brother (in fact her cousin). These siblings were, in Egyptian fashion, also man and wife, so Berenice’s attachment to Ptolemy is twofold. Both the fraternal and the conjugal aspects of their relationship are drawn out by the narration. As the lock tells it, Berenice filled the palace with “manifold lamentation” (19), not so much because she was grieving her lover’s absence from the “voided bedchamber” (21) as because of the “mournful departure of her dear brother” (22). In the act of describing the queen as being less ruled by sexual passion than by a sisterly sense of duty, the lock highlights the fact that brother and lover are, in this case, one and the same. According to the lock, the queen was tremendously distraught: quam penitus maestas exedit cura medullas! ut tibi tunc toto pectore sollicitae sensibus ereptis mens excidit! (23–25)37 How deeply care ate away your mournful marrow! How then did your mind fail after the senses were snatched from you, distressed to your very core.

Catullus’s self-description in 65 picks up on the language this passage uses to describe Berenice’s grief at her brother’s parting. As the preface begins, its speaker declares that “care” (cura, 65.1) is calling him away from the “learned virgins” (65.2), a phrase that echoes the lock’s declaration that “care” (cura,

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66.23) is eating away the queen’s marrow. As we have seen, Catullus’s sorrowful confession focuses on his mens (mens animi, 65.4). This organ is likewise the site of Berenice’s sorrow for it is, specifically, her “mind” (mens, 66.25) that fails when care attacks her innards. As she is here described, Berenice sounds less like a loyal sister or wife than a passionate lover who cannot suppress her mounting desire for her absent spouse. The snatched senses, the mental turmoil, the eaten-out marrow are the unmistakable symptoms of ancient heartache, symptoms we saw on display in Catullus 50 and 51 as well as Sappho’s fragment 31. As the lock tells the tale, we are given every reason to believe that Berenice actually suffers not from grief, but from lust. It is not, the lock suggests, a brother’s departure this new bride mourns, so much as her empty wedding bed (21) and the distance separating her from her husband’s “dear body” (31–32). Poem 66’s ironic conflation of desire and grief has made many commentators reluctant to explore it in relation to the supposedly sincere emotions expressed in 65. But this seemingly incompatible complex of emotions is equally central to Catullus’s self-representation in the preface poem, where the pairing of grief and sex is likewise a guiding trope. Poem 65 begins, like 66, with a sexualized mention of “virgins” that puts us in mind of their deflowering (66.14; 65.2). It ends on a similar image as well, a six-line simile in which an apple sent to a virgin by her betrothed rolls suggestively out of her lap. The poem’s final word is rubor (23), referring to this virgin’s “blush,” a conspicuous marker of ancient eroticism that here “suffuses,” or, more literally, “drips down” (manat, 23) her cheeks, displacing the tearful sorrow of the opening with a very different emotion. In the course of twenty-three lines, the preface has made its own wayward swerve away from barren grief toward an evocative display of productive eroticism. While the tone of the central apostrophe to the brother registers as more wrenchingly “heartfelt” and “direct” than anything in 66, the tone of the whole is equally ambiguous. In both cases, outpourings of wholehearted grief are undercut by a coquettish amatory subtext. However sincere or insincere their grief might be, Catullus and Berenice are both mourning absent brothers and, in both cases, their grief is aligned with erotic distress. While Catullus speaks in the first person, Berenice’s sorrows are expressed in the voice of a talkative lock (coma). It is this lock’s voice that dominates poem 66 with its over-the-top rhetoric and histrionic flights. While Catullus’s overall situation in 65 runs parallel to that of the grieving Berenice, the voice in which he expresses his grief appears to have taken a lesson from this lock. As the preface continues beyond the opening lines, it is the voice of this coma rather than her queen that continually erupts into a recognizable sorrow.


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The coma is endowed with an intensely emotional voice. This is a patently rhetorical emotion, to be sure, and it first manifests in the form of elaborately orchestrated syntax. The poem begins with a stately account of Conon’s miracle, couched in a well-structured period. At this point, there is little trace of the emotionally ravaged affect that will come to dominate the coma’s monologue. As the poem begins, she wends her way through a stunning fourteenline sentence that encapsulates (in reverse!) her bizarre biography: the marriage of Ptolemy and Berenice (13–14); the king’s departure for Assyria (11–12); his wife’s dedication of the lock in exchange for his safe return (9–10); the cutting of the lock (8–9); and the court astronomer Conon’s discovery of the missing tress among the constellations (1–7). This intricate tour de force proves the lock to be a formidable speaker whose mobilization of rhetorical fireworks is matched by her grasp of structural subtleties. Indeed, she speaks with the noble bearing we might expect of a royal constellation. But during the course of this long sentence, her focus progressively narrows, moving from the cosmic sweep of omnia . . . lumina (1), to the sphere of the divine (multis . . . dearum, 9), to international politics (vastatum . . . finis Assyrios, 12), to royal relations (dulcia nocturnae . . . vestigia rixae, 13), to end with the deflowering of a single virgin (de virgineis . . . exuviis, 14). Already, this wellspoken lock’s true concerns are bubbling to the surface, as she diverts a tale about the restructuring of the very universe into a story about a relationship between a queen and her own tress. Once this sentence devolves into a plaint for Berenice’s lost virginity, the lock never recovers the measured distance of her opening period. Her controlled phrasing now devolves into an unfettered profession of adoration for her queen and grief at their parting. With the mention of “virginal spoils” on line fourteen, she becomes precipitously sidetracked from her tale, turning her attentions to the trumped-up fearfulness of new brides. This digression is couched in a pair of wild-eyed rhetorical questions that prompt a transition into the raggedly rhetorical lines that follow. From this moment on, the lock’s style of speaking is marked by jagged shifts and inconsistencies. The rest of her speech pulses unevenly with breathless exclamations, wrenching rhetorical questions, and disjointed apostrophes. Far from the aloof celestial body she seems to be in the opening lines, this lock is mired in irrepressibly human emotions as she gives voice to a digressive torrent of passions. The Catullan speaker of 65 undergoes a syntactical/emotional evolution similar to the lock’s, moving from a measured distance into unruly intensity. He launches his own melancholy tale with the distanced restraint of supremely intricate syntax: the entire poem is couched within a single concessive sentence that is interrupted by the five-line apostrophe to his dead

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brother. He too uses his rhetorically complex opening to schematically outline the essentials of his plot, explaining to Hortalus that he has been prevented from producing poetry by his brother’s death. But, just as the lock’s speech deteriorates into a series of emotionally laden outbursts, Catullus’s sober opening devolves into an upsurge of personal sentiment. At line 10, a sudden apostrophe to his dead brother interrupts the gorgeous unfolding of his concessive sentence. This shift in speakers is accompanied by an abrupt change in style and tone. As he attempts to verbally connect with his lost relation, his language becomes more straightforward and direct. He takes on a more intimate and personal tone, dispensing with the rhetorical distancing devices to which he had earlier been prone. His sentences become clipped (e.g., at certe semper amabo), and their structure more closely maps onto the basic subject/object/verb structure of Latin prose (e.g., numquam ego te . . . / aspiciam posthac?, 10–11). In the course of the pathetic apostrophe to his brother (lines 9–13), the Catullan speaker assumes the distinctive timbre of the lock herself. This apostrophic intrusion recalls the lock’s habit of interrupting her own narrative flow to address interested parties, whether they be Jupiter (30, 48), Berenice (25, 39, 89), or Nemesis (71). The opening rhetorical question (numquam ego te . . . / aspiciam posthac?, 9–10) recalls the pair of similar questions that interrupted the lock’s architectonic opening (estne novis nuptis odio Venus? anne parentum/frustrantur falsis gaudia lacrimulis,/ubertim thalami quas intra limina fundunt? 15–17). The progression of this apostrophic passage as a whole reveals another lesson learned from the lock, for it wrenches us from pathetic bereavement (numquam . . . postquam?, 9–10) into tender affection (semper amabo, 10) and moves from the uncertain questioning of numquam . . . ? (“never  .  .  .  ?,” 1–10) into assured declamation semper (“always,” 11). This abrupt tonal movement recalls one of the lock’s most distinctive habits: her rapid-fire shifts from coy questioning into forceful proclamations. As he picks up this effect, Catullus even lapses into the coma’s own phrasing, his at certe semper amabo (10) echoing her at ego certe/ cognoram . . . magnanimam (66.25–26). His pathetic repetition of semper in the following line picks up on her penchant for epanalepsis (e.g., invita, o regina . . . invita, 39–40); and his pairing of amabilior with amabo (“more lovable/ I will love”) one line later recalls her fondness for pathetically twinning especially poignant words (adiuro/ adiurarit, 40/41; afore/afore, 75/76; semper/ semper, 87/88). The coma has a tendency to view her situation in melodramatic terms, a tendency that manifests through disproportionate comparisons. For instance, when she narrates the moment of her severing, she bombastically compares herself to Mt. Athos which, she asserts, likewise buckled beneath the strength


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of iron when Xerxes tunneled through it. Her exemplum is not just factually wrong, but is also inappropriate. No one other than the lock herself is liable to believe her plight justifies comparison with such larger-than-life episodes from the Persian Wars. Catullus’s simile in the frater apostrophe is likewise ill fitted to its occasion. The song of the Daulian bird is certainly sad; but the evocation of this myth conjures visions of incest, murder, and rape that seem incompatible with the poem’s scene of fraternal grief. Beyond this, the simile casts the Catullan speaker in a mythic role that seems excessively tragic. While losing a brother is a wrenching loss, that tragedy pales when compared to one of the most horrifying tales of Greco-Roman myth: Procne mourning a son that she herself had killed in vengeance for her husband’s rape and mutilation of her sister. Catullus’s cura seems incommensurate to such a gruesome and all-encompassing family tragedy. In opting for this comparandum, he picks up on the lock’s penchant for pathetic hyperbole, as well as her tendency toward self-dramatization. To complete this comparison of poem 65’s apostrophic upsurge to the language of the coma in 66, we must return to its first line, which borrows from the lock another small but significant stylistic gesture. Catullus’s phrasing here includes a juxtaposition of personal pronouns (ego te, 9) that mimics the physical intimacy these two brothers will never again know in the world beyond words. An inversion of this same poignant pair of pronouns features in 66, when the lock juxtaposes “I” and “you” to affirm her lifelong intimacy with her queen (te ego, 66.25). The Catullan speaker’s echo of this intimate phraseology points to a central lesson learned from poem 66: how to whittle the wide world down to the relationship between an “I” and a “you,” then find a language capable of expressing the pain that results from such a tight-knit pair’s separation. Once the nightingale simile rounds out the apostrophic aside, the poem shifts abruptly back into its earlier mode. Taking up where he left off, the speaker completes the concessive sentence his lament had cut short. His sed tamen picks up on the etsi of the opening line, rounding out the grammar of that disrupted clause. It is, I think, important that Catullus addresses Hortalus once again at this juncture. In so doing, he retreats from the feminine sphere of familial grief, reabsorbing the poem into the realm of homosocial exchange, a wholly acceptable form of intimacy among elite Roman men. In offering to send Hortalus his carmina Battiadae, the speaker domesticates his eccentric lament, transforming it from an exotic utterance into a familiar artifact. Thus defined as a munus and a prelude to a munus, respectively, the laments of 66 and 65 are reabsorbed into a recognizable context and reframed as resolutely male and soberly Roman gestures. But, in the end, the poem

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exceeds its status as a “gift,” for out of it evolves a template for a new sort of poetic ego who draws upon the coma’s exaggerated affect to formulate a poetic language in which to express his own grief. Catullus appropriates the peculiar pathos and dogged intimacy of the verses he translates to construct the startlingly emotive persona unveiled at the center of his poem. The Catullan speaker’s assumption of a new kind of poetic voice in this poem is, in fact, gestured toward internally. It is flagged by the nightingale simile that rounds out his apostrophe where he declares, “I will always sing sad songs on account of your death, songs such as the Daulian bird sang . . .” (11–12). Even as this simile offers one overt explanation for the source of Catullus’s “sad songs,” it covertly suggests another. His brother’s “death” is the immediate catalyst for the grief, but the voice that sings this grief, this comparison implies, has another origin. According to this myth, the nightingale’s song emerges out of metamorphosis, when the grieving Procne and Philomela are turned into birds. In comparing his own “songs” with those of a bird who took life from two sisters’ lamentations, Catullus gestures to his own metamorphosis into a poet who can speak his grief with help from Callimachus’s coma and her queen. But to say that Catullus speaks in cadences derived from the coma is not, in fact, the end of this story. Many of the most distinctly emotive features of the Catullan voice in the preface are drawn from portions of 66 that were modified by its translator. From what we can tell by comparing the Latin version to its fragmentary source, Catullus modified certain features of Callimachus’s poem. In particular, he seems to have heightened the affect of its speaker. The extent of these manipulations was revealed in an article Michael Putnam wrote over half a century ago.38 Putnam’s aim was to prove the Catullan origin of the contested ten lines referred to as the “nuptial rite” (ritus nuptialis) passage (79–88).39 He argues for the Catullan origins of the ritus by showing, through a detailed comparative reading, that its content, style, and imagery result from the singular “imaginative process” of the Latin poet. 40 In the course of making this argument, he reveals that other passages of uncontested Callimachean origin are likewise saturated with Catullan stylistics that draw out the familiar Catullan themes of “love and desertion.”41 So, for instance, he maintains that in the lines leading up to the nuptial rite passage, Catullus “makes a distinct effort to personalize the story and heighten the emotion” in a manner that is consistent with his other poems.42 Most important for my discussion is the fact that many of these instances of emotional heightening are the very techniques used in 65 to amplify the emotion of its Catullan speaker. Take, for instance pathetic repetition, a rhetorical strategy used frequently in the translation and once in 65 as the emo-


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tive crux of the speaker’s address to his dead brother (at certe semper amabo, / semper . . . canam, 65.10–11). It is not at all clear whether the proliferation of pathetic repetition that features in 66 is a technique Catullus drew from Callimachus or one he imposed on his source. Two instances come from the contested nuptial rite passage itself (onyx . . . onyx, 66.82–83; semper . . . semper, 66.87–88). Others reveal their Catullan origins when compared with the source (e.g., afore . . . afore, 66.75–76).43 The most famous instance of all (invita . . . invita, 66.39–40) comes from a passage Vergil would later allude to in the Aeneid. It remains a critical crux, for we cannot currently compare it to any remaining scraps of its source.44 It is not, then, so easy to say with certainty that Catullus “borrows” affective gestures from the coma, for the demonstrative coma herself may be, in part, his own invention. From one perspective, such Catullan interference would undermine the central argument of this chapter: that voicings discovered in translation afford this poet-translator the means to develop new affects of his own. From another perspective, such Catullan tweaks to his source are the inevitable first step to unleashing translation’s transformative potential: the source is invariably transformed in the process of translation, and it transforms the target language, literature, and culture in turn. From a third and final perspective, we might also perceive in this interpretive morass a productive ambiguity that I will explore in the following chapter. Modern critics tend to understand such instances of “rhetorical intensification” in poem 66 in two contrasting ways: either as Catullus imposing a stronger emotional flavor on the original, or as Catullus replicating in “exaggerated” fashion the tonal essence of his source.45 In other words, readers understand the rhetoricized affect of the coma as either Catullan or Callimachean. Much of this scholarly uncertainty stems from the fragmentary state of the Greek. But I suspect such ambiguity was built into this pair of poems and would register even if we were lucky enough to have all of the Aetia. The stylistic boundaries of the preface and its translation are blurred in such a way that the question of primacy becomes thorny. The reader is left to ponder a startling question: which came first, Callimachus or Catullus?


Constructing Callimachus

Catullus translated only two complete poems from the vast corpus of Greek literature available to him: one short lyric by Sappho (Catullus 51) and one long elegy by Callimachus (Catullus 66). Of the two, his translation of Sappho has garnered far more critical attention, in part because its choices seem to require more explanation. This poem’s deviations from its source have sparked such confusion that some have proposed that the last of its four Sapphic stanzas draws from a different poem that later editors mistakenly tacked onto the translation. While 51 unsettles modern readers by veering away from its source, poem 66 is what we moderns approvingly call a “faithful” translation.1 It conforms to modern translation norms that pose accuracy and fluency as marks of excellence.2 Beyond a few pointed departures, it offers a complete and unsupplemented rendering of a single Greek poem, and its techniques correspond to modern orthodoxy on a line-by-line level.3 Without going so far as to replicate its model word-for-word, this translation maintains a level of semantic and stylistic correspondence that coincides with the modern preference for smooth and accurate renderings. These familiar techniques have tended to lull modern readers into a false sense of comprehension that keeps us from asking the right questions of this poem. We are inclined to wonder why Catullus deviated from his Sapphic template in the final stanza of poem 51, but such a move was perfectly in keeping with Roman translation norms. From a Roman perspective, the more pressing question would be why poem 66 defies contemporary expectations for piecemeal translation by adhering so closely to its source? Latin poets of ambition did not write such poems, preferring to fragment, rearrange, supplement, or otherwise interfere with their templates. Within the literary


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landscape of Rome this poem is a manifest deviation, an aberrant experiment that cries out for explanation. Because it seems to modern readers a straightforward translation and not much more, poem 66 has not received considerable attention from Catullan scholars.4 Until recently it was more often studied by Hellenists, who hoped it might cobble the gaps that mar the fragmentary original.5 Such studies were guided by a single overriding inquiry: How can Catullus’s poem help us reconstruct the lost lines of Callimachus? In this chapter, I ask a variation on this customary query, drawing on a central insight from translation theory: that, frequently, translations create versions of the texts they purport to reproduce. In the words of two prominent translation scholars, translation “constructs images of writers and/or their works and then watches those images become reality.”6 Translations produce new versions of their source texts in the act of reproducing them by offering new and tendentious images of these sources and their authors. Such source construction is especially conspicuous in Catullus, who was writing within a conservative literary culture in which innovation was necessarily based on authorizing precedent.7 Under such circumstances, the inaugural act of poetic creation was the selection of a source and the ultimate creative triumph was making that source one’s own. In poem 66, Catullus invests abundant creative energy into refashioning his source into a distinctly Catullan document, giving his reader the impression that the earlier poem was, in some sense, his from the start. This chapter looks at how his translation constructs the source it purports to replicate, refashioning the Plokamos in a way that serves its translator’s agenda. I argue that in Catullus’s collection, a new Callimachus is constructed through a series of recontextualizations that endow the source text and its author with a new set of distinctly Catullan meanings. Despite being a “faithful” translation, poem 66 does not complacently replicate its source. In this case, adherence to the Greek is part of a broader strategy that allows the Latin author to claim the source text as his own. Poem 66 is a Latin version of an outlandish narrative elegy that Callimachus composed in the mid-to-late third century BCE in honor of the Ptolemaic queen, Berenice II. The Lock of Berenice (henceforth, the Coma in reference to the Latin version and Plokamos in reference to the Greek) is an eccentric flight of fancy narrated by a histrionic lock of hair.8 There is no other poem quite like it in either Greek or Latin. The strangeness of the Plokamos, along with the dearth of full translations by Catullus more generally, raises this question: why publish a version of this particular poem by this particular author? It is no doubt correct that this translation was intended, at least in part, to display the formidable talents of its Roman fabricator.9 The

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sheer difficulty of translating this intricate court vignette would have made the project appealing to an aspiring doctus poeta (“learned poet”). But any number of Callimachus’s poems might have served this purpose. Such an explanation cannot account for this poem’s specific allure. I would submit that Catullus was drawn to the Plokamos for another reason as well. At least part of its appeal lay in the extent to which its meanings were bound to its original milieu—and the way it was uncoupled from these Callimachean contexts and took on new meanings when rendered in Latin and positioned within the Catullan collection.

* Based on a historical vignette, the Plokamos was deeply bound up in the arcane intricacies of Ptolemaic court life. It was also one small, if important, part of Callimachus’s Aetia, the most celebrated Hellenistic poetry collection in Catullus’s day, as it is in our own. The Plokamos was, then, deeply inscribed within its original cultural and publication contexts, and its original meanings were linked to this sociopolitical and textual surround. It was, I would venture, this very embeddedness that made the Plokamos an enticing source, for the poem was bound to read differently within a Catullan milieu. In drawing this poem out of the Aetia and translating it into Latin, Catullus disembeds the Plokamos from its original contexts, setting it loose as a fragment whose original associations are no longer operative. He then endows the eviscerated text with a set of new meanings that accrue from its incorporation into the Catullan collection. Although the Coma seems, on the surface, to be governed by a desire to remain faithful to its source, it proves to be guided by a process of creative revision that rivals the ingenuity of any original poem. Catullus’s concern was not to replicate the Greek with deferential fidelity but to recreate the original poem as a textual fragment that could be reframed—and, thus, refashioned—to serve his own agenda. Typically, we think of a source as preceding its translation, informing its individual choices and shaping its overall design. But with the Coma, we find the opposite to be true: Catullus constructs the very source he ostensibly reproduces, creating a Plokamos— and a “Callimachus”—of his own design. Callimachus’s The Lock of Berenice was, as Kathryn Gutzwiller observes, “written to commemorate, and apparently to shape, public understanding of a specific event associated with the political marriage of Ptolemy III Euergetes to Berenice of Cyrene.”10 Anyone who has struggled to come to grips with the details of either the Plokamos or the Coma is aware of how deeply these poems are informed by this Alexandrian milieu. The story at their core circles around a tangle of dynastic intrigues, political maneuverings, and religious


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rituals. The outlines of this motley tale are as follows: The lock who narrates the poem was once an actual strand of hair attached to the head of an actual Ptolemaic queen. This Berenice was not, mind you, Berenice I, the consort of the first Ptolemy, but this pair’s granddaughter, a princess from Cyrene who married Ptolemy III (known as Ptolemy Euergetes) upon Ptolemy II’s death in 247 BCE. Soon after this marriage, Ptolemy III Euergetes headed off to wage war in Syria in response to the assassination of Antiochus II, Syrian king and husband of his own sister, also named Berenice. Distraught at his departure, Berenice II vowed a lock of her hair to the gods in exchange for her husband’s safe return. Within a short span of time, the Third Syrian War was over and the queen had fulfilled her vow, depositing her tress in the shrine of Arsinoë II, which stood on Cape Zephyrium between Alexandria and Canopus. Alas, this offering promptly disappeared in a public relations disaster that threatened to undermine the royal couple’s newfound authority. Thankfully, Conon the court astronomer was there to save the day, discovering the lock glittering far above everybody’s head as a new constellation. My own simplified summary of these historical details bears little relation to their presentation in the poems themselves. In the poetic format, straightforward exposition gives way to a concatenation of allusions that assume preexisting knowledge of all that is being described. Imagine reading the following passage (the Latin version’s opening sentence) without access to a commentary: Omnia qui magni dispexit lumina mundi, qui stellarum ortus comperit atque obitus, flammeus ut rapidi solis nitor obscuretur, ut cedant certis sidera temporibus, ut Triviam furtim sub Latmia saxa relegans dulcis amor gyro devocet aerio: idem me ille Conon caelesti lumine uidit e Bereniceo vertice caesariem fulgentem clare, quam multis illa dearum levia protendens brachia pollicita est, qua rex tempestate novo auctus hymenaeo vastatum finis iverat Assyrios, dulcia nocturnae portans uestigia rixae, quam de uirgineis gesserat exuuiis. (1–14) He who has considered all the illuminated bodies of the vast universe, who investigated the rising and setting of the stars, how the fiery shining of the swift-moving sun is obscured, how constellations give way at fixed times of the year, how sweet love calls Trivia from her aerial rotation, banishing her

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beneath Latmian rocks: that same Conon spotted me bathed in celestial light, a lock from Berenice’s head gleaming brightly, whom she, stretching out her smooth arms, promised to myriad goddesses at the time when the king, augmented by his recent marriage, set off to lay waste to the borders of Assyria, still bearing the sweet traces of the nocturnal struggle that he had undertaken for the sake of maidenly spoils.

To orient oneself within this convoluted plot requires at least a passing familiarity with the following people and events: Conon the court astronomer, Berenice II, Ptolemy III, Berenice’s marriage to Ptolemy, Ptolemy’s invasion of Syria, Berenice’s dedication of her lock at the temple of Arsinoë-Aphrodite, and Conon’s discovery of the lock and subsequent invention of a new constellation. It also assumes a basic knowledge of Hellenistic astronomy (lines 1–4), Greek and Egyptian mythology (the myth of Selene and Endymion, line 5–6, and the tale of Isis cutting her lock in mourning for her husband and brother Osiris, which the poem’s entire scenario echoes),11 and Ptolemaic religious ritual (lines 9–10). The meandering allusiveness with which the poem skims over all such details ensures that unless readers—ancient or modern—already have command of the narrative scenario, they will not fully comprehend the events that govern the poem. The original Alexandrian audience could readily orient themselves within this welter of references, for these astro-imperial escapades were the stuff of their everyday lives. But many of these details, especially the historical ones, are unlikely to have been more patent to Catullus’s first readers than to us. Though many of them would have known Callimachus’s poetry quite well, they would not necessarily have been well versed in the esoteric details of Alexandrian court life or the tangled web of Ptolemaic history. To understand the Coma’s welter of historical and cultural references, most Romans would have required, as we do, the help of a commentary. Modern scholars are generally happy to supply such information.12 Catullus’s version, however, gives us nothing of the sort. The translation itself does nothing to illuminate its glut of obscure references, and its preface (65), the place we might expect to orient a target audience into such details, barely mentions the translation at all and offers no insight into its original occasion. Certain choices Catullus makes in the course of his translation make it clear that, despite the wealth of historical detail included in the poem, he was not driven by any compulsion to preserve or explain his source’s cultural milieu for his own audience, which was reading this Latin version some two hundred years after the original one was written. The poem tends to cut out references that would have been obscure to Roman readers.13 It omits, for instance, a reference to the “obelisk of Arsinoë” (fr. 110.45 Pf.—probably origi-


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nally referring to Mt. Athos) and an evocation of Locrian Arsinoë as “she of the violet girdle” (fr. 110.54 Pf.). He also Romanizes many of his source’s most foreign features, sometimes substituting Latin terms, in particular Roman gods, for Callimachus’s original language (e.g., Iuppiter at lines 30 and 48; Veneris for Κύπρ]ιδος at line 56). Despite its abundance of Hellenistic minutiae, the Coma is a “domesticating translation” that persistently Romanizes its distinctly foreign scenario.14 Why does Catullus choose to translate such a context-heavy poem if that context is not something he cares to explore or explain? Because, I would venture, the Plokamos offered rich opportunities for source reconstruction that would serve its translator’s ends. Once disembedded from its original context, it became an empty poetic vessel that the Roman poet could fill with associations all his own. The cultural decontextualization we have just discussed is paralleled by a form of literary decontextualization that would have registered just as powerfully to Catullus’s first readers. The Plokamos had been part of Callimachus’s Aetia, which was, for the Romans, the most famous Hellenistic book by the most famous Hellenistic poet.15 Catullus’s source seems to have occupied a prominent position in that collection, serving as the final poem of the Aetia’s fourth and final book.16 The Coma’s preface offers some indication that the Latin poet was aiming his translation at an audience well aware of this publication context. Despite hardly mentioning the translation itself, poem 65 makes wide-ranging allusions to other parts of the Callimachean corpus. The phrase Carmina Battiadae (“Verses of the Son of Battus,” 16) allusively hails a reader who knows the Greek author’s work quite well, for to understand this phrase one must be familiar with the epigrams in which Callimachus refers to himself in this way.17 Clearly, the preface is addressing itself to an audience already familiar with Callimachus’s oeuvre. Such a reader’s main impression of Catullus’s translation would have been not of fidelity but of fragmentation. From this perspective, the Coma would have registered not as a paragon of skillfully “close” translation but as a poetic scrap excised from a carefully crafted collection. Such a fragmentary translation would, in fact, have conformed to a Roman reader’s expectations: as we have seen, fragmentation of the source was a standard technique for literary translation at Rome, employed by authors ranging from Livius Andronicus and Plautus to Lucretius and Cicero.18 Reading from within a translation culture where partial translation was the norm, a Roman would have been primed to find this technique at play in Catullus’s unusually complete rendition. We might even surmise that the poet’s decision to flout contemporary translation norms by rendering his source so closely was designed to throw into focus his fragmentation of the Aetia as a whole. By keeping the individual

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poem largely intact, Catullus displays to greater effect his interventions at level of the book. However accurate it may be, Catullus’s Coma is woefully incomplete, for it has been stripped of the primary contexts that had once endowed it with meaning. And yet this Latin version does not exist in a vacuum but appears within a new Catullan milieu. When translated into Latin and repositioned within Catullus’s corpus, the Plokamos comes to read altogether differently. In the rest of this chapter, I examine three distinct constructions of Callimachus that arise within three progressively broader Catullan contexts. First I look at how the poem is changed simply by virtue of being translated into Latin. This linguistic shift endows the Coma with a hilariously self-reflexive edge and constructs the Plokamos as a portent of its future translation into Latin. Next, I broaden the scope to look at the poem alongside its preface. This versified preamble, I argue, tempers the Coma’s foreignness by situating it within a recognizably Roman scene. The Plokamos is hereby constructed as a familiar entity, a generically “Greek” treasure trafficked between two Romans, the author and his addressee. I end by examining the Coma and its preface within the framework of Catullus’s collected elegies (65–116), a set of poems in elegiac meter set at the end of the extant collection that many believe correspond to an original third libellus (“little book”). Without attempting to make any claims about authorial arrangement, I examine this set of elegies as an artful whole, focusing on the three Callimachus-infused poems that frame them (65, 66, and 116). I propose that these three poems construct Callimachus as the authorizing precursor of Catullus’s collected elegies and pose this set of Latin poems as a natural extension of the Aetia. But, even as they position Callimachus as the forefather of Catullus’s elegiac collection, the elegies use their Callimachean frame poems to dismantle any fixed distinction between translation and original creation, elaborating a view of translation that is utterly Roman and not at all indebted to Battus’s son. Construction One: From plokamos to Coma The Coma’s first set of novel meanings emerges simply by virtue of its being a Latin translation of an episode drawn from Callimachus’s Aetia. The poem is narrated by the chatty tress who details the events that led to her becoming a stellified lock. When presented in Greek, the primary framework for this narrative scenario is an absurd historical occasion, the court astronomer’s proclaimed discovery of the dedicated lock among the constellations. But once translated into Latin, the lock’s story resonates with a tale much closer to home, the tale of how the Latin Coma itself came into being. This pro-


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cess entailed the same severing and transposition that allowed for the lock’s catasterism. Once extracted from the Aetia and translated from the Greek, this severed tress’s versified speech comes to read self-reflexively as a tale of the Latin Coma’s own creation through translation.19 The story of a thirdcentury ritual offering’s rebirth as a constellation becomes, more immediately, the story of a third-century Greek poem severed from its original context to be reborn within the growing universe of Latin literature. Numerous parallels between the lock’s catasterism and the genesis of the Latin poem strengthen this connection between coma and Coma. Both of these locks came into being through a violent amputation: the lock yielded to the “harshness . . . of iron” (50) and was severed from her queen’s head. The Latin version of the Lock was similarly excised from the Aetia, a collection that was, at least in part, dedicated to Berenice and so, in a sense, a textual extension of that queen.20 After being separated from their respective Berenices, these two locks were both subjected to a radical transposition, the tress transferred into the sky and the Plokamos translated into Latin. In both cases, the transposed lock is presented as a gift that bears out a promise made to a superior: the Coma fulfills Catullus’s promise in 65 to send a poem to Hortalus, while the coma fulfills a promise Berenice had made to the gods to dedicate a lock upon her husband’s return. Moreover, both these promises were motivated by grief. The queen’s sorrow at her husband’s departure motivated her to make an offering to the gods. In much the same way, Catullus’s sorrow at the loss of his brother described in the translation’s preface sapped his creative energies and compelled him to offer Hortalus a translation rather than a poem of his own. Finally, both these gifts are markedly new and strange. As the lock puts it, “I fulfilled traditional vows with a new kind of gift (novo munere 66.38),” referring to the substitution of a lock for a more standard votive offering. The novelty of the coma as dedicatory object parallels the novelty of Catullus’s Coma, a kind of poetic escapade never before seen in Latin. Because this self-reflexive reading is not facilitated by any evident changes in the translation itself, it feels as though it emerges organically from Callimachus’s own poem rather than having been engineered by its translator. With a flick of the linguistic switch, the Latin version takes on a layer of meanings unavailable in the Greek. The very naturalness of this self-reflexive reading has an uncanny effect. It’s as though the future creation of Catullus’s Coma had been embedded in Callimachus’s Greek from the start. It feels as though the source had, all along, been awaiting its own translation. The Plokamos is hereby constructed as a prophetic prelude to its Latin target text, a preamble designed to hail the Coma’s arrival. Oddly enough, when read in such self-reflexive terms, poem 66 seems

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also to embed a protest against its Catullan co-option.21 When the translation is read as an allegorical tale of its own genesis, the lock’s sorrow at being separated from her queen appears to register a protest against the violence to which the fragmented Aetia has been subjected in translation. The lock makes quite a fuss about her unwillingness to leave Berenice’s head. Much of the second half of her monologue is devoted to detailing her distress, and near the end of the poem she asserts that, immortality be damned, she is tortured by being forever separated from the head of her queen (75–76). The coma’s refusal to be reconciled to her new position in the sky embeds an internal acknowledgment of the violence inherent in Catullus’s fragmentation and co-option of the Plokamos. In the lock’s speech, we hear the voice of the translation itself, and this personified translation does not sound happy about its newfound position within the Latin literary canon. The coma’s resistance to her own catasterism within a Roman cosmos registers the ethical problems inherent in Rome’s unapologetic co-option of Greek texts. The lines that follow the lock’s repeated protestation that she left her queen “unwillingly” (invita, 39 and 40), explicitly conjure the violence of imperialist translation by picturing the lock and her “sister locks” (51) in a losing battle against the invincible “harshness . . . of iron” (50). “But who,” cries the lock, “would claim himself equal in strength to iron?” (42). This plaintive rhetorical question inaugurates nine solid lines that contrast the lock’s own helplessness with the heartless strength of this militaristic metal. The hyperbolic vehemence with which she curses “the entire race” (48) of the legendary metalworkers, the Chalybes, and her indictment of the inventors of mining and iron-working (49–50) suggest a critique of the power disparities that allow the strong to mow down the weak. The pathetic futility of the passage’s closing rhetorical question (“What can locks possibly do, when such things yield to iron?,” 47) highlights the injustice of a world in which enfeebled Greek damsels—whether locks or queens—have no choice but to yield to the strength of any man who wields a sword or a scissor. A far more somber scene of military conquest lurks beneath the surface of the lock’s comic diatribe against the shears that severed her from those she loved. The closing lines of this segment bring this subtext into the open. This glimpse of her sister-locks lamenting her fate as they watch her wrenched off into the sky (51–52) evokes the aftermath of ancient military conquest when women were frequently separated from their families and taken as prisoners of war. This passage hereby lays bare the military violence that was the backdrop to the flourishing of a hellenizing literature at Rome. “Captive Greece” appears in the form of a Greek lock cursing the iron implement that separated her from the queen she loved. This passage would seem to embed a parallel


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indictment of the imperialist Roman translator who had no qualms about severing a poem from its original context and co-opting it as his own. Catullus here reveals—and even seems to luxuriate in exposing—the imperialist violence that conditioned his own translation. Is this a moment of open-eyed self-critique, where a Roman author reflects on the ethical quandaries of his own translation project? Sadly, the answer to this question is decidedly no, for even as the lock voices her charge, she expresses it in a way that prevents us from taking her seriously. The lock’s voice is so pathetically overblown, so inescapably rhetorical, that her authority as a speaker is reduced nearly to nil. This is true beginning with the poem’s opening lines, but the farcical pathos increases as she begins to detail her separation from her queen. This passage is inaugurated by what are, thanks to Vergil who reworks them in the Aeneid, the two most famous lines of this poem:22 invita, o regina, tuo de vertice cessi, invita: adiuro teque tuumque caput, (39–40) unwillingly, o queen, did I leave your crown, unwillingly: I swear upon you and your head

This couplet exemplifies the out-of-control rhetoricity of the lock’s tone. The pathetic anaphora, the obsessive return to forms of tu, the odd duplication of –que, the preponderance of vowels that mimic emotive “a’s” and “o’s” (invita, o regina, tuo / invita, adiuro), and, finally, the absurdist logic of swearing upon the “head” to which she was so recently attached all conspire to undercut this speaker’s authority. This is not a voice of rhetorically persuasive accusation but of hysterical whimpering. Infused with hints of frenzy and wavering on the edge of an inarticulate groan, this complaint is presented in a form that suggests we ought not take its speaker seriously (something already implied by her identity as a lock of hair). This tonal indictment of the lock’s mental faculties ensures we read the passage that follows with a good deal of skepticism. Though the substance of what she is about to describe might well be read as an indictment of Rome’s imperial might, the form her speech takes mitigates this charge. Her emotional excess and inadvertent silliness continually undermine her authority and encourage us to dismiss her charge as womanly hysteria. The translation hereby exculpates Catullus at the very moment it lays bare its own ethical failures. We are offered a glimpse of this translation’s foundation in imperialist violence only to be given license to ignore this distressing panorama. The translation goes one step beyond undermining the lock’s condemnation of the violence to which she has been subjected. It ultimately justifies

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that violence by proving that the lock has benefited from the manhandling of which she complains. The final half of the poem describes the process of celestial immortalization that the lock underwent after being severed from Berenice’s crown. From the coma’s limited perspective, this transformation is an unmitigated disaster whose end result is to wrench her from the queen she loves. But from the more perspicacious view of the reader, it is obvious that this lock’s transformation is all for the best. If not for her catasterism, this shorn lock would have been swept into the garbage pit and consigned to oblivion. Thanks to Conon’s intervention, this lock achieves a wholly unexpected immortality. Hers is a tale with a happy ending, though she is unable to recognize it as such. Ultimately, the Coma’s takeaway message is a celebration of the lock’s immortality that likewise celebrates the Roman translator’s decision to fracture Callimachus’s poem and transpose it into a Roman sky. That this lament is being delivered from the heavens by an immortalized lock suggests that Catullus’s translation of the Plokamos, violent as it may be, is more a cause for celebration than for grief. What might otherwise be understood as the violence of fragmentary translation is reframed as a transcendent act that assures the original poem’s immortality. In fact, as it appears within the context of the Catullan collection, the Coma embeds the suggestion that poetic immortality ultimately comes from being memorialized in a Latin poem rather than a Greek one. The lock’s account of her catasterism includes a detail that resonates powerfully in the context of Catullus’s collection. While describing the moment when Venus plucked her out of the temple of Arsinoë-Aphrodite and set her in the sky, the lock includes a rather odd explanatory aside. Venus chose to let the lock gleam in the sky “lest the golden crown drawn from Ariadne’s temple stand all alone in the heavens” (59–61). The fragmentary state of the Greek version prevents us from knowing whether Callimachus originated this comment, but, in the context of Catullus’s oeuvre, the detail takes on a distinctly Catullan significance. This translation/preface pair (66/65) follows immediately upon an epyllion (64) that devotes some one hundred lines to the lamenting Ariadne. According to myth, this Cretan princess was, herself, transposed into the stars by Dionysus in the form of a stellified crown. Though Ariadne is not, in fact, catasterized during the course of poem 64, her eventual arrival in the heavens is certainly implied: the last we see of the lamenting princess, she is being approached by Bacchus, the god who will assure her own immortalization. When read within the sequence of Catullus’s extant collection, the incongruous detail in 66 about the lock following Ariadne’s crown into the sky registers as an agonistic aside. In this context, the comment implies that, while Ariadne has already achieved immortality by being rendered eternal in Catullan verse,


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the lock has yet to receive this honor. The Plokamos, it is implied, has much to gain from its transfer into the glorious constellation of Catullus’s oeuvre: just as Berenice’s tress becomes immortalized as a constellation, Callimachus’s text will be ensured a place in eternity once rendered into Latin. Construction Two: Personalizing the Plokamos A simple shift from Greek to Latin constructs the Plokamos as a Catullan document and a new star in Rome’s swiftly expanding poetic universe. But the poem’s construction of Callimachus does not end with this one deft act of linguistic recontextualization. The semantic carpentry continues in the way the poem is framed for its new readers. In the collection as we have it, the Coma is preceded by a twenty-four-line elegy that appears to have been intended as its preface. Though we cannot be entirely sure that these two poems were meant to be read as a pair, the large number of phrasal correspondences point firmly in this direction. And yet 65 does none of the work one might expect of such a preface, barely pausing to identify the translation that follows: Etsi me assiduo defectum cura dolore sevocat a doctis, Hortale, uirginibus, nec potis est dulcis Musarum expromere fetus mens animi, tantis fluctuat ipsa malis— namque mei nuper Lethaeo in gurgite fratris pallidulum manans alluit unda pedem, Troia Rhoeteo quem subter litore tellus ereptum nostris obterit ex oculis. . . . . . . numquam ego te, vita frater amabilior, aspiciam posthac? at certe semper amabo, semper maesta tua carmina morte canam, qualia sub densis ramorum concinit umbris Daulias, absumpti fata gemens Ityli.— sed tamen in tantis maeroribus, Hortale, mitto haec expressa tibi carmina Battiadae, ne tua dicta vagis nequiquam credita ventis effluxisse meo forte putes animo, ut missum sponsi furtivo munere malum procurrit casto virginis e gremio, quod miserae oblitae molli sub veste locatum, dum adventu matris prosilit, excutitur, atque illud prono praeceps agitur decursu, huic manat tristi conscius ore rubor.

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Even if care calls me, exhausted with constant grief, away from the learned maidens, Hortalus, and the mind of my soul is not able to bring forth sweet fruits of the Muses, it tosses upon such waves of suffering—for recently the flowing wave washed the pale little foot of my brother in the Lethean whirlpool, my brother whom the Trojan earth now covers below the Rhoetean shore, snatched from our sight . . . . Never, brother more lovable than life, will I see you hereafter? But certainly I will always love you, I will always sing sad songs on account of your death, songs such as the Daulian bird sang beneath the thick-set shadows of the branches, lamenting the death of her departed Itylus. But nevertheless, in the midst of such lamentation, Hortalus, I send you these translated verses of the Son of Battus, lest you think that your words, entrusted in vain to the wandering winds, had perhaps flown from my mind, as an apple sent as a secret gift from a suitor rolls forth from the chaste lap of a maiden and, having been placed beneath the soft dress of that poor forgetful girl, is shaken forth when she leaps up at the arrival of her mother and is driven headlong in a downward course, while a self-conscious blush suffuses her sorrowful face.

Most translation prefaces, whether ancient or modern, do something to contextualize the work they accompany. They might discuss the genesis of the project or explain why a translator was drawn to that particular source. They might focus on issues of style and technique, detailing strategies used to surmount difficulties encountered in the translation process. They might orient the reader by outlining the source text’s literary or cultural milieu. They might detail hopes or concerns the translator harbors about how his work will be received by its target audience. Poem 65 does none of the above. In fact, it all but ignores the translation that follows. The “translated verses of Callimachus” (expressa . . . carmina Battiadae) are mentioned only once, sixteen lines down, embedded deep within the involuted syntax of a single concessive sentence. Rather than gesturing ahead toward poem 66, this preface lures us ever more deeply into itself, drawing us into a narrative and social environment far removed from Callimachus’s poem. As we have seen, the Plokamos revolves around a tangled network of Ptolemaic relationships, many of which would have been quite meaningless to much of Catullus’s first audience. Poem 65 fills in this informational vacuum by offering its readers a more immediate and familiar set of circumstances with which to frame their reading. Before the translation even begins, it is hereby refashioned as something recognizably Roman, its stylistic oddities and cultural opacities repackaged as something its translator’s audience could understand. The preface hereby constructs an exotic Greek poem as a distinctly Roman object whose new social context makes it comprehensible to its Roman readers.


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Catullus tends to personalize poems he adapts from the Greek. The most celebrated instance of this habit is his translation of Sappho (51), a poem that refashions its source into a customized romantic vignette through the simple insertion of two names: Catullus and Lesbia. A more subtle form of personalization permeates poem 70, his adaptation of a Callimachus epigram on the proverbial falseness of lovers’ oaths (Ep. 27, Mair = 25, Pfeiffer = AP 5.6). The original version had featured an ill-starred pair named Callignotos and Ionis. Callignotos swears his affections to Ionis only to abandon her by the end of the poem. Catullus transforms the original scene into a first-person vignette that recasts Callimachus’s doomed lovers in the role of the poet-speaker and his mulier (“woman”), she as the betrayer, he as the betrayed. In contrast to the original’s aloof narration and carefully balanced phrasing, his version presents a raggedly emotional scene that begins, “My woman says she would rather marry no one / than myself,” 70.1).23 Commentators on this poem have frequently noted its distinctively personal stance and highlighted this feature as a place where Catullus’s version differs markedly from its template.24 This kind of personalization guides Catullus’s translation of the Plokamos as well, though in a different form. In this case, the translation preserves the original’s third-person stance. But it is accompanied by a preface that personalizes it as dramatically as the “my’s” of his epigram. From its opening couplet onward, this preface immerses its reader in a world of Catullan emotion and late-Republican mores. This poem’s second word is a first-person pronoun (me, “me”) that foregrounds its primary preoccupation with Catullus and his world.25 With its address to Hortalus, the second line sets up what will be this set of poems’ defining relationship—one not between translation and Greek source but between Catullus and his Roman addressee. The preface as a whole bypasses the grieving Berenice and her lock to focus, instead, on the circumstances that led the grieving translator to compose his own rendition of the Plokamos. We learn that Catullus has been suffering from grief-induced writer’s block, his “mind” (4) unable to “produce the sweet offspring of the Muses,” i.e., poetry (3) ever since his brother was entombed in far-off Troy. The poet-translator’s opening claim that “care” in the face of his brother’s death has “exhausted” him “with constant grief ” (1) takes on added piquancy when read in conjunction with the translation that follows. In the Greek poem, it is Berenice who is exhausted by care when her husband heads off to war. But, before we even arrive at this description of her distress, this Latinized version of Callimachus’s words has been woven into the emotional fabric of Catullus’s life. This single phrase does in miniature what the preface does as a whole, reframing a courtly travesty about a lost lock of hair within the context of the poet’s own autobiography. The many

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scholars who have caught glimpses of Catullus himself throughout his Latin rendition of a third-century melodrama were not blindly falling prey to the biographical fallacy.26 They were taking their cues from a preface that invites us to view the Callimachean lines that follow as a Catullan document. Despite its appealingly intimate stance and its evocation of the brother, so beloved by modern readers, there is something discomfiting about this versified preface. What we might expect to be its primary internal relationship— that between Catullus and his lost sibling—is subordinated to the relationship between poet and addressee. We tend to read 65 as a poem primarily about loss, the wrenching plaint of a poet who has drawn too close to those Lethean eddies. And yet, this death is brought up only to explain why the poet could not send Hortalus an original composition. In the end, the poem is more about what Catullus has found, a set of “translated . . . verses of the Son of Battus (i.e., Callimachus)” (15) that he can send to his friend to fulfill his social obligation. But it is precisely what makes the preface feel strange to us that would have made it feel familiar to Catullus’s first audience. The poem’s privileging of the relationship between poet and addressee taps into the social codes that defined the late-Republican elite.27 This translation is positioned as a literary gift presented by Catullus to a prominent Roman (Q. Hortensius Hortalus) and, in the first century, such poetic dedications were a common way for the late-Republican elite to forge such allegiances.28 The primacy of the relationship between speaker and addressee is embedded in the epigram’s arresting syntax. The brother’s death is subsumed within the protasis of the poem’s governing concessive structure, serving as a preamble to the revelation embedded within the apodosis. Syntactically, our focus pivots on the “nevertheless” (sed tamen) that signals a shift away from subordination into the poem’s main point. Not coincidentally, this grammatical pivot-point is also the place where Catullus mentions Hortalus once more by name. The appearance of a proper name at this juncture (line 15) contrasts starkly with his earlier appeal to an anonymous frater. This passage is also the first—and only—moment where the preface mentions the translation it accompanies—and even this reference is nestled into a declaration Catullus makes to his addressee. As it is alluded to here, the Plokamos is evacuated of its own unique identity and presented, simply, as expressa . . . carmina Battiadae, “translated verses of the Son of Battus” (16). The syntax of these couplets further evacuates the poem’s particularity by reducing these verses to the grammatical object of the Roman speaker’s action (mitto / haec . . . tibi carmina, “I send these . . . verses to you,” 15–16). We are not given a title, a tagline, or any other indication of what specific work is being sent. We are not even given the name of the source-text’s author, for


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Callimachus himself is referred to with an elaborate periphrasis. There is a certain substitutability implied in this phrasing, as though any “translated verses of the Son of Battus” might do. Rather than any further description of the verses themselves, the poetic object then gets lost in a flurry of words referring to speaker and addressee: sed tamen in tantis maeroribus, Hortale, mitto haec expressa tibi carmina Battiadae ne tua dicta vagis nequiquam credita ventis effluxisse meo forte putes animo (15–18)

This onslaught of references to Catullus and Hortalus—“I” and “you”—at the moment the translation is finally mentioned confirms the passage’s central preoccupation: not with Callimachus’s poem per se but with its ability to mediate between author and addressee. It is in their capacity as a social commodity that carmina Battiadae surface here. Their value derives not from their intrinsic meaning or worth but from their ability to facilitate a social transaction between two Romans. If the phrase carmina Battiadae does little to identify the poem that follows, it does a great deal to identify and unite the Catullan speaker and his addressee. As already observed, to understand that the phrase carmina Battiadae refers to Callimachus requires an insider’s knowledge of that poet’s oeuvre. This preface is comprehensible only to someone already steeped in Callimachean lingo. The poem thus seems to be addressing itself to an acolyte of the emerging Roman cult of Callimachus, of which Hortalus seems to have been a member.29 In addition to being a well-known orator, Hortensius Hortalus was, it seems, a poet whom Pliny (Epistulae 5.3.5) identifies as the author of salacious verses and whom Aulus Gellius (Noctes Atticae 19.9.7) mentions alongside the poets Laevius, Cinna, and Memmius, strengthening his association with light amatory poems.30 If the Hortensius addressed in 65 was, indeed, a poet himself—and one inclined to write the kind of erotic nugae or “trifles” Catullus himself favored—this poem and the translation it accompanies might be appealing to Callimachean elegy to strengthen bonds of a poetic community emerging at Rome. As presented here, neither Callimachus’s verses nor his name are his own. Rather, they have been co-opted to forge a relationship between Catullus and Hortalus. Callimachus’s carmina are hereby transformed into an object of Roman attention, a token of mutual entry into a rarified literary world. The couplet that follows (17–20) forges another new identity for these Callimachean verses. This simile compares Hortalus’s hypothetically unheeded request (tua dicta, 17) to an apple that a suitor has secretly sent as a “gift” (munere, 19) to

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a young woman, which slips out of her lap when she starts at her mother’s arrival. The immediate objects of comparison here are Hortalus’s “words” (presumably a request for poetry), which, until now, might appear to have slipped Catullus’s mind. But this apple is a stand-in for some other words as well: the poems of Callimachus. Within this poem’s distinctly Callimachean context, this dropped apple reminds us of another, more famous one, which Acontius used to trick Cydippe into marrying him in Aetia 3 (fr. 67–75 Pf.).31 The apple that cascades in 65 from a blushing maiden’s lap stands, by synechdoche, for poems of Callimachus—that is, for the very carmina Battiadae that were mentioned in line 18. In fact, as it appears in this poem, the apple could well be standing in for “translated” (16) Callimachean verses specifically, for the image aligns the apple falling from the girl’s gremium with poems flowing from Catullus’s own mens, poems that here include a translation and its preface. Through its image of the apple, this passage combines an act of forgetting (Hortalus’s request flowing from Catullus’s mind) with a compensatory act of poetic remembering (Catullus’s recreation of Callimachean songs, whether 66 or 65, which he then dedicates to Hortalus). Through this concatenation of images and associations, the Coma is posed as a munus sent between Catullus and his friend. In this capacity, the Coma would have been eminently recognizable to its original audience, for a munus was one of the most familiar and socially important forms a late-Republican text could take. As Sarah Stroup observes, the term munus had a very specific meaning in both Catullus and Cicero, commonly used “to designate the specific product of otium, the dedicated text, and as such it appears especially in discussions of how such texts could be used to engage relationships of textual reciprocity.”32 Both of these first-century authors frequently “designate their dedicated texts as munera . . . in order to set off the textual gift as a distinctly singularized, ‘invaluable’ object specific to the production of their patronal class.”33 In fact, Stroup identifies “the dedicated text” (6) as a hallmark of late-Republican literary culture and notes that “the ‘gift’ of Greek verse transformed into Latin seems to have constituted a special category of late-Republican textual exchange.”34 However culturally and stylistically incomprehensible the poem that follows might have been to a Roman reader, it becomes recognizable when viewed as a gift sent between two Roman elites in an effort to maintain the bonds of amicitia that had been threatened by Catullus’s debilitating grief. Before the translation even begins, it is thus refashioned as something recognizably Roman, its stylistic oddities and cultural opacities repackaged as something its translator’s audience could understand. The preface hereby


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constructs an exotic Greek poem as a distinctly Roman object whose new social context makes it comprehensible to its Roman readers. Construction Three: Callimachus, Elegist Thus far, we have discussed poem 66 as a freestanding translation and as part of a translation-preface pair. But in the Catullan collection as we have it, the context is far more expansive. This pair of poems inaugurates a shift into elegiac meter that extends from poem 65 through poem 116, at the end of the extant collection. These elegies comprise a distinct set of poems whose shared meter—and, many would argue, shared language and themes—set them apart from the poems that precede them. And yet it is not at all clear who engineered this design. Much ink has been spilled in the effort to determine whether Catullus himself or a later editor assembled this elegiac cluster, and, lately, opinion seems to be shifting toward the idea that the elegies map onto an original “third libellus” of the poet’s own design. But authorial intervention is not the only possible explanation. In a recent essay on the new Posidippus papyrus, which contains an assortment of over one hundred Hellenistic-era epigrams, Alessandro Barchiesi has shifted the conversation on ancient poetic books in a direction that allows us to think beyond the bounds of authorial intention. He stresses the creative acumen that an outside editor might bring to arranging a poetic collection and notes that ancient literary culture tended to encourage such inspired editing.35 He proposes that, rather than fetishize an unrecoverable act of authorial arrangement, we would do well to explore the artfulness of ancient collections as they stand, tracing the lineaments of their structures even if we cannot align these patterns with a particular author’s signature. In the discussion that follows, I adopt a similar stance, focusing on patterns developed within Catullus’s collected elegies without straining to glimpse the author’s hand at work in this design. The poet from Verona might well have orchestrated this arrangement, but I make no attempt to bolster that claim. My aim is to delineate some of the artistic principles that guide the current arrangement and to think through the role that the Coma and its preface play in this elegiac ensemble. Building on the wealth of scholarly literature that sees an artful intention at work in the poems that frame the elegies (65, 66, and 116), I examine the entire elegiac cluster as a book-within-a-book that is in intimate conversation with Callimachus’s Aetia. I argue that this elegiac libellus uses its Aetia-based framework to construct Callimachus as an elegist who might authorize Catullus’s experiment in Latin elegy. But, even as these poems advertise their dependence on Callimachus as the forefather of Catul-

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lus’s elegiac book, they announce a translation-based poetics that owes nothing to the Greeks. A bold experiment in Latin verse is hereby positioned as a natural continuation of Hellenistic elegy even as it delineates a set of creative ideals that is uniquely Roman. Before going further, it will be useful to highlight some of the features that have led so many scholars to conceive of the elegies as an organized whole.36 It has often been observed that poem 65 (the translation’s epistolary preface and the first of the elegies) reads not simply as a preface but as a programmatic introduction to an entire elegiac book. Just as the polymetrics begin with a poem (1) that is addressed to the chronicler and poet Cornelius Nepos, the opening elegy is addressed to a Hortalus, most likely the orator, advocate, and poet Q. Hortensius Hortalus. Both poems frame their respective addressees as recipients of a poetic gift, positioning the work that follows within an ongoing cycle of homosocial exchange.37 The meter and mood of these versified introductions are in keeping with the poems that follow; just as the jaunty witticisms and hendecasyllables of poem 1 set us up for the polymetric playfulness of poems 2–60, poem 65 puts us in an elegiac mood. Its sorrowful evocation of a brother’s death recalls that genre’s association with funeral lament and justifies the collection’s sudden and definitive shift into a new meter.38 The heterogeneity of the poems that follow might impede our reading them as a unified whole. But many have perceived an order to this chaos, namely, the order associated with Hellenistic books. Callimachus and his peers were fond of framing their own collections with an opening and closing pair of obliquely corresponding poems, while arraying the intervening verses in deliberately contrasting patterns.39 Some have theorized that the hodgepodge of poems that make up Catullus’s elegies conforms to the ordered inconsistency of Hellenistic poikilia (known in Latin as varietas).40 Such a claim is difficult prove, but proponents point to recurring “cycles” of poems (to Gellius, Lesbia, Victor) or linguistic and thematic recurrences. It can be a challenge to perceive any creative design at work in the internal order of the poems. But at the far edges of this elegiac cluster, such Alexandrianizing orchestration becomes more apparent. Ring structure was one of the most common Alexandrian book-ordering techniques and a prominent structuring device in the Aetia itself.41 This form of patterning links Catullus’s opening and closing elegies. Many of the most important studies to trace the collected quality of these poems have focused on correspondences between the opening preface-translation pair (65/66) and the invective elegy that abruptly closes the collection (116). C. W. Macleod inaugurated this structure-based inquiry some thirty years ago.42 His much-cited article reads poems 65 and 116 as a matched set of programmatic poems intended by the


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author to bracket his elegiac book. That poem 65 is dedicated, as we have seen, to a friend announces the Callimachean principles that guide the collection that follows. The final poem is, by contrast, an “inverted dedication” to an enemy that reiterates the preceding poems’ Callimachean allegiances while also announcing a generic shift into invective. Since Macleod first drew attention to the correspondences that link the elegies’ first and last poems, others have applied themselves to tracing further connections between them. It now seems clear that, despite their differences, these two poems function as a unit of sorts.43 It also seems likely that the Catullan collection here takes its cues from the many Hellenistic books that are similarly bracketed by corresponding poems. The more we come to know about this poetic pair, the more it appears they engage with one Hellenistic book in particular: Callimachus’s Aetia. Clearly, the Aetia looms large in the opening two elegies, which introduce (65) and translate (66), the last poem of the Aetia’s fourth and final book. Though the Aetia’s influence is not nearly so obvious in poem 116, it is certainly there. Written in what appears to be a deliberately crude style, this invective elegy against Gellius is full of awkward archaic phrasing (uti for ut in line 2, the old ablative qui for quibus) and metrical infelicities (the entirely spondaic line 3, elision of the final “s” in dabi’ supplicium, line 8). Macleod has argued that Catullus is attempting, with these poetic faux pas, “to express himself in as un-Callimachean a way as possible,” composing a poem that “border[s] on the uncouth.”44 But poem 116’s surface rejection of Callimachus is misleading, for—within the context of the elegiac libellus— this renunciation may, itself, be a distinctly Callimachean maneuver. A number of scholars (Macleod included) have proposed that poem 116 is, itself, a programmatic poem that announces a shift away from the Callimacheanism that saturates the elegies into invective, mime, Ennian epic, or some other non-Callimachean mode.45 If this is so (and I believe it is), Catullus is using a structural trick he learned from Callimachus to bid his fond adieu to Callimachean elegy. The technique of including a polemical poem at the end of one’s book to both recall a statement of poetics made in that book’s introductory poem and announce a future shift into a different poetic mode had already been used in the Aetia itself. That poem’s prologue begins with a diatribe against poetic rivals/critics called the “Telchines.” In the course of this rant, the Callimachean speaker piles up multiple statements of the poem’s guiding aesthetic principle, the idea that a poet must devote himself to a “refined” or “slender Muse” (Μοῦσαν . . . λεπταλέην, Aetia fr. 1.23–24 Pf.). The poet then relays “how, in a dream, newly bearded, he had met the Muses on Helikon and re-

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ceived from them the explanation of causes (aitia) . . . taking the beginning of his discourse from them.”46 The fragment that seems to have served as the Aetia’s epilogue (fr. 112 Pf.) reiterates these Hesiodic allegiances by recalling that earlier encounter with the Muses on Helicon.47 This passage likewise reiterates the prologue’s dedication to Queen Arsinoë where the poet seems to have extolled her as his “tenth muse.”48 But even as it forges this ring structure, the epilogue veers in another direction by bidding farewell to Zeus along with the Aetia’s other tutelary beings (χαῖρε, Ζεῦ, μέγα καὶ σύ, fr. 112.8 Pf.), then announcing that the poet is heading off to a more “pedestrian” poetic “meadow” (πεζὸν . . . νομόν, fr. 112.9 Pf.).49 Some have linked this prosaic locale with the Iambi, a collection of erudite invectives that apparently followed the Aetia in Callimachus’s collected works.50 If this is the case, the epilogue both reiterates the poetics of the prologue and announces a shift to a new kind of collection governed by a different kind of literary program. As incongruous as it may seem in the context of Catullus’s collection, poem 116 seems to be strategically placed to reiterate the polemical ring structure that governed the Aetia itself. Given that Catullus is saying his goodbyes not to Zeus but to carmina Battiadae, this allusion has a cleverly ironic twist: the poem harnesses Callimachus’s own techniques in the act of bidding him farewell. Combined with the explicit references to Callimachus in poems 65, 66, and 116, these structural allusions construct Callimachus’s Aetia as the primary precursor to this elegiac libellus. Such a gesture of filiation would become common a generation after Catullus. But while Augustan elegists frequently present themselves as successors of Callimachus, none begin a collection with a complete translation of one of his poems. The singularity of Catullus’s compositional maneuver raises the question of why his elegies begin in this way. I suspect the answer has much to do with Catullus’s position in Roman literary history. His was, as far as we know, the first set of elegies to be published at Rome (and if not the first, certainly among the earliest). Beginning this elegiac libellus with a version of the Plokamos was a way of anchoring a novel poetic endeavor in the auctoritas (authority) of the most famous of all Hellenistic poetry collections. Even if Catullus did not arrange the elegies himself, a later editor might have been invested in positioning this inaugural Roman elegist in this way. What is more, beginning these elegies with a translation preceded by an autobiographical preface got Catullus out of a peculiarly elegiac double bind. Catullus was striving toward innovation from within a highly conservative literary culture where innovation was acceptable only when built on authorizing precedent. Seeing as this was (as far as we know) the first-ever attempt to create an elegiac collection in Latin, he, or whoever compiled this set of poems, needed to affirm a model for this


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elegiac book. But elegy posed some problems in this regard. Greek elegy was so capacious that it was by no means clear who such an authorizing precursor ought to be. Moreover, first-person elegies were typically based on the premise that they sprang from the speaker’s own experience, whether that speaker was a votive object or an amorous poet. This experiential posture made the requisite Roman gestures of filiation rather awkward. Beginning an elegiac book with a translation of the Plokamos along with an original first-person preface offered a way out of this elegiac conundrum by positing a double origin for this inaugural elegiac book. After stripping away the Plokamos’s original associations, Catullus could refashion Callimachus’s courtly poem into an etiology of Roman elegy. No longer does this poem cap the Aetia (“Causes,” “Explanations”) with an encomiastic etiology of a royal constellation. Now, along with its preface, it begins a book of Latin elegies by offering a double etiology of this new poetic mode. In an incredibly bold move, this pair of poems presents the emerging genre of Latin elegy as having its origins both in the world of Greek texts and in the world of Roman emotions. The elegies that follow can thus be read as stemming simultaneously from Callimachus’s example and from Catullus’s own coyly eroticized grief. And yet, to pose Callimachus as the forefather of Roman elegy is to present a highly tendentious view of Greek literary history. Unlike epic, for instance, where the primacy of Homer is incontestably clear, elegy did not have a single recognized master who towered above the rest. Greece boasted a number of well-known practitioners of this heterogeneous genre (Theognis, Mimnermus, Philitas, etc.), and Callimachus was not necessarily the most likely choice. Yet when Catullus, or his editor, set out to compile this elegiac book, a model had to be found. This libellus selects Callimachus as its elegiac precursor and proceeds to construct him as such through a selective reading of his oeuvre that transmutes this capacious author into a proto-Roman elegist, a poet preoccupied primarily with love and grief. This reworking of Callimachus begins, as we have seen, with poems 65 and 66, which present the Son of Battus in a purely elegiac mood. The rest of the elegies continue to reproduce this skewed portrait by ensuring that Callimachus’s actual heterogeneity is nowhere to be found. When the Greek poet is alluded to in these poems, he is consistently saddled with elegiac associations.51 It is the last of the elegies, poem 116, that cements this redefinition of Callimachus as an elegist through and through. This poem ignores the existence of Callimachus’s assault poem, the Ibis, and his Hipponax-inspired Iambi to present the author of the Aetia as the antithesis of an invective poet. The poetspeaker here presents himself in the grips of an ongoing conflict with a Gellius whose rage he has been unable to soften. It is clear as early as the second

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line that this feud is not just personal, but poetic, for it hinges on a contrast between hostile tela (“shafts” or “missile weapons,” a word often used by Latin poets to refer to invective poems) and Callimachean carmina (“verses”), characterizing them as hard and soft poetry, respectively.52 It begins with a pair of couplets whose balanced, but pointedly contrasting, phrasing highlights the distinction between these two poetic types: Saepe tibi studiose, animo venante, requirens carmina uti possem mittere Battiadae, qui te lenirem nobis, neu conarere tela infesta mittere in usque caput. (1–4) Often I have eagerly sought, with a hunting mind, how to send you verses of the Son of Battus, so that I could soften you toward me, lest you try to send your hostile shafts endlessly against my head.

The first three lines introduce us to our first poetic category, carmina . . . Battiadae (“verses of the Son of Battus” i.e., Callimachus). The fourth line presents a second poetic mode, the tela infesta (“hostile shafts”) Catullus hopes to deflect. These two poetic types are pictured as contrasting weapons in a battle waged between speaker and addressee. These poems are all posed as being sent (mittere, “to send” 2, 4) from one party to the other, but sending here clearly runs the gamut from solicitous gift-giving to violent assault. These two types of poetic weapons inflict their wounds differently. Gellius’s tela infesta have the force of arrows or spears as they are hurled relentlessly against the speaker’s head. These weapons represent combative lines of invective verse sent in anger against an enemy addressee. Rather than countering with barbed verses of his own, the Catullan speaker’s strategy had been to launch a contrasting counterattack with poems that would cause his opponent’s anger to melt away. The Callimachean verses mentioned in line two are presented as having a softening effect (“so that I could soften you toward me”). “To soften” is here used to describe emotional pacification, but the description likewise points to a certain kind of poetry: mollis (“soft”) was the adjective used to describe verses of grief and, especially, love.53 These four lines hereby position the poem’s contending protagonists on opposing sides of a generic spectrum: Catullus sends erotic elegies to counter Gellius’s invective attacks. It is none too surprising to find invective and elegy described in such contrasting terms. What is surprising is that Callimachus should be linked to the latter while being ignored as a producer of the former. To pose the Son of Battus as a scribbler of mollitia is to present a highly selective portrait of a famously eclectic author.54 Though famed for his elegies in general and the elegiac Aetia in particular, Callimachus was renowned,


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above all, for his generic diversity. The tenth-century Byzantine lexicon the Suda credits the Son of Battus with eight hundred works, including poems in every meter as well as copious books in prose.55 Clearly such a superhuman bibliography cannot be taken at face value. But, while this account smacks of hagiographical exaggeration, the extant fragments do bear out Callimachus’s own claim that he was a master of many poetic forms (fr. 203, Pf.). His known works include a set of hymns, a miniature epic (the Hecale), epigrams, iambics, and a victory ode on top of the diverse array of poems featured in the Aetia. To imply, as Catullus does, that the phrase carmina Battiadae (“verses of the Son of Battus”) might refer exclusively, or even primarily, to “softening” love poems is to drastically narrow our understanding of this endlessly innovative author. The tendentiousness of Catullus’s elegiac Callimachus is brought into sharp focus when we compare it to the version that appears in Ovid’s invective poem, the Ibis. In his elegies, Ovid follows what would become, after Catullus, the typical elegiac strategy of posing Callimachus as an elegiac precursor to his own work. But in Ovid’s foray into invective, he invokes the Son of Battus as a paradigm of poetic antagonism: “Now, just as the Son of Battus cursed his enemy as Ibis / in this same way, I curse you and yours” (55– 56). To many modern-day readers, the elegized Callimachus feels abundantly familiar and the invective Callimachus strained, because the former would become the standard Roman image of this author.56 Augustan elegists frequently evoke Callimachus as an exemplary elegist and use him to legitimate their choice of genre.57 Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid all hail the author of the Aetia as a precursor to their own erotic elegies, and this is the dominant version of Callimachus that has been passed down to us.58 By as early as the first century CE, this elegizing portrait was so widely accepted that Quintilian would call Callimachus the princeps elegiae (“first among elegists” or even “emperor of Elegy,” Institutio Oratoria 10.1.58).59 It is widely recognized that Callimachus was crowned an “emperor of Elegy” by the Roman elegists of the Augustan era, who habitually constructed Callimachus in their own image, then watched “those images become reality.”60 But few have addressed the ways in which this elegiac identity had begun to be fabricated by Catullus a generation earlier, let alone the centrality of translation to this project.61 In conjunction with the other poems that frame the elegiac libellus, the Coma works to redefine the Son of Battus as someone who writes in one mode and one meter. While making only minor changes to the source text itself, the Coma alters that poem’s significance and, by extension, the significance of its author. The Plokamos becomes the anchor for a new form of Roman elegy, and a chameleon poet “of many forms” becomes the princeps elegiae. This

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now familiar version of Callimachus as the “first” (princeps) in a long line of Latin elegists is, in fact, a figment of Catullan translation. But even as the frame poems of the elegiac libellus use translation to construct Callimachus as their authorizing source, they elaborate a view of poetic creation that owes nothing to Battus’s son. We have seen how these elegies are framed by poems that position the Aetia as the forerunner to Catullus’s elegiac book. But even as they forge this genealogy, the frame poems refuse to posit the relationship between these two authors as one of dependency. While establishing a link between Catullus and his elegiac precursor, these poems revise the definition of “Callimachean verses” (carmina Battiadae) in a way that erases the distinction between the two authors altogether. When we first encounter that phrase in poem 65, we are inclined to take carmina Battiadae as referring, specifically, to the translation of Callimachus that follows, thanks largely to the expressa (“translated”) that identifies these poems as translations. The elegies that follow continue in a Callimachean mode inasmuch as they invite us to read them as an elegiac libellus. But most of them are either violently crude invectives or abstract poems of heartache that use a recognizably Roman lexicon—in other words, they are distinctly un-Callimachean.62 It thus comes as somewhat of a shock when Callimachus is mentioned once again in the book’s closing elegy (116). That poem brings us back once again to poem 65’s carmina Battiadae (“verses of the Son of Battus”). It is striking that the carmina Battiadae of 116 are not modified by the expressa (“translated”) of poem 65. This omission opens up the possibility that the second use of the phrase refers no longer to translations but to original Catullan poems. To put it a little more grammatically, we are encouraged in this instance to take the genitive as descriptive (poems “in the style of Callimachus”) rather than possessive (poems “of/by Callimachus”). We cannot say for sure whether the carmina Battiadae of 116 refers to translations of Callimachus or to Catullan verses written in a Callimachean style, but certain details in this poem encourage us toward the second of these readings. Poem 116’s position as the last of the elegies, along with its arrestingly retrospective stance, encourages us to read this phrase within the context of the elegiac libellus as a whole. When we do, we are forced to understand carmina Battiadae as referring to the elegies we have just finished reading—that is, to Catullus’s own original poems. In 116, Catullus describes sending these carmina Battiadae retrospectively, as a strategy that he had been long attempting but must now admit has failed. This narrative scenario coincides with the poem’s position in the book, leading many to read it as a programmatic poem signaling the end of one collection of “Callimachean Verses” (carmina Battiadae) and the beginning of another (perhaps a book


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of invectives that will force Gellius to “pay the penalty” he supposedly deserves).63 As it first appeared in Callimachus’s epigrams, the phrase “Son of Battus” functioned as a proud declaration of identity and authorship. When Catullus co-opts the phrase in the first of his elegiac frame poems, its meaning starts to shift. Whether we take them as referring to poem 66 or poem 65, expressa carmina Battiadae are Callimachean verses that have been stamped with a Roman author’s language, style, and signature. Callimachus is no longer the sole author of his own work. By the time we arrive at this phrase once again in poem 116, the interpretive parameters have shifted, and we are actively encouraged to take this phrase as referring back to the poems that fill Catullus’s elegiac collection. Carmina Battiadae comes, now, to read as “verses written in the manner of Callimachus,” and the phrase appears less the mark of a Greek author’s signature than the mark of a style this Roman author can claim as his own. The book thus uses its frame poems to redefine the parameters of Callimachean song. By the end of this elegiac libellus, Catullus has reverently constructed Callimachus as his elegiac precursor while also posing himself as the primary author of carmina Battiadae. As Fantuzzi and Hunter have so lucidly explained, “faithful translation” was, for first-century poets, “one option which they could claim within a broad range of possible stances with regard to Greek models.”64 Thinking of translation as occupying one end of a “continuum of allusive practices” offers one additional way of understanding the prominence of the Plokamos in Catullus’s collected elegies.65 It suggests that this set of poems might be making a show of spanning the entire range of allusive possibilities. This libellus begins with a poem (65) in which this continuum is presented, as Fantuzzi and Hunter note, “as an oscillation between expromere and exprimere.”66 In other words, these two terms move between the “self-expression,” “discovery,” or “disclosure”—encompassed by expromere—and the “imitation” or “translation” implied by exprimere. This continuum is once again displayed within the translation-preface pair itself (65/66), which includes, in the span of two poems, unusually (for a Roman poet) “faithful” translation, distinctly Catullan forms of poetic invention, and an array of “allusive practices” that fall between the two. The same can be said for the elegiac cluster as a whole, with its opening and closing evocations of carmina Battiadae. When we first encounter this phrase in poem 65, it is modified by expressa and seems to point, primarily, to the translation that follows. But when we meet the phrase again in poem 116, it lacks this modifier and seems to gesture back to the poems we have just read, almost all of which lack any known models. The oscillation between expromere and exprimere found in the first of these elegies is hereby

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replicated on the level of the elegiac libellus. This entire set of poems is posing itself as one vast allusive playground where the author ranges at will between translation and original expression. This chapter has, I hope, testified to the degree of invention a Roman poet might bring not just to writing but to arranging—we might say orchestrating—a translation. We have seen how Catullus fragments his source and disembeds it from its original literary and cultural contexts in order to then infuse it with new meanings of his own. We have seen how his collection reframes this translation in several different ways and how each of these contexts transforms the Greek poem into something distinctly Catullan. While such translation-based manipulations revolve around Callimachus’s Plokamos, here they are not, themselves, inspired by Callimachean technique. Like most Greek authors, Callimachus had little interest in translation, and he certainly did not use it as a primary creative motor for his books. It is, thus, precisely at the place where Catullus appears to depend most on the author of the Aetia that he displays his independence from the poets of Alexandria. One of the features that make these elegies so original—and so Roman—is the creative gusto with which they mobilize translation from the Greek.


Surpassing the Gods: Infatuation and Agonism in Catullus’s Sappho (51)

Catullus 51

Sappho 31

Ille mi par esse deo videtur, ille, si fas est, superare divos, qui sedens adversus identidem te spectat et audit

φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν ἔμμεν’ ὤνηρ, ὄττις ἐνάντιός τοι ἰσδάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φωνείσας ὐπακούει

dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi

καὶ γελαίσας ἰμέροεν, τό μ’ ἦ μὰν καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν· ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ’ἴδω βρόχε’, ὤς με φώναισ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ἔτ’ εἴκει,

lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte.

ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσά ἔαγε, λέπτον δ’αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν, ὀππάτεσσι δ’ουδ’ ἒν ὄρημμ’, ἐπιρρόμβεισι δ’ ἄκουαι,

otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est; otio exsultas nimiumque gestis; otium et reges prius et beatas perdidit urbes

κὰδ δέ μ’ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲ παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ’ ὀλίγω ’πιδεύης φαίνομ’ ἔμ’ αὔτ[ᾳ. ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, ἐπεὶ †καὶ πένητα†1

Catullus 51 That man seems to me to be equal to a god, that man, if it is right to say so, seems to surpass the gods, the man who, sitting across from you, again and again gazes and listens to you sweetly laughing which snatches all senses from

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me, wretch that I am: for as soon as I have seen you, Lesbia, no voice is left in my mouth but my tongue goes numb, a slender flame seeps beneath my limbs, my ears ring with their own sound, my eyes are clouded over with twin night. Leisure, Catullus, is harmful to you; you exult in leisure and you get too worked up; leisure has destroyed formerly happy kings and cities.

Sappho 31 He seems to me to be equal to the gods, the man who sits opposite you and listens close by to your sweet speaking and lovely laughing, which, honestly, makes the heart flutter in my chest; for the very moment I look at you I am no longer able to speak. But my tongue has snapped and a slender flame creeps under my skin, and there is no sight left in my eyes, and my ears ring, and sweat pours off me, a trembling seizes me all around, greener than grass I am and it seems to me that I am just moments away from dying. But all can be endured since . . . even a poor person . . .

Heir to the editorial labors of Alexandrian redactors, Catullus had his pick from nine books’ worth of love poems, hymns, epithalamia, and invectives when he translated what we know as Sappho’s fragment 31. 2 Why did he choose to translate this particular poem? For a long time, biographically oriented critics sought to answer this question by delving into the elusive archive of the poet’s romantic life. They understood the tender invocations and plangent self-castigations in Catullus 51 as the words that inaugurated its translator’s ill-starred affair with a woman called Lesbia throughout Catullus’s corpus.3 They were then left to explain why such a bold and talented poet would take recourse in another’s words to express his affections. Perhaps he was so overcome by the first shudders of new emotion that he momentarily lost command over his power of speech? Perhaps this translation was a decoy intended to test Lesbia’s affections with a vicarious profession of love before the poet plunged headlong into some enamored abyss? Such circuitous speculations flood the pages of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and even some twenty-firstcentury commentators, validating poem 51 within a framework of postromantic reading by attributing its status as a translation to emotional necessity. My discussion in this chapter takes a different approach. I suggest that, rather than sidestepping the poem’s status as a translation to incorporate it into a tale of personal passion, we consider how this poem’s scene of envious infatuation articulates the ambivalent emotions prompted by translation itself. Poem 51, I propose, refashions Sappho’s amorous plaint into a scene of translation that uses the structures of desire and envy, so memorably traced in


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the Greek, to articulate the emotional ambivalence of Roman poetic translation in particular and aesthetic Hellenism more broadly. Catullus, Lesbia, ille: A Drama of Translation Translation is, as George Steiner has shown, at once aggressive and tender.4 Such vacillation between hostility and affection was especially acute in GrecoRoman antiquity, where a spirit of rivalry (zelos, in Greek) was the basic premise of literary creation.5 In both Greece and Rome, literary writing was conceptualized as a competition in which authors vied with texts they admired in an attempt to displace them. This principle of agonistic emulation was intensified at Rome, where the source was always Greek, and the glory of not just the author but Rome itself was at stake. As the Romans set forth to construct their literary culture on Greek models, they fostered the idea that this foreign literary tradition was their rightful inheritance passed down seamlessly through the generations. But, as Rita Copeland observes, this “ideal of generational transmission . . . [was] . . . complicated by the impulse to rival not only the model, but the very literary culture that the model represents.”6 At Rome, imitation (imitatio) always took the form of an aggressive emulation (aemulatio) that pitted the Latin author against a formidable precursor in a struggle to prove himself and his nation to be the dominant powers. Literary translation was an intensified version of such aemulatio that set the Roman author directly against his model in a literary version of hand-tohand combat. The notion that translation was a form of competition finds expression in numerous Latin authors. An extended discussion of agonistic translation comes from Pliny the Younger in a letter to a friend who had asked how best to occupy himself during retirement. Pliny advises translating either from Greek into Latin or the reverse, adding: “once you have read the passage to the point that you grasp its content and argument, there is nothing to stop you from writing as a rival (quasi aemulum), then comparing what you have written with the source considering carefully what you and what the original author do better” (Epistulae 7.9.3). Pliny describes such exercises as certamina (“contests”) in which the translators, if lucky, might garner great praise (7.9.4). Though Pliny dispensed this advice over a century after Catullus’s time, the notion of translation or imitation as competition with the source was already widespread in the late Republic.7 The idea was common enough by that time that Lucretius could invert it to apostrophically assure his model, Epicurus, that “it is not so much because I have a desire to compete (certandi cupidus) as on account of love (propter amorem) that I long to imitate you (te imitari aveo) . . .” (De Rerum Natura 3.5–6).

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Lucretius’s wording in this passage foregrounds another attitude the Romans frequently entertained toward their sources. If the spirit of rivalry that spurred Greek poetic production was intensified in a Roman context, the reverence felt toward their models was amplified too. The Romans were beset by an overwhelming admiration for their Greek forebears as well as a sense of inferiority in the face of formidable literary ancestors.8 This inferiority complex did not stop them from striving to imitate and outdo even the most intimidating source. But it did, at times, infuse their discussions of literary precursors with an intensity of devotion that we might expect more from a lover than a translator. Lucretius’s description of his own “desirous” (cupidus) longing (aveo) to imitate Epicurus out of “love” (amorem) applies an erotic vocabulary to the task of translation. Lucretius’s devotion to Epicurus was zealous, to be sure. But this passage is not the aberrant declaration of a fanatic so much as a particularly fervent articulation of the standard attitude a Roman typically had toward his source. At Rome, translation was both an agonistic struggle and a labor of love in which one vied with cherished source texts in an attempt to displace them. This pairing of affection and envy would have struck Catullus powerfully when he chose to translate Sappho. This famous poet of Lesbos was a “wondrous creature” rumored to have earned her place as a tenth muse on Helicon.9 In choosing to translate her φαίνεταί μοι, he compounds an already arduous task: among first-century Roman readers, fr. 31 was already an iconic poem.10 Faced with translating a masterwork by a legendary poet, a Latin author might succumb to both envy and awe. But Catullus finds in Sappho’s poem an opportunity to give the emotional turmoil of translation a constructive form. The Greek poem’s structure of jealous desire presented an opportunity to dramatize the ambivalent emotions of aemulatio that defined poetic translation at Rome. As the discussion that follows will show, his version of Sappho harnesses the structures of infatuation and envy already present in Sappho’s poem to create a metapoetic drama that voices the conflicting desires of the Roman poet-translator whose admiration for his source was matched by his ambition to both surpass its author and prove his preeminence among his Roman peers. This dramatic reconfiguration of Sappho’s poem begins with the addition of a single word. Catullus’s opening lines adhere quite closely to their original. But in the third line of the second stanza, he abandons such fidelity: “for, as soon as I have seen you, Lesbia,” he begins, inserting “Lesbia” for Sappho’s anonymous beloved. Since antiquity, Lesbia has been identified as Catullus’s primary beloved and as a metrically identical pseudonym for Clodia, a contemporary aristocrat whom Cicero strategically maligns in the


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Pro Caelio. But this name has an entirely different reference point as well. “Lesbia” likewise points back to Sappho herself, who could be referred to in Latin as, simply, “the woman from Lesbos” (Lesbia). This name superimposes a scene of translation upon the original scene of romantic infatuation and suggests that the Catullus of this poem is speaking from two positions at once: as a lover yearning for communion with a woman beyond his reach, and as a translator yearning for communion with a historically, culturally, and linguistically distant text. Translation is a potent sort of literary love affair, explored earlier in this book as “the most intimate act of reading.”11 But this intimacy is accompanied by an inevitable sense of distance, because the object of the translator’s devotions hides behind a veil of foreign words. In the case of the belated translator, this inherent sense of distance is amplified tremendously, for the text he seeks to possess is separated from him by a wide chronological and cultural gap. When Catullus gazes upon Sappho’s poem, he peers across a chasm of some six hundred years. In his version of 31, the distressed gaze of the lover is also the gaze of this belated translator who is working at a cultural, temporal, and linguistic distance from his source.12 Looking again and again at Sappho’s poem in an attempt to render it in Latin, Catullus sees the marvelous “woman from Lesbos,” an inaccessible author and text with which he has fallen in love. In conjuring “Lesbia” from the interstices of Sappho’s Greek, Catullus affirms his devotion to this fabled poet of Lesbos. Like Lucretius’s labor of Epicurean love, this version of Sappho is an expression of its author’s affection for his source. The same line in which this name appears harnesses the poet’s powers to allow for a fleeting communion across the centuries. The words Lesbia aspexi are part of a phrase that denotes a momentary connection between speaker and beloved along the line of sight (“as soon as I have seen you, Lesbia . . .”). These words likewise form a single unit through metrical elision, which fuses the two words. This phrasing tenderly closes the gap that separates this speaker from his Sapphic beloved, effacing six centuries with one judicious elision. Conjoined by metrical necessity, Lesbia and the admirer who looks upon her from a distance are momentarily united. Whatever its biographical origins, the Lesbia/Catullus romance is also a translator’s act of homage as it emerges from this poem, affirming the translator’s devotion to his precursor by posing him as her doting admirer. In building this translation-based subtext into his version of 31, Catullus follows the common Roman habit of self-consciously flagging a text’s status as a translation, then forging an “ongoing dialogue” (60) between target and source.13 His poem presents a scenario in which the longing of the lover and the translator cannot be disentangled. The plaint of this lovesick speaker also

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expresses the conflicted passions of the belated Roman translator. Sappho’s poem has been transformed into a drama of translation. The dialogue hereby created with the source is equally audacious. The insertion of a single word dramatizes the relationship between translation and source into a full-blown romance. The relationship between two texts by Sappho and Catullus becomes a narrative about two lovers named Lesbia and Catullus, a narrative that will continue to be developed in numerous other poems within this poettranslator’s corpus. But the aggressive side of Roman aemulatio is inherent even within this act of homage. The translator’s declaration of devotion to Lesbia is predicated on an aggressive disruption of Sappho’s text. As a place in the Latin that has no equivalent in the Greek, this “Lesbia” is a moment of stark textual betrayal. Catullus veers away from the wording of Sappho’s poem at the instant he proclaims his devotion to her Roman avatar. By posing Lesbia as his lover in 51, Catullus scripts an affair rooted in a moment of translational infidelity. This single deviation from Sappho’s text also sets up an even bolder act of infidelity on the part of this translator. By identifying Lesbia as his version’s beloved, Catullus usurps Sappho’s authorial position, inserting himself as the poem’s new speaker and beginning the process of claiming her poem as his own. With this rearticulation of authorship, the agonistic impulse will find its most powerful expression. Catullus aims not simply to outdo his rival, but to substitute himself in her place. Many of Catullus’s original readers would have been well acquainted with the Greek version of this poem. Such readers would have heard in the beginning of 51 a Latin transcript of a familiar lament expressing the romantic sorrows of the famous Sappho. But the appearance of “Lesbia” in the second stanza makes such a reading impossible. This deviation transforms Sappho from the poem’s speaking subject into the silent object of a new speaker’s vociferous attentions. An earlier detail in the second stanza had already set up this substitution: the masculine misero of line 5 agreeing with the following line’s mihi makes it clear that the speaker of this Latin rendition could not possibly be Sappho. The Lesbia of line 7 confirms this idea and makes it clear that Catullus himself is this version’s suffering subject. Lesbia is, of course, the name of the hotheaded mistress Catullus cajoles and castigates in numerous other poems throughout his corpus. No matter what the exact configuration of his original libellus (or libelli), Catullus’s ancient readers, like his modern ones, would probably have met this name before. Within this broader Catullan context, the translation’s new addressee registers not as the artificial imposition but as the familiar protagonist in an intimate, and even inevitable, drama.


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The ease with which the word “Lesbia” is conjured from Sappho’s array of polysyllabic verbs and scattered particles fortifies the sense of its being a foregone conclusion. The name glides hypnotically into its stanza, drawn inexorably into the line by the elision that immediately follows (Lesbia, aspexi). Because it barely disrupts the sense of the original strophe, the name feels as though it were already there, waiting to be discovered with a slight deviation of the translator’s stylus. In so deftly inserting the name of his own beloved as the object of the speaker’s affections, Catullus begins the appropriative process of co-opting Sappho’s poem as his own. Catullus’s appropriation of Sappho’s poem culminates in his closing stanza, which finds no equivalent in the original fragment. In this notorious addendum, Catullus swerves away from Sappho’s lament into a manifestly Roman diatribe on the destructive force of otium (“leisure”). This sudden divergence from the Greek has prompted boundless debate about whether the stanza is an authentic part of the Latin poem.14 But suspicions that this is a rogue stanza transplanted from elsewhere emerge from a modern, mimetic view of translation, for deviation from the source text was common practice at Rome.15 It would have been more surprising to find a Latin poet doggedly following his source than manipulating it beyond recognition. The fact that Catullus’s Sappho ends by swerving away from fr. 31 sets it squarely within the poetics of Roman translation. From this perspective, translation was an opportunity to display one’s own literary prowess by co-opting and outstripping a precursor’s text. When viewed in these terms, one of the strongest arguments in favor of this stanza’s authenticity is the fact that it finishes the job of transferring authorship from Sappho to Catullus. This deviant stanza begins with an apostrophe not to “Lesbia” but to “Catullus.” “Leisure, Catullus (otium, Catulle) is harmful to you,” the poettranslator declares, launching a four-line bout of self-castigation.16 This cascade of self-rebuke is also a moment of self-affirmation where the translator completes his co-option of his source’s poem. With this insertion of his own name into his version of Sappho’s poem Catullus confirms his status as its new speaker. In one sense, this maneuver pays tribute to the archaic poetic tradition, for it is in keeping with long-standing sympotic practices. Such modifications of a preexisting text were common at Greek symposia, where poets were prone to “updating,” “modifying or parodying” earlier songs by tweaking lines or appending whole new stanzas.17 By inserting his own name into this poem’s climax, Catullus is also working in the tradition of Theognis, setting his own seal or sphragis in a prominent spot at the end of Sappho’s poem.18 This is a common enough technique among Greek and Roman poets alike, but the gesture is patently aggressive when the poet signs his name to a

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poem that was not, originally, his own.19 As Nietzche once observed, in Roman translations, “the name of the original [Greek] poet was rubbed out and replaced by one’s own.”20 While Nietzsche’s comment clearly gestures toward cases where this maneuver is primarily metaphorical, this poem performs such an erasure in the most literal fashion. With this self-apostrophe, Catullus transforms the poem into his own, once and for all, outdoing his source in spectacular fashion by ousting her from her own poem. Adding such a signature as an aggressive assertion of ownership over another’s creation also has specifically Roman corollaries. It was, for instance, a common practice in the visual arts for Romans to inscribe the bases of Greek statues with flamboyantly Roman names. One informative (if clearly tendentious) discussion of this practice is supplied by Cicero in the course of his second Verrine oration. At one point in that speech, he goes into great detail about a statue of Diana stolen from the town of Segesta (2.4.34). The orator takes great pains to contrast Verres’s brutish physical theft of the statue with a subtler discursive theft performed by P. Scipio Aemelianus several generations earlier. As Cicero explains, this Diana, a prized cult object, had been plundered by Hannibal and exported to Carthage. It was then restored by Scipio at the end of the Third Punic War. To commemorate this magnanimous gesture, Scipio had his name carved into the statue’s base along with an inscription crediting himself with its return. In Cicero’s account, the letters of the great general’s name assume a significance that symbolically dwarfs the statue into which they were carved. The name transforms a sign of Greek piety into an emblem of Roman power or, as Cicero puts it, into “a monument of the victory of the Roman people” (2.4.34). In an excellent reading of this episode, Catherine Baroin discusses Scipio’s name as a “semiotic re-inscription” of the original statue, noting how Cicero’s discussion strips one of the most celebrated generals in Roman history of his sword to focus instead on his skill at domination in the symbolic realm.21 Such reappropriations were a powerful tool in Rome’s ideological consolidation of power throughout its spreading empire. Marking an ancient Greek monument with the name of its conqueror asserted Roman control over the cultural booty of Greece. This gesture was so potent that, in the imperial era, it was reserved for the emperor alone.22 When Catullus floats his name so seamlessly into his version of Sappho 31, he performs a semiotic reconfiguration of her poem that is the poetic equivalent of Scipio’s inscription at the base of the Segestan Diana. The poem remains a poem by Sappho, as much as Diana remains Diana. But a Roman has affirmed control over the object as a whole, his signature suggesting his power


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to manipulate that object at will, whether that manipulation means carting the object back across the sea or making subtle changes to a poem’s texture when rendering it into Latin. In both cases, much of the inscription’s power comes from leaving the original object largely intact. Aside from the aforementioned “Lesbia,” Catullus’s first three stanzas render Sappho’s Greek with a fidelity unusual for a Roman literary author. We might surmise that the poem adheres so closely to the Greek throughout these stanzas in order to add force to the final intervention. As with Scipio’s statue, any change to the object itself would advertise itself as a belated intervention, affirming the chronological and cultural primacy of the Greeks. What both Scipio and Catullus do instead is subject their respective Greek monuments to a cultural rebirth through an inscription that reorients both ownership and authorship. In both cases, the original object is re-authored and claimed not just as a Roman possession but also as a Roman innovation by virtue of its new signature. By affixing his signature to the end of his translation, Catullus completes the process of rewriting Sappho’s poem as his own. What had been a Greek woman’s meditation upon her reaction to jealous love becomes a Roman man’s account of a new love affair that allegorizes the fraught passions of the Roman translator. Sappho herself is his beloved and also his rival whom he seeks to best at the same time as he pronounces his devotion. By ousting Sappho from her own strophes in the closing stanza, he proves himself the winner of this literary contest. This literary rival may have made his tongue go numb when he began to render her words into Latin. But as the translation proceeds, the poet-translator regains his voice and uses it to affirm his ownership over Sappho’s re-authored poem. But where does the ille who features so prominently in the first two lines of 51 factor into this scene of translation? In what ways might Catullus’s agonistic encounter with a beloved Sapphic text allow for the intrusion of this glorified third party? I would propose that the answer to this question lies in another central feature of translation practice in late Republican Rome: internal competition among the Roman elite. When a Roman translator set out to rival a Greek source, he had more than a long-dead precursor to worry about. He was also in competition with other Roman authors eager to prove their dominance in the literary arena.23 This was especially true in first-century Rome, which was a brutally competitive place. Male elite culture in the late Republic was driven by the relentless struggle to prove oneself superior to one’s peers. This culture of competition helped spur the spectacular flourishing of Latin literature in the first century BCE, when elites increasingly devoted themselves to literary pursuits.24 It is also on ample display throughout Catullus’s

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corpus, which is shot through with various competitions and rivalries, ranging from the romantic to the political to the poetic.25 Some of the best recent readings of poem 51 have viewed it as an enactment of this culture of elite competition.26 From this perspective, the speaker’s fixation on the ille imports this spirit of interelite rivalry into this Latin version of Sappho. My own reading is in keeping with such accounts but contextualizes them within Roman translation practices more specifically. I suggest that Catullus 51 is an artifact of a culture of combative retranslation that elicited multiple vying versions of Sappho’s celebrated poem. Its allegorical drama of translation includes a strong focus on an internal male rival because such rivalries were the catalysts for literary translation at Rome. Catullus’s version fixates with dogged attention on the male rival to whom Sappho merely alludes. While the opening strophe of the Greek version features this man as its subject, a number of features conspire to diminish his centrality to the scene. Though his presence is embedded in the ending of the verb that opens the poem, he does not manifest as that verb’s subject until we reach the demonstrative κῆνος (“that man”) three words in. This happens after we have already met the “me” (μοι) who is the poem’s primary focus. The second line solidifies this still-unspecified subject’s presence by disclosing the noun that this demonstrative refers to: ὤνηρ (“man”). But the conceptual solidity this noun proffers is instantly undone by the word that follows. This ὄττις (“whoever”) destabilizes this man by wrenching him from the space of the real into the hypothetical. This ὤνηρ has been exposed as not a flesh-andblood man but a rhetorical figment who plays a necessary, but fungible, role in the erotic triangle the poem describes.27 Catullus’s version treats this male rival altogether differently. If Sappho’s poem reduces him to a grammatical phantom or narrative placeholder, Catullus’s version renders him powerfully present, forcing us into repeated awareness of his dominance over the scene. As close as the Latin stanza comes to capturing the semantic meaning of Sappho’s opening lines, grammar conspires with word order to effect the opposite of her subtle negation of the ὤνηρ’s presence. Instead, the Latin version brings this man to the fore, inserting him, in the form of a demonstrative pronoun, as the very first word (ille, “that”), then repeating this ille again at the start of the second line. The third line begins with a clever variation on this now nearly obsessive repetition. It opens with another word that points grammatically back to the man, the demonstrative pronoun qui, a “who” whose emphatic facticity counters the elusiveness of Sappho’s “whoever.” These three words alone would ensure that the man holds our attention. But the Latin poem takes things one step further with a slight but significant


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modification of Sappho’s declaration that the man seems to her to be “similar to the gods.” Transforming her plural comparison into the singular (par . . . deo, “equal to a god”), the Latin, once again, accords its man a greater degree of facticity than he had originally received. Where Sappho’s equating her man to “the gods” smacks of rhetorical generalization, Catullus’s shift into the singular gives the sense that this person might be real. His version continues by taking advantage of the natural compactness of Latin to insert an entire line with no equivalent in the source: “that man, if it is right to say so, seems to surpass the gods.” This phrase amplifies Sappho’s original statement to the point of blasphemy, then draws attention to its own impertinence with an ostentatious nod to Roman piety (si fas est). It adds to the mounting solidity of this unidentified man, transforming what had been a generic rival into the poem’s now deified protagonist. Catullus’s envious fixation on this man suggests that any reading of this scene as an allegory of translation must incorporate a second rival beyond Sappho. The Latin stanza makes abundantly clear that this rival is a man and that he, like Catullus, is obsessively and repeatedly examining Lesbia (“who, sitting across from you, again and again gazes and listens to you sweetly laughing . . .”). When viewed as part of the poem’s underlying scene of translation, this man would seem to be a second translator luxuriating in the sights and sounds of Sappho’s “sweetly laughing” strophes. But this second translator has something the poet has not. Where the mere sight of Lesbia/ Sappho sends Catullus into a near-lethal fit, this ille maintains his composure throughout repeated inspections. This man’s godlike superiority manifests in two different spheres: he is an insouciant rival for Lesbia’s affections as well as a capable translator who seems to have no trouble coming face-to-face with Sappho’s poem. With his odd fixation on this rival, Catullus draws his version of poem 31 into the Roman literary landscape in which it was produced. Beneath a universal scene of jealous romance lurks the specifically Roman pressure of combative translation, the fact that a Roman frequently wrote with some formidable ille reading and writing—and perhaps even translating— over his shoulder. Poem 51’s position in the collection offers a hint of who this rival translator might be. The poem that comes immediately before it is, as we have seen, an account of a day spent penning verses with the poet Licinius Calvus. David Wray has convincingly proposed that we might read these poems as a pair that documents a playfully combative exchange of texts between these two authors.28 If we view these two poems in this way, we could understand the ille as pointing back to Calvus himself, who had perhaps tried his hand at rendering his own version of Sappho during their day of leisurely versification. But

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even without such speculative backstories, we can catch a glimpse of other Roman translators vying for Sappho’s affections. Several different texts from Catullus’s period and earlier incorporate translated portions of Sappho’s poem.29 These texts tend to follow the standard Roman translation techniques of piecemeal translation and contaminatio, scattering brief passages from the source text within longer Latin texts. Catullus’s near-complete translation of the entire lyric is a startling exception to this rule. Its anomalous integrity suggests that it was intended to be not simply another dazzling version of Sappho but a combative declaration of ownership over an archaic lyric poem (indeed, perhaps, over an entire melic tradition) that was rarely translated as a whole into Latin. Catullus’s version is an attempt to lay definitive claim to this poem, supplanting all prior versions and rendering any further ones impossible. By claiming the poem as his own through the methods discussed above, Catullus does more than usurp this poem from its original author. He also wrenches it away from any other would-be Roman translator. It would be difficult for another author to lay claim to this poem once it was stamped with Catullus’s apostrophic signature and transformed into an episode in his own poeticized romance with Lesbia. One index of Catullus’s success at writing the definitive translation of Sappho is Horace’s own approach to translating Sappho 31 in his Odes. Ode 1.22, in Sapphic meter, renders only the slightest fraction of Sappho’s poem in its final line, the “sweetly speaking” (dulce loquentem) that Catullus leaves out of his own rendition (1.22.24). It also incorporates a phrase from Catullus’s own version of the poem, the dulce ridentem (“sweetly laughing”) featured at the start of his second stanza. Horace, the self-proclaimed primogenitor of Latin lyric, has himself been rendered mute by Catullus’s masterful translation. Unable to compete with that definitive version, he translates one of the few phrases Catullus had left untouched and then builds a rare homage to his otherwise unacknowledged Roman precursor into his truncated rendition. But if the point of this translation is to triumph in the competitive world of Roman literary creation, why would Catullus pose himself as his own poem’s lesser rival? The simplest answer to this question is that he does not. Despite the Catullan speaker’s claims to inferiority, by the time we read to the end of poem 51 it is clear that Catullus has won this contest. Though he has yet to make his conquest in the romantic arena, in the realm of translation he has been spectacularly successful. The poem praises the anonymous ille for his ready communion with Sappho’s text and devotes the entire fourth stanza to positioning Catullus as a ruined man. Yet, in the act of posing himself as


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someone who crumbles when confronted with Sappho’s text, Catullus creates a poem that proves otherwise. These four accomplished stanzas undercut the idea that some vaunted ille could surpass Catullus’s own compositional skills. They attest to the fact that he too has been sitting face to face with the Lesbian poet, absorbing her poem’s every syllable. He has gazed upon her lines again and again and heard her sweet laughter ring in his ears. Despite his claims to having a numb tongue, he has managed to write a poem that surpasses any Latin lyric we know of up to this time. Beneath its veneer of humbleness, this is a sweepingly boastful poem. This successful poetic performance prompts its reader toward a version of the very question with which it begins: does it seem to us that Catullus—who has just bested both Sappho and his anonymous Roman rival—has (“if it is right to say so”) himself “surpassed the gods”? Otium and the Erotics of Hellenization Thus far, I have been discussing this poem’s translation allegory as expressing the fraught passions of the poet-translator. And yet, poem 51 exceeds such a purely personalized reading by ending on a provocatively public note. The otium stanza broadens its individual speaker’s predicament into the public realm, shifting away from “Catullus” and “Lesbia” toward entire “cities” and “kings.” The last part of my discussion accounts for this shift by proposing that this poem’s personal drama of translation also expresses the conflicting emotions incited by aesthetic Hellenism more generally. By staging the emotional ambivalence aroused by first-century Hellenism as a tale of envious romance, this poem gave its first readers a narrative frame for thinking through their own conflicted passion for the aesthetic products of Greece. The word otium that features so prominently in the translation’s final stanza has often been understood as pointing toward Catullus’s retreat from the public sphere. Read in contrast to negotium (“business,” “public affair”), it is seen as a term that, when used by Catullus, “creates an antithesis to public life and suggests an elevation of the realm of the private, of personal mood and experience, to a new significance.”30 But the otium that appears three times at the end of 51 challenges this purported separation of public and private by linking individual misfortune with the collapse of cities and kings. As the stanza progresses, the speaker’s personal crisis is broadened into an ominous vision of social collapse, with the thrice-repeated word leading the reader seamlessly from a focus on the speaker (otium, Catulle, “leisure, Catullus,” otium exsultas, “you [Catullus] exult in leisure”) to entire cities and kings (otium et reges . . . / . . . urbes, “leisure both kings . . . and cities”). Catullus the

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distressed lover has become the representative voice of an urbs on the brink of collapse. How is it that one lover’s anguished consciousness can become suddenly coterminous with the bounds of ruined kingdoms? The answer lies in otium, for “leisure” in first-century Rome was a private activity with highly public stakes. To spend an afternoon of otium—reading philosophy or writing verses, say—represented a rejection of traditional Roman values in favor of new aesthetic pastimes imported from Greece. Otium was frequently used as a catchall term for the forms of luxurious living that gained popularity at Rome in the wake of its military incursions into the East. This series of campaigns reputedly “converted the Roman citizenry from labor (negotiis) to leisure (in otium)”31 and transformed a citizen body of stalwart soldiers into “lazy little Greeks” (graeculi otiosi).32 When the Catullan speaker of 51 declares that “leisure (otium) is harmful to you,” he is tapping into this discourse of hellenization, contextualizing his own translation project within contemporary debates about the deleterious effects of Greek culture. Whatever else it might be saying about the dangers of love, this otium stanza also rereads the translated stanzas that precede it as the most recent chapter of a saga in which the arrival of Greek culture converts valiant citizens into sluggish aesthetes. The eruption of this moralizing diatribe in his translation’s final stanza infuses it with an internal censor who rebukes the degeneracy of an otium (“leisure”) that afforded the translator an opportunity to write the preceding stanzas. The final evocation of the collapse of cities and kings evinces an awareness that such a translation project is political by nature. By broadening the individual crisis of the poet-translator into a lament for the disintegration of the body politic under the pressures of otium, 51’s closing stanza opens the poem out into the contemporary discourse on the dangers aesthetic Hellenism. Such a statement broadens a personal drama of translation into a tale about the woes of a contemporary Rome that habitually blamed the luxurious East for its own supposed moral decay. In the otium stanza, Catullus as degenerate translator becomes the representative voice of a contemporary Rome that so often pictured itself on the brink of social collapse. Maligning himself for ceding to the destructive force of leisure, Catullus becomes an embodiment of the Roman urbs itself. The beloved who prompts these calamities is similarly double, for the Lesbia of this poem encompasses both a Roman mistress romanced by a Roman lover and a Greek text and author romanced by a Roman translator. As the counterpart to our bifurcated Catullus, this beloved is likewise an object of collective desire. If Catullus speaks for a corrupted Rome, Lesbia embodies those Eastern territories the possession of which allegedly led to Rome’s moral collapse.33


chapter 6

This leap to viewing Lesbia as emblem of the seductive lands of the East would not have been difficult for contemporary readers. Greece existed in the collective Roman consciousness as an alluring and feminized region that seduced a nation of farmers and soldiers into abandoning the virile traditions of their fatherland. This broader association of Lesbia with the lands of the Greek East is inherent in her very name. “Lesbia” alludes to Sappho by way of the island of Lesbos that she inhabited. This eruption of Mediterranean geography into an isolated lyric scene layers a new set of imperialist concerns over this Latin version of Sappho. This new Catullan speaker has set his sights on a woman who is also an island in the Aegean. As a representative of the urbs he inhabits, he speaks not just as this woman’s would-be lover, but as that island’s newfound ruler, for Lesbos had passed into Roman hands in 79 BCE. We are, by now, accustomed to contemplating the female beloveds of Roman poetry through a feminist lens. From this perspective, we might note that the “Lesbia” of this poem comes into being at precisely the place where Sappho herself is silenced. The instant this Lesbia is posed as the object of erotic attention, Sappho cedes her place to Catullus as the poem’s subject and speaker. The double identity of Catullus and Lesbia as individuals who embody entire nations encourages us to view this silencing of Sappho in colonialist terms. When we read Catullus and Lesbia as synecdoches for Rome and Greece, respectively, it becomes clear that Catullus’s deft co-option of Sappho’s voice is an imperialist—or more specifically, an Orientalist—move. As formulated three decades ago by Edward Said, Orientalism is a process of literary and scholastic domination through which the West claims intellectual control over a textualized East. Delineating the respective positions of the Orientalist and the Oriental, Said explains, “The former writes about, whereas the latter is written about. For the latter, passivity is the presumed role; for the former, the power to observe, study, and so forth.”34 With Catullus’s poem, we can trace this process back to the mid-first century BCE when his translation refashioned a lamenting poet of Lesbos into a muted object of his own studious attentions. In a perennially Orientalist move, this translation silences the East by effacing Sappho as subject and transforming her poem into a lament about the dangers of hellenization. Where it had formerly expressed itself in the voice of a poet from Lesbos, the Greek East becomes the object of the Italian poet’s enraptured contemplation. Not surprisingly, the relationship between nations allegorized in this poem is eroticized. As Said observes, the intellectual struggles of the ardent Orientalist tend to be figured in sexual terms: “The Middle East is resistant, as any virgin would be, but the male scholar wins the prize by bursting open, penetrating through the Gordian knot.”35

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With poem 51, the Latin poet-scholar has won that prize, penetrating the knots of Sappho’s text with a lucid translation that closes with an affirmation of both poetic and scholastic mastery. An important indication of the translation’s Orientalist agenda is the fact that its final stanza takes a decidedly learned turn. First, there is the prominent first-line anaphora with the variant endings, an Alexandrian affectation. Next there is the stanza’s Theognidean sphragis. We may also be hearing echoes of Theognis on hubris (Thgn. 1103–04) and Hellenistic historiographers on the role of truphe (luxuriousness, wantonness) in ruining cities.36 In four short lines this stanza manages to range through multiple phases in Greek literary history: the archaic lyric evoked by its Sapphic meter, the later elegies of Theognis, the stylistic and thematic preoccupations of Hellenistic poetry and historiography. Such a conflation of periods and styles is, itself, a Callimachean gesture that aligns Catullus with the encyclopedic ambitions of the poet-scholar from Cyrene. To combine archaic lyricism and Hellenistic scholasticism is more than an exhibition of stylistic dexterity, though it certainly is that. It is also an Orientalist proclamation of authority that uses the Callimachean stance of the learned poet to claim ownership over Sappho’s poem and, by extension, over Greek literature in its entirety. With its welter of wide-ranging references, this stanza reconfigures Sappho’s text as one small fragment in a vast literary archive the Roman translator controls. Such encyclopedic learnedness positions the Roman author as a Callimachean figure, a master-librarian of sorts who commands the textual territories of the Greek East. Catullus’s translation displaces the urgencies and infidelities of Roman aesthetic Hellenism onto a romance between two figures named “Catullus” and “Lesbia,” who metonymically represent Rome and Greece, respectively. Rather than reading this poem as initiating Catullus’s love affair with a woman named Clodia, we might, then, view it as inaugurating a new form of amatory discourse that explores the emotional underpinnings of Roman hellenization by folding it into a first-person tale of romantic woe. As embodied in the now-famous pair featured in this poem, the Roman elite’s desire to possess the territories and texts of Greece became the motor for a new and powerful expression of literary love.


Toward a Poetics of Lyric Appropriation

The lyric is notoriously difficult to define, eluding our best efforts to pin it down in terms of music, meter, length, speaker, spontaneous feeling, overhearing, or subjectivity. But there is, in fact, a great deal of consensus on the European lyric’s ancestry: it is almost invariably traced back to the Greeks. Perhaps more than any other genre, the lyric tends to construct itself around the myth of its own genealogy, gazing longingly back to the lyres of Alcaeus and Sappho. Despite misgivings from many critical quarters, the idea that the modern lyric has its origins in Greek song continues to be reasserted, and this vague, but firm, belief in the lyric’s archaic origins persists in shaping how poems get taught, read, and written. The assumption that the modern lyric began as Greek song has, in turn, fostered the notion of lyric spontaneity, the still prevalent idea that lyrics represent what Wordsworth so famously termed “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”1 In what follows, I shall propose an alternative to this orthodox genealogy, one that shifts the focus away from the supposedly spontaneous cadences of Greek song toward the imitative intricacies of Roman texts. I do not do so out of any positivist desire to replace a flawed model of lyricism with one closer to the truth. Rather, I speak from a belief that the stories we tell ourselves about the lyric have been unnecessarily confining. I have no intention of claiming that all lyric roads lead back to Rome. My aim is to disentangle lyric history from the Greeks long enough for us to glimpse a set of alternative possibilities unfettered by the myth of poetic spontaneity. I forge this revised genealogy through a reading of Catullus that centers on his status as the perpetual darling of the Latin lyric tradition.2 My focus is a four-line epigram (Catullus 70) that has persistently been read in a high lyric mode as the poet’s plaint against his faithless mistress, Lesbia. The poem

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is thereby used to position Catullus as a poet who sweeps his readers away with an emotional immediacy that manifests through spontaneous speech. I argue that the poem, in fact, gains much of its power from creative mobilization of recycled language and that the poet uses these lines to demonstrate the impossibility of original poetic utterance. Catullus uses this diminutive epigram to formulate what I shall term a poetics of appropriation, a vision of poetic production that refuses to draw a stark line between verbal larceny and self-expression. The appropriative poetics set forth in this poem are a consequence of working within a belated literary tradition that was unusually open to and dependent on translation. For a Roman, to write was necessarily to repeat. But when one repeats words in a new context—including a new language—they cannot possibly mean what they meant before. Working within a tradition that took translation as its foundational gesture made Catullus well aware that repetition invariably introduces difference. His ongoing experiments with the varieties of translation discussed in this book were, I suspect, a precondition for formulating the appropriative poetics championed in this small but telling poem. Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat. dicit; sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua. My woman says she would rather marry no one than myself, not if Jupiter himself should seek her. So she says; but what a woman says to her desirous lover ought to be written upon the wind and upon the rushing water.

According to ancient criteria, these lines do not, in fact, constitute a lyric poem. Their elegiac couplets would exclude them from this category, which encompassed a restricted set of ancient meters.3 But the stark metrical criteria of the ancients have not stopped modern scholars from treating Catullus 70 as a lyrical outpouring. The poem’s first-person stance and intimations of tortured romance have led most commentators to read it as the poet’s indictment of his perfidious Lesbia, the mistress he elsewhere describes as having entranced and betrayed him.4 But to read these lines as autobiographical lament is to ignore one of their most prominent features: they are composed almost entirely of recycled language. The poem is built around the armature of an earlier Greek epigram, and each of its four lines is stitched together from a patchwork of reported speech, echoes, and proverbs. While commentators have dutifully catalogued these numerous antecedents, they typically do so only to brush them aside and continue to treat the lines as the confessional



document of Catullus’s doomed affair.5 The question that will guide my own analysis is this: What happens when we focus our reading, instead, around the layers of translation and imitation that inform this poem? How might our reading differ when we entertain the possibility that this apparently confessional epigram is guided by a poetics of appropriation? This possibility is opened up by the surprising wealth of allusion and imitation packed into these four lines. Catullus 70’s scenario and structure echo an epigram by Callimachus in which a certain Callignotos swears eternal love to a lady named Ionis, only to fall for a boy and abandon her in the space of six lines. ὤμοσε Καλλίγνωτος Ἰωνίδι μήποτ᾽ ἐκείνης ἕξειν μήτε φίλον κρέσσονα μήτε φίλην. ὤμοσεν: ἀλλὰ λέγουσιν ἀληθέα, τοὺς ἐν ἔρωτι ὅρκους μὴ δύνειν οὔατ᾽ ἐς ἀθανάτων. νῦν δ᾽ ὃ μὲν ἀρσενικῶι θέρεται πυρί: τῆς δὲ ταλαίνης νύμφης ὡς Μεγαρέων οὐ λόγος οὐδ᾽ ἀριθμός. (Epigram 27, Mair = 25, Pfeiffer = AP 5.6) Callignotos swore to Ionis he would never hold a male or female beloved dearer than her. He swore, but it’s true what they say: oaths, in matters of love, do not reach the ears of the immortals. Now he burns for a boy; but of the wretched maiden, as of the Megarians, there is neither account nor reckoning.

Catullus’s tale of his woman’s false oath clearly draws from this source. His jilted speaker and perfidious mulier (“woman”) repeat the doomed passion of Callignotos and Ionis with the same insistent declarations and the same ultimate betrayal. The poem’s basic structure is modeled on these lines as well. The most obvious correlation is the repeated dicit (“she says”), placed at the start of the Latin poem’s first and third lines in almost the identical positions as Callimachus’s ὤμοσε / ὤμοσεν (“he swore” / “he swore”). Some commentators have been chary of viewing this single repetition as a definite evocation of the earlier epigram. But the structural similarities extend further still, for the arrangement of the Latin epigram corresponds remarkably closely to the Greek poem’s opening four lines. In both cases, the initial couplet records the lover’s hyperbolic oath of eternal affection. The beginning of the couplet that follows then calls this oath into question with a repetition of the opening speaking verb (ὤμοσεν / dicit) that undermines that declaration with a pregnant “but” (dicit: sed, 70.3; ὤμοσεν: ἀλλὰ, 27.3). The remainder of that couplet confirms the lover’s infidelity with an appeal to a proverb about the unreliability of a lover’s oaths. Some details about the content do differ (the

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identity of the false lover, the content of their oath, etc.). But structurally, Catullus 70 and the first four lines of Callimachus’s poem are mirror images of one another. Even in places where the Latin poem deviates from its Greek model, it is awash in recycled speech, for its two lovers are staging a contest of clichés. The mulier starts things off by deploying an erotic commonplace to reinforce her assertion that her love is firm and true. For a Roman woman to state that she would reject the advances of Jupiter in favor of her mortal lover was to take recourse in a phrase that had been circulating since at least the time of Plautus.6 The speaker responds in kind: his closing phrase about an oath being written on wind and water recalls similar statements in both Sophocles and Plato and seems to be drawing on another well-known romantic cliché.7 The poem thus dramatizes a lover’s quarrel as a battle of aphorisms, each party drawing on the voice of collective wisdom to shoot the other down.8 This ardent pair’s reliance on amatory maxims draws our attention to a fundamentally appropriative logic that informs the poem at every level. Both the scenario described and the language in which it is couched are decidedly unoriginal. The scene of a lover’s betrayal and the beloved’s treacherous protestations had played out countless times before. Over two thousand years ago it was already a grand cliché. Poem 70 highlights this redundancy by pointing back to one specific place where an erudite reader might have encountered this hackneyed topos. Anyone familiar with the poem’s Greek model knows that the quandary faced by these Roman lovers is not unique because it had already played out between Callignotos and Ionis, as well as countless other lovers throughout the Greek literary tradition. The very fact that the falseness of a lover’s oaths had ossified into proverb implies that this scene is not just a literary but also a social commonplace. What is more, as the mulier’s invocation of Jupiter ironically reminds us, such scenes were not even confined to the human realm. Jupiter was the perfidious lover par excellence, cavorting with countless nymphs and returning to Olympus to lie about it. According to Greek myth, it was he who had cemented the proverbial falseness of a lover’s oath when he lied about his affair with Io and pronounced by self-interested fiat that such oaths be forever null and void.9 The epigram’s pointed evocation of this etiology reminds us that this scene had been playing out with passionate monotony since the day Jupiter made his first false oath to Juno. This exchange between the Catullan speaker and his perfidious mulier lands us in a space of unending repetition. The same can be said of the words these lovers use to enact their well-worn scene. This epigram revolves around language that has been seen and said before: three of its four lines (2, 3, and 4) are made up almost entirely of proverbs, phrases that are, by definition,



unoriginal. Of the remaining material, the most prominent word—the thrice repeated dicit—is a distinct echo of Callimachus’s ὤμοσε. That leaves us with just the opening line and a quarter as Catullus’s original language. But, with the exception of mea mulier dicit, this is all reported speech, not the words of the Catullan speaker but of his “woman.” The opening mulier itself is likewise rendered unoriginal by the end of the poem, when it is revealed to be just the latest iteration of a proverb about treacherous women. As both actor and word, Catullus’s mulier is posed as merely an echo of all the perfidious beloveds who came before her. The repetition of mulier and dicit in line three drives home the point that neither this woman nor her words are in any way new. In the end we discover, with some consternation, that only one word of this poem can fairly be called Catullus’s own. That word is mea (“my”). In Latin, this possessive adjective is not grammatically necessary but emphatic, and its inverted placement in relation to the noun it modifies (mulier mea in place of the more standard mea mulier) further emphasizes its presence here. This conspicuous possessive dangles before the bucolic diaeresis that follows like an open question, prodding us toward the recognition that the speaker does not, in fact, possess anything in this poem. He is not the exclusive owner of his words, and he does not possess the woman he uses these words to assail. Catullus seems to be using this web of appropriated language to make a startlingly postmodern point: that love is, as Roland Barthes much later observed, profoundly citational.10 Catullus and his mulier do not appear as lovelorn individuals but as puppets of a long-standing Greek erotic tradition that requires its lovers to talk and act in just this way. Such doomed couples have appeared in countless epigrams before—and they will reappear in countless epigrams after this one is through.11 In fact, we have only to read six lines further in Catullus’s own collection, past poem 71, to meet a version of these lovers again repeating what they were saying and doing in poem 70. Poem 72 begins with the following couplet: Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum, Lesbia, nec prae me velle tenere Iovem. (1–2) You used to say, formerly, that you knew only Catullus, Lesbia, and that you did not wish to embrace Jove over me.

Unlike the anonymous lovers of poem 70, these lovers have names. Other than that, this “Catullus” and “Lesbia” are much the same characters we met before. The woman continues to utter her untrustworthy declarations, using a version of the line about Jupiter that was exposed as vacuous two poems earlier. These lines cleverly allude back to poem 70 at the same time as they recall

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an entire love affair that is now definitively in the past (quondam). The dicebas (“you used to say”) in the first line coupled with the Jove cliché points directly back to the earlier poem. But the continuous aspect of this opening verb (“you used to say”) multiplies this scene beyond the bounds of these two epigrams. The dicebas both recalls the earlier dicit/dicit and transforms that thrice- repeated verb into a proliferating set of scenes where the woman swears—and the speaker falls for it—over and over and over. The reverberation of these verbs creates a sense of recursivity that projects this twice-described scene into infinity. When we find the mulier dicit formulation yet again in poem 92, we are not terribly surprised: Lesbia mi dicit semper male nec tacet umquam de me: Lesbia me dispeream nisi amat. quo signo? quia sunt totidem mea: deprecor illam assidue, verum dispeream nisi amo. Lesbia always speaks rudely to me—nor is she ever silent about me: I’ll be damned if Lesbia is not in love with me. How do I know? Because I do the exact same thing: I curse her constantly, but I’ll be damned if I’m not in love with her.

Here the double mulier of poem 70 has become a twofold Lesbia. The details of the woman’s declaration and her lover’s response have shifted, but the basic scenario remains the same. These two lovers speak ardently to each other but, in their erotic delirium, they either cannot or will not mean what they say. This now familiar amorous lunacy is starting to seem less a personal affliction than a state of being inscribed into the poetic tradition in which they are likewise trapped. The fact that poems 72 and 92 replicate, in one form or another, the characters and scenes introduced in poem 70 reinforces that first epigram’s argument about the literary lover’s absolute unoriginality. The Catullan speaker and his mulier come to seem stripped of free will and free speech. Their words and actions are circumscribed by a poetic tradition that requires them to write their words on the proverbial wind. This sense that everything a lover might say in a poem has been said many times before would have been especially acute for Catullus, who was writing at the end of one erotic epigram tradition and the beginning of another. Lovers had been professing their perfidious devotion to one another for centuries in Greek. But, as of the mid-first century BCE, they did not have much practice doing the same in Latin. This poem is an early foray into Roman erotic epigram and, as it appears in the extant collection, it is Catullus’s own inaugural poem of this type.12 As an early adventure in this poetic form, as well as the collection’s first amorous epigram, poem 70 is well situated to meditate



upon the circumscribed roles of lovers within the confines of ancient erotic poetry. Placing it as the first epigram in the collection displays the fact that Catullus himself was boldly entering into the fray. As this Roman poet-lover writes his woman’s words on the water, he embarks upon a literary project that dooms both himself and his mulier to assume some perpetual version of the roles they act out here. Exposing the distressing unoriginality of the lover is only one of the ambitious projects undertaken by this small poem. It is likewise aiming to make a related point about the derivative nature of poetic creativity itself. As we shall see, Catullus uses his epigram to formulate a poetics of appropriation that runs directly counter to the poetic program of the author whose epigram he appropriates. Callimachus was famous for his theoretical pronouncements on what constitutes worthwhile poetry. One of his central tenets was that a good poem must go where no poem had gone before. Within the Greek tradition this meant, above all, to avoid replicating Homer. Such injunctions toward poetic novelty recur throughout the poet’s oeuvre, often couched in cryptic metaphors about avoiding the grime of well-traveled roads and massive, mud-filled rivers.13 According to such statements, the poet ought to venture into untouched poetic landscapes, beating new paths through meadows where the Muses have not yet deigned to tread. There is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of Catullan Callimacheanism, for it cannot logically assimilate that poet’s embargo on poetic repetition. The earlier poet’s injunction to “avoid the ruts / carved in the boulevard” (Aetia 1 prologue, lines 35 and 36) was all but impossible for a Roman poet to follow, for his was an art premised upon steering his way through Greek literature’s rut-filled roads.14 Callimachus was able to lay claim to novelty by upending the traditional terms of aesthetic evaluation and reveling in the minor, the tender, and the small from within a literary tradition that had previously worshipped at the epic altar of Homer. When Catullus transfers this same logic to the Latin poetic tradition, it works to a certain extent but then invariably breaks down. Callimachus was an ideal catalyst for wrenching Roman poetry beyond the well-worn constraints of Ennian epic. His invitation toward the poetic road less traveled provided a convenient precedent for evolving new forms of Latin poetry that grappled with previously impermissible subjects, forms, and styles. In this regard, Catullus could handily assume postures and techniques Callimachus had modeled. But when it came to his master’s fetishization of novelty, such a neat correspondence was unfeasible. Even when traveling down the proverbial narrow path, Catullan novelty was necessarily derivative. These poetic meadows had been traversed long ago by Callimachus’s slender Muse.

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Catullus, then, was writing from within a paradox: he was emulating a poetic program that hinged on claims to an originality he could never replicate. He is, I would argue, well aware of the problems that confront him as a practitioner of a belated Callimacheanism. But, in poem 70, this recognition does not result in any anxiety. Instead, it prompts a bold poetic affirmation of the eminently Roman idea that a poem traveling in another poet’s ruts can still venture through unexpected creative vistas. This poem, I propose, formulates a poetics of appropriation, enacting a theory of poetic creation as a proudly derivative enterprise. It does so through a two-pronged strategy. First, it invites us to reread its Callimachean source in a way that reveals Callimachus himself to be embroiled in constructive redundancies. At the same time, it demonstrates, within its own four lines, the extent to which poetic novelty can arise from literary theft. It begins by showing Callimachus’s apparently individuated erotic vignette to be as much a patchwork of clichés and commonalities as his own poem. At the same time, it displays, in its own four lines, how a poem packed full of repetition can still be stunningly new. In a bold rejoinder to Callimachus’s fetishizing of untrammelled poetic byways, Catullus uses his epigram to formulate a thoroughly un-Callimachean poetics of appropriation. When read in conjunction with its source, Catullus 70 poses poetic innovation as depending on the repetition Callimachus disavowed. This reformulated poetic program begins with an invitation to reread the Callimachean source with a view toward its own unoriginalities, a reevaluation that then leads to recognizing that Callimachus himself is more prone to repetition than his theoretical proclamations imply. Before exploring the implications of Catullus’s poem on our reading of its Callimachean source, we might have a look at another epigram that represents one of the most concise and celebrated statements of Callimachus’s poetics of novelty. ἐχθαίρω τὸ ποίημα τὸ κυκλικόν, οὐδὲ κελεύθωι χαίρω τίς πολλοὺς ὧδε καὶ ὧδε φέρει, μισέω καὶ περίφοιτον ἐρώμενον, οὐδ᾽ ἀπὸ κρήνης πίνω: σικχαίνω πάντα τὰ δημόσια. Λυσανίη σὺ δὲ ναιχὶ καλὸς καλός—ἀλλὰ πρὶν εἰπεῖν τοῦτο σαφῶς, Ἠχώ φησί τις “ἄλλος ἔχει.” I hate a cyclic poem and I do not enjoy a road that bears numerous people this way and that. I abhor a boy who sleeps around, I refuse to drink from the public fountain, and loathe all common things. Lysanies, you are certainly beautiful, beautiful . . . but before I can even say this clearly, Echo says “He belongs to another.” (Epigram 30 Mair = Ep. 28 Pfeiffer = AP 12.43)



The poetic pronouncements made here suggest that an evidently uncyclic epigram like the one on Callignotos and Ionis ought to represent a poetic road less traveled that prevents its author from debasing himself by drinking from a public fountain. But there is much in that poem that contradicts such a claim, though we might not recognize this fact without some prompting. Catullus 70 acts as such a goad. With its unapologetic recourse to repetition, this Latin adaptation of Callimachus’s epigram invites us to reread that source with a view to its dependence on repetition, echo, proverb, and other “things held in common” (τὰ δημόσια), things that Callimachus soundly rejects in statements of poetics such as the epigram above. Straightaway, the Latin epigram inflects our understanding of the names of Callimachus’s two actors, Callignotos and Ionis. These names figure prominently in the Greek poem, emblazoned together at the center of its opening line and balanced as a harmonious pair on either side of the caesura (ὤμοσε Καλλίγνωτος // Ἰωνίδι μήποτ᾽ ἐκείνης). The Latin epigram gestures directly toward these names by including a version of this pair likewise poised at the center of its own first line (Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle). In Catullus’s case, these lovers hover at the center of their hexameter with tantalizing anonymity in the form of an unnamed “woman” (mulier) and a possessive lover who, appropriately, first appears in the form of a possessive pronoun (mea, “my”). The anonymity of this new pair asks us to reexamine the specificity of the earlier couple. When we turn back to the Greek poem to scrutinize the names it features, we find that words we had taken as markers of unique narrative identities are echoes of characters we have met before. The name of the Callignotos (Καλλίγνωτος) who swears his affections in this poem bears a distinct resemblance to the Callimachus (Καλλίμαχος) who memorializes him in verse. The overlapping sounds at the beginning of these names remind us that a lover swearing his affections in a Greek epigram is in no way unique. It is not the lover’s individual identity that is at stake here but rather his identity as a stock erotic admirer, the “kinsman in beauty” that his name etymologically implies (Καλός, “beautiful” / γνωτός, “understood, known, well-known; kinsman, brother”). The name Καλλίγνωτος is, at base, a place-holder for the poetic erastes, the “well-known” (γνωτός) figure prone to exclaiming to his would-be beloved, “You are certainly beautiful, beautiful” (σὺ δὲ ναιχὶ καλὸς καλός), as the Callimachean speaker himself does in Epigram 28. In fact, such an affirmation of a young man’s beauty was one of the most familiar phrases in the Greek erotic vocabulary, repeated countless times in verse and prose, as well as on paintings, walls and vessels.15 But what of the “wretched” Ionis whom this stock admirer abandons for a more desirable beloved? Her name, no less than his, evokes others who

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came before her. In fact, it recalls the same mythic vignette that poem 70 invoked with its mulier’s mention of Jupiter, the fateful day when that god falsely swore to his celestial spouse that he had not courted the ill-fated Io. Io’s namesake Ionis plays the role of Juno in this poem, betrayed by a Zeus-like Callignotos, whose eye had wandered toward someone more desirable than she. Ionis’s simultaneous association with both Juno and Io suggests the same substitutability implied by the original epigram’s male and female beloved (φίλον and φίλην). The name, the gender, and the identity of the beloved are not important here. What matters is the position this erotic object occupies. The Ios and Ionises of the world are destined to become stock “wretches” in an oft-repeated scene.16 Indeed, the emotional distress we can presume they will both eventually feel is embedded into the phonemes they share: “io, io” resounded, in Greek, as a raw cry of pain. Recognizing the protagonists’ names as erotic placeholders prompts us to navigate our way back through the rest of Callimachus’s poem attuned to other instances of echo and repetition. We don’t need to read far before we find some. The ὤμοσεν repeated at the beginning of line three launches us into a sudden barrage of proverbs. With the poem’s second ironizing mention of Callignotos’s oath, sincerity and individual expression give way to the anonymous voices of collective wisdom: ὤμοσεν: ἀλλὰ λέγουσιν ἀληθέα, τοὺς ἐν ἔρωτι ὅρκους μὴ δύνειν οὔατ᾽ ἐς ἀθανάτων. He swore, but it’s true what they say: oaths, in matters of love do not reach the ears of the immortals.

Nearly all of this second couplet records the thoughts of an anonymous “they” who represent the voice of common wisdom. This collective perspective is held up as the truth that proves Callignotos’s lie (λέγουσιν ἀληθέα, “it’s true what they say”). With their identical opening verbs of confession, the poem’s first two couplets represent two distinct voices, one singular and false, the other collective and true. The poem closes with a third couplet that contains the narrative proof of the collective’s position: νῦν δ᾽ ὃ μὲν ἀρσενικῶι θέρεται πυρί: τῆς δὲ ταλαίνης νύμφης ὡς Μεγαρέων οὐ λόγος οὐδ᾽ ἀριθμός. Now he burns for a boy; but of the wretched maiden, as of the Megarians, there is neither account nor reckoning.

In a flash, Callignotos has found another young beauty to love, and the “wretched Ionis” is, as Nisetich cleverly translates it, “left out in the cold.”17



With this well-known English idiom, Nisetich nicely captures the elusive proverb that Callimachus mobilizes in his last line. But, in doing so, he loses some of the complexity of the Greek poem’s closing maneuver. The puzzling affirmation upon which this poem ends packs several different versions of public speech into a single pentameter line. The phrase οὐ λόγος οὐδ᾽ ἀριθμός is an idiomatic expression frequently used to mean “of no account.” The oddly specific ὡς Μεγαρέων continues in this collective vein by introducing a whole concatenation of proverbs. The phrase itself can be construed in two different ways. First, it can be taken to mean “as the Megarians say,” identifying the phrase that follows as an expression used primarily by the people of Megara. But the fact that οὐ λόγος οὐδ᾽ ἀριθμός was a phrase used throughout the Greek world argues against this reading. The Megarians might well be included among the ranks of those who would say such a thing, but they do not have exclusive rights over this expression. The more likely reading, then, is to take this genitive phrase in grammatical parallel with τῆς δὲ ταλαίνης, as I translate it above. Construed in this way, the phrase harkens back to the so-called “oracle of the Megarians,” which ranks the achievements of Greek populations from Argos to Lacedaemon and ends by characterizing the Megarians with the following gibe: “But you, Megarians, are neither third, nor fourth, nor twelfth, nor in any reckoning or count.”18 The oracle’s use of the phrase that closes Callimachus’s poem makes it clear that this is the primary context in which that phrase ought to be understood. And there is yet another context to consider as well. “The tears of the Megarians” was, itself, a proverbial phrase alluding, it seems, to Megara’s abundant onion production.19 With the ironic allusivity we would expect from this author, the poem calls upon a tangential proverb to add both humor and emotional depth to his narrative. This line discloses the “wretched maiden’s” reaction to her predicament by way of a ludicrous proverb about the uncontrollable tears of oniongrowers. This typically Callimachean display of allusive erudition and smoke-andmirrors humor is couched within an un-Callimachean context of shared truths and communal expressions. This poem stages a kind of battle between the voice of the individual, embodied by Callignotos, and the voice of the everyman, as contained in the language of proverbs and oracles. Surprisingly, for this unapologetically elitist poet, the voice of the everyman wins out. The poem communicates through a lexicon of collective wisdom, couching its revelations in the very commonalities so soundly rejected in Epigram 28 and elsewhere throughout Callimachus’s oeuvre. These scorned δημόσια (“common things”) prove here to be the ultimate source of ἀληθέα (“truths”). The Catullus-inflected reading I am proposing here is, admittedly, not

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where most readers are likely to go when they first confront the Greek poem. The proper names showcased in the opening line and the idiosyncratic manipulations of language throughout are likely to steer us toward viewing this epigram as a unique poetic artifact telling the sad tale of two lovelorn individuals. When we do, we can explain away the voices of common wisdom that permeate the second half as an ornament on an individualized erotic narrative. Whether we choose to focus our attention primarily on the individual or the collective is, in the end, a matter of personal choice. But when we reread the Greek poem in the wake of Catullus’s version, we become more attuned to the latter. His rendition asks us to recognize these names as, themselves, plural and amplifies the collective voices that surface in the Greek poem’s closing couplets. Reading the source epigram by way of its Latin version prompts us to move away from the poem’s ostensibly singular story to focus, instead, on the collective and anonymous voices that reverberate throughout. Callimachus, no less than Catullus himself, is shown to be a purveyor of recycled language, weaving his own unique couplets from all kinds of “common things” (πάντα τὰ δημόσια), the very commonalities he elsewhere claims to loathe. When we read the Greek epigram through the filter of its Latin rendition, we find Catullus writing against the facade of Callimachus’s poetics of novelty. The earlier poet had staked his reputation on claims to poetic newness. Catullus uses poem 70 to call his precursor’s bluff, showing that Callimachus himself was no more of an original than he. The Greek poet was likewise working at the end of a long-standing poetic tradition, writing within a sea of citations, aphorisms, and other language held in common. Catullus’s rereading of the earlier epigram directly contests the idea that poetic language can bubble up out of nothing, that either love or poetry can be anything other than copy or cliché. It reveals that repetition is not a specifically Roman problem but constitutes the erotic and poetic as such. For the repetition-wary Greeks no less than for the repetition-hungry Romans, to love or to poeticize was to be embroiled in redundancy. The Latin epigram balances this critique with a second, more positive claim. Even as it exposes Callimachus’s dependence on well-trodden names and expressions, it demonstrates how poetic innovation can grow out of such repetitions. One of poem 70’s most powerful assertions is that, no matter how unoriginal its raw materials may be, a poem cannot help but generate new meanings of its own. It makes this point by embedding several startling innovations within its own derivative matrix. Despite its rampant appropriation of language and tropes from elsewhere, this four-line poem manages to transform the erotic Greek epigram into something entirely new. The pointed comparison the Latin poem invites us to make with its source



highlights its own remarkable innovations. First, there is its unusual firstperson stance, so different from Callimachus’s aloof and analytical thirdperson tableau. Catullus personalizes the scenario, making the scene hinge upon the presumptive experience of the poet-speaker. He further intensifies its immediacy by couching his couplets in the present tense. This sense of personal investment is strengthened by the similarly worded epigrams that follow, as we have seen, in the Catullan collection. These companion poems retroactively tempt us to give the name “Lesbia” to this mulier and to pile a wealth of details upon poem 70’s vague scenario. It is no wonder scholars have tended to read the anonymous 70 as a document of its author’s erotic disillusionment. Compared to its source, it is abundantly personal, and the series of poems with named actors that follows in the collection encourages us to read it as autobiography. The Latin poem also makes some dramatic changes to the gender dynamics of the original epigram, even as it cribs its basic relational structures. We noted above that this poem embeds a recognition of what we might call the lovers’ monotony: in ancient love poems, most relationships take a predictable course. Poem 70 both accepts and flaunts the fact that Roman lovers, like the Greeks before them, were doomed to replay the same tear-stained scenes of infatuation and betrayal. But it also defies such romantic monotony by infusing the Greek erotic tradition with a new set of gender parameters. In the original poem, the fraudulent lover was a man named Callignotos and the person betrayed, Ionis, was a woman. Catullus adopts this basic framework but reverses the genders, positioning his mulier as a faithless Casanova and himself as the victim of her lies.20 He also heterosexualizes what had been a patently bisexual poem. Ionis becomes a “wretched maiden” when her erstwhile lover suddenly “burns for a boy” (27.5), shifting his love not just to a different partner but to a different gender. Catullus’s epigram ignores this twist, maintaining a purely heterosexual focus throughout. One last innovation introduced here is the importation of the language of matrimony into an erotic scene that had, since the beginnings of the Greek poetic tradition, been posed as transpiring outside the bounds of marriage. With outrageous invention, Catullus uses the language of Roman social contract and political alliance to add gravitas to his account of romantic passion.21 From the interstices of this short poem’s appropriative web emerges a stunning array of poetic novelties. Each of the discrete transformations of Callimachus’s epigram that we have detailed here corresponds to a major intervention Catullus is celebrated as making in Greco-Roman love poetry more generally. The formulation of a language of Latin eroticism out of the language of Roman social contract is

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widely recognized as one of Catullus’s most dramatic innovations, a technique that adds cultural character and emotional depth to many of his other epigrams.22 The kind of self-victimization that results from his staging this poem as his own betrayal by an emasculating mulier is one of the most distinctive and idiosyncratic features of his oeuvre more generally. This component of his persona would become a hallmark of the Augustan elegists, who typically posed in the first person as victims of imperious dominae (“mistresses”). Also essential to the love poetry that followed is poem 70’s heterosexualization of a bisexual scenario. The Greeks had formulated a gleefully bisexual poetic tradition. Catullus and his fellow Latin love-poets followed this cue to some degree. Horace, Tibullus, and Catullus himself all wrote poems in which a male poet-lover, like Callignotos, “burns for a boy.” But when Catullus shifted the focus to a poetic romance between a versified version of himself and the indomitable mulier named as “Lesbia” in poem 72 and elsewhere, he changed the course of ancient poetry for good. Heterosexual couples would be the primary focus of love poetry from that point forward. In the end, this derivative poem enacts a startling lesson: to borrow a phrase from the American poet and critic Kenneth Goldsmith, “the suppression of self-expression is impossible,” even when one’s language is entirely secondhand.23 This fact was, I think, especially obvious to Catullus, for he was working within a belated literary tradition that was unusually open to and dependent on translation. To write, for a Roman, was necessarily to say something that had been said before. But when one repeats words in a new context and language they will not mean the same thing—and they invariably tell us something about the “derivative” culture and author. To filch another phrase from Goldsmith, “The act of choosing and reframing tells us as much about ourselves as our story about our mother’s cancer operation.”24 I turn to Goldsmith not just to be entertaining but because he is one of the most prominent practitioners and theorists of appropriative poetics in our own time. In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the issue of poetic unoriginality in the digital age. Two of the most important books in this vein are Goldsmith’s own Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age and Marjorie Perloff ’s Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century.25 These books map a poetic terrain that has been flourishing for some time among both American and British authors, writing that culls, cuts, and copies its language, most often from the Internet. Such work, these studies suggest, sounds the death knell of the Romantic-genius model of poetic creation. No longer do poets sit alone in their garrets transcribing the lightning flash of their thoughts. Instead, each has become what Perloff terms an “unoriginal genius.” Or, to put it in Goldsmith’s terms, such a poet



“resembles more of a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing and maintaining a writing machine.”26 Clearly, the vista of poetic possibilities I am attempting to unlock with the help of Catullan appropriation has already been opened by the unoriginal geniuses of our digital age. Why, then, do we need a revised genealogy of the lyric if such “uncreative writing” is already being written? Because the history that Perloff and Goldsmith posit is based on a model of avant-garde rupture that views this kind of unoriginal innovation as an anti-lyric practice and poses its roots as going back, at their deepest, to the radical experiments of Stephan Mallarmé and Gertrude Stein.27 Such a compressed genealogy seems to me both impoverished and untrue. This kind of avant-garde genealogy forges its own myth of spontaneous origin, as though Stein and Mallarmé had emerged, radicalized and unspoiled, from the cobblestones of Paris. As I hope my reading of Catullus (and Catullus’s reading of Callimachus) has shown, creative recycling has been central to so-called lyric creation from the start. If Greek poets tended to obfuscate this fact, the Romans proudly advertised it, building their own literary tradition around a set of appropriative practices that open up the possibility of inspiring poetries of the future without overlooking all we can learn from the poetry of the past.


Introduction 1. Robert Frost made this frequently-cited quip while commenting on “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (Untermeyer 1964, 18). 2. Unless otherwise stated, all translations from the Latin and Greek are my own. This date, mentioned by Cicero in Brutus 72–73, Tusculanae Disputationes 1.3, and De Senectute 50, was followed by most ancient scholars, though Cicero himself calls it into question at Brutus 72–73. It is unclear whether this inaugural play was a comedy or a tragedy. Livy 7.2.8 says only that Livius was the first to introduce a play with a plot, though the context of that discussion does suggest a comedy. For a good capsule discussion of Livius’s translation techniques, see Possanza 2004, 46–56. 3. On the Fescennine Verses see Horace Epistulae 2.1.139–55 and Livy 7.2.7. 4. Venuti 1995, 6. 5. Hermans 1985, 7. Hermans poses the modern aversion to translation as an outgrowth of Romantic notions of genius along with a rigid conception of how to define a national literature. 6. Beard and Crawford 1985. 7. Beard and Crawford 1985, 16. 8. When, for instance, Cicero contrasts his own compositional approach in the De Finibus to those poets who translated “plays” (fabulae) “directly” (plane) from the Greek, he is not disavowing translation per se, but a particular translation strategy (De Fin. 1.7). Immediately after making this distinction, he defends his choice to include translated passages from Plato and Aristotle in his own work (1.7). He is happy to admit that he translates every bit as much as Caecilius, Pacuvius, and the other dramatists who wrote “Latin plays translated word for word from the Greek” (fabellas Latinas ad verbum e Graecis expressas, De Fin. 1.4), he just insists that his translation techniques are different from—and better than—theirs. 9. Hinds (1998, 52–98), for instance, offers an incisive revision of such teleological accounts of Rome’s literary history. 10. Even Livius’s Odyssia troubles this idea of a progression from slavish translation to liberated creation. This text is normally posed as a close translation but the first line reveals a number of significant changes and there is some indication that Livius condensed all twenty-four books


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of Homer into one of his own, for no Roman sources refer to book divisions (McElduff 2013, 39). Hinds (1998, 58–63) offers an excellent discussion of the opening line of the Odyssia along with a meditation on the pitfalls of accepting a teleological story about the development of Roman literature from crudity to sophistication. 11. Ross 1975, 5. A page earlier Ross clearly articulates his own opposition between Catullus and translation: “the neoterics saw in an entirely new light the position of the poet in relation to the poetry of the past. The Roman poet was no longer a translator and imitator, but a new, and again individual, voice within an established succession” (4). 12. As Wray (2001, 17) wonderfully puts it, “the “lyric,” as a term and as an idea was, throughout the twentieth century—and even more so at its end than at its beginning—a splendid standard beneath which some of the most important and forward-moving critical thinking about Catullus ranged itself.” Quinn’s seminal The Catullan Revolution (1959), which championed Catullus as a vital and original poet rather than a crusty practitioner of Alexandrian craft, was especially influential in perpetuating this lyricized Catullus through the second half of the twentieth century. For more on Quinn’s critical revolution, see the discussion in Wray 2001, 30–35. Wray’s own self-avowedly “postmodern” (37) approach has been crucial in moving twenty-firstcentury scholars beyond such “lyric” readings. His first chapter (1–35) is also the best place to go for a thorough and engaging history of the vagaries of modern Catullan scholarship. 13. This romantic Catullus is perpetuated, for instance, in the introduction to Peter Green’s widely-read 2005 translation, which lavishes attention on the scant details of the poet’s “short but intense life” (1), compares the Roman poet to Byron (1), and suggests that he died in Keatsian throes “from a chronic physical malaise, very likely consumption” (3). For an excellent account of how scholars of different eras have constructed evolving portraits of Catullus that reflect their own preoccupations, see Gaisser 2002, 373–85. 14. I draw my phrasing here from the title of E. A. Havelock’s classic 1939 monograph The Lyric Genius of Catullus. On the history of this lyricized Catullus, see Wray 2001, 1–35. 15. I borrow the term “invisibility” from the title of Venuti 1995. 16. Feeney 1998, 50. Feeney is speaking in this passage of myth specifically but his book frequently broadens this idea to Roman culture more generally. 17. Some of the most notable of these monographs include Gaisser’s invitation to reception studies (1992), Janan’s Lacanian explorations of narrative (1994), Miller’s genre theory (1994), Fitzgerald’s deconstructive aestheticism (1995), Krostenko’s sociolinguistics (2001 a), and Wray’s postmodern anthropology (2001). Perhaps the most influential non-English work in recent years is Holzberg 2002. More recent monographs in English that deserve mention include Nappa 2001, Putnam 2006, and Stroup 2010. The surge in excellent new essay collections is another index of Catullus’s twenty-first-century allure, e.g.: Skinner 2007a and Du Quesnay and Woodman 2012. 18. This is a point made powerfully throughout McElduff 2013, the fourth chapter of which (96–121) offers a good contextualizing discussion of some of Cicero’s most frequently cited comments on translation. 19. On this change in the types of questions translation scholars ask, see Hermans 1985, 13. This shift in perspective began with the polysystem theory developed by Israeli scholars Yuri Lotman, Itamar Even-Zohar, and, in particular, Gideon Toury. Such scholars analyzed individual translations in terms of “translational norms,” the cultural standards circumscribing any translation. These ideas were further developed by the so-called “Manipulation School,” which insisted that translation is about ideology, not vocabulary: as Lefevere puts it, “My contention is that language has nothing to do with it” (1992, 90). The seminal essays in Hermans 1985 inaguarated

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the full-fledged emergence of this culture-based approach whose major figures include Susan Bassnett, Edwin Gentzler, and André Lefevere. On polysystem theory see Even-Zohar (1979, 287–310), Gideon Toury 1980, and Gentzler (1993, 105–43). For an overview of the “cultural turn” in translation studies see Bassnett, “Culture and Translation,” in Kuhiwczak and Littau (2007, 13–23). See also the essays in Hermans 1985, Bassnett and Lefevere 1990, and Bassnett and Lefevere 1998. Two useful historical surveys that include essays from the schools discussed above as well as a number of other approaches are Venuti 2004a and Baker 2010. Much of the recent work in response to this “cultural turn” is within the field of postcolonial studies. These scholars view translation as a discursive “site” of colonial manipulation, which “shapes, and takes shape within, the asymmetrical relations of power that operate under colonialism” (Niranjana 1992, 2). Niranjana 1992 offers a good introduction to this approach. For a more general overview see: Dingwaney and Maier 1995, Bassnett and Trivedi 1999, Simon and St-Pierre 2000, and Tymoczko and Gentzler 2002. 20. Other important contributions to the study of Roman translation in recent decades include Copeland 1991, Seele 1995, and Possanza 2004, whose detailed exploration of the techniques of Latin poetic translation are an important foundation for my work on Catullus. See also the two essay collections Bortolussi and Keller 2009 and McElduff and Sciarrino 2011. 21. Two important studies in this mode are Mariotti 1986 (orig. publ. 1952) and Traina 1970. 22. This idea informs both books in their entirety. See, in particular, McElduff (2013, 2–7) and Bettini (2012, vii–ix and xv). 23. Possanza (2004, 62) observes that the extant statements about translation by Roman authors “give no hint of the sophistication and creativity to be found in Latin poetic translations” themselves. On Roman translation theory (or the lack thereof) see Kytzler (1989, 42), Possanza (2004, 62), and, especially, McElduff 2013 which compiles a wide array of sources and extrapolates a rich outline of the development of Roman translation theory from Livius through the late classical period. 24. This list by no means exhausts Latin’s ample translation vocabulary. For a succinct discussion of the major terms see McElduff (2013, 189–96). See also Traina (1970, 55–64), Kytzler (1989, 42), and Bettini (2012, 34–41). 25. As McElduff (2013, 189) notes, none of these verbs has “to translate” as its primary meaning. 26. Bettini (2012, 36) gives vertere primacy over other Latin translation terms because of its antiquity and its native origin, though his preference for this verb is pointed and tendentious. Bettini seeks to foreground the cultural specificity of Roman translation by shifting his focus away from the verb traducere (the source of the Italian tradurre “to translate”) to vertere, with its focus on transformation and metamorphosis, and interpres (“translator, interpreter”), with its evocation of economics and exchange (see 2012, vii–ix and xv; for more on vertere specifically, see 32–60 and 38, n. 17). Vertere is, indeed, used frequently by earlier authors but it is one of many terms used in Catullus’s period and Catullus himself uses exprimere (65.16) in the one instance where he refers explicitly to translation. 27. McElduff 2013, 42. 28. Bettini 2012, 41. 29. McElduff 2013, 10. 30. Possanza 2004, 57. Often there is a wide variation between faithful and free translation within a single text (McElduff 2013, 63). 31. McElduff 2013, 108. Possanza (2004, 32) notes that we know of many instances of literal translation in Latin but these are confined to brief passages, most commonly a single line


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or phrase, giving as an example Plautus’s Bacchides which includes a literal translation of a single Menanderian aphorism at lines 816–17 but, on a whole, “radically rewrites Menander’s text” (32). 32. The hellebore plant was used both to cure madness and to foster inspiration. On Attius Labeo see McElduff (2013, 168–69) and Possanza (2014, 31–32) who notes that Labeo’s assiduous fidelity extended beyond meaning to syntax, word order, and sound patterning as well. 33. My translation here is from McElduff 2013, 169. Even this notoriously literal translation is not so literal as it seems for it imports “nonepic” and “nonelite” language into an epic context (McElduff 2013, 117). Labeo may have purposefully used nonelite language to appeal to a less educated readership, in which case the criticisms leveled against him are likely less about technique than about class (McElduff 2013, 169). 34. McElduff (2013, 224 n. 45) notes of Cicero, for instance: “Occasionally, Cicero will make a point of underlining that he is engaging in literal translation—sometimes to score points over Epicureans by citing Epicurus closely translated, as at Tusculanae Disputationes 3.37. He will also sometimes claim to be translating literally when, in fact, the translation he produces is not literal at all, as at De Divinatione 1.60–61.” 35. Pliny (Epistulae 7.9.4), for instance, poses translation as a certamen (“contest”) in which the Latin translator might win praise for himself. In Tusculanae Disputationes 1.3 and 1.5–6 Cicero discusses translation using martial language as a kind of cultural warfare. 36. McElduff 2013, 182. 37. Possanza 2004, 62. The brackets are my own. 38. Possanza 2004, 13. 39. Possanza 2004, 57. 40. Possanza (2004, 13), who notes that this overall consistency of technique could, however, result in quite different translations at different times because each poet translated according to his own era’s artistic principles and in a way that engaged the social and intellectual concerns of his time (10). 41. Bettini 2012, xvi–xvii and chapters 9 and 10. 42. According to a legend recounted by numerous ancient authors (e.g., Augustine of Hippo De Civitate Dei 18.42), each of the seventy (or seventy-two) scholars tasked by Ptolemy II Philadelphus with translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek came independently to the exact same translation. 43. The citations in this and the previous sentence are from McElduff 2013, 16. 44. Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004, 469) note that, within this continuum, “translation” is but one choice of “poetic mode” (469). 45. Connors 2004, 204. 46. For a discussion of this phenomenon, see Du Quesnay 1979, which argues that Vergil’s imitation of Theocritus in Eclogue 2 extends beyond linguistic borrowings to also encompass “theme, genre and meaning” (51). 47. The porousness of these categories is, for instance, on display when Quintilian uses vertere in reference to intralingual paraphrase of Latin orations. “And so I disagree with those who prohibit students from paraphrasing (vertere) Latin orations because the best phrases have already been used and to say something differently is necessarily to say it less well” (Institutio Oratoria 10.5.5). 48. As Du Quesnay (1979, 43) notes, this technique often oscillates between a primary and a secondary model. 49. Du Quesnay 1979, 44.

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50. It was, in fact, not at all true that the Romans had allowed Greek philosophy to languish until Cicero developed an interest in it. Ennius, for instance, made versions of Euhemerus and Epicharmus (Feeney 2007, 57). Cicero himself makes clear elsewhere in the Tusculanae Disputationes (e.g., 4.6–7) that certain contemporaries have likewise been writing Greek philosophy in Latin, though he dismisses these authors as philistines who are incapable of putting Greek thought into an appropriate form. 51. On the difficulties inherent in this attempt to create a Roman version of Greek philosophy, see Beard 1986. 52. For a concise overview of the use of the term “hellenization” and its attending problems (along with a useful bibliography), see Mairs 2012. For a more in-depth discussion, see WallaceHadrill 2011, 79–91. 53. Similarities between the Twelve Tables and early Greek law codes corroborate this idea (Palmer 1988, 64; see also comments on 119). Kytzler (1989, 43) poses this episode as the first major translation moment at Rome. 54. Or, as Gruen (1996, 8) cannily puts it, “mediated through Roman officialdom.” 55. Scholars are now quick to stress this point. See Gruen (1996, 8) and Feeney (1998, 50–52). 56. For an excellent discussion of these successive waves of hellenization (and their attending purges), see Gruen 1996, 174–79. 57. Goldberg 2005, 24. 58. On the importance of the Macedonian conquest to the rise of intellectual life at Rome, see Goldberg (2005, 24) and Rawson (1985, 7). 59. Nietzsche 2004, 67. Translation as a “form of conquest” is also Nietzsche’s phrase from the same page of this source. 60. On translation as a means of bolstering the Roman, state see Cicero Tusculanae Disputationes 2.2.5. On anxieties about Rome’s intellectual and linguistic inferiority, see Lucretius De Rerum Natura 1.136–39. 61. Original versions of all official documents (senatus consulta, treaties etc.) were likewise first written in Latin and only subsequently translated into other languages. There was one exception to this practice: the letters of Roman magistrates to the Greek East were often written in Greek by the magistrates themselves for, in this case, the business of government had a literary bent and letter-writing afforded a Roman magistrate the opportunity to display his mastery of Greek learning (Gruen 1992, 240). 62. This slight served, in turn, as Rome’s justification for attacking the city. For a discussion of this episode and a more general discussion of translation and Roman diplomacy, see Gruen 1992, 230 and 235–41. 63. There is evidence that the situation was somewhat more complex than Valerius Maximus’s statement suggests, for we know of certain instances where Roman officials did “submit to the pallium” and address Greeks in their own tongue. For debates on this passage, see Rochette 2011, 550 and Wallace-Hadrill 2011. 64. That this bilingualism in Latin and Greek was widespread only among a certain rarified sector of the population is suggested by Cicero’s comment that “our people are nearly entirely ignorant of Greek, and the Greeks ignorant of Latin” (Tusculanae Disputationes 5.116). On Roman bilingualism, see Adams 2003 and Adams, Janse, and Swain 2002. For an excellent discussion of how Romans spoke Greek, see Valette-Cagnac 2005, 37–80. 65. The phrase utraque lingua was used often by Roman authors to designate Greek and Latin as the educated Roman’s two primary tongues (e.g., Pliny the Younger Epistulae 2.14.6 and Martial 10.76.6). Many authors, especially of this period, were, themselves, trilingual in Greek,


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Latin, and a local language, though their knowledge of a third language is rarely displayed in their work. On the phrase utraque lingua, see Swain 2002, 132. 66. McElduff 2013, 1. On the development of a hellenizing education at Rome and a discussion of its various phases, see Bloomer 2011. 67. On translation as a pedagogical exercise, see Cicero De Oratore 1.34.155, Horace Ars Poetica 268–69, Quintilian Institutio Oratoria 10.5.2, and Pliny Epistulae 7.9.1–3. See also the discussion in Marrou 1982, 255–64. 68. Later in this same passage (10.5.2–3), Quintilian offers a number of specific examples of Romans using such translation exercises, and at 10.5.4 he discusses “paraphrase from the Latin” (ex Latinis conversio) as another training technique. Cicero offers the earliest discussion we have of translation used pedagogically to improve the skills of the orator (in the voice of Crassus in De Oratore 1.154–55). Seneca the Elder (Controversiae 9.1.13) discusses the Augustan declaimer Fuscus’s use of translation “as an exercise” (exercitationis causa). In a letter to Fuscus Salinator, Pliny the Younger poses translation from Greek into Latin as “an especially useful exercise” (Epistulae 7.9.3). 69. As Goldberg (2005, 15) notes, the very notion of “literature” at Rome—in “the modern sense of verbal art that is prized as cultural capital”—was, itself, drawn from Greece. 70. One notable exception to this tendency to translate only from the Greek is the senator D. Junius Silanus’s translation of the Carthaginian Mago’s farm manual from Punic into Greek following Rome’s defeat of Carthage in 146 BCE (Pliny the Elder Historia Naturalis 18.22–23). 71. One particularly memorable instance of a Roman literally donning a pallium comes from Cicero’s Verrine Orations, where Cicero castigates Verres for spending his days decadently lounging about in a purple pallium and neglecting his duties as governor of Sicily (Verrine Orations, 5.31 and 5.86, 87). 72. Much recent work in translation studies has focused on this dynamic. See, for instance, Cohn 1996, 4. Tageldin 2011 offers a nuanced analysis of colonialism and translation in Egypt. 73. Gruen 1992 is an excellent study of this dynamic as it developed over time. 74. Feeney 1998, 139. 75. Another useful point of contrast is Roman historiography, which had an altogether different translation history from either lyric or drama. The genre appealed as a forum for glorifying the deeds of statesmen and generals, serving as an extension of the militaristic songs that had been a staple of Rome’s early song tradition. In addition, historiography was readily assimilated as a prose version of the annales tradition that had its origins in the annual catalogue of the year’s major political and religious events traditionally issued by the pontifex maximus. It is not, then, surprising that historiography was one of the first Greek prose genres to win acceptance at Rome. The genre made its debut with the work of Q. Fabius Pictor, ca. 200 BCE. But unlike epic and drama, early Roman historiography was not translated into Latin but written in Greek. Cato’s Origines (168–141 BCE) was monumental largely because it was the first work of Roman historiography written in Latin (See Goldberg 2005, 21–22). 76. The much-debated term “neoteric” was fashioned by modern scholars from a comment made in a letter by Cicero (Ad Atticum 7.2.1). Cicero had used it, with some ambiguity, to refer to a group of poets who would appreciate a particular kind of highly affected hexameter verse. The term is now generally used by scholars to refer to Catullus along with other poets of his generation who were writing Latin versions of verse forms pioneered by Callimachus and certain other poets of Hellenistic Alexandria. While I do not think Catullus was part of a formalized poetic circle that constellated around a manifesto-driven set of poetic practices, I do believe he participated in broader poetic currents and that it is both useful and, in a certain way, accurate

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to use a label like “neoteric” in reference to this cluster of literary actors. For a good overview on the neoterics with bibliography, see Johnson 2011. Lyne 1978 is a classic study on the topic. Stroup 2010 offers a dynamic reassessment of the question of late Republican coterie poetics. 77. The quote is drawn from Rawson 1985, 3. On the rise of aesthetic Hellenism in Catullus’s period, see Krostenko 2001a, 180. 78. Warren 2007, 19. 79. Gale 1994, 14–18. 80. McElduff (2013, 149–50), following Kenney. On the topos of egestas linguae more generally, see Fögen 2000. 81. Aratus’s Phaenomena, a didactic poem on astronomy and celestial phenomena (3rd c. BCE), was translated no less than six times into Latin (by Cicero, Varro of Atax, Ovid, Germanicus Caesar, Avienius, and the eighth-century composer of the Aratus Latinus), not to mention countless passages sprinkled through other authors from Vergil to Manilius. See Possanza 2004 for more on the Roman craze for this work and an in-depth discussion of Germanicus Caesar’s version in particular. 82. McElduff 2013, 147. 83. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.136, Cicero, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum 1.1.1 ff., and Catullus 16. 84. See especially Tusculan Disputations 2.1.4–2.2.6, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum 1.1.1– 1.4.11, and Topica 1–5. 85. Cicero mentions such readers with some frequency, saying of C. Memmius, for instance, that he was “well trained in literature but only in Greek and very much contemptuous of Latin” (Brutus 247). For a discussion of this issue and references to other exemplary passages, see Murphy 1998. 86. McElduff 2013, 11. 87. In Tusculan Disputations 4.7 Cicero suggests that these are only two among many similarly deficient authors and that Amafinius has himself spawned imitators who have “invaded all of Italy.” 88. McElduff 2013, 115. Cicero makes similar comments in De Optimo Genere Oratorum 14, where he contrasts the word-for-word technique of the interpres with his own choice to translate “as an orator (ut orator) in a way that conserves the ideas, forms, and language of the original but in a manner compatible with Latin usage.” 89. McElduff 2013, 116–17. Chapter One 1. My chapter title takes inspiration from Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator” (Benjamin 1968). 2. The theory that poem 64 is a translation of a lost Hellenistic-era work was most famously proposed by Riese (1866) and held sway for many decades, though not without dissent. One popular variation on this idea suggests that Catullus drew on two Greek models, one for the ecphrasis and one for the frame. Pasquali (1920) famously argued for a version of this doublesource idea, suggesting the frame and coverlet tales were adapted from two different Hellenistic models (see esp. 18–23). For an overview of early arguments revolving around possible Hellenistic originals, see Perrotta (1931, esp. 177) who, himself, argues for complete originality. For other summaries of these debates and discussion of possible sources see Ellis (1889, 278–83), Wheeler (1964, 148–52), and Thomson (1997, 390).


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3. Wheeler 1964, 138–39. 4. Wheeler 1964, 136–37. On pages 137–52 Wheeler discusses various instances of this piecemeal translation in great detail. 5. Wheeler 1964, 151. 6. Wheeler 1964, 151. 7. Wheeler’s understanding of Catullus 64 has defined scholarly opinion through the second half of the twentieth century into the present. There has been a general shift away from seeing the poem as a full-on linguistic translation toward viewing it as a transposition of Hellenistic style into Latin, an idea that typically surfaces under the term “Alexandrianism.” The following comment from Thomas (1983, 112) typifies this view: “While the notion that Poem 64 is a ‘translation’ of a lost Hellenistic work has on the whole been laid to rest, stylistically a Hellenistic model does seem to be indicated. In short, the tone and attitude of the poem are Hellenistic, or rather, Alexandrian.” 8. Quintilian (10.1.87) adds that, in this limited capacity, Varro Atacinus ought not be “scorned.” Courtney (1993, 235–43) compiles the relevant sources and the few remaining fragments of Varro’s work. Courtney (1993, 150) also discusses Cicero’s Aratea as well as other renditions of the Phaenomena by Cinna, Germanicus, Ovid, and Varro Atacinus, as well as Vergil’s “adaptations” of that poem in Georgics 1, noting that “there must have been a strong urge to win Aratus for Latin.” For a fuller discussion of this extensive history of translating Aratus into Latin (with a focus on the version attributed to Germanicus) see Possanza 2004. 9. “Epyllion” is a modern term and, over the years, there has been much debate over whether the miniature epic was a recognized genre in antiquity. Most critics now agree that it was viewed as a distinct mode among both Greek and Latin poets—e.g., Konstan (1993, 59, who cites comments by Hollis) and Thomson (1997, 387). For more on the Greek and Latin epyllion, see Wheeler (1964, 120–21), Lyne (1978, 172–74), Gutzwiller (1981), Hollis (1990), Thomson (1997, 387–89), Merriam (2001), Bartels (2004), and Baumbach and Bär (2012). 10. Though most Greek epyllia have been reduced to fragments or dust, a few do survive more or less intact. These include the Hylas and The Infant Heracles by Theocritus, Heracles the Lion-Killer in the Theocritan corpus, and Moschus’s Europa. 11. We could add to this list the Magna Mater of Caecilius mentioned in Catullus 35 as well as the pseudo-Vergilian Culex and Ciris. Aside from these latter two poems and 64 itself, no freestanding Latin epyllia remain as anything other than fragments (see Courtney 1993, 189–227 for the scant remains of other late Republican epyllia). There is no evidence for Latin epyllia before the late Republican period. Many scholars (myself included) believe that we can also get a sense of the form from the Aristaeus episode in Vergil’s fourth Georgic and from the concatenated epyllia-like episodes that make up Ovid’s Metamorphoses. 12. A lack of actual primacy would not necessarily deter a Latin poet from making a primus ego claim and I will be arguing (in keeping with Harrison 2007) that Catullus presents his own poem as the first—and foremost—Latin epyllion. 13. Catullus was clearly a master of the genre and his poem was influential on the generations that followed. Ovid, for instance, draws on 64 in the Scylla episode of the Metamorphoses (8.1–151), as does Vergil in his presentation of Dido at Aeneid 4.365–67. 14. Lyne (1978, 168–69) also suggests that the epyllion was the signature genre of the neoteric poets (whom he views as a “coherent” school). Wiseman (1974, 51–53) likewise suggests that the kind of newfangled poetry Cicero references in his statements about the neoteroi/poetae novi is non-Homeric epic, specifically, and that those whom he termed “neoterics” wrote epic in particular.

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15. The poem also includes a number of less-prominent internal analogues: the dark-colored sails flown by the forgetful Theseus (233–45), the garlands Chiron weaves throughout Peleus’s palace (283), the Parcae’s clothing (307–8), and, especially, the threads the Parcae spin as they sing their prophetic song (310–81). 16. See, in particular, Gaisser 1995, Theodorakopoulos 2000, Robinson 2006, and Sklenar 2006. 17. It seems that other neoteric epyllia likewise thematized the westward movement of culture and goods from the Greek East. As its title indicates, Cinna’s Zmyrna focused on Zmyrna/ Myrrha, the mythic figure who gave her name to myrrh, another paradigmatic luxury imported from the East. If the Magna Mater of Caecilius mentioned in Catullus 35 was likewise an epyllion, as many have surmised, we would have here yet another instance of such a poem centering on a female character who symbolizes a high-profile import to Rome from the East, this time in the form of the Great Mother herself. 18. The idea that the Argo was the first ship was elaborated in and after the Hellenistic period (O’Hara 2007, 40). See O’Hara 2007, 34–41 for further discussion of the Argo as first ship in 64 specifically and on the inconsistency introduced into this chronology by the depiction of Theseus’s own ship on the coverlet. DeBrohun (2007, 299–300) also addresses this chronological crux. 19. See the first chapter of Dougherty 2001, esp. 19–37, on the long-standing metaphorical linkage in Greek literature between ships, sailing, and poetry. For a discussion of this common metaphor in the context of Latin epic (including 64 itself), see Harrison 2007, especially section 9, where he lists a number of verbal points of contact between the writing of epic and the description of the sea voyage in 64.10–11. 20. Harrison (2007, sections 4–10) draws on a quite different set of evidence to make a similar claim, suggesting that in these opening Argo lines, 64 poses itself as the inaugural poem in the Latin epyllion tradition. 21. See, for instance, Strabo 1.2.39. On the myth’s colonialist associations, Newman (2001, 311) notes: “For the Habsburgs, the Golden Fleece became a symbol of imperial power and of an imperial mission, an application of the Argonaut myth already foreshadowed in Pindar (Pythian 4) and Herodotus (4.179). In both these authors, the myth is used to signal conquest and colonization.” Though Newman traces the imperial undercurrents of the Argonaut tale as they play out in a number of Greek, Roman, and post-classical versions of the myth, he does not discuss Catullus 64. 22. Braund (1994, 16) notes, “With the establishment of a Greek colonial presence in Colchis through the sixth century, the Argonautic expedition took on a new significance for each colonist was, in a sense, an Argonaut.” He adds: “It is not that colonization gave rise to the myth, which was evidently older than Greek settlement in the Black Sea region. Rather, long Greek voyages and distant settlements gave the myth a new relevance and significance” (22). 23. See Strabo 1.2.39 and 11.2.19. 24. This perspective is intimated within Apollonius’s version of the tale when King Aeetes accuses Jason and his crew of coming from Hellas “not for my fleece, but for my scepter and regal honor” (3.375–76). 25. This coverlet links the Ariadne digression back to the poem’s opening myth in another way as well. In the opening book of Apollonius of Rhodes’s Argonautica, Jason struts into the palace of the murderous Hypsipyle draped in a double-folded purple cloak (1.721ff.). Just as the hero is about to face off with a man-murdering queen, the poem erupts into a series of ecphrastic scenes whose auxiliary myths temporarily derail the story’s narrative flow. In place of Jason’s own


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adventures, we are suddenly immersed within a number of subsidiary myths that play along his cloak’s intricately embroidered border: the Cyclopes forge thunderbolts, Phrixus the Minyan chats with rams, Aphrodite admires herself in Ares’s shield, and Amphion masters stones with song. As we breathlessly wait for the hero to reach his future lover’s door, we find ourselves trapped in these irrelevant worlds, drawn ever further from the narrative action. This animate piece of purple cloth is an evident precursor to the artfully decorated coverlet that comes alive in Catullus’s own ecphrasis. In weaving Ariadne’s tale into a piece of purple cloth, Catullus takes a literally marginal moment from the Argonautica—the border of its hero’s cloak—as the digressive centerpiece of his own unusual epic. He could not have made a more coyly allusive and Alexandrianizing move. 26. The Fleece had featured prominently in the Argonautica which was an especially important model for 64. That poem states in its opening lines that certain “men of old” ventured to the Pontus “in quest of the Golden Fleece” (1.4). At first, Catullus teases us into thinking he will follow Apollonius’s lead: he too cites the Golden Fleece as the object of the Argives’ quest, setting the adjective / noun pair auratam / pellem (“golden / fleece”) at either end of his fifth line, foregrounding this glittering prize and recalling the chruseion (“golden”) that opens Apollonius’s fourth hexameter. This evocation of Apollonius’s successfully questing Argonauts makes these heroes’ disappearence in 64 all the more suprising. 27. Gaisser (1995, 581) uses the term “neoteric reader” to refer to the savvy and knowledgeable interpreter a poem like 64 demands. Such an encylopedic allusion hunter is clearly the sort of reader Catullus has in mind as the audience for his more obscurely referential tricks. This does not, of course, imply that other, less adept ancient readers did not likewise enjoy his poem. 28. Argonautica 4.1141–43. 29. Simonides, for instance, posed the Fleece as purple rather than gold (see discussion in Braund 1994, 23–24). Apollonius himself toes a line between these two colors, posing his Fleece as alternating between them. See Newman 1986, 73–84, esp. 74, n. 4 for more on this blushing Fleece and its associations with Jason’s rosy cloak in the Argonautica. 30. Feldherr (2007, 100) observes that this tapestry “resembles the golden fleece in its opulence and especially in its association with products of the East.” 31. I take my translation of variata here from Thomson 1997, 400. 32. Fowler (1991, 27) has noted that the objects described in ancient ecphrases typically carried a good deal of social weight: “It is striking how often set-piece description in narrative is of things that participate particularly obviously in social systems of meaning: clothing or armour, furniture, architecture, the cultivated landscape. These social systems do not determine or limit the meaning of an ekphrasis, but they already take the reader beyond the reality effect, however specified.” 33. For a cogent analysis of this discourse of decline as it constellated around luxury objects, see Wallace-Hadrill 2008, esp. 315–55. This topic is also well treated in Edwards 1993. 34. This topos of moral corruption introduced from abroad continues to be elaborated long after the late-Republican period. See, for instance, Livy 39.6.6–9, which I discuss below, Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis 33.148, which links the precious metals carted back to Rome in Scipio’s triumph to Rome’s moral downfall, and Juvenal 6.294–97. 35. I borrow the term “staining” from Richlin’s discussion of Roman invective literature (1983, 26–31). 36. Laird 1996, 90–94. On descriptio, see Quintilian 8.5.11 and Demetrius On Style 106–9. 37. Ferguson 1956, 2.

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38. On this disheveled, raging Ariadne as gesturing, iconographically, to imagery of maenads, see Gaisser 1995, 594. 39. So, for instance, Seneca the Younger, writing about Scipio Africanus from that general’s former villa, notes, “In this diminutive retreat The Terror of Carthage . . . used to bathe his body when it was tired from working in the fields. For he constantly occupied himself with manual labor and he himself worked his land—as was the habit of Romans of old” (Epistulae Morales 86.5). 40. On the centrality of mollitia to the Roman discourse of immorality, see Edwards 1993, 63–97. 41. Konstan 2007, 79. Bramble (1970, 38) remarks on Catullus’s pointed decision to set the wedding in a “luxurious urban location” rather than in the more traditional “rural or pastoral setting” posited by Alcaeus, Pindar, and Euripides. 42. On the evolution of the villa as a hellenizing intellectual retreat, see D’Arms (2003, 26) and Zanker (1988, 27). On the growth of villa culture more generally see D’Arms 2003, esp. 15–22 and 57–67. The fourth chapter of Edwards (1993, 137–72) treats the often vehement rhetoric surrounding such building projects. 43. This is a central argument of Krostenko 2001a. 44. On this echo of Aratus, see Fantuzzi and Hunter 2004, 483. 45. Feldherr (2007, 99) briefly notes this connection, citing Livy (pref. 12). Dee (1982, 105) objects to reading this epilogue as an indictment of contemporary Rome because, he argues, no explicit connection is drawn other than the nobis, and this “us” is better identified with “us humans” than with Catullus’s contemporaries. But I agree with those scholars—e.g., Putnam (1961, 195–6), Konstan (1977, 82–84), Feldherr (2007, 99)—who read this epilogue as gesturing toward Catullus’s contemporaries, primarily because these lines resonate so powerfully with the late-Republican discourse of decline. Forsyth (1975, 41–51) offers an in-depth discussion of this epilogue and a survey of the relevant pre-1975 literature. 46. Feldherr 2007, 99. 47. Feldherr 2007, 101. 48. Venuti 2004b, 498 and passim. Venuti goes on to describe this remainder as “an inscription of values, beliefs, and representations linked to historical moments and social positions in the receiving culture” (498). 49. Catullus does much the same thing in the final stanza of his Sappho translation (51), which veers away from its source to embed an incongruous lament about how otium (“leisure”) has caused the collapse of cities and kings. As I see it, the “epilogues” of these two very different translations are both domestic remainders that embed concerns about the social effects that aesthetic Hellenism was thought to have on the citizens of Rome. 50. Pound quoted in Moody 2007, 149. 51. Mao 1998, 151–56 and passim in his chapter on Pound. 52. Mao 1998, 152. 53. Morrison 1996, 30. 54. Morrison 1996, 30. 55. See O’Hara (2007, 44–47) for recent comments on the poem’s deviation from its stated theme of the heroum virtutes (“virtuous deeds of heroes”) and one possible way of reconciling this contradiction. Warden (1998, esp. 398 and 408) views the nature of heroism as the poem’s main theme, suggesting that the poem can be divided into two major “movements” that offer contrasting views of heroism. For an extended discussion of the irony of the heroum virtutes in 64, see Konstan 1977, 39–49.


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56. On this line see Hollis (1990, 323–24) and Wheeler (1964, 139). Konstan (1977, 93–94) discusses line 111 along with its Greek source, but he makes little of its being a translation. 57. See the discussion of this fragmentary line in Wheeler 1964, 139–140. 58. The line’s conflation of violent imagery and sensuous stylistics likewise made it an ideal vehicle for Cicero’s description of a fuming Greek pedant who, we are given to imagine, is walking off in a huff tossing his perfumed curls. 59. The clincher here is the fifth-foot spondee, one of the most characteristic stylistic markers of the Hellenistic epyllion. Catullus avails himself of this metrical affectation thirty times in his four hundred-line poem. Quinn (1970, 300) notes that this is close to the number of spondaic lines used in the whole of the Aeneid. The spondaic ending likewise features in the line Cicero composes in a letter to Atticus with the comment that his friend can pawn it off on hoi neoteroi (“those newfangled poets”) (7.2). 60. Hollis 1990, 32. See also Knox 2007, 154. Lyne (1978, 181) takes Callimachus’s central position in the epyllion tradition a step further, proposing that he “popularized, if not concocted” the Greek epyllion. For an in-depth discussion of Callimachus’s Hecale in particular, including its influence on the Roman epyllion, see Hollis 1990. On the Hecale and Hellenistic epyllion see Cameron 1995, 437–453. On the reception of Callimachus at Rome in particular, and Hellenistic poetry more generally, see Hunter 2006. 61. Wheeler 1964, 120–21. 62. The Hecale might also have appealed as a poetic node that drew together Catullus’s two divergent myths, the tales of the Argonauts and of Ariadne and Theseus: in the Hecale, the hero of this latter myth (Theseus) encounters the hero of the former (Jason, along with Medea) in Athens. 63. On Callimachus’s revision of the traditional epic hero in the Hecale see Zanker 1979 and Cameron 1995, 445. 64. Thomson (1997, 408), for instance, opines that this “first song” refers to the Ariadne episode. 65. Thomson (1997, 408) terms this technique a “self-interruption” and offers as an example another passage from the Argonautica (1.648). 66. These examples come from Ellis (1889, 306), who notes similar instances of this technique in Cicero and Nepos. Skutsch prints the line without the quid but I follow the version in Ellis, which many editors prefer. 67. I draw the term “self-interpellation” from Ellis 1889, 306. 68. Knox (2007, 166–67), for instance, has discussed the possible overlap between 64 and the Hecale in some detail, suggesting that Cicero’s line does, indeed, come from Callimachus’s epyllion and that Catullus is likely to have drawn from elsewhere in that poem as well. He points out, for instance, that the quondam (“once, once upon a time, formerly”) of the first line recalls the opening of the Hecale, which likewise begins with the word “once.” Callimachus is, in fact, a presence in 64 from the very start for he, too, wrote about the voyage of the Argo in some detail in the Aetia Book 1 and also, it seems, in Iambus 8 which, according to at least one ancient source, began, “Once, as the south wind blew softly, the Argo . . . .” (Trans., Nisetich 2001, 112). 69. On the theme of belatedness and retrospection as expressed through the theme of the gaze in 64 see Fitzgerald 1995, 140–68. 70. Hinds 1998, 61–62. 71. Zetzel (1983a, 251–56) offers a seminal discussion of the Ennian influence on 64. While acknowledging that the Hellenistic influence is primary, Zetzel foregrounds the ways in which Ennian allusions manifest in the poem, arguing that Catullus “was not entirely scornful of ar-

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chaic Roman poetry” (252). Ultimately, he suggests that Catullus uses Ennius as an archaic epic precursor to approximate Callimachus’s own manipulation of Homer. In another important connection between the two poems, the opening of the Medea Exul likewise treats the idea of Rome’s fall from a Golden Era. Indeed, Ennius’s presentation of the Argonauts’ journey (and of Medea in particular) seems to have made an impression on many Roman authors in the late Republican period. The first lines of his Medea were, for instance, echoed by Cicero in his speech defending Caelius (Theodorakopoulos 2000, 122–23). 72. This meaning of verrere is far less common but it is found in Catullus’s period—e.g., as Quintilian notes (6.3.55), it was used more than once by Cicero to joke on the thieving Verres’s name. 73. Thomas 1982. Callimachus’s Aetia and Accius’s Medea are two more texts Thomas finds in evidence here. Due, in part, to his seminal observations, these opening lines have received a good deal of attention: e.g., Zetzel 1983a, Gaisser 1995, Clare 1996, and Theodorakopoulos 2000. 74. Thomas 1982, 146 and throughout. 75. Some might object to the interference between the long syllable of Peliaco and the short syllable of pellis but, these differences notwithstanding, these two words still look and sound very much alike. 76. Fitzgerald (1995, 140–68) offers an excellent reading of this entire poem as a belated act of gazing back upon the “Golden Age” of myth. 77. See my third chapter for further discussion of the changes in the demographics of poetic translation in the late Republic. 78. See, for instance, Beard and Crawford 1985, 16. 79. For instance, piecemeal translation of Greek lyric poets features throughout the Odes (on this see Spencer 2011). To my view, one of the most striking instances of Horatian translation is his incorporation of a large portion of Callimachus’s Epigram 1 (Gow and Page 1965) into Satires 1.2.105–8. 80. Venuti 1995, the title of which (The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation) reflects the book’s ongoing concern with this issue of “invisiblity.” Chapter Two 1. Paterson 1998, 152. Despite the spike in obsession with foreign luxuries in the late Republic, it is clear that this interest began far earlier. A number of sumptuary laws limiting convivial expenses were ratified in the mid-second century BCE, indicating that such excesses were, even then, a pressing concern. See Parker (2002, 56) on this and other early sumptuary legislation. For an especially vivid discussion of Rome’s hunger for luxury imports, see Pliny the Elder on the trade route from Egypt to India (Historia Naturalis 6.101). 2. As Parker (2002, 76) notes, the “legendary wealth that Pompey and Lucullus both obtained on military campaigns in the eastern Mediterranean provided the benchmark for conspicuous consumption.” 3. One Catullan object that has received some critical attention does not appear in any of his poems. In a celebrated work of Catullan prosopography, T.P. Wiseman (1987) constructs a vivid portrait of the entire Valerii Catulli clan over the course of numerous generations, his discussion hinging largely upon the discovery of a single artifact—a first-century CE garum amphora from Baetica labeled with the words “C. Valerius Catullus.” Taking this name as the mark of its exporter, Wiseman suggests that the poet came from a family of highly successful entrepreneurs who made their fortune importing that most peculiar of ancient delicacies, fermented fish sauce


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or garum (339–40). See Wiseman (2007) for a more succinct and recent summary of his research on the Valerii Catulli. For a further discussion of this amphora and its implications for reading the Bithynia poems see Cairns (2003, 165) who, building upon Wiseman’s speculations, suggests that “the key to Catullus’s Bithynian relationship with Memmius lies . . . as much in business as in politics or literature.” 4. Brown 1996, 4. 5. Brown 1996, 4. 6. Brown 1996, 4. 7. Cordier 2005, 83. 8. These translations are my own. The original reads: “Les Romains jouent avec des catégories grecques” (Cordier 2005, 86); “Le jeu avec les codes: l’expression d’une domination symbolique” (88). 9. Nappa (1998) discusses different forms of valuation in poem 12, arguing that the ultimate value of the napkin for Catullus is its ability to fortify his connection with friends and to present him as a person who values the bonds of friendship over material possessions. Henderson (1999, 84–85) also touches on the work of calculation and transvaluation in this poem. Stroup (2010, 73–78) discusses this poem in terms of the different forms of value (social, market, literary) and different economies it puts into play and draws out some of the same features I do. Her primary concern, however, is with using the poem to better understand the function of the munus (“gift”) in the late Republic. Recently, 12 has become a key text for those who read Catullus through the lens of social performance. See Krostenko (2001a, 241–46), Krostenko (2007, 217–19), and Fitzgerald (1995, 93–98) for this approach to the poem. Feldherr (2007, 95–96) offers a brief but excellent discussion of the napkin in 12 that touches on many features of the poem that I discuss. 10. On object biographies see Kopytoff ’s seminal 1986 essay and the more recent Gosden and Marshall 1999. 11. See Cordier (2005, esp. 88) on the semiotic games that Romans so frequently played with Greek categories. 12. See Silius Italicus Punica 3.374–5 and Pliny Historia Naturalis 19.9. 13. On Pollio and the neoterics, see Voisin 2000. On the remains of Pollio’s own poetry, see Courtney 1993, 254–56. 14. An opening “mn” did not occur naturally in Latin and the closing -synum associates the word with a common class of Greek nouns ending in -συνη (σωφροσύνη, δικαιοσύνη, δουλοσύνη, etc.). A concise expression of this period’s orientation against imported words comes from Caesar who, reportedly, recommended that one “steer away from an unfamiliar word as if it were a reef ” (Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae 1.10.4.). Catullus generally conforms to this dictum—at least in the polymetrics—avoiding Grecisms and neologisms in all but a few poems, many of which are, not incidentally, discussed in this chapter. On the effect of Greek loan words in Latin prose, Dalby (2000b, 122) comments: “In a literary Latin text Greek words, or words that sound Greek, are not emotionally neutral. A Greek accent gives a hint of luxury, a whiff of conspicuous consumption, a suggestion that one’s Roman ancestors would not have approved, and a feeling that male and female are not distinguished as definitively as they should be.” 15. “Mnemosynum” is an emendation proposed by a Renaissance editor in an attempt to make sense of manuscript readings that range from “est mnemosinum” to “nemo est sinum” (Quinn 1970, 132). Modern editors—e.g., Quinn himself and Thomson (1997, 241) generally accept this emendation. 16. Krostenko 2001a, 245. 17. Nappa’s 1998 reading hinges upon this assumption: “In the end, however, Catullus reveals

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that his concern is not with the loss of the napkin but with the role of that napkin in the maintenance of his friendship” (Nappa 1998, 387). 18. Catullus’s use of diminutives in Veranius’s name (a usage that encourages us to read the double “ll” in Fabullus’s as a diminutive as well) is difficult to capture in English. It transforms the names into terms of endearment, but without quite the degree of infantalization associated with our “dear little” formulation. 19. As Vallette-Cagnac (2005, 64) points out, the Romans’ ideal for spoken Greek was a historical Attic Greek that allowed them to access the prestige of the Greek past without being mired in the disreputable, slave-supplying Greece of the present. The same nostalgia-laden principle applied to most of Rome’s evocations of Greece in an otium context. Romans viewed Greece as a sort of cultural reliquary of which they were the custodians and they took it as their task to reanimate this fallen land’s former glory (Vallette-Cagnac 2005, 64). For a vivid articulation of this idea, see Pliny the Younger’s advice on governing Achaia in Epistulae 8.24. 20. One of Cordier’s main examples is the Roman use of the word xystos. In Greek, this word was used to designate an athletic pavilion, but the Romans used it to refer to a garden promenade. This resignification allowed the Romans to lay claims to the cultural cachet of Greek athleticism and paedeia without actually having to practice it (Cordier 2005, 87). 21. This essay (Parker 2002) treats in detail the symbolic or “social” meaning of Indian imports at Rome, making it clear that the tendency to discursively alter the origins of commodities hailing from unsavory places is also evident outside the realm of poetry. So, for instance, fish culled from throughout the Black Sea were generally represented as coming from Byzantium because this former Greek colony had a certain cultural cachet lacking from the unhellenized (and so, uncivilized) wastelands of the surrounding countryside (Parker 2002, 86). 22. I borrow the terms “mental map” from Parker (2002) and my “cultural terrain” is inspired by his “cognitive geography.” 23. “In general, topographies of far western and northern lands place much less emphasis on commodities” (Parker 2002, 85). 24. Fitzgerald (1995, 93–98) offers an excellent reading of 12 that likewise associates Marrucinus’s theft with Catullus’s poetry. He argues that the purported theft of the napkin offers an occasion for a retaliatory performance of urbanitas—a coveted quality of neoteric poetry and late-Republican social behavior. Catullus assaults the thief in precisely the same terms that he normally applies to those who write bad poetry (inepte, invenusta) and describes the thief ’s brother and foil, Pollio, with words normally attributed to high-quality neoteric verse (leporum, facetiarum). Catullus, then, presents Marrucinus’s thefts and neoteric stylistics as being in inverse relationship to one another and uses his assault on his addressee as an excuse to poetically perform the qualities the other man lacks. He proves himself to be, like Pollio, lepidus, facetus, venustus (“charming, witty, elegant”), etc. in the course of demonstrating that his addressee is not any of the above. 25. Theft is a concept that comes up periodically in Roman discussions of translation. For one instance of translation as theft, see the preface to Terence’s Adelphoe (based, in part, on the Synapothnescontes of Diphilus) where he uses furtum to describe his own translation of a portion of a Greek play left “untouched” by Plautus. It seems that here, the theft refers not to Terence’s use of the Greek play but to his his co-option of a play that had already been translated, in part, by Plautus. 26. This line is corrupt. I have substituted Quinn’s (1970) more legible version for Thomson’s cum laeva nummularios offendit oscitantes (“when your left hand lights upon the yawning money-changers”).


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27. For more on Catullus’s possible associations with Bithynia, see Cairns 2003. 28. Feldherr (2007, 95) and Quinn (1970, 130). See Fordyce (1961, 128–29) for more on this name and its placement. 29. We find the name Thallus, for instance, in two Spanish inscriptions and in several inscriptions from the area around Verona. For a fuller discussion of these and other sources, see Ellis 1889, 84. 30. Thomson, 1997, 266. The word Thallus also appears in Latin, where it refers to a young stem, branch, or bough (Oxford Latin Dictionary [OLD], s.v. “Thallus”). 31. As Edwards (1993, 92–97) explains, mollitia (“softness”) was one of the primary attributes the Romans associated with the Greeks. She also notes that “Cicero warns against the slippery ways of Greeks and Asiatics, which are to be connected, he says, with their lack of political power” (93; in reference to Cicero’s Ad Quintum Fratrem 1.16). 32. OLD, s.v. “Cinaedus,” 1a. 33. Thanks to Ellen Oliensis for this cogent phrasing. 34. It should be noted that, for the Romans, this baseness had to do with the desire to be penetrated, and thus play the passive role in a sexual encounter, rather than the desire to have sexual relations with another man, per se. 35. Thomson 1997, 266 36. Thomson 1997, 266. 37. Thomson 1997, 266. 38. The pallium was especially associated with Greek philosophers and was also the dress of hetaerae in both Greece and Rome (Lewis and Short, s.v. “Pallium,” II). 39. This division of Greeks and Romans into homines palliati and homines togati is most familiar from divisions of Roman comedy into fabula palliata, where plots were adapted from Greek New Comedy, and fabula togata, where actors presented Roman scenes in Roman dress. Togatus could also mean, simply, “having Roman status.” Thus, Cisalpine Gaul was termed Gallia togata because it was a region “where Roman dress and manners predominated” (OLD, s.v. “Togatus,” 3b). 40. Lewis and Short, s.v. “Pallium” II. 41. Cicero offers a vivid example of such sartorial mimicry in his speech against Verres when he describes the sybaritic governor overseeing the smelting of silver ornaments pillaged from families throughout Sicily. In this passage, the orator lavishes special attention on the praetor’s choice of dress, commenting that: “the governor who claims that peace reigned in Sicily on account of his own vigilance was accustomed to sit in this workshop for most of the day in a dark tunic and pallium” (In Verrem 2.4.24). Sitting in the middle of the ancient palace of Syracuse dressed in a Greek cape and tunic, Verres becomes a veritable reincarnation of the Greek tyrants who once had a notorious stranglehold on the island. The man who begins the sentence as a praetor ends it as a homo palliatus, his identity as a Roman official obscured by the rectangle of fabric he drapes around his tunic. Here, the pallium itself becomes an emblem of the immoderate adoration of Greek high culture that has, Cicero’s speech implies, corrupted the governor to the point of unbound plunder of every art object in sight. 42. My phrase “more Greek than the Greeks” is a variation on the title of Valette-Cagnac’s 2005 essay “Plus attique que la langue des Athéniens.” 43. Catagraphosque thynos is an opaque phrase. Both words are adjectives (catagraphusa-um, “painted, variegated” and thynus-a-um, “Bithynian”) and nobody quite knows what a substantive version of catagraphi might be. Suggestions have ranged from handkerchiefs or other

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textiles to boxwood writing tablets. Quinn (1970, 167) discusses these possibilities, among others. Other possibilities listed by Ellis (1889, 86) include “figured towels or napkins,” “tablets of stained or coloured parchment,” “signet-rings,” “embossed knives,” and “embroidered figures of Bithynians.” Ellis ultimately sides with those who surmise that the word refers to tablets made with Bithynian box-wood. 44. Thalia, which translates literally to “the blooming one,” shares with Thallus an etymological derivation (θάλλω—“to bloom,” “to flourish”). This muse appears in Horace Odes 4.6.25 as the patron of lyric poetry. An etymologically related Thaliarchos is addressee of Horace, Odes 1.9. Thalia also appears at the beginning of Vergil’s sixth Eclogue (lines 1–2) as a more generalized muse (rather than referring to his “Muse” making her way through the genres from Pastoral to Epic, Tityrus refers to his “Thalia”). Elsewhere, Thalia is more commonly associated with comedy than with lyric. 45. Greene (1998, 20–25) has a fascinating discussion of the role that commercial language (or what she terms “quantification discourse,” 22) plays in poem 5 that suggests Catullus here reveals the limitations of conservative, materialist thinking by mobilizing its lexicon for his own counterassault. She discusses both 5 and 7 in similar terms in 2007. Also on counting and kissing in poems 5 and 7, see Henderson (1999, 72–80). 46. The debate continues about whether we can read any of Catullus’s poems as companion pieces intentionally grouped together by the author. Wheeler, who is generally skeptical about assigning authorial intention to the ordering of the poems, does see the author’s hand at work in certain triads consisting of two similar poems flanking a contrasting piece (1964, 28). Such clusters, he argues, smack of the Alexandrian taste for varietas that would become the hallmark of book collections in the Augustan period. He lists poems 5, 6, and 7 as a prime example of such an arrangement. A number of other scholars have likewise read poems 5 and 7 as a pair. Segal (1968) offers a compelling study of the pair that reads them as offering contrasting perspectives on love. 47. I take the wonderful “kissifications” from Quinn (1970, 112). Elder (1951) discusses this poem as pointing to a heady form of intellectual courtship. This is certainly true. The exchange of these two poems poses not just a showdown between two lovers but a contest between two neoteric versifiers. My reading differs in that I see this courtship as agonistic. The second poem constitutes an aggressive rebuttal of the first that picks up on the language of the closing line and inverts it to call the original speaker’s assumptions into doubt. 48. To borrow a felicitous phrase from Segal (1968, 287). 49. “Catullan revolution,” as both idea and term, originated with Quinn (1959). 50. In, e.g., poems 5, 7, 8, 16, and 48. 51. As Ellis (1889, 19), quoting W.S. Landor, notes: “Basiare basium basiatio are words unused by Vergil, Propertius, Horace, Ovid or Tibullus—that is by all the love poets of the following generation.” Even the adventurous—and amply bawdy—lexicon of comedy ignores this word entirely (see Lewis and Short, s.v. “Basium”). Martial is the only other author to draw on this word with abandon. His most famous use of it is in a poem that gestures explicitly back to Catullus 5: da nunc basia, sed Catulliana:/ quae si tot fuerint quot ille dixit, donabo tibi Passarem Catulli (“Give, now, kisses, but Catullan ones:/ and if there are as many of them as he said/ I will give you the sparrow of Catullus; 11.6.14–16). 52. Ellis (1889, 19) unreservedly supports this hypothesis. The OLD lists basium’s etymology as uncertain. 53. Elder 1951, 108.


n o t e s t o pa g e s 8 0 – 8 8

54. Silphium and astrafoetida are similar—but not identical—spices. After the former disappeared, the Romans turned to the latter as a decent, though inferior, substitute. 55. While apparently spelled “lasarpicium” by Catullus, “laserpicium” was the more common spelling. 56. Dalby 2000a, 17. 57. See Ellis (1889, 23–24) for a detailed discussion. 58. This vase, itself, was an import from Africa. Manufactured in Cyrene, it was discovered at Vulci in Etruria (Quinn 1970, 113). 59. On silphium’s uses in cooking, see Dalby 2000a, 17–18; on its medicinal uses and more, see Johnston 1993. 60. Wheeler 1964, 238. 61. Krostenko 2001a, 22–23. 62. Krostenko 2001a, 87. 63. See Valette-Cagnac (2005, 73–74) for an excellent discussion of Atticus’s hyper-Hellenism. 64. Quinn (1972, 88). With his stunning observations about the commercial language in this set of poems, Quinn was well on his way to a version of the reading I am proposing, but his insistence on maintaining a purely romantic framework for the Lesbia poems prohibits him from following his insights through. In fact, the reading of 7 he offers in Catullan Questions ignores the wealth of commercial language he unearths elsewhere to present the poem as the ecstatic document of a burgeoning romance. 65. Quinn 1970, 109. 66. Quinn 1970, 109. This idea is confirmed by the description of kisses as a crop (seges) in poem 48. 67. On fascina, see Varro De Lingua Latina 7.97 and Pliny Historia Naturalis 19.19.1. 68. See, esp., Johnston (1993), who focuses primarily on this spice’s role as a contraceptive, suggesting that this association, rather than any foul smell, is the driving force behind its appearance in poem 7. Her view is not shared by all: Thomson (1997, 225) notes curtly that “the fact that inter alia it [laserpicium] was prized as an aphrodisiac is of no significance for understanding this poem.” 69. Cairns (1973) catalogues a number of Alexandrian features in poems 5 and 7 (along with poem 48). These are not always identical to Callimachean features as such, but there is significant overlap. As a group, Cairns suggests, these basia poems offer variations on a theme in the style of the “Alexandrian epigrammists” (18); there is a possible inclusion of a “learned etymology” in poem 7 (18) as well as a possible esoteric allusion to oracular language (19); the idea of fascinatio in these poems perhaps recalls the carping Telchines in Callimachus’s Aetia prologue (19); and “kiss counting is another traditional Alexandrian theme” (20–21). Finally, this group of poems, as Cairns reads them, offer clever inversions of the primarily Hellenistic tradition of “arithmetic epigrams” (15), toying with their model by refusing to offer solutions to their computations (17). 70. To borrow a phrase from Quinn, who discusses these “two traditional images of infinity” (1970, 111). 71. See, e.g., Martial 11.6.14–16 and Ovid Amores 1.8.58. 72. As Wallace-Hadrill points out, this is the impression one gets from reading Pliny’s repetitious accounts of the ongoing arrival of luxury from Asia. Pliny’s discussion suggests that different triumphs precipitated different waves of fashion for particular kinds of objects (2008, 346–47). 73. Wallace-Hadrill 2008, 347.

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215 Chapter Three

1. As elsewhere, I take the text of Catullus from D.F.S. Thomson’s 1997 edition but, for Thomson’s “Thracia” in line 8, I print “Thraciam,” by far the more common reading. For a succinct summary of the most important debates surrounding how to read this line, see van Dam 1990. 2. Catullus 10 and 28 touch on this unrewarding sojourn, while poems 31 and 46 describe the poet’s ebullient return to Italy. For a recent treatment of these Bithynian poems, see Cairns 2003. For an analysis that contextualizes these poems within the flow of material and cultural capital between Bithynia and Italy, see Hinds 2001. 3. An overriding concern with Catullan biography marked most of the work done on poem 4 from the turn of the nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth. Putnam 1962 is a classic essay in this mode. For some early objections to biographical analysis of the poem, see Copley 1958, Quinn (1959, 89), and Hornsby 1963. 4. Thomson 1997, 213–15. This so-called Phaselus Berenices would, in Thomson’s estimation, be a translation along the lines of Catullus’s Coma Berenices (poem 66), his one complete translation of a poem by Callimachus. By Thomson’s reading, the lacus would be identified with Lake Mareotis and the places along the phaselus’s journey with contemporary trade routes. 5. Fitzgerald 1995, 104–10. 6. Skinner (1993, 61–68) offers a quite different analysis of poem 4 as competitive verbal performance. 7. Rawson (1985, 5–14) and Gruen (1974, 427). This region of Anatolia had been bequeathed to Rome by Attalus III in 133 BCE. In 123 BCE, Roman equestrians were given the right to collect taxes there and appear to have availed themselves of the privilege. In 88, the area was taken by Mithridates who ordered the slaughter of all Italians. Sulla reconquered the region and created a settlement in 85 but stability was not complete until Pompey defeated Mithridates in 63 and created a permanent system of military and administrative divisions and regulations. For a dicussion of these events see Mitchell (1993, 29–34). For in-depth treatments of Rome’s involvement in Bithynia see Magie (1950) and Harris (1980, 857–901). 8. The idea that Bithynia was an especially wealthy province seems to have been widespread in antiquity. For sources on Bithynian wealth see Francese (2001, 17 n. 3). Cairns (2003, 178), however, suggests that due largely to over-taxation, the province would have been impoverished at the time of Catullus’s sojourn. 9. For a concise discussion of earlier Latin writing in this vein, see Kenney 1982, 175–77. 10. Richardson Jr. (1972, 215). 11. This dynamic is prominent in Roman comedy where the slaves’ indomitable optimism is belied by constant jokes about corporal punishment. On the confluence of slavery, humor, and violence in Plautine comedy, see McCarthy 2000. 12. This structure of indirect speech is the crux of Fitzgerald’s reading (104–10). 13. On the influence of Greek epigram in this poem, see Mette 1962. On the Hellenistic epigram tradition more generally, see Tueller (2008), Bing and Bruss (2007), and Gutzwiller (1998). 14. For examples of this phenomenon in the Greek tradition, see the Palatine Anthology 9.34 and 36 (both on deceased ships). Quinn (1970, 101) prints the epitaph for Claudia as a Latin comparandum. On the passerby in Greek sepulchral epigram, see Tueller (2008, 65–94). For a more general discussion of Hellenistic sepulchral epigrams, see Bing (2008, 39–40, 58–65, and 67–70). For a detailed discussion of Catullus 4’s use of features drawn from sepulchral epigram, see Davis (2002, 117–19). 15. See the Palatine Anthology 6.69 and 70 as well as Callimachus Epigram 5 on the nauti-


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lus shell. On Greek dedicatory epigrams see Tueller (2008, 95–111). For an intriguing reading that moves between Catullus 4 and Callimachus’s nautilus epigram, see Fredrick (1999, 66–70). Courtney (1997, 117) also discusses similarities between these two poems. 16. Culler (1981, 139). 17. The animating power of this narrator, who wakes the ship only to lay him back to rest, runs parallel to the absolute power of life and death that a Roman master held over his slaves. On this facet of the Roman slave system, see Bradley (1994, 25). 18. Oxford Latin Dictionary s.v. erus, 1a. Erus could also be used, poetically, to refer to the owner of a piece of property (OLD 3) as Catullus does in his Sirmio poem (31.12). For a discussion of the evolution of this word, see Finley (1980, 73). 19. Kahn 1967, 169. 20. Quinn 1970, 101. See also Kahn (1967, 169–71) and objections in Richardson (1972, 215). 21. Kahn 1967, 171. 22. Fitzgerald 2000, 15. 23. Varro’s comment echoes Aristotle’s description of a slave as “property endowed with a soul” (Politics 1253b32). On slaves as property see Finley 1980, 73. 24. On the derivation of phaselus see Ellis (1889, 10), Fordyce (1961, 99), and Thomson (1997, 212–13). 25. Sheets 2007, 197–98. 26. Quinn (1970, 103), Skinner (1993, 63), Courtney (1997, 114), Thomson (1997, 214–21), and Sheets (2007, 197–98). 27. Davis 2002, 122, n. 21. 28. Sheets 2007, 198. 29. Many have argued for understanding this lake as the Lago di Garda (e.g., Putnam 1962, 10–11), though most scholars now agree that such a reading is overly speculative (e.g., Quinn 1970, 107). I tend to agree with Fredrick that the “structural symmetry” of the poem’s mirrored voyages from the Adriatic to Cytorus and back invites us to understand this lake “to be at least fictionally in Italy” (1999, 63). 30. Finley 1962, 53–57. Finley (56–7) posits the Black Sea region as a major source of slaves for both the Greeks and Romans starting in the seventh century BCE, noting that the area to the south of the Black Sea became especially important in the late Republican period. Evidence for this intensified seizure of slaves in the first century comes from Diodorus Siculus (36.3.1), who writes that Nicomedes IV, king of Bithynia in 94–75/4 BCE, was unable to offer military aid to Marius because the majority of the Bithynian population had been enslaved by Roman tax collectors. Ancient evidence on the sources of Roman slaves is notoriously thin (Finley 1962, 51) and the topic is hotly debated. For a range of perspectives, see Finley (1980, 83–85), Harris (1980, 117–40), Bradley (1987), Scheidel (1997, 156–69), Harris (1999, 62–63), and Scheidel (2005, 64–65). For good discussions of Roman slavery more generally, see Hopkins (1978), the second chapter of Phillips Jr. (1985), and Bradley (1994). On representations of slavery in Roman literature, see Fitzgerald 2000. 31. Fitzgerald 2000, 75. 32. Griffith (1983, 128) argues that erum might also be understood as the accusative subject of the indirect statement. This reading of the syntax bolsters his claim that the phaselus of this poem is a model ship that the master has carried back with him from Bithynia. But taking erum as the object of tulisse is the far more natural reading. 33. Thomson comments extensively on this ship’s presentation as a “quasi-human organism” (1997, 214–15).

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34. Hornsby 1963, 263. Kahn (1967, 167) similarly suggests this humble vessel’s selfaggrandizing genealogy as vying with that of the mythic ship Argo. 35. In antiquity a slave was generally understood as “a socially dead person” (Patterson 1982, 38). 36. Davis 2002, 122 (first two citations) and 113. 37. Davis 2002, 127 (citation), and 138. 38. Francese 2001, 42–45. 39. Ellis 1889, 11. 40. Fordyce likewise comments on such apostrophes as “a trick of later Greek poetry” (1961, 103–4). 41. Rawson 1985, 7–14. While discussing a kind of chalk used to mark the feet of foreign slaves, Pliny the Elder notes the prevalence of enslaved intellectuals arriving from the East three generations earlier (i.e., in the mid-first century BCE) and suggests their centrality to initiating literary and artistic developments at Rome (Pliny, Historia Naturalis 35.58). Wiedemann (1981, 111–12) discusses this passage in some depth. For a discussion of the relationship between Greek intellectuals and the Roman aristocracy in the late Republic more generally, see Crawford 1978, 193–207. 42. Our sources on Parthenius’s biography are scant and their interpretation is much debated. For a compilation of the sources, see Lightfoot 1999. For a measured account of Parthenius’s life based on the available evidence, see Francese 2001, 17–28. 43. The Suda, a Byzantine lexicon, refers to Cinna under its entry for Parthenius (see Lightfoot 1999, Testamonia 1). The entry states that the poet was taken by Cinna as a prize when the Romans defeated Mithridates. There has been a great deal of debate over the identity of the Cinna mentioned in this passage, with most critics identifying him with either the poet or his father. For an impassioned argument for identifying this Cinna with the poet, see Wiseman 1974, 44–58. For an outline of both sides of the debate, see Francese 2001, 18–24. Regardless of who brought him to Rome, Parthenius did seem to have influenced Cinna’s poetry. The erudite illegibility of the Zmyrna (as described in Catullus 95) recalls Parthenius’s labyrinthine version of the same myth (Hollis 2007, 31). Cinna’s Propempticon Pollionis can likewise be traced back to Parthenius, the first poet we know to have written a piece titled Propempticon (Hollis 2007, 22). 44. See, especially, Clausen 1964, an influential article that promoted Parthenius to celebrity status among scholars of Latin literature. One might read Clausen’s essay alongside Crowther’s more measured response (1976). Wiseman (1974, 44–58) offers another important early discussion. For in-depth overviews of Parthenius’s influence on Roman literature and thought, see Lightfoot (1999, 50–76) and Francese (2001, 9–13). 45. I take this lovely English translation of Parthenius’s title from Francese 2001, 8. My thanks to Kristopher Fletcher for sharing with me his essay, “A Handbook for the Translation of Greek Myth into Latin: Parthenius, Gallus, and the Erotica Pathemata,” prior to publication. 46. Wheeler 1999, 15. 47. The citation, from Macrobius, reads that Parthenius served as a grammaticus in Graecis to Vergil (Saturnalia, 5.17.18). 48. Francese 2001, 46 49. Francese 2001, 60. 50. Francese 2001, 17. See Francese (2001, 24–26) for a list of enslaved intellectuals from throughout the Greek world known to have been working as writers in Italy. See Francese (2001, 7, n. 4) for sources on other Bithynian intellectuals, specifically. 51. Rawson 1985, 7.


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52. Rawson 1985, 3. 53. A frequently cited instance of early Roman Alexandrianism is Ennius’s evocation of Callimachus’s dream of Mount Helicon in the Annales. But it is significant that Ennius alludes to Callimachus only to have Homer’s ghost override Callimachean principles and urge him to compose an epic (see Clausen 1964, 186). It wasn’t until Catullus’s generation that Callimachus became the dominant figure at Rome. 54. See Clausen (1964, 187) and Zetzel (1983b, 96). 55. See Francese (2001, 60), which contrasts Cicero’s “mechanical” use of Hellenistic metrics in the Aratea with the “expressive” use the neoterics made of Hellenistic metrical innovations. 56. On how Romans thought about their slaves in contradictory terms, see Fitzgerald (2000, 6–8) and Thalmann (1996, 112–45). On the difficulty of the problem as regards intellectuals specifically, see Hopkins 1978, 123. 57. Thank you to the anonymous referees of the Arethusa article that served as the core of the first part of this chapter. It is to them that I owe this closing formulation. 58. I draw the Latin of all cited poems of the Catalepton from Clausen et al. 1966. In Catalepton 10, line 22, I accept Salmasius’s emendation, buxinumque (“boxwood”) for the corrupt proximumque. 59. In addition to the Catalepton, the Appendix includes a variety of other “minor” poems, including the Ciris, the Culex, and three Priapea. Most scholars have assumed an Augustan date for the Catalepton, in part because of Catullus’s dominant influence in this period. For a discussion of this theory, see Shaw (2007, 132), who rejects this reasoning, pointing to the extent of Catullus’s influence on Martial in a later period and instead proposes that the poems were written in the Flavian period. The dissertation of Oosterhuis (2007) offers an in-depth discussion of the Catalepton. For an intriguing recent take on the Appendix as a whole, see Peirano 2012. 60. Though Catalepton 10 is, as far as we know, the earliest rewriting of Catullus 4, it is by no means the only poem of its kind. The phaselus poem has spawned a great number of parodies and imitations over the years, including one by the great sixteenth- century Catullan scholar Scaliger, who claimed to have translated Catullus 4 into Greek iambics: see Boerma (1961, 237) who cites a 1579 book that gathers no less than ten different postclassical imitations. 61. Shaw (2007, 133–34) well summarizes the logic behind these and other theories and points to their attending problems. The Publius Ventidius Bassus theory was first proposed by the sixteenth-century scholar Victorius and corroborated by the likes of Fraenkel and Münzer (Shaw 2007, 133). The C. Calvisius Sabinus theory is suggested by Syme (1958, 73–80), who floats the idea without claiming the identification to be airtight (see discussion in Shaw 2007, 134). Shaw (2007, 138) shifts the discussion from the Augustan to the Flavian period with his suggestion that our Sabinus might have worked under the emperor Vespasian’s brother, who was named Titus Flavius Sabinus. 62. As Shaw notes, most of the identities that have been proposed have since been “rejected” (2007, 132). 63. The quotes are from Shaw, who serves as a useful straw man here primarily because he explicates the pitfalls and possibilities of the historical approach in such lucid detail. The first two quotations come from his culminating discussion of his own theory on Sabinus’s identity, which hinges in part on the existence of a historical Cerylus, one of the emperor Vespasian’s freedmen, who Shaw notes might logically have been “involved in the large-scale business of his patronus, namely in the mule trade and transport enterprises that produced considerable profits

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for Vespasian and his brother” (2007, 138). He goes on to note that this would make Cerylus a logical “rival” to Sabinus. The final quote comes from Shaw’s summary of Syme’s proposal that the Sabinus of Catalepton 10 might point toward late-Republican entrepreneurs in the supply and transport business who profited off of the wartime rise of such activities (2007, 134). 64. For capsule discussions of these prominent neoteric figures, see Conte 1994, 140–42. See Courtney 1993 for more detailed discussions of Cinna, Furius Bibaculus, and Varro Atacinus, as well as the text of their remaining fragments. 65. This designation was in contrast to Gallia Comata (“Long-haired Gaul”). 66. Wiseman (1985, 109–10) notes, “It is also clear enough that teachers and scholars were welcome there. Catullus got a first-rate grounding in Greek, and the extraordinary contribution of the Transpadanes to Roman literature in its most Hellenistically allusive period shows that his case was not a rare exception.” See Wray (2001, 43, n. 23) for references on the extensive hellenization of central Italy and Catullus’s own bilingual background. 67. Wiseman (1985, 111) characterizes the population of this area as “hard working, straightlaced, traditional society that knew and valued Greek culture, was not inhibited about commercial profit, but took seriously the responsibilities of honest dealing.” 68. Oxford Classical Dictionary, s.v. “Gaul (Cisalpine).” For a brief but useful discussion of the history and culture of the area as it relates to Catullus, see also Wiseman (1985, 107–15) and Wiseman (2007, 57–71). 69. Wiseman 2007, 58. 70. Wiseman 2007, 58. 71. Quinctio was a name that generally signalled lower-class, and sometimes even slave status (Shaw 2007, 134, noting in n. 12 on that same page that Quinctio is attested as a slave name meaning fifth born or born in the fifth month of the Roman calendar, July). 72. Carlson and Schmidt (1971, 259) are among those who understand Sabinus as winding up in a relatively prominent position as “a local magistrate in his curule chair.” Shaw (2007, 135) makes the sevir Augustalis proposal and understands the parody’s real edge as coming from the fact that Sabinus did not rise far at all but was, “in fact some low-life who had experienced a modest, but rather laughable, elevation in status in his retirement from his long occupation” (136). For an in-depth discussion of curule seats and their evolving significance, see Schäfer 1989. 73. Bonnefoy and Doniger 1991 and 1993, 201 “Gallo-Roman Deities.” 74. Oxford Classical Dictionary, s.v. “Castor and Pollux.” 75. Kajanto 1975, 51. 76. Holzberg 2004, 37–38. 77. “Linear reading” (2004, 33) is Holzberg’s preferred term for the kind of concatenated, holistic reading of a poetic collection he advocates here and in much of his other work on Latin poetry collections. The outline of this argument is presented primarily on pages 36–38. 78. Sed Vergilius a Cremona Mediolanum et inde paulo post transiit in urbem, Vita Suetoniana-Donatiana, quoted by Holzberg (2004, 38, n. 33). 79. Holzberg 2004, 36 and 37. 80. Holzberg 2004, 37. 81. Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria 8.3.29) says Catalepton 2 was aimed at a man named T. Annaeus Cimber mentioned by Cicero as having killed his brother. If this is so, it strengthens the Transpadane connection in this poem, for the Cimbri were the Germanic tribe whose invasion of North Italy prompted the Roman takeover of Cisalpine Gaul (Wiseman 1985, 107). The poem reads as follows:


n o t e s t o pa g e s 1 0 7 – 1 1 5 Corinthiorum amator iste verborum, iste, iste rhetor, namque quatenus totus Thucydides, tyrannus Atticae febris, tau Gallicum, min et sphin ut male illisit, ita omnia ista verba miscuit fratri. That lover of Corinthian words that, well, that speechifier, and, further, an all-out Thucydides, a tyrant of Attic fever, crushed the Gallic “tau,” “min,” and “sphin” so wickedly that he mixed together all these words for his very own brother.

This epigram was confusing even to readers in antiquity, spurring a befuddled response from the fourth-century-CE poet Ausonius, who asks in his Grammaticomastix (“Scourge of Grammarians”), lines 5–8: “Tell me, what do the Catalepta of [Vergilius] Maro mean? In these he has placed the Celtic “al”; “tau” follows no more clearly; is “sil” an utterance of a foreign, or a Latin one? And what was the death-dealing “min” wickedly mixed for his brother?” (lines 5–8). 82. See Holzberg (2004, 38 n. 33). Interestingly, one early companion to whom the Vergilian speaker bids farewell with fondness in this poem is named Sabinus (“and to you also farewell, O Sextus Sabinus, care of my cares; and farewell to you too, you handsome men,” 6–7). 83. See Holzberg (2004, 36–37), who notes that this detail featured in the ancient Vitae. 84. The collection, in fact, includes 16 epigrams, but poem 15 is an encomium of Vergil that may well have been added by an editor, and the sixteenth poem appears only in some of the manuscripts and is often omitted by modern editors. Poem 14 is the last poem working within the fiction that it was written by Vergil himself. 85. The idea that the author of the Catalepton is impersonating Vergil is central to Holzberg 2004. 86. Holzberg 2004, 31. See note 10 on this same page for bibliography on work that traces connections between the Catalepton and Catullus in detail. 87. Holzberg 2004, 38. 88. This idea is, in fact, introduced in poem 9, a panegyric on Messalla, where the Vergilian speaker refers to his own talent as “lowly” (humilis) in contrast to the nobleman’s poetic and martial greatness (lines 61–63). 89. Wiseman 1985, 107. 90. For instance, in poem 68 he complains that he does not have a ready supply of books available to him at Verona and adds: “This is so because we live at Rome: that is our house, that is our home, that’s where we spend our life” (68.34–35). For a discussion of Catullus’s conflicting cultural identities as they play out through the theme of displacement in various poems, see Fitzgerald (1995, 185–211, esp. 203–7 “Catullus Transpadane”). Wray (2001, 43–45) has a brief but excellent discussion of Catullus’s Romanitas and Latinitas in relation to his status as “an imperfectly colonized Italian subject of Rome and of a Roman discourse that he possesses fully by mastery, but never fully by membership” (45). 91. Carlson and Schmidt 1971, 262. 92. The first citation in this sentence is from Carlson and Schmidt (1971, 261), the second and third from 262. 93. Shaw 2007, 134. 94. Simius iste / nil praeter Calvum et doctus cantare Catullum. Horace betrays some snobbery here himself, as he is contrasting this misguided “ape” to those Roman humorists who

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choose to imitate the authors of Old Comedy, whom he characterizes, in contrast to Catullus and Calvus, as “worthy of imitation” (17). Chapter Four 1. Spivak 2004, 370. Portions of this chapter were initially developed in an essay titled “Sappho Under My Skin: Catullus and the Translation of Erotic Lyric at Rome” (Young 2011). 2. Taussig 1993, 45. 3. This transformative potential in relation to the translator’s “mother tongue” was famously celebrated by Walter Benjamin in his seminal essay “The Task of the Transaltor” (1968), 73. 4. To give an example closer to Catullus’s own time: with his translations of Greek philosophy into Latin Cicero is credited with almost single-handedly developing a “vocabulary of abstract philosophical thinking” in Latin (Palmer 1988, 128). 5. Fitzgerald 2006 ( 6. This Romantic model has been the most powerful model of lyric voicing in the modern era, only partly diminished by the New Critics’ persona theory and deconstruction’s exposure of the voice as just another trope. It continues to be promoted, for instance, in some workshop contexts where aspiring poets are still coached in how to “find” or “develop their voice” (e.g., the title of Lyne 2007—Writing Poetry from the Inside Out: Finding Your Voice Through the Craft of Poetry. This book also includes a chapter (14) titled “Voice—Being Yourself on Paper.”). For a good, concise discussion of ideas of the evolution of the idea of “voice” in lyric theory, see The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed., ed. Roland Green, Stephen Cushman et al. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), s.v. “voice.” 7. Quintilian Institutio Oratoria 10.5.2 comments that Cicero, among other earlier Roman orators, had offered the same advice. See the discussion of translation as an exercise to train the orator in Clark 1957, 169–72. 8. Almost all scholars agree in identifying poem 65 as an epistolary preface to 66. Poem 50 is not so consistently linked with the translation it precedes, though a number of commentators have argued for a connection (see, especially, Wray 2001, 95–99). Catullus was not unique in prefacing his translations in this way. Roman translations were often accompanied by a preface that described their genesis or defended them against attack (e.g., Terence Andria 1–27 and Adelphoe 1–25 as well as Cicero Topica 1.1–5, De Finibus 1.1–12, and De Optimo Genere Oratorum. 9. Valerius Aedituus is unknown to us beyond this one comment. His dating is not certain but Gellius marks him out as the “ancient poet” (vetus poeta, 19.9) in a list that includes Quintus Catulus (consul in 102 BCE), suggesting he was the earlier of the two to work in this mode. I use the text printed in Courtney (1993, 70), who remarks on Aedituus fr. 1’s Sapphic inflections (72) and on the poem as a whole on 72–74. 10. I here use the text printed in Courtney 1993, 70. 11. See the text in Courtney 1993, 70 (fr. 2) and commentary on 72–74. 12. Courtney 1993 dates this inscription ca. 75 BCE (80). See the text in Courtney 1993, 79, and comments and cross-references on 79–81. 13. See comments in Courtney 1993, 72–74 and 79–81. The litany of physically painful erotic symptoms described in this poem is not entirely a Sapphic invention, though her version is unique. Such vividly physical torment was the standard Greek prognosis for love as in literature. As Anne Carson (1986, 40–41) puts it: “The physiology that . . . [the Greek poets] . . . posit for the erotic experience is one which assumes eros to be hostile in intention and detrimental in effect. Alongside melting we might cite metaphors of piercing, crushing, bridling, roasting, stinging,


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biting, grating, cropping, poisoning, singeing and grinding to a powder, all of which are used of eros by the poets, giving a cumulative impression of intense concern for the integrity and control over one’s own body.” 14. Odes 3.30 10–14. 15. For a good list of essays treating Catullus 51 alongside Sappho 31, see Greene 2007, 147, n. 9, and her “Guide to Further Reading” on 148. To these suggestions I would also add Milliken 1998, Greene 1999, Holzberg 2000, and D’Angour 2003. 16. On Clodia Metelli and her identification with Catullus’s Lesbia, see Skinner 1983 and Hejduk 2008. 17. Two key passages by Roman elegists expressing this identification of Catullus with Lesbia are Propertius 2.34.87–88 and Ovid Tristia 2.427–30. 18. Clark (2008, 269 and passim) argues that Catullus’s version tempers the bodily responses described by Sappho, allowing him to “make a spectacle” of his emotions without “making a spectacle of his body,” thus maintaining “control” over “outward display of his emotions” in accordance with Roman expectations for masculine behavior. 19. This proposal has, to my mind, been most convincingly argued by Wray (2001, 98) who takes these two poems together as forming “a single epistolary missive.” Finamore (1984, 11–19) likewise argues that the two poems are “inextricably linked” (11) and intended to be read as a pair, concluding that the two poems present “the two sides of otium, the constructive and destructive uses of free time” (18). Segal 2007 also reads the two poems as a pair, suggesting they present different aspects of the otium threat, the “amatory” and the “literary” (31). 20. Catullus also mentions Calvus in poems 53, 14, and 96. 21. See, for instance, Wray (2001, 98–99), who comments on the bilingual etymology of poema and sees it as part of the evidence that points to taking these two poems as forming “a single epistolary missive” (98). 22. Finamore 1984 offers a detailed analysis of structural similarities connecting these two poems. 23. Hertz 1985, 7. Prins (1999, 37–40) discusses this sublime turn as it pertains to fr. 31 and its subsequent reception. 24. Vine 1992 makes some observations similar to mine on the structural parallelism of the endings of Catullus 51 and Sappho fr. 31. See Clark (2008, 268, n. 51) and Greene (2007, 147, n. 10) for bibliography on otium in Latin literature in general as well as its appearance in Catullus 51 specifically. 25. Prins 1999, 37 (summarizing Hertz’s discussion). 26. See the first chapter of Prins 1999 (23–73) on the tendency, in the reception history of Sappho, to treat Sappho as both an instance of and vehicle for “sublime transport” (40). Prins focuses on Victorian manifestations of this phenomenon, but Catullus offers a prime early example. 27. As Clark (2008, 263) notes, it was the “usual Latin epithet for an unhappy lover.” 28. See Selden (1992, 469), who notes that “the mercurial persona projected by the poet has its closest parallels with the Plautine adulescens” and also remarks on additional parallels between Catullus’s miser posture and Plautine comedy. On overlap between comedy and love elegy, see James 2012. 29. Roman comedies of this type (the fabulae palliatae) were, themselves, translated from the Greek. When Catullus adopts the voice of a lovelorn wretch, he is, then, reaping the benefits of translation twice over, combining discoveries made much earlier in the process of translating Roman comedy with those he was making himself while translating Hellenistic and archaic lyric and elegy.

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30. Clark (2008, 271–73) points to both of these differences in the course of her reading of the Aedituus poem. 31. Clark (2008, 263, n. 25) makes the first of these observations. It is notable that this adjective is also applied eight times to the lamenting Ariadne in poem 64. The passages where Catullus refers to himself this way are: 8.1, 8.10, 15.17, 30.5, 50.9, 51.5, 68.14, 68.20, 68.30, 68.91, 68.92, 77.4, 91.2, 99.11, 99.15, 101.2, 101.6. 32. On Catullus’s influence on Augustan love elegists, see Miller 2007. 33. See, for instance, Thomson (1997, 443), Quinn (1970, 351), and Ellis (1889, 350). 34. In an early integrated reading of the two poems, Clausen 1970 argues that the “relationship between 65 and 66 is intimate and demonstrable,” suggesting that, apart from its companion piece, 65 “remains a beautiful fragment” (92). 35. Thomson 1997, 443–44. 36. This imagery is, for instance, picked up by Vergil, who says of Dido, magnoque irarum fluctuat aestu (“and now she tosses on a great tide of anger,” Aeneid 4.532). 37. I here follow the reading of quam at the beginning of line 23 rather than Thomson’s cum, and punctuate accordingly. 38. Putnam 1960, 223–28. 39. Set near the end of the Coma, this passage does not appear in the extant Callimachus papyri, an omission that has sparked ongoing debate. Pfeiffer, without question the most important modern editor of Callimachus, has also been the most influential voice in this debate about the nuptial rite passage, which he views as originating with Callimachus. Starting from the assumption that Catullus was aiming for line-by-line fidelity to his source, Pfeiffer sought to explain the Coma’s two major deviations from the extant Greek papyri (Pfeiffer, Callimachus:Aetia: ad fr. 110.79–88): its inclusion of the ten-line nuptial rite passage and its exclusion of the closing farewell addressed to an unspecified female addressee often identified with Arsinoë Philadelphus. He suggests that Catullus was working off a different version of the poem than the one preserved in the extant papyri. To explain the existence of a second version, Pfeiffer suggests that Callimachus wrote portions of the Aetia early in his career, then revised them later in life for inclusion in his collected works. At that point (according to Pfeiffer’s hypothesis), he added the Plokamos, which had originally been composed separately, removing the ritus passage, which was no longer appropriate, and affixing an epilogue that segued into the Iambi that followed in the collected edition. Pfeiffer suggests that the papyri we currently have redact the later version of the poem. Catullus, however, was working off the original version, which included the ritus passage but lacked the epilogue. This two-version hypothesis has since taken on the veneer of fact, repeated in countless scholarly and popular works on Callimachus (see, e.g., Ferguson 1980, 33). But there remains no definitive proof that a revised version of the Aetia ever existed (on which see Bing 1997, 92–93). As influential as it has been, Pfeiffer’s theory remains just that—and Bing has thrown it into doubt by showing it to be rooted in modern assumptions that Catullus was aiming to compose a word-for-word rendition of his source (Bing 1997, 83–94). 40. Putnam 1960, 223. Other arguments for this passage as a Catullan addition include Wiseman (1969, 20–25) and Marinone (1984, 59–76). Cameron (1995, 106) offers a good summary of the arguments for viewing the passage as a Catullan addition. One prominent argument against this position is Hollis 1992, 21–28. In the context of Roman translation norms, it seems reasonable—even likely—that Catullus added this passage to the poem. It was rare for a Roman translator not to introduce significant changes to his source. It would be very much in keeping with the poetics of Roman translation to embed an audacious departure from the source toward the end of a translation, especially one so unusually true to its source.


n o t e s t o pa g e s 1 3 7 – 1 4 0 41. Putnam 1960, 227. 42. Putnam 1960, 225. 43. See the discussion of this passage in Putnam 1960, 224. 44. See the discussion of this passage in Knox (2007, 162–63). 45. Knox 2007, 163. This discussion also includes relevant bibliography on this debate. Chapter Five

1. For two instances of the general approbation most scholars express toward Catullus’s translation work in this poem, see Jackson (2001, 1–9) and Ferguson (1980, 51), who notes that Catullus “has been highly skilled in conveying the flavor of the Greek, even to the alliteration.” 2. Venuti (1995, 1–13) offers an eye-opening account of the translation norms currently at play in Britain and the United States. These revolve around a demand for what he terms “fluency” and “transparency”: “A translated text, whether prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction, is judged acceptable by most publishers, reviewers and readers when it reads fluently, when the absence of any linguistic or stylistic peculiarities makes it seem transparent, giving the appearance that it reflects the foreign writer’s personality or intention or the essential meaning of the foreign text—the appearance, in other words, that the translation is not in fact a translation, but the ‘original’” (1). 3. As far as can be gleaned from comparison with the fragmentary original, the primary departures are the addition of a ten-line description of a wedding ritual near the end of the Coma (79–88) and the excision of a two-line dedication to Arsinoë that rounds out the Greek Plokamos. Much of the scholarship on both poems has circled around these two major inconsistencies. 4. However, in the past decades, poem 66 has provoked increased scholarly discussion. Some of this work has begun to shift from what translation theorists term a “source-oriented” to a “target-oriented” approach (on this defining turn in late-twentieth-century translation studies, see Gentzler 2001, 70). See, for instance, Höschele 2009, which poses the Coma as the hypothetical centerpiece to Catullus’s entire collection and explores the imagery of 66 and its accompanying preface as a meditation on “the dynamics of poetic appropriation” and an erotic figuration of the relationship between Catullus and his model, Callimachus (127). Warden 2006, though beginning with a couplet-by-couplet comparison of the two poems, closes with a meditation on broader questions surrounding the Coma’s function within its Catullan context. See also McElduff (2013, 132–34) for a recent treatment of the poem from a translation theory perspective. 5. In an excellent 1997 article, Peter Bing discusses the long history of these attempts to reconstruct Callimachus’s largely lost poem by way of Catullus. Counter to what we might expect, Bing identifies Catullus’s translation, generally viewed as a valuable source of information about the fragmentary original, as the primary source of misinformation about its Greek template. Beginning in the Renaissance with Poliziano and continuing through the formidable labors of Pfeiffer, scholars have generally assumed that Catullus sought to translate Callimachus’s Greek with exacting fidelity (79). As Bing observes, this assumption of word-for-word and line-for-line adherence to the source has led to a cottage industry of “reconstructive fantasies” (86) that seek to fill lacunae in the mangled Greek text through ingenious extrapolations from Catullus’s Latin. Technically dazzling as such efforts may be, they almost invariably deteriorate in the face of the new papyrus finds that have been filling in our knowledge of the original poem. Bing’s explanation for these failures is simple: Catullus was never aiming to produce a precise rendition of his precursor’s poem. Rather, he was adhering to the translation standards of his day, which viewed

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translation as a creative endeavor and expected that the translator would modify and, ideally, outstrip his source (93). 6. Bassnett and Lefevere 1998, 10. 7. For a vivid Roman discussion of the conservative tendencies in Latin literary culture and the distrust of poetic novelty, see Horace Epistles 2.1.34–117. 8. Pfeiffer 1949–53 remains the standard edition of Callimachus’s works and my numbering keys to his edition unless stated otherwise. We now have fragments of forty-six lines of the Plokamos cobbled together from two overlapping papyri (PSI 1092, published in 1929, and POxy. 2258C, published in 1952) with help from ancient scholia and ancient Diegeseis (“Narratives”) that furnish paraphrases of many of Callimachus’s poems (these date from the end of the first century BCE to the end of the first century CE). For more on the Diegeseis, see Nisetich 2001, xxv–xxvi. Several new editions of the Aetia have appeared in recent years, making the task of coming to grips with this difficult and fragmentary work far easier. Particularly helpful are Harder 2012 and Massimilla 1996 and 2010, which includes a useful guide to bibliography to the Aetia through 2008. See Marinone 1997 on the relationship between the Coma and the Plokamos specifically. 9. Similarly, when Cicero rendered Plato’s Timaeus, the orator purposefully selected a difficult passage that would display his own dazzling skills as a translator (Puelma, quoted in Baltussen 2011, 46). 10. Gutzwiller 2007, 67. 11. Gutzwiller 2007, 192. 12. Contemporary scholarship on the Plokamos tends to build its arguments around a dizzying array of culturally specific details. For instance, Jackson 2001, in a nine-page article that focuses on a ten-line segment of Catullus’s text, which he argues was originally part of the Plokamos, deftly moves through an assortment of Ptolemaic realia that include the “sexual connotations” of myrrh (6 and n. 22), the “quasi-legal parlance” of the oaths taken by Isis’s priests (6), the false etymologies that led people in Ptolemaic Egypt to view an onyx cup as “the test or standard set for connubial bliss” (7), and a phallic-shaped coral called the “Lock of Isis,” reported to grow at the bottom of the Red Sea (4–5). Jackson points to the extreme cultural specificity of these details as evidence that Catullus’s version of the contested ritus nuptialis (“marriage rite”) passage (lines 75–88), which does not appear in our extant papyri, must have been based on an original Callimachean passage. This article offers, to my mind, one of the most powerful arguments for this position, though I am not yet convinced. 13. Gutzwiller 1992, 361, n.10. 14. On domesticating versus foreignizing translation techniques see Venuti 1995, 19. 15. Knox (2007, 152) reflects scholarly consensus when he calls Callimachus “the most influential poet in the Greek world of the third century BC” and the Aetia that author’s “most famous work of poetry” (153). 16. Any discussion of the Aetia’s structure remains speculative because the poem is still frightfully fragmentary. Most scholars subscribe to the view first proposed by Pfeiffer and corroborated by Parsons (1977) that, in the late 240s, Callimachus published a volume of collected works that included revised versions of certain earlier books and deliberately arranged each of these in the order in which he wanted them to be read. According to this theory, the following revisions were made to the Aetia at that juncture: The Victoria Berenices was added to the beginning of the third book, The Lock of Berenice was added as the final poem of book 4, and a prologue and epilogue were added to the first and fourth books respectively. For a summary of the above schema, see Gutzwiller 1998, 184. For excellent summaries of the debates surrounding


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this “collected works” hypothesis and related structural issues, see Harder 1993. Höschele (2009, 121–22, n. 11) offers a concise summation of the state of our knowledge on the position of the Plokamos in the Aetia and details the relevant bibliography. 17. These Battiades epigrams are Palatine Anthology 7.415 (= 30 Gow-Page) and 7.525 (= 29 Gow-Page = 21 Pf.). Battus was the founder of the royal family of Cyrene and the patronymic Battiadae could translate, literally, to “Son of Battus” (as it is most often taken) or “Descendent of Battus” (which is equally likely). 18. One of the best-known instances of this piecemeal translation technique is Horace’s use of fragmentary Alcaean “mottos” at the beginning of certain Odes. Another excellent example of such fragmentary translation in Horace is his partial translation of Callimachus Epigram 31 Pf (= 1 Gow-Page = AP 12.102) in Satires 1.2.105–8. 19. Höschele 2009 anticipates my own analysis here to some degree. She too reads poem 66 metapoetically, with a focus on how the translation interacts with other poems in the Catullan corpus to construct Catullus as a Callimachean poet. 20. The Aetia appears to divide into two pairs of books, each dedicated to a Ptolemaic Queen: 1 & 2 to Arsinoë II, wife of Ptolemy II Philadelphos, and 3 & 4 to Berenice II, wife of Ptolemy II Euergetes. For an accessible discussion of this issue, see Nisetich 2001, xxxvii. 21. Höschele (2009, 145) notes this effect, asking “Could it not be that, within its new textual surroundings, Berenice’s tress, so to speak, voices the anxiety of the text, as it is taken away from its author?” She goes on to observe that, when read metapoetically, “the scenario suggests a certain reluctance on the part of the model-text to be brought from Alexandria to Rome” (146). 22. Vergil famously incorporates a version of line 39 into the Aeneid when Aeneas declares to Dido’s shade, invitus, regina, tuo de litore cessi (“unwillingly, queen, did I leave your shore” 6.460). 23. My emphasis added. 24. Forsyth (1986, 490), for instance, comments that “Catullus transforms the commonplace into a serious examination of his own unique situation,” and Quinn (1973, 98) suggests that Catullus has transformed Callimachus’s “ironic” poetic set-piece into a “serious statement of his own disillusionment.” 25. My phrasing here draws on the title of Wiseman 1985, Catullus and His World: A Reappraisal. 26. Putnam (1960, 227) reads poem 66 as conveying its translator’s investment in romantic harmony. Clausen (1970, 92) itemizes the themes of 65 and 66 as “love (or marriage and fidelity), separation, death” and notes that these are the central themes of a number of Catullus’s other poems, including 68, 63, 64, and 101. 27. See Tatum 1997 for a discussion of this poem in terms of the social status differentials set up by this pairing of speaker and addressee. 28. Though we cannot positively identify the Hortalus of poem 65 with Q. Hortensius Hortalus, most scholars are inclined in this direction. On the identity of the Hortalus in this poem (and poem 95), see Thomson 1998, 525–26. 29. There is a slight wrinkle in the notion that poem 65 aimed to solidify the bonds between two like-minded poets: In poem 95, a certain Hortensius, whom it is tempting to identify with the (Hortensius) Hortalus of poem 65, is described in distinctly un-Callimachean terms as having written five hundred thousand verses in a brief period of time, violating the basic Callimachean tenet that, in poetry, less is more. 30. See Thomson (1998, 526) for a discussion of these references as well as other relevant references to Hortalus as poet.

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31. For more on this apple, see Laursen 1989, 161–69. 32. Stroup 2010, 34. 33. Stroup 2010, 66. 34. Stroup 2010, 205. 35. Barchiesi 2005. Hutchinson 2003 likewise discusses this phenomenon in both Greek and Roman contexts, explaining that papyrus collections such as the new Posidippus and the one believed to be a portion of Meleager’s Garland bear out the idea that “collections of epigrams were easily modified. In principle authors, later editors, and readers could omit from or add to an existing collection, or compile their own selection from one” (207). He goes on to say that this “do-it-yourself element” (207) manifests in Catullus’s own corpus in poems such as 14, where the author receives a “deadly” anthology of bad poems from his friend and fellow poet, Licinius Calvus, and promises to compile another in return (207). 36. There is some indication in the manuscript tradition that these elegies were conceived of as a separate cluster: in one of the primary manuscripts (O) these elegies begin with an illuminated capital of the sort usually found at the beginning of a book rather than in the middle. Some have taken this deviation to indicate that the scribe is signaling the beginning of what had originally circulated as a separate libellus (see discussion in Skinner 2003, xxvi). Some of the most influential arguments for a three-part author-arranged book include Quinn (1972, 9–20), Wiseman (1979, 175–82), and Wiseman (1985, 265–66). King (1988, 383–92) influentially argues that poems 65–116 had originally constituted an independently circulating elegiac libellus. Skinner 2003 is the most impassioned and extensive recent argument for authorial arrangement of the elegies. She theorizes (following Quinn, Wiseman, and others) that, toward the end of his life, Catullus published the entire collection as we have it (xxvii) and that the elegies had been a separate, authorially arranged libellus before being incorporated into these collected poems (xii). Her “Conclusion” (173–80) offers the best summation of her theory on how poems 65–116 function as a coherent whole. Her introduction also includes a concise summary of the history of the debate on Catullan arrangement of the collection in general (xxii–xxviii) and arrangement of poems 65–116 in particular (xxvi–xxvii). Claes (2002, 9) similarly argues that Catullus himself edited the extant collection and intended it to be read in linear order, basing his opinion on lexical, imagistic, and thematic links between the poems. See Skinner 2007b on authorial arrangement for a concise summary of the current state of our knowledge. 37. See Wray 2001 on the homosocial focus of Catullus’s poetry, a preoccupation that manifests creatively as what Wray terms a “poetics of Roman manhood” (a phrase that appears in the title of his book). 38. Block 1984 sees poem 65 as inaugurating a transition within the corpus into an elegiac mood. She theorizes that this generic shift is the poet’s response to his brother’s death. Both Wiseman (1969, 17–18) and King (1988, 384) read 65’s affirmation that from now on the poet will sing maesta carmina (“sad songs”) as signalling a programmatic shift to elegy. 39. The internal structure of the Aetia seems to have been heterogeneous, to say the least. Nisetich (200, xxxviii) characterizes it as “a ragbag, a vessel into which the poet threw anything he had on hand” (paraphrasing Peter Green). Though the tattered state of the Aetia fragments makes it difficult to chart the poem’s internal structures, it seems this “ragbag” was governed by some internal logic. For instance, long poems seem to have alternated with short poems and, as Nisetich notes, “Occasionally we can glimpse patterns of thematic variation, changes in focus, and contrasts in tone” (130). Gutzwiller (1998, 186) observes that, although within the Aetia we find “no rigid plan or exact symmetry,” certain poems do seem to be grouped together in


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thematically related “clusters.” See her discussion on that same page for further details on what some of these clusters may have been. 40. e.g., Skinner 2003, xxiv. 41. As far as we can tell from the remaining fragments and the Diegeseis, the Aetia itself was structured around a number of framing symmetries. Aetia 1 and 2 are extremely fragmentary but, from what we can glean, they were both addressed to Queen Arsinoë who, in both the opening of book 1 and the close of book 2, is addressed as a Muse. Aetia 3 and 4 were framed by two poems honoring Queen Berenice II (the Victoria Berenices, an epinician for the Queen’s victory in the Nemean Games, was the first poem of book 3, and the Plokamos was the last poem of book 4). When the four books are taken together, the Aetia as a whole is framed by an echo in the epilogue (fr. 112, Pf.) of the Hesiodic encounter with the Heliconian Muses that was recounted in the prologue (frs. 1–2., Pf.). Fantuzzi and Hunter (2005, 46) note that the severed lock in the Coma likewise “picks up some of the themes of removal and displacement of the poet’s opening dream,” where the poet is transported from North Africa to Helicon for his dialogue with the Muses. See Gutzwiller (1998, 185) for a discussion of these and other symmetries. On the structure of the Aetia more generally, see Harder (2012, 1–20), Cameron (1995, 104–32), and Harder (1993). 42. Macleod 1973, 304–09. 43. On 65 and 116 functioning as the kind of framing poems often found in Hellenistic books, see Skinner (2003,1–3), Forsyth (1977, 352–53), and Van Sickle (1981). The following are some of the most important discussions tracing relationships between 65 and 116 more generally: Dettmer (1983, 19), Wiseman (1985, 183–85), and King (1988, 383–87), along with the first chapter of Skinner 2003. For a very different discussion of 65, 66 and 116 as a group (along with 1), see Tatum 1997, which explores this set of poems vis-à-vis tensions and anxieties surrounding the disparity between Catullus and addressees of high senatorial rank. 44. Macleod 1973, 307. 45. On a shift into invective, see Macleod 1973; mime, Wiseman, 1985; and Ennian traditionalism, Skinner 2003, 28. 46. Trans. Nisetich 2001, 62. This segment of the prologue is not preserved but the Florentine scholia offers the summary quoted. 47. It is not certain where this epilogue passage belongs. I follow Pfeiffer and Massimilla in taking it as the epilogue of Aetia 4, though Nisetich, for instance, publishes it as the epilogue of Aetia 2. For an in-depth discussion of this passage’s closing bid to move on to more prosaic pastures—as well as an in-depth discussion of exactly what this might mean—see Cameron 1995, 143–54. Cameron subscribes to the idea that this passage signals a movement from the Aetia into the collected Iambi (154), though he does not adhere to the orthodox view that these sets of poems necessarily appeared together in Callimachus’s collected works, and he even floats the idea that what we tend to identify as the Aetia’s epilogue may, in fact, have functioned as the Iambi’s prologue (154–56) or the epilogue to Aetia 1–2 rather than to the entire Aetia (162). 48. This connection is speculative as it must be pieced together from the fragmentary prologue and epilogue along with information from scholia and other ancient commentaries. For information on the relevant sources, see Nisetich (2001, 64), who notes, “Such an allusion to her [Arsinoë] in the prologue would have the effect of dedicating the first book to her. Her appearance later in the epilogue as the poet’s ‘Queen’ and ‘Muse’ (Ait. 2.146–47) frames the two books.” Nisetich sets the epilogue at the end of Book Two rather than Book Four, but his comments about ring structure would also hold if one placed it at the end of Book Four instead.

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49. I take the text and numbering of this epilogue passage from Massimilla 2010. 50. This line seems to gesture ahead to the Iambi, which immediately follow in P.Oxy.1011, leading many to believe that they signal the beginning of this new collection (Gutzwiller 1998, 184). 51. Along with his appearance in poems 65, 66, and 116 (discussed below), Callimachus surfaces in the Elegies primarily in Catullus’s two renditions of the earlier poet’s epigrams (Cat. 70 ~ Call. Epigr. 25 Pf.; Cat. 95 ~ Call. Epigr. 27 Pf.). 52. Macleod (1973, 41) views these two opposing types of poetry as representing two contrasting sides of Catullus’s own poetic persona, “the aesthete and the mud-slinger.” He suggests that this poem is Catullus’s announcement that he has been driven by Gellius into adopting the latter. 53. As Hutchinson (1988, 282) notes, the erotic elegists of the generation following Catullus would be “particularly fond of words like mollis, “soft,” and blandus, “alluring, smooth,” as descriptors of their poems. Catullus’s announcement that he has attempted to “soften” Gellius with Carmina Battiadae applies what would soon become the programmatic language of Latin Augustan elegy to Callimachean carmina. 54. Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004, 466) discuss the first-century Roman construction of Callimachus with great cogency, noting that “the image of third-century poetry and its poetics created by these poets [the Roman poets of the mid-first century BCE] was a very partial one, and one which has in fact impeded modern appreciation of Hellenistic poetry.” They go on to observe: “Many elements of third-century poetry are simply ignored in Roman poetry; others make but a faint appearance, and others are given a quite new prominence” (467). 55. The works that the Suda attributes to Callimachus include satyr plays, dramas, tragedies, comedies, lyrics, the abuse poem Ibis, the Pinakes (a catalogue of literature), and numerous works on natural and man-made wonders (e.g.: “On Changes of Names of Fish,” “On the Rivers of the Inhabited World,” “Names of Months According to Tribe and Cities”—translations of these titles from Nisetich 2001, xix). 56. On Callimachus’s actual work as elegist and Hellenistic elegy more generally see Murray (2010, 106–16). Hunter 2006 offers an extended discussion of Callimachus’s influence on Latin elegy. 57. Hutchinson 1988, 279. 58. Hutchinson (1988, 279–83) offers a useful discussion of the ways in which the Augustan elegists positioned Callimachus as the primary Greek elegist. Some of his examples (280) include: Propertius 2.34b, where the besotted poet is urged to turn to Philetas and Callimachus for inspiration; Propertius 3.9, where the poet poses himself as emulating Callimachus and Philetas in his rejection of epic; and Ovid Remedia Amoris 361ff., where, defending his choice to write erotic poems in elegiac meter, the Ovidian speaker references Cydippe from Aetia Book Three as proof that Callimachus also wrote erotic elegies. 59. Another indication that this elegiac Callimachus became widespread by the Imperial period is Martial 4.23, which poses Brutianus, who had written some pieces about Greek epigram, as receiving his victory palm directly from Callimachus. 60. Bassnett and Lefevere 1998, 10. 61. I am not the first to make such a claim, though I am, as far as I know, the first to show in detail how this elegiac fabrication is effected through translation in Catullus’s collected elegies. Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004, 464) make a similar observation when they note that in Catullus 66 “we may already sense Callimachus’s status as one of the ‘classic’ Greek elegists.” They go on to mention Catullus’s “reworkings of Callimachean epigrams (Cat. 70 ~ Call. Epigr.


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25 Pf.; Cat 95 ~ Call. Epigr. 27 Pf.) and the obvious engagement throughout his poems with the aesthetics of carmina Battiadae” (464). Knox (2007, 156) notes that Catullus was “largely responsible for his [Callimachus’s] disproportionate influence on succeeding generations of Roman poets.” 62. Some notably Callimachean exceptions are poems 68, 70, and 95. 63. Macleod 1973 sees poem 116 as announcing a shift into invective specifically. 64. Fantuzzi and Hunter 2004, 469. 65. Fantuzzi and Hunter 2004, 474. 66. Fantuzzi and Hunter 2004, 474. Chapter Six 1. I have followed the text of Page (1959), with the exception of the problematic thirteenth line, for which I follow Lobel (1925), and the sixteenth verse, for which I follow Campbell (1967). 2. The literature on Catullus’s translation of Sappho is vast. Thomson (1997, 330–31) includes a select bibliography on poem 51 up to the time of his commentary’s publication. Greene (2007, 131–50) provides a brief but useful list of sources on the relationship between the translation and its source. Her bibliography also ranges through a number of pieces that address Catullus’s evocations of Sappho throughout his corpus more generally. In addition to Greene 2007, other recent discussions of 51 I have found especially insightful include Miller (1993), Greene (1999), Wray (2001, 90–99), Clark (2008), and McElduff (2013, 128–32) which discusses poem 51 from a translation theory perspective. 3. Thomson (1997, 327), for instance, introduces the poem with the following speculation: “Conceivably C., on seeing Lesbia with her husband (perhaps at his first meeting with her), fell in love with her on the spot; the encounter in these circumstances, however it happened, seems to have reminded him of the poem by Sappho, which he translated and sent her as a gift, adapting it during the process of translation in such a way as to suit his needs.” 4. Steiner 2004. See the fuller discussion in Steiner 1975, 312–19. 5. Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004, 472–73) discuss Catullus 51 in terms of zelos and mimesis. 6. Copeland 1995, 28. 7. Possanza (2004, 56) notes that while the poetics of Latin poetry evolved remarkably quickly, the poetics of translation remained more or less consistent from Livius Andronicus forward. Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria 10.5.4 offers another extended discussion of agonistic translation, proposing that a translation is a certamen atque aemulationem (“contest and rivalry”) with the source. On competitive translation at Rome, see McElduff 2012, which hinges around the Roman imperative of “surpassing the source.” Kopeczky 2005 treats aemulatio in the prose and poetic translations of Cicero. Foulon 2009 offers an informative exploration of how aemulatio informs Latin elegy. On aemulatio in Latin literature more generally, see Döpp (2001) and Elefante (2004), who offers a compendium of relevant sources. 8. Copeland 1995,11. 9. Strabo, Geographica 13.2.3. 10. Widespread knowledge of this poem by Catullus’s period is indicated by the number of Latin texts that had already incorporated translated portions of it. These include versions by Terence, Valerius Aedituus, Lucretius (De Rerum Naturae 3.152–58, describing the body’s reaction to fear), and possibly Plautus. On Terence’s, version see Sharrock (2009, 229–32). On Valerius Aedituus, see Courtney (1993, 72–74). Fontaine 2009, 194–97 argues that some highly inventive travesties of fragment 31 likewise inform passages of the Miles Gloriosus and Curculio.

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11. Spivak 2004, 370. 12. For an excellent discussion of the gaze as an index of Catullan belatedness, see Fitzgerald 1995, 140. 13. Possanza 2004, 60. Possanza points to Catullus’s insertion of Lesbia in 51 as one of these self-referential moments that “makes explicit his dialogue with the text” he is translating (61). 14. For an excellent bibliography of the arguments for and against retaining the otium stanza, see Finamore (1984, 11, n. 1 and n. 2). See also O’Higgins (1996), Vine (1992), and Greene (1999, 12–15). 15. As Possanza (2004, 14) notes, Latin translations are often judged failures by modern criteria because Latin authors “feel free to rewrite their source texts as part of the translation process and show few if any scruples about projecting their own authorial presence into their source texts.” Indeed, the foundational principle of Latin translation was to rewrite the source text in one way or another (28). 16. There is some indication that Catullus’s swerve away from Sappho is not absolute and that he might, in fact, be condensing elements from the end of Sappho’s poem into his own at the same moment that he deviates from a straightforward replication of it. Vine (1992), for instance, argues that Catullus’s third stanza conflates Sappho’s third and fourth strophes, while D’Angour (2006) suggests that the otium stanza takes a number of cues from the now largely missing final portion of Sappho’s poem. 17. Cameron (1995, 84–85). He cites as examples for the Archaic period versified jokes by Simonides, parodies of Homeric lines, and a complaint about warm wine. 18. Pratt 1995 is a good starting point on the much-discussed seal of Theognis. 19. Kubiak (1979, 138) likewise discusses Catullus’s insertion of Lesbia as a “signature,” which he reads in parallel with the appearance of Catullus’s name in the otium stanza. 20. Nietzsche 2004, 69. 21. Baroin 2005, 124. 22. Baroin 2005, 126. 23. See McElduff 2013, 106 on Cicero’s translations of Greek philosophical texts as being in competition with “two sets of opponents,” one Greek and one Roman. 24. On the importance of competition in Roman literary culture, see Braund 2002, 70–88 (“Making Roman Identity: Multiculturalism, Militarism, and Masculinity”). 25. On competition in Catullus, see Wray (2001), who reads the corpus in terms of a combative “performance of manhood.” On literary rivalries in Catullus’s poems about Furius, see Marsilio and Podlesney 2006. 26. For instance, Greene (1999), Wray (2001, 90–99), and Clark (2008). 27. Carson 2003, 12–17. 28. Wray 2001, 97. 29. See note 10. 30. Segal 2007, 77. In this passage, Segal is specifically discussing otiosi as it appears at the beginning of poem 50. 31. Velleius Paterculus (2.1.1–2) on Scipio Aemilianus’s return from his campaign in Asia. 32. This is a common phrase in Rome’s xenophobic lexicon. It occurs, for instance, in the singular in Cicero Pro Sestio 110 and De Oratore 1.22.102. 33. Holzberg 2000 likewise proposes reading Lesbia throughout the corpus as a semiotic construct rather than a historic reality, though the specifics of his view differ from my own. He suggests that she is presented as a hetaera, based on the ancient Sapphic vitae. 34. Said 1978, 308.


n o t e s t o pa g e s 1 8 0 – 1 8 5 35. Said 1978, 309. 36. Knox (1984, 97), drawing on Passerini and Fraenkel. Epilogue

1. William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802), accessed September 7, 2012, http:// 2. Miller 1994 and Fitzgerald 1995 offer the two important recent treatments of Catullus as a lyricist. Wray (2001, 1–35) offers a cogent discussion of the history of the lyricized Catullus along with some of the problems that stem from this mode of reading. 3. For a succinct discussion of the ancient conceptualization of lyric, see The Oxford Classical Dictionary (2003), s.v. “lyric poetry,” in particular, the “Latin” segment of this entry. 4. For instance: Quinn (1970, 398) notes that “Poem 70 is the first of a series of fragments in which we see C. struggling to win more complete awareness of what went wrong between him and Lesbia by repeated, increasingly precise formulation in verse.” Thomson (1997, 492) offers a similar assessment: “The poem records a period of disillusionment in C.’s affair with Lesbia”; Miller, who in Miller 1988 reads the poem against the grain of standard autonomous lyric readings, states two decades later (Miller 2007, 403) that “Poems 70 and 72 present Lesbia’s declaration of love to Catullus and the poet’s subsequent disillusionment.” For an interesting discussion of poem 70 along with 72 and two other epigrams as querying traditional Roman ideas about love, see Konstan 1972/1973. 5. Forsyth, in a much-read teaching commentary, well encapsulates the standard dismissal of the poem’s appropriative framework in favor of a straightforward confessional reading: “Catullus transforms the commonplace into a serious examination of his own unique situation” (1986, 490). Quinn likewise opines that Catullus has personalized his version of the poem and transformed Callimachus’s “ironic” poetic set-piece into a “serious statement of his own disillusionment” (1970, 98). 6. Plautus (Casina 323): “Well, I denied that I was prepared to submit to Jove himself, even if he should beg me” (negavi enim ipsi me concessurum Iovi, / si is mecum oraret). As it appears in this passage, the phrase is spoken by a man (Olympio), who draws on this more typically feminine proclamation to comic effect: “Ol.: She begged and pleaded with me that I not take Casina as my wife/ Ly: And what did you say then?/ Ol.: Well, I denied that I was prepared to submit to Jove himself . . .” (321–23). This tongue-in-cheek rendition of the phrase makes it clear that this was already a well-worn cliché by Plautus’s day. As discussed later in this chapter, a variation on the phrase is used again by Catullus in 72.1–2: “You used to say, formerly, that you knew only Catullus, / Lesbia, and that you did not wish to embrace Jove over me.” It is also used by Ovid at Metamorphoses 7.801 (“Nor would she have preferred the bedchamber of Jove to my love . . .”) and Heroides 4.36 (“I seem poised to prefer Hippolytus to Jove . . .”). Writing in the late Augustan age, Ovid could be both appealing to cliché and alluding directly to Catullus. 7. Sophocles, fr. 741 Nauck (= 811 Pearson): “But I write the oath of a woman upon water”; Plato (Phaedrus 276): Socrates remarks that a man with serious intent would never “write in water or that black fluid we call ink, using his pen to sow words that can neither speak in their own defense or present the truth adequately.” Meleager (Palatine Anthology 5.8.5) includes a similar formulation (“Now he says that oaths are borne away upon the water”). A slightly different, but clearly related, image of wind bearing a lover’s words away appears in Catullus 65.17–18 (“lest, perchance, you think your words, entrusted in vain to the wandering winds, have flowed from my mind . . .”) as well as in Propertius 2.28.8 and 4.7.22 and Ovid Amores 2.16.45.

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Thomson (1997, 493) notes that Catullus 70 is the only instance we know of to combine the two clichés of writing words on water and letting the wind carry them away. For a discussion of these images in poem 70, see Laurens 1965. On 70 in relation to the similar poem of Meleager, see de Venuto 1966. On this topos in Catullus and the Augustans, see Skiadas 1975. For an interesting debate on the possible Classical antecedents to Keats’s use of the phrase “writ on water” in the epitaph he composed for his own grave (“Here lies one whose name was writ in water”), see Lahr (1972–1973) and Woodman’s response on the Greek sources of the phrase (1975). These last two essays compile an array of possible Classical sources, in both Latin and Greek, and point to some prominent modern versions. 8. Thomson (1997, 492) notes that a number of Catullus’s other epigrams (93, 94, 100, 113, and 115) likewise “contain, or hint at” a proverb. Fitzgerald (1995, 137) briefly discusses poem 70’s recourse to the language of proverb. 9. See Hesiod, fr. 124 in Merkelbach and West 1967. 10. The citationality of the lover and his language is an idea that is threaded throughout A Lover’s Discourse through its incessant evocations of earlier authors. It is perhaps best encapsulated by his idea of the loquela, a term that, Barthes (1978) explains: “borrowed from Ignatius of Loyola, designates the flux of language through which the subject tirelessly rehashes the effect of a wound or the consequences of an action: an emphatic form of the lover’s discourse” (160). Several sentences later he adds, “I am aware of nothing but a machine running all by itself, a hurdy-gurdy whose crank is turned by a staggering but anonymous bystander, and which is never silent. In the loquela, nothing ever manages to prevent these repetitions” (160). 11. For another instance of a lover’s false oaths in Greek poetry, see Meleager Palatine Anthology 5.8. Instances in Latin include Ovid Amores 3.3 and Ovid Ars Amatoria 1.631–36 (this passage also references Jupiter’s indifference to false oaths and mobilizes the image of a lover’s oaths being borne away by the wind). 12. Ennius had written epigrams in elegiac distichs but these, as Ross comments, “owed nothing to Hellenistic epigram” (1969, 139). Laevius (fl. 90 BCE) wrote a book of erotic poems titled the Erotopaegnia that also seem to have been influenced by Hellenistic technopaignia and small-scale erotic verse but these, in many ways, occupy a category all their own. Thanks to comments made by Aulus Gellius and Cicero, we do have remnants of several early erotic epigrams which, by and large, take their cues from Hellenistic-era originals, many of which can be found in the Greek Anthology (Kenney 1982, 175). Four of these five early Latin epigrams (by three different authors) are preserved in Aulus Gellius’s Noctes Atticae 19.9.10, while the other is quoted by Cicero at De Natura Deorum 1.79. For texts and commentary for all five of these poems, see Courtney (1993, 70–78). The rise of epigram in this period may well be attributed to the arrival of epigram anthologies in Italy. We know that such anthologies had begun circulating in Italy in the century before Catullus (Kenney 1982, 175). The most influential of these was likely The Garland of Meleager, whose precise date is unknown, but Cameron 1993’s conjecture of 101– 90 BCE seems reasonable. For a detailed discussion of the dating of Meleager’s anthology and its subsequent introduction to Rome, see Cameron 1993, 47–56. 13. Such statements crop up in various places throughout Callimachus’s oeuvre. See Epigram 28 (Pfeiffer), which I discuss later in this chapter. The Aetia prologue famously begins with a rant against the ignorant Telchines who balk at the poet’s refusal to write an extended poem on the deeds of heroes and kings, along with the poet’s rebuttal that poems on a smaller scale are preferable (fr. 1.1–12 Pf.). The prologue to Aetia 1 concludes with Lycian Apollo urging the poet to feed his flock fat but maintain a slender muse, then proceeding to advise: “And see that you go / where no hackneys plod: avoid the ruts / carved in the boulevard, even if it means / driv-


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ing along a narrower path (lines 33–36; Trans. Nisetich 2001, 63).The Hymn to Apollo ends on a similar note, contrasting the sludge carried along by the great stream of the Assyrian river to the pure and undefiled water that bubbles from a holy spring. 14. Trans. Nisetich 2001, 63. 15. See Nisetich (2001, 295) on Epigram 28, Pf. (which, in Nisetich, is numbered 2 and included within the “Erotic Poems” section, 173.) 16. As Barthes (1978, 161) memorably puts it, while reflecting on the ludicrous predictability of such romantic theater: “I take a role: I am the one who is going to cry; and I play this role for myself, and it makes me cry: I am my own theater.” 17. Nisetich 2001, 175. This epigram is numbered 11 in Nisetich. 18. The Oracle to the Megarians (Epigram 73 in The Greek Anthology, Volume 5) translates this oracle as follows: “Of all soils Pelasgian Argos is the best, and best are the horses of Thessaly, the women of Lacedaemon, and the men who drink the waters of lovely Arethusa; but better even than these are they who dwell between Tiryns and Arcadia, rich in sheep, the linencuirassed Argives, goads of war. But you, Megarians, are neither third, nor fourth, nor twelfth, nor in any reckoning or count” (Trans. Paton 1960 Vol. 5, 63). 19. Henry Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones, and Roderick McKenzie, A GreekEnglish Lexicon. (1843). Revised and augmented (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), s.v. Μεγαρεύς. 20. Miller (1988) hinges on a discussion of this and other reversals of the Callimachean original that run through Catullus’s poem. 21. Ross 1969, 80–95. 22. Ross 1969, 80–95. 23. Goldsmith 2011, 9. 24. Goldsmith 2011, 9. 25. A number of instances of such writing are assembled in Dworkin and Goldsmith 2011. 26. Goldsmith 2011, 1–2. 27. Goldsmith (2011, 2) suggests that these practices date “back to the early part of the twentieth century,” citing Benjamin’s Arcades Project and Oulipo constraints along with Stein and Mallarmé. Perloff (2010, 12) offers a similarly curtailed lineage, citing Eliot’s “The Waste Land” as a “foundational text” for the appropriative poetries of the Internet age and compiling an extensive list of other antecedents among the American, European, and South American Modernist avant-garde that includes Pound’s Cantos and concrete poetry as well as Benjamin and Oulipo.


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General Index

Aemilius Paulus, 13 aemulatio, 43, 168–71 aesthetic Hellenism, 12–21, 29–39, 82–88, 90–91, 93–101, 178–81 affect, 131–38, 151–52, 182–83 Alexander the Great, 15 Alexandria: poetry of, 21, 25, 47; poets of, 24, 26, 46, 73,165; redactors of, 167; as setting for The Lock of Berenice, 141–43 Alexandrianism, 26, 43–46, 50–51, 82, 86–87, 89– 92, 98–101, 103, 114, 130, 181 Apollonius of Rhodes, 18, 25, 29, 45, 48 apostrophe, 47, 98, 125–26, 133–37, 168, 172–73, 177 appropriative poetics, 183–96 Aratus, 8, 17, 25, 38 Argo (the ship), 26–39, 41, 45, 47, 49, 97 Argonauts, 28–29, 41, 47–50 Ariadne, 29, 32–34, 37, 45–46 Aristotle, 12 Arsinoë II, 142–43, 149, 159 Asia Minor, 21, 52, 90, 92, 95–103 Asinius Marrucinus, 55–63, 66–67, 71, 73 Asinius Pollio, 58–60, 67 Atellan Farce, 15 Atticus, 41–43, 83–84 Augustus, 59, 108 Aulus Gellius, 18, 117, 154 Aurelius, 87 Bacchus, 34, 149. See also Dionysus Barchiesi, Alessandro, 156 Baroin, Catherine, 173 basia, 77–80, 84–86 basiationes, 77, 79, 82, 86 Battus, 80–82 Beard, Mary, 2

belatedness, 26, 47, 170, 171, 174, 183, 189, 195 Berenice II, 22, 91,129–36, 140–43, 146, 150, 152 Bettini, Maurizio, 5–6 Biblical translation, 8, 52 bilingualism at Rome, 13–14, 18 bisexuality, 194–96 Bithynia, 65–74, 90–107 books, poetic: Callimachus and, 144, 156–65; Catullus’s elegies as, 145, 156–65; Hellenistic, 144, 156, 158 Brixia, 103, 105, 110 Brown, Bill, 54 Callignotos (of Callimachus Ep. 27), 152, 184–86, 190–92, 195 Callimachus, 24, 43–46, 98, 103–4, 114–15, 129–52, 157–63, 165, 184, 188 Calpurnius Piso, 30 Calvus (Licinius), 26, 50, 120–22, 126 Camenae, 8 carmina Battiadae, 81, 136, 144, 151–55, 159–64 Carthage, 173 Cato (Valerius), 26, 32, 50, 104 Cato the Elder (Marcus Porcius), 78, 84 Catullus: aesthetic Hellenism and, 82–88, 90–99, 156–65; affect and,131–38, 151–52, 182–83; brother of, 109, 130–32, 135–38, 146, 152–53, 157; Callimachus/Callimacheanism and, 16, 22, 23, 24, 43–46, 81–82, 86–88, 91, 100–103, 114, 130–38, 139–65, 181, 184–96; colonialism and, 20, 66; “elegiac libellus” of, 145, 156–65; “lyric genius” of, 3–4, 6; lyricism of, 3, 6, 23, 182–85, 196; parodies of, 107–15; Sappho and, 22–23, 123–28, 133; self-expression and, 131–38, 145–50, 195–96; as Transpadane, 79–82, 87, 101–15

254 Cicero: genres of, 5, 16–17; neoterics and, 26, 31, 37; poetry and, 1, 83–84; translation and, 5, 10– 12, 17–19, 25, 144, 169–70 cinaedus, 67–73 Cinna (C. Helvius), 26, 50, 60, 99, 101, 154 Cisalpine Gaul, 104–5 Clodia, 169, 181 colonialism: foreign luxury goods and, 20, 29– 39, 55–74, 87–88, 178–80; Greek slaves and, 90–107; prestige languages and, 13–14; Roman cultural practices and, 12–16, 64–74; translation as metaphor for, 26–51, 145, 179–81 comedy, 15–16, 94, 126–27 Connors, Catherine, 9 Conon, 130–31, 134, 143, 149 contaminatio, 8, 9, 177 Copeland, Rita, 168 Cordier, Pierre, 54, 57, 62 Cornelius Nepos, 157 Cornificius, 26 coverlets, 27, 29–35, 37 Crawford, Michael, 2 cultural capital, 21, 54, 60, 62, 67, 87–88 Cyrene, 80–82, 86 Davis, Gregson, 98–99 decline, Roman discourse of, 30, 33–39, 67–71, 178–81 Dionysus, 34, 149. See also Bacchus Dioscuri, 106 ecphrasis, 32–35, 41 egestas linguae (Lucretius), 17 Egypt, 28, 90–99, 130–38 elegy, 139–65 Ellis, Robinson, 98 Ennius, 19, 45, 48–50, 188 Epicureanism, 10, 17, 18, 107 Epicurus, 168–69 epigram, 16–17, 93–99, 117, 127, 152, 164, 182–83 epitaphs, 93–94, 97 epithalamia, 16 epyllion, 19–20, 24–30, 39, 42–43, 46 Euripides, 34, 48 exprimere, 6, 151, 153–54, 163–64 Fantuzzi, Marco, 9, 164 Feeney, Denis, 4 Feldherr, Andrew, 39 Ferguson, John, 32 Fescennine Verses, 1 fidelity (textual), 2–4, 7–8, 14, 22, 41–42, 51, 139– 45, 169–72 Fitzgerald, William, 91, 95 foreignness, Roman conceptions of, 30–39, 53–74, 87–88

general index Francese, Christopher, 100 Furius, 87 Furius Bibaculus, 32, 104 Gallus, 99 Gaul, 32, 66, 102–7. See also Cisalpine Gaul; Transpadane Gaul Gellius, 157–58, 160–61 Gellius (Aulus), 18, 117, 154 gender, 119–28, 130–38, 175, 180–81, 194–96 genre: Callimachus’s diversity and, 161–63; Catullus and, 14–16, 26, 39, 41–51; comedy and, 15–16, 94, 126–27; elegy and, 139–65; epigram and, 93–99, 117, 127, 152, 164; lyric and, 116–28, 181–96; parody and, 16, 107–15 Germanicus Caesar, 8 Gnaeus Manlius Vulso, 30–31 Golden Age, 35, 38–39, 49–50 Golden Fleece, 27–39, 41, 47–49 Goldsmith, Kenneth, 195–96 grammarians, 10, 19, 99–100 grammaticus. See grammarians Greeks: colonization of, 12–16, 25–39, 90–99; enervating influences of, 28–31, 73, 118, 122, 125–28, 155, 172, 178–81; gender and, 119–28; genre and, 181–96; Latin language use and, 13; loan words from, 60; luxury goods and, 20, 29, 33–35, 52, 64–74, 87–88, 178–81; Roman originality and, 1–2, 5–12, 17–19, 24–39, 47, 64–74, 82–88, 98, 125–26, 133–37, 145–50, 159–60, 168, 172–73, 177; as Roman slaves, 18–19, 21, 50–51, 68–70, 74, 99–107 grief, 131–38, 160 Gutzwiller, Kathryn, 141 Hannibal, 173 hellenization, 12–16, 20, 34, 37–39, 178–81 hendecasyllables, 58, 60–65, 118, 157 Hermans, Theo, 5, 9 Hertz, Neil, 124 Hesiod, 17–18, 38 Hinds, Stephen, 47 Holzberg, Niklas, 107, 109 Homer, 1, 7, 14, 16–18, 36–37, 160, 188 homosociality, 131, 136, 157 Horace, 5, 8, 15, 31–33, 51, 60, 101, 115, 118, 177, 195 Hortalus (Q. Horensius), 128–31, 135, 146, 152–55, 157 Hunter, Richard, 9, 164 hymns, 16, 108, 162, 167 iambic meters, 69, 101 imitatio. See imitation imitation, 5, 9, 21, 24–25, 51, 81, 116–38, 164, 168, 184 imperialism: cultural, at Rome, 65, 91; foreign luxury goods and, 30–39, 52–88; poet-translator

general index and, 40, 64–73, 92, 147–49, 179–81; Roman, 13, 66, 73, 91–92 India, 15, 62 interpretes, 5, 18–19, 25 intertextuality, 9, 103–15 intimacy (in translation), 115–28, 132–38, 156–65 invective, 16, 63, 71–74, 109, 157–67 Ionis (of Callimachus Ep. 27), 184–86, 190–91 Jason, 28–29, 41, 47–48 Julius Caesar, 66, 81, 108 Juno, 185, 191 Jupiter, 184–86, 191 Kajanto, Iiro, 106 Konstan, David, 36 Krostenko, Brian, 37, 83 Labeo, Attius, 7 Laevius, 16, 154 Laird, Andrew, 32 lament: of Ariadne, 32–34, 45; as novel poetic affect, 130–38; of the poet-translator, 179–80 laserpicium, 80–82, 85 Lefevere, André, 5 Lesbia, 4, 74–82, 86, 118–23, 152–55, 167–78, 183–96 libellus, 145, 156–59, 163–65, 171 libraries, Greek, 11, 99–100 Livius Andronicus, 1–2, 8, 15, 19, 47, 50, 144 Livy, 30–31, 33–34, 38 Longinus, 124 Lucretius, 8, 17, 144, 168–70 Ludi Romani, 1 luxuria, 30–39, 53, 88 luxury goods, foreign, 20, 29–39, 53–64, 87–88 lyric, 3, 16–17, 23, 116–28, 182–96 Macedonia, 13 Macleod, C. W., 157–58 Mallarmé, Stephan, 196 Mamurra, 66 Mantua, 102–3, 105, 107–8, 113 master-slave dynamics, 91–99, 104 “material unconscious” (Brown), 54–55 McElduff, Siobhán, 5–9, 18–19 Medea, 29, 39 Megara, 192 Meleager, 16 Memmius (Gaius), 90, 154 memory, poetic, 46–47, 62 Menander, 16 miniature epic. See epyllion Minotaur, 41, 43–44 miser poeta, 22, 120–28 Mithridates, 66, 99 Mithridatic Wars, 99–100

255 Mnemosyne, 46, 62 mnemosynum, 46, 55, 60–63 mollitia, 69–71, 161 mourning, 131–38 munus, 136, 155 Muses, 8, 39, 46, 62, 73, 131–32, 158–59, 169, 188 napkins, 55–63, 65–66, 71–73. See also sudaria “neoteric reader” (Gaisser), 29 neoterics, 16, 26, 32, 83–84, 88 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 13, 173 Nisetich, Frank J., 191–92 nugae, 54, 154 objects, foreign: colonialism and, 26–39, 94; cultural capital and, 150–56; discursive manipulation of, 55–88; importation into Rome, 10, 13, 30, 33, 34, 39, 52–54 “orientalism” (Said), 180–81 originality, 3, 6, 19–25, 51, 156–65, 188–91 otium, 73, 118, 122, 124–28, 155, 172, 178–81 Ovid, 99, 160, 162 pallium, 14, 65–66, 72–74 Parker, Grant, 62 parody, 16, 103–15, 172 Parthenius of Nicaea, 18, 92, 99–100 Perloff, Marjorie, 195–96 Persia, 15 Persian Wars, 136 personification, 90–99 phaselus, 91–99, 101, 106, 115 Pindar, 13 Plato, 12–13, 185 Plautus, 8, 144, 185 Pliny the Elder, 53, 81 Pliny the Younger, 10, 14, 154, 168 Plutarch, 13, 78 poetry: aesthetic Hellenism and, 12–21, 23–39, 82–88, 91–101, 107–15, 156–65; agonistic practices and, 42–51, 67–69; anxieties of influence and, 12–16, 20–27, 29–39, 47, 53, 64–75, 99–101, 142–46; apostrophe and, 47, 98, 125–26, 133–37, 168, 172–73, 177; appropriative practices and, 183–96; authorizing precursors and, 47, 98, 125–26, 133–37, 168, 172–73, 177; bodies and embodiment in, 119–23, 125–28; colonial metaphors and, 39–51; cultural capital and, 20–21, 36–37, 91–99, 150–56, 160–61, 164; eroticism in, 19–22, 115–29, 132–38, 152, 174–77, 183–96; gender and, 119–28, 130–38, 175, 180–81; material objects in, 53–74; metapoetic elements of, 25–39; originality and, 116–28, 131–38, 195–96; personification and, 90–99; resignification and, 57, 62–65, 73–74; self-reflexivity and, 27, 47, 65, 73, 145–50

256 Pompey, 53, 91–92, 99 Posidippus, 156 Possanza, Mark, 8 Pound, Ezra, 39–40 precursors, literary, 47, 98, 125–26, 133–37, 168, 172–73, 177 prefaces to Catullus’s translations, 22, 116–38, 143, 145, 149–55, 157–59, 160, 164 Priapus, 107 Propertius, 162 Ptolemy III Euergetes, 134, 141–43 Punic Wars, 51, 173 purple, 29–31, 33, 37 purpureus pannus (Horace), 32 Putnam, Michael, 137 Quinn, Kenneth, 84, 94 Quintilian, 10, 14, 25, 33 Rawson, Elizabeth, 100 recitatio, 60 “resignification” (Cordier), 54–55, 57, 62–65, 73–74 Roman Theories of Translation (McElduff), 5 Romanticism, 23, 116–17 Rome and Romans: aesthetic Hellenism and, 15–19, 82–88, 93–101, 156–65, 178–81; anxieties of influence and, 12–16, 20–23, 26–27, 29–39, 47, 53, 64–74, 99–101, 142–46; colonialism and, 12–16, 20, 25–53, 55–74, 90–99; discourse of decline and, 30, 33–39, 67–71, 178–81; education in, 14, 18–19; gender and, 119–28, 130–38; Greek literature and, 2, 6–12, 17–19, 24, 29–39, 47, 60, 64–74, 87–88, 98–101, 125–26, 133–37, 159–60, 168–78; Greek loan words and, 60–61; materialism of, 20, 29–39, 52, 55–74, 87–88, 94, 178–81; originality and, 1–2, 24–25; prestige languages and, 13; social class in, 13–14, 18–19, 36–37, 91–99 Sabinus the muleteer (of Catalepton 10), 102–7, 109–15 Said, Edward, 180 Sallust, 30, 35, 38 Sappho: Catullus’s translation of, 21–23, 117–20, 122–28, 139, 152,167–181; Roman translation of, 17, 117–18, 127–28; sublime turn of, 123–28 satire, 16 saturnian meter, 1 Scipio (Aemelianus), 173–74 self-reflexivity, 27, 47, 65, 73, 145–50 semi-Graeci, 19, 50, 101 Seneca (the Elder), 7, 14 Seneca (the Younger), 16 Sibylline Books, 12 silphium, 80–81, 83–84, 86–87 slaves, 18–21, 50–51, 68–70, 74, 99–107

general index song: culture of Rome, 1; of the Fates, 38; lyric as, 3, 182; of the nightingale, 131–32, 136–37 Sophocles, 185 Sotades, 73 Spain, 55–63, 65–66 Stein, Gertrude, 196 Steiner, George, 168 stoicism, 12 Stroup, Sarah, 155 “sublime turn” (Hertz), 123–28 sudaria, 55–63, 65, 72. See also napkins Suetonius, 19, 50, 101 Sulla (Lucius), 30, 35, 38, 100 talentum, 59 Tarentum, 1, 13 Tarquinius Priscus, 12 Telchines, 158 Terence, 8, 15–16 textiles, 20, 30–35, 39, 53, 72–73 Thallus, 67–71, 73–74 theft: Argonauts’, of the fleece, 28, 47–48; as figure for cultural cooption, 64–74; literary, 72–73, 189; of napkin in Catullus 12, 55–63; and resignification, 55–63; and “semiotic re-inscription” (Baroin), 173–74; Thallus’s in Catullus 25, 64– 74; translation as, 47, 50 Theocritus, 18 Theseus, 29, 32–34, 41, 43–44, 46 thing theory, 4, 52–54 Third Syrian War, 142–43 Thomas, Richard, 48 Thomson, D.F.S, 91, 130 Thucydides, 8 Tibullus, 162 tragedy, 15 transferre, 6, 10–11 translatio, 6, 10–12, 64 translation: aggression and, 23, 168–73; as agon/ certamen/contest, 7, 23, 41–51, 57, 167–78; appropriation and, 8–10, 23, 27, 36, 47, 55, 59,172,182–96; aristocratic exchange and, 136–37, 146, 155, 157, 176; belatedness and, 26, 47, 170–71, 174, 183, 195; the Bible and, 8, 52; bilingualism and, 13–14, 18; class and, 18–19, 50–51; colonialism/imperialism and, 10–16, 39– 51, 145, 147–50, 179–81; “continuum of allusive practices” (Fantuzzi and Hunter) and, 9, 164; control and, 7, 21, 73, 90–101, 172–73, 180–81; as conquest, 13, 177–78; creativity/invention and, 2–6, 10, 25, 51, 164–65, 188; domesticating, 8, 144; education at Rome and, 14, 18–19; eroticism and, 22–23, 115–23, 132–38, 167–78, 183–96; fidelity and, 5, 7, 8, 22, 141, 144, 169–171, 174; fragmentary/piecemeal, 8, 17–18, 22, 125, 139–41, 144–45, 147, 149, 177; gender and, 119–

general index 28, 130–38, 175, 180–81; of genres, 10–11, 15–20, 27, 39, 41–51, 101; heroism and, 25–26, 39–51; intimacy and, 22–23, 115–23, 125–28; Lesbia and, 4, 152–55, 167–78, 183–96; literal/word-forword, 5–8, 14, 19, 139; lost sources and, 22, 91, 139–45; modern notions of, 1–3, 9, 22; modern notions of poetry and, 1–3, 23, 195–96; originality and, 2–5, 19–25, 116–28, 131–38, 164–65; of Petrarchan sonnet into English, 116; poetic voice and, 21–22, 116–38, 148, 174, 180; power and, 4, 7, 13; prefaces to, 21–22, 115–27, 129–38; rhetorical training and, 10, 14, 18–19, 117–18; Roman notions of, 1–12, 18–20, 25–26, 43, 116–17, 142–45, 159–60, 164–65, 167–78; slaves/ freedmen and, 1, 20–21, 90–99; of styles, 24–39, 41–51, 103–4, 114–15, 131–32, 180–81; theories of, 2–5, 8, 24, 39, 51, 139–40, 164, 167–68, 173; as transformation, 7–8 translation studies, 4–6 Transpadane Gaul, 21, 79–80, 82, 87, 101–15 triumph, Roman, 11, 31, 34, 53, 88 Twelve Tables, 12 Uncreative Writing (Goldsmith), 195 Unoriginal Genius (Perloff), 195

257 urbanitas, 91–99, 104–7, 110–15 utraque lingua, 14 Valerius Aedituus, 117–19, 127–28 Valerius Maximus, 13–14 value: of Callimachean verse, 81–88, 154; of foreign objects, 54–74, 77–88; of Greek aesthetics, 37; symbolic manipulation of, 55–74, 78–88 varietas, 30, 157 Varro Atacinus, 25, 104 Venuti, Lawrence, 2, 39, 51 Veranius and Fabullus, 56, 61, 65 Vergil, 60, 99; and Catalepton 10, 21, 103–15; and Coma Berenices, 138, 148; as translator, 18 Verona, 110, 113 Verres, 37, 66, 173 vertere, 6–7, 14, 47, 50 Vertere (Bettini), 5 Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew, 30, 87 Wheeler, Arthur, 24–25, 81 Wiseman, T. P., 104, 113–14 Wray, David, 176 zelos, 168

Index of Catullan Poems Discussed

poem 4, 21–22, 90–99, 101–7, 109–10, 112–13, 115 poem 5, 74–77, 79–88 poem 7, 77–88 poem 10, 92 poem 12, 55–63 poem 16, 86–87 poem 17, 109–10 poem 25, 64–74 poem 28, 92 poem 29, 66 poem 35, 204–5 poem 39, 110–11 poem 50, 22, 120–23, 127, 133 poem 51, 117–20, 122–24, 126–27, 133, 166–67, 169–81 poem 60, 170 poem 64, 19, 24–30, 33–36, 41, 44–51, 91 poem 65, 22, 128–38, 144, 146, 150–51, 153–55, 157–58, 163 poem 66, 22, 130–38, 142–43, 146–50, 160–63 poem 68, 220 poem 70, 151, 183–85, 190–91 poem 72, 186, 232 poem 92, 187 poem 95, 26 poem 116, 158–59, 161, 163