C. J. Fordyce (ed.), Catullus: A Commentary
14b. a praecedentibus seiunxerunt B. Guarinus et Auantius. 'In codice antiquo non leguntur hic' nescio quis in cod. Parisino lat. 8458 saec. xv exeuntis; similiter Romanus Corsinianus 43. D. 20
These lines are attached in the manuscripts to poem 14, to which they clearly do not belong, and there is no context elsewhere into which they fit. If we suppose that they are the opening of a poem which Catullus left unfinished, we must also suppose that an editor collecting his work was so unintelligently conscientious as to include a scrap which is not even a complete sentence. It is easier to believe that they are a fragment of a poem, addressed perhaps to the poet's readers (though it is idle to conjecture its content or its purpose), of which the rest has been lost; the three lines attached to poem 2 (2b) and the last strophe of poem 51 seem to be relics of the same kind of accident. The apologetic modesty of si qui forte and non horrebitis is matched by the ironic self-depreciation of ineptiae. In Martial (xi. 1.14) and Pliny (Ep. iv. 14.8, ix. 25.1) that description has become conventional for light verse. In Catullus it is to be interpreted in the light of his use of ineptus (see on 8.1 and 12.4; cf. 39. 16); he chooses to regard his verses as a tiresome aberration, as something which he ought to know better than to do.