C. J. Fordyce (ed.), Catullus: A Commentary
- Editor’s Note Link 1 Porci et Socration, duae sinistrae
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 2 Pisonis, scabies famesque mundi,
- 3 uos Veraniolo meo et Fabullo
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 4 uerpus praeposuit Priapus ille?
- pg 26Editor’s Note Link 5 uos conuiuia lauta sumptuose
- Editor’s Note Link 6 de die facitis, mei sodales
- Editor’s Note Link 7 quaerunt in triuio uocationes?
The Piso of this poem has already appeared, with Veranius and Fabullus, in 28, which shows that they were serving together in his entourage as Catullus served in that of Memmius in Bithynia, and about the same time. The coincidence favours the identification (see on 9) with L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, the father of Caesar's wife Calpurnia, who went to Macedonia as proconsul in 57 b.c. and of whose proceedings in that province Cicero gives a highly coloured account in the scathing and often scurrilous attack which he delivered against him after his recall in 55. His connexion with Caesar would not have commended him to Catullus.
1. Porcius and Socration are unknown. Porcius can hardly be the Cato addressed in 56, who is evidently a member of Catullus' circle. Suggested identifications—e.g. with a Porcius who was employed in Gaul by Fonteius in 76–73 b.c. (Statius) or with M. Porcius Cato, tribune in 56 b.c. (Kroll)—have nothing to support them. As for Socration, the pairing with Porcius perhaps suggests that the name is genuine and not a nickname. The appearance of a Greek is not unexpected: Cicero makes much play with Piso's fondness for Greek society (Pis. 22 'iacebat in suorum Graecorum fetore atque uino'; 67 (at one of P.'s dinner-parties) 'Graeci stipati quini in lectulis, saepe plures, ipse solus'). The name Σωκρατίων is rare, but Galen mentions a physician so called (xii. 835 K.) and in Latin it appears in Dacia on two 2nd-century a.d. inscriptions (C.I.L. iii, p. 948). Friedrich suggested that Σωκράτιον, the 'imitation Socrates', represents Philodemus, the Epicurean philosopher-poet of Gadara who was an intimate of Piso (see Allen and De Lacy, 'The Patrons of Philodemus', C.P. xxxiv , 59–65). The fact that Cicero, in the course of his invective against Piso and his Epicureanism, speaks of Philodemus with some respect (Pis. 68–70 'homo, uere ut dicam, humanus … facilis et ualde uenustus … non philosophia solum sed etiam ceteris studiis … perpolitus'), and in Fin. ii. 119, writing more soberly, calls him a familiaris of his own, does not in itself make the identification impossible, especially as we do not know how seriously Catullus' abuse is to be taken: association with Piso and the profession of poverty (Philodemus seems to have been a genuine practising Epicurean) might well be all that lay behind it. But our evidence for personal relations in the society of Catullus is so fragmentary and so tendentious that such an identification is precarious.
duae, as Ellis points out, is not otiose but emphasizes the confederacy of the pair.
sinistrae : they are not the governor's 'hands' only (Cic. Verr. ii. 2. 27 'comites illi tui delecti manus erant tuae', Tac. Agr. 15. 2) and they are not his 'right hands', as Maecenas is Caesar's (Eleg. in Maec. i. 13 'tu Caesaris almi dextera'), or as young Quintus Cicero is Antony's (Cic. Att. xiv. 20. 5 'Antoni dextella'). They do his thieving for him, the left hand's work: so Plaut. Pers. 226 'ubi illa altera est furtifica laeua?', Ov. Met. xiii. 111 'natae ad furta sinistrae'. cf. 12. 1.
47. 2 mundae Buecheler
2. scabies famesque mundi is most naturally taken to mean 'itching greed whose object is the mundus'. The phrase seems to be formed on the analogy of such abusive phrases, in which an abstract noun followed by an objective genitive is applied to a person, as Plaut. Pseud. 364 'permities adulescentum', Ter. Eun. 79 'nostri fundi calamitas', Cic. Rab. Perd. 2 'pestem et perniciem ciuitatis', Hor. Ep. i. 15. 31 'pernicies et tempestas barathrumque macelli'; for scabies cf. Hor. Ep. i. 12. 14 'tantam scabiem et contagia lucri', Mart. v. 60. 11 'nos hac a scabie (sc. detrectandi) tenemus ungues'.
Down to the time of Catullus mundus refers either to the universe as a whole or in particular to the heavens (see Bücheler, Kl. Schriften, i. 628 ff.), and Catullus himself twice uses the word elsewhere, both times of the firmament—64, 206 'concussit micántia sidera mundus', 66. 1 'omnia qui magni dispexit lumina mundi'. It is first found in reference to the human world in Horace (Sat. i. 3. 112 'tempora si fastosque uelis euoluere mundi') and Propertius (iv. 6. 19 'huc mundi coiere manus', 37 'mundi seruator'), both of whom use it also in its earlier sense. Here the word cannot bear the earlier sense—the exaggeration would be too extravagant to have any point. If the text is sound, one must assume that the word was already current, colloquially perhaps, in the later sense. None of the suggested emendations is convincing. There is nothing to connect any known owners of the proper name Mindius or Mundus (Statius) or Munius (Ellis) with this context. nummi (Baehrens) gives good sense (cf. Juv. 14. 139 'crescit amor nummi') but the corruption is unlikely. Bücheler's mundae is a little more plausible as an example of the colloquial idiom found in Petr. 41 'mundum frigus habuimus' (surprisingly like the colloquial Eng. 'tidy') than (what he himself preferred) as an oxymoron like Mart. iii. 58. 45 (of an elegant but poor estate) 'famem mundam', 'genteel starvation': but Catullus' point is just that Porcius and Socration are not starving, or likely to starve.
4 proposuit V: corr. r
4. Priapus : i.e. homo libidinosus; Piso, whose libidines are faithfully dealt with by Cicero. (For examples of similar uses of proper names see van Wageningen in Mnem. xl , 153 ff.)
5. uos : 'You have grand, expensive, banquets at all hours, do you, while my friends are angling for invitations at the street-corner?' The point lies in the contrast between the two notions; English idiom makes it by subordinating one to the other, Latin and Greek by setting them side by side, Latin in asyndeton, Greek with μὲν … δέ.
lauta sumptuose : here at least they were unlike their patron as Cicero chooses to represent him: Pis. 67 'nihil apud hunc lautum, nihil elegans, nihil exquisitum—laudabo inimicum—ne magno opere quidem quicquam praeter libidines sumptuosum'.
6. de die : 'in the day-time', not 'in broad daylight': dining in daylight was in itself no more reprehensible then than it is now. The regular dinner-time was not before the ninth hour, after the working day was finished: to dine earlier was a sign of high living; conuiuia tempestiua (Cic. Att. ix. 1. 3) are 'smart' parties. So Ter. Ad. 965 'apparare de die conuiuium', Livy xxiii. 8 'epulari coeperunt de die'. de die implies taking time off the normal day, as de nocte taking time off the normal night, Hor. Ep. i. 2. 32 'ut iugulent hominem surgunt de nocte latrones', Cic. Mur. 22 'uigilas tu de nocte ut tuis consultoribus respondeas'. Sometimes the phrases are strengthened as in Hor. Sat. ii. 8. 3 'de medio potare die', Caesar, B.G. vii. 45. 1 'mittit complures equitum turmas eo de media nocte'. Similarly Cic. Q.F. ii. 1. 3, 'fac ut considerate diligenterque nauiges de mense Decembri', 'before December is over'.
7. quaerunt … uocationes : 'angle for invitations', like the parasites of Plautus or Alciphron. uocare in this sense is regular (so 44. 21): uocatio is not elsewhere so used but the concrete use of nouns in -tio (e.g. cogitatio, ambulatio, uenatio) is well established by Catullus' time. Under the Empire uocator is a slave whose business is to issue invitations (Sen. de Ira iii. 37. 4, Pliny, N.H. xxxv. 89, Mart. vii. 86. 11, Suet. Cal. 39).