C. J. Fordyce (ed.), Catullus: A Commentary
- Link 1 Salve, nec minimo puella naso
- Editor’s Note2 nec bello pede nec nigris ocellis
- Link 3 nec longis digitis nec ore sicco
- Editor’s Note Link 4 nec sane nimis elegante lingua,
- Editor’s Note Link 5 decoctoris amica Formiani.
- Editor’s Note Link 6 ten prouincia narrat esse bellam?
- 7 tecum Lesbia nostra comparatur?
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus8 o saeclum insapiens et infacetum!
See on 41, which is addressed to the same puella: here the shortcomings of this local belle are shown up even more devastatingly than those of the Quintia of poem 86.
2. nec bello pede, & c. : the attributes listed in this ruthless catalogue are those whose opposites—small feet, dark eyes, long fingers—the elegists also admire: Ov. Am. iii. 3. 7 'pes erat exiguus: pedis est aptissima forma', Prop. ii. 2. 5 'fulua coma est longaeque manus', ii. 12. 23 'caput et digitos et lumina nigra puellae'.
4. nec sane … lingua : 'and a tongue, to tell the truth, that is not very refined': the lack of refinement may have been either in her speech or in the things she said. For sane cf. 10. 4.
nec … nimis : 'not very': so 93. 1 nil nimium, 'not very much'. The original use of nimis as an intensifying adverb equivalent to ualde and the corresponding use of nimius are common in comedy: Catullus uses nimis so at 56. 4 nimis iocosa, 64. 22 nimis optato (probably also at 60. 5, 64. 169), nimius at 63. 17, 36. This use in positive sentences does not appear after Catullus, but the use with a negative, as here, is found both in informal and in formal prose: cf. Cic. Fam. xii. 30. 7 'non nimium probo quod scribis', de Or. i. 133 'ea dicis non nimis deesse nobis', Caesar B.G. vii. 36. 6 'praesidio … non nimis firmo'.
elegante : for the use of the ablative in -e as a metrically convenient substitute for the normal form in -i cf. 35. 12 impotente, 63. 7 recente, 68. 99 infelice; so Lucretius has pernice (ii. 635, but pernici v. 559), Virgil impare (Ecl. 8. 75), Ovid reduce (Her. 8. 103).
6. ten : the suppression of unstressed final -ĕ early became standard in many words (e.g. quin, hunc, nec and ac as doublets of neque and atque, imperatives such as dic and fac, neuter nominatives such as lac, animal, exemplar); in colloquial idiom it is common in forms with the suffix -ne: men, tun, ten, ain (for aisne), satin (for satisne), uiden (for uidesne, with consequent shortening of the -en: see on 61. 77).
prouincia must be Catullus' own province of Gallia Cisalpina—'the province' to its inhabitants. The title ceased to be applicable in Cisalpina after the extension of Roman citizenship to it in 49 b.c.; it remained applicable in its neighbour Narbonensis, which is 'Provence' to this day. That 'the province' should gossip about Mamurra's amica is natural enough; Caesar wintered with his troops in Cisalpina during the Gallic campaigns and Mamurra was no doubt a familiar figure there.
43. 8 seclum Rmg: sedum V
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8. o saeclum … infacetum : 'what a world! so stupid! so dull!' saeculum, originally 'a race of creatures' (the usual meaning in Lucretius: e.g. ii. 995 'saecla ferarum', 503 'aurea … pauonum … saecla', v. 866 'bucera saecla'), came to have the specialized sense of 'a human generation'; in that temporal sense it acquired quite early a social or moral implication (like our 'the times') derived from its context, as it is here and in such passages as Plaut. Trin. 283 'noui ego hoc saeculum moribus quibus siet', Ter. Ad. 304 'hocine saeclum! o scelera!', Cic. Phil. ix. 13 'maiorum continentiam diligebat, huius saeculi insolentiam uituperabat', Cael. 48 'abhorret non modo ab huius saeculi licentia uerum etiam a maiorum consuetudine', Cons. ad Liuiam 45 'tenuisse animum contra sua saecula rectum'. Hence in later usage saeculum by itself comes to mean 'the fashion', 'the spirit of the times': so Sen. Contr. ii. 1. 18 'tum paupertas erat saeculi', Mart. ix. 27. 9 'cum theatris saeculoque rixaris', Tac. Germ. 19. 3 'nec corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum uocatur'.
infacetum : facetus (12. 9, 50. 8) and infacetus (22. 14, 36. 19), salsus (12. 4, 14. 16) and insulsus (10. 33, 17. 12, 37. 6), uenustus (3. 2, 13. 6, 22. 2, 31. 12, 35. 17, 97. 9) and inuenustus (10. 4, 12. 5, 36. 17), elegans (13. 10, 39. 8) and inelegans (6. 2), urbanus (22. 2, 39. 8) and rusticus (34. 19) are the clichés which, though their nuances must elude us, reflect the attitudes and values of Catullus' society, a society which puts a premium on attractiveness (uenustas), discrimination (elegantia), piquancy (sal), metropolitanism (urbanitas), and has only scorn for the dull, the insensitive, the clumsy and the provincial. (see on 12. 8, 39. 8.) The facetus has a sense of humour, alert to the incongruities of things, and facetiae is distinguished from dicacitas, the gift of saying smart things (Cic. Or. 87, 89); the infacetus is the 'dreary' person who takes things seriously.