Catullus 1

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Catullus 1 is traditionally arranged first among the poems of the Roman poet Catullus, though it was not necessarily the first poem that he wrote. It is dedicated to Cornelius Nepos, a historian and minor poet, though some consider Catullus's praise of Cornelius's history of the Italians to have been sarcastic.

The poem alternates between humility and a self-confident manner; Catullus calls his poetry "little" and "trifles", but asks that it remain for more than one age. This understatement is likely deliberate; Catullus knows very well the quality of his poetry, and also the provocative form it has. He also calls his work "new"; the poems are recently made and therefore new, but they are also new as some of the first examples of Neoteric poetry in the Latin language.

The meter of this poem is hendecasyllabic, a common form in Catullus's poetry.

Text[edit]

Line Latin text English translation
1 cui dono lepidum novum libellum To whom do I dedicate this new, charming little book
2 arida modo pumice expolitum just now polished with a dry pumice stone?
3 Corneli tibi namque tu solebas To you, Cornelius, for you were accustomed
4 meas esse aliquid putare nugas to think that my nonsense was something,
5 iam tum cum ausus es unus Italorum then already when you alone of Italians
6 omne aevum tribus explicare cartis1 dared to unfold every age in three papyrus rolls,
7 doctis Iuppiter et laboriosis learned, Jupiter, and full of labor.
8 quare habe tibi quidquid hoc libelli Therefore have for yourself whatever this is of a little book,
9 qualecumque quod o2 patrona virgo3 of whatever sort; which, O patron maiden,
10 plus uno maneat perenne saeclo may it remain everlasting, more than one lifetime.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "To unfold every age in three papyrus rolls" can be less literally rendered as "To give an account of all recorded history in three volumes", and refers to Cornelius Nepos' Chronica ("Annals"), an exhaustive three-volume history of the Greco-Roman world.
  2. ^ O does not appear in any extant manuscripts, but is supplied by modern editors on the assumption that it was in the original, based on context and metrical concerns.
  3. ^ The "patron maiden" may be either Minerva or one of the Muses.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Batstone, William (1998). "Dry Pumice and the Programmatic Language of Catullus 1". Classical Philology 93: 126–135. doi:10.1086/449383. 
  • Rauk, John (1997). "Time and History in Catullus 1". Classical World 90 (5): 319–332. doi:10.2307/4351959. 

External links[edit]