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Vatinius by Calvus, mentioned in c. 53, may well have taken place in 56 B.C., instead of in the fall of 54. Furthermore, C. II, which was surely written toward the close of 55 B.C., shows a decided change in the feeling of Catullus toward Cæsar, and accords well with the statement of Suetonius (Iul. 73), that after Catullus had angered Cæsar by his epigrams concerning him and Mamurra, a reconciliation with the poet took place, apparently at his father's house at Verona. It is hardly credible that if Catullus lived during the exciting years that followed 55 B.C., the only indication of his new feeling toward Cæsar should be the reference in c. II, and that this was followed by silence. Such neutrality was not the fashion among the young friends whom Cæsar was constantly winning to himself from the ranks of his political opponents. There seems, indeed, to be an indication in c. II that Catullus might be expecting some post under the great commander. But the most satisfactory conclusion is that death came within a short time after the close of 55 B.C., and anticipated all hoped-foi activities (cf., however, $ 50).
8. Whether Jerome is wrong in one or in both of his other statements, remains, and must always remain, in doubt. All known facts concerning Catullus harmonize well with the hypothesis that he was born in 87, and died in 54 B.C., at the age of thirty-three, or that he was born in 84, and died in 54, at the age of thirty; but nothing more definite can be said about the matter.
FAMILY AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
9. The only relative mentioned by Catullus is his brother, whose death was the occasion to him of such intense and lasting grief (cc. 65, 68, 101). But Suetonius (l.c.) speaks of the father as a host of Julius Cæsar even so late, apparently, as the close of the poet's life. Why he (to say nothing of the mother) is never mentioned by the poet, we cannot tell. Not improbably, however, he did not have the same active sympathy with
the tastes and inclinations of Catullus as the father of Horace had with those of his son. Catullus, moreover, was not the only son, and was probably younger than the one whose untimely death in the Troad he records.
10. Yet there was apparently wealth enough in the family to enable even the younger brother to enjoy the advantages that wealth brought to the young Italian of that day. He was able early in his young manhood to go to Rome, and to make that city thenceforth his abiding-place (c. 68. 34 ff.). He owned a villa at Sirmio (c. 31), and another on the edge of the Sabine hills (c. 44). And there is no indication that while at Rome he was busy with any pursuit that could fill his purse, although, like many another young Roman, he later obtained a provincial appointment, and went to Bithynia on the staff of the governor Memmius in the hope of wealth (cf. § 29 ff.). The hope, he tells us (cc. 10, 28), proved abortive, but Catullus had yet money enough — perhaps even to purchase a yacht for his homeward journey like any millionnaire (cf. § 35 and introductory note to c. 4) — at any rate to continue his merry life at Rome, apparently without great pecuniary embarrassment. All these indications point to no financial inability or niggardliness on the part of his father. Possibly the villas, and an increase of income, came to him upon the death of his brother.
II. Whether Catullus, like Horace, was accompanied to Rome by his father is doubtful. On the whole, it seems hardly probable that he was. To say nothing of the considerations possibly connected with the interests of the elder son, the father was apparently resident in Verona at the time when Julius Cæsar was governor of Gaul (Suet. Iul. 73), and this fact may indicate that at no time was the family home at Verona broken up in favor of a new one at Rome.
EDUCATION. 12. Doubtless to the care of some friend of the family at Rome the youth was entrusted. And there were many Transpadanes at Rome, — some of them making great names for themselves in the literary world. With some of these certainly a man of station prominent enough in Verona to be later, at least, the friend of Julius Cæsar, might command interest. Under the charge of one of them he might have placed so promising a young man as his son doubtless was. To which one the trust fell cannot now be determined, but as Catullus later (c. I) addresses Cornelius Nepos as the friend and foster-father of his earlier poems, it seems not unlikely that to his guardianship (cf. § 63) Catullus owed his introduction into the society of Rome.
13. The purpose of his coming thither is nowhere stated, but may easily be divined. Rome was the school of Italy, at least to all who could pay for her tuition. And a youth with a poet's soul burning within him could hardly have been content with such schooling as a Transpadane town afforded, even to her wealthiest inhabitants. But whether Catullus did much studying of a serious sort may well be doubted. It cannot be quite true that his only books were woman's looks,' for his poems show an ardent and sympathetic study of the Greek poets. But his attainments in rhetoric and philosophy, if he had any at all, were certainly not of a scholastic character, and he apparently never cared to follow the students of the day to Athens or to Rhodes.
14. Not books, but life, exercised over him the preëminent charm. And this life was not the life of the past, but of the present, — the busy, delirious whirl of life in the capital of the world. Into it he plunged with all the ardor of a lively and passionate nature. Rome was from that first moment his home, the centre of all his beloved activities. Verona, his Sabine villa, and even Sirmio, became to him but hospitals or vacation haunts. Once only did he leave Italy, and even his joy at reaching Sirmio again on his return (c. 31) could not long detain him from Rome. And at Rome death met hirn.
15. In life at Rome, then, Catullus found his full develop. ment as a poet. Already from the donning of the toga uirilis, so he tells us (c. 68. 15 ff.), he had been busied with love and love-verses. But whether this period antedated or followed his coming to Rome cannot be decided, since the date of publicaa tion of the Chronica of Nepos (c. 1. 8) is unknown, and on this alone could a decision of the other point be based. Such poems as those that concern Aufilena (cc. 100, 110, 111) may possibly date from the Veronese period of the poet's life (though c. 82 cannot possibly do so), and yet it is just as possible that their scene was Rome (cf. introductory note to C. 100), and the same may be said of the poems concerning Ameana (cc. 41, 43). Much more likely is it, however, that of the other poems that show some connection with Veronese affairs cc. 17 and 67 date from his residence in his native city, while c. 35 was surely written during only a temporary visit there (cf. Commentary).
LESBIA. 16. But whenever these poems were written, they spring from experiences that did not touch deeply the soul of the writer. A passing fancy, a moment's passion, an evanescent humor brought them forth. But at Rome, and not long after he arrived at Rome, Catullus met the mastering passion of his life, and beside the verses to which it gave birth the melodious chamber ditties of Horace and the elaborated passions of the elegiasts are but as tinkling cymbals. To the woman who exercised this wonderful power over him he gives the name of Lesbia. But more often he is not content with a name, and the familiar terms of endearment flow from his lips with a newer and deeper meaning; for he delights to feel that though his experience is on the outside like that of other men, his mistress is peerless in virtues and his love for her a love passing that of women. On his side the passion was sudden and intense. He adopts the words of Sappho, and tells Lesbia (c. 51) of the deadly
faintness that seizes upon him even while he feels himself a god, and more than a god, in sharing her smile and her voice. And with the swift passion comes the mad desire to win her love. Lesbia is a married woman (c. 83. I), but that consideration demands only additional care and diplomacy on his part, and is no bar to his efforts. He lays siege to her heart. His importunate persistence, youth as he is, commands her attention even amid a throng of lovers, but apparently only irritates her. What does this youngster, lately come to Rome, hope for amid so many of his betters? He sees that victory must be won over this brilliant woman of the world by proving himself no mere moon-calf. Therefore he curbs his sentiment, and matches wit with wit. Even her own display of petulance is turned against her in neat retort (cc. 83, 92). And meanwhile Catullus was winning his way in the Roman world. The unknown young man was becoming well known, and the haughty beauty finally surrendered, doubtless influenced by vanity rather than by passion.
17. Yet Catullus had no haunting fears concerning the genuineness of her love for him. He was so completely mastered by his own passion that he could not doubt hers. Their meetings, necessarily secret for the most part, on account of the lady's position, took place at the house of a friend (c. 68. 68). But not even the possibility of discovery restrained the ardor of the poet's soul. He poured forth his feelings most simply and unrestrainedly in a series of charming trifles. Mere childlike delight in multitudinous kisses (cc. 5, 7), daintiest pretence of lover's jealousy at the favors accorded Lesbia's sparrow (c. 2), gentle, half-smiling sympathy with her over the untimely death of her pet (c. 3), flow from his pen with a perfect freedom of movement and yet with an exquisite grace and perfection in every part. And the mere thought that any proud damsel could once claim comparison with his Lesbia rouses him to hot scorn (cc. 43, 86).
18. The sight of this young poet at her feet may have been attractive to Lesbia, but it could not take the place of all other