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Catullus lxviii a and b. 

Despite the fact that Schanz (i 3 , 2, p. 74) cites some thirty- 
five discussions of Catullus 68a and 68b (and Schanz has 
omitted several), I venture to inflict upon the long suffering 
Catullan enthusiast one more suggestion. The feeling of 
Schanz seems to be shared by many that Birt, 1 Hoerschelmann 
and Vahlen have solved the main problem of 68a by emphasiz- 
ing the connection between utriusque (1. 39) and munera et 
Musarum et Veneris (1. 10), and by connecting lust (1. 1,7), 
studium (1. 19), and gaudia (1. 23) with munera Veneris 2 — 
"recht korperlich zu verstehen". Unfortunately this inter- 
pretation of 68a is very questionable and has only served to 
deepen the mystery regarding 68b. 

1 Birt, De Catulli ad Mallium epistula, 1889, and Rhein. Mus. 1904, p. 
433; Hoerschelmann. De Catulli carmine 68 (1889) ; Vahlen, Sitz. Berl. 
Akad., 1902, p. 1026, refers munera Musarum to scriptorum copia and 
munera Veneris to Lesbia ! 

2 Though this matter does not affect my main argument, I wish to 
say that I do not believe we can analyze munera et Musarum et Ven- 
eris into two elements since the word studium refers to the whole 
expression. The words lusi, studium, and gaudia can, so far as lan- 
guage goes be taken as Birt does, but there is more at stake than 
language. Catullus says explicitly that it is his brother's love which in 
the past has sweetened these gaudia (1. 23) . In his most poignant grief 
over his dead brother he could not have written that line if gaudia 
meant "pleasures of the boulevard". Hence all these words must have 
reference to verse-writing. It is of course difficult to find exact paral- 
lels for the expression munera et Musarum et Veneris, but Catullus 
naturally did not confine himself to stereotyped expressions. The 
association of love and song must have been a commonplace in Alex- 
andrian verse if we may judge from Propertius and Ovid. The latter 
offers an excellent illustration in his blanda Elegeia cantet Amores 
(Rem. 379), and the former insists that love inspires verse even as the 
Muses (I. 7, 20; II. 1, 38, cited by Friedrich, p. 442). Propertius finds 
such doctrine in Philetas and Callimachus (II. 34, 31) and it is doubtless 
from these poets that Mallius expected Catullus to draw the inspiration 
for his munera et Musarum et Veneris. The second et simply empha- 
sizes the fact that molles elegiae are desired. 


I gather from 68a that Mallius, deserted by his Erotium, 
had asked Catullus for consolation in the form of molles 
elegiae or a romantic epyllion in the Alexandrian style. 1 He 
had at the same time urged Catullus to return 2 from Verona 
to win back Lesbia before she was irretrievably lost. Doubt- 
less Mallius added the second point partly from a personal 
desire for Catullus' companionship. Catullus wrote 68a in 
answer, refusing both 3 requests {utriusque, 1. 39). Regarding 
the first point, the poet insists, as in poem 65, that his brother's 
death has brought him such grief that he finds no joy in 
writing ; furthermore, he would need many books if he were 
to weave together amorous romances in the Alexandrian style, 
and he had but a few rolls 4 with him. The second request 
was a bitter reminder, and he dismisses it curtly with a pointed 
correction of his friend's mode of referring to it. The letter 
ends with apologies for failing to grant either request. 

If now 68a is in the main a refusal to write the entertaining 
epistle desired, what is 68b ? Surely it is a new epistle written 
in place of 68a granting the very thing Mallius had asked for. 
The poet on rereading 68a threw it aside as wholly unsatis- 

l "A combined gift of the Muses and Venus in the most approved 
style of recondite Alexandrianism " says Ellis in what is still the best 
commentary on this poem, 

2 This seems to me to be the second point referred to in utriusque, 
1. 39 though I would not insist that mine is the only possible view. 
Catullus passes over the matter quickly because the subject pains him; 
hence its importance as one of Mallius' requests is often overlooked by 
critics. The fact that Catullus treats it again in 68b proves its signifi- 
cance. Some critics insist that 11. 27-31 must, because of hie, refer to 
the poet's position in Verona, but in that case would he in his sorrow 
refer to desert cubili as miserum? 

s Birt and Vahlen so take the line despite Hoerschelmann's insist- 
ence that non negates utriusque rather than the whole line. See Birt's 
convincing argument in Rhein. Mvis. 1904, p. 433. It is needless to dis- 
cuss whether Birt's version leaves any ambiguity. Certainly Mallius 
would have had no doubts about the meaning of the line if he had 
received 68a and nothing else. 

* Riese and Baehrens-Schulze have already given this meaning to 11. 
33-6. Mallius would not send to Verona for books ; nor has Catullus 
reference to his own poems : a small capsula would have held all that 
he had as yet composed. To be sure the reference to books comes in 
abruptly, but it would doubtless be clearer if we had the exact word- 
ing of Mallius' request. 


factory. It was for the most part dull prose, loosely put 
together, and hardly a fitting answer to a benefactor whose 
friendship he valued (68a, 1. 10). Sometime after writing and 
rejecting 68a (Mallius had in the meantime recovered his light- 
of-love 1 ) Catullus decided to try again and see if after all he 
might not gratify the request for a poem. Perhaps he still 
had no access to his library of Alexandrian romances, but it 
occurred to him that the subject of his munus might be the 
story of that memorable day when after a distressing separa- 
tion 2 he again met Lesbia through the good offices of Mallius. 
For that story he would need but few books. His one capsula, 
his memory, and his wits would suffice to provide a mytho- 
logical parallel or two, and a few similes for the requisite 
Alexandrian embroidery. And since he had thrown aside 68a 
he felt at liberty to rescue from it the only lines of real value 
in it, the elegy over his brother. 

However there was a serious difficulty. He had chosen a 
theme which was far more personal than the usual cento of 
mythological romances doubtless expected by Mallius. The 
recipient was himself involved. Catullus accordingly dis- 
guised 3 Mallius' name under the form Allius as he disguised 
the names of Clodia, Clodius, Mamurra and Tanusius (?), 
but it is to be noticed that the disguise is almost transparent. 
To those who shared the secrets of Catullus the me Allius of 
the very first line (pronounced Mallius, of course) gave a 
sufficient clue to the identity of the man intended. However, 
the uninitiated reader was for the present at least to be denied 
the secret. Obviously Catullus felt that there were lines of 
rare beauty in the poem and that these need not be completely 
buried if he judiciously suppressed the names of those most 
deeply concerned. Time alone could decide whether the dis- 
guise might at last be removed by publishing the poem under 
the appropriate title. 

'68b, 115; a felicitation which refers to the happy ending of the 
separation that 68a, 1-6 pictures. 

2 68b seems to imply that the first meetings which led to his affair 
with Lesbia were followed by grief ; so perhaps clausum of 1. 27. At 
any rate 68b, 108, lapide candidiore notat seems to repeat 107, 6, can- 
didiore nota, which marked the end of a separation. 

•Palmer, Hermathena, 1879, 348, has already suggested that Allius 
may be a disguise for Mallius. 


That 68b is a substitute for 68a seems under these conditions 
wholly probable. It is a gift of verse inspired — in part at 
least — by the Muses, certainly by Venus. It is just the Cal- 
limachean kind of composition that 68a, 11. i-io and 33-6 
imply except for the fact that in true Catullan fashion the 
personal note is very prominent. The poet himself calls it a 
munus 1 (68b, 109) repeating the word which Mallius had 
apparently used (68a, 10). It is a return for officia (68b, no) 
which he acknowledges in 68a, 12. He answers Mallius' 
reference to the infidelities of Lesbia (95 ff.) as he had 
attempted in 68a, 27-30 ; and though the answer is not identical, 
it clearly alludes to the very same complaint of Mallius. He 
transfers three lines on his brother's death verbatim from the 
rejected poem, and, as has been pointed out time and again, 
the poet nowhere else repeats himself in this fashion. To me 
it seems difficult to understand any of these things on the 
supposition that the two poems are one 2 or that the two are 
addressed to different 3 persons or that both poems though 
separate were actually sent to the same * person. Surely 68a 
was rejected by the poet and 68b sent in its place. 

"Hoc tibi quod potui confectum carmine munus pro multis, Alii 
redditur officiis. 

* If 68a and 68b are one poem as Ellis, Kiessling, Vahlen, Friedrich 
and others have held, I cannot understand the changed conditions in 
the household of Mallius, nor the repetition of lines, nor the equa- 
nimity with which Catullus refers to Lesbia in 68b, 95 after the appar- 
ent resentment of 68a, 30, nor the change of name from Mallius to 
Allius, nor the grant of a munus (109) after the refusal, nor the 
abruptness of the transition at 1. 40. 

3 Munro, Baehrens, Birt, Merrill and others posit two different men. 
But the two poems assume the same debt of officium on the poet's part, 
the same request for a munus, the same report about Lesbia, the same 
knowledge of Catullus' secrets. Finally this view does not explain 
why the poet should repeat his lines, nor why the two names should 
happen to be so similar. 

* So Palmer. Ellis who does not differ greatly from Palmer holds 
that there are "two quite separable parts" written at different times, 
but that "they are parts of the same poem", p. 400. However, these 
scholars do not satisfactorily explain the repetition of lines. Surely 
68b, 54-6 would seem frigid to one who had already received 68a. 
Eichler avoids this difficulty by boldly rejecting the lines in 68a, but 
such drastic measures are not necessary. Lucas, Recusatio, in Fest- 
schrift fur Vahlen, p. 329, considers the epistle a parallel to Hor. 


That the poems are placed together in our manuscripts is 
doubtless due to the editor of Catullus who finding 68a among 
the poet's unpublished papers recognized its meaning and gave 
it its logical position. A discriminating editor would probably 
have consigned it to the oblivion intended by Catullus, but 
that the editor of our poet was unfortunately not discrimi- 
nating is generally recognized. However, 68a when rightly 
understood proves at least to be a human document of no little 
interest to students of the poet. 

The suggestion that Catullus rejected 68a and wrote a new 
poem in its place, casting the second into a different style while 
at the same time preserving in it lines of the original effort 
will hardly seem strange to readers of this poet. A good 
parallel for his procedure in this instance is doubtless to be 
found in Catullus 55 and 58b. No. 55, in the tone of Horace 
1, 8, twits Camerius on his disappearance (for obvious reasons) 
from his favorite haunts. The fragmentary 58b treats the 
same theme in a laboriously bookish manner for a few lines, 
then breaks off bluntly. There can be little doubt but that 
Merrill (Introd. XXXIV) is correct in saying that 58b is 
"but a rejected trial-sketch for the poem afterward elaborated 
as 55". The editor of Catullus seems to have recognized it 
as a rejected fragment by placing it as the last representative 
of the poems in the Phalaecean meter. Similarly c. 60 — " Did 
a lioness bear thee, hard of heart " ? — seems to be an unfinished 
poem, the point of which was later rescued for a striking pas- 
sage in Ariadne's complaint 1 (64, 154-7). Again the f rag- 
Epistle II. 1, which in the spirit of a praeteritio grants what it modestly 
disclaims the power to bestow. However, no real similarity exists 
between the two epistles. 

'My colleague,. Prof. Wheeler, called to mind this passage, and sug- 
gested also that the reworking of Sulpicia's poems (Tib. IV. 8/9, 11) 
by the author of Tib. IV. 5, 6, 4, provides an apposite illustration. It 
seems entirely probable that the confessions of Sulpicia were never 
meant for the public eye, while the finished poems that were based 
upon them deserved as wide a publication as anything in Tibullus. If 
Horace IV. 7 was an early spring poem, at first rejected in favor of the 
far more finished and genial 1. 4, and later refurbished to fill space and 
afford variety in the last book of the odes, it too may be cited as a 
parallel. The suspicion is at any rate widespread that several odes of 
Horace, book IV, are rejected juvenal efforts later reworked for the 
sake of filling a slender roll. 


mentary dedication of three lines which is usually numbered 
14b is plausibly accounted for as an unsuccessful beginning 
presently thrown aside for a new effort which resulted in c. I. 
It begins in- the same deprecatory tone as I, and purports to 
introduce the reader to the same kind of unassuming trifles. 

It may well be that other fragments which occur in our 
manuscripts of Catullus, e. g., II. 11-14, LI. 13-16, LIV, and 
LXXVIIIb were left incomplete by the poet. Certain it is 
that if he had been his own editor, he would have rejected his 
attacks upon Caesar and many of the trifles which he had 
written stans pede in uno against time — reddens mutua per 
iocum atque vinum (L. 6). 

In the preceding I have unhesitatingly adopted Palmer's 
suggestion that the name Allius was a disguise. Ellis objects 
(p. 401) that one does not "take so much trouble to preserve 
to eternal memory a disguised name ", and the poet claims to 
write ne vestrum scabra tangat robigine nomen. This ob j ection 
might apply equally well to the immortality which later poets 
promised Delia, Cynthia, Corinna and a dozen other personages 
whose real names were not disclosed by their eulogists. The 
promise of eternal fame was of course largely a literary con- 
vention which belonged especially to the versified epistle, as 
many a " Donarem pateras " will prove. That the promise is 
conventional in 68b must be self-evident, for one would hardly 
contend in all seriousness that immortality based upon the 
deeds celebrated in this poem is highly desirable. Mallius 
was doubtless satisfied, so far as these oMcia were concerned, 
to belong to the " choir invisible " in a very real sense. One 
need scarcely suggest further that so long as disguise was 
desirable, verisimilitude was added by the promise of ever- 
lasting fame. 

Catullus, then, wrote 68a in order to explain to Mallius that 
he could not comply with the request for an elegiac romance 
because of his state of mind and because of his lack of books 
from which to draw the appropriate material. He presently 
rejected this effort as prosaic and futile, and undertook to write 
a poem of the kind that Mallius had requested. Since this 
second poem contained many references to actual experiences 
of a delicate nature he disguised the name of Mallius, lending 
plausibility to this disguise by the conventional statement that 


he wished to guard the name of Allius from oblivion. The 
poet suppressed 68a but was apparently not averse to seeing 
68b published * if at some future time his relations with 
Mallius and Clodia should permit. Whether or not conditions 
favorable to publication arose during the poet's life-time we 
do not know. After the poet's death the editor of his com- 
plete edition, finding 68a, placed it where it chronologically 
belonged, and the manuscript probably went forth with the 
two poems combined as one and bearing the title " ad Mallium ". 

Tenney Frank. 

Brym Mawr. 

"There is only one objection to considering 68b an independent poem 
which seems at all plausible. Ellis (p. 401) thinks the poem begins 
very abruptly. However, it was apparently a favorite device of the 
Alexandrians to begin in mediis rebus. For instance the epyllia of 
Theocritus and Moschus do not contain the invocation or introduction 
of the Culex and the Ciris ; and it is significant that Catullus 64 begins 
in the middle of the tale. It is very likely also that Catullus accom- 
panied his verse epistle with a friendly letter explaining the reasons for 
his delay and for his choice of theme.