Posted by Dennis » Add Comment »
I had written this little fragment elsewhere, but thought it should be filed here at the CAMPVS as well.
First, the poem, modeled closely on Sappho. But note that there’s a textual problem with verse 8, where the most popular scholarly conjecture for the ‘missing line’ is placed in brackets:
- Ille mi par esse deo videtur,
- ille, si fas est, superare divos,
- qui sedens adversus identidem te
- spectat et audit
- dulce ridentem, misero quod omnes
- eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
- Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
- [vocis in ore]
- lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
- flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
- tintinant aures geminae, teguntur
- lumina nocte.
- otium, Catulle, tibi molestumst:
- otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
- otium et reges prius et beatas
- perdidit urbes.
So here’s my note, dug up from somewhere.
Is it radical to think that Catullus left verse 8 blank and that nothing has been lost? “The instant I’ve laid eyes upon you I’m at a loss….” The empty syllables dramatically punctuate his inability to speak. He regains himself in the next stanza, borrowing again from Sappho. Sappho supplies the words that he himself can not find, and her poem has been chosen because it describes his loss. In the end he cuts sharply away from the model to look at himself. Writing this kind of poetry, or getting mixed up with this kind of woman, is dangerous. As SJ Harrison argued, he sets himself up as Paris to Lesbia’s Helen.