Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

LIFE.

GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS was born at Verona (87 or 84 B.C.), of a good family. We hear of his father as the friend and frequently the host of Julius Caesar. The poet came to Rome as soon as he became his own master, and there made his settled home. There he had the society of Calvus, Cinna, Cornificius, young Asinius Pollio, Alfenus Varus, Caelius Rufus, and, perhaps, Cicero; and there he fell into the toils of Clodia, the wife of the consul Metellus Celer, and the Lesbia of the poems. We hear of visits to his villa at Tibur, to another villa at Sirmio, and also to Verona. The pleasures of the town seem to have kept him always poor; and he followed the praetor Memmius to Bithynia, which had newly become a Roman province, in the vain hope of mending his fortunes (57 B.C.). On his homeward journey he went to see his brother's grave in the Troad, passed through the famous cities of Asia, and returned in his yacht to Sirmio (56 B.C.). This retreat he left for Rome, where he seems to have spent the remainder of his short life. We know that he died young, perhaps (as is said) at the age of thirty; and, as his poems contain no certain allusion to events of later date than 54 B.C., we may believe that to have been the year of his death.

ADVERTISEMENT TO TEXT.

THE Gothic malice of mice and men has played havoc with the manuscripts of Catullus. No MS. containing any of his works now exists of earlier date than the Thuanean (in the Paris Library), considered to have been written about 900 A.D., which is an anthology of Latin poems, but of Catullus includes only LXII. About fifty years later the French monk Rather, Bishop of Verona, speaks of having read our poet for the first time. Soon after 1300 A.D. a MS. of Catullus was brought to Verona, discovered, apparently, in some distant place, hidden under a bushel-measure:—

Versus domini Benevuti de Campexanis de Vicentia de resurrectione Catulli, poetae Veronensis :

Ad patriam venio longis de finibus exul:
Causa mei reditus compatriota fuit,
Scilicet a calamis tribuit cui Francia nomen
Quique notat turbae praetereuntis iter.
Quo licet ingenio vestrum celebrate Catullum,
Cujus sub modio clausa papyrus erat.

These verses are found in the MS. called Sangermanensis (now in the Paris Library), written 1375 a.d.; which the writer says he copied a corruptissimo ex

6

emplari,' (his original being perhaps the Veronese MS. above mentioned, which, unfortunately, was soon lost again), that being the only MS. extant to which he could have access. The only other MS. which may be ascribed to the fourteenth century is one in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (generally known as O). Although these are our best authorities, yet both contain variae lectiones, and are often wrong. Some dozen other MSS. date from 1411 to 1463 A.D.—the first printed edition was published 1472 A.D.-but all are obscured by corrections, interpolated, and full of errors. are many, still less valuable, of later date.

There

Even the agreement of Catullus' best MSS.1 is not enough to establish a doubtful reading. Many necessary corrections were made by the early Italian scholars, and much too has been done by scholars of the present century, whose attentions have at least atoned for the neglect of the previous hundred years. Many passages still admit conjecture, which, however, in recent editions has been perhaps too largely employed. The old maxim, indeed, that an emendation 'must account for every letter,' cannot fairly be applied in the present state of our manuscript evidence; and perhaps the ipsis

1Even in these words are wrongly divided; syllables are wrongly doubled or not doubled; there are mutilations or confusing contractions of the ends of words; proper names are constantly corrupted; and among commoner interchanges of letters we find confounded a-co, a-e, a—ei, c—r, c—s—SC, c—t, d—cl, d—p, e—o, i—-y, 1—n—u, li—ll, n—ni—m, n—r, m-s final, p-t, r—t—rt—tr, c—i, t—s final.

sima verba of Catullus are in some cases very different from the mutilated presentations of the extant codices. But it would be inadvisable to admit into a text even attractive readings which differ widely from those of our best, if still inadequate, authorities. The following text will be found to adhere (except in undoubted corrections) to the best MSS.; which have been made accessible by recent and most valuable apparatus critici, especially that of ELLIS.

In spelling, all peculiarities have been avoided. These occur largely in the extant MSS., and some of them may have been derived from early MSS., but the probability is infinitely remote that they are Catullian. For the purposes of the present edition, their retention would be worse than useless. The use of j and v for the consonantal i and u may be pardoned on the score of convenience.

« ForrigeFortsæt »