What is the name of a ten line poem

Carmen 1 - Catullus' dedication and program poem


1 Introduction

2 analysis and interpretation of carmen 1
2.1 Translation, structure and paraphrase
2.2 Critical comments on the text
2.3 Interpretation
2.3.1 Playing with outside and inside
2.3.2 Catullus's relationship with Cornelius Nepos

3 Summary


1 Introduction

The aim of the following work is to analyze and interpret Catullus' dedication poem in detail. The starting point of this consideration must also and precisely be the first position of the poem in the overall corpus; because the assumption that at the beginning of a collection of poems a look at the following work is taken, but also fundamentally the essence of one's own poetry is defined, is obvious. The much-discussed question in research as to whether the author himself or a later editor is the author of the book of poems available to us today and carmen 1 originally only preceded a smaller collection of poems,[1] should be left out in this work.

After an outline with a brief recapitulation of the content and some text-critical comments, the center of which is the controversial 9th ​​verse, the interpretative part develops the following thesis: Catullus' dedication poem contains the 2 levels of outside and inside, of surface and content. But only a look at the second, deeper level reveals the poet's intention. By placing himself in the tradition of Alexandrian poetry in the style of Callimachus on the one hand and flashing his preference for ironic jokes towards others like himself on the other hand, he makes carmen 1 a thoroughly programmatic poem.

2 analysis and interpretation of carmen 1

2.1 Translation, structure and paraphrase

At the beginning of the comprehensive examination of Catullus' dedication poem, a translation[2] stand; the results of the interpretation in the main part have already flowed into this[3] of the work.

Whom should I give my dainty new booklet to,

that has just been smoothed with fresh pumice stone?

You, Cornelius! Because you always held

some of my gadgets

back when you were the only one of the Italians who dared

to deal with every century in three books,

in learned, with the Juppiter, and laborious.

So take whatever kind of book it is

whatever it is; o Protector Muse,

let it last forever for more than a century!

Catullus' ten-line dedication poem in Hendekasyllaben shows the following structure: In the first part (v. 1f.) A question is raised, which is answered in the second section (v. 3-9a); the poem closes with a call to the muses (vv. 9b-10).

In the first two verses of the poem, Catullus asks himself in literary form who he was recently (modo, V. 2) finished booklet (libellum; V.1) and immediately finds an answer (v. 3-9a): It should be Cornelius Nepos, whereby this distinguishes two things. Once he was Catullus and his poetry for a long time (iam tum; V. 5), on the other hand he had as unus Italorum (V. 5) encompassing historical events (omne aevum; V. 6) recorded in literary terms and thereby created a work that is characterized by learning and effort (cartis / doctis […] et laboriosis; V. 6f.) Testifies.

Finally, Catullus ends with a call to the muses, in which he confirms the existence of more than a century (plus uno maneat perenne saeclo; V. 10) asks.

2.2 Critical comments on the text

On the basis of Mynors' Edition, the transmission situation can be described as unproblematic with one important exception.

That pumex with masculine gender in archetype V with the attribute arido is connected, in a commentary by Servius[4] however, as a feminine arida, is a phenomenon that can also be found in Latin literature with other nouns.[5]

Verse 9, on the other hand, is much more difficult. On the one hand the verse is purely formally corrupt, since it consists of only 10 syllables in V, on the other hand there is an abrupt change in the addressed person, away from Nepos to patrona virgo, therefore to the muse, which, however, is not specified.

In order to correct the verse metrically, all that is required is a small intervention in the text: by adding the interjection O, a conjecture based on a more recent codex, the corrupted spot can be healed, but that of Fordyce remains[6] change of addressee perceived as inconsistent. And so there are various approaches in research to conjugate this passage in such a way that Nepos himself becomes the patron: However, Bergk's suggestion is effective[7] and to an even greater extent Radke's conjecture[8] radically into the text where this does not seem necessary.

Because there are enough clues that justify the turn to the muse. For one thing, in Roman literature, the person to whom a poem or a whole book is dedicated does not necessarily have to be a patron; the relationship between the poet and the addressee was of a very diverse nature.[9] In addition, the name of the muse arises as patrona quite the typical Roman imagination[10] and fits into the previous tone of the poem, since the muse is not conjured up in the highest pathos, but rather, as it were, placed profanely on the ground of the Roman clientele[11]. Moreover, with the request for a long life for his poems, Catullus corresponds in structure and content to the introductory poem of his literary model Callimachus.[12] Just as he asks the muse for immortality for his work in the Aitien prologue and immediately breaks through this solemn topos, so by quoting this Catullus clearly places himself in the tradition of Alexandrian poetry in the style of Callimachus and in Carmen 1 he drafts what will be shown in more detail will be, his literary program.

As shown, the corrupt verse 9 can be reduced by adding the O restore satisfactory form and content; To eradicate the apparently unmotivated change of the addressed person through immense interventions in the text seems inappropriate.


[1] See in detail: Schmidt, E.A .: Catullus. Heidelberg 1985, pp. 29-33; Syndic, H.P .: Catullus. An interpretation. First part: The little poems (1-60). Special edition 2001 with a bibliographical addendum in Part III. Darmstadt 2001, pp. 52-62.

[2] The translation and all of the following original quotations are based on: C. Valerii Catulli carmina rec. R.A.B. Mynors, Oxford 1958.

[3] See 2.3.

[4] Mynors (1958), ad I, 2.

[5] Fordyce, C. J .: Catullus. A commentary. Oxford 1961, ad 1, 2. The variation of the gender can be found at, among others finis, cinis and cortex.

[6] Fordyce (1961), ad 1.9.

[7] Ibid. Fordyce favors Bergk's conjecture: qualecumque quidem est, patroni ut ergo.

[8] Radke, A.E .: Text-critical comments on Catullus. In: Hermes 1995, 123, 2, pp. 253f. Here: p. 253. For Radke, calling the muses is “too medieval”; she traces it back to the Christian worldview of the medieval writers and tries to reconstruct verses 9 and 10 as follows: quod, o cartridge, circo / plus uno maneat proinde saecli.

[9] Williams, G .: Tradition and Originality in Roman Poetry. Oxford 1968, p. 45. Often it was a question of father and son, teacher and pupil, or even two amici.

[10] Fordyce (1961), ad 1.9.

[11] Syndic (2001), p. 78.

[12] Ibid.

End of the excerpt from 11 pages