Monday, January 10, 2005

Ausonius and Catullus

of the panels of which i attended at least a part, the one on late antiquity was the most interesting to me. the papers read included bret mulligan's aforementioned 'epistolarity in claudian's carmina minora'; 'constantius II and eusebius' constantine', given by david potter; 'eusebius' chronological tables and the invention of Christian history in late antiquity'; scott mcgill's 'ausonius and recitation'; and joseph pucci's 'catullan extremism in fortunatus' poem to agnes'.

but there's something that's been bothering me since then that i am glad to be able to report on. after joseph pucci's talk, there was some dispute over, if i understood correctly, the availability of catullus to late antique authors. i was almost certain that i had seen direct reference to catullus in ausonius, and, now back at home, i submit that there are at least two quotations in ausonius of catullus 1. the first is in Praefationes Variae 4 Green ('G' hereafter) (one of only two surviving ausonius passages in hendecasyllables; the other is Ep.13G.82-104). here are ll.1-9, which, in addition to the direct quotation, contain a number of other allusions to catullus 1 and to catullus himself (italicized, and cf. the use of ineptiae elsewhere in catullus):

'Cui dono lepidum novum libellum?'Veronensis ait poeta quondam
inventoque dedit statim Nepoti.
at nos illepidum rudem libellum,
burras quisquilias ineptiasque,
credimus gremio cui fovendum?
inveni--trepidae silete nugae--
nec doctum minus et magnis benignum
quam quem Gallia praebuit Catullo.

the other quotation of catullus 1 is found in the preface of the Griphus Ternarii Numeri, addressed to Symmachus:

dein cogitans mecum, non illud Catullianum 'cui dono lepidum novum libellum', sed amousoteron [sorry, no greek] et verius 'cui dono illepidum, rudem libellum', non diu quaesivi... .


dennis said...

Don't forget the clear references to Catullus 68a and 68b in the exchange between Ausonius and Paulinus which not only shows deep familiarity with the text but that they read these as one poem, and not two. Ausonius' 'nec possum reticere' (21.47, cf. Cat. 68.41, 'non possum reticere') is the catalyst for Paulinus' extended use of the allusion.

Aside from their own particular worth, I think late antique authors may be used effectively with an eye toward editing classical texts, and this exchange is a promising one.

eric said...

yes, those are allusions that can be argued for, and i find those arguments convincing. i was just looking for something indisputable; in the passages cited, ausonius quotes whole lines and directly references catullus by name, so it seems fairly clear, especially when taken with the allusions to catullus 68a and 68b, that ausonius was familiar with at least parts of catullus.