Carmen 31 – Oost west, thuis best

Latijnse tekst


Sirmio, oogappel van de schiereilanden en eilanden, die in heldere meren en op de uitgestrekte zee beide Neptunussen dragen, hoe graag bezoek ik jou en hoe blij, terwijl ikzelf nauwelijks kan geloven dat ik Thunië en de Bithynische velden heb achtergelaten en jou in veiligheid zie. O, wat is er gelukkiger dan dat zorgen weggenomen zijn, wanneer de geest de last neerlegt, en wij, door buitenlandse arbeid vermoeid, aankomen bij onze huiselijke aard, en ons te rusten leggen op het bed, waarnaar zo verlangd is? Dit is wat op zichzelf opweegt tegen zo’n grote inspanningen. Gegroet, oh liefelijk Sirmio, en wees blij, omdat de meester blij is, en jullie, Lydische golven van het meer, lacht (of: jullie moeten lachten) al wat er thuis aan gelach is.

On Sirmio, see glossary S. V. and also the notes to poem 4. This famous and charming
poem has produced some surprisingly costive annotation, which present readers
are spared. At first sight it might seem odd for so happy a theme to be treated
in grumping choliambics (cf. introd. p. 33); Llewellyn Morgan (PCPhS 46 (2000)99ff.) suggests that Catullus may have been trying to suggest the footsore weariness
of the homecoming traveller.
2-3 Catullus is simply making a distinction between fresh and salt water deities.
5-6 Another allusion to Catullus's return home from service on the governor's staff in
Bithynia (q.v.); the poem must thus be dated not earlier than spring 56.
13 Few commentators can be bothered to explain why the lake's waves are regarded
as Lydian: it is because the local Etruscans were believed to have immigrated from
that part of Asia Minor (Livy 5-33, Tac. Ann. 4.55; cf. Godwin 1999, 148).

Carm 4: Unlike some modern scholars, I am inclined to accept the thesis (first proposed by
Ellis) that Catullus himself is the master (erus) at Sirmio, and that the cutter or
yacht is the one in which he sailed home in 56, after service in Bithynia, through
the Hellespont, across the Aegean, up the Adriatic, and thence by way of the Po
and the Mincio to the Lago di Garda (Fordyce 1961, 97-98). This would date the
poem to spring 56 or later. Gordon Williams (1968, 190-94) suggests that what is
bei~g shown off here is a commemorative fresco of the cutter, an attractive idea,
but pure speculation. The cutter itself is represented as providing the poet with
his information, and comes across (Quinn 1970, 101) as an "old garrulous slave ...
proud of a successful career of faithful service." (For another instance of a talkative
domestic appurtenance, see 67 and note.) The poem was neatly parodied in
one of the minor works ascribed to Virgil (Cat. 10), describing the activities of a
muleteer called Sabinus.