Carmen 49 – Voor Cicero


Catullus Carmen 49. 
Meest welsprekende van Romulus' kleinzoons, 
hoevelen er zijn en hoevelen er waren, Marcus Tullius, 
en hoevelen er later zullen zijn in andere jaren, 
Catullus betuigt jou grootste dank, 
de slechtste dichter van allen, 
zozeer de slechtste dichter van allen, 
als jij de beste pleiter van allen bent. 
Disertus: welsprekend. 
Nepos, - otis: kleinzoon, nakomeling, spruit. 
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 - 43), Romeins politicus en redenaar. Zijn redevoeringen werden zo goed geacht dat al zijn redevoeringen in tegenstelling tot die van zijn tijdgenoten zijn overgeleverd. Zijn redevoeringen staan hier en daar bol van de superlatieven. Let er eens op hoeveel superlatieven Catullus in dit gedicht gebruikt! Speciaal voor de grote redenaar Cicero! 
Post: (hier gebruikt als adverbium) later. 
Aliis in annis: één woordgroep! 
Tanto..., quanto ...: evenzo ...., als ... . 
Patronus: beschermheer, pleiter, redenaar, advocaat. 


This little poem has occasioned much speculation, in the first place because of its
famous addressee, but perhaps even more on account of its oddly elusive and ironic
tone (Svavarsson 1999, I3Iff.). What was the occasion? And what, in fact, was Catullus
thanking Cicero for? As Quinn points out (1999,233-34), when Cicero returned
from exile in September 57 Catullus was away in Bithynia, and in fact only
returned to Rome in the spring of 56-just about the time (April) of Cicero's defense
of Catullus's rival in love, M. Caelius Rufus, with its unforgettable, and lethal,
attack on Clodia Metelli. It is highly unlikely that this poem does not, in some sense,
represent payback time.

Thomson (1997, 322-23, recapitulating an earlier article) neatly suggests that
Cicero has sent Catullus one of his own poems, and that Catullus is saying, in effect,
I may be a bad poet, but at least I am a poet; you're a distinguished lawyer, but a
poet you're not. (Cicero seems to have been both vain and touchy about his attempts
at poetry, whiclr, to judge by the line Juvenal cites at 10.122, were excruciatingly
bad). The last line also contains a nice ambiguity in omnium patronus, which
could be taken as "everybody's lawyer" -a nice crack at his habit of successively
defending and prosecuting the same man (e.g., Vatinius; see Quinn I970, 23;), as
clranging circumstances and his own benefit required.



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