Carmen 93 – Voor Caesar



Jouw 'gunsten', Caesar, laten mij
al even koud als de vraag
of je een man bent of een vrouw

Julius Caesar was volgens de biograaf Suetonius erg ontdaan door dit gedicht


Compare 29 and 57. We do not know the occasion of this coolly insulting couplet,
the brevity of which hints eloquently at Catullus's degree of disregard for his
addressee, but it does look like the response to some kind of overture, and thus
probably not the famous occasion (Suet. Div. Jul. 73) on which Catullus apologized
to the great man and was promptly invited to dinner. Earlier or later? Hard
to tell. The black-and-white metaphor is impossible to translate in a way that holds
all its implications: (i) that Catullus doesn't care to know Caesar at all; (ii) that he
is indifferent to Caesar's moods, be they sunny or stormy; (iii) that he has no interest
(Thomson I997, )24) in Caesar's sexual preferences, Greek leulros (white)
indicating homosexuality, and melas (black) manly virility (cf. Aristoph. Thesm.
30-35, I9 I). As Skinner says (2003, lIO), "the barbed couplet was aready and valuable
counter of political exchange in the late republican period."





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