Catullus, 30.4-6

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huilen
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Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by huilen » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:11 am

Hello!

I started this week reading Trappes-Lomax, Catullus: A textual reappraisal, and I got obsessed with this passage from c. 30:
iam me prodere, iam non dubitas fallere, perfide?
nec facta impia fallacum hominum caelicolis placent,
quae tu neglegis et me miserum deseris in malis. 5
eheu quid faciant, dic, homines cuive habeant fidem?
The first problem that editors find is that nec makes little sense here, for it is expected to be balanced with another nec.

The second problem is that quae hasn't a natural antecedent.

Ellis have posited a lacuna before 4, to explain both the missing nec and the antecedent of quae.

Trappes-Lomax resolves it another way:
iam me prodere, iam non dubitas fallere, perfide?
num facta impia fallacum hominum caelicolas latent?
quos tu neglegis et me miserum deseris in malis.
...
So, he emends nec with num, and quae with quos. (Also he emends placent with latent, because he says that otherwise the verse would be redundant).

Well, that's a summary, but there are some questions that arose to me, and I'd like to ask your opinion.

First of all, I don't feel bad with facta impia as the antecedent of quae. I wonder why commentaries make so much fuss about that. I just read: "gods don't like evil deeds, which [evil deeds] you make light of", where neglegere would mean to consider meaningless, unimportant. Do you see any problem with this reading?

Secondly, regarding the problem with nec, I had this crazy idea:
iam me prodere, iam non dubitas fallere, perfide?
nec facta impia fallacum hominum caelicolis placent
quae tu neglegis nec ut miserum deseras in malis.
...
"gods don't like evil deeds, which you make light of, nor that you abandon someone to his misery"

(There would be a variatio in the syntax of the sentence governed by placere: inf./acc. ~ ut + subj.)

Is anything wrong with this conjecture? Does it make sense for you? (I mean, metrically and grammatically speaking, and considering also the style of the author). In that case, is there any way to justify, from a textual point of view, the corruption of et me into nec ut?

In case you find it ridiculous, could you explain why? I'm a beginner in textual criticism, and I'd appreciate as well your ruthless sincerity. I consulted Ellis, Mynors and Eisenhut editions, and there is agreement among the manuscripts in this passage, does it mean that I should better refrain from conjecturing here?

Regards.

Hylander
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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by Hylander » Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:49 am

Your conjecture doesn't fit the meter.

The meter is the so-called "Greater Asclepiadean", which is a very strict meter, with no substitutions of shorts for longs or vice versa:

_ _ | _ υ υ _ | _ υ υ _ | _ υ υ _ | υ υ.

Your proposed emendation quae tu neglegis nec ut miserum deseras in malis:

_ _ | _ υ _ υ | _ υ υ _ | _ υ _ _ | υ υ.

The choriambs are strictly _ υ υ _. The sequence of three choriambs are what gives this meter its character. Here it conveys the poet's anger. [Note: I corrected "choliambs" to "choriambs". Sorry about the mistake in the unedited version.]

I think your explanation for quae is probably the best possible if the text is left unchanged, but I suspect something is not quite right with the text, though I don't have a solution to propose. Obviously Ellis and Trappes-Lomax think something is wrong, too. Some sense can be made from the unaltered text, but something doesn't quite feel right, for the reasons you mention.

Trappes-Lomax's conjecture is ingenious, though for me it feels too much like he's tinkering with the text to make it come out right. num for nec is a 19th c. conjecture, which some editors adopt, but latent for placent seems unnecessary.

According to Mynors' critical notes, a Renaissance ms. has non for nec (probably a conjecture), and L. Mueller has conjectured quod for quae. Together, non and quod would resolve the difficulties.

With all of these conjectures, however, it seems difficult to explain how the text was corrupted, because they require going from a text that is quite straightforward to one that is difficult (the reverse process is usually more likely, whence the difficilior lectio potior rule of thumb). However, the text of Catullus is generally not in good shape.

In cases like this, I think, the better course is to accept one's uneasiness with the transmitted text, note the suggestions that have been made to resolve the difficulties with a certain amount of skepticism, and move on. Here the sequence of ideas is clear, even if the text seems a little uncomfortable.

huilen
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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by huilen » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:38 am

D'oh! You are right with the meter, I wonder if I can still replace nec with necque, so with the elision I get two longs, necque ut, just as the transmitted et me. What do you think? :P

Thanks for your research and explanation. And yeah, I agree with you, here the sequence of ideas is quite clear, and I should move on.

EDIT: forget about that, I see now it doesn't scan neglegis necque, :lol:

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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by Hylander » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:47 am

The first syllable of neque (not necque) is short, and that still leaves the last syllable of neglegis "long by position," where it needs to be short.
Last edited by Hylander on Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

huilen
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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by huilen » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:50 am

You are right :mrgreen:

Hylander
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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by Hylander » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:56 am

The demands of this meter make it very difficult in Latin, and it has been suggested that the awkward text may be due in part to Catullus' own struggle with it. It's his only poem in this meter, an experiment.

The most famous Latin poem in this meter is Horace's carpe diem poem, Tu ne quaesieris, Leuconoe, quid mihi, quid tibi . . . , which is perfectly smooth and gives no sense that Horace is struggling with the meter. In that poem, the Greater Asclepiadean meter, for me at least, conveys the feeling of time rushing past.

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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by mwh » Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:21 pm

The text of Catullus is a mess, deriving as it does from a single very corrupt late antique or early medieval manuscript now lost. It’s highly unlikely that you or I will be able to hit on the true reading in a text that has been so thoroughly worked on by so many first-rate scholars. But that needn’t prevent us from trying.

Trappes-Lomax’s attempt seems very attractive to me, but it doesn’t stand much chance of being right. This is one of a multitude of places where certainty is unattainable. As Hylander says, Catullus is experimenting with a challenging meter. He’s much more at home with the shorter Lesbian meters, but there too pervasive textual corruption makes for no end of problems.

One of the specimen passages in M.L. West’s Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique is from Catullus 61. He gives the text of 199-203 in its transmitted form. You could have a go at amending it, and see how close you get to the accepted text. I discovered I am "brilliant"—or would be if I hadn't read the poem before.

The best text may be George Goold’s. It’s certainly much better than Mynors’. As for Ellis, A.E. Housman notoriously said that he had the intellect of an idiot child.

huilen
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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by huilen » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:14 pm

mwh wrote:The best text may be George Goold’s. It’s certainly much better than Mynors’. As for Ellis, A.E. Housman notoriously said that he had the intellect of an idiot child.
:lol: I've recently read Stephen Harrison's article The need for a new text of Catullus, which gives the "state of art" in Catullus editions, and he agrees with you that Goold's is the best, though he adds:
The only (mild) complaint I have about Goold's text is his
practice of putting his own Latin verses in the text whenever the manuscripts have a
lacuna : this of course useful in that it shows what the editor thought might have stood
in the lacuna, but it is a little distracting for the reader. It should also be said that his
text does not provide a full apparatus criticus, only a section of critical notes
indicating departure from the usual text. What we need is a text like Goold's with a
full and effective apparatus.
His general conclusion is that all editors except for Goold are too conservative.

Thanks both for the suggestions, I'll look for West's book, and also take a look again to the meter at Horace's 1.11 ode.

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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by Hylander » Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:45 am

Goold's text is the Loeb edition, with English translation. These typically have rather thin critical notes. I think Trappes-Lomax is probably the most radical editor of Catullus. He goes too far, in my judgment, in substituting what he thinks Catullus should have written for standard texts based on the ms. tradition. latent for placent is an example. How can we possibly know that Catullus wrote latent when the ms. tradition gives us placent?

Again, in texts like Catullus', I think the best course is often to be aware of multiple possibilities without necessarily committing ourselves to any of them. And, as mwh notes, legions of scholars who knew Latin and Catullus better than any of us, and were smarter, too, have worked over the text since the Renaissance, so it's very unlikely that we will come up with a compelling conjecture that hasn't already been suggested and for one reason or another rejected. Incidentally, some of them who worked from the original manuscript found under a bushel in Verona in the 14th century and prepared the texts that serve as our source for Catullus may have done more damage than good.

For the most part, however, we can be thankful that we can read and understand and enjoy Catullus despite the textual speed bumps.

I had several very stimulating courses with Goold when I was an undergraduate. He was one of the very best teachers in my undergraduate career, and very accessible to students, even lowly undergrads. Some of his suggestions are penciled in to my copy of Mynors' edition. (I didn't go on to graduate school.)

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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by mwh » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:26 am

How can we possibly know that Catullus wrote latent when the ms. tradition gives us placent?

We can’t. I did say it doesn’t stand much chance of being right. That’s in the nature of the case. But it’s possible, and that’s more than can be said of many conjectures, and more than can be said of much of the text as transmitted. T-L's suggestions are indeed radical, but they’re intelligent and stimulating, and few of them can be shown to be wrong.

I very much agree that “the best course is often to be aware of multiple possibilities without necessarily committing ourselves to any of them.” But I wouldn’t say that T-L "substitut[es] what he thinks Catullus should have written.” He argues for what he thinks Catullus did in fact write. And latent is reasonably close to the ms tradition, after all.

My main objection to T-L is that he doesn’t allow Catullus to be less than perfect.

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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by Hylander » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:47 pm

After looking at this again, I have to admit that caelicolas latent for caelicolis placent is more attractive than I originally thought, and I'm not even sure that it can't be right. It meshes better with line 11. According to OLD, the transitive use of placeo is found not just in Vergil (who is of course notorious for finding new ways to use old words), but already in prose in Varro, roughly contemporary to Catullus. I don't think that the conjecture is strictly necessary -- the line makes sense without the change -- but in a text as corrupt as Catullus . . .

I'm in a state of suspended judgment.

Also, I think num for nec, changing the line to a question, has a good chance of being right.

In the next line, quod or quos for quae is also attractive.

huilen
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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by huilen » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:13 pm

Hylander wrote: After looking at this again, I have to admit that caelicolas latent for caelicolis placent is more attractive than I originally thought, and I'm not even sure that it can't be right. It meshes better with line 11.
Yeah, and latent seems more proper with pagan gods (he actually says that a Christian scribe would naturally have emended to caelicolis placent, used to the idea of a God being pleased or displeased with with human actions, but that's maybe too much speculation :lol:). It is also there the parallel with Verg. A. 1.130 nec latuere doli fratrem Iunonis et irae.

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Re: Catullus, 30.4-6

Post by Hylander » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:09 pm

The Vergilian parallel on hiding misdeeds (in this case of a goddess) from a god is apt, but as I mentioned, it's also noteworthy that the transitive use of lateo is found in prose in Varro before Vergil and therefore isn't a Vergilian innovation because Vergil is famous for using common words in new ways (that's what Servius says, correctly).

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