Siqua recordanti benefacta priora voluptas
est homini, cum se cogitat esse pium,
nec sanctam violasse fidem, nec foedere nullo
divum ad fallendos numine abusum homines,
multa parata manent in longa aetate, Catulle,
ex hoc ingrato gaudia amore tibi.
nam quaecumque homines bene cuiquam aut dicere possunt
aut facere, haec a te dictaque factaque sunt.
omnia quae ingratae perierunt credita menti.
quare iam te cur amplius excrucies?
quin tu animo offirmas atque istinc teque reducis,
et dis invitis desinis esse miser? Catullus 76
esse quid hoc dicam, quod tam mihi dura videntur
strata, neque in lecto pallia nostra sedent,
et vacuus somno noctem, quam longa, peregi,
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From the outset, Catullus aims to emphasise the fides of love as a sincere and significant tradition. In the first segment, he achieves this by firstly setting up a patriarchal and religious framework for the treaty of love. He asserts that he has been pious, ‘cum se cogitate esse pium’, and that he has not violated the symbolically sacred pact between elegiac lovers, ‘nec sanctum violasse fidem, nec foedere nullo’. Furthermore, he likens the elegiac love to the honour amongst men, reminiscent of ‘pater ut gnatos’ in Carmen 72. The polyptoton of ‘dicere’ and ‘facere’ with their respective past participles ‘dictaque’ and ‘factaque’ indicates the completion of his duties as a man, but more symbolically as a lover. Ultimately, Catullus aims to genuinely portray his passionate love to a skeptical Roman society by framing it as something already respectable in the period.
Ovid sets out in Amores 1.2 to explore the servitium of love, a traditional subject in love elegy, albeit in a detached and perverse manner. The reader is somewhat deceived in the opening, as Ovid cleverly imitates a somber tone, using the chiastic ‘lassaque versati corporis ossa dolent’ to portray his anguish as a lover and also a victim of Cupid. This is continued in a manner of Catullan philological contemplation, ‘an subitum…ignem?’, using a fire imagery seen often in Catullus’s own poetry. However, all of this elaborate disguise is turned on its head, with the exclaimed polyptoton ‘cedamus!’, a iussive subjunctive placed emphatically below the uncertain ‘cedimus…?’ of the previous line. Immediately, Ovid’s style shines through, offering us a favourite sententia of his, ‘leve fit…’ with the hyperbaton of ‘onus’(the burden of love), placing further emphasis on the true intention of this poem: surrendering to love is ultimately more beneficial. Therefore, we see that while Catullus genuinely explores the implications of fides, Ovid comically inverts the struggles of servitium, disregarding society’s contempt.
On the other hand, Catullus displays his bitterness towards ungrateful love ‘‘ingratae…amore’, a testament to the genuine emotion behind his poetry. His claim to self-righteousness as a citizen and fides as an elegiac lover is quickly converted to self-pity for his situation. The predominance of spondaic, heavy rhythm in this poem reflects his deep, sorrowful emotion, struggling to overcome the strain of love. Additionally, at the end of line 5, he...