Salve to both of my new friends...

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Salve to both of my new friends...

Postby Helena on Wed Jun 04, 2003 11:19 pm

Hellenos and Draco,
Thanks for your interest in my topic on Cicero and his approaches to friendship within the Roman political arena. True enough, friendship for the boni appears to be limited to opportunistic ties with peers (amicitia) and long lists of clientia, all owing the great benefactor something so that he could call in his debts when necessary.

So far as Cicero is concerned, one of my sources (R. J. Rowland) was able to trace 95 people and some few organizations which he considered to be his necessarii. If we didn't have his voluminous personal letters of course, we wouldn't know all this. He is interesting because his life is so well documented, leaving us with an impression of great egoism and tremendous energy. From my readings, he had extremely superficial relationships with most of his political "friends". They were in constant competion or were viewed as tools, whereas with Atticus, an Equestrian businessman, perhaps Cicero was more himself. In my opinion, especially where politics were concerned, Cicero did not shine. The Catalarian affair was a fiasco for which he paid a large political debt.
If he didn't destroy the Republic, his personal feud with Antonius, certainly hassened the end.This is my area of close focus and I find his manipulation of Plancus in the name of friendshipquite shabby. His writings are still respected although most of his philosophical opinions were Greek concepts spun with Roman stoicsm, not terrribly original.

He was extremelyself-contradictory and I have a pet theory that his mental health was a cause of his instability as well as his amazing energy and intelligence. Bi-polar anyone?
Sorry this is lengthy, I will gladly read the trial of C. in the archives.
Helena
 

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed Jun 04, 2003 11:30 pm

Salve Helena,

Interesting theory about Cicero. I'm not sure if he would be bipolar but then again I'm not an expert. There are many politicians who contradict themselves without being psychotic.

OTOH the thought frequently crossed my mind that the poet Catullus might have suffered from bipolar or even borderline disorder.

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Thu Jun 05, 2003 12:23 am

Salve Draco,

A professor at our university who has specialized in Catullus (and even more specific in carmen VIII - oooh the number of times we had to read carmen VIII in this or that way....;-)) has a theory about him as well. In a most Freudian way it was his love for Lesbia that depressed him more and more over time. In his carmina you can see that he was obsessed with the thought of Lesbia having someone else, that there would be a third party involved.

This is where Freud comes in, remember his famous triangle : mother - son - father ? It's a losing battle every son is supposed to wage upon his father until he finally leaves home, settles down and finds his very own wife (according to some, this wife would have to remind him of his mother but that's another issue).

(I'm also aware that this entire theory isn't very women-friendly, but if some of the ladies here want to throw stuff at someone, aim for an imaginary Freud and not for an imaginary Lupus ! ;-))

In the case of Catullus this triangle would never have resolved itself and he couldn't just settle down like everyone else. As a result, he then produced his very own triangle, recreating the situation of his youth, and thus introducing a third party in his relationship with Lesbia. This third party never gets a name, never becomes a solid person, but is always around, as if Catullus constantely had to fight him.

A side-effect of the whole issue was that Catullus felt he was the passive person in the relationship, whereas he should dominate Lesbia and not the other way around. The perfect example is of course carmen VIII in which his doubts about who is in command are expressed (but perhaps more on that later, this is getting a lot longer than I had anticipated). Considering this is around the first century BC and we're in Rome, it's not hard to understand that Catullus took it rather bad that he was dominated by a woman, even though he loved her. Add the fear of losing his beloved Lesbia to someone he can't even name and we have a Catullus on the road to depression.

A lot can be said for this theory and a lot can probably be brought in against it as well, but it's a way of looking at it that I hadn't considered before and I wanted to share it with you ;-)

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Jun 05, 2003 10:04 am

Salvete!

As some may have noticed :), I moved the topic here.

Will comment on Catullus later.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon Jun 09, 2003 11:09 am

Salve Lupe,

Marcus Pomponius Lupus wrote:Salve Draco,

A professor at our university who has specialized in Catullus (and even more specific in carmen VIII - oooh the number of times we had to read carmen VIII in this or that way....;-)) has a theory about him as well. In a most Freudian way it was his love for Lesbia that depressed him more and more over time. In his carmina you can see that he was obsessed with the thought of Lesbia having someone else, that there would be a third party involved.

This is where Freud comes in, remember his famous triangle : mother - son - father ? It's a losing battle every son is supposed to wage upon his father until he finally leaves home, settles down and finds his very own wife (according to some, this wife would have to remind him of his mother but that's another issue).

(I'm also aware that this entire theory isn't very women-friendly, but if some of the ladies here want to throw stuff at someone, aim for an imaginary Freud and not for an imaginary Lupus ! ;-))

In the case of Catullus this triangle would never have resolved itself and he couldn't just settle down like everyone else. As a result, he then produced his very own triangle, recreating the situation of his youth, and thus introducing a third party in his relationship with Lesbia. This third party never gets a name, never becomes a solid person, but is always around, as if Catullus constantely had to fight him.

A side-effect of the whole issue was that Catullus felt he was the passive person in the relationship, whereas he should dominate Lesbia and not the other way around. The perfect example is of course carmen VIII in which his doubts about who is in command are expressed (but perhaps more on that later, this is getting a lot longer than I had anticipated). Considering this is around the first century BC and we're in Rome, it's not hard to understand that Catullus took it rather bad that he was dominated by a woman, even though he loved her. Add the fear of losing his beloved Lesbia to someone he can't even name and we have a Catullus on the road to depression.

A lot can be said for this theory and a lot can probably be brought in against it as well, but it's a way of looking at it that I hadn't considered before and I wanted to share it with you ;-)


An imaginary third party? I don't consider it impossible but I do consider it unlikely. If boy/girlfriends or spouses have their doubts about their partners in terms of fidelity they usually have names or situations in their head. I've never heard of a man or a woman who was jealous of an invisible, unknown person.

Of course the idea that your partner might cheat on you could become an obsession or an unhealthy thought, but still, would that be a freudian consequence? It could be an overextended urge to always be control over situations as well, perhaps related to earlier situations of powerlessness (being pestered, mentally or physically abused, etc etc).

As much as Atticus always considers me a Freudian, I'm really not sure if I go along with this theory! ;)

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Mon Jun 09, 2003 1:52 pm

Salve Draco,

scripsisti:

An imaginary third party? I don't consider it impossible but I do consider it unlikely. If boy/girlfriends or spouses have their doubts about their partners in terms of fidelity they usually have names or situations in their head. I've never heard of a man or a woman who was jealous of an invisible, unknown person.


Really ? I think this type of situation happens all the time. When you have a name and when your "opponent" gets a face, then you just know, no need to be in doubt anymore, there IS a third party in that case (unless you're a Moor in the Venetian army and you have a friend named Iago ;-)).

It's not that hard to picture a person in doubt of his/her partner's fidelity, I think everyone has doubts about that at one point. So if this person is in doubt, but there IS no third party, then this third party can't have a name of course. If you persist in doubting, then this can turn into an obsession.

This is what could have happened to Catullus, he was the passive person already, Lesbia was just leading him on, toying with him and eventually he came to believe that she was seeing someone else as well. He didn't know who (Keep in mind that they didn't live together, they were separated for a lot of time and every second that Catullus couldn't see Lesbia, she could have been with someone else according to him) and this frustrated him even more.

An imaginary enemy, one that only exists in your mind is the hardest opponent, one that you can never beat until you simply understand that he doesn't exist. Catullus couldn't understand. So imagine this young Roman poet, already despised by the literary "establishment", madly in love with a woman who dominated the relationship and who made him believe that she was seeing other men as well (which of course she may have)....I'd say that's about enough to make a person depressed.

Of course the idea that your partner might cheat on you could become an obsession or an unhealthy thought, but still, would that be a freudian consequence?


I'm pretty much convinced by this image of Catullus, especially since his poetry backs everything up. The question is of course if you believe Freud's theory to be correct (and if so that it is the stimulus of Catullus' emotions an deeds) or not. But you can't denie that Freud made a brave (if women-unfriendly) attempt to explain why we feel like this or that. Many Catullus reviews will state that "Catullus was depressed because of a failing relationship", but very few will try to explain why Catullus couldn't give up the idea of a third party and why this keeps coming back in his poetry. And Freud's triangle is still the best suitable theory.

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