Catullus 68 has for generations been the site of hard-fought and inconclusive philological battles. This, it may be confidently predicted, will continue to be the case. The present contribution, therefore, can pretend to no more elaborate aim than the opening up of certain new fronts. It falls into two parts of unequal length: first (I) some general observations on the contents of the poem — or poems, for the Einheitsfrage cannot be evaded — and the underlying theme(s) thereof; second (II) a detailed examination of the source (A) and significance (B) of perhaps the most remarkable passage in an altogether remarkable piece of work, to wit the barathrum simile (107 ff.). The argument of I has, the reader will observe, a not inconsiderable bearing on that of IIB, though it is in no way dependent on the latter's acceptability. The argument of IIA, to the contrary, has no necessary link with those of I and IIB and may profitably (and justly) be judged by itself.
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