Notes to Catullus, Carmina 27

minister, -ri m.
attendant, servant; in apposition to puer (= slave).

vetulus, -a, -um
good old, ageing. The diminutive form is affectionate, age being a benefit for wine. Note the central placement of the opposites vetuli and puer and the interlocking word order.

Falernus, -a, -um
Falernian. Understand vini. Since Falernian wine (northern Campania) was considered the leading Italian wine, it is a mark of the host's wealth. Scan the line, noting the assonance (repetition of syllables), ictus and rhyme in minister, puer, and Falerni, continued by inger in the next line.

ingero, ingerere, ingessi, ingestum
pour out (generously), carry in. Inger is an unusual form of the imperative, patterned after fer (but perhaps the slurring speech of one already drunk).

calix, -icis m.
wine cup, drinking cup.

amarior, -ius (comparative of amarus)
more bitter, more pungent, drier, more tart. In regard to wine, amarior can mean either a drier vintage or, probably here, that the wine was less diluted. The usual proportion of water to wine is debated, but in antiquity a mixture containing more water than wine was customary.

lex, legis f.
law, statute, rule, regulation, decree.

Postumia, -ae f.
Postumia, a daughter of the gens Postumia. Catullus' audience would not have missed the sly allusion to the brutal imperia Postumiana, the legendary orders of A. Postumius Tubertus (dictator 431 BCE) by which his son was executed for engaging the enemy successfully in battle in anticipation of the command (see Livy Ab Urbe Condita 4.29.5).

magistra, -ae f.
mistress. Supply the word bibendi for the complete title of the person (almost exclusively male in our sources) elected (by vote or lot) to direct the drinking at ancient parties (Greek symposiarchos). The magister bibendi prescribed the type and strength of wine to be consumed as well as the number and content of the toasts. Catullus's Postumia is a most unconventional matrona.

ebriosus, -a, -um
drunken, addicted to drink.

acinum, -i n.
grape, berry; acino is ablative of comparison after ebriosioris.

ebriosior, -ius (comparative of ebrius)
drunker; ebriosioris agrees with magistrae. A poetically clever line, it contains two difficult elisions (perhaps in imitation of drunken slurred speech), sound painting (o's), and chiastic word order (magistrae / ebrioso acino ebriosioris).

quo, adverb
where, to which (place).

lubet = libet (impersonal)
it pleases, it is pleasing.

hinc, adverb
from here, hence.

abeo, abire, abii, abitum
go away, depart.

lympha, -ae
water. The plural lymphae, in apposition with vos, means water of all kinds. Rhyme and word placement link lines 5 and line 3: obeying the lex Postumiae, Catullus banishes the personified water from the party.

pernicies, -ei f.
destruction, ruin.

severus, -a, -um
strict, stern, severe, austere. Here a substantive; these are the sober people who mix water with their wine. Note the interwoven sounds in vini pernicies, et ad severos (repetition of -i, -er, -es), which echo lines 1 and 2.

migro (1)
change residence, move.

hic, adverb
here, herein. The sound of hic imitates the hiccup of the intoxicated.

merus, -a, -um
pure, undiluted.

Thyonianus, -i m.
Dionysus; his name here is an arcane adjective formed from an alternate name for his mother Semele (Thyone). The god of wine stands for the pressed grape, vinum.

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