The First Edition to include Sappho’s poem “Phainetai moi kênos îsos theoisin” in Conjunction with Catullus 51

Catullus, Gaius Valerius (ca. 84-ca. 54 B.C); Muret, Marc Antoine (1526-1585), editor

Catullus et in eum Commentarius M. Antonii Mureti.

Venice: Apud Paulum Manutium, Aldi filium, 1554


Octavo: *4, A-Q8, R10

FIRST EDITION with the commentary of the French scholar and critic Marc Antoine Muret.

A fine copy bound in late 18th c. calfskin, gilt. Text in excellent condition, minor repairs to binding. Aldine device on the title page.

"In 1552 Muret lectured on Catullus and other Latin poets in Paris, perhaps at the College du Cardinal Lemoine or the College de Boncourt. Included in his large and enthusiastic audiences were several poets of the Pléiade -most notably Ronsard, his friend and near contemporary. Muret's lectures created a fashion for Catullan poetry. His own neo-Latin collection, Juvenilia (1552), contains several Catullan imitations, but Catullus is still more important in the poetry of the Pléiade, much of which appeared close on the heels of his lectures. Late in 1553 Muret was forced to leave Paris because of accusations of heresy and sexual misconduct. He fled to Toulouse and by May 1554 had arrived in Venice where he was soon befriended by Paul Manutius, who, learning of his enthusiasm for Catullus, persuaded him to produce a commentary. Muret went to work and completed the task in a little less than three months, as he says in the dedication, dated October 15, 1554.

"Since Muret had been in Venice only a few months, his commentary on Catullus was no doubt largely drawn from the Paris lectures. His notes display a combination of learning and poetic sophistication that would have appealed to the Pléiade. More than any of his predecessors except Valerianus, he discusses the artistic qualities of Catullus' work and the details of vocabulary and meter that work together to secure an effect... He appends a poem of his own in galliambics to his discussion of the meter in Cat. 63, discusses the appropriateness of the similes in Cat. 68 (which he regards as perhaps the most beautiful elegy in Latin) and discourses on the delight of studying Catullus' ‘translations’ in close conjunctions with their Greek models. He is the first commentator to print Sappho's poem with Cat. 51, and he laments the loss of Callimachus' ‘lock of Berenice’ in the discussion of Cat. 66 and prints all the fragments of that poem known to him.

“Muret is interested in the text, but he is cautious about emendations and adamant in refusing to admit modern conjectures and supplements, no matter how apposite. Muret's commentary was the first to be published since that of Guarinus in 1521 and the most important since that of Parthenius in 1485." (Gaisser, "Catullus", CTC Vol. VII, pp. 260-261)

Persecuted for homosexuality:

In France, Muret was persecuted for being a homosexual. In 1553, accused of “unnatural vice”, he was imprisoned at the fortress of Châtelet “and would have died of starvation had his friends not intervened to secure his release. Disgraced at Paris and reduced to poverty, he fled to Toulouse, where he eked out a living by giving lessons in law. He was accused a second time of having committed sodomy, in this instance with a young man named L. Memmius Frémiot, and on the advice of a councilor he absconded once more. He was sentenced to death in absentia and burned in effigy with Frémiot in the Place Saint-Georges as a Huguenot and sodomite. He crossed the Alps in disguise and was warmly received for a time in Venice, while in France his memory was ceaselessly vilified.” (Warren Johansson)

Renouard 162/19; Adams C-1145; Schweiger (Latin) Vol. I, p. 84