Catullus Index: N-R

Naso

Poem 112. Unknown.

Naxos

The largest island of the Cyclades, and the home of Bacchus.

The scene of Ariadne’s abandonment by Theseus, and her rescue by Bacchus.

Poem 64. Also called Dia, its ancient name.

Nemesis

Poem 50. Rhamnusia. The Goddess of retribution. She punishes mortal pride and arrogance (hubris) on behalf of the gods.

Nepos

Cornelius Nepos, the historian, a friend of Cicero. Possibly from Verona.

Poem1. Addressed to him.

Neptune

God of the sea, brother of Jupiter. The trident is his emblem. He and Apollo built the walls of Troy for Laomedon. He flooded the land when Laomedon refused to pay, and demanded the sacrifice of Hesione to a sea-monster. He was thought to be protecting Troy.

Poem 64. The Sea-god. Builder of the Walls of Troy.

Nereids

The fifty mermaids, attendant on Thetis. They were the daughters of Doris and Nereus.

Poem 64. Seen by the Argonauts.

Nicaea

Poem46. A town in Bythinia.

Nonnius

Poem 52. Perhaps Marcus Nonnius Sufenas, of Pompey’s faction awarded the curile aedileship (higher Magistrate’s office) for 54 BC.

Nysa

Poem 64. Heliconian Mount Nysa. The Nyseïds were the nymphs Macris, Erato, Bromie, Bacche and Nysa who hid Bacchus in their cave and nurtured him. They became the Hyades star-cluster. Also used of Mount Nysa in India whence Bacchus is supposed to originate.

Ocean, Oceanus

Poem 64Poem 88Poem 115. The Sea and river god: husband of his sister Tethys. In poem 88 about incest, Catullus therefore makes an ironic reference to Ocean and Tethys.

Catullus makes Thetis a granddaughter of Oceanus.

Poem 66.  The destination of the setting constellations.

Orcus

Poem3. A name for Pluto, god of the Underworld, and for the Underworld itself.

Orion

Poem 66.  The mighty hunter, one of the Giants, now a constellation with his two hunting dogs and his sword and glittering belt. The brightest constellation in the sky, it is an area of star formation in a nearby arm of the Galaxy centred on M42 the Orion Nebula, which marks Orion’s sword. He is depicted as brandishing a club and shield at Taurus the Bull. He was stung to death by a scorpion, and now rises when Scorpio sets and vice versa. His two dogs are Canis Major, which contains Sirius the brightest star in the sky after the sun, and Canis Minor, which contains the star Procyon, forming an equilateral triangle with Sirius and Betelgeuse the red giant in Orion. Orion is on the opposite side of the zodiac from Aquarius.

Otho

Poem 54. An unidentified associate of Caesar.

Parcae

Poem 64Poem 68. The three Fates, born of Erebus and Night. Clothed in white, they spin, measure out, and sever the thread of each human life. Clotho spins the thread. Lachesis measures it. Atropos wields the shears.

Paris

Prince of Troy, son of Priam and Hecuba, brother of Hector. His theft of Menelaüs’s wife Helen provoked the Trojan War.

Poem 61. He was asked to judge the most beautiful among the three naked goddesses, Venus-Aphrodite, Athene-Minerva and Hera-Juno, choosing Venus.

Poem 68. He abducted Helen. perhaps willingly.

Parnassus

Poem 64Poem 105. A mountain in Phocis sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Delphi is at its foot where the oracle of Apollo and his temple were situated. Themis held the oracle in ancient times.

Parthia

Poem 11. The Parthian Empire to the south-west of the Caspian Sea was Rome’s enemy in the East. Its mounted archers were particularly effective.

Pasiphae

The wife of Minos, mother by him of Ariadne and Phaedra. Mother of the Minotaur, having been impregnated by a bull.

Poem 64. Daphne took this name in Crete according to one variant of her myth.

Pasithea

Poem 63. One of the three Graces (The Charites: Pasithea, Cale and Euphrosyne) betrothed to Somnus the god of sleep.

Pegasus

Poem 55. The winged horse, sprung from the head of Medusa when Perseus decapitated her. At the same time his brother Chrysaor the warrior was created. He is represented in the sky by the constellation Pegasus. The sacred fountain of Hippocrene on Mount Helicon, haunt of the Muses, springs from under his hoof. He was created by Neptune’s union with Medusa.

Peleus

Poem 64. The son of Aeacus, king of Aegina, brother of Telamon and Phocus. King of Thessaly and husband of Thetis and father by her of Achilles. (See Joachim Wttewael’s – The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis - Alte Pinakothek, Munich: see W.B Yeats poem ‘News for the Delphic Oracle, verse III)

He was a hero, one of the Argonauts, and present at the Calydonian Boar Hunt. He was a descendant of Jupiter through Aeacus.

Pelion

A mountain in Thessaly in Northern Greece.

Poem 64. The timbers for the Argo were cut from there.

The home of Chiron the Centaur.

Pelops

Poem 64. The son of Tantalus, and brother of Niobe. He was cut in pieces and served to the gods at a banquet by his father to test their divinity. Ceres-Demeter, mourning for Persephone, did not perceive the wickedness and ate a piece of the shoulder. The gods gave him life again and an ivory shoulder. He gave his name to the Peloponnese. Hence a name for the Greeks as a whole, the ‘children of Pelops’. The grandfather of Agamemnon and Menelaus, the sons of Atreus.

Penelope

Poem 61. The wife of Ulysses, and daughter of Icarius and the Naiad Periboa. (See  J R Spencer Stanhope’s painting Penelope - The De Morgan Foundation)

She is pestered by many suitors (a hundred and eight, in Homer ), while she waits faithfully for Ulysses to return from Troy. A synonym for faithfulness.

Peneus

Poem 64. The River in Thessaly. Its River-god, the father of Daphne. Daphne was turned into a laurel bough, having been pursued by Apollo, but, in a variant of the myth, Earth left the laurel-tree behind but spirited Daphne away to Crete, where she became known as Pasiphae. (Apollodorus i.7.9, Plutarch: Agis 9)

Perseus

Poem 55. The son of Jupiter and Danaë, grandson of Acrisius, King of Argos. He was conceived as a result of Jupiter’s rape of Danaë, in the form of a shower of gold. He is represented by the constellation Perseus near Cassiopeia. He is depicted holding the head of the Medusa, whose evil eye is the winking star Algol. It contains the radiant of the Perseid meteor shower. His epithets are Abantiades, Acrisioniades, Agenorides, Danaëius, Inachides, Lyncides.

(See Burne-Jones’s oil paintings and gouaches in the Perseus series particularly The Arming of Perseus, The Escape of Perseus, The Rock of Doom, Perseus slaying the Sea-Serpent, and The Baleful Head.)(See Benvenuto Cellini’s bronze Perseus - the Loggia, Florence)

Pesaro

Poem 81. The town on the Adriatic, in the Roman region of Umbria, known for its unhealthy, low-lying aspect.

Phaeton, Phaethon

Poem 64. Son of Clymene, the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys whose husband was the Ethiopian king Merops. His true father is Sol, the sun-god (Phoebus). He asked his mother for proof of his divine origin and went to the courts of the Sun to see his father who granted him a favour. He asked to drive the Sun chariot. He lost control of the chariot, and was destroyed by Jupiter in order to save the earth from being consumed by fire. The Heliads, were the daughters of Clymene and the Sun, sisters of Phaethon, who were turned into poplar trees as they mourned for him, their tears becoming drops of amber.

Pharsalia

Poem 64. A plain in Thessaly named after the town of Pharsalus.

Phasis

Poem 64. A river in Colchis, in Asia, east of the Black Sea, reached by the Argonauts.

Phrygia

The country in Asia Minor, noted for its worship of Cybele.

Poem46 A winter retreat.

Poem 61. Mount Ida situated there, in the Troad.

Poem 63. Locale of the worship of Cybele.

Poem 64. The region where Troy was situated.

Phthiotic Tempe

Poem 64. The beautiful valley in Thessaly, between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa through which the River Peneus flows.

Piraeus

Poem 64. The harbour of Athens, about three miles from the city.

Piso

Traditionally Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, Caesar’s father-in-law.

Poem 28Poem47. He is mentioned.

Pollio

Poem12. Gaius Asinius Pollio (‘Pollionus’) a supporter of Caesar and subsequently the Triumvirate. A distinguished poet, patron and orator. Brother of Asinius.

Pollux

Polydeuces , the son of Tyndareus of Sparta and Leda, and twin brother of Castor. Famous for his boxing prowess. See the entry for Castor for more detail.

Poem 4. The boat is dedicated to the Twins.

Poem 68. Prayed to by sailors.

Polyxena

Poem 64. The daughter of Priam and Hecuba sacrificed to appease the ghost of Achilles.

Pompey

Poem 55Poem 113. Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106-48BC) put down a slave rebellion, cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, and conquered Mithridates. He married Julia, the daughter of Julius Caesar, but quarrelled with the father and was defeated at Pharsalus in 48 BC. He fled to Egypt and was murdered there. He opened a new colonnaded piazza in the Campus Martius in 55BC.

Pontic Sea

Poem 4. The Black Sea. Propontus is the Bosphorus.

Poem 29. Julius Caesar returned with booty from there.

Poplicola

See Gellius.

Porcius

Poem47. An unidentified follower of Piso.

Postumia

Poem 27. An unknown female friend of Catullus.

Postumius

Poem 67. Unknown.

Priam

Poem 64. King of Troy. Son of Laomedon, who in turn was the son of Ilus the founder of the city.

Priapus

Poem47 The god of gardens and lust, usually shown displaying a huge phallus.

Procne

Poem 65. The daughter of Pandion, king of Athens, married to Tereus, king of Thrace. (See Ovid’s Metamorphoses 

Book VI:438-674.) She persuaded Tereus to bring her sister Philomela to stay with her. Tereus raped and mutilated her sister, and told Procne that Philomela was dead. Philomela communicated with her by means of a woven message, and she rescued her during the Bacchic rites. She murdered her son Itys and served the flesh to Tereus. Pursued by Tereus she turned into a nightingale. The bird’s call, mourning Itys, is said to be ‘Itu! Itu!’ which is something like the occasional ‘chooc, chooc’ among its wide range of notes.

Prometheus

Poem 64. The son of Iapetus by the nymph Cleomene, and father of Deucalion. Sometimes included among the seven Titans, he was the wisest of his race and gave human beings the useful arts and sciences. Jupiter first withheld fire and Prometheus stole it from the chariot of the Sun. Jupiter had Prometheus chained to the frozen rock in the Caucasus where a vulture tore at his liver night and day for eternity. (See Aeschylus’s ‘Prometheus Bound’, and Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’)

Protesilaus

Poem 68. The son of Iphiclus and husband of Laodamia. He fulfilled Thetis’s prophecy that the first Greek to land at Troy would die. He was buried in the Thracian Chersonese.

Quintia

Poem 86. Unknown.

Quintilia

Poem 96. The poet Calvus’s beloved.

Quintius

Poem 82Poem 100. Unknown.

Ravidus

Poem 40. An unidentified rival.

Rhamnusia , Ramnusia

Poem 66. Poem 68. A name for Nemesis, or Fate, from her temple at Rhamnus in Attica.

Rhesus

Poem 55. The King of Thrace whose horses were renowned for their speed.

Rhoeteum

Poem 65. A promontory on the Dardanelles near TroyCatullus’s brother was lost at sea near there, sometime before 57/6 BC.

Rufa

Poem 59. An unidentified person.

Rufulus

Poem 59. An unidentified person.

Rufus

Marcus Caelius Rufus, a disciple of Cicero who defended him against Clodius Pulcher’s charges of being involved in the Cataline conspiracy. He was a lover of Clodia.

Poem 58Poem 69. Addressed to him.

Poem 77. Regarded as treacherous.