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Allen Tice 08-20-2018 11:01 AM

A Contrarian View of Catullus’ Dates - Allen Tice
Latinists and others, I seem to have made it into the Classical Association of the Middle West and South-SS (CAMWS Southern Section) Meeting in Winston-Salem, NC, courtesy of Wake Forest University, at the crack of dawn October 18, 2018. It will be at the Hawthorne Inn Conference Center. Interested visitors are invited. For details, contact me by email [ — or PM me], go to the CAMWS site, or the Winston-Salem Hawthorne site.

The short paper is on the advantages of heavily re-evaluating St. Jerome's impossible dates for the life of Valerius Catullus, and consequently Jerome's stated age of 29 or 30 years for Catullus at his death.

There is enough evidence to make a plausible case that what survives of St. Jerome's data is very flawed, but to ballast my case, I would appreciate any suggestions you have regarding :

(A) questions about the reliability and inaccuracies of Suetonius (a source for Jerome) -- i.e. evidence that Suetonius yielded to Imperial political pressure and shaded facts -- or bought rumor as facts, for instance his sneering remarks about "Horace's villa" (which I have physically seen),

(B) questions on the reliability and general inaccuracies of Ovid (his sloppiness and cavalier attitude toward data wherever (like the Forum Romanum, Tomis, etc.) -- and his tendencies to stretch for literary impact, euphony, or anti-Imperial political "dog whistles"), and

(C) other chronological errors in St Jerome's Chronicon.

Additionally, I am interested in examples of errors in copying Roman numerals through the ages or unusual formats for certain numbers. An example of the last is writing "38" as "xxxiix" in the period of Tiberius.

Here's a link to the CAMWS program:


Since 1920, members of CAMWS who reside in the Southern states (MO, AR, TX, LA, OK, KY, TN, MS, AL, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL) have enjoyed a separate organization (with no additional dues) called the Southern Section. The primary purpose is to provide an additional meeting opportunity in the South in alternate years, when the CAMWS meeting is in the Northern states; these meetings are held in the fall, generally in October. In addition, the Southern Section works closely with the officers of CAMWS to promote the study of Classics in the states of the Southern Section, including strengthening of ties between schools and colleges, and donation of funds for scholarships and government advocacy. A group membership is also maintained in the Southern Humanities Council.

All Best,
Allen Tice

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Julie Steiner 08-27-2018 12:55 AM

Congrats, Allen! Have fun.

Allen Tice 08-28-2018 05:21 PM

Thank you, Julie. Your earlier PM feedback on Ovid not only inspired me further, but clarified the butter in my mind. Since a big part of this little paper will deal with some surviving material left by a major Catholic saint (St Jerome’s Chronicon) who translated the Greek New Testament into Latin, and whose translation is still consulted today, I will take pains to emphasize that the Chronicon was a secondary or even third level concern to Jerome as compared to his rendering of the New Testament. Even saints who write a universal history must rely on what records are available to them, records that themselves were the product of copying erosion and political pressure at the time they were composed. And Jerome’s Chronicon may have itself suffered copying erosion where Roman numerals were concerned, especially if unusual conventions were used anywhere along the way. When I was teaching math, in some administrative documents it was the common practice to state numbers twice, once using the ten digits from 0 to 9, and once fully spelled out in parentheses. This practice has also been followed in some federal reports. Again, thanks for your presence.

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