Suus cuique attributus est error

Catullus XXII.  I’m sure there’s are better translations than the Loeb prose – though they’re all butchery to some degree – but ctrl+c/ctrl+v makes a strong counter-argument.

Svffenvs iste, Vare, quem probe nosti,
homost venustus et dicax et urbanus,
idemque longe plurimos facit versus.
puto esse ego illi milia aut decem aut plura
perscripta, nec sic ut fit in palimpsesto
relata: chartae regiae, novi libri,
novi umbilici, lora rubra, membranae,
derecta plumbo, et pumice omnia aequata.
haec cum legas tu, bellus ille et urbanus
10Suffenus unus caprimulgus aut fossor
rursus videtur: tantum abhorret ac mutat.
hoc quid putemus esse? qui modo scurra
aut siquid hac re scitius videbatur,
idem infacetost infacetior rure,
simul poemata attigit; neque idem umquam
aequest beatus ac poema cum scribit:
tam gaudet in se tamque se ipse miratur.
nimirum idem omnes fallimur, nequest quisquam
quem non in aliqua re videre Suffenum
possis. suus cuique attributus est error:
sed non videmus manticae quod in tergost.


That Suffenus, Varus, whom you know very well, is a charming fellow, and has wit and good manners. He also makes many more verses than any one else. I suppose he has got some ten thousand or even more written out in full, and not, as is often done, put down on used sheets; imperial paper, new rolls, new bosses, red ties, parchment wrappers; all ruled with lead and smoothed with pumice. When you come to read these, the fashionable well-bred Suffenus I spoke of this time seems to be nothing but any goatherd or ditcher; so unlike himself and changed he is. How are we to account for this? The same man who was just now a dinner-table wit or someone (if such there be) even smarter, is more clumsy than the clumsy country, whenever he touches poetry; and at the same time he is never so happy as when he is writing a poem, he delights in himself and admires himself so much. True enough, we all are under the same delusion, and there is no one whom you may not see to be a Suffenus in one thing or another. Everybody has his own delusion assigned to him: but we do not see that part of the bag which hangs on our back.

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