Three Problems in the Cleopatra Ode[1]

Classical Journal 88.2 (1992): 139-146

© M. Hendry 1992-2000

I. The Setting of the Poem (1-6)

Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero
pulsanda tellus, nunc Saliaribus
  ornare puluinar deorum
    tempus erat dapibus, sodales.

antehac nefas depromere Caecubum    5
cellis auitis, ...

The poem opens with a bold juxtaposition of archaic Greek literature and contemporary Roman life, as the poet moves in mid-sentence from a motto taken from Alcaeus to an allusion to the contemporary Roman feasts of the Salii.[2] This combination of Greek and Roman elements is closely related to the question of the setting of the poem, which is a controversial subject. Many scholars assume, often without argument, that Horace's ode commemorates a private symposium, and that the reference to the Salii is purely ornamental, as in the previous poem (neu morem in Salium sit requies pedum, 1.36.12): the party to which Horace invites his friends to celebrate the death of Cleopatra is to be as lavish as the feasts of the Salii. Others are more literal-minded, and assume that the lectisternium described here is public: this is plausible enough, given the explicit reference to the Salii, but it leaves us to wonder about Horace's connection to the festivities. In attempting to reconcile these two views, Pöschl rightly notes that the distinction between public and private is not quite so well-defined as it appears.[3] His own reconstruction of the poem's mise en scène, however, does not adequately account for the poet's blurred distinction between communal solemnities and domestic carouse. Pöschl argues that the feast is essentially private, with allusions to the public lectisternium that has, he thinks, preceded it.[4] This time distinction may be called into question.[5] But, even more important, the allusions to the Salii in the opening verses are so thoroughgoing that we must understand Horace to be assuming a public persona, that of a Salius. Since the poet was not eligible for that priesthood, the setting is consequently fictional and ambiguously poised between public and private.

Four pieces of evidence point toward this conclusion. We may in each case take as a point of departure the commentary of Nisbet and Hubbard, even though they ignore the whole public-private argument.[6] First, in their note on pulsanda tellus (2), they say that dancing is "characteristic of uninhibited celebration. .... But though stamping the ground may have been natural in rustic festivities, one must not imagine that Roman gentlemen behaved this way". Horace, libertino patre natus, was not precisely a gentleman, but, more important, the Salii were Roman gentlemen of the very best class who were not only permitted, but obligated to dance: it was their job, and the justification for their lavish feasts.[7] Similarly, on sodales (4), N-H note that "Horace is imitating the ô phíloi of archaic Greece". This is true, as far as it goes, and it fits very well with the Alcaean motto, but it is surely significant that the college of the Salii was itself a sodalitas, and its members sodales: that is the technical term for members of the minor priestly colleges (OLD s.v. 1.a). A third detail points in the same direction. Horace cannot be the owner of these cellae auitae (6): his grandfather was a slave. On the other hand, if they belong to his drinking-companions, it is odd that he should be magister bibendi: it makes him look presumptuous, to say the least. But the Salii had impressive pedigrees and famously expensive tastes:[8] they can be presumed to have had wine-cellars to match. Once again the detail suggests, falsely, that Horace is a Salius. The implication is false because, as K. Abel puts it, "Hauptbedingung der Wählbarkeit ist (neben leiblicher Wohlgestalt, bürgerlicher Unbescholtenheit, freier Geburt, röm. Bürgerrecht) patriz. Abkunft von Eltern, die z.Z. der adlectio beide am Leben sein müssen".[9] Whatever our opinion on Horace's 'bürgerliche Unbescholtenheit' -- and I am very dubious -- he was certainly not of patrician birth, and that settles the matter.

The fourth piece of evidence, tempus erat (4), is more controversial. Indeed, as Plessis (following Ussani) says, "cet imparfait ... cause le tourment des éditeurs".[10] N-H simply assert that it is a "more urbane" equivalent of tempus est. W. H. Alexander, following Wickham and Bennett, argues that the "tense of erat points to a debate, conceived of as continuing for a considerable period of time in the past, as to the right time for holding a general celebration".[11] Otis argues that it means "It is, nay it has been time", that is, 'it is past time',[12] though N-H object that in that case we would expect iam rather than nunc. Pöschl argues that the difference in tense between est bibendum (1) and tempus erat (4) shows that the public lectisternium is already over, and that Horace's invitation to his private party, which will include a private lectisternium, alludes to the public ceremony.[13] It is perhaps a fine distinction, but it seems to me that the parallels N-H provide suggest that nunc tempus erat in this passage means "now is the time for which we were waiting", that is, "the time which was previously specified has now arrived". Ovid, for instance, uses tempus erat of a soldier whose term of enlistment has expired (Am. 2.9.23-24).[14] This interpretation agains fits the dancing of the Salii better than a private drinking party, since the Salii's dancing was both obligatory and scheduled. The Armilustrium, October 19th, when the Salii danced to mark the end of the campaigning season,[15] would have come less than two months after news of Cleopatra's suicide (August 10th) reached Rome. If we wish to assign a specific dramatic date to the poem, October 19th, 30 B.C. would be an attractive candidate: the dramatic performance of the Salii would no doubt have taken on a special significance that year.[16] Fraenkel (42-47) has shown that, in Epodes 7 and 16, Horace adopts the persona of an orator, but that the implied audience of these poems is an incompatible and impossible amalgam of Greek assembly, Roman assembly, and Roman Senate. He evidently finds this "strange fiction" offensive and immature, since he later says (251) that "Horace, in pretending to harangue the people from an imaginary platform, committed a kind of usurpation, a venture which he did not repeat in the mature patriotic epodes [i.e. 1 and 9] written about the time of the battle of Actium." What I am suggesting is that Horace does much the same thing in at least two of the odes written after Actium: just as he impersonates a political orator in these two Epodes, he impersonates a pontifex or uates Musarum in the first of the Roman Odes and a Salius in the Cleopatra Ode.[17] He does not and cannot explicitly claim to be one, but he speaks as if he were one. The blurring of public and private which results serves to make the whole opening of the poem ambiguous as between public and private celebration, between an official and religious ceremony with appointed colleagues and a spontaneous drinking-bout with a few close friends.[18] This ambiguity adds considerably to what we might call the authority of the poem's declaration of peace and its indictment of Cleopatra. At the same time, Horace's mingling of public and private elements complements and complicates the mingling of Greek and Roman implicit in the juxtaposition of the Salii with the Alcaean motto.

II. The connotations of 'uirorum' (10)

The phrase contaminato cum grege turpium / morbo uirorum (9-10) seems clear enough, but the word uirorum presents us with a serious difficulty: it is far too complimentary to Cleopatra's crew, who were famously not uiri but semiuiri. Their lack of manliness is referred to in this very phrase, if morbo "refers to sexual perversion", as N-H put it. Three approaches have been tried. Most commentators, including Kiessling-Heinze, N-H, and Pöschl ("der stärkste Hohn", 81), take uirorum ironically, as if it were enclosed in inverted commas. However, this seems intolerably weak (as Bentley says 'in illa locutione, uirorum turpium morbo, non agnosco elegantiam Flacci'), and provides an instance of what Fraenkel has called (46 n 2) "that last expedient of a despairing commentator, the assumption of 'sarcastic irony'". Bentley, who "found awkwardness in the irony after so much direct offensiveness" (N-H), emended morbo uirorum to opprobriorum: this again seems feeble, and has convinced no one, I think, except its author. Most recently, in a variation on the first approach, Shackleton Bailey has suggested putting a comma after turpium, so as to take uirorum closely with morbo: "men only in vice", as he puts it.[19] Although he has convinced at least one other scholar, this again seems entirely too weak.[20]

All three suggestions violate the first principle of political (and civil) invective, lectio foedior potior: all are far too feeble for the context. In fact, none of them is necessary: the words can be left unaltered, without commas or 'irony marks', if we take the word uirorum to mean not 'men' but 'husbands' (or perhaps, since legal marriage is not in question here, 'sexual partners'). If Eastern kings keep female harems, then Cleopatra is an Eastern queen with a male harem: Antony is the current favorite, but there are plenty of other members. It is the plurality of partners that is shameful, along with the fact that they are her subjects and in some cases her slaves. Similar implications are found in Propertius' 'Cleopatra Elegy' (3.11), where Cleopatra is incesti meretrix regina Canopi (39), and famulos inter femina trita suos (30).[21] The word grex, in a sense approximating to 'harem', is used elsewhere of animals and homosexual arrangements. For instance, uir gregis is used of a he-goat by Vergil (E. 7.7), of a ram by Manilius (5.32), and the more elaborate uirque paterque gregis of a he-goat by Ovid (A.A. 1.522).[22] As N-H note, Tacitus refers to Nero's male harem as a grex contaminatorum (Ann. 15.37.4), and Suetonius to Titus' exoletorum et spadonum greges (Tit. 7.1). If grex uirorum is not found elsewhere, it is presumably because female rulers with male harems are quite rare among humans and not found at all among sheep and goats.

There is a close parallel for my interpretation which deserves to be better-known: a passage which has been misunderstood through taking uir as 'man' rather than 'husband'. This is a witticism of Cicero found in a lacunose passage of Macrobius, Saturnalia 2.3.16. As supplemented by editors up to 1918, it read:

Cicero ... cum Piso gener mollius incederet, filia autem concitatius, ait filiae 'ambula tamquam uir', <at genero 'ambula tamquam femina'>.

In that year, A.E. Housman wrote:

"Piso had a mincing gait and Tullia a rapid stride: Cicero, displeased with these peculiarities, is supposed to say to his daughter 'walk like a man' and to his son-in-law 'walk like a woman'. This is what they did already and what he wished to break them of doing; and the form of eironeía which consists in saying the opposite of what one means is much too common and simple to constitute a pleasantry or to win a place among the dicta Ciceronis. The contrast between the pair suggested to their sprightly relative a whimsical way of conveying his reproof. When he said to his daughter 'ambula tamquam uir', what he meant was 'walk like your husband'. And what he said to his son-in-law was 'ambula tamquam uxor'."[23]

I should note, however, that Macrobius' latest editor confines Housman's suggestion to the apparatus.[24]

My interpretation of uirorum, besides making sense of an apparently inappropriate word-choice, helps to emphasize the themes of perversion and reversal of sex-roles which are found throughout the Cleopatra poems of Horace and Propertius, and elsewhere in the Augustan treatment of Cleopatra and her consort.

III. The source of 'fatale monstrum' (21)

The phrase fatale monstrum in line 21 has probably inspired more discussion than any other in the poem. It is commonly, and, I think, rightly, seen as the turning-point of the ode, "the pivot on which Horace swings from censure to panegyric" (Luce, 251). Indeed, the punctuation-mark which follows the phrase (fatale monstrum: quae ...) is the precise point at which Cleopatra recovers her humanity, her gender, her nobility (the next word is generosius) and her status as agent rather than patient: G. B. Nussbaum notes that "where every reference to her in the preceding section was in the accusative, with quae she returns to the nominative".[25]

The precise connotations of each word have been discussed many times,[26] with the other works of Horace (for fatale) and the orations of Cicero (for monstrum) the most frequent sources of parallels: for the connotations of monstrum, Fraenkel (160 with notes 1 and 2) adduces four passages from the orations, and Luce (253) adds another, in his view more appropriate, passage from the Pro Caelio. The result of this work has been to suggest, perhaps not very surprisingly, that each word has a range of meanings in this context. Specifically, fatalis is both 'carrying out the will of fate' and 'deadly to others', both 'fateful' and 'fatal',[27] while monstrum is both a "portentum or prodigium, something outside the norm of nature, something at which we look with wonder and often with horror" (Fraenkel, 160), to be put on display "like a freak in a side-show" (Mench, 320-22), and a 'prodigy, portent, or marvel'.[28] As Luce puts it (in a sentence already partly quoted above) the phrase fatale monstrum "contains shades of meaning and overtones of association which redeem it from sheer abuse and fit it to be the pivot on which Horace swings from censure to panegyric": it is not only abusive but mythical, with the defeat of Cleopatra seen as a Herculean labor, and ethical, with Cleopatra seen as a deviation from the norms of nature (Luce, 251 and 257).

Some have suggested that fatale monstrum is either "the general public's phrase for the queen" or a phrase from the propaganda campaign before Actium.[29] Although there does not seem to be any evidence to support either of these notions, I find it suggestive that some readers have thought the phrase a quotation. What no commentator seems to have noticed is that the entire phrase fatale monstrum occurs in Cicero's De Divinatione, in a context (1.98) which strongly suggests that it is indeed a quotation, though not from a contemporary source:[30]

Quid? cum Cumis Apollo sudauit, Capuae Victoria? quid? ortus androgyni nonne 'fatale' quoddam 'monstrum' fuit? quid? cum fluuius 'Atratus sanguine fluxit'? quid? cum saepe lapidum, sanguinis non numquam, terrae interdum, quondam etiam lactis imber defluxit? quid? cum in Capitolio ictus Centaurus e caelo est, in Auentino portae et homines, Tusculi aedes Castoris et Pollucis Romaeque Pietatis: nonne et haruspices ea responderunt quae euenerunt, et in Sibyllae libris eaedem repertae praedictiones sunt?

The text is quoted from Pease, except that I have added quotation marks around what I take to be quotations. The second phrase, whether Atratus or atratus sanguine fluxit, has the look of a quotation, and not only because of its hexametric meter. It is not clear whether the words refer to a river Atratus not otherwise known, or to an unnamed river, presumably the Tiber, which is in mourning, atratus, and displays its distress by turning to blood. I prefer the latter, since, as Pease notes (ad loc.), "Rivers, springs, pools, or lakes flowing with blood are one of the commonest of portents". To be worth mentioning in Quintus' otherwise impressive list of prodigia, this particular bloody river ought to be either a major river such as the Tiber, or a minor river with some other significance: perhaps a Sempronius Atratinus once received a warning from his ancestral creek?[31] In either case, the lack of further explanation suggests that Cicero is quoting a fairly well-known tag, presumably from Ennius' Annales or some other hexameter work. That atratus sanguine fluxit is very probably a quotation is one point in favor of fatale monstrum being another. Another is Cicero's quoddam, 'as it were'. I take it that he is apologizing for a not entirely apposite quotation: though I know of no precise parallel, this is very like his use of quasi and quidam to apologize for Greek words and technical terms. However the phrase was used in his source, it was apparently not used of a literal androgynus. But the main point in favor of this hypothesis is the coincidence of the phrase in Cicero and Horace, with some similarity of meaning.

At this point, our discussion of fatale monstrum must necessarily become more speculative. The first question to ask is whether we can determine the author from whom Horace borrows the phrase. Since the words fatale monstrum fit snugly into a tragic senarius as far as the caesura, I take it that they are most likely quoted from one of the tragedies of Ennius, Accius, or Pacuuius.[32] The second question is whether Horace borrowed the phrase directly from Ennius, Accius, or Pacuuius, or took it second-hand from Cicero. This is a difficult question, and I see no way to answer it: Horace takes care never to mention Cicero, though he had undoubtedly read him, and he shows a similar, and less silent, disdain for archaic Roman verse. The third question is whether we can say anything at all about the context in which the original author of the phrase used it: this may not be quite so far beyond conjecture as it looks. Ennius (or Accius, or Pacuuius) did not use it of a literal androgynus, or Cicero would not have qualified his quotation with quoddam. On the other hand, we can be certain that he did not use it of Cleopatra, either, given the dates involved. What we need is a character in drama who could properly be called a fatale monstrum, in such a way that Cicero might borrow the phrase for a literal androgynus, and Horace for a metaphorical one. That is, what is needed is a female character who perverts nature by committing manly deeds, preferably criminal. Clytaemnestra is one possibility, and Medea, as a barbaric eastern queen with a loving consort who is less of a non-entity than Aegisthus, is another, and perhaps better. Each is featured in more than one Roman tragedy.

Despite the limits of our knowledge, there are several specific advantages to taking fatale monstrum as a quotation from an archaic Roman dramatist. First, we have one more likely fragment for the Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta: unfortunately, it will have to be listed among the adespota. Second, the adjective fatalis happens not to be attested in any author earlier than Cicero, who is, however, inordinately fond of it.[33] We now have a likely earlier attestation: unfortunately, we have no way of knowing precisely how much earlier. Third, and perhaps most important, we have one more instance of Horace acting in what we might call his Hellenistic manner, as he begins his poem with a motto taken from an Archaic Greek lyric poet, and marks the turning-point with a quotation from an archaic Roman tragedian. This pairing of Greek and Roman, lyric and tragic, quotations is reminiscent of the mingling of private and public, Greek and Roman, which opens the poem.[34]


All quotations of Horace are taken from Horatius, Opera, ed. F. Klingner, Leipzig, ed. 3, 1959. Commentators referred to by surname only are: E. Fraenkel, Horace, Oxford, 1957; J. V. Luce, "Cleopatra as fatale monstrum (Horace, Carm. I,37,21)", CQ 13 (1963) 251-57; V. Pöschl, Horazische Lyrik, Heidelberg, 1970; F. C. Mench, Jr., "The Ambiguity of the Similes and of fatale monstrum in Horace, Odes I,37", AJPh 93 (1972) 314-23, and H. P. Syndikus, Die Lyrik des Horaz: Eine Interpretation der Oden, volume 1, Darmstadt, 1972. I refer to R. G. M. Nisbet and M. Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace, Odes, Book 1, Oxford, 1970 as 'N-H': references not further specified are ad loc.

Alcaeus fr. 332 (Lobel-Page): nûn khrê methústhèn kaí tina pèr bían / pónen, epeì dè kátthane Múrsilos. For the use by Roman poets of a Greek motto, cf. Fraenkel, 159 n 2.

"Eine scharfe Grenze zwischen öffentlich und privat kann man da vielleicht gar nicht ziehen", Pöschl, 78. He also (76 n 9) provides a useful line-up of quotations of the scholars on either side.

This would be more accurate if said of 1.36, where the reference to the Salii provides a brief metaphorical hint of public celebration, without implying anything about the one depicted. M. Santirocco, Unity and Design in Horace's Odes, Chapel Hill, 1986, 79, provides a useful comparison of the two poems.

See note 13 below for Pöschl's argument that the times differ.

"Several Augustan poems describe symposia in honour of political events: the literary convention is obvious, the element of reality may be negligible", N-H, 411 (ad 1, nunc est bibendum).

In any case, Pasquali and others who quote Cicero's nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit (Mur. 13) rather miss the point, since sobrietas is not envisaged here: Horace encourages drinking first, and then dancing, which is proper behavior even for sane Romans of Ciceronian principles. In Saturnalia 3.14, Macrobius provides abundant evidence that Roman attitudes towards dancing (and acting) were not uniformly hostile. Syndikus (333 n. 11) also refers to Seneca (Tranq. An. 17.4), though Scipio's dancing of the tripudium is recommended as sober and restrained.

N-H (ad 2 Saliaribus ... dapibus) provide full parallels: the last should be corrected to Macrobius, Sat. 3.13.12 (rather than 3.13.2).

Konrat Ziegler, Walter Sontheimer, and Hans Gärtner (edd.), Der Kleine Pauly, 5 vols., Munich, 1979, s.v. Salii 2, with further bibliography.

F. Plessis (ed.), Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Odes Épodes et chant s´culaire, Paris, 1924, ad loc.

W. H. Alexander, "Nunc tempus erat: Horace, Odes 1,37,4", CJ 39 (1943-44) 231-33.

B. Otis, "A Reading of the Cleopatra Ode", Arethusa 1 (1968) 48-61, at 49-50.

"Ja, man könnte in der Verschiedenheit der Tempora (est bibendum, tempus erat) einen Hinweis darauf sehen, daá Festlichkeiten in vershiedenen Bereichen gemeint sind und daá das öffentliche Fest vorangegangen ist." Pöschl, 77. Similarly Syndikus (333 n. 12), who also records that Pöschl had previously taken the phrase as a contrary-to-fact, "es wäre Zeit": this seems impossible.

Ovid's use of tempus erat in Am. 3.1.23 is not entirely different: he is about to begin the serious work of maturity, which is again something which might have been looked forward to for a fairly specific time. He also uses iam tempus erat of a retiring gladiator (Tr. 4.8.23), though that may fall into the same class as N-H's non-Ovidian parallels, all of which include iam, where "it is past time" seems the appropriate translation. My reading of nunc tempus erat in the Cleopatra Ode is essentially the same as Alexander's, but without the debate: they have been waiting for the proper time to celebrate, but have no difficulty recognizing it when it arrives.

K. Latte, Römische Religionsgeschichte, 1960, 120 and n 4.

The dramatic date need not be the same as the actual date of the arrival of the news of Cleopatra's death, though that could hardly have been more than a few weeks earlier. Nor is it necessarily the same as the date of composition: as D. Pearce insists ("Horace and Cleopatra: Thoughts on the Entanglements of Art and History", The Yale Review 51 (1961-62) 236-53, at 239-40), the arrival of the news in Rome provides only a terminus post quem.

As E. Lefèvre puts it, one of the characteristics of Propertian elegy is "Il carattere fittizio della situazione esterna" ("L'Unit... dell'Elegia Properziana", in Colloquium Propertianum I, Assisi, 1977, 25-51, at 28). The opening of the Cleopatra Ode, along with the other instances mentioned here, shows that it is characteristic of at least some of Horace's poems as well.

It might be tempting to take the persona of the poem as entirely official and thus entirely fictional: Horace adopts a feminine persona in 3.12, so why not a patrician Salius here? However, the intimate party in the previous poem prepares us to see this one as equally private. The Alcaean motto with which our poem begins seems to have come from a poem commemorating a private symposium, and that also prepares us to take this one the same way. Most important, the fact that the signifant details of the first stanza can be read two different ways points to the same conclusion: the sodales addressed are both (fictional) fellow-members of the Salian sodalitas and ordinary friends of the poet (N-H's ô phíoi), and so on (see above). We would expect the poet to signal an entirely fictional persona more clearly: the evidence that Horace depicts himself as a Salius is quite unobtrusive, and cannot entirely outweigh the original presumption that the party is private.

D. R. Shackleton Bailey, Profile of Horace, Cambridge, MA, 1982, 116.

C. O. Brink, "Horatian Notes II: Despised Readings in the Manuscripts of the Odes, Book II", PCPhS n.s. 17 (= 197) 17-29, at 17, admits to doubts ("At first I found it hard to believe ..."), but then comes out firmly for Bailey's proposal ("highly persuasive"). He also provides several parallels, of which the closest is from the Elder Seneca: ite nunc et in istis vulsis atque expolitis et nusquam nisi in libidine uiris quaerite oratores (Cont. 1.Pref.10).

P. Fedeli provides full lists of parallels for both passages, including a doubtful reference to our passage: Properzio. Il Libro Terzo delle Elegie, Bari, 1985, ad loc.

Note also Horace's olentis uxores mariti (c. 1.17.7), with N-H ad loc.

A. E. Housman, "Jests of Plautus, Cicero, and Trimalchio", CR 32 (1918) 162-64 = Classical Papers 3.960-63, at 961-62.

J. Willis (ed.), Macrobius, Vol. I, (Teubner) Leipzig, 1970.

G. B. Nussbaum, "A Study of Odes I 37 and 38, The Psychology of Conflict and Horace's Humanitas", Arethusa 4 (1971) 91-97, at 94. The precise punctuation-mark used differs from editor to editor: Klingner prints a colon, Borzsák a comma, and Shackleton Bailey a semi-colon, just to mention the three most recent Teubners.

At least three papers have included the words in their titles: R. Verdière, "Fatale Monstrum (Hor., Carm., I,37,21)", Maia 20 (1968) 7-9, and the papers of Luce and Mench listed in note 1.

N-H say "here 'bringing doom' rather than 'sent by the fates'", which seems unnecessarily specific. Even Porphyrio notices the ambiguity: aut a fato sibi seruatum aut detestabile dictum hoc accipiamus, quasi decreto fatorum nobis obiectum.

In their note on monstrum, N-H point out that, since Cleopatra's parents were brother and sister, she was certainly a "portent" or "freak" by Roman standards.

The quoted phrase is from Pearce (note 16 above), 245. W. C. Grummel, "The Cleopatra Ode", CJ 49, (1953-54) 359-60, writes: "Yet she is a fatale monstrum (l. 21), for thus she had been described in the propaganda war preceding Actium".

Among editors of the De Divinatione, A. S. Pease (Urbana, 1920-23) and R. Giomini (Leipzig, 1975) note the parallel in passing, but make nothing of it, thus illustrating one of the hazards of scholarship, the one-way cross-reference, in which an important connection has been made, but in a place where only those who have made the connection for themselves will ever find it.

Pease (ad loc.) mentions the possibility that the Sempronii Atratini were named after the stream (apparently) mentioned in this passage, but there is no other evidence. They could as easily be named after a mountain, like the Republic of Montenegro, a forest, like the German Schwarzwald, or a lake.

David Kovacs has made the attractive suggestion that the phrase may be a Latin tragedian's translation of a phrase from Greek Tragedy along the lines of Sophocles' daimónion téras (Ant. 376).

H. Merguet (Lexikon zu den philosophischen Schriften Ciceros, Jena, 1877-84) lists fourteen instances of fatalis and one of fataliter in the philosophical works alone.

An earlier version of this paper was given as a lecture at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association in Boston, December 1989. I would like to thank the editor, the anonymous referee, David Kovacs, and Arthur Robinson for their help.