In Cicero's "Epistulae ad Atticum" 15.20.2:

"itaque mi Attice, (fortiter hoc velim accipias, ut ego scribo), genus illud interitus 'quo causurus' est foedum ducens..." =

"And so my dear Atticus, (I would have you receive what I am going to say with the same courage as that with which I write it.), regarding the kind of death experienced by Catalus as shocking..." (Perseus: E.S. Shuckburgh, 1908).

There is a footnote (4) under the English translation:

"Taking Madvig's "quo Catalus usus est". C. Lutatius Catalus was put to death by Marius or forced to kill himself in 87BC."

Madvig's version is easier to understand, "in which Catalus (has) experienced" (The name "Catalus" isn't mentioned in the Latin text.). From where does "causurus" come? I can't find it. It looks like a future participle but of which verb? The future tense isn't required.

What's going on, here?

1 Answer 1


Most editions I can find online enclose the words quo causurus with two daggers (†), a.k.a. obeli. In philological notation this is a way of indicating that the editor thinks something has gone wrong with the text here: there has been a copying error somewhere along the line of manuscript transmission and these words are not what the author originally wrote. Obeli are generally used when, as in this case, the text doesn't make any sense as written, for example because it contains a nonexistent word like causurus. Translators then have to either leave the words untranslated or adopt some emendation that they think more likely reflects the original text, which is what Shuckburgh here does with Madvig's quo Catalus usus est.

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