GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS (/kəˈtʌləs/ , (
Latin pronunciation: ; c.
84 – 54? BC) was a
Latin poet of the late
Roman Republic who wrote
in the neoteric style of poetry, which is about personal life rather
than classical heroes. His surviving works are still read widely and
continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.
Catullus's poems were widely appreciated by other poets. He greatly
Virgil , and others. After his rediscovery
Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages ,
Catullus again found admirers. His explicit
writing style has shocked many readers. Indeed, Catullus's work was
never canonical in schools, although his body of work is still
frequently read from secondary school to graduate programs across the
world, with his 64th poem often considered his greatest.
* 1 Life
* 2 Poetry
* 2.1 Sources and organization
* 2.2 Intellectual influences
* 2.3 Style
* 2.4 Musical settings
* 2.5 Cultural Depictions
* 3 See also
* 4 Notes
* 5 Further reading
* 6 External links
Catullus (Classical Latin: ) was born to a leading
equestrian family of Verona , in
Cisalpine Gaul . The social
prominence of the
Catullus family allowed the father of Gaius Valerius
Julius Caesar when he was the
of both Gallic provinces . In a poem,
Catullus describes his happy
homecoming to the family villa at
Sirmio , on
Lake Garda , near
Verona; he also owned a villa near the resort of Tibur (Tivoli).
Catullus appears to have spent most of his young adult years in Rome.
His friends there included the poets Licinius Calvus , and Helvius
Quintus Hortensius (son of the orator and rival of
and the biographer
Cornelius Nepos , to whom
Catullus dedicated a
libellus of poems, the relation of which to the extant collection
remains a matter of debate. He appears to have been acquainted with
Marcus Furius Bibaculus . A number of prominent
contemporaries appear in his poetry, including Cicero, Caesar and
Pompey . According to an anecdote preserved by
Suetonius , Caesar did
not deny that Catullus's lampoons left an indelible stain on his
reputation, but when
Catullus apologized, he invited the poet for
dinner the very same day.
Catullus at Lesbia's by Sir Lawrence
It was probably in
Catullus fell deeply in love with the
Lesbia " of his poems, who is usually identified with
, a sophisticated woman from the aristocratic house of patrician
family Claudii Pulchri, sister of the infamous Publius Clodius Pulcher
, and wife to proconsul Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer. In his poems
Catullus describes several stages of their relationship: initial
euphoria, doubts, separation, and his wrenching feelings of loss.
Clodia had several other partners; "From the poems one can adduce no
fewer than five lovers in addition to Catullus: Egnatius (poem 37),
Gellius (poem 91), Quintius (poem 82), Rufus (poem 77), and Lesbius
(poem 79)." There is also some question surrounding her husband’s
mysterious death in 59 B.C., some critics believing he was
domestically poisoned. Yet, a sensitive and passionate
not relinquish his flame for Clodia, regardless of her obvious
indifference to his desire for a deep and permanent relationship. In
Catullus wavers between devout, sweltering love and bitter,
scornful insults that he directs at her blatant infidelity (as
demonstrated in poems 11 and 58). His passion for her is
unrelenting— yet it is unclear when exactly the couple split up for
good. Catullus's poems about the relationship display striking depth
and psychological insight.
He spent the provincial command year summer 57 to summer 56 BC in
Bithynia on the staff of the commander Gaius Memmius . While in the
East, he traveled to the
Troad to perform rites at his brother's tomb,
an event recorded in a moving poem.
Bithynia within the Roman
There survives no ancient biography of Catullus: his life has to be
pieced together from scattered references to him in other ancient
authors and from his poems. Thus it is uncertain when he was born and
when he died.
St. Jerome says that he died in his 30th year, and was
born in 87 BC. But the poems include references to events of 55 and 54
BC. Since the Roman consular fasti make it somewhat easy to confuse
87–57 BC with 84–54 BC, many scholars accept the dates 84 BC–54
BC, supposing that his latest poems and the publication of his
libellus coincided with the year of his death. Other authors suggest
52 or 51 BC as the year of the poet's death. Though upon his elder
Catullus lamented that their “whole house was buried
along” with the deceased, the existence (and prominence) of Valerii
Catulli is attested in the following centuries.
T.P. Wiseman argues
that after the brother's death
Catullus could have married, and that,
in this case, the later Valerii Catulli may have been his descendants.
Poetry of Catullus
Catullus et in eum
SOURCES AND ORGANIZATION
Catullus's poems have been preserved in an anthology of 116 carmina
(the actual number of poems may slightly vary in various editions),
which can be divided into three parts according to their form: sixty
short poems in varying meters, called polymetra , eight longer poems,
and forty-eight epigrams .
There is no scholarly consensus on whether
Catullus himself arranged
the order of the poems. The longer poems differ from the polymetra and
the epigrams not only in length but also in their subjects: There are
seven hymns and one mini-epic , or epyllion, the most highly prized
form for the "new poets ".
The polymetra and the epigrams can be divided into four major
thematic groups (ignoring a rather large number of poems that elude
* poems to and about his friends (e.g., an invitation like poem 13).
* erotic poems: some of them (50 and 99 ) are about his homosexual
desires and acts, but most are about women, especially about one he
Lesbia " (which served as a false name for his married
Clodia , source and inspiration of many of his poems).
* invectives : often rude and sometimes downright obscene poems
targeted at friends-turned-traitors (e.g., poem 16 ), other lovers of
Lesbia, well-known poets, politicians (e.g.,
Julius Caesar ) and
rhetors , including Cicero.
* condolences : some poems of
Catullus are solemn in nature. 96
comforts a friend in the death of a loved one; several others, most
famously 101 , lament the death of his brother.
All these poems describe the lifestyle of
Catullus and his friends,
who, despite Catullus's temporary political post in Bithynia, lived
their lives withdrawn from politics. They were interested mainly in
poetry and love. Above all other qualities,
Catullus seems to have
valued venustas, or charm, in his acquaintances, a theme which he
explores in a number of his poems. The ancient Roman concept of virtus
(i.e. of virtue that had to be proved by a political or military
Cicero suggested as the solution to the societal
problems of the late Republic , meant little to them.
Catullus does not reject traditional notions, but rather
their particular application to the vita activa of politics and war.
Indeed, he tries to reinvent these notions from a personal point of
view and to introduce them into human relationships. For example, he
applies the word fides, which traditionally meant faithfulness towards
one's political allies, to his relationship with
reinterprets it as unconditional faithfulness in love. So, despite
seeming frivolity of his lifestyle,
Catullus measured himself and his
friends by quite ambitious standards.
Catullus's poetry was influenced by the innovative poetry of the
Hellenistic Age , and especially by
Callimachus and the Alexandrian
school, which had propagated a new style of poetry that deliberately
turned away from the classical epic poetry in the tradition of
Cicero called these local innovators neoteroi (νεώτεροι) or
Latin poetae novi or 'new poets '), in that they cast
off the heroic model handed down from
Ennius in order to strike new
ground and ring a contemporary note.
Callimachus did not
describe the feats of ancient heroes and gods (except perhaps in
re-evaluating and predominantly artistic circumstances, e.g. poems 63
and 64), focusing instead on small-scale personal themes. Although
these poems sometimes seem quite superficial and their subjects often
are mere everyday concerns, they are accomplished works of art.
Catullus described his work as expolitum, or polished, to show that
the language he used was very carefully and artistically composed.
Catullus was also an admirer of
Sappho , a female poet of the seventh
century BC, and is the source for much of what we know or infer about
Catullus 51 follows
Sappho 31 so closely that some believe the
later poem to be, in part, a direct translation of the earlier poem,
and 61 and 62 are certainly inspired by and perhaps translated
directly from lost works of Sappho. Both of the latter are epithalamia
, a form of laudatory or erotic wedding-poetry that
Sappho had been
famous for but that had gone out of fashion in the intervening
Catullus twice used a meter that
Sappho developed, called
the Sapphic strophe in poems 11 and 51. In fact,
Catullus may have
brought about a substantial revival of that form in Rome.
Catullus, as was common to his era, was greatly influenced by stories
from Greek and Roman myth. His longer poems—such as 63 , 64 , 65 ,
66 , and 68 —allude to mythology in various ways. Some stories he
refers to are the wedding of
Thetis , the departure of the
Theseus and the Minotaur,
Ariadne 's abandonment, Tereus
Procne , as well as
Protesilaus and Laodamia .
Catullus wrote in many different meters including hendecasyllabic
verse and elegiac couplets (common in love poetry). All of his poetry
shows strong and occasionally wild emotions especially in regard to
Lesbia . Lesbia, known for having multiple suitors, always showed
little affection towards Catullus. He also demonstrates a great sense
of humour such as in
Catullus 13 .
Catullus Dreams (2011) is a song cycle by David Glaser set to texts
of Catullus. The cycle is scored for soprano and seven instruments. It
was premiered at Symphony Space in New York by soprano Linda Larson
and Sequitur Ensemble.
Catulli Carmina is a cantata by
Carl Orff to the texts of Catullus.
"Carmina Catulli" is a song cycle arranged from 17 of Catullus' poems
by American composer Michael Linton. The cycle was recorded in
December 2013 and premiered at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in
March 2014 by French baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer and pianist Jason
Catullus 5 , the love poem "Vivamus mea
Lesbia atque amemus", in the
Ben Jonson was set to music (lute accompanied song) by
Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger .
Thomas Campion also wrote a lute-song
using his own translation of the first six lines of
followed by two verses of his own. The translation by Richard Crashaw
was set to music in a four-part glee by
Samuel Webbe Jr. It was also
set to music in a three-part glee by
John Stafford Smith .
Finnish jazz singer Reine Rimón has recorded poems of
to standard jazz tunes.
The American composer, Ned Rorem, set
Catullus 101 to music for voice
and piano. The song, "Catallus: on the Burial of His Brother" was
originally published in 1969.
The Icelandic composer, Johann Johannsson, set
Catullus 85 to music.
The poem is sung through a vocoder . The music is played by a string
quartet and piano . Titled "Odi Et Amo", the song is found on
Johannsson's album Englaborn .
Catullus was the main protagonist of the historical novel Farewell,
Catullus (1953) by
Pierson Dixon . The novel shows the corruption of
the Roman society.
Codex Vaticanus Ottobonianus Latinus 1829
Poetry of Catullus
* ^ The bust was commissioned in 1935 by Sirmione's mayor, Luigi
Trojani, and produced by the Milanese foundry Clodoveo Barzaghi with
the assistance of the sculptor Villarubbia Norri (N. Criniti & M.
Arduino (eds.), Catullo e Sirmione. Società e cultura della Cisalpina
alle soglie dell'impero (Brescia: Grafo, 1994), p. 4).
* ^ A B C D E "Gaius Valerius Catullus". www.BookRags.com.
Retrieved September 13, 2014.
* ^ M. Skinner, "Authorial Arrangement of the Collection", pp.
46–48, in: A Companion to Catullus, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.
Suetonius Divus Iulius 73".
* ^ Howe, Jr., Quincy (1970). Introduction to Catullus, The
Complete Poems for American Readers. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.,
Inc. pp. vii to xvii.
* ^ M. Skinner, "Introduction", p.3, in: A Companion to Catullus,
* ^ T.P. Wiseman, "The Valerii Catulli of Verona", in: M. Skinner,
ed., A Companion to Catullus, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
* ^ McMurtry, Chris (August 19, 2014). "New Release: Linton:
Carmina Catulli". RefinersFire. Archived from the original on October
8, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
* ^ http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/images/3/37/Web-com.pdf
* ^ http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/images/5/52/Smi-let.pdf
* ^ Reine Rimón and her Hot Papas jazz band; Gregg Stafford; Tuomo
Pekkanen; Gaius Valerius Catullus, Variationes iazzicae Catullianae
(in Latin), retrieved 2013-10-07
* Balme, M.; Morewood, J (1997). Oxford
Latin Reader. Oxford: Oxford
* Barrett, A. A. (1972). "
Catullus 52 and the Consulship of
Vatinius". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological
Association. 103: 23–38.
* Barwick, K. (1958). "Zyklen bei
Martial und in den kleinen
Gedichten des Catull". Philologus. 102: 284–318.
* Claes, P. (2002). Concatenatio Catulliana, A New Reading of the
Carmina. Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben
* Clarke, Jacqueline (2006). "Bridal Songs: Catullan Epithalamia and
Prudentius Peristephanon 3". Antichthon. 40: 89–103.
* Coleman, K.M. (1981). "The persona of Catullus' Phaselus". Greece
&Rome. N.S. 28: 68–72. doi :10.1017/s0017383500033507 .
* Dettmer, Helena (1997). Love by the Numbers: Form and the Meaning
in the poetry of Catullus. Peter Lang Publishing.
* Deuling, Judy (2006). "
Catullus 17 and 67, and the Catullan
Construct". Antichthon. 40: 1–9.
* Dorey, T.A. (1959). "The Aurelii and the Furii". Proceedings of
the African Classical Associations. 2: 9–10.
* Duhigg, J (1971). "The Elegiac Metre of Catullus". Antichthon. 5:
* Ellis, R. (1889). A Commentary on Catullus. Oxford: Clarendon
* Ferguson, J. (1963). "
Catullus and Martial". Proceedings of the
African Classical Associations. 6: 3–15.
* Ferguson, J. (1988). Catullus. Greece & Rome:New Surveys in the
Classics. 20. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
* Ferrero, L. (1955). Interpretazione di Catullo (in Italian).
Torino: Torino, Rosenberg & Sellier.
* Fitzgerald, W. (1995). Catullan Provocations; Lyric Poetry and the
Drama of Position. Berkeley: University of California Press.
* Fletcher, G.B.A. (1967). "Catulliana". Latomus. 26: 104–106.
* Fletcher, G.B.A. (1991). "Further Catulliana". Latomus. 50:
* Fordyce, C.J. (1961). Catullus, A Commentary. Oxford: Oxford
* Gaisser, Julia Haig (1993).
Catullus And His Renaissance Readers.
Oxford: Clarendon Press.
* Greene, Ellen (2006). "Catullus, Caesar and the Roman Masculine
Identity". Antichthon. 40: 49–64.
* Hallett, Judith (2006). "
Horace on Roman Women
Poets". Antichthon. 40: 65–88.
* Harrington, Karl Pomeroy (1963).
Catullus and His Influence. New
York: Cooper Square Publishers.
* Havelock, E.A. (1939). The Lyric Genius of Catullus. Oxford: B.
* Hild, Christian (2013). Liebesgedichte als Wagnis. Emotionen und
generationelle Prozesse in Catulls Lesbiagedichten. St.Ingbert:
Röhrig. ISBN 978-3-86110-517-6 .
* Jackson, Anna (2006). "
Catullus in the Playground". Antichthon.
* Kaggelaris, N. (2015), "Wedding Cry:
Sappho (Fr. 109 LP, Fr.
Catullus (c. 62. 20-5)- modern greek folk songs" in
Avdikos, E.- Koziou-Kolofotia, B. (ed.) Modern Greek folk songs and
history, Karditsa, pp. 260-70
* Kidd, D.A. (1970). "Some Problems in
Catullus lxvi". Antichthon.
* Kokoszkiewicz, Konrad W. (2004). "Et futura panda sive de Catulli
carmine sexto corrigendo". Hermes. 32: 125–128.
* Kroll, Wilhelm (1929). C. Valerius
Catullus (in German). Leipzig:
* Maas, Paul (1942). "The Chronology of the Poems of Catullus".
Classical Quarterly. 36: 79–82. doi :10.1017/s0009838800024605 .
* Martin, Charles (1992). Catullus. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.
ISBN 0-300-05199-9 .
* Munro, H.A.J. (1878). Criticisms and Elucidations of Catullus.
Cambridge: Deighton, Bell and co.
* Newman, John Kevin (1990). Roman
Catullus and the Modification of
the Alexandrian Sensibility. Hildesheim: Weidmann.
* Quinn, Kenneth (1959). The Catullan Revolution. Melbourne:
Melbourne University Press.
* Quinn, Kenneth (1973). Catullus: The Poems (2nd ed.). London:
* Rothstein, Max (1923). "Catull und Lesbia". Philologus. 78:
* Small, Stuart G.P. (1983). Catullus. Lanham, Md.: University Press
of America. ISBN 0-8191-2905-4 .
* Swann, Bruce W. (1994). Martial's Catullus. The Reception of an
Epigrammatic Rival. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.
* Thomson, Douglas Ferguson Scott (1997). Catullus: Edited with a
Textual and Interpretative Commentary. Phoenix. 34: suppl. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-0676-0 .
* Townend, G.B. (1980). "A Further Point in Catullus' attack on
Volusius". Greece &Rome. n.s. 27: 134–136. doi
* Townend, G.B. (1983). "The Unstated Climax of
Catullus 64". Greece
&Rome. n.s. 30: 21–30. doi :10.1017/s0017383500026437 .
* Tesoriero, Charles (2006). "Hidden Kisses in Catullus: Poems 5, 6,
7 and 8". Antichthon. 40: 10–18.
* Tuplin, C.J. (1981). "
Catullus 68". Classical Quarterly. n.s. 31:
113–139. doi :10.1017/s000983880002111x .
* Uden, James (2006). "Embracing the Young Man in Love:
and the Comic Adulescens". Antichthon. 40: 19–34.
* Watson, Lindsay C. (2003). "Bassa's Borborysms: on
Catullus". Antichthon. 37: 1–12.
* Watson, Lindsay C. (2006). "
Catullus and the Poetics of Incest".
Antichthon. 40: 35–48.
* Wheeler, A. L. (1934).
Catullus and the Traditions of Ancient
Poetry. Sather Classical Lectures. 9. Berkeley: University of
* Wilamowitz-Möllendorf, Ulrich von (1913).
Sappho und Simonides
(in German). Berlin: Weidmann.
* Wiseman, T. P. (1969). Catullan Questions. Leicester: Leicester
* Wiseman, T. P. (2002).
Catullus and His World: A Reappraisal (1st
pbk. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31968-4 .
* Wiseman, T. P. (1974). Cinna the poet and other Roman essays.
Leicester: Leicester University Press. ISBN 0-7185-1120-4 .
Wikisource has original works written by or about: