Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Catullus and His Wedding Songs

by Jennifer Goodall Powers, SUNY Albany, NY

Yet if human survival means more than a ghostly reputation,
Tibullus must surely dwell in Elysium,
Welcomed by young Calvus, ivy-garlanded,
by Catullus poet and scholar ...

"Gaius Valerius Catullus fell in love with a married woman in the first century B.C. and then chronicled the affair in his poetry. Many of Catullus' poems are dedicated to the woman called Lesbia whom he loved with his whole life. Out of this relationship and influenced by Greek poets, a new Latin genre was created. Catullus and his fellow Roman poets, however, added a dimension of devoted love to their poems that was rare in Hellenistic poetry. Influenced by the changing morality in Rome and his subsequent love affair, Catullus' poems disclose not only his own emotions (as one of the first poets to write this in depth about his love affair), but also this new Roman attitudes towards marriage and women."

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