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The Poems of Catullus (Collins Classics)

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Written in the twilight of the Roman Republic, the poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus offers a delicious insight into the passions and gossip of high Roman society.From the poet and his friends to cultural and political titans, including Caesar, Cicero, and Pompey, his cutting, modern verse spares no-one. In this new translation by Daisy Dunn, author of Catullus’ Bedspread, Written in the twilight of the Roman Republic, the poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus offers a delicious insight into the passions and gossip of high Roman society.From the poet and his friends to cultural and political titans, including Caesar, Cicero, and Pompey, his cutting, modern verse spares no-one. In this new translation by Daisy Dunn, author of Catullus’ Bedspread, his obscene honesty, arrogant wit and surprising tenderness capture Roman society at their best.Most famous for his obsessive love lyrics for the married Lesbia, Catullus’ words are an immortal expression of youth, rebellion and agonised love.


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Written in the twilight of the Roman Republic, the poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus offers a delicious insight into the passions and gossip of high Roman society.From the poet and his friends to cultural and political titans, including Caesar, Cicero, and Pompey, his cutting, modern verse spares no-one. In this new translation by Daisy Dunn, author of Catullus’ Bedspread, Written in the twilight of the Roman Republic, the poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus offers a delicious insight into the passions and gossip of high Roman society.From the poet and his friends to cultural and political titans, including Caesar, Cicero, and Pompey, his cutting, modern verse spares no-one. In this new translation by Daisy Dunn, author of Catullus’ Bedspread, his obscene honesty, arrogant wit and surprising tenderness capture Roman society at their best.Most famous for his obsessive love lyrics for the married Lesbia, Catullus’ words are an immortal expression of youth, rebellion and agonised love.

30 review for The Poems of Catullus (Collins Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    i relate to catullus bc i too am petty, bitter, overdramatic & bisexual*. *i feel i have to add this part is no longer true, but the rest remains so :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    The Poète Maudit of Near-Antiquity! Did you know that us ‘senior’ denizens of Ontario, Canada had to endure TWO Senior Years of High School in the 1960’s? That’s right! The blue Tory clique, who thrived as our political masters for twenty-odd unmolested Bay Street Boom years in those far-away days, decreed that we wet-behind-the-ears teens had to pass both Grade 12 and (unlucky?) Grade 13 to win our senior matriculation! Non-Canadians may be polite enough to label our final purgatorial year before The Poète Maudit of Near-Antiquity! Did you know that us ‘senior’ denizens of Ontario, Canada had to endure TWO Senior Years of High School in the 1960’s? That’s right! The blue Tory clique, who thrived as our political masters for twenty-odd unmolested Bay Street Boom years in those far-away days, decreed that we wet-behind-the-ears teens had to pass both Grade 12 and (unlucky?) Grade 13 to win our senior matriculation! Non-Canadians may be polite enough to label our final purgatorial year before the intellectual freedom of university a Finishing School... But one Grade 13 teacher of mine, Mrs. Burroughs, who taught Latin, tenderly and humorously commiserated with us poor overworked students. When she saw, out of the corner of her twinkling eye, one of my rear-row cronies - Brian, an avid motorcyclist - making pretend-wheelies with the front of his desk, so anxious was he to get out and take on the REAL business of life - she gave us a good break. For she had decided to give us a Latin course injected with mature good humour. It’s no wonder she extolled the crazy-quilt works of Catullus to us (and later, played Carmina Burana to us on a portable hi-fi)! She knew our futures - and Freedom - beckoned to us brightly from beyond those dull cinder-block corridors. She took special delight in the liberties Catullus took with the Latin language, and demurely (with a twinkle) told us much of his poetry was banned by the Ontario school system. For civil liberties were brutally repressed back then. That was all the incentive we needed to decipher his Latin! But back then, you see, they didn’t call us Ontario the Good for nothing (though I miss that simple time, now, in this in-your-face world)! That’s right - Catullus was a Poète Maudit - a catchword Paul Verlaine made up in 1884 to fit, though it certainly didn’t, the saintly though outré fallen angels Rimbaud and Mallarme. Passion - muddy and mercurial - was his main theme. The song ‘Forever Young’ fit him to a T. Catullus ALWAYS wrote with passion. Mrs. Burroughs was right: it picked up the ears of us poor bored high school seniors pretty quickly! 1968 was a terrible year news-wise. Tricky Dicky was at the helm south of the border. We are even told that one sultry summer night when the public’s rage against the war in Vietnam was at its height, Nixon (under the influence, ever so slightly) sauntered out into the angry mob and babbled to himself... ODI ET AMO Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. Nescio, sed fieri sentio, et EXCRUCIOR. I HATE AND I LOVE I hate and I love. Why, you ask. I don't know - That's how it is. But it's EXCRUCIATING. - CATULLUS, 65 BC (My own rough-hewn & barbarous translation!) Could Catullus have been MORE modern and urgent to our ears in that ugly year? But he remained outspoken, frank and passionate all his too-short life. Under the watchful eyes of the Empire... “EXCRUCIOR!” Can you beat that? So, who SAYS Latin is a Dead Language?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jibran

    Catullus Your Saturnalian bonne-bouche I read this Penguin edition of Catullus's poems side by side Peter Green's translation. I have no hesitation in saying I prefer the latter, not because I am in any way able to compare it with the original Latin, but seeing the parallel text I can see that Green has endeavoured to remain faithful to metre, length and the rhythm of the original. This stands in contrast to Whigham's translation with its arbitrary enjambments and unruly line-breaks, where some po Catullus Your Saturnalian bonne-bouche I read this Penguin edition of Catullus's poems side by side Peter Green's translation. I have no hesitation in saying I prefer the latter, not because I am in any way able to compare it with the original Latin, but seeing the parallel text I can see that Green has endeavoured to remain faithful to metre, length and the rhythm of the original. This stands in contrast to Whigham's translation with its arbitrary enjambments and unruly line-breaks, where some poems are summarily translated, others are bloated (over-translated?), perhaps to give clarity to the vagueness of the original. However, Whigham's love epigrams are more spontaneous, direct and urgent compared to Green's. I do not object to artistic recreation in translation when its purpose is to convey the tone and spirit of the original, and to give a sense of the language even if it means bending the rules of idiomatic English, especially when it requires an intelligent rendering of satire. But I think if you take too much liberty with the original you end up turning it more your own creation and less that of the writer you're translating. FitzGerald's and Omar Khayyam come to mind. I have since long refused to call it a translation. Rubaiyat is FitzGerald's reworking of Khayyam, a work that should be seen as Rubaiyat of Edward FitzGerald. Entry #8 serves as a good example of Catullus' angry love poem. It's aimed at his lover, the wife of another man, whom he refers to as Lesbia in his poems. Catullus hates her for abandoning him and also hates being in love with her, but can't bring himself to concede. I'm quoting both translations to highlight the difference between Whigham and Green. (All italics belong to the translators) Peter Whigham translation Break off fallen Catullus time to cut losses, bright days shone once, you followed a girl here & there loved as no other perhaps shall be loved, then was the time of love's insouciance, your lust as her will matching. Bright days shone on both of you. Now, a woman in unwilling. Follow suit weak as you are no chasing of mirages no fallen love, a clean break hard against the past. Not again, Lesbia. No more. Catullus is clear. He won't miss you. He won't crave it. It is cold. But you will whine. Peter Green translation Wretched Catullus, stop this tomfool stuff and what you see has perished treat as lost for good. Time was, every day for you the sun shone bright, when you scurried off wherever she led you- that girl you loved as no one shall again be loved. There, when so many charming pleasures all went on, things that you wanted, things she didn't quite turn down, then for you truly every day the sun shone bright. Now she's said No, so you too, feeble wretch, say No. Don't chase reluctance, don't embrace a sad-sack life- make up your mind, be stubborn, obdurate, hang tough! So goodbye, sweetheart, Now Catullus will hang tough, won't ask, "Where is she," won't, since you've said No, beg, plead. You'll soon be sorry, when you get these pleas no more- bitch, wicked bitch, poor wretch, what life awaits you now? Who'll now pursue you, still admire you for your looks? Whom will you love now? Who will ever call you theirs? Who'll get your kisses? Whose lips will you bite in play? You, though, Catullus, keep your mind made up, hang tough! For the sake of brevity, I'm not commenting on Catullus' longish (and excellent) poems mixing elements of tragedy and epic, so I'll round off the note on translation by saying that I have been unhorsed along with my hoary perceptions about ancient Roman poets. "Beautiful" is not a word that comes to mind when you read Catullus, no; he is witty, sardonic, playful, deeply personal, highly offensive, almost autobiographical. He does not mince words when he is up to denouncing whom he does not like: his Lesbia whom he repeatedly accuses of turning into a whore with a multitude of lovers, all for having spurned his love(!), the poets of habit, time-wasting rhymesters, and his foes whom he abuses without a blush: his preferred revenge is to drive his equine male organ through the foully malodorous bog land of other people's backsides. Not a man you would want to know in real life! Suffice it to say that Catullus startled me, amused me, shocked me, and gave me plenty to laugh through the sweet (& sour) time I took in reading both translations. For Vibennius he has this to say. Poem #33 "Oh you cream of the con men in the bathhouse, Pop Vibennius, and your son the bum-boy - Dad may have a dirtier right hand, but Juniorʻs got a more voracious backside - why not just sod off to exile in some hellhole, since Dadʻs larcenies are public knowledge, while you, son, cannot hawk your bristly asshole, no, not even for a penny!" (Green) Thanks to Penguin Little Black Classics series I have discovered quite a few world greats which otherwise it would have taken me a long time to discover, independently. I was introduced to Catullus with this collection: I Hate and I Love, enjoyed it thoroughly and immediately sought out the full collection. Here are a couple of samplers to get a better (bitter?) taste of Catullus on your poetic palate! Poem #16: Catullus rebukes his critics and detractors who most probably had objected to the content of his poems, as many still would! (I have no idea what the first and last lines mean) "Pedicabo et irrumabo Furius & Aurelius twin sodomites, you have dared deduce me from my poems which are lascivious which lack pudicity... The devoted poet remains in his own fashion chaste his poems not necessarily so: they may well be lascivious lacking in pudicity stimulants (indeed) to prurience and not solely in boys but those whose hirsute genitalia are not easily moved. You read of those thousand kisses. You deduced an effiminancy there. You were wrong. Sodomites. Furius & Aurelius. Pedicabo et irrumabo vos." (Whigham) Poem #78B "...but what irks me now is that your filthy saliva has soiled the pure kisses of a pure girl. You won't get away scot-free, though. All future ages shall know that, and ancient Fame tell what you see." (Green) September '15

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    1st century BCE portrait from Pompeii Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.() In the mid-1st century BCE the Roman Republic was stumbling to a close, torn by the struggles between factions of the Roman aristocracy trying to hold onto its wealth and influence, the rising merchants and bankers - some of whom were obscenely wealthy and holding the financial lifeline of many aristocrats - and the uncountable plebians driven off their farms by the ari 1st century BCE portrait from Pompeii Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.() In the mid-1st century BCE the Roman Republic was stumbling to a close, torn by the struggles between factions of the Roman aristocracy trying to hold onto its wealth and influence, the rising merchants and bankers - some of whom were obscenely wealthy and holding the financial lifeline of many aristocrats - and the uncountable plebians driven off their farms by the aristocracy's acquisition of huge tracts of agricultural land worked by armies of slaves and forced to live in misery in the stinking tenements of the Subura. One civil war had recently come to an end with Sulla's dictatorship, but after a reign of terror motivated at least as much by greed as by reasons of state security he returned the power to the Republican hierarchy and Rome back to its old problems; a second civil war was imminent. This one would be the end of the Republic. In such times of social and political turmoil one has observed again and again how some artists withdraw from a larger social engagement and focus on the private, not seldom emphasizing technical aspects of the craft that the more socially engaged writers left aside in order to reach a larger audience. These are both characteristics of the so-called neoteric poets, of whom Gaius Helvius Cinna, Licinius Calvus and Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 - ca. 54 BCE) were the most famous. The overwhelmingly dominant literary tradition in Rome until that time was dedicated to edifying the reader in the Roman Republican virtues through history and epic poetry recounting the heroic acts of Rome's great men. Certainly there was also theater - tragedy and comedy based on Greek models, and lesser fare as well - but that was written and performed by slaves, freedmen and a few others until quite late in the Republic. The neoteric poets, whom Cicero, with a sniff, called the poetae novi, deliberately turned away from the tradition to write of more private matters - particularly (erotic) love - in a highly literary idiom that, often enough, could well be termed artificial and was based on Alexandrian models. Like the late 19th century poètes maudits and aesthetes such as Stéphane Mallarmé, the core group of neoteric poets conjoined aesthetics and ethics whereof the principles forming their code were lepos (grace), venustas (charm) and urbanitas (urbanity). Born in fairly well-to-do families (but not aristocrats), they had the means to withdraw without concern for a wide audience (which they, in any case, spurned - another analogous trait with the poètes maudits). Unfortunately, little of the work of Cinna and Calvus has come down to us, but we do have 113 of Catullus' poems in our possession, and The Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition (2005) contains them all, along with striking translations by Peter Green. The high school Latin I learned before the dawn of time suffices to let me enjoy the exceedingly complex rhythmic schemes Catullus employs (though little else), to which, remarkably, Peter Green extends his primary efforts and reproduces as successfully as one is likely to do in English.(*) Because of the deliberate air of spontaneity Catullus gives his poems and because almost all of us are not reading the original Latin, it is easy to get the impression that his poems are artless trivialities expressing standard feelings of joy, betrayal, suffering, hope and disillusionment in the relationships between lovers or that the poems addressed to men are just catty complaints or obsequious compliments tossed off on a whim. In light of the context suggested above, just the opposite is true. These poems are painstakingly worked and structured to provide texts based upon various complex and rigid metric schemes with a convincing appearance of spontaneity. That is not at all easy. So imagine, for a moment, the irony of a strict hendecasyllabic metric form being used for a scurrilous insult: 33 Oh you cream of the con men in the bathhouse, Pop Vibennius, and your son the bum-boy - Dad may have a dirtier right hand, but Juniorʻs got a more voracious backside - why not just sod off to exile in some hellhole, since Dadʻs larcenies are public knowledge, while you, son, cannot hawk your bristly asshole, no, not even for a penny! Clearly, one would not like to be on Catullus' bad side! But I come back to the craft and hence time involved in fashioning a strictly maintained, complex metric form (explained at length by Green) in such a manner that it appears to be an off-the-cuff slur and think of those two gifted bad boys - Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine - writing a strict and classical sonnet to the trou de cul. Were they sniggering like adolescents (after all, one of them was an adolescent) while forming those lines (was Catullus?), or was something else altogether going on in their minds? Insults aplenty are to be found in these poems, as well as what I interpret as quite insincere fawning. These and the many poems addressed to multiple lovers have raised the question of to which degree the poems are autobiographical. But they are so lively, and so convincingly spontaneous (despite the fact that they definitely were not) that I incline to share Green's view that we are getting a glimpse into the social and sexual life of real people removed from us by two millennia. As Green writes, "what need to make up stories when there was so much splendid material to hand." Can one doubt that this actually happened?: 53 Nice joke lately in court from some bystander: when my Calvus had finished his quite brilliant list of all Vatinius' misdemeanors, this man cries, hands raised in admiration, "Oh my god, an articulate cock-robin." (Licinius Calvus, Catullus' close friend and fellow poet, was a lawyer.) And so why should we disbelieve the many ups and downs of his relations with Lesbia and his many other paramours? These, at least as reported by the author, were carnal and cynical, which makes for entertaining reading, but one has to wonder if the poor man ever experienced some real love before he died so young (probably due to tuberculosis contracted in his teens). Even the very idea of such a love receives the full weight of his sophisticated irony in poem 45, too long to reproduce here. So, instead, I'll close with a poem in which he turns his irony against himself and his role as poet. 16 Up yours both, and sucks to the pair of you, Queen Aurelius, Furius the faggot, who dared judge me on the basis of my verses— they mayn’t be manly: does that make me indecent? Squeaky-clean, that’s what every proper poet’s person should be, but not his bloody squiblets, which, in the last resort, lack salt and flavor if not “unmanly” and rather less than decent, just the ticket to work a furious itch up, I won’t say in boys, but in those hirsute clods incapable of wiggling their hard haunches. Just because you’ve read about my countless thousand kisses, you think I’m less than virile? Up yours both, and sucks to the pair of you! It is clear to me that Catullus was more than intelligent enough to know that this farrago of invective and self-righteous outrage - thou dost protest too much, Gaius! - could only induce the opposite impression in the sophisticated reader. But then I stop and wonder again. The man's poetry is entertaining, cynical, ironic and sophisticated to the point of self-negation. And all this 2,000 years ago. Green emphasizes how "alien" Catullus is to us at such a remove. Granted, but then why does he seem to be so familiar? () I hate and I love. You wonder, perhaps, why I'd do that? I have no idea. I just feel it. I am crucified. (*) Green's introduction, in which he details the many difficulties of bringing the poetry of Latin into English and his solutions (building upon the work of Richmond Lattimore and Cecil Day Lewis), is very illuminating.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    He is essential reading, of course, though I had only read bits and bobs in the past before this - and this version in particular is fantastic. A lovely hardback bilingual edition. Peter Green does extraordinary translation work (as he did with Ovid) and all the lewd crude rude and often beautiful work of this great poet is in one gorgeous package. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    Words and expressions the translator should have thought twice about using: "Treadmill," "French poodle," "syphilitic." Catullus is the OG badass Roman poet. His polyamorous adventures and vicious satirical portraits amply flex his majorly ripped wit, status, and (professed) sexual prowess. Listen to him mic drop other statesmen and rapturously serenade his shameless strumpet Lesbia. His crucifying words remain vivid and alluring. Witness the art of the insult developed into an intimate, nauseatin Words and expressions the translator should have thought twice about using: "Treadmill," "French poodle," "syphilitic." Catullus is the OG badass Roman poet. His polyamorous adventures and vicious satirical portraits amply flex his majorly ripped wit, status, and (professed) sexual prowess. Listen to him mic drop other statesmen and rapturously serenade his shameless strumpet Lesbia. His crucifying words remain vivid and alluring. Witness the art of the insult developed into an intimate, nauseating symphony: "Even your arses, dry as fine, operative salt-cellars - working maybe ten times a year, the product like pebbles or dry broad-beans easily friable between the fingers and leaving no sh-t-smudge."

  7. 4 out of 5

    saïd

    Frank O. Copley's translation of Catullus's poetry is one of the most interesting I've read, especially considering that Catullus is a notoriously difficult poet to work with in translation. Copley did more of an interpretation than direct translation of the poems, in the style of modernist free-form poetry as opposed to the stricter lyrical form of other translations. Despite having been done in the 1950s, the poems hardly feel dated at all (obviously some skirt around the topic of the poem, su Frank O. Copley's translation of Catullus's poetry is one of the most interesting I've read, especially considering that Catullus is a notoriously difficult poet to work with in translation. Copley did more of an interpretation than direct translation of the poems, in the style of modernist free-form poetry as opposed to the stricter lyrical form of other translations. Despite having been done in the 1950s, the poems hardly feel dated at all (obviously some skirt around the topic of the poem, such as XVI, which is to be expected of the time in which Copley published his work) but rather still modern even today. I've seen some people connect Copley's edition to the poetry of E.E. Cummings, a comparison with which I agree—not only for the cultural similarities (the poetae novi deliberately flouted conventional Homeric styles in favour of focusing on the subject matter of everyday life) but also the stylistic (both movements were avant-garde in their focus on sound, syntax, construction, and linguistic wordplay—yes that means puns and dirty jokes). Because of this loose formatting and creative spacing, it's difficult to replicate here, but I'll do my best. This is XVI, Copley's version: sixteennuts to you, boys, nuts and go to hell you pair of little snots, you lacypants     Aurelius        and     Furius you read my verses, found a D---y W--d (good gracious deary me!) and came to the proFOUND conCLUsion that I was just a dirty devil too NOW LOOK a poet's supposed to have some sense of decency and taste but nobody ever said his poems had to be censored by the Purity League     they'd have no fun     they'd have no sparkle without a dash of the age-old itch and something to rouse the Ancient Urge     (and I don't mean just for you young birds     but for those old boys who've kinda lost        the swing of things) but you you read about a thousand kisses or so and want to make a fairy out of me? nuts to you, boys, nuts and go to hellPersonally I think it's fun, it's fresh, it's innovative, and it's hilarious.

  8. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Peter Green. I read one review of this edition which called it an "exuberantly bitchy translation" which "never fails to amuse, amaze, and indeed shock, which was certainly the poet's original intent." I'm not sure I agree... at least with the assessment of Peter Green's translation (I absolutely think Catullus intended to "amuse, amaze, and indeed shock"). Translating poetry is an impossible and thankless task, and Catullus himself is a notoriously impossible This review is of the translation by Peter Green. I read one review of this edition which called it an "exuberantly bitchy translation" which "never fails to amuse, amaze, and indeed shock, which was certainly the poet's original intent." I'm not sure I agree... at least with the assessment of Peter Green's translation (I absolutely think Catullus intended to "amuse, amaze, and indeed shock"). Translating poetry is an impossible and thankless task, and Catullus himself is a notoriously impossible and thankless poet to translate. Green gives a good sense of the general poetic feeling of the Catullus, as well as includes helpful commentary and contextualising information in the introduction and notes. The fact that this is a bilingual edition also helps considerably, although Green apparently has some aversion to direct translation of Catullus's more vulgar phrasing. An example is found in the first four lines of XVI:Up yours both, and sucks to the pair of you, Queen Aurelius, Furius the faggot, who dared judge me on the basis of my verses— they mayn’t be manly: does that make me indecent? [...]This is... certainly original, I suppose. I don't think it's a great translation, nor does it get across the fury and furor in Catullus's threats. "Up yours" is a VERY generous translation of that line; I also find it amusingly ironic that Green circumvents directly translating pedicare and irrumare but goes on to say faggot in the very next line. Slurs are fine, but not rape threats? Whatever. Here's the equivalent lines in the original Latin:pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi, qui me ex versiculis meis putastis, quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.The thing about this is that you have to understand the context. It's not just a poem in which Catullus insults some guys (or at least not ONLY about that)—the Romans considered oral sex, the act of giving, to be demeaning. It's still thought to be so somewhat today, what with your DJ Khaleds and anti-blowjob crusaders of the world, but not to the extent of the Romans.[1] There were a lot of rape threats in Latin poetry—the word "rape" itself comes from the Latin verb rapere[2] (to grab, seize, take [by force])—so when Catullus says irrumabo, he's not tossing out a generic fuck-you: he's talking about rape, specifically emasculating rape.[3] In this poem when Catullus begins and ends with his (in)famous threats, that word specifically refers to the act of forced oral sex. And that's not all: pathicus referred to someone who submitted to anal sex,[4] with a derogatory connotation; similarly, cinaedus (from κίναιδος) meant a catamite. (The Romans had a plethora of demeaning words to denote a passive partner in sex.) The word molliculus, apparently applied to Catullus's poems, meant "soft" or "delicate," in the same sense of sissy or pansy. The word versiculus in the plural carries a self-deprecating meaning, i.e., "my little poems" or "these humble verses." A more accurate translation would be something along the lines of,I will sodomise and orally rape you both, pathetically submissive Aurelius and Furius, you who think that I, just because my little poems are sissy shit, have no sense of modesty.which gives a very different impression, doesn't it? Although, as Mary Beard said:You can't tell a man from his verses. And 'pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo' for saying you can. But the joke is (or rather one of the jokes in this complicated little poem)—if you can't infer from his kiss-y verses that [Catullus] is effeminate, then neither can you infer from his poetic threats of violent penetration that he is capable of that either.[1] It's a long and complicated history, but to wit, it was believed that the act was "unclean" because the mouth was "holy" or important and thus performing a carnal act as such was profane. Boring, conservative shit; but that's the context we're working with. [2] Probably. Coincidentally, that's also why we refer to things like "the Rape of Nanjing," "The Rape of the Lock," "the Rape of Africa," etc.: none of those are actual sexual assault; it's from the older sense of the word. [3] Sucking dick was only for prostitutes and other "loose women," after all, certainly not an established and educated poet like Catullus. [4] The origin of the word "passive," from Latin passivus (from patior, "to endure"), a calque of Greek παθητικός. Also from whence we get "pathetic" (traceable back to πάσχω, "to suffer, endure").

  9. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Peter Whigham. Unfortunately not a bilingual edition, Peter Whigham's 1980 translation focuses less on literal adherence to the text and more on capturing (his opinion of) the spirit and energy of the original. This approach to translation can be executed well or terribly, rarely anything in between. I wasn't optimistic when I first started reading this translation, primarily thanks to a particularly head-scratching line in the introduction where Whigham claim This review is of the translation by Peter Whigham. Unfortunately not a bilingual edition, Peter Whigham's 1980 translation focuses less on literal adherence to the text and more on capturing (his opinion of) the spirit and energy of the original. This approach to translation can be executed well or terribly, rarely anything in between. I wasn't optimistic when I first started reading this translation, primarily thanks to a particularly head-scratching line in the introduction where Whigham claims, "On many occasions, in moments of intense emotion, Catullus expresses his feelings in the guise of a woman," which is... certainly an opinion (he's referring to the fact that Catullus writes about fucking men). A translator's versatility with Catullus can usually (I've found) be discerned by their chosen translation of poem XVI, in particular lines 1-4. Here's Whigham's rendition (of the entire poem, because he moves lines and phrases around at his own discretion, which makes it difficult to cite only one or two lines):Pedicabo et irrumabo Furius & Aurelius twin sodomites, you have dared deduce me from my poems which are lascivious which lack pudicity... The devoted poet remains in his own fashion chaste his poems not necessarily so: they may well be lascivious lacking in pudicity stimulants (indeed) to prurience and not solely in boys but those whose hirsute genitalia are not easily moved. You read of those thousand kisses. You deduced an effeminacy there. You were wrong. Sodomites. Furius & Aurelius. Pedicabo et irrumabo vos.He doesn't even try. The decision not only not to translate "pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo" but also to truncate it into "pedicabo et irrumabo vos" is bewildering. He did call them "twin sodomites" though, which is coincidentally the name of my next grunge band. Then there's poem LXXX, which is—fair warning—quite nasty:How is it, Gellius, when you leave home in the morning & again at 2 in the afternoon with the rest of the day before you after your soft siesta that your lips previously pink are unaccountably whiter than winter snow? One is not sure, unless rumour speak true: that you swallow the taut tumescence of a man's stomach. One thing is certain that Virro's strained thighs & your lips flecked with semen cry out in unison to onlookers.First of all I have no idea why Whigham translated "Victoris" as "Virro," because that completely ruins the pun, which could have been easily preserved in the English by translating the name as "Victor." This is a very mean and cruel poem, as evidenced by things such as Catullus's use of the diminutive labellum instead of labrum in the first line etc.:Quid dicam, Gelli, quare rosea ista labella   hiberna fiant candidiora nive, mane domo cum exis et cum te octava quiete   e molli longo suscitat hora die? nescio quid certe est: an vere fama susurrat   grandia te medii tenta vorare viri? sic certe est: clamant Victoris rupta miselli   ilia, et emulso labra notata sero.I don't proclaim to be necessarily a better translator than Whigham, but a more literal translation would be something like,What can I say, Gellius, by what means those rosy little lips become whiter than winter snow, in the morning when you leave the house and with the eighth hour from a quiet nap are roused when the day is long? I don't know what's certain: is the whispered rumour true you fellate a man's large erection? this much is certain: Victor's poor depleted groin shouts it out, and your exhausted lips marked with seed.The (dubious) joke is that 1) the man Gellius is fellating is named "Victor," and 2) the Romans considered oral sex, specifically the giving of, to be demeaning, especially if you were a man performing oral on another man. Whigham's translation is... not great.

  10. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Len Krisak. This edition of Catullus's poetry was translated by Len Krisak. I've said before (and I stand by it) that the best way to get an idea of how adept a translator's work with Catullus will be is to look at their interpretation of XVI. Krisak says in his introduction that he'd "tried to strike a compromise between the gross and the euphemistically cute. Only the reader can judge with what success the right tone has been struck," so let's judge:I’ll bug This review is of the translation by Len Krisak. This edition of Catullus's poetry was translated by Len Krisak. I've said before (and I stand by it) that the best way to get an idea of how adept a translator's work with Catullus will be is to look at their interpretation of XVI. Krisak says in his introduction that he'd "tried to strike a compromise between the gross and the euphemistically cute. Only the reader can judge with what success the right tone has been struck," so let's judge:I’ll bugger you, Aurelius, and dick You, Furius, in the face. It seems you thought My versicles were soft and feminine, So I was less than chaste? Far gone in sin? Well, poets should themselves be good; they ought, If they’re devout. But what they write need not. In short, their poems will have charm and wit – If they’re both sexy-soft and far too hot, And able to excite a flaccid prick (Not in a boy, but in some hairy shit Who’s having trouble finding his tumescence). You think my ‘thousand kisses’ add up to My lack of manhood and its manly essence? I’ll dick you in the face and bugger you.(Krisak notes that this vituperation is "a puzzling change of attitude about these two characters, considering they’re called good friends in XI." That's Catullus, baby.) Well, this is... certainly a poem. Note that Krisak attempts a regular metre and rhyme in his translations. I think such determination to adhere to a metre and rhyme detracts from the overall potency of a translation. I've yet to find a translation of pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo that carries the same gutpunch weight of the original. Some translators, like Peter Whigham, don't even translate the opening and closing lines. The first four lines of the poem, here translated as:I’ll bugger you, Aurelius, and dick You, Furius, in the face. It seems you thought My versicles were soft and feminine, So I was less than chaste? Far gone in sin?are, in the original Latin:pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi, qui me ex versiculis meis putastis, quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.Krisak's isn't as bad as, say, Peter Green, but it's not great. Notably, the second line is entirely absent, hobbled by the decision to include rhyme. The phrase "far gone in sin" is also added; no equivalent exists in the original. The evocation of chastity is also Krisak's addition. A quick bit of context: Romans considered the act of giving oral sex incredibly demeaning and emasculating. The words pathicus and cinaedus (from κίναιδος) both refer to someone the receptive partner in anal sex, with a derogatory connotation. The word molliculus, apparently applied to Catullus's poetry, means soft or delicate, in the same sense as sissy or pansy. The word versiculus (pl. versiculis), which Krisak turns into the neologism versicles, carries a self-deprecating meaning: i.e., "my little poems" or "these humble verses." I translated the first four lines a while ago, as such:I will sodomise and orally rape you both, pathetically submissive Aurelius and Furius, you who think that I, just because my little poems are sissy shit, have no sense of modesty.and I (pardon me) still prefer my version. I do not believe that the inclusion of a rhyme scheme or even a regular metre is a necessity in translating poetry, and in fact it often works against the translator, significantly restraining and restricting the translation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Peter Green's exuberantly bitchy translation of the complete poems of the Roman poet Catallus never fails to amuse, amaze, and indeed shock, which was certainly the poet's original intent. With far too many earlier translations of these viscerally human poems, translators have tried to protect us from the full onslaught of both Catallus' subject and language. Not here. For once, we feel an uncensored direct connection to a person who lived more than 2000 years ago. We see how he's just like us, Peter Green's exuberantly bitchy translation of the complete poems of the Roman poet Catallus never fails to amuse, amaze, and indeed shock, which was certainly the poet's original intent. With far too many earlier translations of these viscerally human poems, translators have tried to protect us from the full onslaught of both Catallus' subject and language. Not here. For once, we feel an uncensored direct connection to a person who lived more than 2000 years ago. We see how he's just like us, with the same angry emotions, sexual desires, fetishes, and imperfections. Like all translators, Green does not present a literal translation. He adds more verbiage than is present in the Latin text to add additional clarifying meaning, while staying within the metric and artistic structure of the poem. There are more literal and deliberately obscure translations available, but given the concision of Latin, what Green has done is far better. There are also extensive explanatory notes reflecting his vast Latin scholarship, and a glossary which add considerably to understanding the poems, and the relevant Roman life and history. Speaking of the poems themselves, those nevertheless justly famous ones covering Catallus' stormy relationship with Lesbia are at times tediously repetitive. I mean, so Lesbia was unfaithfully screwing lots of other guys—even the whole Roman army so Catullus says. Then she dumped him, or was it the other way around? Get over it man! How many poems are really necessary to express your love, then hate, toward her? On the other hand—by the way, hands, mouths, other parts and holes play a very prominent role in these poems—Catullus enjoyed relations with both sexes. For me, the raw and erotic same-sex squibs about his young teenage boyfriend Juventius (other boyfriends too: Catallus was typically promiscuous) are a pure delight. Also funny are the many obscene insults toward poorer poets, enemies, and those who betrayed him, or Rome, sexually or otherwise. For some examples, check out Poem 48: "Mellitos oculos tuos, Iuuenti" (Oh those honey-sweet eyes of yours, Juventius!); Poem 80: "clamant Victoris rupta miselli ilia, et emulso labra notata sero." (translate that one for yourself!); and Poem 99 for some Roman S&M, reminiscent of Boise and Oscar, and even more so of Rimbaud and Verlaine. I'll close by including in its entirety Poem 85, one of the better known of all Latin poems: Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucitor. (I hate and love. You wonder, perhaps, why I'd do that? I have no idea. I just feel it. I am crucified.) Just as Catallus hated and loved, so do we two thousand years later, for exactly the same sexual reasons, and with the same intensity. Don't let any translator, rewriter of history, politician, or priest tell you otherwise. And just as Catallus couldn't understand why he had these painful emotions, nor do we still.

  12. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Horace Gregory.hoc facias, sive id non pote sive pote.LXXVIHorace Gregory translated Catullus's poetry in 1931, so I knew going in that I shouldn't expect much from this particular translation. Gregory does say some really good stuff about Catullus, translation, and Catullus in translation in his introduction to the text, however:I have decided that any attempt to reproduce Catullus by means of an Anglo-literary classical tradition would merely confuse our ow This review is of the translation by Horace Gregory.hoc facias, sive id non pote sive pote.LXXVIHorace Gregory translated Catullus's poetry in 1931, so I knew going in that I shouldn't expect much from this particular translation. Gregory does say some really good stuff about Catullus, translation, and Catullus in translation in his introduction to the text, however:I have decided that any attempt to reproduce Catullus by means of an Anglo-literary classical tradition would merely confuse our own literary traditions with those of pre-Agustan Rome. Translating Catullus into formal English verse would be in fact a further distortion of whatever literal rendition from Latin into English may be possible. Another element of confusion that I have attempted to avoid is one that rises out of Catullus's influence upon Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century English poetry. For years we have learned to accept certain religious and literary symbols of classical literature at second or third hand. These symbols, intertwined with an Anglo-Christian ethic, have become poetic clichés. To the poet of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries the interweaving of Latin and Anglo-Christian symbolism was a natural procedure fully understood by his readers and a necessary element of his own vocabulary. A version of Catullus leaning heavily upon English poetic diction and rhymed English verse-forms would be at best a mere experiment in the use of an archaic language and the music of Catullus's Latin metres would be lost in the connotations of our own poetic tradition. On the other hand, it is virtually impossible to render Latin metres into English verse with any degree of accuracy. Such an attempt inverts the order of English speech into absurd artificialities. My solution has been a compromise. I have rejected the traditional forms of English poetry in favor of unrhymed verse, approximated wherever possible the metres of the original Latin text. This, of course, is modified by the speech of our own time and I have attempted to redefine the symbols of Roman life that have become shop-worn in Anglo-classical vocabularies or have dropped into complete obscurity. [...] Every translation of Catullus is in a sense an interpretation of the poet's life. The poems constitute a remarkable self-portrait and it has been my effort to make the portrait clear and convincing. I have attempted to reproduce the personal charm, the epigrammatic vigour and the rapid transition from lyrical beauty to outspoken grossness that every reader of Catullus has found in the original text and which are often lost in the process of translation.That's the good shit. There are a couple of metrics by which I generally judge a translation of Catullus, while taking into account the time period and background of the translation (i.e., a translation from the 1950s is likely not going to be as overtly queer as one from the 2010s, and that's fine): 1) how is the opening line of XVI translated, if at all? 2) are the diminutives applied properly? 3) does the translation use the word "God" with an initial majuscule? 4) how comfortable is the translator with Catullus's "controversial" poems (e.g., XVI, XLVIII, LXXX)? 5) how is the final line of CI translated, if at all? 6) how are the three Sapphic stanze in LI handled? and 7) are any sections omitted, left untranslated, or translated into a language other than the target language? There are, of course, other details, but those tend to stand out, alongside the usual translating decisions such as metre, rhyme, structure, etc., or lack thereof. Now, one immediate benefit of Gregory's translation is the fact that it is a bilingual edition: the original Latin text of every poem is included immediately prior to its English translation. For example, the book begins with I, the opening couplet of which, in Latin, reads thusly:qui dono lepidum novum libellum arido modo pumice expolitum?Gregory's English translation:Who shall receive my new-born book, my poems, elegant and shy, neatly dressed and polished?This is a pretty literal translation. Catullus's use of the diminutive "libellus" (from "liber," book) is not noted (although Gregory later gets this right in XXVI with "villula," little villa), and the second line should read, "dry (in) manner (and) roughly polished" instead of "elegant and shy, / neatly dressed and polished"; I don't know why Gregory flubbed this particular bit. The adjective "aridus," which literally means "dry" (think arid), could also refer metaphorically to "meagre" or "humble," another relatively popular translation in this context. Gregory seems to stumble a bit with "lepidus" (understandably so), transforming it into "elegant and shy," which I would argue could indeed stand as a viable translation of the word—personally "charming," "witty," or "effeminate" are the most reasonable equivalents, in my opinion. A more literal translation could then run as follows:to whom / I give / charming / new / little book dry / (in) manner / roughly / polished?The word "pumice" means exactly what it looks like; Catullus is comparing his "little book" to a rough, porous stone (i.e., unfinished and full of holes). This sort of ironic self-deprecation appears frequently in Catullus, and Gregory's apparent lack of realisation of it does not bode well. But moving on. Gregory's translation of XIII—a poem many translators fail to translate well due to the humourous nature—was delightful. In general the affection between men was not downplayed or censored (such as in XCIX for example); there were even slight moments of profanity (although usually in regards to women). But what of XVI?Furius, Aurelius, I'll work your own perversions upon you and your persons, since you say my poems prove that I'm effeminate, deep in homosexual vice. A genuine poet must be chaste, industrious, though his verse may give us rich, voluptuous passion to please the taste of those who read him and not only delicate boys, but bearded men whose limbs are stiff and out of practice. And you because my verses contain many (thousands of) kisses, look at me as though I were a girl. Come at me, and I'll be ready to defile you and seduce you.Look... I've read worse. Gregory misunderstands some of the point of the poem (Catullus is not talking about homosexuality but effeminacy—two overlapping yet distinct topics), and wildly mistranslates the final line (the original Latin says nothing about seduction; defilement is closer, since Catullus is threatening rape). Again, the diminutive ("versiculis," little poems) is omitted. I did not care for Gregory's translation of CI:Dear brother, I have come these many miles, through strange lands to this Eastern Continent to see your grave, a poor sad monument of what you were, O brother. And I have come too late; you cannot hear me; alone now I must speak to these few ashes that were once your body and expect no answer. I shall perform and ancient ritual over your remains weeping, (this plate of lentils for dead men to feast upon, wet with my tears) O brother, here's my greeting: here's my hand forever welcoming you and I forever saying: good-bye, good-bye.Sorry, but that's no "ave atque vale," and never will be. Gregory does however point out in his endnotes that the "ritual referred to in the poem in which a plate of eggs, lentils, or salt is given as an offering to the dead. Here, as elsewhere, I have interpolated an explanation of a ritual for the sake of making the image clear to the modern reader." If the choice is between no footnotes whatsoever and "interpolations [of] explanations," then I'd gladly take the latter. In CXII ("multus homo es, Naso, neque tecum multus homo qui / descendit: Naso, multus es et pathicus") Gregory sort of understands the manner of Catullus's insult towards Naso:Naso, you're a man's man, and yet there are not many men who would care to play at being what you are to many men— to go at full length downward, Naso, everything to many men, and homosexual.I mean... sure. Overall? A surprisingly decent translation. I wouldn't recommend it as my first choice, but it gives a good sense of Catullus's style, which is difficult to do. Many of the translations were reminiscent of Frank O. Copley's translation (1957), which just so happens to be my personal favourite. The translation of LXXXV was acceptable:I hate and love. And if you ask me why, I have no answer, but I discern, can feel, my senses rooted in eternal torture.odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

  13. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    Instead of reduplicating what Lawrence Venuti calls the "translator's invisibility," Brown is all too visible... Yikes. This is not, strictly speaking, a "translation" of Catullus any more than Ten Things I Hate About You is a "translation" of The Taming of the Shrew. That's not how translation works. This probably shouldn't even be tagged with Catullus's name; the poor thing deserves better. I mean, check out "#14":This boat you’re videotaping. You’re looking at a boat. Despite your protests Instead of reduplicating what Lawrence Venuti calls the "translator's invisibility," Brown is all too visible... Yikes. This is not, strictly speaking, a "translation" of Catullus any more than Ten Things I Hate About You is a "translation" of The Taming of the Shrew. That's not how translation works. This probably shouldn't even be tagged with Catullus's name; the poor thing deserves better. I mean, check out "#14":This boat you’re videotaping. You’re looking at a boat. Despite your protests that you are looking at a translation of the fourth poem in the corpus of Catullus, I assure you you are looking at this boat. Lots of bad things battered this boat. Forget about volunteering to swab its lintels. This boat denies it was minced in the Adriatic. It denies that it lit up the Cyclades with an all night buck and spill. Rhodes is horrible, noble, Thracian. Proponents of Rhodes call truce though it might be their sinuses. Where this boat is is post-boat. The word for this boat is phaselus. A phaselus was a rather long and narrow vessel, named for its resemblance to a kidney bean. This boat was built for speed. Yet this boat is sort of fragile. Lots of bad things battered this boat from the beginning of its life to now. You state it’s cracked, but I tell you to go put your stupid hands in the water. Say it again. The boat frets about its impotence, falls over dead. The boat sucks lava dexterously; yes, this boat is right-handed. Its aura chainsmokes cigarettes, looks up at Jupiter out there in space, and its beams moist. What happens below deck, and involves feet, stays below deck. I’m not literally pointing out this boat to you, I’m writing a poem about it in limping trimeters. But this is a fact: botulism is sad. Noobs lurch toward a limpid coast. And before them stands a boat, a beautiful old boat looking like a kidney bean built for speed. It sits there quiet and old, looking over the lake and thinking this lake is really limpid. The noobs all have twins.This isn't even clever. It's just boring.phaselus ille, quem videtis, hospites, ait fuisse navium celerrimus, neque ullius natantis impetum trabis nequisse praeterire, sive palmulis opus foret volare sive linteo. et hoc negat minacis hadriatci negare litus Insulasve Cycladas Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam Propontida trucemve Ponticum sinum, ubi iste post phaselus antea fuit comata silva; nam Cytorio in iugo loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma. Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer, tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima ait phaselus, ultima ex origine tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine, tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore, et inde tot per impotentia freta erum tulisse (laeva sive dextera vocaret aura, sive utrumque Iuppiter simul secundus incidisset in pedem), neque ulla vota litoralibus deis sibi esse facta, cum veniret a mari novissimo hunc ad usque limpidum lacum. sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita senet quiete seque dedicat tibi, gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.

  14. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Guy Lee. Major props to Guy Lee for including the original poems against which to compare and contrast the English. While not my favourite translation of Catullus, this edition had a lot of effort and care into it. The introduction is excellent; Lee's analysis of Catullus's use of poetic metre helps readers to understand the construction and form of the poems. Some of the translations were misleading, however. As an example here are the first few lines of XCII: This review is of the translation by Guy Lee. Major props to Guy Lee for including the original poems against which to compare and contrast the English. While not my favourite translation of Catullus, this edition had a lot of effort and care into it. The introduction is excellent; Lee's analysis of Catullus's use of poetic metre helps readers to understand the construction and form of the poems. Some of the translations were misleading, however. As an example here are the first few lines of XCII:Lesbia always speaks badly of me, In fact she never keeps quiet about me. I’ll be damned if Lesbia does not love me.That third line could mean either "if Lesbia doesn't love me, I'll go to hell," or "damn, Lesbia loves me": the correct translation is the former, more or less. The equivalent lines in the original Latin are as follows:Lesbia mi dicit semper male nec tacet umquam de me: Lesbia me dispeream nisi amat.which translates to, roughly,Lesbia always speaks badly of me, and in fact never shuts up about me: I'll perish if Lesbia doesn't love me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    This review is of the translation by Daisy Dunn. Relatively accurate translations, very direct and without pulling punches on the vulgarity; not a bilingual edition (seriously, why are monolingual editions of translated poetry, especially classic poetry, still being published?!), which was a shame; Daisy Dunn randomly throws in a couple of French words/phrases for no discernible reason; overall a solid translation with a few significant flaws. Worst aspect: NO NOTES. Absolute shame.

  16. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    Edited by Phyllis Young Forsyth.

  17. 4 out of 5

    saïd

    Translation by James Michie.

  18. 4 out of 5

    saïd

    Translation by Jeannine Diddle Uzzi and J. Thomson.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    Poems of Catullus Translation by Guy Lee Guy Lee (1918-2005), British poet and Latinist noted for his translations of Ovid and other ancient Latin poets, has rendered a lively, almost contemporary version of Catullus’ poetry. Catullus ( c. 84-c, 54 BCE) must have been fun to translate, affording Mr. Lee the pleasure of using the most vulgar Latin epithets, sobriquets, swear words and insults in Latin,) Catullus was contemptuous of Julius Caesar and a devoted lover of “Lesbia", the wife of a fell Poems of Catullus Translation by Guy Lee Guy Lee (1918-2005), British poet and Latinist noted for his translations of Ovid and other ancient Latin poets, has rendered a lively, almost contemporary version of Catullus’ poetry. Catullus ( c. 84-c, 54 BCE) must have been fun to translate, affording Mr. Lee the pleasure of using the most vulgar Latin epithets, sobriquets, swear words and insults in Latin,) Catullus was contemptuous of Julius Caesar and a devoted lover of “Lesbia", the wife of a fellow patrician and about whom he wrote romantic poems and scathingly lewd criticisms. According to my research his “carmina" breaks down into 60 short poems, 8 long poems, and 48 epigrams. In them he includes poems about friends of his, his homosexual interests, also about women he admires, invectives against those who have somehow slighted him, like Caesar and Cicero, and condolences such as the one for his brother who died in the Troad. While I have never made it to the area of ancient Troy (the Troad) I have traveled through some of the places such as Verona where Catullus was born, Rome of course and Bithynia along the southeast shore of the Black Sea, which is also where the Nicene Creed was developed and some of the finest silk is produced due to its extensive mulberry trees . You can gather from Catullus’ poems what he looked like as depicted in the painting by Sir Thomas Alma-Tadema . When I read the poems I did visualize this image of him (see below). He only lived to be 30 years old. Quite a wise guy, unflinchingly bold and impolite, and a Casanova of several varieties. I found the poems interesting from the aspect of his use of various linguistic registers, from formal to the violently vulgar. You as an ancient Roman would not have wanted Catullus out and about blackening your name with his verses. He sent an apology to Julius Caesar for insulting him whereupon immediately J.C. invited Catullus to supper. (A supper I would have not declined myself but would have instead sent a double if I could find one, since poisoning was a favorite weapon in those days.) He is also known to classic scholars of ancient poetry for employing various meters in lines of his poetry, something which in English I admire. A reason that a youth today might be interested in reading Catullus is to practice his Latin, since this book is a bilateral translation and rather easy to follow. I had contemplated studying Latin in my Texas high school, which was attended by three close friends who were my team mates in sports, but the more practical Spanish won out, since the Tejanas I knew would more readily respond to Latin's more contemporary offspring. Latin is a good language to study to improve your English vocabulary (about 70% of our vocab is based on Latin) and begin the study of not only Spanish, but also French or Portuguese and several other important European languages. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&r...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    ”In bed I read Catullus. It passes my comprehension why Tennyson could have called him ‘tender.’ He is vindictive, venomous, and full of obscene malice. He is only tender about his brother and Lesbia, and in the end she gets it hot as well.” - Harold Nicolson, Diaries and Letters 1945-1962. Catullus was a Roman poet that lived through some of the most tumultuous days of the Roman Republic, from about 84-54 b.c. He spent his short life socializing in the best of circles, and his poetry contains ja ”In bed I read Catullus. It passes my comprehension why Tennyson could have called him ‘tender.’ He is vindictive, venomous, and full of obscene malice. He is only tender about his brother and Lesbia, and in the end she gets it hot as well.” - Harold Nicolson, Diaries and Letters 1945-1962. Catullus was a Roman poet that lived through some of the most tumultuous days of the Roman Republic, from about 84-54 b.c. He spent his short life socializing in the best of circles, and his poetry contains jabs at Julius Caesar and Cicero, among other notables. He left behind 116 poems, most of which are either memorializing his ill-starred affair with a woman named Lesbia (or Clodia), who was probably married to another man, or viciously attacking his contemporaries. On the list of major writers of the Roman Republic/Early Empire, Catullus is firmly entrenched on the second tier (behind Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and maybe Cicero). But there is much to enjoy here. Catullus’ bawdy style and racy lyrics are a nice change of pace from the formalism (and occasional imperial brownnosing) on display in Horace and Virgil’s poetry. The quote from Nicolson above sums up the experience of reading Catullus nicely; he really does spend an awful lot of time slinging mud at his adversaries, and nothing about this book is tender. Catullus’ poems are certainly not stuffy (they can be quite funny at times), and all in all this book was an easy breezy read. I did not think Catullus’ poetry was quite as good as Virgil/Ovid/Horace when that trio was on their game, and I wouldn’t recommend this book to a reader looking to just hit the highlights of this period.* However, for readers looking to dive more deeply into the literature of the late Republic Catullus’ poems should not be missed. I would rate the poetry on its own a 3.5 star read, but the excellent translation, introduction, and notes by Peter Green (one of my all-time favorites) were so enjoyable that they were worth an additional half star. 4 stars. *For readers interested in tackling the literature of the Republic/early Empire (from Rome’s founding to the death of Augustus in 14 AD), I would say the essentials are Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things and Horace’s Odes, in that order.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Niklas

    Vulgar, obscene, offensive, yet often hilarious, sometimes beautiful and incredibly moving. Catullus poems are powerful and always packed with emotion. Many modern readers will probably find him very relatable as well. He rages against his ex-lover Lesbia and calls her a whore in several poems (and not in a roundabout way either) yet is still obviously madly in love with her. He both praises and insults his friends and fellow poets, and often accuses them of questionable sexual practices. My fav Vulgar, obscene, offensive, yet often hilarious, sometimes beautiful and incredibly moving. Catullus poems are powerful and always packed with emotion. Many modern readers will probably find him very relatable as well. He rages against his ex-lover Lesbia and calls her a whore in several poems (and not in a roundabout way either) yet is still obviously madly in love with her. He both praises and insults his friends and fellow poets, and often accuses them of questionable sexual practices. My favourite poems were however the ones where he mourns his brother who died in battle. Very touching stuff.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    I wish I'd read this book in high school, I would have liked the Romans more. Yes, Catullus wrote poems to and about his friends, erotic poems, invectives and condolences but I personally believe that he lives up to his fame as the inventor of the "angry love poem". His spiteful humor is great and the petty is strong, resounding as clear today as two millennia ago. I wish I'd read this book in high school, I would have liked the Romans more. Yes, Catullus wrote poems to and about his friends, erotic poems, invectives and condolences but I personally believe that he lives up to his fame as the inventor of the "angry love poem". His spiteful humor is great and the petty is strong, resounding as clear today as two millennia ago.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam Olson

    Best thing I’ve read in months. Catullus is beyond incredible. Poems include but are not limited to: - Love poem to private yacht - Passive aggressive poem regarding the theme of “you smell bad and that’s why women don’t like you. ‘Reach for the deodorant.’” - “Your grandpa is a creep lol” - Yelling at a prostitute who stole your pocketbook. Relatable content - A hint of casual gay - Making dick jokes for literally no reason other than “the hell of it” 5/5

  24. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    I don’t read a lot of poetry but when I do… This stuff is great. Mayakovsky meets Ice Cube meets Akhmatova. Clever. Varied. Brutal. Sexy. Confident. Romantic.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Kennedy

    The long poems, which Catullus himself regarded as his greatest achievements, are exquisite. The shorter poems are superficial, sophomoric, melodramatic, obscene…and also a lot of fun.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    What a sensual, torrid, and beautifully composed set of work is this? I am speechless. Catullus your words are like silk. Your stories and musings on human behavior are debauchery at its best. And Ha! The poem regarding your defense of flowery rhetoric. For you are fed wine and grapes in abound and surrounded by ladies night and day. In truth who could fault you for such as this! Oh a man who knows women, and knows his way around the written word is a rare and delicious treat.

  27. 4 out of 5

    AB

    Amazing book of poetry by a truly great Latin poet.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wendell

    Catullus is a great Latin poet whose verse is astonishingly contemporary in the treatment of his themes of love and betrayal. Most of his poems are brief, less than 20 lines, and about a third of these are about his love affair with Lesbia, who is probably Clodia, a married woman from one of Rome's leading families. Other poems deal with his friendships and betrayals, including some delightful insults. In addition, there are eight longer poems, including two marriage songs, a poem about Attis wh Catullus is a great Latin poet whose verse is astonishingly contemporary in the treatment of his themes of love and betrayal. Most of his poems are brief, less than 20 lines, and about a third of these are about his love affair with Lesbia, who is probably Clodia, a married woman from one of Rome's leading families. Other poems deal with his friendships and betrayals, including some delightful insults. In addition, there are eight longer poems, including two marriage songs, a poem about Attis who castrated himself for the goddess Cybele, a complex and gorgeous poem about the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, and No. 68, perhaps his most complex and personal poem. His shorter poems are often quite obscene, and older translations generally gloss over or omit his blunt expressions, so it is important to read a contemporary translation. I have read three of them that I can recommend: by G.P. Gould, Charles Martin, and this one, by Peter Green. When it comes to reading poets in translation, I try to read more than one translation, because no translation is perfect, and comparing them can give you a better idea of the possibilities of the original. If you know anything of the original language, it is also helpful to have a bilingual version in order to get some sense of the sound and rhythm of the original. This translation, by Peter Green, is one of two best of those I read, and it also contains a comprehensive commentary, more extensive than either of the other two translations I used. A word of caution: None of the comments attached to this translation and to the Martin translation on Powell's site are about either of those versions.

  29. 5 out of 5

    max

    Catullus is one of the greatest Roman poets. Had a single manuscript of his collection not been discovered in Verona c. 1300, he would have been lost to us forever. It would be hard to point to a collection of poems that is more passionately intense, thematically wide ranging and skilfully executed than that of Catullus. It is all here: erotic love, friendship, travel, principles of poetic composition, political operators, poetasters, prostitutes, dinner invitations, socially inept wannabes, pos Catullus is one of the greatest Roman poets. Had a single manuscript of his collection not been discovered in Verona c. 1300, he would have been lost to us forever. It would be hard to point to a collection of poems that is more passionately intense, thematically wide ranging and skilfully executed than that of Catullus. It is all here: erotic love, friendship, travel, principles of poetic composition, political operators, poetasters, prostitutes, dinner invitations, socially inept wannabes, poseurs, mourning, and mythology (see, e.g., his magnum opus, No. 64, the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis). There are about two dozen "Lesbia poems" which appear in various places throughout the collection. These poems, about a woman believed to have been named Clodia, are of central importance to the collection as a whole. No poet in Western literature has captured more brilliantly the agonizing torture of what it feels like to have been in a relationship with and then tossed aside by a sexy, cultivated, and well-connected woman. Dear reader, if you have not read Catullus, you simply must. If you need only one single reason to learn the Latin language, let it be this poet. Lee's bilingual edition is excellent. The translations are very faithful to the original Latin poems, all of which are included.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Guus van der Peet

    I am finally making some progress in my bachelor’s thesis for Ancient History after having ignored for two years that I should really finish that studies someday. And in doing so, I have gained a new appreciation for Classical literature. In the last few weeks, I have read Sophocles and Sappho, both of which I loved, and now decided to read some Roman literature, starting with the poems of Catullus, a couple of which I translated in high school once. So about Catullus: about three quarters of th I am finally making some progress in my bachelor’s thesis for Ancient History after having ignored for two years that I should really finish that studies someday. And in doing so, I have gained a new appreciation for Classical literature. In the last few weeks, I have read Sophocles and Sappho, both of which I loved, and now decided to read some Roman literature, starting with the poems of Catullus, a couple of which I translated in high school once. So about Catullus: about three quarters of the poems are obscene personal attacks against all the people he hates, which is pretty much everyone – ranging from close friends to fellow poets to former lovers (both male and female) to Julius Caesar. The majority of the remaining 25 percent are a metaphor for his penis. Most of it is super juvenile, but I have to admit that I laughed quite a lot, and the translations and commentary by Peter Green were extremely well done.

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