Abraham's Reviews > The Poems

The Poems by Catullus
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's review
Jan 16, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: greco-roman
Recommended for: Fans of poety and/or Ancient Rome
Read in December, 2009

I found it very difficult not to like this fellow, this apolitical Roman playboy who survives to us as much from luck as from skill as a poet. His character is what most enthralled me. He often appears like a fifteen year-old boy: love-sick on one hand; hot-tempered, always getting into scuffles in the school yard on the other. Occasionally, he is solemn, as in the few poems he wrote to console friends after personal tragedies. Occasionally, he uses lofty language and obscure references -- but he never shrinks from vulgarity and foul language when he finds it appropriate. Above all, he is always emotional, a quality generally terrible for teenagers but great for poets.

After reading this, I don't see how anyone the least bit into poetry or Ancient Rome could afford to pass Catullus up. If nothing else, it should be a fairly short endeavor: only about 116 poems survive, the overwhelming majority under thirty lines. As for me, I will have to find better translations, and return to it at least once more.

Note: I wrote a much longer post, On Catullus and His Poems, on my blog, should anyone care to read it.

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03/08 marked as: read

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