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Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  Carmen 51  ::  Catullus 51 - Gender of Stanza 1 (Carmen 51)Subscribe  •  Add new message

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AuthorMessage
Brendan
Posted on Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:03:43  Quote
In Catullus 51, Catullus has modeled his poem after Sappho 31. In Sappho 31, the object of attention is a man who Sappho is fawning over. However, as Catullus gives his take on the same poem, he directs the attention to Lesbia. The genders are reversed from Sappho to Catullus, and this seems to require a complete change of the entire poem. Although the first stanza characterizes Catullus using the mascule form "ille", that description, when used by Sappho, is kept masculine to agree with the man who is the object of attention. It is my feeling that in Catullus 51 the first stanza, although written as masculine, should be translated to agree with the second stanza - the description of Lesbia. I'm not sure how you would classify this transfer of gender roles, yet it seems to make much more sense to have the first stanza agree with Lesbia in the second.

*Edit* I have done some more research into the context of this poem, and apparently the reasoning for the Masculine references of the first stanza are that Catullus is seeing a man who many girls are attracted to - this isn't a sign of Catullus having mixed feelings, rather it introduces jealousy of the man more than attraction. *Edit*
semper ubi sub ubi
Suzanne
Posted at Sun Nov 06, 2005 07:22:37  Quote
I did not see the gender issue, although I cannot read Latin. We know Sappho loved women; in her poem, she is in awe of the man that can talk to the woman she is enamored with, without feeling burning sensations, tongue-tied, etc. Catullus feels the same about the man who is talking and laughing with Lesbia with no physical ill effect.

Catullus' comments about leisure being his problem were a departure from Sappho. It seemed like a right-turn sort of ending.
Guest
Posted at Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:04:08  Quote
The "gender" comments seem to me a bit confused. The Catullus and Sappho are just alike: in each case, the speaker says that a male seems to be the equal of the gods as he listens to and (in Catullus) watches a female (unnamed in Sappho; in Catullus' case, Lesbia). The difference (which is indeed an important one) is that in Sappho 31 the speaker ("Sappho") is a woman, in Catullus 51, the speaker ("Catullus") is a male.

Jenny
Guest
Posted at Mon Mar 19, 2007 03:35:38  Quote
Personally, I believe the ending to be some kind of medieval addition - Catullus does not seem to often engage in moralization in his own poems.
Chris Weimer
Posted at Tue Mar 20, 2007 14:18:48  Quote
Quote:
  Personally, I believe the ending to be some kind of medieval addition - Catullus does not seem to often engage in moralization in his own poems.

Yes he does. The whole of poem 76 is moralizing. Besides, the otium/otio/otium repeats the ille/ille/qui he has in the first stanza. Finally, the language is overwhelmingly Catullan. There's one more reason, but I'm saving that for a paper I want published.
Guest
Posted at Wed Nov 09, 2011 23:21:21  Quote
The opening lines of Poem 8 are plenty moralizing, too.
 


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