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Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  DelicousHiddenMeanings (Carmen 49)

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AuthorMessage
Sunshine
Posted on Fri May 18, 2007 03:49:54  
We discussed Carmen 49 in my Latin class, and we had an interesting topic of discussion: is Catullus truly so humble that he feels he is the least of poets, or is he making a jab at Cicero? Does he truly respect Cicero, or does he resent him for defending sucessfully Caelius, the man for whom Lesbia left Catullus?
Guest
Posted at Fri Nov 09, 2007 03:19:35  Quote
While it's very valid to recognize the inherent possible almost sarcastic tone of the delivery, you are in very dangerous waters by confusing the poetic voice with the poet himself.

It's truly not a healthy exercise to attempt to pin historic events (or our guess at historical events) onto a poet. It's a great thing to know, but ultimately the analysis of the poem can't be broken down into "Catullus wrote this because of this". Don't jump into the poet's shoes.

It's probably best, from my perspective and those of some very smart people, thus, to limit such endeavors in analysis. Stick with what the text gives you. The almost hyperbolic grandiloquence of the opening lines gives the most credence to the subtle attack on Cicero, so it's valid to make that argument. It's just bringing Clodia (not mentioned in the poem), and Claudius (also not mentioned) into the mix that takes a step too far.
Chris Weimer
Posted at Fri Nov 16, 2007 07:14:48  Quote
Quote:
  It's truly not a healthy exercise to attempt to pin historic events (or our guess at historical events) onto a poet. It's a great thing to know, but ultimately the analysis of the poem can't be broken down into "Catullus wrote this because of this". Don't jump into the poet's shoes.

This is one of the primary movements coming to the fore in Catullan studies. T. P. Wiseman was a huge advocate of it, to the point of denying that Clodia was Lesbia (I think the identification is valid), and later authors are warning against reading Catullus' biography from his poems.

While it's smart to warn caution, I also think it's anachronistic to demarcate clearly the poet from the poetic voice. As we saw from Cicero's few lines, as we see from Lucretius, and as we see from Vergil, the poetic voice is often from the POV of the poet himself. It's standard identification practices to see if the biography matches up with the poem.

While it is dangerous to say "He's making fun of Cicero because Cicero did this or that", it's not dangerous to say that Catullus was probably not on the best terms with Cicero because of the events that transpired. The events are connected with Catullus through a long and arduous process, but I've yet to see a work that has successfully refuted the notion that Lesbia is Clodia, that has torn down the pavement between the two. Even Wiseman in his Catullus and His World makes some allowance for the identification.

Chris Weimer
Guest
Posted at Wed Nov 21, 2007 00:13:16  Quote
Quote:
  I've yet to see a work that has successfully refuted the notion that Lesbia is Clodia, that has torn down the pavement between the two. Even Wiseman in his Catullus and His World makes some allowance for the identification.

Try "Lesbia, the Poet, and the Two Faces of Sappho: Womanufacture in Catullus" by Holzberg.
Chris Weimer
Posted at Fri Nov 30, 2007 02:51:25  Quote
Quote:
  Try "Lesbia, the Poet, and the Two Faces of Sappho: Womanufacture in Catullus" by Holzberg.

Thanks, I'll have to look into it.
 


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