Gaius Valerius Catullus Poems

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Gaius Valerius Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC ca. 54 BC) was a Roman poet of the 1st century BC. His work remains widely studied, and continues to influence poetry and other art. Little is known about Catullus's life. Most ancient sources, including Suetonius and Ovid (Amores III.XV), claim Verona as his birthplace. He came from a leading equestrian family from Verona, but lived in Rome most of his life. Catullus's family owned a villa at Sirmio on Lake Garda. His father entertained Caesar, then governor of Gaul. At some point, the poet parodied Caesar and an associate (Mamurra), but later apologized and was forgiven. Catullus's friends included the poets C. Licinius Macer Calvus, Marcus Furius Bibaculus, and C. Helvius Cinna; the orator Q. Hortensius (a rival of Cicero in the law courts) and the biographer Cornelius Nepos, to whom Catullus' book of poems is dedicated. In 61 BC Catullus went to Rome and fell in love with the "Lesbia" of his poems, generally believed to be Clodia Metelli, sister of the infamous Publius Clodius Pulcher. This sophisticated woman, 10 years older than Catullus, was a member of the aristocratic Claudian family. Their brief affair ended when Clodia spurned him for Caelius Rufus, a member of Catullus' social circle and an associate of Cicero. BithyniaIn 57 BC he accompanied his friend Memmius to Bithynia, where Memmius served as propraetor. Catullus served on the staff of the governor of Bithynia, his only political office. While in the East, Catullus traveled to the Troad to perform rites at his brother's tomb, an event recorded in a moving poem. After his year in Bithynia, Catullus returned to Italy, probably settling in Rome and spending the last few years of his life there. Although his poems contain complaints of poverty, he owned a villa near Tibur (modern Tivoli). It is uncertain when Catullus died. Some ancient sources claim he died from exhaustion at the age of thirty. St. Jerome gives his birth year as 87 BC and wrote that the poet lived 30 years, but some of the poems refer to events in 55 BC Since no poem can be dated later than 54BC, scholars traditionally accept the dates 84 BC 54 BC. His poems were widely appreciated by other poets, but Cicero despised them for their supposed amorality. Catullus was never considered one of the canonical school authors. Nevertheless, he greatly influenced poets such as Ovid, Horace, and Virgil; after his rediscovery in the late Middle Ages, Catullus again found admirers. His explicit writing style has shocked many readers, both ancient and modern.

song five
Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us judge all the rumors of the old men
to... [read poem]
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