Catullus Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In what way was Catullus a traditional poet? In what way was he an innovator?

What was Catullus’s attitude toward traditional poetic subjects, such as war and military conquest?

Why does Catullus value physical love so highly?

Judging by all of Catullus’s poems, is physical pleasure the only interest a woman holds for him?

In Catullus’s poems about Lesbia, does he appear to dominate the woman he loves?

Catullus’s poems about Lesbia swing between emotional extremes, from love to misery to hate. Does he ever achieve emotional balance toward her?

The poet spent most of his adult life in Rome. What was his attitude toward the countryside?


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Further Reading:

Arkins, Brian. An Interpretation of the Poems of Catullus. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999. Surveys Catullus’s life and literary influences and offers a reading of his poetry that emphasizes its modernity and accessibility to modern readers.

Dettmer, Helena. Love by the Numbers: Form and Meaning in the Poetry of Catullus. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. Offers a reading of Catullus’s entire corpus of poetry as a unified body of work organized along thematic, structural, and metrical groupings.

Fitzgerald, William. Catullan Provocations: Lyric Poetry and the Drama of Position. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Fitzgerald interprets Catullus’s lyrics and emphasizes his manipulation of the reader’s point of view. Does not require knowledge of Latin. Includes bibliographic references.

Fordyce, C. J. Catullus: A Commentary. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1965. An extensive and illuminating commentary in English on the Latin text, flawed by the author’s refusal to print or discuss some thirty-two poems “which do not lend themselves to comment in English.”

Garrison, Daniel H. Student’s Catullus. New York: Routledge, 1996. Provides notes on vocabulary, grammar, and mythology along with translations of the...

(The entire section is 504 words.)