from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- Catullus, Gaius Valerius 84?-54? B.C. Roman lyric poet known for his love poems to "Lesbia,” an aristocratic Roman woman whose real name was Clodia.
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- proper n. Gaius Valerius Catullus, Latin poet
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. Roman lyric poet remembered for his love poems to an aristocratic Roman woman (84-54 BC)
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Bunting was a shrewd reader of the classics (and other things), and once remarked, “Whether Catullus is being ornamental or direct, he uses invariably the most straightforward Latin syntax, the language of a man talking.”
Rather wonderfully then, a court case dealing with such specifically modern phenomena as hedge-funds, email communications and Thai prostitutes has stumbled across a question that has been exercising poetry lovers for the last 2000 years: exactly how rude is the poem we now call Catullus XVI?
As the poet of love he recalled Catullus and Tibullus; in political lyricism he suggested d'Aubigny, though with more fervour; as elegiac poet he possessed a grace that was truly Grecian; as the poet of nature he employed the large manner of Lucretius; in polemical prose he was remarkably eloquent.
After cataloguing authors such as Catullus and Ovid, whose indecencies served to corrupt his adolescent hero, the poet asks:
Nowadays we tend to think of epigrams (if we can get away from thinking of them as the exclusive franchise of Oscar Wilde) in the pointed sense with which caustic Latin poets such as Catullus and Martial exploited them: terse, stinging poems of a satirical or ribald turn, the epitome of waspish light verse.
He was the fine flower of the old Oxford education, growing in hedged gardens, sheltered from the winds of heaven, such as Catullus painted in everlasting colours long centuries ago.
On the other hand he devoted himself to seeking for Latin MSS; in 1375 he secured from Verona a copy of Catullus which is still one of the standard texts of the poet (now in Paris, Bib.
"Catullus," wrote as even he had not done since the days of "The
On the left side of most leaves, Carson defines words from Catullus's "Carmen 101," an elegy to his brother.
It was through translating Catullus that I learned the little Latin I know, and through reading bad translations of Catullus that I first began to observe that a good translation of any text finesses a compromise between sense and literal meaning.