Friday, April 25, 2008

Catullus Journal #2

Due Monday 4/28/08

Find any character mentioned in more than one poem and comment on Catullus' attitude toward them citing Latin to bolster your opinion.

Have fun!



Michelle said...

Catullus Journal #2

In Catullus’ first few poems, the bird that his girl is very fond it is mentioned quite a bit. In poem 2, Catullus describes the relationship that this bird has with his girl. “Sparrow, delight of my girl with whom she is accustomed to play, whom she holds in her lap, whom she gives her index finger to him nibbling it” (Passer, deliciae meae puellae, quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere, cui primum digitum dare appetenti) Catullus also describes his jealousy of the bird. He wishes that he could sit in his girl’s lap just as her bird does and he wishes that she could love him as much as she loves her sparrow, “and I would be able to play with you just like that bird and to lighten the sad worries of your mind” (tecum ludere sicut ipsa possem et tristis animi levare curas!) In a way that only Catullus can, he manages to make his readers understand the jealousy he has of this bird completely. Normally we would find it silly to think of someone being jealous of a small bird, but from the way Catullus describes it, we understand that it is not the bird itself that he is jealous of, but rather the affection that his girl gives towards her bird instead of towards Catullus.
In poem 3 an unfortunate even occurs: the bird belonging to Catullus’ girl dies. In the beginning of the poem, Catullus asks us to mourn this loss of this bird and throughout the rest of this piece he reflects on the life of the bird, how much it meant to his girl and how sad she is now that her bird is gone. “O cruel fate! O poor sparrow! The swollen eyes of my girl are swollen red from crying from your work.” (O factum male! O miselle passer! Tua nunc opera meae puellae flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli) One would think that after being so jealous of the affection that his girl had towards this bird Catullus would not mourn but rather rejoice in the death of the sparrow. However, nowhere in poem 3 (the last of his poems about the bird) does Catullus mention that he is in fact happy by the death of the bird. Needless to say, one can easily infer that now that this bird is out of the way, Catullus might be able to find his way into the heart of his girl after all.

Annie A said...

Annie Alexandrian

Catullus Journal 2

Catullus’ mentions the sparrow (passer) in poem 2 and 3. In poem 2, he speaks of the passer as “deliciae” (delightful) to his girl Lesbia. In poem 2, it is evident that Catullus’s is truly jealous of the relationship Lesbia has with her sparrow. This is shown in the line “tecum ludere sicut ipsa possem”. Where he says he would like to play with her just like the sparrow. Overall, he knows that the sparrow offers solaciolum (solace/comfort) for Lesbia in her time of pain. Lesbia is suffering and Catullus longs to be the one to ease her pain, so he writes bitterly and shows his jealousy toward the sparrow. Whereas in poem 3, it has a more serious and somber tone due to the death of the sparrow. He uses words like “tenebrae” (darkness” to convey death and doom. He goes on to describe how the sparrow is no longer circumsilens (hopping around) and he is sentimental in saying it as if he is sad that the sparrow is not there to delight Lesibia. It is a different feeling that that when he was jealous of the sparrow when it had the complete attention of Lesbia. He then says in the line “tum bellum mihi passm abustulistis” claiming the beautiful sparrow was stolen from him, when he actually didn’t like it before. I believe he is acting more kind towards the sparrow in poem 3, because the sparrow made Lesbia happy and now its gone and she is no longer happy. This especially pains Catullus because he has realized he cannot and will not ever be enough for her.

Mpasini said...

Since both Michelle and Annie were kind enough to talk about my little sparrow, I guess I'll discuss Catullus' feelings toward his "girlfriend", Lesbia (which is a supposed pseudonym...her name in real life was Clodia).

I actually looked into this whole relationship deal, and this one site summed it up perfectly: LOVE GONE SOUR :). I mean, we get a taste of Catullus' sincere love for Lesbia in one of our favorite poems...yeah that's right, #5!!! "da mi basia mille"...need I say more? This emotionally charged poem gives us readers the impression that Cat was seriously obsessed (3200 kisses???). Then he completely turns the table in poem 11 for example, where he calls Lesbia a whore: "nullum amans vere, sed indentidem omnium ilia rumpens", or literally, not loving turly, but again and again breaking the groin of all". This not only reveals Cat's general (and more normal) bitterness towards the world, but this also shows him taking it to the next level, and full on loathing his lost girlie! Poor guy.

So the moral of the story here is that Catullus' relationship with Lesbia/Clodia had its ups and downs (not to mention that it seemed to end in complete disaster). He takes the time to address a fair amount of poems to her, most highlighting her charm, beauty, etc., but a select few completely tear her to peices (well poem 11 does, when he's officially saying goodbye to her). It's pretty ironic, but it makes Catullus an even more interesting Roman poet :).

ALSO, I solved the mystery! I have a legit reason why we can all laugh when we hear Lesbia's name! Here's the story behind it all, for all who care:

The name Lesbia ("woman from the island of Lesbos") not only provides a useful metrical equivalent for Clodia's real name, but directly recalls the most famous woman of Lesbos, the Greek poetess Sappho. Sappho was renowned for her charming, graceful yet passionate love poetry (addressed, as it happens, to women: hence our modern term "lesbian").

p-rinda said...

Catullus Journal #1
[Sorry about its lateness]

Catullus is a bitter old man, who has been embarrassed time and again by many men and women. He can not simply embarrass the people he once loved by a simple prank, no he must do it by a means in which he is actually good with, prose. In poem 11, Catullus tells his two friends Furius and Aurelius to confront a young girl "Lesbia" of how much of a whore she is. He begins his prose greeting his friends portraying all their possible journeys (lines 2-12) but to tell this "Lesbia" a few nasty words of HATE. He laments how she is a prostitute with 300 adulterers and how she will "damage all their goods." (lines 19-20) Catullus absolutely hates this woman, but he is such a coward that even through his prose he will not confront her, no he uses his two friends to help him out. Catullus is just a bitter old man, as in poem 30 he continuously bashes on his once dear friend, Alfenus, with rhetorical questions. What's funny about this is that, although he asks them, he presents the reader with possible answers.

The similarity between these two poems are that because we are reading them on paper, Catullus probably failed to confront his lovers with his issues with them, so instead he bashed them with these two poems. Clearly an assumption, but the other similarity between these two relationships are that he seems to be pouring his life and blood into these relationships, to the point that he is heartbroken over their ends, and must write them in poem, this is not my only reasoning, but in line 7 of poem 30 "You, indeed unjust, kept ordering me to entrust my soul" we see here that Catullus has given Alfenus his heart and soul into their relationship, but only to have it ripped out by deceit and betrayal (line 1-3). As in poem 11 (line 21-24) we learn of Catullus's true feelings for Lesbia, we learn that he was utterly destroyed to learn of Lesbia's adulterous behavior. From these two poems we learn that Catullus has given everything into his relationships and has such deep feelings for these two, only to do a full 180 degrees and rip on them left and right. This amazing and radical turn is exactly what a bitter old man would do. Which is what Catullus is, a bitter, old, man.

Catullus Journal #2

In poem 2 and 3, Catullus writes about his dear Lesbia's pet sparrow. He's in love with Lesbia and wishes that she would be affectionate towards him as she is to her sparrow as written about in poem 2, "Passer, deliciae meae puellae, quicum ludere..." The last two lines of poem 2, he openly says that he wishes he could be the sparrow, to play with her, and to lighten her anxiety. He's jealous of the bird's importance in the life of his lover.

In poem 3, Catullus writes about the death of the sparrow and how it has ruined Lesbia. The beginning of the poem to me seemed as if Catullus is being sarcastic. He's trying to conceal his happiness, and then the middle of the poem is about the sparrow. He describes the liveliness of the bird when it was alive, "circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc ad solam dominam usque pipiabat" (jumping around here and there chirping to its mistress alone). And then at the end, he blames the sparrow's death for making Lesbia's eyes swell and cry.

So he does care about Lesbia's happiness, but he's like any other human being. He can't help but feel a bit happy that he's been given this chance to take an important role in his lover's life.

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