Latin for Life. Whether you are curious about Latin or want to prepare for the AP, you can find it here. Amamus Latinam!
Annie AlexandrianMay 25, 2008Catullus Journal Yes, one will classify Catullus as an extremely bitter man, but there is so much more to him than that. He has one thing that is shown in many of his poems and that is hope. This hope is illustrated in Catullus’s passion-filled words are seen in several of his poems. In poem 2, it appears he is jealous of a sparrow which he is, but there is so much more than jealousy in his words. This is seen in lines 9-10 “tecum ludere sicut ipse possem et tristis animi levare curas!” (..and I would be able to play with you just alike that bird and at the same time I will be able to lighten the miserable loves of your spirit).These lines show that Catullus wants to be that light that brightens up her life; and he has this hope inside of him that she will one day allow him to be it. Catullus’s relentless hope is also in poem 5 in lines 1-2“Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum” (Let’s live Lesia and lets love: we should consider the gossip of old severe men as just one penny).In that line alone Catullus’s compassion for Lesbia is shown and his hope for their relationship to endure is seen is plea for them “to live and love”. Catullus believe his love for Lesbia will outlast the rumors spreading around and the fact that she is a married woman is not stopping him. Of course it is not acceptable that he would be in love with a married woman, but his hope seems to overpower the doubt that others may have that their relationship will not subsist. Also in line 5 “nobis cum semel occidi brevis lux” (but a brief light sets just for us),sets a mood of hope when a “brief light” is mentioned. The hope that lies within Catullus is not one that is just consumed by his affection for Lesbia, but also for his own prosperity. In poem 8, Catullus’s is at first grieving over what seems the beginning of the end of his relationship with his dear Lesbia, however he shows moments of strength in lines 11-12“ ne quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive, sed obstinate mente prefer, obdura”. (so don’t follow who runs away and don’t live sadly but endure and “persist” with a strong mind), and the last 2 words of the poem “destinatus obdura” (persist determined)Those lines show a determined Catullus, one who has hope that life will go on and that with that faith he shall persist determined! Whether it be his hope for the survival of his relationship with Lesbia or his ability to be able to move on with his life, Catullus maintains and continues on with his undying hope.
Catullus is a romantic. Like most romantics he also expresses all the other emotions that go along with being in love. He feels pain, happiness, sorrow, anger and hope all at the same time. “Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us judge all the rumors of the old men to be worth just one penny!” (Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!)At times Catullus is even overwhelmed by his love and wishes to hyperbolize his emotions: “Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand more, then another hundred. Then, when we have made many thousands, we will mix them all up so that we don't know, and so that no one can be jealous of us when he finds out how many kisses we have shared.” (da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum. dein, cum milia multa fecerimus, conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus, aut ne quis malus inuidere possit, cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.)Even for romantics, love eventually has to come to an end. It is easy to be let down when we place so much of ourselves in another by being in love with them. Catullus, like many romantics, takes this risk with Lesbia and in poem 11 he describes how their love came to an end: “nor, let her no longer look back for my love as before, which by her fault, has fallen, just like the farthest flower of the field has been killed by a passing plow.” (nec meum respectet, ut ante, amorem, qui illius culpa cecidit uelut prati ultimi flos, praetereunte postquam tactus aratro est.)Despite everything, we cannot help but feel sorry for Catullus at this point. In some way we can all relate to Catullus’ feelings after losing the love of his life which makes it easy to understand and respect his pain. However, we are comforted by the fact that in the poem following his loss, Catullus seems to have moved past his unhappy feelings and turns to a more light and humorous topic: Marrucinus, the napkin stealer.
Today as well as in ancient times, men expend great amounts of time and energy in an effort to make themselves appear...manly! Macho, a hard exterior, eyes for the kill, with essentially impenentrable thoughts and feelings (right?). So what happens when men start writing poetry? Although it was certainly a more common practice way back when, males who express their feelings through writing still deserve a trophy for stepping outside of themselves and their predetermined stereotypes. For god sakes, call the woman who cheated on you a whore. Invent an eloquent simile that gives credit to your burning passion for that special lady. Don't be afraid of "stooping down" to the expression tactics of women...In my humble opinion, REAL men write poetry :).All this fancy talk leads up to this one guy who gave himself a name in ancient history: our bitter Catullus. Sure, he has enough guts to vent his angst throughout his poetry, but there's something even more special about the collection of his works that I have had the pleasure of translating on multiple occasions. One word that I would (and will) utilize in discussions about Catullus in college is "SENSITIVE". I can't help but appreciate Cat's honest (and full-fledged) descriptions of his love life. The way his jealousy over that pathetic little sparrow in poem 2 resonates so strongly is intriguing to me. And need I even mention "da mi basia mille"? How freaking cute (and slightly overkill) was that??? Yeaaaaah boii!But his sensivity becomes even more apparent in these poems after Lesbia takes her life in the wrong direction, so to speak. Poem 8 describes their catastrophic break-up, and Cat indirectly questions whom Lesbia will ever love to such an extent again. Then come the extreme disses, poem 11 being the extreme stand-out, where Cat politely calls Lesbia a whore: "nullum amans vere, sed identidem omnium, ilia rumpens", or literally "not loving truly, but again and again breaking the groin of all". Let it out Cat...way to be a man! I admire Catullus for his extensive variety of writings, but the poems that make him more real, (which describe relatable feelings) to readers are truly priceless.A little place in my heart will always be reserved for Catullus and his infinite wisdom. :)
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