An Interpretation of the Poems of Catullus

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This study is a full introduction to the poetry of Catullus for students and general readers, establishing a number of crucial contexts – personal, social, literary – within which Catullus functioned. It sets out four way in which Catullus can be seen as a modern poet: emphasis on art, on sexual themes, on the individual voice, and on a brief, clear style.

“Brian Arkins allows us to appreciate more precisely this ‘modernity’ of Catullus in his introductory chapter. . . . A particular feature is the sensitive introduction to the longer poems which are often put to one side as an expression of the more forbidding and ‘learned’ side of Catullus. . . . Especially fascinating, in what we commonly regard as a totally masculine world, is the way in which Catullus often compares his own feelings and ideals in relationships with those of women such as Laodamia. This book will make us pick up our Catullus again to explore with new insights an age and a poet whom we thought we knew so well.” – Andrew Smith


“The first [section] shows how the poetry of Catullus slots readily into twentieth century concerns and preoccupations. Next is a particularly valuable discussion of the Lesbia poems. In the third section Arkins supplies a necessary and well-argued corrective to a persistent view which has tended to focus on the love poems at the expense of the long poems. The fourth and final section examines the poems which are inspired by friends and enemies. . . .a most welcome and stylish contribution to Catullan scholarship.” – Colm Luibhéid

“By a perceptive use of modern parallels he shows that Catullus is timeless even beyond the defining constraints of the term classical. He also identifies and explains the individual energy that places Catullus in a different category from other poets who admired and imitated the Callimachean Hellenistic school. . . . .Yeats’ long erotic obsession with Maud Gonne provides an analogy with Catullus’ tormented love for ‘Lesbia’. The author uses this as a pivot for fascinating comments about the differences and similarities between two poets, both of whom were consummate masters of poetic style and whose love poetry added to the grand human sum of emotional experience. Anyone who is interested in literature, classical or modern, will enjoy this book and learn much, not only about Catullus, but about poetic art.” – David Rankin

Table of Contents

Table of Contents: Foreword; The Modernity of Catullus; Lesbia; The Long Poems; Friends and Enemies; Notes, Bibliography, Index

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