Catullus One Of The First Great Roman Poets

2174 words, 9 pages

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Maureen Murray
Hist 306
April 18, 2011

Catullus: One of the first great Roman poets
Of all the influential poets of the Ancient Rome, Catullus changed the way poetry was thought of and written. He brought the quality of Hellenistic poems to Rome and gave the writing style and quality a breath of fresh air. Of course, at the time he had his critics, but now he is considered one of the best known poets of ancient Rome. This is due in part because of his attitude about writing, which was that of poetry and the written word were better than reality.
Catullus was born in 84 BC in Verona, Italy. His family had some importance in Verona society, with his father being an occasional acquaintance of Julius Caesar. ... View More »

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He challenged the old ways and brought a new style to Rome, the neoteric verse. This type of poetry was more real and more compelling, and Catullus felt that this was better than reality. He also felt that the power of language was the most powerful thing ever. He used language to make his points and he placed double meanings in his poems. He did this in poems and letters to prominent Roman citizens, he put double meaning in the poems and on the surface it appeared that he was praising them, but to those who knew him and his style of writing saw the two meanings and saw his writing as very clever and intellectual. His whole purpose was the use of words, and even modern poets recognized how influential he was. For example, Robert Frost said this in reference to Catullus’ poetry, “The whole function of poetry is the renewal of words, making the mean again what they meant.”(651). this is what Catullus did and this style was completely new for Rome.
Catullus’ poems were about love, affairs and his poems were very erotic. He wrote in light verse and about sexual activity. He compares delight in the words to delight in the act of making love. He mixed in feelings about love with his feelings for the written word and used the words to disguise his actual meaning. For example, his letter/poem that he exchanged with Calvus, in poem 50. He compares the act of writing to the act of love and sex.
Yesterday, Calvus, at leisure we wrote much light poetry on my tablets, as we had agreed to be self-indulgent: and each of us writing our lines of poetry was writing light poetry now ...

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