Reading Catullus

BookReading Catullus

Reading Catullus

Greece and Rome Live


May 9th, 2008



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Of all the Roman poets Catullus is the most accessible for the modern reader. His poems range from the sublimely beautiful to the scatologically disgusting, from the world of heroic epic poetry to the dirt of the Roman streets. This accessible book, which assumes no prior knowledge of the poet or of Roman poetry in general, explores Catullus in all his many guises. In six concise chapters Godwin deals with the cultural background to Catullus’ poetic production, its literary context, the role of love, Alexandrian learning and obscenity and, in the final chapter, considers the coherence and rationale of the collection as a whole. Each chapter is illustrated by readings of a number of poems, chosen to give a representative overview of Catullus’ poety. All quotations from the text are translated and a brief discursive section of ‘Further Reading’ is provided at the end of each chapter. A timeline giving dates of authors mentioned and full bibliography is also supplied.

A very sensible and far-reaching introduction to Catullus [...] There is plenty in this book for a sixth-former to appreciate and be entertained by, and it would make a splendid companion to a Catullus prescription.

Journal of Classics Teaching, No. 17

Author Information

John Godwin was for many years Head of Classics at Shrewsbury School, UK. His many publications include Juvenal: Satires Book IV and Book V (Aris & Phillips 2016 and 2020); Horace: Selected Odes (Bloomsbury 2018), Ovid: Metamorphoses III: A Selection (Bloomsbury 2013) and editions of Lucretius: De Rerum Natura Books IV and VI and the complete works of Catullus for the Aris & Phillips Classical Texts series.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Timeline of events and authors mentioned
1. The writer's world
2. The poet at work
3. The life of love
4. Doctus poeta - the uses of learning
5. Obscenity and humour
6. First and last things
Further Reading
Index of Passages
Index of Catullus Poems
General Index