Catullus (c.84 BC–54 BC), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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Catullus wrote his poems and epigrams of personal life during the late Roman Republic, and they survive in an anthology of more than a hundred items. Many are caustic, satirical, and erotic, often lampooning well-known characters of the day including Julius Caesar and his friends. Others are tender, solemn, and graceful. His is a poetry valuing individual charm, friendship and the intimate, far from the grandeur of epic or the concerns of politics. Probably bisexual himself, Catullus deals overtly with sexuality, love and manners, in a period of apparent social freedom before the more puritanical mood of the early Empire held sway. He was a significant influence on the ‘love’ poets of the golden age of Latin, such as Horace, Ovid, Propertius and Tibullus, though his alertness to the defects of character of many of his contemporaries, and his style of frequently indulging in mockery, make him seem close also to the satirists, Juvenal, Persius and Martial. His is a perennial voice, and his humour and his humanity are both obvious and enjoyable two thousand years later.

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Kline, A. S.

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