Our Book Club readings for this month are selections from the poetry of Catullus. We will start the discussion in the Forum, and there will be a Google Hangout on Tuesday, June 26 at 11 a.m. EDT—the link will be posted in the Forum at that time.
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a renowned Roman poet. He had a short life: he was born around 84 BCE or 87 BCE, and he died around 57 BCE, at about 30 years old.
He wrote 116 poems in an anthology named Carmina. He composed in different meters. For example, the hendecasyllabic meter is used in about forty poems, and the elegiac meter in some short poems. He also liked the choliambic meter.
Carmen 64, celebrating the wedding of Thetis and Peleus is one of his long poems, beautiful and famous. In Carmen 68 there is a poignant lament for the death of his brother. Many poems are about love, some are about lust, while others mention life in Rome and are satirical.
We will all read 2, 3, 5, 31, 45, 55, 61, 68. In addition you can read as many others as you wish, or you might like to compare different translations of a few poems.
As usual you can read any translation you like (or the original Latin!). Here are links to some free online versions:
- Complete Poems, translated by A.S. Kline, available to read online or download at Poetry In Translation
- Translated by Sir Richard Francis Burton, 1894, on Perseus
- Translated by Leonard C. Smithers 1893, on Perseus
- Translated by David Mulroy, 2002, available to download in PDF format from Project MUSE
- Translated by Robinson Ellis, 1904., available to read online or download at Project Gutenberg
- Translation and notes by Charles Stuttaford alongside the Latin text, 1912, available to read online or download from archive.org
For further background on Catullus you might like to read this article at the Poetry Foundation. It also includes links to several poems rendered into English by various translators.