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Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition Paperback – 20 Jul 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 Blg edition (20 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520253868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520253865
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.5 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 379,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Peter Green is Dougherty Centennial Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin and Adjunct Professor of Classics at the University of Iowa. He is the author of many books, including Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography (California, 1991) and Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age (California, 1990). His translations include Ovid's The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters (California, 2005), Juvenal's The Sixteen Satires (third edition, 1998), and Apollonios Rhodios's The Argonautika: The Story of Jason and the Quest for the Golden Fleece (California, 1997).

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fuficius Fango on 15 July 2010
Format: Paperback
[added 1/9/14. I may delete this review. Its biggest problem is that I forgot to review Green's commentary to Catullus, and this is potentially the most important part of the book, so beware! I can't remember anything about it]

2.5 stars. A fair amount depends on whether you have Latin or not, and how much you have.

I first drafted this review after reading poems 61-68. Since then I've read the rest and downgraded my opinion of Green slightly. Apologies if there is any incoherence.

Green's book seems like a fresh and unembarrassed view, but the problem is, once he has supplied us with his text and his translation (more on this later), there's not much room for commentary, and so what there is tends to be very sketchy, especially when we get to the serious poems (61-68). Also Green irritates me by making random and (to me) unprecedented changes to the Latin text. I have had to buy copies of Goold and Thomson now to keep track of Green's modus operandi. So my initial feeling is one of disappointment, and I'm not sure whether there is really anything insightful and new in this book. Easily available, affordable books on Catullus aren't legion, so completism is a good enough reason to buy this one, and it is cheap. On the other hand, every time I de-clutter, this book will be near the top of my least wanted list.

But the more I read of Green, the more I dislike him - the introduction seems excellent, but he warns that a translator should retain hints of the alienness of Catullus and not provide his audience with familiar commonplaces. The problem is, the translations are simply riddled with teen American slang (although Green is 80 years old). Poem 16 is a good enough example.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Like Green's other Latin poetic translations (e.g. The Erotic Poems), this keeps to the general spirit of the originals, but definitely not the letter. So if you want an energetic, sometimes quite brisk and very American rendering of the sense of Catullus into English, then this may well work for you. If, however, you want a literal or nuanced translation of the Latin words, then this is sometimes very loose.

For example, the programmatic opening poem starts `qui dono lepidum novum libellum', literally `to whom do I give this charming new little book' - Green turns this into `who's the dedicatee of my new witty booklet', erasing the active `dono, I give' and introducing a `dedicatee' which is not in the Latin original. `Booklet', too, for `libellum' turns the characteristic Catullan use of diminutives into something vaguely comic as the idea of a booklet or pamphlet for modern readers is something quite different from a slim volume (or slender roll) of Roman verse.

Catullus isn't particularly well served by translators: Whigham (The Poems) is also very loose, as is, to a lesser extent, Lee (The Poems of Catullus); the Loeb (Catullus) is the most accurate to the Latin but puts the English into prose.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel that I must leap heroically to the defence of Peter Green. I confess my Latin is far from adequate, but having done some comparison of a few of these translations against those in The Poems of Catullus (Oxford World Classics) and Catullus - The Poems Translated (Penguin Classics), I find this current work's translations both more readable in themselves and also closer in meaning to the originals as far as I understand them. To me, there is no argument - this is the edition to get.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
centuries later, still the king of filth and wisdom 3 Nov. 2008
By Georgia C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am not a Latin scholar, so I can't judge the translation itself. (This collection has a parallel layout, so you can see the Latin original alongside the English translation.) Peter Green's introduction clearly explains the route he took (rhtyhm/meter, not meaning) to guide his translation, and I was startled that his remarks were not at all stuffy or full of academic exclusivity. The historical and poetic background included makes it much easier to approach Catullus, and I am disappointed that there are not more texts that strive to be so accessible. I took a college class where Catullus was discussed briefly, but without knowing about his complicated personal life and the details of his era, he really just came across as a disgusting jerk tormenting others. This is far from the full story, as Green's introduction informs us. Catullus is humanized and allows you to see the motivations and even sense behind his vulgarity.

Green's commentary and annotations also make it easier to feel even close to Catullus. Names of people mentioned are referenced and notes on each poem elucidate obscure references. I particularly enjoyed the glossary of "dramatis personae" because it gave a sense of immediacy to Catullus' long-gone world. He was writing about real people, and if you know a bit about these characters, you can see why Catullus had to say what he had to say.

I'm very happy with this presentation of his work, as I wondered whether anyone would be so honest AND lyrical today, and why poetry isn't fun anymore. A lot of Catullus is a good time, and when he's miserable, it's real, raw and disgusting human misery. This is poetry for all the experiences that maybe others felt too naked to write about.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
indispensable 10 July 2009
By gaetano catelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
i am currently translating the extant works of Catullus, in aid of which i have 6 different translations. Peter Green's is the one that is indispensable, as well as the most pleasurable to read for its own sake.

for example, on the page facing his translation is the Latin text, a sine qua non for appreciating Catullus's brilliance.

there is also a glossary that explains the significance of each proper name to the poem in which it appears. and, most helpfully, there are notes to each poem that summarize not only Green's wise interpretation, but various views by other Catullus scholars.

the translation itself strikes a perfect balance, to my taste, of the literal Latin, Catullus's meaning and intent, and elegance (without stuffiness or pretension).

if you are going to buy only one book of Catullus's poems, or are thinking about adding to your collection of them, this is the one to get.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Fascinating, Magisterial Work 29 Aug. 2013
By Dale W. Boyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having encountered the poet Catullus now in both Gilbert Highet's "Poets in a Landscape," and here in Peter Green's fascinating work, I must confess that I am still not a huge fan, though this bi-lingual edition makes about as thorough a case as possible for his continuing study. There is an underlying nastiness to a great deal of Catullus' poetry that I find off-putting. However, what's fascinating about Green's work is his attention to the METER of Roman poetry - something I have not seen addressed with such attention anywhere else. While most people translate for sense, Green makes a convincing argument that the rhythm is as inextricably bound to the words as the sense. The great problem for the translator is, Latin meters are so unusual for modern readers. In this sense, Green's notes about Latin's metrical patterns are as absorbing as his translations, and this, coupled with the presentation of the Latin text side by side with his translations, makes the volume well worth having. Green has obviously spent a lifetime studying not only Catullus (whom he clearly loves) as well as the other Latin greats. His enthusiasm is infectious, and any student of the classics or poetry will feel a debt of gratitude for his lifetime of scholarship.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Lovely Edition 11 Sept. 2008
By C. Norris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Facing pages of Latin and English text and my favorite translation of Catullus. It's less portable than the Loeb, but completely worth it! Buy this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
and wholeheartedly recommended it. 9 July 2014
By Socrates Wilde - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Green is a consummate historian who has produced the definitive translation of Catullus. Green has made Catullus appear contemporary while holding true to the original. This is pure poetry. I return to it often, and wholeheartedly recommended it.
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