Most helpful positive review
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Raw and haunting
on 22 November 2009
Catullus, writing in the Rome of Julius Caesar and Cicero, is probably one of the most accessible of classical poets: his searing, emotionally raw and huanting Lesbia poems, especially, seem to inscribe the very nature of sexual obsession on the page.
But he is worth reading for the 'long' poems too, the extraordinary Attis poem (poem 63) and the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis (poem 64)which has such an impact on the Renaissance erotic epyllion.
Lee is a sensitive translator who turns the poems into texts which stand up in their own right in English, but it is impossible to convey the spiky texture of Catullus' original Latin.
If you have any Latin it's worth investing in the Loeb edition (Catullus' Latin, especially in the love lyrics, is pretty easy, probably about 'A' level standard), but if not then this is a fine alternative and much better than the Penguin looser translation.