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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Poems of Catullus (Oxford World Classics)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2013
I needed this for my course and it was well worth it. Nothing makes you happier on a cold wet day in November more than a tiny little old lady giggling and yelling 'I'll bugger you and stuff your gobs'.
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on 1 September 2014
The Roman lyric poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (c.84-c.54) wrote many poems concerning love, showing a depth of sincere feelings; elegies and satirical epigrams and many other forms. During the Middle Ages his work became mostly forgotten until he was re-discovered in the 14th Century. His work influenced later poets such as Robert Herrick (1591-1675), Richard Lovelace (1618-1657) and Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892). Very enjoyable!
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If cost is not an option I advise the potential buyer to instead go for Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition. I find the translations more readable and they feel to me to more closely capture the meaning.
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on 11 May 2013
They say Catullus is one of the most accessible of the classic poets, and they are right. It's great poetry, modern, just like many of his contemporaries. Read Catullus, you'll love him too.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Catullus’s poems come to us from so far away in time and space, we should not be able to decipher them without the translations of James Michie and the admirable Introduction by Gavin Ewart.

Ewart says: “To know all the details of the life of a great poet is by no means a necessity for anybody who wants to appreciate his poetry. It has often been said that the known facts of Shakespeare’s life could be written on one side of a postcard and Homer hardly exists at all. At various times, with the vaccilations of scholarship he is thought to have been blind, a group of poets, or even a woman (this was Samuel Butler’s view).”

He was born at Verona in Northern Italy, during the 80s BC., and was thought to have died around 54 BC. St. Jerome who is one of the sources for the facts of Catullus’s life, says he died at the age of thirty. Here are two of the shorter poems:

a. Lesbia spits all day against my name,
And yet I’ll stake my life she loves me, Why?
I curse her all the time – I’ve just the same
Symptoms. If I don’t love her let me die.

b. I hate and love. If you ask me to explain
The contradiction,
I can’t, but I can feel it, and the pain
Is crucifixion.

Catullus didn’t only write about love, some of the poetry it must be said is somewhat petulant, carping and crude in places. It’s still heartening to be able to read something from pre-biblical times – amazing to think how well it has lasted as a record of how someone wrote in the past. A number of prominent contemporaries appear in his poetry, including Caesar, Cicero and Pompey. According to Seutonius, Caesar did not deny that Catullus’s lampoons left a stain on his reputation, but when Catullus apologised Caesar invited the poet to dinner the very same day.

It was probably in Rome that Catullus fell deeply in love with the “Lesbia” of his poems. She is usually identified as Clodia Metelli, a sophisticated woman from an aristocratic house, and wife to proconsul Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer. Catullus didn’t only write about love, and though some of the poetry is somewhat petulant and carping and some of it is crude. It’s quite heartening to read this translation. A number of prominent contemporaries appear in his poetry, including Cicero, Caesar and Pompey. The record suggests that “Lesbia” had many other lovers. The love poetry often reads like melodrama and is probably a mixture of current fashions, real feelings and sometimes rhetorical fancy.
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on 22 July 2015
very pleased with purchase and service
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2010
This is a great edition. The latin is on one page with Guy Lee's translation opposite. There is a really helpful commentary at the back and an explanation of the metre but how did Catullus get away with public obscenity and immorality when a poor old vestal virgin was buried alive at the same time for less? He is crude and unsubtle and I found myself longing for a lyrical section. It arrives in LX1V but the style is still unsubtle and the narrative clumsy so, for me, he is not a great poet which, to his credit, he knows:

"Catullus, the worst poet of all,
Sends you herewith his greatest thanks,
As truly the worst poet of all...." From XL1X

However the Epigrams are memorable, sparse and to the point and it is clear this is why the pieces survived and have influenced poets and wits; they have not quite become satire with its sophistication and coolness as they seem to arise out of fairly negative feelings at times which he needs to express. So you get a little flavour of Italian life of the time expressed rawly and honestly if, often, not kindly. However, the helpful Chronology reminds you that a year before the poet's death Caesar invades Britain so, as this is the context, I suppose a little unsubtle unkindness is to be expected- times they lived in etc.
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on 18 December 2014
Great
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on 22 December 2014
good
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