Friday, November 9, 2007

Quintum Pensum: Catullus 64

When did Catullus write carmen 64? This is an epyllion, a little epic. This neoteric poet has written a traditional Roman epic poem, sort of. It's about the marriage of an heroic couple whose bedspread has the scenes of Theseus and Ariadne on it. The bulk of the poem is about that scene within the scene, and that scene is about the heartbreak of love betrayed.

We have also seen the words and language that Catullus uses in 64. It often calls to mind the words and language of many of his other poems. And so the question arises: which did he write first--the short lyric poems of love and then the epyllion, or the epyllion out of which he wrote the short lyric poems? And, what difference does it make which came first?

As always, cite evidence in Latin from Catullus works, translate them, and make your case. Take time to do a thorough job here. This is a long essay assignment. I will post no essays until the time deadline is reached, and this essay will count double the usual grade.

Quartum Pensum: Lamenta Ariadnae

Discipuli, videte lamentum Ariadnae in versibus 132-197 carminis Catulli 64. Demonstrate exempla pro his quaestionibus.

1) Quid Ariadna de viris putat?
2) Quid Ariadna de se dixit?
3) Quae quaestiones Ariadna habet?

Respondete, quippe, tantum Latine.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tertium Pensum: Autumno 2007

Catullus uses the writing of others in poems 14a, 35, 36, 44, 50 and 1 to address a variety of issues. What are these poems "De Carminibus" really about? Are they about poetry? If so, make the case. If not, make a case for something else. As always, state you evidence from the Latin text, translate it (yourself--do not use someone else's English version) and then analyze the text toward your answer.

Have fun. Posts due by Monday night at 10:30.

Mr. P

Friday, September 7, 2007

Secundum Pensum, Autumno 2007

We have just read several Catullan poems grouped under the theme: Amici et Inimici. Citing your evidence in Latin, translating and then analyzing, cite three examples of images that Catullus uses to describe "the human condition" within the realm of friends and enemies. In other words, in these poems that spin off of his friendly and unfriendly relationships, what images of the human condition does Catullus paint for us. After citing your evidence and anylizing them, what conclusions can you draw about Catullus' view of the human person?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Primum Pensum, Autumno 2007: His Mind Through Your Mind?

Here we are with our first blog post of the new school year. I am starting the numbering over with Week 1--Fall 2007 so that we can more easily keep up with our weeks.

Recently on National Public Radio's "This I Believe" series, Canada's first poet laureate, George Bowering, made this comment:

"Sometimes when you are listening to a great jazz musician performing a long solo, you are experiencing his mind, moment by moment, as it shifts and decides, as it adds and reminds. This happens whether the player is a saxophone player or a bass player or a pianist. You are in there, where that other mind is. His mind is coming through your ears and inside your mind."

You can go here to read his entire "This I Believe" statement. It's not long, and I urge you to read the entire thing:

Choose your favorite Catullan poem (thus far) and respond to Bowering's observation. Do you agree that by reading aloud a poem of Catullus that Catullus' thoughts and mind itself are moving through yours? What nuances can you give to your answer? Cite directly from your chosen poem with examples, whichever position you take on this question.

Have fun with this. I think Bowering makes a fascinating set of observations about what art is and how we interact with it.

Mr. P

Friday, May 11, 2007

Week 17: Ad Finem!

We have spent the last 18 weeks reading and reflecting on the carmina of Catullus. We have viewed them under some general headings:

Catullus Lesbiam amat.
Catullusne Lesbiam amat?
Amor et Amicitia
De Vita Sua

Go back over these poems. Select a line from one poem that strikes you in a particular way. Quote the line, and then explain to us in a few poignant words what this means to you and why it captures your attention.

I will offer this one for myself:

. . . non est dea nescia nostri,
quae dulcem curis miscet amaritiem.
Sed totum hoc studium luctu fraterna mihi mors
abstulit. O misero frater adempte mihi,
tu mea tu moriens fregisti commoda, frater,
tecum una tota est nostra sepulta domus
omnia tecum una perierunt gaudia nostra
quae tuus in vita dulcis alebat amor. 68:17-24

The goddess is not unaware of me, who mixes sweet bitterness with life's cares. But, my brother's death has taken this whole work from me with sorrow. O my brother taken away from miserable me! You have broken my life's peace, you dying brother, and my whole house has been buried together with you and all my joys have perished with you--joys which your sweet love used to nourish in my life.

My quotation is long, but how it strikes me is quick and deep. Catullus captures so well how powerful our love for others can be, and how deep the wound of losing them is. Reading this poem this week, and this week in particular, as a young man in our own extended community lost his life in a tragic car accident reminds me of how much I care for those in my life (including my students!) and how much I cherish them all. The love and companionship I have with others really does nourish my life. Catullus reminds me of this as if he had written these words this week.

What you post this week does not have to be lengthy. But, do let it be your signuature to our work this semester.

With gratitude to all the members of this class for a fascinating and rewarding year,

Magister Patricius

Friday, May 4, 2007

Week 16: Modelling the Message

We've spent a good deal of time this week reading Carmen 65, which addresses the death of Catullus' brother, and the great sorrow he experiences as a result of it.

In good AP writing style address how Catullus models his message in this poem. Specifically comment on how the poem begins, the transition that takes place in the middle, and his ending. He models his message in a couple of ways. Remember to cite the Latin lines, translate them, and then make your points of discussion.

This is our next to last blog entry. Ad finem fortitudine!