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.

22 comments:

Kelsey2 said...

As is the case with most of Catullus' poems, it is difficult to say definitively when they were written. Sometimes the closest approximation is to group poems of a similar subject or feeling together. However, Carmen 64 is particularly difficult because it is different from all of Catullus' other works. By definition, neoteric poets did not write epics as their specialty. The neoterics tended to move away from traditional conventions of poetry, and focus on emotion and personal human experiences, written in shorter, more carefully wrought style.
It seems more likely that Catullus’ epyllion came after much of his original shorter love poetry. While one could make a case that the language and themes of the love poems was derived from the little epic, it is just as easily the opposite. I find it far more probable that Catullus developed his unique vocabulary through the love poems and used his established meanings for particular effect in the epyllion. For example,
“utpote fallaci quae tum primum excita somno
desertam in sola miseram se cernat harena.”
“naturally, since then first waking from a deceptive sleep, she sees she is deserted and miserable on the sand.”, brings to mind the “harenae” of Carmen 7, written during the most passionate part of the Lesbia relationship, when Catullus explains that as many kisses as grains of sand (“harenae”) and stars in the sky (“multa sidera”) is enough. It provides a stark contrast, from overflowing kisses to utter desertion, but could be seen as a part of a very deliberate attempt to incorporate words with pre-existing connotations into a later work to lend it extra meaning.
Also, Catullus’ interpretation of the story suggests his prior experience. The parallel between Lesbia’s desertion of Catullus and Theseus’ desertion of Ariadne seems to be part of Catullus’ inspiration for the writing. It would have been difficult to write about the torture and agony that Ariadne experienced on the beach as she watched Theseus sail away if Catullus had not known experience in betrayal and grief already. The range of emotions expressed in her lament directly reflect those reflected in many of the Lesbia poems, as Catullus sadly pities himself and mourns the loss of love (Carmen 8, “miser Catulle), fires angry responses to Lesbia (Carmen 11, “non bona dicta”), and eventually bitterly resigns himself to fate (Carmen 8, “at tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.”, “but you, Catullus, stand firm and endure.”).
Additionally, from a poet’s point of view, the epyillion serves as a way for Catullus to show off. After proving himself to be a worthy neoteric with his “novum libellum”, what better way to confirm that he is a true master poet by writing in other forms? He is not merely doing something different because he is not skilled enough to do it the traditional way. Any Roman criticism and suspicion of “new” poetry could be offset by demonstrating mastery of all poetic styles.
While it is doubtful this is the last of Catullus’ poems, as there are several other more likely candidates, it seems highly plausible that Carmen 64 came after a good deal of his other work, especially the bulk of Lesbia poems, and that he drew on them for inspiration in writing the epyllion.

hope2 said...

According to D.W.T.C. Vessey, the epyllion is a synthesis of different genres that combine to create a unique form. In the same way, Catullus drew on his lyric love poetry as well as older Roman traditions to write the Epyllion.
The biggest reason that the Epyllion was probably written after many of the lyric poems is its content. Many of Catullus's poems focus on Lesbia, especially his heartbreak after the end of their relationship. The Epyllion mirrors his grief of being cast off by a lover through Ariadne's Lament, a highly personal account that could not have been written by someone who had not experienced this himself. Carmen 64 also displays an intimate knowledge of grief over family. Ariadne longs for her father, mother, and sister, and Theseus's beloved and recently restored father tragically meet his doom. This indicates that the Epyllion was also probably written after the dead brother poems, in which Catullus expresses his grief over his deceased brother.
Also, its style is too advanced for early writings. Catullus uses vivid imagery and abundant literary devices to enhance his poem into a masterpiece. For example, in lines 132-135, Catullus uses anaphora, apostrophe, and chiasmus: "sicine me patriis avectam, perfide, ab aris, perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu? sicine discedens neglecto numine divum, immemor a! devota domum periuria portas?" or "thus you left me on the deserted shore, having been carried off from my father's altars, Theseus, treacherous man? thus, unmindful, leaving with the will of the gods neglected, you carry broken oaths to your home?" In this passage, Catullus clearly shows Ariadne's outrage and disbelief, immediately giving readers a sense of injustice and a vivid picture of Ariadne's situation and mindset. This is not the early, unpracticed work of a fledgling poet, but the experienced, practiced work of one who has a great deal of background to draw on.
Finally, Catullus draws on images from many of his earlier poems. Although it could be argued that he drew from 64 for the other poems, previously cited evidence would say otherwise. Also, Catullus uses a greater number of these images in a shorter space, rather than scattered about as in his lyric poems. It seems unlikely that he would have come up with so many images at once, rather than to have gradually thought of them, then to use a greater number of pre-created images in a later poem. An example of recurring images is the idea of winds and waters carrying away empty promises. Theseus sails away, leaving empty promises to the windy storm ("irrita ventosae linquens promissa procellae" (59)). Similarly, in Carmen 70, Catullus laments that "that which a woman says to an eager lover should be written in the wind and rapid water" ("mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua" (3-4)). Also, in Carmen 60, Catullus expresses his disbelief of Lesbia's betrayal by questioning her: "Num te leaena montibus Libystinis aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte tame mente dura procreavit ac taetra" (1-3) or "Surely a lioness from the African mountains or Scylla, roaring from the lowest part of her groin, created you, with such a hard mind and monstrous". Such questioning pararells Ariadne's questioning of Theseus when she demands: "quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena... quae Scylla rapax?" (154, 156) or "For what lonely lioness gave birth to you under a crag... what rapacious Scylla?" Such repetition of imagery is not a coincidence but the result of Catullus drawing on his earlier poems for imagery.
But what difference does it make which came first? Catullus 64 does not stop being a masterpiece because of its chronology. Yet it does matter. If the Epyllion was written after the lyric poems, it reflects not only literary genius but also a deeply personal, human experience. By placing it after many of Catullus's other poems, readers can fully appreciate the meaning and depth of Carmen 64.

Roseanne2 said...

I think that Carmen 64 came much later than the other works of Catullus. To be honest, I think that Catullus 64 is the sum of all his other poems put together. When reading Carmen 64, one can notice every single emotion pouring out from Ariadna that Catullus has expressed in previous poems. For instance, we see sadness and an extreme sense of grief when she realizes that Theseus has left her. Catullus says, “'sicine me patriis auectam, perfide, ab aris perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu? sicine discedens neglecto numine divum, immemor a! devota domum periuria portas?” (lines 132-135) “"Thus then, having borne me afar from my father's home, have you left me, faithless, faithless Theseus, on the lonely shore? thus departing, unmindful of the will of the gods, forgetful, ah! do you carry to thy home the curse of perjury?” This truly shows the amount of grief Ariadna is actually going through. However, we have seen this type of emotion before with Catullus during his break-up with Lesbia. An example of such sadness is found in Carmen 3 when Catullus cries out to the gods and goddesses to mourn. It should be noted that Ariadna has done this method of crying out to the goddesses as well. Catullus says, “Mourn, all you Venuses and Cupids,” “Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,” (Carmen 3, line 1). If one were to analyze each and every single one of Catullus’ poems, which I’m sure there is someone that has done all that, then one would find that there are bits and pieces of previous poems in the epyllion. This would have to mean that Catullus wrote this particular poem much later than the others. It makes a huge difference to note which came first because there has to be some sort of stem as to where all the emotions found in the epyllion arise. If we say that the epyllion came later, then we are able to say that the emotions came from previous Catullan poems about his lover, Lesbia.

lauren2 said...

The most common, timeless riddle baffles people's minds over and over again: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" This same concept is applied to the lyric poems of Catullus and his epyllion, a little epic. Many words, phrases, and concepts are echoed in both forms of Catullus' literature. When comparing the texts, however, it appears that the epyllion most likely came after Catullus' many lyric poems.

In the epyllion, lines 154-156 read "quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena, quod mare conceptum spumantibus exspuit undis, quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae casta Charybdis, talia qui reddis pro dulci praemia vita?" which is translated, "What kind of a lioness birthed you under some lonely rock, which sea spit you out having been concieved from the foamy waves, which Syrtis, what rapacious Scylla, what vast Charybdis, you who give back such rewards for your sweet life?" These few verses are repeated, with variation, in Catullus 60: "Num te leaena montibus Libystinis aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte tam mente dura procreauit ac taetra, ut supplicis vocem in novissimo casu contemptam haberes, a nimis fero corde?" translated, "Surely a lioness from the Libyan mountains or barking Scylla didn't beget you from the lowest part of her loins, you of such pitiless, vile spirit that you hold in contempt the voice of a supplicant in his last and final despair, ah, you of too cruel heart?" Both of these passages are questioning the origins of people, claiming that they must have been birthed from the worst. Secondly, in Catullus 64, the act of calling upon the gods for help and/or cursing the gods is heavily prevelent. Just one example occurs in lines 203-304: "...supplicium saevis exposcens anxia factis, annuit invicto caelestum numine rector;" meaning, "begging for a distressing punishment with cruel deeds, the god of the sky Juppiter approved;" A singular citation from the lyric poems can be found in Catullus 3, beginning "Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque;" "Mourn, o Venus' and Cupid's;" These are just two example of many references to other lyric poems. Themes such as words being written on the wind and the water and wave-like motions(unda) are also paralleled.

In the epyllion, it has also been suggested that Catullus is relating himself to Ariadne. Both are grief-stricken lovers mourning the loss of their parter. They exhibit much of the same emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, or analytic hypotheses about their lost loves' behavior. If this correlation is true, Catullus would have had to write the epyllion after the lyric poems, considering love comes before the suffering.

After analyzing Catullus 64 and the poet's other lyrical works, the conclusion can be assumed that the epyllion was most likely after his love poetry, because of particular references and correlations between Catullus and the main characters.

anqi2 said...

It is hard to chronologically order the poems of Catullus of when they were written. However, by grouping the poems into categories like "Catullus Lesbiam Amat" and "Catullusne Lesbiam Amat?" helps arrange these poems by using the main idea and theme of love and heartbreak. The main course of a relationship is infatuation, love, and then the break-off, has helped many chronologically order Catullus's poems. But Catullus 64 is a mini-epic, an epyllion, that contains all the stages of love in it; how are we to group it?

Some theories have proposed that all the poems Catullus has written in his lifetime referred to a woman, Lesbia. This partially argues that the epyllion was written after the bulk of his work, written to reflect and move on from the relationship he was in. But there would be a difference if the epyllion was written before the bulk of Catullus's poems; this would probably suggest that Catullus has never truly moved on from the heartbreak, committing his time and effort into the outpouring of his broken heart into his poems, showing his anguish in some poems and undying love in others. However, I believe that Catullus's mini-epic was written after his many other poems, acting as a summarization of the love between Catullus and Lesbia with Catullus as Ariadne and Lesbia as Theseus.

There are many connections between the epyllion and other poems. For example, if one follows the stereotypical order of a relationship, one can compare Catullus 5 to verses 85-104 of the epyllion. Both refer to the climax of a relationship between Catullus and Lesbia and Theseus and Ariadne, respectively. In Catullus 5, he states, "Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum, omnes unius aestimemus assis" (Verses 1-3: Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and the rumors of strict old men, let us value them as a penny). Catullus chooses to disregard the rumors of men to be with the woman he loves just as Ariadne disregards the "genitoris filia vultum... consanguineae complexum...denique matris" (Verses 116-118: face of her father and the embraces of her sister and mother) to run off the man that she loves. Later on in the mini-epic, during Ariadne's lament, Ariadne seems to shake herself free of the illusion of love that the forgetful Theseus gave her and wonders why she even bothered with him in the first place. This is a parallel to Catullus's anguish after the break-up, which is evident in Catullus 8: " Scelesta, vae te! quae tibi manet vita? Quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella? Quem nunc amabis? Cuius esse diceris? Quem basiabis? Cui labella mordebis?" (Verses 15-19: Wicked you are! What life stays for you? Who will now come to you? Who will think you are pretty? Now who will you love? Who will they say you are? Who will you kiss? Who will bite you little lip?). By following connections like these, one can assume that the epyllion is just a summarization of the entire relationship with Lesbia and that Catullus is finding solace in his writing and knowing that he was not the only one to go through this wretched event.

Assuming that Catullus's love of Lesbia followed the natural flow of relationships, it is most likely that the epyllion came after the bulk of his poems. By instilling his own experiences of a relationship similar to the one Ariadne had with Theseus, Catullus 64 is a very insightful and unique version of the love story.

82 said...

Although, I feel there is no distinct evidence to prove whether Catullus wrote Carmen 64 before or after his other love poems, I think that it would make more sense to assume that Carmen 64 was written after the majority of his other poems. I have come to this conclusion by examining the language used in 64 as well as the emotion that he portrays.

Catullus 64 is about a girl Ariadne who is abandoned by her boyfriend Theseus. Many have claimed that this story is in fact a parallel based on Catullus’ own abandonment by Lesbia. It is common knowledge that in order to be a great writer, you should write what you know. This seems to have worked in Catullus’ case. Carmen 64 as well as his other love poems have focused on his own experiences. Catullus’ emotion of grief portrayed in this epyllion helps my case that 64 was written after atleast his poems entitled “Catullus Lesbiam Amat. In order for Catullus to reflect on so much grief and pain felt when abandoned he must have already experienced the love. I believe that Catullus’ shorter poems became a rough draft-like foundation for his little epic.

Carmen 64 reiterates some words and language that are frequent in Catullus' other poems. In line 156, Ariandne askes Theseus what Scylla gave birth to him (“quae Scylla rapax, quod mare conceptum exspuit”) just as Catullus had done previously in Carmen 60. (aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte). Throughout the middle/end of the little epic Ariadne spends a considerable amount of time calling on the gods for help. Line 191, “caelestumque fidem postrema comprecer hora.” which means “ I who’ve been abandoned… invoke the trust of the gods in my final hour.” This could be taken back to all the times Catullus called to the gods during his situations with Lesbia, such as Carmen 76 (“o di”). Ariadne is also often described as being miserable, and abandoned just as Catullus referred to himself as.

The words and language as well as Catullus emotion can only reasonably be explained as occurring after he had written his other love poems. It would make more sense for Catullus to have written smaller sections of poetry and then when tackling a larger project, like the epyllion, he would be able to draw from his previous writings and experiences. I believe that his smaller poems helped his inspiration for the path his epyllion takes.

khushbu2 said...

There are many instances in which I see the similarities of this epyllion and the short lyric poems that Catullus wrote. I believe that Catullus wrote these short poems first and used the epyllion to tie the themes and concepts of these poems together. Catullus uses the epyllion to form a parallel with Ariadna of his rocky relationship with Lesbia. This poem is culmination of all of the other short poems, which represent a different stage in the relationship between Catullus and Lesbia.
In Carmen 70, Catullus writes about how “mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,
in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua” (What a woman says to a passionate lover, he ought to write in the wind and rapid water). This theme or the distrust of lovers is seen in Carmen 64 when Ariadna urges that, “nulla uiri speret sermones esse fideles” (no [woman] trust that a man’s conversations are trustworthy). This distrust that Ariadna now has for mankind because of Theseus relates to how Catullus feels about Lesbia in their relationship. There is another strong correlation of Carmen 60 and 64. Catullus questions, “Num te leaena montibus Libystinis aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte procreauit?” (Surely a lioness from the African mountains or barking Scylla didn't beget you from the lowest part of her loins?) Ariadna irately asks, “quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena? quae Scylla rapax? (What lioness gave birth to you from her lonely rock? what ravenous Scylla [gave you birth?]). This shows how Catullus and Araidna curse the existence of Lesbia and Theseus, respectively. There is also another strong parallel when Catullus list the places he might go to get over Lesbia in Carmen 11. In Carmen 64, Ariadna contemplates, “nam quo me referam? quali spe perdita nitor? Idaeosne petam montes?” (Where shall I go back? For what hope shall I, who am lost, ever strive? Shall I seek Mt. Ida?). Ariadna doesn’t know who or where to turn to after his abandonment ment just as Catullus tries to find solace with his friends and getting away from Lesbia.
Those instances show that there is a strong correlation between Carmen 64 and the other short poems by Catullus. Catullus wrote 64 after the other poems because this poem brings together the complete cycle of his relationship with Lesbia. I think Catullus wrote all of these short poems during his relationship, and Carmen 64 was written after the tough love was over. These correlations of how Catullus relates to Ariadna cover a wide spectrum of his relationship with Lesbia from how Catullus loved her, to how he questioned her trust, to his complete depression, and finally to the bitter hate he felt after it was over. I think the similarities of Ariadna and Catullus are too strong for this poem to be written before his relationship with Lesbia. Since the other short poems reveal the gradual evolution of their relationship, Catullus probably wrote this poem after the others. All of the other poems express a different aspect of the progression of this relationship, while Carmen 64 ties in the relationship as a whole.
So why does it matter what order Catullus wrote his poems in? I guess looking at Catullus’ poetry as a whole, it really doesn’t matter in what order he wrote his poems. It’s just important that we see the connections between the poems and between his personal life. It doesn’t matter whether Carmen 64 was used as a brainstorm for his other poems or if it was a conclusion of the many short poems. His poetry is essentially a culmination of his personal thoughts, ideas, and relationships. The technical aspects of the of the order of his poetry are not nearly as important as the focus on his complex feelings about his life, human emotions, and relationships.

khushbu2 said...

There are many instances in which I see the similarities of this epyllion and the short lyric poems that Catullus wrote. I believe that Catullus wrote these short poems first and used the epyllion to tie the themes and concepts of these poems together. Catullus uses the epyllion to form a parallel with Ariadna of his rocky relationship with Lesbia. This poem is culmination of all of the other short poems, which represent a different stage in the relationship between Catullus and Lesbia. In Carmen 70, Catullus writes about how “mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua” (What a woman says to a passionate lover, he ought to write in the wind and rapid water). This theme or the distrust of lovers is seen in Carmen 64 when Ariadna urges that, “nulla uiri speret sermones esse fideles” (no [woman] trust that a man’s conversations are trustworthy). This distrust that Ariadna now has for mankind because of Theseus relates to how Catullus feels about Lesbia in their relationship. There is another strong correlation of Carmen 60 and 64. Catullus questions, “Num te leaena montibus Libystinis aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte procreauit?” (Surely a lioness from the African mountains or barking Scylla didn't beget you from the lowest part of her loins?) Ariadna irately asks, “quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena? quae Scylla rapax? (What lioness gave birth to you from her lonely rock? what ravenous Scylla [gave you birth?]). This shows how Catullus and Araidna curse the existence of Lesbia and Theseus, respectively. There is also another strong parallel when Catullus list the places he might go to get over Lesbia in Carmen 11. In Carmen 64, Ariadna contemplates, “nam quo me referam? quali spe perdita nitor? Idaeosne petam montes?” (Where shall I go back? For what hope shall I, who am lost, ever strive? Shall I seek Mt. Ida?). Ariadna doesn’t know who or where to turn to after his abandonment ment just as Catullus tries to find solace with his friends and getting away from Lesbia.
Those instances show that there is a strong correlation between Carmen 64 and the other short poems by Catullus. Catullus wrote 64 after the other poems because this poem brings together the complete cycle of his relationship with Lesbia. I think Catullus wrote all of these short poems during his relationship, and Carmen 64 was written after the tough love was over. These correlations of how Catullus relates to Ariadna cover a wide spectrum of his relationship with Lesbia from how Catullus loved her, to how he questioned her trust, to his complete depression, and finally to the bitter hate he felt after it was over. I think the similarities of Ariadna and Catullus are too strong for this poem to be written before his relationship with Lesbia. Since the other short poems reveal the gradual evolution of their relationship, Catullus probably wrote this poem after the others. All of the other poems express a different aspect of the progression of this relationship, while Carmen 64 ties in the relationship as a whole.
So why does it matter what order Catullus wrote his poems in? I guess looking at Catullus’ poetry as a whole, it really doesn’t matter in what order he wrote his poems. It’s just important that we see the connections between the poems and between his personal life. It doesn’t matter whether Carmen 64 was used as a brainstorm for his other poems or if it was a conclusion of the many short poems. His poetry is essentially a culmination of his personal thoughts, ideas, and relationships. The technical aspects of the of the order of his poetry are not nearly as important as the focus on his complex feelings about his life, human emotions, and relationships.

Jay2 said...

In trying to decide whether Catullus wrote Carmen 64 before or after his short lyric poems, the most telling things are the parallels in the themes that emerge. Many of the themes used or explored by Catullus in his short lyric poems are echoed in his Epyllion.

In many of Catullus’ poems other than 64, he tells his stories or makes his point using themes of love and abandonment. Love is the main theme of the frame story of Peleus and Thetis. However within this theme of love and caring is the theme of abandonment, loneliness, and grief, told through the story of Theseus and Ariadne. This contrast of love and abandonment could quite possibly be a bitter statement from Catullus that even the most perfect love will be interrupted by the most grief and sorrow. If this is the case, then this is a bitterness that would most likely have come from his tragic relationship with Lesbia. Catullus’ relationship with Lesbia was, for a time, the most perfect thing in the word, wanting only to live and love and forget the sever old men (Carmen 5). However, a short time later, in Carmen 60, Catullus asks Lesbia how she could possibly be so cruel to person that loved and worshipped her. Finally, Catullus simply laments his fate and tries to reassure himself and to try to move on (Catullus 8). This line follows Ariadne’s progression from love, then to anger and frenzy, then finally to overwhelming grief and sorrow. Ultimately, this close parallel is enough to say that Catullus wrote Carmen 64 after his other poems.

These parallels in theme are certainly strong evidence that Carmen 64 was written by Catullus after his bitter breakup with Lesbia. The overall structure of a perfect happy love being interrupted by a time of intense and bitter grief is certainly indicative of such.

Timmy2 said...

Catullus seems to reference many of his other poems, usually in description of Theseus. The obvious metaphor is that Lesbia is to Catullus as Theseus is to Ariadne. In essence, Ariadne's lament is Catullus' lament. And this is clear when he describes the anquish of Ariadne with the same words he uses to describe his own agony in other poems of his. Although, he could have based all his other poems off of this poem 64, it would make much more sense if he alluded to his past poetry in this text. One example is in poem 60. When the lioness is referenced in poem 60 when Catullus writes “Num te leaena montibus Libystinis / aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte...procreavit” meaning “Surely a lioness from the mountains of Africa nor barking Scylla from the lowest part of her loins did not create you,” the rest of the poem follows in the same context describing how she is a terrible person. When he mentions the lioness in 64, Catullus quickly references poem 60 when he says “quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena” meaning “what lioness gave birth to you alone under a crag.” There seems to be an understanding that the reader will recognize the connection to his previous poem. The same poem is reference a few lines later when he says “quae Scylla rapax, quae vasta Charybdis,” which means “what rapacious Scylla, what vast Charybdis.” In line 143, he says “quae cuncta aerii discerpunt irrita venti,” meaning all “which the winds of Heaven now blow abroad in vain.,” he clearly echoes the same feeling he has in poem 70 when he says the words of women “ought to be written in the violent winds and waters.” (“in vento et rapido scribere oportet aqua”)

The notion that this epyllion was written after all of his other works (or at least after a majority of them) adds a new dimension to the text. If the it were before his other works, that would mean that all of his poems were just retellings of his previous feelings and would not mean so much. But if the epyllion was written after his other poems, it makes this “little epic” Catullus' reflection on his relationship with Lesbia, which would seem to make much more sense. Not only that, but it also means that his other love poems were probably written during his relationship with Lesbia, and thus give historians a good biographical look at Catullus. This makes Catullus' epyllion the climax of writing, combining both his theme of love found in many of his poems and his best writing effort. By combining his ideas with the Homeric epic so seemlessly, he shows his merit as a poet.

pranav2 said...

Carmen 64, the epyllion, is very different from all of Catullus’ other works. It is extremely long compared to his other poems. Also it has a mythic theme and written in dactylic hexameter, which is characteristic of traditional epic poetry. Yet, it also has many similarities to his other poetry. The main focus of all of his poetry, including Carmen 64, is love. This makes it very difficult to determine when exactly Catullus wrote the epyllion. His other poems can generally be grouped based on the main theme present, like the “Catullus Lesbiam amat” and “Catullusne Lesbiam amat?” poems. Also, these can be ordered somewhat chronologically, by making assumption like that Catullus would have loved Lesbia and been in a relationship with her before their breakup (common sense). However, the epyllion is so much different that it cannot be ordered like this. Much of the language in 64 is also found in his other poetry, therefore it can be argued that either the epyllion was written before much of his other works or was written after most of it.
It seems more probable that Catullus wrote Carmen 64 after most of his other poetry. Much of the epyllion is about the story of Theseus and Ariadne, focusing on Ariadne’s abandonment by her lover. Throughout the poem, Catullus shows Ariadne as “misera” and helpless. Ariadne’s grief and despair after being heartbroken are used by Catullus as a symbol for his own sadness after losing Lesbia. Many of the phrases he uses to describe his relationship with Lesbia are used to describe Ariadne’s relationship with Theseus. In lines 143 and 144 of the epyllion, Catullus says, “ Nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credit, nulla viri speret sermons esse fideles” ( And now let no woman trust a swearing man, let no woman hope that the words of a man are true). This is similar to Carmen 70: “sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scibere oportet aqua” But what a woman says to her lover, ought to be written in the wind and the water. Ariadne is saying how women should not trusting the lying words of men after she has been betrayed, just like Catullus says in his other poem that men should not blindly believe anything women say. This shows that Catullus is again expressing his attitude towards Lesbai one final time through the voice of Ariadne in the epyllion.
Also, the beginning of Ariadne’s lament is very similar to end of poem 8. In Carmen 64, starting at line 131, it says “sicine me partris avectam, pefide, ab aris, perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu?” Thus then, having borne me afar from my father's home, thus hast thou left me, faithless, faithless Theseus, on the lonely shore? In poem 8 Catullus says: “quae tibi manet vitaquis nunc te adibit? Cui videberis bella?” What life is left for you? Who now will visit you? To whom will you seem beautiful? In both situations, Catullus is using questions to show how unjust both Lesbia and Theseus are. Again he is relating his anguish to Ariadne’s.
Catullus’ epyllion may have been written before he started writing his other love poetry. But it seems much more reasonable that it was the other way around. The themes found in it, especially in the lament of Ariadne, seem to be Catullus’ way of expressing his feelings after his relationship with Lesbia was over. This one mini-epic is Catullus’ way of summing up all of his feelings about Lesbia and love.

ryan2 said...

Catullun poetry, as with much of the poetry of the ancient world, is hard to put a time definite order to its writing. Catullus’s poetry is especially hard due to the fact that it is numbered by what poems have the same meter and takes no consideration for the content or time frame of the original writing. Catullus 64, his little epic, or epillion, is arguably the most difficult poem to place in time. This is true because it incorporates so many aspects of his other poems that it makes it unclear as to whether it was before or after his other poetry was written. I believe that it was one of his first works of poetry that Catullus ever wrote.
Catullus was a young poet who was just starting out and trying to make a name for himself. Catullus’s head was filled with new ideas about how poetry should be written and what the content should be about. To introduce a “new” idea to the roman culture was along the lines of suicide. To the Roman’s new was bad, and anything that threatened to change how things were had to go. Catullus knew this and so when he started writing poetry his first work was a classic roman poem, a short epic.
In his epic he wrote about the normal male hero going off to battle the dangerous beast, classic roman style. But, he had a background story that he would late base most of his later writings off of. The background story was about a female hero that played just as an important role as the male warrior. Not only was there a female hero, but also Catullus wrote about the emotion that the female felt, something unheard of in Roman culture. Catullus writes and entire lament about how horrible it is that Thesueus, the hero, has left Ariadne and forgotten about her. It is from this section that Catullus draws different topics off for his many other poems. What Catullus does is he takes the new and more interesting parts of his poem, contained in the lament, and writes another backgrounds story but changes the name to be Lesiba instead of Ariadne.
The background story of Catullus and Lesiba’s love parallels and enriches the original epillion. For example in line 156 of Catullus 64, he talks about Scylla and birth – “quae Scylla rapax, quae vasta Carybdis.” In Catullus 60 he keeps the same tone of disgust and hate, but add in more information to clarify further the emotion that Ariadne is feeling by saying in line 5 “a nimis fero corde” or you of too cruel a heart.
In another instance he talks about ships and traveling on the sea. He follows this topic by writing poem 4 about the history of the ship and how it was made. He says the ship was the “nauvitum celerrimus” (line 2), or the fastest of the ships. This ship is the same ship as the ship of Theseus.
There are many other instances that Catullus fleshes out and gives history about something that he said in the epillion. Catullus used poem 64 to put his new idea out with out causing an uproar and then further incorporated it into his other works to keep the population interested in what he was doing. He was an ingenious writer.

vikas2 said...

Catullus' most substantial work is Carmen 64, a miniature epic, or epyllion, and by far the longest and most ambitious of his poems. Catullus writes this epyllion as a way to give new focus to familiar material, add vivid description, address psychological matters and use allusions rather than names. Thus, the question arises. When did Catullus write Carmen 64? In my opinion, Catullus wrote the short lyric poems of love and then the epyllion. Much of my reasoning has to do with Catullus’s prior experience with Lesbia which tempted him to write the epyllion. Catullus may have written this epyllion after considering himself abandoned by his love, Lesbia.
Catullus’s epyllion is a story within a story. It is a story of Ariadne and Theseus, in particular the abandonment of the lady by the ‘hero’ (Theseus). The poet here chooses to describe the scene on the tapestry in great detail. The description of an object in poetry is an ecphrasis which again is a common device in epic poetry. But here, the ecphrasis is over half the length of the entire poem! Theseus, the great Athenian hero will abandon his beloved as he speeds on to his father, Aegeus, king of Athens. But Theseus’ eagerness to return to Athens will result in his father’s tragic death. Centerpiece of the ecphrasis is the lament of Ariadne which shows all the elements of grief in which the man laments the betrayal of his girlfriend.
All of this intertwines with Catullus’s depiction of his love affair with Lesbia. In my opinion, Catullus wrote the short lyric poems of love and then the epyllion. This just makes logical sense. Catullus repeats the theme of love, abandonment, memory, death, vengeance, family, divine intervention, and gifts in his epyillion after he writes his short lyric poems. His grief over losing Lesbia inspired him to write the epyillion. On the contrary, in the epyillion he makes Ariadne suffer instead of Theseus. This is because he personally knows how it feels being a guy and losing your loved one. So, Catullus writes about Ariadna’s lament as a way to get back at Lesbia. Also, the way Catullus intertwines the theme of love and abandonment as Ariadne experiences on the beach as she watched Theseus sail away shows Catullus wrote the short lyric poems of love and then the epyllion. It would be easier for Catullus to write and portray Ariadne’s grief and agony if he already went through that grief and agony.

Yayu2 said...

It is impossible for us to know exactly when each of Catullus's poems were first written because none of us lived in his time period to testify. It is possible for us to approximate and guess about where each poem falls. Carmen 64 is exceedingly difficult to understand because of its form and content; however, I have come to believe that the epyllion is written after the short lyric poems.
Some people might say that the connections between the epyllion and his other poems are the results of the epyllion serving as a model, however, from the content and themes shown, the opposite seems to be more convincing. The happy themes of marriage is interrupted by the sober tale of an unhappy love. The themes of love, abadonment, forgetfulness, death, and vengeance recur throughout his other poems and in carmen 64. In carmen 64, line 59, he says, "irrita ventosae linquens promissa procellae." (leaving the empty promises of a windy gale behind) In lines 92-93, he writes, "quam cuncto concepit corpore flammam funditus atque imis exarsit tota medullis." (as she catch a flame in her whole body and blaze up completely from the depth of her marrow) This shows how deeply the passion burns into her, and how Catullus identifies with Ariadna. In line 143, he comments that "nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles." (may no woman put faith in a man who swears by oath) Before, in carmen 70, Catullus mentions that his girlfriend is the one who speaks in an untrustworthy fashion. Here, he shows that men are the untrustworthy ones. Also, he uses the word "leana" in both line 154 of carmen 64 and line 1 of carmen 60. He characterizes treacherous people to be in the same category in that they are all probably born from a monster. He also mentions Scylla in line 156, which he also mentions in carmen 60 to show that both Lesbia and Theseus are probably born from the same hideous creature in how they treat their lovers. The similarities illuminates the connections between the epyllion and several of Catullus's poems and hint at which came first.
Another reason that the epyllion is most likely written after his other short poems is the content of the small epic. The epic consists of the sad story of Theseus's abandonment of poor defenseless Ariadna. It is hard for me to imagine that Catullus is able to write such an epic without having first experienced similar emotions. Some poets specializes in sad poems, but Catullus has already shown us a set of poems that deals with his relationship with Lesbia that greatly mirror the events of Ariadna. In carmen 70, he notes that "in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua," (This he ought to write in the wind and rapid water) showing the distrust he has of Lesbia's faithfulness. This is an important topic of Ariadna as she states her views on men and how they are not trustworthy. In carmen 8, he also lashes out at Lesbia by saying "scelesta, vae te! quae tibi manet vita? Quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella? Quem nunc amabis?" (Wretch, pity on you! What life lies in store for you! Who will come to you now? Who will think you pretty? Whom will you love now?) In another sense, he also mourns to the Gods just as Ariadna mourns. In carmen 3, he says "Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque." (Mourn, all you Venuses and Cupids) Finally, in carmen 8, Catullus accepts the loss of Lesbia as he says, "miser Catulle, desinas ineptire, et quod vides perisse perditum ducas." (Poor Catullus, you must stop being silly, and count as lost what you see is lost) All of these parallels between Catullus and Ariadna show how Catullus's previous experiences possibly influenced the epyllion and that the epyllion came first. It just seems why too hard for Catullus to write poems that relate to himself and the epyllion so well from scratch.
Also, Catullus was a neoteric poet, meaning that he wrote in a style that was new at the time. Catullus is kind of an arrogant guy, so it seems right that after his earlier short poems in his own style, he decides to kind of shift to the old style by writing an epyllion that reflects his personal experiences to show off. The unique references all point to the epyllion being written after his short poems, and it is a really insightful look into relationships.
After examining the content and form of the epyllion, it seems that Catullus drew from his various experiences with the lyric poems to compose a story in the form of an epic. I can most definitely say that the epyllion came after his short lyric poems, but where exactly it falls is definitely a mystery. I don't necessarily think that this is the last poem, but it probably is written later on in his career.

jane2 said...

I think Catullus wrote the short lyric poems of love before the epyllion. Every single one of Catullus' poems has connections to Catullus himself and his experiences in some way.
The story of Theseus, Ariadne, and the heartbreak of love betrayed closely resemble Catullus' experience with Lesbia. Catullus and Ariadne are very similar because both have been deserted and betrayed by their lovers. In lines 143-144 of Carmen 64, Ariadne laments: "Nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credat, nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles / Henceforth let no woman believe a man's oath, let none believe that a man's speeches can be trustworthy." These lines are similar to lines 3-4 of Carmen 70: "sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua / but what a woman says to a passionate lover, it is proper to write it on the wind and on fast-flowing water." In lines 188-189 of Carmen 64, Ariadne says: "non tamen ante mihi languescent lumina morte, nec prius a fesso secedent corpore sensus / Yet my eyes shall not grow faint in death, nor shall the sense fail from my wearied body." These lines are similar to lines 9-11 of Carmen 8: "tu quoque impotens noli nec quae fugit sectare nec miser vive sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura / though lacking self-control, be unwilling, and do not pursue she who flees nor live as a miserable man, but endure with a stubborn mind, endure." These groups of lines are similar because although worn out physically and emotionally from their break-ups, both Catullus and Ariadne are telling themselves that they need to overcome the situations they are in. In lines 154-157 of Carmen 64, Ariadne angrily says: "Quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena, quod mare conceptum spumantibus exspuit undis, quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae vasta Carybdis, talia qui reddis pro dulci praemia vita? / What lioness bore you under a desert rock? What sea conceived you and vomited you from its foaming waves? What Syrtis, what ravening Scylla, what waste Charybdis bore you, who for sweet life returns such meed as this?" These lines are very similar to Carmen 60: "Num te leaena montibus Libystinis aut Scylla latrans infirma inguinum parte tam mente dura procreavit ac taetra ut supplicis vocem in novissimo casu contemptam haberes, a nimis fero corde? / Surely a lioness from the mountains of Libya or barking Scylla created you from the lowest part of her loins with such a foul mind that as a result you have a contemptuous voice of a supplicant in my newest misfortune, ah with a much too cruel heart?" In these groups of lines, Catullus and Ariadne display anger towards their ex-lovers for being too cruel and harsh.
It makes a huge difference which came first--the short lyric poems of love or the epyllion. If the lyric poems came first, then we can say that the epyllion reflects Catullus' experiences in life because Catullus' lyric poems about Lesbia have many connections to the epyllion. If the epyllion came first, there would be some doubt as to whether Catullus' poems about Lesbia are completely true because one could make the argument that Catullus used many ideas from the epyllion in his lyric poetry.

jrog08 said...

Love and sex are topics that are consistent throughout the entire Catullan corpus, which should come as no surprise since he was the quintessential neoteric poet. He was the rebel, if you will, against the traditional Roman style of epic and focus on the state. On this at least scholars can agree, but a date for when his longest work, the epyllion, was written is still being debated.
It would follow that Catullus would write his epic after his foray into the poetic world because in 64 Catullus alludes to certain places and things that are remarkably similar to those in his other poems; which would lead one to believe that the epyllion was written after a majority of the other works. In line 156 of Carmen 64, Catullus recalls Carmen 60 with “quae Scylla rapax”, “who being a rapacious Scylla” which shows both his connection with Ariadne as the jilted lover, as shown in 60 when he calls Lesbia a barking Scylla because she deserted him, and his allusion to an earlier work, as if to tout his former accomplishments in the faces of those who say he is only limited to silly love poems.
Also, the whole basis for 64 immediately shows his references to other poems in which he is the lover who has been betrayed and left standing alone. In Carmen 30 Catullus elaborates on the pain that he feels from “Alfene immemor atque unanimis false sodalibus”, “forgetful and false companion Alfenus” which are almost the same words that Ariadne uses to describe Theseus as he sails away from Crete, thus showing another place where Catullus pulls on his former works to complement his newest masterpiece. Another reference to former works is when Ariadne begins her lament with a series of rhetorical questions like “sicine me patriis avectam, perfide, ab aris, perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu”, “So in this way you, treacherous man, having carried me away from the altars of my father desert me in the shore, Theseus?” which is distinctly similar to Catullus’ short lament in Carmen 8 with questions like “Quae tibi manet vita? Quis nunc te adibit”, “Which life now remains for you? Who now will you go to?” These two selections are similar in that both ask questions of lovers who are no longer in the lives of those asking the question and those who are asking want to know why they have been deceived. Those two passages show the common feelings of anger and pain between Ariadne and Catullus, which is another reason why the epyllion had to be written after the other poems. Catullus would have no ability to connect with the sadness of Ariadne, not to mention any means of illustrating those feelings, if he had not been through the relationship with Lesbia and written all the previous poems which illustrate the anger and pain that he felt from that relationship, thus the epyllion had to be written after a majority of his other works were composed.
The epyllion seems to be a culmination of most of Catullus’ previous works; it is the feather in his cap and slap in the face of those who said he was incapable of composing any serious work of literature. Like most authors, Catullus wanted to establish his name in society forever, and what better way to do that then by combining selections of his previous works and the ancient tale of Theseus and Ariadne? Catullus drew on his other poems to create a masterwork that would establish him with the major authors of serious pieces of literature and he used his previous works, combined with an ancient tale, to accomplish that end.

Will Ravon said...

I think Catullus wrote 64 after his poems about loving her and before the poems about her breaking up with him and he attacking her with his poems. Often times 64 stated how Ariadne fell deeply in love with Theseus(lines 86-93 and 120). Much like how Catullus said he loved Lesbia and how old men and their rumors can't hurt them(Catullus 5), or there are not enough kisses to ruin it(Catullus 7). 64 repeats how Catullus loved Lesbia just as Ariadne loved Theseus. For the rest of 64 Ariadne laments about how Theseus has broken her heart and how he later breaks his father's heart. This is leads to Catullus writing his other poems about how sad he is. Some think 64 repeats all of Catullus's sad and angry poems, however, his sad and angry poems could easily have followed 64 becuase much of them add onto what is said in 64. Like in 60 where Catullus mentions someone being born from a mountain lion or a sea monster. Much like lines 154-156 that oddly talk about Theseus being born to a lioness or a sea monster. Later in 60 he adds that someone is vile and pitiless, which is an addition to what has been said in lines 154-156 of 64. In Catullus 3 he tells the Cupids and Venuses, practically love itself, to mourn for his heart breaking. This is like when in lines 203 and 204 when Ariadne asks Juppiter to punish Theseus for her abandonment.

pranav2 said...

Carmen 64, the epyllion, is very different from all of Catullus’ other works. It is extremely long compared to his other poems. Also it has a mythic theme and written in dactylic hexameter, which is characteristic of traditional epic poetry. Yet, it also has many similarities to his other poetry. The main focus of all of his poetry, including Carmen 64, is love. This makes it very difficult to determine when exactly Catullus wrote the epyllion. His other poems can generally be grouped based on the main theme present, like the “Catullus Lesbiam amat” and “Catullusne Lesbiam amat?” poems. Also, these can be ordered somewhat chronologically, by making assumption like that Catullus would have loved Lesbia and been in a relationship with her before their breakup (common sense). However, the epyllion is so much different that it cannot be ordered like this. Much of the language in 64 is also found in his other poetry, therefore it can be argued that either the epyllion was written before much of his other works or was written after most of it.
It seems more probable that Catullus wrote Carmen 64 after most of his other poetry. Much of the epyllion is about the story of Theseus and Ariadne, focusing on Ariadne’s abandonment by her lover. Throughout the poem, Catullus shows Ariadne as “misera” and helpless. Ariadne’s grief and despair after being heartbroken are used by Catullus as a symbol for his own sadness after losing Lesbia. Many of the phrases he uses to describe his relationship with Lesbia are used to describe Ariadne’s relationship with Theseus. In lines 143 and 144 of the epyllion, Catullus says, “ Nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credit, nulla viri speret sermons esse fideles” ( And now let no woman trust a swearing man, let no woman hope that the words of a man are true). This is similar to Carmen 70: “sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scibere oportet aqua” But what a woman says to her lover, ought to be written in the wind and the water. Ariadne is saying how women should not trusting the lying words of men after she has been betrayed, just like Catullus says in his other poem that men should not blindly believe anything women say. This shows that Catullus is again expressing his attitude towards Lesbaia through the voice of Ariadne in the epyllion.
Also, the beginning of Ariadne’s lament is very similar to end of poem 8. In Carmen 64, starting at line 131, it says “sicine me partris avectam, pefide, ab aris, perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu?” Thus then, having borne me afar from my father's home, thus hast thou left me, faithless, faithless Theseus, on the lonely shore? In poem 8 Catullus says: “quae tibi manet vitaquis nunc te adibit? Cui videberis bella?” What life is left for you? Who now will visit you? To whom will you seem beautiful? In the epyllion Ariadne’s question is not really a question. She is really commenting on how cruel and heartless Theseus is by abandoning her. Similarly, Catullus’ questions in Carmen 8 serve a similar purpose. He is saying that nobody will love her or be there for her after she broke up with him. In both situations, Catullus is using questions to show how unjust both Lesbia and Theseus are. Again he is relating his anguish to Ariadne’s.
Catullus’ epyllion may have been written before he started writing his other love poetry. This would mean that all of his other poetry is just based on this one story. He would have just taken the ideas of Ariadne’s love and grief and used them in his other works. But it seems much more reasonable that it was the other way around. This also makes his poetry seems much more realistic. If he wrote the epyllion after the bulk of his other poetry, it would mean that he is pouring his own feelings out through Ariadne. The themes in the epyllion would be actually based on his actual life and feelings. Knowing that Carmen 64 is really based on Catullus’ own emotions adds a whole new dimension to the epyllion.

hyung02 said...

Because the number on the Catullus poems doesn’t represent time when they were written, it is difficult to set the poems in chronological order. However, poems can be classified into many different themes such as “Catullus Lesbiam amat” or “Amici et Inimici”. Catullus is most significant Latin Neoteric, yet he wrote an epyllion, a mini epic. This is observed that Catullus can write an epic poem although he specialized on short poems that delineate personal emotion.
It appears that Catullus wrote epyllion much later than his previous works. Although one can say that Catullus wrote epyllion then he wrote multiple poems from a section of the epyllion, it is more plausible that the epyllion is the summary of his affair with Lesbia. Like he lost Lesbia, Ariadna lost Theseus.
In line 3 of 70, it says, “sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.” (but what woman says to a desirous lover, it is proper to write it on the wind and rapid water.) Catullus then took this line and said the following in line 143 of 64. It says, “nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credit, nulla viri speret sermons esse fideles.” (now for let no woman believe a man’s vow, let none hope that a man’s speech can be faithful). Here, Catullus says that women’s words are full of lies, and in 64, Ariadna says a similar thing.
Also in line 1 of 8, it starts, “miser Catulle,” (miserable Catullus,). He is miserable because he can not detach himself from his love affair. A similar situation occurs in 64 where Ariadna is miserable because the forgetful Theseus left her at the ocean shore. If epyllion was written first, and his short poems were taken from sections of the epyllion, Catullus would have to stage his relationship with Lesbia by terminating his love affair. Because this is impossible, this is why Catullus wrote epyllion after his short poems to summarize his love affair.
Because there are scholars who believe that Lesbia is a character made by Catullus, it would be possible for the epyllion to be written before the short poems, and short poems would be sections of the epyllion. However, I think it is more logical to recognize that the epyllion is the summary of his “Catullus Lesbiam amat” theme by relating to a myth.

Ian2 said...

In my mind, the writing of the Epyllion would logically have followed the lyric love poems that Catullus is best known for. Catullan themes of love and loss are based in the life of the poet, where he lost the love of his life, the woman known as Lesbia. In the lyric works, the works concerning Lesbia are written with the passion a lover would feel during the love affair or with the anger of a recently jilted man. This would seem to point toward a concurrent time frame between the poems and liaison. The depth of the feeling expressed in 64 would surely require an education in love and loss; the pain of Ariadne is truly the pain of Catullus, still smarting from Lesbia's rejection.

In fact, Catullus recycles words and phrases from his personal poems of lost love, putting them in the mouth of the abandoned Cretan girl.
Phrases are taken whole from the lyric poems to fill in the Epyllion -- 64:154-157 "quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena/ quod mare conceptum spumantibus exspuit undis/ quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae vasta Charybdis/ talia qui reddis pro dulci praemia vita? what, tell me, lioness bore you beneath a lonely rock/ what sea spit out a conceived you from foaming waves/ what Syrtis, what rapacious Scylla, what vast Charybdis/ you who return such rewards for sweet life." This, of course, makes the reader think of Catullus 60: "Num te leaena montibus Libystinis/ aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte/ tam mente dura procreauit ac taetra/ ut supplicis vocem in novissimo casu/ contemptam haberes, a nimis fero corde? Surely a lioness from the Libyan mountains or barking Scylla didn't beget you from the lowest part of her loins you of such pitiless, vile spirit that you hold in contempt the voice of a supplicant in his last and final despair, ah, you of too cruel heart?" Bitter a little? Catullus projects not only his pain, but also his wording onto the brokenhearted Ariadne. In addition, Catullus reuses the "forgetful" excuse for Theseus, as he used for Alfenus in Carmen 30 - in 64, Catullus repeatedly calls Theseus forgetful. In another 30 connection (where he calls Alfenus a false companion), Ariadne calls men untrustworthy (143-144): "Nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credit, nulla viri speret sermons esse fideles. And now let no woman trust a swearing man, let no woman hope that the words of a man are true." Carmen 70, with its talk of wind and water and untrue lovers' promises, fits right in with 64.

All this to say, there's no way for Catullus to have written such a similar poem with such resounding pain and loss without having been through the heartbreak before and having written the other poems first. Catullus' life was the inspiration for his poems, and this epyllion, this little epic, was a compilation of the seemingly defining moments in his life. Love, loss, and more loss. Ariadne, throughout the poem, moves through the stages of grief - the shock and disbelief, the anger, and the despondency - as Catullus had in his poems.

Catullus 64 would seem to be the retort to all the snooty, "dignified" Roman critics that bashed Catullus and his neoteric comrades. Catullus was a standard-bearer for the style, and Roman establishment was not very kind to new things. Criticisms against Catullus, no doubt disparaging his abilities as a poet, likely led to the unveiling of his epyllion, written in the old epic style, dactylic hexameter, to smack down his detractors. He did quite a fine job.

vikas2 said...

Catullus’s longest work by far is his epyllion, Carmen 64. This little epic is about the marriage of a heroic couple whose bedspread has the scenes of Theseus and Ariadne on it. The theme of love and abandonment is portrayed in Carmen 64, as is in some of Catullus’s other works. So, the question arises: When did Catullus write Carmen 64?In my opinion, Carmen 64 came way after most of his short lyric poems.
In my opinion, Catullus referenced his short lyric poems when writing Carmen 64. I believe this because many of the words and language used in Carmen 64 are used in his short lyric poems. In my opinion, Catullus was motivated to write this epyllion in one of two ways. One, Catullus wrote Carmen 64 as revenge after his relationship between Lesbia. Catullus writes about the female feeling the pain and agony of abandonment from her lover instead of the male feeling this pain. So, Catullus writes about Thesus abandoning his love, Ariadne, on an island. Or two, Catullus is trying to relate himself to Ariadne. Both feel the emotions of abandonment from their lovers, and they feel anger and sadness after losing their lovers. Either way, it is evident that Carmen 64 was written well after Catullus’s short lyric poems.
The words and language that Catullus uses in 64 reminds me of the words and language of many of his other poems. Catullus uses some words and languages in Carmen 64 that he used in Carmen 60. In Carmen 64 lines 156-157 Catullus says “quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae uasta Carybdis, talia qui reddis pro dulci praemia uita?” (what Syrtis, what ravening Scylla, what waste Charybdis bore thee, who for sweet life returnest such meed as this?). Catullus also uses this “Scylla” in Carmen 60. In line 2 Catullus says “aut Scylla latrans infima inguinum parte.” (or a Scylla from her womb below). In Carmen 64 Ariadne spends some times calling upon the gods for help. In lines 191 “caelestumque fidem postrema comprecer hora” (and call upon the faith of the heavenly ones in my last hour) and 195 “huc huc aduentate, meas audite querellas,” (hither, bither haste, hear my complaints). Catullus also refers to the gods in some of his other poems. Some of these poems include Carmen 1, 3, 13, 36, and 45. In Carmen 1, lines 5-7, Catullus says “Iam tum, cum ausus es unus Italorum omne aevum tribus explicare cartis...Doctis, Iuppiter, et laboriosis!” (When already at the same time, you alone dared to unfold the whole age of Italians in three scrolls, learned, by Jupiter,and weighty!). In Carmen 3, line 1, Catullus says “Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,” (Mourn, o Venus and Cupids). In Carmen 13, lines 12-14, Catullus says “donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque; quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.” (for I will give you perfume, which the Venuses and Cupids gave to my girl, which, when you smell it, you will ask the gods, Fabullus, to make all of you a nose). In Carmen 36, lines 2-3, Catullus says “votum solvite pro mea puella. Nam sanctae Veneri Cupidinque” (discharged a vow on behalf on my girl for she vowed to the holy Venus and Cupid). In Carmen 45, lines 8-9, Catullus says “Hoc ut dixit, Amor sinistra ut ante dextra sternuit approbationem” (As he said this, Cupid sneezed approval on the left as before on the right). Catullus also uses some words and languages in Carmen 64 that he used in Carmen 70. In Carmen 64 lines 143-144 Ariadne says “ Nunc iam nulla viro iuranti femina credit, nulla viri speret sermons esse fideles” (And now let no woman trust a swearing man, let no woman hope that the words of a man are true). In Carmen 70 Catullus uses very similar language. In lines 3-4 Catullus says “dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.” (but what a woman says to her ardent lover, should be written in wind and running water). In Carmen 70, Catullus is saying men shouldn’t believe what women tell them, and in Carmen 64, Ariadne is saying that women should not trust the words of men. Both Ariadne and Catullus are saying this after they have been betrayed by their lovers.
Carmen 64 was written well after his short lyric poems because in my opinion it depicts his love affair with Lesbia. This would make more sense. Catullus repeats the theme of love and abandonment in his epyllion after he writes his short lyric poems. It would be easier for Catullus to write and portray Ariadne’s grief and agony if he already went through that grief and agony.

Sanjay2 said...

Catullus’s longest work by far is his epyllion, Carmen 64. This little epic is about the marriage of a heroic couple whose bedspread has the scenes of Theseus and Ariadne on it. The theme of love and abandonment is portrayed in Carmen 64, as is in some of Catullus’s other works. So, the question arises: When did Catullus write Carmen 64?In my opinion, Carmen 64 came way after most of his short lyric poems.

I personally believe that this was epyllion is either one of Catullus’ last works or one of his first works. I say this because he either references this poem in many other poems or vice versa. This reference of poetry in Catullus 64 and other poems appear stronger in some places than in other places. For example, in Catullus 64 there is a specific line where he speaks of throwing the horns of into the empty wind line 111 (nequiquam uanis iactantem cornua uentis. ) this is just the same as another Catullus poem that says that (Catullus 70) should be written in wind and running water (in uento et rapida scribere oportet aqua. ). This including the reference made to Catullus 60 by Catullus 64. In line 156 specifically Catullus says (quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae uasta Carybdis) which translates to what Syrtis, what ravening Scylla, what waste Charybdis bore you. This similarity is very striking and most deinetly intended by Catullus. Another example of this same type of refrence exists in line 92 the line (inlumina, quam cuncto concepit corpore flammam ) which translates to, till she had caught fire in all her heart deep within. This is very similar to the language and image painted in Catullus 52 where it seems that Catullus has first seen Lesbia, his true love. The line that specifically invokes this rememberance of things past is the lines 9-10, where Catullus quotes, lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte this translates to, but my tongue falters, a subtle flame steals down through my limbs, my ears tingle. This not only invokes a strong bond between the two poems but also draws a strong connection to the similarities between Catullus and Ariadne, a similarity that we are supposed to thrive upon This evidence and other specific examples are enough to conclude that Catullus 64 came either at the very beginning or very end of Catullus’ writing career. This having been said, I do believe that this epyllion comes at the end of an illustrious career. His use of literary devices and bracketing suggest that Catullus could very possibly have started his poetry with 51 and ended with 64, a way to bracket his relationship with Lesbia.