Friday, March 9, 2007

Week 10: Making sense of strange elements

In Carmen 11, Catullus takes the reader on a catalogued tour of regions around Rome. For us, they are mostly strange, unknown places, and we need the help of commentators to begin to make sense of them. And then, suddenly, two-thirds of the way through the poem, Catullus has a message for his "girl", Lesbia. It's not a pretty message. The relationship is clearly over. Latin scholars admit that this is a "problematic" poem to interpret and has been for the history of interpretation.

What does this catalogued tour of places have to do with his message for Lesbia? Come up with at least two different "theories" for how an intelligent reader might make sense of these seemingly disparate parts. Label your theories A and B, and state each in two sentences or less. Think long on this, and write short!