Catullus 51 and 5

by Ashley Jordan
(Bedford, NY)

The Roman poet, Catullus, is renowned for his extreme poetry. In Catullus 51 the poet expresses his love and admiration for Lesbia. “Ille mī par esse deō vidētur”, this phrase show that the only person fit enough to love Lesbia is a god. Seeing that Catullus is not a god but a poet he must not feel himself fit enough to love Lesbia. “Quī sedēns adversus identidem tē spectat et audit”. Catullus clearly is a romantic and truly loves Lesbia.

While Catullus 51 admires Lesbia from afar, poem 5 directly speaks to Lesbia. In poem 5 Catullus declares his love for Lesbia by suggesting that they have an affair. The Latin used in this poem differs from 51 because it shows Catullus’s passion for Lesbia opposed to just his admiration. An example of Catullus’s passion for Lesbia is evident in line 1, “ vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque meamus”. Additionally, he uses Latin in a different tone expressing excitement in his profession for love to Lesbia. The excitement appears to stem from his idea of an affair with her without worry of what people will think of them. This idea is suggested in line 2, “rumoresque senum severiorum”. Furthermore, in these two ancient literary works a motif seems to be Catullus’s love and passion for a woman named Lesbia.

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