Catullus 51 and 5

by Adele

In the poem Catullus 51, by the famous Roman poet Catullus, he addresses his love for Lesbia. Although the poem is not actually written to Lesbia, but “ille”, that man who is sitting across from Lesbia. Catullus models his poem off of the female Greek poet, Sappho. In both poems, the authors mentions how they’re sense are affected and relating to the gods. However, in Catullus 51, Catallus only mentions three senses- speech, feeling, and seeing; Sappho mentions all senses in her poem. While in Lesbia’s presence, Catullus writes that he isn’t able to move his limbs and hears a constant ringing in his ears. Catullus compares the man sitting across from Lesbia as an equal to a god while Sappho does not compare the man sitting across from her lover. Catullus 51 is more of an internal poem showing his wishes for a relationship, and as time goes on him and Lesbia do end up together. An example of how Lesbia and Catullus’ relationship change is in Catallus 5. In Catallus 5 the it seems that Catallus may have gotten more courageous in asking Lesbia to have an affair with him. “Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!” Catullus states in the first couple of lines; from the previous quote it can be suggest that Catullus has gotten past what society would think about him and Lesbia’s affair. He says that with all of their kisses jumbled up they would be able to confuse anyone and they could go along loving each other. Throughout both poems we can see how Lesbia and Catullus’ love becomes stronger, but eventually dies out.

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