Catullus 51 and Catullus 5

by Allison Liang
(Bedford, NY)

In Catullus poems 51 and 5, Catullus shows his lust for Lesbia. Catullus tries to express his sensual feelings to arouse Clodia and make her love him. But does Catullus really love Clodia? I believe that Catullus is only entranced by Clodia's physical beauty. He does not know what kind of person Clodia is. Poem 51 is describing how he is jealous of the man sitting with Clodia. Maybe the reason Catullus becomes "in love" with Clodia is that he is desiring the unattainable. Courting Clodia is a big feat for Catullus, who is a man of only wit and no money. He could see Clodia as desirable because he desires to embrace a powerful person. Poem 51 describes how Clodia can control the room with her beauty. The power of her beauty is what overwhelms Catullus. I do not think only appreciating a person's beauty is what love is. Catullus may be a genius with the pen, but he is ignorant in love. All that Catullus shows in his poems are lust. Poem 5 shows this by Catullus accentuating his desire for Clodia's kisses. He does not care about anything else in society. He tells Clodia how it is not worth a penny to care about what society thinks of their love. Catullus is bold stating this, but I feel that he is only so wrapped up in his obsession with Clodia that he forgets society. Poem 5 infers that love takes prominence over all other aspects of life. I do not agree with this belief. Love is only one part of a person's life. However, Catullus advocates that love is what matters the most. He is acting too naive with his relationship with Clodia. All Catullus wants are "kisses." He cannot think of anything else. His primitive raw sexual desires for Clodia is what Catullus is focused on. Catullus may seem strong and defiant in society, but he is only defying society for what he wants to do, not to act as the society's role model.

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