Catullus Comment

by Kevin Quaranta

I think that Catullus is being too quick in jumping into a love affair. He has barely known Lesbia and already he desires a full out relationship with her away from the rest of society (Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus!) This line from poem 5 is referring to his wish to run away with her, and by this time he has barely spoken to her directly, only indirectly through his poetry. (I guess this is understandable, being that she is a part of a very elite family and he is new in town and not very reputable yet.) For example, in poem 51, he is speaking about her through the subject of the man next to him, who he envies and thinks as “on par with the gods.” Then, by poem 5 their relation has progressed only slightly. I enjoy poem 5 up until the part where he starts listing the number of kisses, where it becomes pretty repetitive in that he lists one hundred and one thousand several times in a row. But, at the same time, I appreciate his reason for doing this because later he states that he wants to jumble them all up so that nobody knows how many times they have kissed (Conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus). Essentially he has done this by not making it so obvious without calculating it.

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