Comparison of Catulls 51 and Catullus 5

by Alex Sarnoff
(Fox Lane High School)

In Catullus 51 Catullus fantasizes about having a relationship with Lesbia. He explains how he has seen her and heard her. How she is beautiful. Catullus knows that Lesbia is the perfect woman for him. Catullus 51 is a poem that was written so Catullus could meet Lesbia. Catullus 5 is a poem that Catullus wrote to Lesbia explaining how they should have an affair: “Vivamus, mea Lesibia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis.” They should ignore any rumors. Catullus 51 is written as more of a description of Catullus’ view of Lesbia’s life: “et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi.” Catullus describes the sweetness of Lesbia’s voice. He does not know her on a personal level, yet his love for her is full of conviction. In Catullus 5 Catullus speaks directly to Lesbia, insisting that Lesbia have an affair with him. She should disregard other’s thoughts about their relationship, as their love for eachother is extremely strong. Catullus 5 uses many adjectives to describe Lesbia’s beauty. We can learn that Catullus was envious of the man that Lesbia was with. He struggled with the fact that he was just a normal man, not a regal figure in society like Lesbia herself. Catullus cannot see a life without Lesbia. Eventually Catullus will overcome this obstacle and live a life with Lesbia. I wonder if Catullus' poems were the reason that Lesbia had an affiar with her. An affair that ends, as Lesbia ends up rejecting Catullus. Was Lesbia ever in love with Catullus, or was he just one of the many people that she had affairs with.













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