Surveying the times in which the extraordinarily popular poet Catullus thrived—ca. 84–54 B.C., the golden days of the Roman Republic—Aubrey Burl reconstructs the life of a man who epitomized an era. Catullus demonstrated a genius for the epigram, as well as the lyric, for heartfelt love songs and moving elegies. Nor did Catullus leave himself out of his pungent, spare, ironic, and superbly crafted verses, reflecting not only his personal temperament but also his perceived values, and often disparages, in a Rome increasingly beset by civil war, moral laxity, and social unrest. This book takes Catullus from his native Verona, where he grew up in wealth and influence, to Rome and to fame. A well-liked, sociable man, he entertained his friends in the lavish fashion of his day while he amused and shocked his public with urbane poetic trifles. He intrigued his public with love poems addressed to Lesbia—in reality, a married woman named Clodia—with whom he had a tempestuous affair. Though brilliant by any standard, these intimate lyrics would not save Catullus from centuries of obscurity, although they would eventually emerge in a lone third generation copy of a book in the fourteenth century, in his hometown of Verona.
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