Catullus: the first romantic poet in Western literature, as Yeats seems to have thought, or a learned master of Alexandrian refinement? His brief corpus, which includes lyric poems (and a translation of Sappho), invectives, epigrams, wedding songs, a miniature epic, a proto-elegy, and a few poems that defy easy classification, survives by a slender manuscript tradition. In this seminar, we will read the entire collection, along with a selection of scholarly interpretations, exploring the multiple facets of his literary persona. Class time will be devoted to discussion and occasional reports, and a paper will be due at the end of the semester.

The three major groups of the Catullan corpus?the polymetrics, the long poems, and the elegiacs?are examined as separate genres. Topics include what it meant to be a poeta novus in Republican Rome, Catullus?s polemical poetics, his Alexandrian and his Roman heritage, and the artifice of spontaneity.






Spring 2021

David Konstan
M: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM ONLI