Catullus [ca 50 BCE, Rome.
To review the text discussed, click here]
The poet's concern:
he says that certain Furius & Aurelius would be ready to
journey with him as "comrades" (like a military expedition) to far places,
but all that he wants them to do is take a few harsh words to the
done him wrong:
let her make promiscuous & violent love with a host of men,
let her "rupture" them all,
let her not expect any more his love,
which has perished like a flower in the field, touched by the plow.
Horizons of Catullus' world: Who? Where?
When? What? Why?
Characters? Places named or implied? Time frame? Actions & Reasons?
Who: Catullus, Furius & Aurelius,
woman & her "lechers."
Actual: not specified.
Evoked: journey imagined from India (far to East &
South), to Parthians
(Persia), Arabs, Nile (Egypt, Africa), then up across the Alps (above
Italy), further northwards along the Rhine River to the North Sea &
across to Britain.
Future (imaginary journey NOT to make, imaginary delivery of
denial of further love by Catullus).
Present: lechery of the ex-girlfriend.
Past: his love ("as before"), its fall, broken like a flower by her plow.
In class, we asked about the similarities & differences between the
& their concerns & their horizons.
We took the broad reach of Catullus' imagination as a measure of
the hyperbole of the journey (from extreme East & South to extreme
West) & the metaphor that likens
his love as the flower, the woman as the
plow. This, we noted, a reversal of the common male/female roles,
poignantly expresses the complexity & depth of his feeling.