Thursday, September 6, 2007

Catullus' Obsession and Ours

Today's world is completely obsessed with love, sex, and any other "naughty" behaviors. It permeates our culture in music, films, literature, and television, among other things. We seem to have been caught in our own desires for each other that we cannot escape, or want to. This is distinctly similar to Catullus' world; he wrote about and lived a life full of love and sex, and didn't care what others thought of him. Men and women came and went in his life with a regularity that would not seem dissimilar to today's celebrity. They don't seem to mind sleeping with each other, or really with anyone which is continually shown to us via TV. Catullus revealed his life through poetry, the most convenient form of expression available to him ,just as we see the lives of celebrities on TV. Catullus was ahead of his time when he wrote about his continual affairs and sexual escapades, much the same as we do today with the lives of celebrities except through television. Though Catullus' behavior was looked down on in his time, solely because he did not praise the ancient and glorified past of Rome, he saw ahead to the modern day when love and sex were to be common topics which are shown to us everyday.


Ian2 said...


I agree - the obsession with sex is rampant our culture and in Catullus' own Roman culture. But I would go a step further - sex is a fundamental building block of all cultures. It has been a major factor in the organization of tribes since the formation of such.

Right on. Bye buddy.


jro said...

Catullus was known throughout the Roman world as a poet who wrote scandalous things that disturbed some people because of their graphic nature, at least in their time, and yet we still read him today because we understand the feelings he has for his lovers. Here again Catullus shows his remarkable foresight by seeing past the limitations of his own people and into our world, where love and sex are an everyday occurrence, conveniently conveyed to us through television and other media. The Romans, especially those who wanted to restore the glory of the old Republic aka Cicero, deeply frowned on the themes of love and sex in any poetry. Only the state could be glorified because it was paramount to the individual and his feelings, while Catullus and the Neoteric poets reveled in poems of love, lust and desire.

In Carmen 51 Catullus says, “lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte” or “ but my tongue is muted, thin flames spread beneath my limbs, my ears ring with their own sound, my eyes covered in a double darkness.” This clearly shows the power that the love, or lust, has over Catullus and anyone who has ever watched any syndicated television show or major motion picture can attest to the fact that star-struck lovers are often central characters, reflecting Catullus’s theme of love that is distinctly similar to our own. Catullus had the vision to see that one day individual feelings would become paramount to the state, instead of vice versa as in his time, and wrote about it, thus showing not only his amazing skill as a poet but also his foresight in determining future trends in society which makes him as relatable today as he was over two thousand years ago.