• Email
  • Print

The Wrong Catullus!

In response to:

A Dangerously Modern Poet from the December 3, 1992 issue

To the Editors:

At the risk of appearing pedantic, I would like to point out that the engraving used to illustrate Bernard Knox’s review of Charles Martin’s translation and study of Catullus [“A Dangerously Modern Poet,” NYR, December 3, 1992] is not, in fact, a representation of Gaius Valerius Catullus. As the caption indicates, it is a picture of Quintus Lutatius Catulus who, almost a generation before Catullus’ birth, was consul in 102 BC.

It is not unfitting, however, that Catulus should be associated with Catullus since, besides sharing similar names, both were Romans with interests in Greek culture and poetry. Catulus, who wrote Latin love epigrams in the Alexandrian vein (of which only two survive), can be seen as an early pioneer in the sort of poetry that Catullus later brought to sublime perfection.

John Dugan
Department of Classics
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

  • Email
  • Print