Catullus: A Selection of Poems by John Godwin;

Catullus: A Selection of Poems by John Godwin;

Author:John Godwin; [Godwin, John]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781350060234
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 2019-12-02T00:00:00+00:00

Poem 64

This is one of the few surviving examples in Latin of the miniature epic or epyllion, a form which dates from Alexandrian times and was favoured by poets such as Callimachus (who wrote a Hecale) and Moschus (Europa). It is epic in metre (hexameters), in its mythological subject-matter and in its poetic register, but is in other ways a far cry from Homer and Virgil. It was very popular with the New Poets of the first century BC: Cinna wrote a Smyrna, praised by Catullus and favourably contrasted with Volusius’ Annales in poem 95; Calvus wrote an Io, Cornificius a Glaucus, Valerius Cato a Dictynna.

This is not a linear tale: the story of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis frames a ‘story within a story’, with more than half (216 of the 408 lines) of the poem given over to this ‘digression’ describing a coverlet adorning the marriage bed of the bridal couple. The whole central tableau is an example of the device known as ecphrasis – the set-piece description of a work of art in narrative form – found in other ancient literature such as the depiction of the Shield of Achilles (Homer Iliad 18. 478–613), the mantle of Jason (Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica 1.730–67), and later on the shield of Aeneas (Virgil Aeneid 8. 608–731). Catullus skilfully exploits the ecphrasis, playing off the physical object against the broader narrative behind it, covering his tracks with perhibent (124) which states that the details are from the legend as well as from the coverlet. The static coverlet is animated from the start and the poet gives us narrative details (such as the climbing of hills (126) and running into water (128)) along with the quotation of a whole speech, which, by definition, cannot be taken from the coverlet.

The story of Theseus and Ariadne is as follows: Athens was compelled to send young people every year as human sacrifices to King Minos in Crete as punishment for an earlier crime – once in Crete, they were fed to the Minotaur who lived in the Labyrinth and who was the offspring of the sexual union of the queen (Pasiphae) and a bull. Theseus had joined the group going to Crete and was determined to kill this Minotaur, but needed a means of finding his way out of the Labyrinth. King Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and helped him to escape by means of a ball of wool, which he unwound on his way in and then rewound on his way back. Ariadne had thus betrayed her father and her homeland and fled with the victorious Theseus from Crete, hoping for a future life with him. They stopped at the island of Naxos, where she was abandoned by Theseus.

Only lines 124–64 are printed and discussed here, but it is important to read the whole poem in translation to appreciate what is, by any standards, a masterpiece. For further discussion of the themes of the poem, see the website accompanying this book.


Copyright Disclaimer:
This site does not store any files on its server. We only index and link to content provided by other sites. Please contact the content providers to delete copyright contents if any and email us, we'll remove relevant links or contents immediately.
Popular ebooks
IMAGINES: Celebrity Encounters Starring You by Anna Todd & Leigh Ansell & Rachel Aukes & Doeneseya Bates & Scarlett Drake & A. Evansley & Kevin Fanning & Ariana Godoy & Debra Goelz & Bella Higgin & Blair Holden & Kora Huddles & Annelie Lange & E. Latimer & Bryony Leah & Jordan Lynde & Laiza Millan & Peyton Novak & C.M. Peters & Michelle Jo & Dmitri Ragano & Elizabeth A. Seibert & Rebecca Sky & Karim Soliman & Kate J. Squires & Steffanie Tan & Kassandra Tate & Katarina E. Tonks & Marcella Uva & Tango Walker & Bel Watson & Jen Wilde & Ashley Winters(75175)
Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson(50643)
Sita - Warrior of Mithila (Book 2 of the Ram Chandra Series) by Amish(47810)
The Cross and the Curse (The Bernicia Chronicles Book 2) by Harffy Matthew(46977)
Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas(36116)
The Crystal Crypt by Dick Philip K(35012)
The Crystal Egg by Wells H.G(34795)
In Control (The City Series) by Crystal Serowka(34776)
The Wolf Sea (The Oathsworn Series, Book 2) by Low Robert(32943)
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry(32441)
The Book of Dreams (Saxon Series) by Severin Tim(31386)
Crowbone (The Oathsworn Series, Book 5) by Low Robert(31269)
Cecilia; Or, Memoirs of an Heiress — Volume 1 by Fanny Burney(30575)
Cecilia; Or, Memoirs of an Heiress — Volume 3 by Fanny Burney(30356)
Cecilia; Or, Memoirs of an Heiress — Volume 2 by Fanny Burney(30330)
Evelina, Or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World by Fanny Burney(25421)
Evelina by Fanny Burney(25367)
Fanny Burney by Claire Harman(25257)
Beautiful Disaster by McGuire Jamie(23726)
The Daughters of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase(21259)