A biography of Gaius Valerius Catullus, Rome’s first great poet, a dandy who fell in love with another man’s wife and made it known to the world through his verse.
This superb book gives a rare portrait of life during one of the most critical moments in world history through the eyes of one of Rome’s greatest writers.
Living through the debauchery, decadence and political machinations of the crumbling Great Republic, Gaius Valerius Catullus’s fervent poetry was filled with emotion, wit and lurid insight into some of the republic’s most enduring figures. In his own scandalous love affairs brimmed all the decadence, debauchery and spectacle of his time.
Born in Verona in c. 82BC, Catullus’ name remains famous after two thousand years for the sharp, immediate poetry with which he skewered society in the great Republic. From mocking political Rome’s sparring titans Pompey, Crassus and his father’s friend, Julius Caesar to his wry observations of cavorting youths, money-grabbing brothel-keepers or slaves who knew too much, Catullus was a reckless forefather of social satire. But it was by his erotic, scandalous but tender love elegies that he became known, remaining a monumental figure of reference for poets from Ovid and Virgil onwards.
Tracing his journey across youth and experience, from Verona to Rome, Bithynia to Lake Garda, Daisy Dunn rediscovers the world of Catullus’ passions. She explores the adventures at sea described by his breathless syllables, the private dinners, lovers’ trysts and power games all amid the trembling death of the Roman republic, written with a wit and energy that Catullus would surely have enjoyed.
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