Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 BC) was the greatest lyric poet of the Roman Classical period. His poems express a gamut of personal emotions – tender, sweet, amorous, fraternal, joyous, serious, comic, pathetic, melancholic, bitter, odious, vulgar, obscene – eminently suitable for a turbulent and dynamic period of history, and with a resonance which seems surprisingly contemporary in its outlook.
In this new translation, Catullus’ voice is allowed to come through clearly and precisely, without the inappropriate overlays of modern idiom and with due attention to metre and poetic feel. An innovative arrangement of the poems by lyric theme and the use of titles for each poem facilitate a better understanding of Catullus’ range of subjects and emotions, whilst copious notes and dedicated illustrations further enhance the overall experience of his poetry.
This is poetry not with a message, but with a naked power that shouts its name from the rooftops of Rome to the seething masses in the streets below.