Catullus and the Poetics of Roman Manhood

Catullus and the Poetics of Roman Manhood

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David Wray
Cambridge University Press, 06/09/2001
EAN 9780521661270, ISBN10: 0521661277

Paperback, 258 pages, 23.2 x 15.8 x 1.8 cm

This book applies comparative cultural and literary models to a reading of Catullus’ poems as social performances of a ‘poetics of manhood’: a competitively, often outrageously, self-allusive bid for recognition and admiration. Earlier readings of Catullus, based on Romantic and Modernist notions of ‘lyric’ poetry, have tended to focus on the relationship with Lesbia and to ignore the majority of the shorter poems, which are instead directed at other men. Professor Wray approaches these poems in the light of more recent models for understanding male social interaction in the premodern Mediterranean, placing them in their specifically Roman historical context while bringing out their strikingly ‘postmodern’ qualities. The result is an alternative way of reading the fiercely aggressive and delicately refined agonism performed in Catullus’ shorter poems. All Latin and Greek quoted is supplied with an English translation.

‘… there are some very fine close readings …’ Journal of Roman Studies

'… a sensitive study of an amazing poet, certainly careful and courteous in its chosen methodology, distinguished by its wide reading among fashionable critics and by the receptive eye it opens to many (not all) facets of the Catullan jewel. This is a careful book, deserving attention.' Latomus