By John Godwin
Of all the Roman poets Catullus is the most accessible for the modern reader. His poems range from the sublimely beautiful to the scatologically disgusting, from the world of heroic epic poetry to the dirt of the Roman streets.
This accessible book, which assumes no prior knowledge of the poet or of Roman poetry in general, explores Catullus in all his many guises. In six concise chapters Godwin deals with the cultural background to Catullus’ poetic production, its literary context, the role of love, Alexandrian learning and obscenity and, in the final chapter, considers the coherence and rationale of the collection as a whole.
Each chapter is illustrated by readings of a number of poems, chosen to give a representative overview of Catullus’ poety. All quotations from the text are translated and a brief discursive section of ‘Further Reading’ is provided at the end of each chapter. A Timeline giving dates of authors mentioned and full bibliography is also supplied.
‘… a very sensible and far-reaching introduction to Catullus’
‘There is plenty in this book for a sixth-former to appreciate and be entertained by, and it would make a splendid companion to a Catullus prescription.’
(Journal of Classics Teaching, No. 17, Summer 2009)
John Godwin is the Head of Classics at Shrewsbury School. He has written six books in the field of Roman Poetry and edited the complete works of Catullus in two volumes.