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Catullus Forum

Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  Symbolism? (Carmen 3)

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AuthorMessage
Guest
Posted on Sat Sep 23, 2006 06:45:16  
This is a response to the "erotic" image that some think exists in carmen. Surely a dead sparrow can not be symbolic of anything else
Guest
Posted at Sun Sep 24, 2006 06:16:06  Quote
You know what, I completely agree, in carmen 2 the sparrow is quite clearly a sparrow because of carmen 3. This is one poem where catullus is actually being innocent!
Guest
Posted at Fri Sep 29, 2006 00:02:01  Quote
I could say that the sparrow IS symbolic here, but referring to anything sexual seems ludicrous to me. The sparrow could represent things (I haven't read all of these, I found this site to edit the translations I've already done of the first few, so I don't know much about Catullus and Lesbia) such as youth or beauty, or some other component of Lesbia. For instance, if it were beauty, it was always around here, flitting here and there, and then it died. The other obvious possibility is that it refers to an actual sparrow
Chris Weimer
Posted at Wed Nov 01, 2006 14:44:52  Quote
The sparrow is doubtful to be anything but a sparrow. Romans did keep sparrows as pets, and so Lesbia playing with it (carmen 2) makes it likely that it is the same sparrow in carmen 3. Catullus was a very personal poet - he and his predecessors before him (Archilochus, Callimachus, etc...) all wrote very personal poetry, as opposed to epic poetry. Twas the nature of the beast.

True, there could be a possible metaphor associated with the sparrow, but it's doubtful that the sparrow is actually a symbol for his sexual life with her, i.e. it was fabricated for that purpose.
Sappho
Posted at Sun Jan 28, 2007 18:26:58  Quote
We are currently studying these two poems in my Latin 302 class. My professor made an interesting point about the symbolic nature of the sparrow: she asked us whether it is, in fact, a sparrow, or is symbolic of something else, or, of course, if it is really a sexual metaphor.

After we all thought about this for a few minutes, she then asked us if it's really necessary to choose.

Her point was that Catullus is famous for writing on many levels. It may be true that there was an actual sparrow that Claudia (Lesbia) owned, and this poem was, on one level, literal. On another level, the sparrow could be representative of sexual desire or fulfillment, and the death could be a denial of such fulfillment - or the fulfillment itself. On yet another level, "ludere" in Carmen 2 can have the meaning of "to write poetry" as well as "to play." With this in mind, these poems could be read as being about the act of writing poetry itself.

Overall, it seems to me as though Catullus fully intended these double and triple entendres. One cannot prove it, of course, but the meaning is there if you look for it.
Guest
Posted at Sun Nov 18, 2007 19:36:09  Quote
Well, I think that everyone has a good point. The sparrow might be Lesbia's husband that will soon die, becaue we all know that Catulls wanted to be with Lesbia. So i really dont know.
Guest
Posted at Wed Jan 23, 2008 09:53:43  Quote
The sexual symbolism seems to take a backseat in this poem. The purpose of the poem is more likely less sexual and is apparently a mockery by means of exaggeration of more serious poem mourning the deaths of pets.
Chris Weimer
Posted at Thu Jan 24, 2008 07:31:23  Quote
Quote:
  Overall, it seems to me as though Catullus fully intended these double and triple entendres. One cannot prove it, of course, but the meaning is there if you look for it.

The more I read Catullus, the more I have to agree with you.
Guest
Posted at Wed Apr 15, 2009 14:40:39  Quote
you cannot dsisregard the clear sexual undertones in catullus 2 however this poem can be more serious focusing on the death of a real pet or the end of their affair and hope for the "sparrow" to relieve his pains and bring his girl joy
Guest
Posted at Sun Jun 12, 2011 14:18:56  Quote
I get really annoyed when my Latin tutor tells me it's all a big sexual innuendo. I believe that this poem is genuinely about a sparrow. I mean, I'm sorry but who has ever heard of a penis "nipping" or "pecking"? That is definitely about a sparrow. Grrr.
Guest
Posted at Thu Oct 13, 2011 03:59:40  Quote
Quote:
  I get really annoyed when my Latin tutor tells me it's all a big sexual innuendo. I believe that this poem is genuinely about a sparrow. I mean, I'm sorry but who has ever heard of a penis "nipping" or "pecking"? That is definitely about a sparrow. Grrr.


I completely agree. Sometimes, a sparrow is just a sparrow.
Guest
Posted at Mon Dec 14, 2015 23:51:55  Quote
In italian "Passera" (derived from latin passer) means both "sparrow" and is slang for female genitalia. I find it hard to believe there isn't a similar meaning to it in latin, even though I don't know the etymology behind the italian use of passera.
Guest
Posted at Wed Mar 02, 2016 18:31:31  Quote
Quote:
  
Quote:
  I get really annoyed when my Latin tutor tells me it's all a big sexual innuendo. I believe that this poem is genuinely about a sparrow. I mean, I'm sorry but who has ever heard of a penis "nipping" or "pecking"? That is definitely about a sparrow. Grrr.


I completely agree. Sometimes, a sparrow is just a sparrow.


You can't have it both ways. If the sparrow represents something else, Catullus must still maintain the vocabulary associated with a bird, thus the pecking. What would you have him say here? Commenting on Catullus and saying that he is innocent here is not really knowing the work of Catullus at all.
 


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