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Title:Catullus: Poeta flagrans an doctus?
Authors:A.H. Thomsen, C.M. Weimer, R.R. Negenborn

Book title:Baetica Renascens

Abstract:Throughout the ages, the poems of Catullus (ca. 84-54 BCE) have been read in a variety of different ways, resulting in just as many interpretations of his works. There are however especially two sides of the poet, which have often been emphasized. In the words of Wilhelm Kroll, "There are two aspects of Catullus: there is the Alexandrian weighed down by the burden of tradition, and there is the spontaneous, primitive child of nature." More recently, Amanda Kolson Hurley called these two aspects of the poet "Romantic" and "Modern Catullus", respectively. In modern times, there has been a tendency to focus mostly on "Romantic Catullus". It is consequently Catullus' short poems- especially his love poems about Lesbia-that have been regarded as his "most significant achievement", since they most expressively represent the poet's apparently personal, spontaneous feelings. Many of Catullus' immediate successors, however, mention him as poeta doctus (a learned poet), a view that seems to comply more with the "Modern Catullus", and, by extension, with his longer poems. This view namely implies qualities that go beyond the image of the "spontaneous, primitive child of nature", abilities such as a broad knowledge of literature, a talent for meticulous poetic arrangement, and a skilled sense of literary allusion and adaptation. The poeta doctus would thus be self-consciously writing within and continuing the tradition represented by the poetry of Callimachus. It seems therefore that not only has there been a dichotomy of Catullus's, but even a polarization, where one view was all but inconsistent with the other. In this chapter we examine by way of a close-reading exactly how he manages to do this, that is, how the two Catullus's work together.

Reference:A.H. Thomsen, C.M. Weimer, R.R. Negenborn. Catullus: Poeta flagrans an doctus?. In Baetica Renascens (J.M. Maestre, J.G.M. Calas, et al., eds.), pp. 621-650, 2014.
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