The Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition (Paperback)
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Catullus, who lived during some of the most interesting and tumultuous years of the late Roman Republic, spent his short but intense life (?84-54 B.C.E.) in high Roman society, rubbing shoulders with various cultural and political luminaries, including Caesar, Cicero, and Pompey. Catullus's poetry is by turns ribald, lyric, romantic, satirical; sometimes obscene and always intelligent, it offers us vivid pictures of the poet's friends, enemies, and lovers. The verses to his friends are bitchy, funny, and affectionate; those to his enemies are often wonderfully nasty. Many poems brilliantly evoke his passionate affair with Lesbia, often identified as Clodia Metelli, a femme fatale ten years his senior and the smart, adulterous wife of an arrogant aristocrat. Cicero later claimed she poisoned her husband.
This new bilingual translation of Catullus's surviving poems by Peter Green is fresh, bawdy, and utterly engaging. Unlike its predecessors, it adheres to the principle that the rhythm of a poem, whether familiar or not, is among the most crucial elements for its full appreciation. Green provides an essay on the poet's life and literary background, a historical sketch of the politically fraught late Roman Republic in which Catullus lived, copious notes on the poems, a wide-ranging bibliography for further reading, and a full glossary.
About the Author
Peter Green is Dougherty Centennial Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin and Adjunct Professor of Classics at the University of Iowa. He is the author of many books, including Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography (California, 1991) and Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age (California, 1990). His translations include Ovid's The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters (California, 2005), Juvenal's The Sixteen Satires (third edition, 1998), and Apollonios Rhodios's The Argonautika: The Story of Jason and the Quest for the Golden Fleece (California, 1997).
“A splendid new translation.”
— London Review of Books
“It is a superb piece of work. . . . Green’s translation should encourage readers of all kinds to read or re-read Catullus, one of the greatest and most influential of all classical poets. . . . Like Catullus himself, Green combines vast ambitions with a likeable boyish insouciance. His energetic and bracingly intelligent translation will bring new readers to Catullus and will bring a new Catullus to readers who thought they knew him. It deserves, as Catullus said of his own book, to ‘outlast at least one generation!’”
— Emily Wilson,
“With typical zestful belligerence [Peter Green] assesses almost every aspect of Catullan scholarship. His translations . . . catch the Catullan tone, jazzily pitched between the schoolboyish and the erudite.”
— Times Literary Supplement
“Green offers an accurate and spirited version in accentual equivalents of the Latin quantitative meter, with facing Latin text. In his informative introduction, which takes account of much recent scholarship, Green ranges from discussion of Catullus’ life and times to accounts of the Catullus manuscript tradition and literary influence to a defense of his own metrical practice. . . . The expository portions are characteristically exuberant.”
“Capably delivers on the longer poems and gives vivid color to the invective and to the lighter erotic verses.”
“Green is a celebrated classicist and his boyish enthusiasm is a perfect match for the bawdy ferocity of Catullus. . . . He perfectly captures Catullus’ voice-whose outrageousness may shock even the most jaded sophisticate. You don’t have to be a regular reader of poetry to like these poems.”
“Any fan of the Latin language, any student of the Roman Empire, which is so like and so unlike our own, must be grateful to Green and his publishers for such a useful and handsome book.”
— Los Angeles Times
“In Green’s scrupulous translations, we feel the very pulse of this brilliant poet. A truly exciting discovery.”
— Providence Journal
"Peter Green's rendition of Catullus is an important addition to the body of existing translations . . . Green's translations are elegant and stylish throughout, if not totally literal; his commentary, which touches on an impressive (if not, understandably, complete) range of modern scholarship, is compact and allusive, designed to pique the interest of the advanced student or the non-specialist scholar. . . . All in all, this is without question a book worth owning."
— Classical Journal
"Green's work is a major contribution to the tradition of Catullan translation in English, achieving perhaps better than any attempt in the last hundred years a sense of Catullus' urbanity (as against obscenity), and, for those without Latin, an excellent way into the ancient poet."
— Translation and Literature
"Peter Green's Catullus reveals care in translation, primarily in the most emphasized objective, that is, in maintaining the rhythm of the text."
"This is the finest English Catullus we now have or probably will have for the indefinite future. All future translators of Classical poetry should do what Green has done in detail . . . : lay out the exact forms of English rhythm and their variations that will represent quantitative meters. Translators who fail that minimum requirement should not see print."
— Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics