Gaius Valerius Catullus

Mandy Green (University of Durham)
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“Sweet Catullus”, “Tenderest of Roman poets”, as Tennyson hailed him, is most often remembered for composing some of the finest lyric poetry that has come down to us from ancient Rome. The remarkable sequence of poems inspired by his obsessive love for an older, married woman, whom he addressed under the pseudonym Lesbia, revolutionised Roman poetry, exerting a profound influence upon the Latin love elegy in the Augustan period. Celebrating the achievement of his predecessor, the poet Propertius claimed that, thanks to Catullus, Lesbia was even “better known than Helen herself” (

ipsa notior est Helena

, II.34.88). However, there was another aspect to the poetic genius of Catullus. Martial, the famous composer of Latin epigrams, acknowledged Catullus' contribution to the…

3511 words

Citation: Green, Mandy. "Gaius Valerius Catullus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 October 2003 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

792 Gaius Valerius Catullus 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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