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Catullus' bedspread: the life of Rome's most…
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Catullus' bedspread: the life of Rome's most erotic poet (2016)

by Daisy Dunn

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Daisy Dunn uses Catullus' poem No. 64 as a framing device to write a biography of the poet using information gleaned from the poems and snippets in other ancient authors.

Should have been interesting but it left me feeling 'meh'. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Mar 9, 2018 |
Unlike any other biography I've read of anyone; quite fascinating how the author cleverly reconstructed Catullus's life mainly from his own poetry and other primary sources. Though scatological and even obscene at times, he was a poet of great feeling, introspection, and intensity. Some of his incisive poems on particular personalities presage Martial or Juvenal. The author used as point of reference #64 -- what she considers his masterpiece, the miniature epic she termed the "Bedspread poem" of extended mythological scenes and Catullus's Five Ages of Mankind -- which led her to relate his other poems to his life: from growing up in Verona, to Rome, to Bithynia on the Black Sea, thence back to Rome and his home on Lake Garda. The "Lesbia" poems trace his love affair with Clodia Metelli, from fevered beginning through love/hate to its end, where he tells two fellow poets [and us]:
"And may she not expect my love as before,/Which through her fault has fallen like a flower/On the edge of a meadow, touched/By a plough passing by." From Poem #11.

We enter into Catullus's world, also the political conditions, machinations, and upheaval of the Late Republic. Ms. Dunn has also provided interesting analyses of some of the poems -- what she thinks are subtle meanings between the lines. She does fill in gaps in setting the scenes with her own words: for instance, when Catullus first climbs the Palatine to the Metellus home, his voyage home from Bithynia and last, where we see him on the shore of Lake Garda. He watches the water "lick the land like tears."

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/titian-bacchus-and-ariadne
Based on the Ariadne and Bacchus myth from the "Bedspread poem".
Commissioned from Titian by the Italian Renaissance nobleman Alfonso III, d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Jul 31, 2016 |
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This bedspread,
Embroidered with the shapes of men
Who lived long ago, unveils the virtues of heroes
Through the miracle of art
Dedication
For my parents and my sister, Alice
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062317024, Hardcover)

A vivid narrative that recreates the life of Gaius Valerius Catullus, Rome’s first modern” poet, and follows a young man’s journey through a world filled with all the indulgences and sexual excesses of the time, from doomed love affairs to shrewd political maneuvering and backstabbing—an accessible, appealing look at one of history’s greatest poets.

Born to one of Verona’s leading families, Catullus spent most of his young adulthood in Rome, mingling with the likes of Caesar and Cicero and chronicling his life through his poetry. Famed for his lyrical and subversive voice, his poems about his friends were jocular, often obscenely funny, while those who crossed him found themselves skewered in raunchy verse, sudden objects of hilarity and ridicule. These bawdy poems were disseminated widely throughout Rome. Many of his poems recall his secret longstanding affair with the seductive older Clodia.

While Catullus and Clodia made love in the shadows, the whole of Italy was quaking as Caesar, Pompey and Crassus forged a doomed alliance for power. During these tumultuous years, Catullus increasingly turned to darker subject matter, and he finally composed his greatest work of all—a poem about the decoration on a bedspread—which forms the heart of this biography, a work of beauty that will achieve immortality and make Catullus a legend.

Catullus’ Bedspread includes an 8-page color insert. 

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 18 May 2016 14:09:18 -0400)

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