09/01/2020 by BBC Radio 4
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Catullus (c84-c54 BC) who wrote some of the most sublime poetry in the late Roman Republic, and some of the most obscene. He found a new way to write about love, in poems to the mysterious Lesbia, married and elusive, and he influenced Virgil and Ovid and others, yet his explicit poems were to blight his reputation for a thousand years. Once the one surviving manuscript was discovered in the Middle Ages, though, anecdotally as a plug in a wine butt, he inspired Petrarch and the Elizabethan poets, as he continues to inspire many today.
The image above is of Lesbia and her Sparrow, 1860, artist unknown
Brown Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Trinity College at the University of Oxford
Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Kent, poet and translator of Catullus
Professor of Latin at University College London
Producer: Simon Tillotson
Listen Date: mid February 2020
- Bleh, everything went in one ear and went out another – it left me wanting to read Catullus, but the discussion itself didn’t register.