The heart of the poet at the heart of his poem : the manner and purpose of Catullus’ identification with Ariadne in poem 64

Stein, Deborah (2018)

CITATION: Stein, D. 2018. The heart of the poet at the heart of his poem : the manner and purpose of Catullus’ identification with Ariadne in poem 64. Akroterion, 63:185-213, doi:10.7445/63-0-998.

The original publication is available at http://akroterion.journals.ac.za

Article

In recent times, the longer poems of Catullus have been receiving renewed attention. Previously regarded as highly technical, impersonal works written to earn the poet the epithet of doctus in neoteric circles, there is now a greater tendency to see them as personal expressions of the Catullan persona1 in much the same way as it is accepted that his shorter, lyric poems do (Putnam 1961:165). In Poem 64, written in epic meter and dealing with epic heroes and their deeds, Catullus embeds deeply lyrical concerns relating to love, betrayal and grief at the very heart of his epyllion (Konstan 1993:71). The epyllion is a mini-epic that is crafted with skill, loaded with learned allusions, and often intended to provide ironic commentary on the contemporary socio-political context by referencing the mythical heroes, heroic deeds and storylines of a bygone age (Johnson 2007:182). However, it does this in a new way — in the instance of Poem 64, by focusing on the ‘unepic’ theme of risky love, giving voice to the inner torment of a heroine, often as critique of the brave deeds of the hero (Gaisser 2009:151).

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