Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Catullan corpus

The other day, I finished typing in the whole of the Catullan corpus as part of my Catullus project. Sure, I could have just cut and paste, which would have been a lot faster, but then I wouldn't have been able to get a sense of the whole thing. I'm glad I did it. To be sure, Catullus didn't leave volumes of poetry or mountains of prose. I wouldn't have wanted to do this with Cicero.

In the process I got to appreciate why people have enjoyed his work over the centuries. He's not just a love poet, but he does that very well too. To modern readers, his poems about his life come across as ordinary. What poet wouldn't write about his life? Heaney does. Except that in antiquity, to write about some aspect of your life wasn't the thing to do. You'd write about something epic. Like the Iliad. Or the Odyssey. Or the Aeneid. Or, well, you get the idea. Catullus, along with the neoteric poets broke the norms. Can you imagine poetry as familiar as Catullus's being avant garde? It's really hard to imagine. I also got to see the changing norms of how we present ancient texts, which I blogged about already.

So where to go from here? I don't know. This is kind of where I want to go, but I'm not sure about doing that for each poem. I'll probably want to do a few more movies where I recite the poems. That would be cool. I enjoy the challenge of writing vocabulary in Latin. But am I fired up enough about Catullus to do the whole mess?