The Range of Feelings Associated with Love in Catullus and Lesbia' Poems

The Range of Feelings Associated with Love in Catullus and Lesbia' Poems

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The Range of Feelings Associated with Love in Catullus and Lesbia' Poems

Of Catullus’s poems, the Lesbia poems are the most memorable,
particularly as they contain such a wide range of feelings and
emotions. Whilst we do not know what order the poems were written in,
it is tempting to arrange them in a progression from constant love, to
confusion and despair and finally hatred.

Poem 87 appears to be at the beginning of the relationship between
Catullus and Lesbia. The symmetry of the couplets beginning “nulla”
and ending with “mea est” emphasizes the idea that no one loves Lesbia
as much as Catullus. The placement of “nulla” at the beginning of the
lines gives it great importance and stresses how strong and devoted
his love for her is, highlighting that no one is loved as much as
Lesbia is by Catullus. This and the direct address, “amore tuo,”
gives the poem a very personal feel, as though it is a love letter
meant for Lesbia alone. This use of second person address gives the
reader as sense of catching a glimpse or discovering the secret affair
between Catullus and Lesbia. The placement and enjambment of the word
“vere” highlights that his love is sincere and the repetition of “mea
est” and also “a me” shows Catullus’s strong loyalty and love towards
her. Whilst the poem does have a very lyrical feel, Catullus presents
its subject matter as a declaration of fact and states that no one is
as loyal to Lesbia as himself. There is a slight degree of
self-righteousness as he seems to be obsessed with his own loyalty,
but he is clearly distressed that his efforts have not been
appreciated or reciprocated by Lesbia and his sentime...

... middle of paper ... own
experience. In reading the poems, the reader gets an impression that
they are all very sincere and real due to their personal tone. Rather
than just talking about an ideal concept of love, Catullus explains
all the feelings he experiences, including eternal love, but also
confusion, the harsh realisation that he feels he cannot trust Lesbia,
and anger. These Lesbia poems not only show the range of his
feelings, but also his own range in style, from heightened, elaborate
language, to simple expressions of complex feeling, although the
latter probably shows his sincerity more effectively, for example poem
85 in which Catullus manages to demonstrate how torn he is in only two
lines. Throughout the selection of the poems, Catullus conveys to the
reader that he feels both wonderful and torturous elements of love.

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