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Catullus 64

Goldman, Jane More by this author...£7.00

In translating Catullus 64 Jane Goldman has created a cracking new poem fizzing on the page and in her live performance. This poem of 409 lines is considered one of the greatest achievements of the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 BC–54 BC).

The longest of his poems, Catullus 64 is in the form of an epyllion (little epic). Jane Goldman’s meticulous line by line translation from the Latin into richly textured contemporary English honours Catullus’s powerful experiment in holding to account the politics of epic poetics by the competing politics of his renowned erotic lyricism. Catullus 64 is thus a biting satire on martial imperialism, an indictment of its reliance on the marital institution of compulsory heterosexuality.

Goldman’s lively, rhythmical translation also serves the 21st century reader by transforming all proper names into contemporary epithets strictly in keeping with the originals’ etymology, onomastics, and semantic valences. Readers may access the force of personalities and semantic play in names, without the alienating resort to what Philip Larkin termed ‘the common myth-kitty’.

Her poem foregrounds Catullus’s saucy and queer double- entendre as well as bringing out the poem’s serious indictment of those in charge of patriarchy’s war machine. Catullus 64 is truly a poem of our time.

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