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.

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  • Gail Trimble 2 episodes
    Brown Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Trinity College at the University of Oxford
  • Simon Smith No other episodes
    Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Kent
  • Maria Wyke 8 episodes
    Professor of Latin at University College London

Reading list

  • Piecing Together the Fragments: Translating Classical Verse, Creating Contemporary Poetry
    Josephine Balmer (Oxford University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Nox
    Anne Carson (New Directions, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Books of Catullus
    Gaius Valerius Catullus (trans. Simon Smith) (Carcanet, 2018) Google Books →
  • Catullus: The Complete Poems
    Catullus (trans. Guy Lee) (Oxford University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus
    Catullus (trans. Brandon Brown) (Krupskaya, 2011) Google Books →
  • Catullan Provocations: Lyric Poetry and the Drama of Position
    William Fitzgerald (University of California Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • Reading Catullus
    John Godwin (Liverpool University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Catullus: Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World
    Julia Haig Gaisser (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) Google Books →
  • Poets in a Landscape
    Gilbert Highet (NYRB, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Latin Love Poets: From Catullus to Horace
    R.O.A.M. Lyne (Oxford University Press, 1981) Google Books →
  • Bad Kid Catullus
    Jon Stone (Sidekick Books, 2017) Google Books →
  • Catullus and His World: A Reappraisal
    T.P. Wiseman (Cambridge University Press, 2008) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m000d1rg

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Auto-category: 871 (Latin poetry)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Catullus, 84 to 54 BC, wrote some of the most sublime poetry in the late Roman Republic, and some of the most obscene.