NONFICTION

Catullus' Bedspread: The Life of Rome's Most Erotic Poet

Harper. Jul. 2016. 336p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062317025. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062317049. LIT
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Classicist Dunn's (editor, Argo magazine) book delves deep into the ancient Roman cultural and political climate in which the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus crafted his erotic poems. The author's well-researched prose vividly meanders through Catullus's privileged, well-connected life. According to Dunn, Catullus's work influenced the development of the Latin love elegy, with his verse in the back pocket of greats such as Ovid and Tibullus. His poetry is described as being urbane—with his observations springing forth from profound experiences with the world around him, akin to "those of an elevated being." Although the writing tends toward the tangential at times, the author skillfully pieces together an uncensored portrait of her subject. The boy who eavesdropped on Julius Caesar grew into the artist who fell in love with Clodia and the man who mourned his brother's passing. The work includes a time line and an appended Poem 64 (bedspread poem).
VERDICT Recommended for students of classical Roman literature and classical Roman history.

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