Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Roman poet who lived during the Roman Republic. His poetry moved away from the ancient Greek epics about gods and heroes to something closer to everyday life. His poetry has been and still is greatly admired thoughout the ages and influenced poets such as Ovid, Virgil and Christopher Marlowe. Unfortunately, his most famous poem nowadays is Catullus 16, which has been censored for centuries because of its... colourful language.
Catullus' work provides examples of:
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Catullus often moves swiftly from praising his beloved's best features to calling her a whore for her infidelity, and back again.
- Book-Ends: The well known poem 16 begins and ends with the same sentence: "Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo".
- Cargo Envy: In many of his poems he desires to be this or that belonging to his mistress, Lesbia. Most famously, he wants to be her passer or pet "sparrow." Though some believe it may not really be a sparrow.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Most (in)famously Catullus 16, which is widely considered one of the most obscene and offensive things ever written in Latin. The title alone roughly translates to "I will sodomize you and then facefuck you."
- Due to the Dead: Cattulus 101 records his journey from Rome to Anatolia to make sacrifices at his brother's grave. The description of how he feels at the tomb are heart-wrenching.
- The Masochism Tango: Poem 85 which describes Catullus' love/hate relationship with (presumably) Lesbia.
- Real Men Wear Pink: The reason he wrote poem 16 was to prove that writing about kisses didn't make him any less of a man, and he chose to show it with filthy expressions.
- Roman à Clef: Lesbia, the heroine of his romantic poems, is widely believed by the modern scholars to be a pseudonym for rather infamous matron Clodia Pulchra Tertia (a "heroine" of Cicero's probably most famous speech, "Pro Celio"), whom Catullus probably had an affair with.
- Sophisticated as Hell: A master of this. Catullus's love poems are beautiful, describing kisses and lovemaking in carefully crafted wordplay and poetry. And then you flip to Catullus 16 where the first line is "one of the filthiest expressions ever written in Latin"
- Take That!: His entire genre of invective poems: writings meant to take potshots at people such as Julius Caesar and Cicero.
- Tsundere: Poem 85 ("Odi et amo" or I hate you and I love you) neatly distils the essence of this trope into two lines.I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do this?
I do not know, but I feel it happen and I am torn apart.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: 16 reveals this side of his relationship with Furius and Aurelius, although it's probably all in good fun. In fact, most of his "Furius and Aurelius cycle" contains insults and invectives towards his friends, though 16, where he basically threatens them with homosexual rape in the filthiest Latin possible over Creative Differences, does stand out.