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.
- 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.
- The Masochism Tango: Poem 85 which describes Catullus' love/hate relationship with (presumably) Lesbia.
- 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"
- Tsundere: Poem 85 ("Odi et amo" or I hate you and I love you) neatly distills 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.