Catullus 64 Analysis

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This section of Catullus’ poem describes how Ariadne transforms and, in a way, matures after seeing Theseus. The poem describes Ariadne, before having seen Theseus, as a “uirgo regia,” a royal virgin. More so, she is said to have been “in molli complexu matris alebat,” or reared in her mother’s care. Furthermore, she is compared to the river Eurotas and the colored petals of blooming flowers in spring. This portrayal of the early Ariadne gives the reader a sense of the easy, carefree life Ariadne had been living her whole life; she was royalty, and always kept under her mother’s care. Ariadne, as a result, had not a worry in the world. Catullus in turn also lets the reader know that she is still very innocent and emotionally immature.

This changes when she sees Theseus. After catching sight of him, Ariadne burns with love for Theseus. The line “quam cuncto concepit corpora flammam funditus atque imis exarsit tota medullis” describes how a figurative flame takes hold of her entire body and digs at her innermost marrow. This flame represents her sudden love and lust for Theseus; the fact that it digs at her innermost marrow symbolizes how she is now becoming a permanent, mature woman. Now, Ariadne is experiencing the anxieties that go along with her newfound love. She blames Cupid, “sancte puer, curis hominum qui gaudia misces,” who mixes men’s joys and worries. Also she blames Venus, “qualibus incensam iactastis mente puellam”, who she believes figuratively drowned her in deep,dark seas. Ariadne’s love for Theseus, who is about to fight the minotaur, is clearly portrayed by her actions. “non ingrata tamen frustra munuscula diuis promittens tacito succepit uota labello.” In these lines, Ariadne prays to the gods and offers gifts to them in hopes that Theseus will be spared a horrible death at the hands of the minotaur. All in all, this section of Catullus’ poem describes Ariadne’s transformation from an innocent, carefree girl, to a mature, anxious woman who...
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