Overview of Catullus Poem 10

Topics: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Roman Republic Pages: 2 (579 words) Published: May 18, 2006
In Catullus' poem 10, he describes an event where he met his friend Varus' new girlfriend. Since she was "not ungraceful nor unattractive", Catullus tried to impress her, and his bad lying caused her to find out the truth. He tells the girl that he had bought eight slaves when he was in Bithynia. However, he tells us that he didn't even have a good bed; therefore he did not actually get the eight men for it. His poem ends with him insulting the woman, saying she is one "through whom it is not allowed to be careless".

This poem may not be a poetic fiction, but probably accounted for an actual event. His statement about how he was not rich enough to have a good bed was untrue, since he was indeed a very wealthy person, but the mistake may have actually occurred. If it is true, this poem is one which could only be written by someone who is male, free, and a Roman citizen.

Only one who was a Roman citizen could have written this poem. One reason is that only a Roman aristocrat could be part of a general's cohort and have expectations of gaining from the appointment. If he were not a Roman citizen, he would not have the privilege to even be with a Roman general, let alone expect something from it. Secondly, to write this poem the poet would have to be well-educated. This is seen by his play of words on the litotes in line four (non sane illepidum neque invenustum) and his poverty-stricken poet game. Only a very wealthy Roman citizen could receive such an education. Also, only one of very high status could use Gaius Cinna's name like that, saying he was a friend of his.

One must have also been male to write this poem. For example, Usually in Roman society, only males could own property. Women could in rare circumstances, such as a widowing, but even in those cases, they were expected to be remarried. At that time the property would be transferred to their husband. Although this could happen, the property usually went to a male relative...
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