This book is the first attempt to read the poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus in his own context; to look at the poet and his works against the cultural realities of the first century BC as recent advances in historical research allow us to understand them. Catullus' own social background, the circumstances of the literary life of his time, the true extent of his works and the variety of audiences he addressed - these and other questions are explored by Professor Wiseman with new and startling results. Contemporary high society and politics are illustrated through Clodia and Caelius Rufus, considered not as mere adjuncts to Catullus' story but as significant historical personalities in their own right. A final chapter on nineteenth- and twentieth-century interpretations of Catullus' world shows how anachronistic preconceptions have prevented a proper understanding of it, and made this radical reappraisal necessary. Anyone with a serious interest in Latin literature or Roman history will want to read this book. Students in the upper levels of school or at university will find it essential background reading to their work on Catullus and Cicero's Pro Caelio.
'T. P. Wiseman's Catullus and his World must be one of the most readable and exciting new books about a Latin poet for many years ... [It] can confidently be recommended to anyone interested in Catullus and not just to the professional classical scholar or student.' Francis Cairns, The Times Literary Supplement 'Disarmingly readable, and with many a neat turn of phrase, it is a valuable study of Catullus and his time, full of shrewdness and common sense, sometimes subtle, sometimes provocative.' Richard Jenkyns, The Times Higher Education Supplement 'I applaud the book as a scintillating work of imaginative scholarship.' Peter Jones, The Times 'The book deserves to become required reading for all students of late-republican Rome, its society and its literature.' Tony Woodman, British Book News