Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Ancient Poets and Modern Scholars

Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience. Nature and History: Times, Names, and Places (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 305:
Catullus, for his part, was not an érudit, though some modern scholars, reluctant perhaps to believe that a great poet could be much unlike themselves, seem to imagine that Catullus and his friends were learned people—as though these young men about town, after a hard day's wine and love-making, liked nothing better than to relax with a volume of etymology or mythography.
Jasper Griffin, "Augustan Poetry and the Life of Luxury," in Latin Poets and Roman Life (London: Duckworth, 1985; rpt. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), pp. 1-31 (at 17):
The private life of the Latin love poets will have borne little resemblance to that of a modern scholar.
William Butler Yeats, The Scholars:
Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love's despair
To flatter beauty's ignorant ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

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