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The Mirror of Catullus: Poems 12, 22, 39, 41, 42 and 84

From: Syllecta Classica
Volume 22 (2011)
pp. 21-37 | 10.1353/syl.2011.0006



In poems 12, 22, 39, 41, 42 and 84, Catullus ridicules his characters for a variety of annoying habits (writing bad poetry, stealing others' belongings, inappropriate smiling, and chronic mispronunciations). The poems have been interpreted as attacks upon their subjects' provincial or low-class origins, but these habits do not result from accidental circumstances. Catullus' characters have purposefully cultivated their habits in order to show off their beauty, wit or talent. Unfortunately, their attempts at self-promotion have the opposite effect; their actions demonstrate that they are far less talented, handsome or witty than they believe themselves to be.

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