was probably born in or near Verona, in northern Italy.
Nearly all the biographical information about him comes from his own poetry, which survived in just one
manuscript, itself the copy of a copy, which contained 116 poems, and which
surfaced in Verona c1300. His family was wealthy and of
equestrian status, his father numbering
Julius Caesar among his friends. His
familiarity with Greek literature and culture suggests that he received the traditional education of a wealthy Roman.
Links with Caesar
Suetonius tells us that Catullus offended Caesar with one of his poems, but that Catullus apologised, and Caesar quickly forgave
Most of his poetry appears to have been written in the decade between 60BC (24) and 50BC (34).
It is, in general, short, urbane, witty, well-constructed, sometimes passionate,
sometimes amusing and sometimes vulgar. It was considered to be 'new poetry',
having little in common with traditional epic poetry. It concentrated on
elaborating on personal feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment, outrage and
passion, the whole presented with an intelligent acuity of observation, and in
the context of everyday life.
Twenty-five of his poems detail his tempestuous relationship with a married woman (called
Lesbia in his
poems), in reality probably Claudia Metelli Celeris, sister of Publius Clodius
Pulcher, a Roman noble of the patrician gens Claudia, and an important
politician during the rise to power of the first triumvirate of Caesar, Crassus
and Pompey between 60BC (24) and 53BC (31).
Between 57BC (27) and 56BC (28) he was in
Bithynia on the staff of the provincial governor,
The fact that there are no references to events after 54BC (30) in his poetry seems to support the ancient biographical tradition that he died young.
Catullus Biography : Links
For more information on Catullus, visit : http://rudy.negenborn.net/catullus/