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date: 15 April 2021

Catullus (1), Gaius Valeriuslocked

, Roman poet
  • Julia Haig Gaisser

Extract

He was born to a distinguished and wealthy family of *Verona around 84 bce and died after 54, probably in Rome. His dates are incorrectly reported in the Chronicle of Jerome as 87 to 58, but Jerome's observation that he died in his thirtieth year is perhaps correct: his poems mention no event datable after 54. He came to Rome at an unknown date and embarked on the public career expected of a young man of his class, serving on the staff of the propraetor C. *Memmius (2), who was governor of Bithynia in 57–56. The service was uncongenial, as he notes in poems 10 and 28; and it seems to have been his last foray into public life. Instead, he devoted himself to poetry, becoming a major figure in a group of poets (dubbed ‘neoterics’ or ‘new poets’ in modern scholarship) who took their models and aesthetic principles from Hellenistic Alexandria (see hellenistic poetry at rome).

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