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The Life of Rome's Most Erotic Poet
A biography of Gaius Valerius Catullus, Rome's first great poet, a dandy who fell in love with another man's wife and made it known to the world through his verse.
This superb book gives a rare portrait of life during one of the most critical moments in world history through the eyes of one of Rome's greatest writers.
Living through the debauchery, decadence and spectacle of the crumbling Roman Republic, Catullus remains famous for the sharp, immediate poetry with which he skewered Rome's sparring titans - Pompey, Crassus and his father's friend, Julius Caesar. But it was for his erotic, scandalous but often tender love elegies that he became best known, inspired above all by his own lasting affair with a married woman whom he immortalised in his verse as `Lesbia'. A monumental figure for poets from Ovid and Virgil onwards, his journey across youth and experience, from Verona to Rome, Bithynia to Lake Garda, is traced in Daisy Dunn's brilliant portrait of life during one of the most critical moments in world history.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
`An amazing mixture of pacey biography and first rate literary analysis. Rome's most famous bad boy poet comes alive as never before. Stunning' Boris Johnson
`A haunting reminder of how little humanity has changed over two thousand years and a moving introduction to the greatest love poet of all time' Robert Harris
`Dunn's beautifully written biography is a superb portrait of this most human of poets who leaps to life, hating and loving as ferociously as ever, before our 21st-century eyes' Sunday Times
`Dunn does a brilliant job of recreating Rome in the first century BC ... This is a triumph of modern classical scholarship made accessible through lucid writing' Independent
`Lyrical, playful and startlingly original ... Breathes extraordinary new life into the classical world. An unforgettable journey into the high art and low life of ancient Rome' Dan Jones
'Simultaneously imaginative and learned, Dunn has written the perfect introduction to Catullus and his world' Tom Holland
`Dunn's brilliant new biography of the Roman master will shine beams of light on his darkly passionate poetry' Professor Paul Cartledge
`Dunn succeeds through a confection of history, literary criticism and imaginative travelogue. She is an appreciative and observant guide, pointing to continuities in the landscape and teasing out ancient allusions ... Dunn's prose is Catullan in its versatility: she can be deliciously coarse and ... lyrical. She marshals the poems into a life story ... Like a good music album ... An imaginative, enriching and quick-witted book reminds us that Catullus is a poet for all time' Standpoint
`Imaginatively revive[s] this most accessible of Roman poets' Financial Times
`Enjoyable and diligently researched ... Dunn is as a sure-footed and elegant literary critic ... `Catullus' Bedspread' is richly woven, and Dunn's deep passion for her subject is patent' Spectator