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4. Catullus and Invective

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In this module, we think about Catullus’ invective poems, focusing in particular on: (i) the literary history of invective poetry, and its connection to a particular metre: iambics; (ii) the use of invective in forensic oratory, e.g. Cicero’s attacks on Clodia in his Pro Caelio, or his attacks on Anthony in his Phillipics; (ii) the extent to which Catullus’ criticism of those around him reveal social prejudices, e.g. his criticism of the old man with a much younger girlfriend in poem 17; (iii) the figure of Gellius, and the nature of Catullus’ attacks on him in poems 88, 89 and 91; (iv) the appearance of Catullus himself in some of these invective poems, e.g. poem 40; and (v) the appearance of Catullus as a target of abuse, e.g. poem 10.


In this course, Dr Gail Trimble (University of Oxford) explores the poetry of Catullus (c. 84-54 BC). In the first module, we think Catullus’ first poem and what it might tell us about what he hopes to achieve with his poetry – which he describes as a ‘charming little book’ (lepidum … libellum) filled with ‘trivialities’ (nugae). After that, we think about the figure of ‘Lesbia’, the women with whom Catullus has a tempestuous relationship – and who may or may not be based on a real Roman woman. In the third module, we think about Catullus’ presentation of myth, looking in particular at his longest poem (64), before turning in the fourth module to consider Catullus’ invective poems. In the fifth module, we read through some of Catullus’ shorter poems – in particular poems 85 and 70 – before turning in the final module to think about the generic variety of Catullus’ collection.


Dr Gail Trimble is Associate Professor in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford. She works primarily on Latin poetry, with particular interests in Catullus, Ovid, Virgil and Horace. She is currently completing a commentary on Catullus 64, with newly edited text, to appear in the Cambridge University Press series Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries.

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APA style

Trimble, G. (2022, July 14). Catullus - Catullus and Invective [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Trimble, G. "Catullus – Catullus and Invective." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Jul 2022,

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