Catullus' Poem on Attis: Text and Contexts

Catullus' Poem on Attis: Text and Contexts

Catullus' Poem on Attis: Text and Contexts

Catullus' Poem on Attis: Text and Contexts


Catullus 63, the poem on Attis self-castration, regret, and final subjection to the goddess Cybele, has been called the most remarkable poetical creation in the Latin language. Scholarly debate has focused on the poem's relationship to the myths and cults of Attis and Cybele, its dependence on Hellenistic models, its meanings for a Roman audience, and its unusual language and metre. In the present volume these questions are being addressed by a team of specialists in religious history, Hellenistic poetry, Roman poetry and culture, and Latin linguistics. The volume not only sheds much new light on a fascinating poem, it also demonstrates how the various disciplines of Classics may cooperate towards a better understanding of ancient culture. The contents of this volume also appear in Mnemosyne, 57,5. (2004), as a special issue on Catullus.


The papers collected in this volume are all concerned with Catullus 63, called by W.Y. Sellar, in words often echoed by later readers, ‘the most remarkable poetical creation in the Latin language’. They derive from a so-called ‘Text-in-Context day’ organised by the editors at the University of Groningen on 19 May 2003. Text-in-Context days are part of the course programme offered to the PhD-students of OIKOS, the Dutch National Graduate School in Classical Studies. The format is that a brief ancient text (prepared in advance by the students) is discussed by scholars from various disciplines. The aim is to illustrate both how these disciplines construct and approach their subject and how they may cooperate towards a better understanding of ancient culture.

At the day devoted to Catullus 63, the poem was discussed from the point of view of the history of religion (Jan N. Bremmer), Hellenistic poetry (Annette Harder), Roman poetry and culture (Ruurd R. Nauta), and Latin linguistics (Caroline Kroon). The response from the audience (which, apart from OIKOS graduates, also included a number of graduates from the University of Oxford) encouraged us to revise our papers for collective publication, adding, by way of introduction, a lecture on Catullus 63 by Stephen Harrison, which he gave at the University of Groningen in 2002, and which inspired us to devote our Text-in-Context day to this fascinating poem. The resulting manuscript was accepted by the editors of the Dutch classical journal Mnemosyne as a special issue (57.5, 2004); at the initiative of the publishers, it here appears as a separate volume.

At a late stage, it was decided to add a text and translation of the poem. The editors are most grateful to Stephen Harrison for agreeing to produce these at very short notice. References to the poem throughout the volume have been made to conform to Harrison’s text and translation as far as this was feasible, but of course the contributors’ own textual choices have been allowed to stand.

Groningen, September 2004

Ruurd R. Nauta Annette Harder . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.