Catullus and the Three Hearts of Quintus Ennius

Project Details


The relationship between the "father" of Roman poetry, Quintus Ennius (3rd-2nd cent. BCE), and the first-century-BCE Latin poet Catullus has long been thought settled: in a surge of revolutionary force (so goes the story), Catullus broke violently away from the conservative interests and example of his influential Roman predecessor, turning instead to the recherche' Greek poetry of Hellenistic Alexandria for inspiration. This moment of rupture, in turn, has long been considered an important chapter in the history of Latin poetry: the so-called "Catullan Revolution" helps mark the transition from the early "archaic" stage of Roman poetry into its mature period in standard accounts of literary history. Yet, despite the fact that scholars have traditionally attached importance to the relationship between these two poets, and despite the fact that they have noted direct points of contact between them, there has never been a systematic, book-length study of Catullus' reception of Ennius in any modern language. Catullus and the Three Hearts of Quintus Ennius (CTHE) will aim to fill this gap. The principal result of this project will be a substantial monograph that will offer the first sustained reading of the presence of Ennian poetry in the Catullan corpus. Employing an innovative methodology that draws on intertextuality, reception studies, and cultural identity in the Roman world, CTHE will complicate scholarly orthodoxy: Ennius, it will argue, had a fundamental, largely positive influence on Catullus, whose poetic practice and sense of Italian identity were deeply informed by his Roman predecessor. Catullus' poetry, in fact, was not revolutionary, but evolutionary at Rome. This project will have wide-ranging implications: to the extent that it will complicate one of the key plot points in Latin poetry's master narrative - that Catullus' rejection of Ennius caused a poetic revolution - it will also help necessitate, and go some way in providing, a new history of Latin poetry.
Effective start/end date1/09/2231/08/24


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