This article considers Catullus’ reaction to his brother’s death and argues that the poet, having found the masculine vocabulary of grief inadequate, turns to the more expansive emotions and prolonged dedication offered by mythological examples of feminine mourning. I begin by showing how Catullus complicates his graveside speech to his brother in poem 101 by invoking poems 65, 68a, and 68b. In these compositions, Catullus likens himself to figures such as Procne and Laodamia, and their feminine modes of grief become associated with the poet. While these women’s grief brings them to a dreadful end, in my second reading of poem 101 I show how Catullus incorporates their emotional intensity and devoted attention into a masculine performance of mourning. Connecting his voyage to his brother’s grave with Odysseus’ journey, Catullus valorizes his single-minded remembrance of his sibling, even as he acknowledges that he will never overcome the distance between them.
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Research Article| October 01 2016
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Aaron M. Seider; Catullan Myths: Gender, Mourning, and the Death of a Brother. Classical Antiquity 1 October 2016; 35 (2): 279–314. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2016.35.2.279
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