Odi et Amo: The Reception of Catullus' Love Poetry in 19th Century Britain
Valerio Tejada, María Cristina
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Love, says Socrates, is a “bolt of lightning”, an unexpected, spontaneous miracle that is inherent to us humans. Love is so powerful that remains a mystery to us, despite the innumerable human attempts to understand it throughout history. Chief among them has been art, a perfect means to both comprehend it and to express it, and poetry its main exponent. Probably one of the most influential poets for his love poetry is the Roman poet Catullus, whose love affairs with Lesbia described in his poetry spread across Europe during the Middle Ages. In this paper, I aim to analyse whether some traces of Catullian influence can be seen in 19th century female poetry, more specifically in the counting poem “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Lizzie Siddals’ “Love and Hate”. In order to do so, I will be comparing the English poems to Catullus’ Carmina 7 and 85.