A Commentary on Catullus

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This 1876 work is the magisterial commentary by the Oxford scholar Robinson Ellis (1834-1913) on the life and oeuvre of the Roman poet Catullus, whose work illuminates the closing years of the Roman Republic. Our knowledge of Catullus' life derives almost entirely from his own writings. Three manuscripts survive which contain a collection of poems that are ascribed to him, and all three date from the fourteenth century. Ellis considers the research that has already been undertaken on the poet and his environment but mostly draws on his own work in assessing the value of the Renaissance Italian commentators who established the generally accepted poetic canon. He traces the Greek influences that Catullus was exposed to and discusses his use of different metres, while also speculating on the identity of his beloved Lesbia, a controversial question still unresolved in the twenty-first century.