New and Old-School Poets at the End of the Republic

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

New and Old-School Poets at the End of the Republic

Dillon, John N.  (University of Exeter)

Iris Online, Issue 15


Before there was Vergil, a generation of poets was testing the boundaries of Latin verse with exciting, powerful, and often downright scandalous poetry. We call them the “neoteric” poets today. It’s a name that has some authority to it: for one, it goes back to Cicero, who writes to his friend Atticus (Att. 7.2.1) about one of the neoteroi, or “newer” poets, whose work he obviously disliked. The word neoteroi is Greek, but this suits the poets: they were very much attempting to achieve something new in Latin verse, and to do so turned to the great writers of the Hellenistic Age—who themselves were (compared, say, to Homer or the classical tragedians) “newer” poets. The Latin neoteric poet whose works survive other than in scraps is none other than Catullus.

Catullus and his friends, however, were not the only poets of the day—roughly speaking, the 50s BC. There were others, too, with quite different tastes. The philosopher poet Lucretius most notably belongs in a category unto himself, but before we turn to his and Catullus’ poetry, it might be amusing to cast a glance at the poet who held center stage until he was surpassed by newer, greater talent: Cicero.

Click here to read this article from Iris 

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