Weaving the Labyrinth: Paradoxes and Parallels in Catullus 64

Hughes, Casey
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This thesis examines poem 64, the longest poem written by Catullus, and analyzes its internal structure as well as the allusions made to Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica and Euripides’ Medea. While Catullus is perhaps more well known for his love poems to Lesbia, C. 64 gives a unique insight into the poet’s personal interpretation of other works, as well as his outlook on love, sorrow, and the accompanying emotions. This poem narrates the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of the hero Achilles. On the marriage bed lays a purple coverlet, which retells the sorrowful love story of Theseus, the Athenian prince and Ariadne, the princess of Crete. Though, given their contrasting images of love, these two couples seem incompatible, I will show how they are analogous through paradoxes and parallels within the structure of the poem. In addition, I will examine the allusions to the Medea and Argonautica, considering how Catullus has used these works to forge a place for his name within poetic tradition.

Classics, Catullus