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Translation as MusePoetic Translation in Catullus's Rome$
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Elizabeth Marie Young

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226279916

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226280080.001.0001

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The Task of Translation in Catullus 64

The Task of Translation in Catullus 64

(p.24) 1 The Task of Translation in Catullus 64
Translation as Muse

Elizabeth Marie Young

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that Catullus’s poem 64 (a miniature epic or epyllion), though original by modern standards, is shot through with forms of translation that were common at Rome, in particular what we might call generic translation. Frequently the narrative flow of this long poem is paused to lavish attention on items associated with the transfer of culture from East to West. It is argued that these descriptions are self-reflexive moments where the poem probes its own unsettling status as a translation of the Alexandrian epyllion into Latin form. But even as this metapoetic subtext voices apprehension about the poem’s imported status, it poses the poet-translator as a contemporary hero in a belated world where all great deeds have already been done and all great texts have already been written.

Keywords:   Catullus 64, miniature epic, epyllion, generic translation, self-reflexive, metapoetic, Alexandrian, hero

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