Golden Age Poets Posted by on Dec 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Golden Age of Latin poetry is thought to have started around the time of Julius Caesar’s assassination and ended around Augustus’s death. The poetry produced in the Golden Age is typically of utmost excellence, and that is why most of the poetry studied in the school curriculum comes from the poetry of the Golden Age.

Gaius Valerius Catullus is one of those poets that people either hate or love. Some people (especially Catullus’s contemporaries) have denounced his poetry as being vulgar and lewd. Others appreciate his works for their honesty and simplicity. Catullus’s poems are very personal. He uses his poems as a letter to his friends and there are instances where he insults and even consoles them. His more famous set of poems is the ones dedicated to his lover Lesbia.

The term Carpe diem (in English it means “seize the day”) came from Quintus Horatius Flaccus. You’ve probably heard this poet being referred to as ‘Horace’. For a time Horace served in the military, but finally ended his service and became an official of the Treasury. His job at the Treasury allowed him to practice poetry on a part time basis. Many great poets such as Samuel Johnson were influenced by Horace’s works, and Horace continues to inspire poets today.

Publius Ovidius Naso, also known as Ovid, is known for his erotic poetry. We more about Ovid’s life more than any other ancient Roman poet, because some his poetry were autobiographical accounts of his life. Towards the later part of his career, Ovid was exiled for his erotic poetry. His later poems are more serious in nature and feature sadness and frustration as some of the themes of his poems. Ovid’s earlier poems are light and funny, while his later poems serve as a stark contrast.

The poetry of Sextus Aurelius Propertius is dominated by his pining and love for a mysterious woman by the name of ‘Cynthia’. She may have been either the daughter of a nobleman or a courtesan. Not much is known about his life, but his writings are certainly discussed in classical circles. Propertius’s poetry is often disjointed and do not fit neatly in a chronological time frame. Some Classics professors believe that Propertius may have been rebelling against the orthodox poetry of Ancient Rome.

What little we know about Albius Tibullus’s life comes from the references of other writers. We don’t know very much about his early life or his background, but what we do know about Tibullus is that he was a well respected poet and human being among his peers. He is described as being humble, kind and well liked by others. His poetry is different from others in that there is a gentleness and grace towards those who wronged him.

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