Cains Valerins Catullus. a Roman poet, born in Verona in 87 B. C, died in or after 47. He belonged to a noble family, and his father was a hospes of Julius Caesar, a tie sacred among the Romans. The son went to Koine, and became acquainted with Cornelius Nepos, Cicero, and other notable men; but possessing a moderate fortune, he did not enter upon public life, living in retirement at Rome and at his villa near Tibur. He. is the earliest Latin lyric poet of any importance. We have 116 poems of Catullus, mostly short and without arrangement by subjects; a few are strictly lyrical, some are elegiac, one is heroic, but most are epigrammatic. From his imitation of the Greeks, Catullus was called doctus, but he possessed much originality; there is in his style a certain air of antiquity which the Romans greatly admired. The text of Catullus seems to have been early corrupted; all MSS. are derived from one source, and that an imperfect one. There are several poems of unknown authorship which are ascribed to Catullus; the elder Pliny mentions De Incantmnentis; and Giris and Pervigilium Veneris have been attributed to him, but the latter is now generally believed to have been written by Florus in the 2d century.
In his epigrammatic poems the Roman spirit prevails, and in the elegiac the Greek. Most of his epigrams are pleasant light impromptus, full of irony and satire, of various forms and on a great variety of subjects; they contain many obscure passages and some allusions offensive to modern ears; they are composed in 13 different metres. The elegies are imitations of the Greek, especially of Callimachus and Sappho; they exhibit, however, great vigor of language, and less frivolity than his epigrams. A good edition of his works is that of Sillig (Gottingen, 1823); of more recent editions, one of the best is that of R. Ellis (18GG). They have been translated into English by G. Lamb (1821), T. Martin (1861), J. Cranstoun (1867), and R. Ellis (1871).