This essay has to do with Catullus' poetry. How does he feel love and hate for his lover, Lesbia?

Essay by healwaysliedHigh School, 12th gradeA-, December 2003

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Can a person both hate and love at the same time? In Catullus' poetry, he displays the two-sided affection he has for his lover, Lesbia. Through her, he presents the love affair in which he experiences the joy of passionate love requited and the torment of betrayal, both at the same time.

On one hand, Lesbia brings Catullus nothing but happiness. He tells her to "live and love" with him without caring about what "sour old men say." The poet emphasizes her beauty and feels nothing is above her: "Now Lesbia has beauty, she is everything / that's handsome, glorious, / and she has captured all that Venus has to offer / in ways of love." Also, he believes that their "love will last forever," praying that sincerity may "govern each syllable fallen / from her lips, so that the long years of our lives shall be / a contract of true love inviolate / against time itself, a symbol of eternity."

The author points out that when he thought of her, she was not "the mere flesh and the means by which a lover finds momentary rapture," but that his love was deeper than that, "half paternal, as a father greets his son or smiles at his daughter's husband." Thus, Catullus feels he could never leave this state of ecstasy he is in with Lesbia, for she will always be the center of his universe.

On the other hand, Lesbia commits the sin of infidelity, and Catullus no longer keeps her on a pedestal, but now loathes her. He describes his fury, stating that his "love now turns to fire," and that he no longer sees her "as a lady, delicate and sweet, a paragon of virtue." In addition, the writer describes her heart being "bitter...