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Chapter 2 - The Best Medicine

Comic Cures for Love in the First Century BCE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2021

Christopher B. Polt
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
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Summary

Cicero, Lucretius, and Catullus employ the comic adulescens to examine love as a physical and mental disorder. According to David Konstan, the traditional Roman line held that “amor was tolerated in a young man, but that it was but a transient seizure which would not corrupt the responsibility of a Roman citizen (i.e., of an aristocrat) toward his republic, his family and his dignity.” Cicero and Lucretius both toe this line, using the comic adulescens to drive wayward Roman youths back into the fold to perform according to the conservative norms of their respective communities. Catullus, by contrast, explores the character from the perspective not of one trying to cure another but of a person going through the experience of the lover and trying to make sense of his complex and contradictory thoughts. In trying to think not with the comic adulescens but as him, Catullus displays something altogether new for a member of the Roman elite: a sustained interest in the potential interiority of individuals from Roman comedy and how their staged experiences might be used to reflect on personal struggles.

Type
Chapter
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Catullus and Roman Comedy
Theatricality and Personal Drama in the Late Republic
, pp. 70 - 125
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • The Best Medicine
  • Christopher B. Polt, Boston College, Massachusetts
  • Book: Catullus and Roman Comedy
  • Online publication: 14 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108885195.003
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  • The Best Medicine
  • Christopher B. Polt, Boston College, Massachusetts
  • Book: Catullus and Roman Comedy
  • Online publication: 14 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108885195.003
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Best Medicine
  • Christopher B. Polt, Boston College, Massachusetts
  • Book: Catullus and Roman Comedy
  • Online publication: 14 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108885195.003
Available formats
×