Sappho’s Poem 31 vs Catullus’s Poem 51

Describe how Plato, Sappho, and/or Catullus conceive of love (and/or friendship). You can choose to only discuss one of the three works or compare two or three of them. You can also choose to compare their views on love with The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, or Lysistrata. You can also choose to focus more specifically on either the lover or the beloved if you like.

When comparing the way Sappho and Catullus think of love I feel it is best to compare two very similar works of their’s, Sappho’s Poem 31 and Catullus’s Poem 51. In Catullus’ adaptation of Sappho’s Poem 31, there are difference that show how the two poets view love. The first observation which can be made is that Catullus’s description of emotions and feelings is a level more intense than Sappho’s; for example Sappho writes, “lovely laughing – oh it puts the heart in my chest on wings” (5-6), while Catullus writes, “sweetly laughing-that sunders unhappy me from all my senses” (5-6). However perhaps the biggest difference between the two poets can be seen when comparing the endings, lines 13-16 of both poems. While Sappho, writes about how the pain of unobtainable love causes her to feel paralyzed and helpless when it comes to getting the person she loves, Catullus, writes about how he needs to stop sitting by and doing nothing and actually fight for the love that he wants.

1 thought on “Sappho’s Poem 31 vs Catullus’s Poem 51

  1. I agree with your comparison between Catullus and Sappho. Their poems each reflect on their thoughts about love and shows us how the different genders think. Personally I believe that women are more passionate and act off of emotion whereas men are more reluctant to show their emotions.

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