Date of Award

Spring 2015

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Scott Rubarth

Second Advisor

Erik Kenyon


Our culture seems to be fascinated with the lives of celebrities or high-society, but this fascination has not come about recently. Throughout time, we as humanity have always been curious and captivated by these individuals, especially when they make faux pas. Let us take Catullus for instance. He is considered the poetic “playboy” of the late Republic in Rome traveling through the social circles of Roman high-society and displaying atrocious behavior the whole time. He is linked to the most salacious indiscretions such as his relationship with Clodia Metella, a much older married Roman noble woman who was thought to have had an affair with her brother and several other Roman noblemen, but still was accepted in the circles of high-society. Catullus’ works would be read in many convivia, dinner gatherings, of high-society and was praised for his acuity of language, wit, and sophistication of writing. Perhaps this is where we forgive such deplorable actions: his membership in high-society and the sophistication with which he wrote and carries himself in his poetry. The Ancient Romans called this urbanitas, urban sophistication. However this idea is difficult to define because of the evolution of its meaning and the lack of a deity associated with the idea. The goals of my thesis are to figure out what urbanitas means to Romans of the late Republic and how can we see examples of it displayed in the poetry of Catullus through several persona, in order to defend him as a believable literary character.