Saturday, December 15, 2007

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is another Shakespeare play that has been made into a myriad of movies; however, this one is a tragedy unlike A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play is set in Verona with the noble families of Capulet and Montague feuding with each other. Prince Escalus, who is tired of the constant violence, declares death awaits those who further disturbs the peace. Romeo, Montague's son, is at first distraught by Rosaline's rejection of his love; however, when he attend a Capulet party to clear his mind, he sees Juliet and instantly falls in love with her. When Romeo speaks to Juliet, he sees that she returns his love, and they kiss before they even know who the other is. After they each find out that the other is his family's enemy, both are distressed but still decides to marry. Friar Lawrence agrees to marry them in secret and they do; however, Romeo soon kills Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, and is banished to Mantua. Because of the change of circumstances, Juliet has to marry Paris, a kinsman to the Prince, in three days. Juliet runs to the Friar to get out of the marriage, and he tells her to drink a potion that will make her appear dead so that once she is buried, he and Romeo will come and take her away. Juliet does what she is supposed to do, but the news never reaches Romeo. All he hears is that Juliet is dead. He rushes to Verona and once he sees Juliet's dead body, he kills himself with poison. Soon, Juliet wakes up and sees the dead Romeo, so she stabs herself to death with his dagger. The two noble families finally stop feuding when they see their children's dead bodies.
When Romeo first sees Juliet, he immediately falls in love with her and forgets completely about Rosaline. The strong love parallels Catullus's intense love for Lesbia. Catullus describes in carmen 51 the sensations he feels just by looking at Lesbia: "lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte" (But the tongue is paralyzed, a fine fire spreads down through my limbs, the ears ring with their very own sound, my eyes veiled in a double darkness) (lines 9-12) In carmen 86, he talks about how Lesbia is so much better than Quintia because she has "venustas". This does show that their love may not be any deeper than what meets the eye. Similarly, Romeo and Juliet falls in love with each other after a first glance because of how each other looks, not because they know each other. In carmen 5, Catullus asks Leabia to give him thousands and thousands of kisses to show how much he wants her. He also says, "Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!" (Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us judge all the rumors of the old men to be worth just one penny!) (lines 1-3) He shows that even if the love between Lesbia and him is not acceptable to society, he does not care because he wants to be with her. Romeo and Juliet does exactly what Catullus is doing. After they find out that they had fallen in love with their family's enemy, they still decides to secretly get married because they love each other too much. Juliet does not even care when she finds out that Romeo had killed her kinsman, Tybalt. She stays true to Romeo and also finds a way out of marrying Paris.
Despite the obvious passion and love Romeo and Juliet have for each other, their love does not last long; The play ends with the death of both of them. Both Catullus and Lesbia does not die, but their love does fall apart when they broke up. Juliet, however, does stay true to Romeo and she did anything she could to make herself Romeo's. If Romeo had not been so rash and killed himself, then the two could have happily lived together. This could have been Shakespeare's way of saying that love of the eyes is not real. The reason Catullus and Lesbia broke up could have been because that Lesbia was not loyal to Catullus. He shows his distrust of Lesbia in carmen 70 when he says, "sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti, in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua." (but women often lie, what a woman says to a desirous lover, this he ought to write in the wind and rapid water) (lines 3-4) Because of the betrayal of Lesbia, Catullus and Lesbia's relationship falls apart as Catullus attacks Lesbia verbally in his poems. In carmen 36, he calls her a "pessima puella". He also attacks her in carmen 8 and 60 as he shows how furious he is. Romeo and Juliet loved each other till the end, so they never said horrible things to each other and never needed to try to reconcile like what Catullus was doing in carmen 11.
The main reason that this play ends as a tragedy is because of miscommunication between the lovers. Romeo did not know what really happened and rushed to his death. Catullus and Lesbia's relationship could have also ended because they could not communicate with each other to solve their problems. Whatever the cause, both the play and Catullus's relationship ends unhappily. Despite some differences between the course of events, the two love stories are similar in the overall view of intense feelings and love for each other to the termination of the relationship.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Britney Spears

The relationship between Britney and Kevin is one that have both ups and downs, much like Catullus's relationship with Lesbia. In July 2004, Spears announced her engagement to Kevin Federline, three months after they met. On the night of September 18, Spears married Federline in a surprise, non-denominational ceremony at a residence in Studio City, California, filing legal papers on October 6. About a year later, she gave birth to her first child, Sean Federline, and her second child, Jayden Federline, was born a year after her first child.
The quickness in which Britney and Kevin became engaged and married showed the love and affection they had for each other. In carmen 51, Catullus said, "nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi ." (for as soon as I look at you, Lesbia, no voice remains in my mouth) (lines 5-8) In carmen 5, Catullus asked, "da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum." (Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred) (lines 8-9) This showed how much Catullus loved Lesbia and how he could not get enough of her kisses. Also, in carmen 86, he talked about how Lesbia had "venustas" and how that was much better than Quintia, who only looked good. Lesbia's charm and grace was what made her beautiful. In those poems, Catullus was conveying the point of how much he loved and wanted Lesbia. In a similar sense, that was how Britney and Kevin's relationship started off. In three short months, they were already engaged. Only two months after they were engaged, they got married. If they did not love and have passion for each other, they would not have gotten married so quickly and had two kids in two consecutive years. Just like Catullus, they showed their love for each other, however, their love did not last long.
Shortly after the birth of her second child, Britney filed for divorce. Their divorce was not finalized until July 30, 2007, about 8 months after Britney first filed for divorce. The reason for Britney's decision was irreconcilable differences between Kevin and her. With Catullus and Lesbia's relationship, things ended in much of the same way. Even though Catullus and Lesbia never got married or had kids, they were not able to perserve their relationship. In carmen 8, Catullus wrote, "miser Catullue, desinas ineptire, et quod vides perisse perditum ducas." (Poor Catullus, you must stop being silly, and count as lost what you see is lost) (lines 1-2) This showed how surprised at the situation Catullus was, in much as the same way that Kevin was surprised when Britney first filed for divorce. Both decided to shape up and accept what was happening.
Like Catullus's relationship with Lesbia, Britney and Kevin's relationship started off good and ended up in divorce after two years and two kids. With all that they had gone through, they could not save their relationship. In carmen 11, Catullus tried to win Lesbia back with his words, but it failed, and they were permanently over, like the divorce papers finalizing the end of Britney and Kevin's marriage.
Even though the divorce was finalized, Britney and Kevin still fought over the custody of the kids. In a race to win over the kids, many people were brought to testify against Britney's parental skills. Evidence of Britney neglecting her kids and taking drugs were revealed, and they resulted in her losing custody of her kids. Catullus also wrote poems ranting about the evils of Lesbia. He mentioned her as a "pessima puella" in carmen 36 and also displayed his distrust of Lesbia's commitment in carmen 70. Once the love had left and there was no saving it, people often turn against the person they once loved and denounced the person.
Modern celebrities often have love lives that portray both the good and bad that Catullus experienced. Most marriages only lasts for a short time and ends in a break up, in a manner similar to Catullus's love life. Britney's relationship is only one of many that did not work in the celebrity's world.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The movie that I watched is A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, and it is full of interesting new ideas and surprises. The movie is a romantic comedy, so it tells the story of 4 young lovers, Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena. Shakespeare touches on the theme of what is true love. The 4 young lovers' love is based on appearances as they continuously comment on how beautiful each other looks. Theseus is actually in the play, and he is with Hippolyta, which obviously shows that he forgot about Ariadne and left her. Finally, there is the marriage of Titania and Oberon, the faeries, who have an old, crusty love, which Shakespeare portrays as true love. With different kinds of love present, Shakespeare also brings in the concept of truth and illusion. He shows that people only see what they want to see, and the love of the eyes is deceiving. The 4 young lovers changed who they loved because they only saw with their eyes. In the very end, order was restored as each coouple got married, but Shaklespeare also leaves the audience with a sense of uncertainty as Puck, a faerie, tells the audience that what they had just witnessed was a dream...
Catullus also wrote many poems on how much he loves Lesbia. In carmen 51, he talks about what he feels just by looking at Lesbia. In carmen 5, he wants thousands of kisses from Lesbia, and in carmen 86, he talks about her "venustas". Just like the young lovers, Catullus is attracted to Lesbia by her appearance. Her charm and grace is what makes Lesbia beautiful, and he wants her without caring about what others think. Lysander and Hermia decide to elope when Hermia's father refuses to wed them. They do not care about what others think as long as they can be together; however, their love do not last long. When Lysander's eyes are juiced, he immediately falls in love with Helena and completely shunes Hermia. Just like how Lesbia betrays Catullus, Lysander betrays Hermia by forgetting all about what he had promised her and goes for Helena. He is also turning into Theseus as he forgets everything he has ever said to Hermia just like how Theseus forgets and abandons Ariadne.
Soon, the betrayal of one's love leds to hate. In carmen 60, Lesbia is the subject of Catullus's rant as he denounces her for being cruel and cold-hearted. He mentions her as a "pessima puella" in carmen 36. He also displays his distrust of Lesbia's commitment in carmen 70, and questions her in carmen 8 when he says "quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella? quem nunc amabis?" (Who will come to you now? Who will think you are pretty? Whom will you love now?) ( lines 16-17) At times, Catullus also goes on rants about others, like in carmen 77 when he talks trash about Rufus by calling him "crudele" and "venenum". In A Midsummer Night's Dream, when Hermia finally realizes that Lysander is leaving her for Helena, she is outraged and wants to attack Helena. Helena acts like a helpless little victim and hides behind Lysander and Demetrius. Instead of putting all the blame on Lysander, she blames Helena for stealing him away from her. She gets to a point where she wants to seriously hurt Helena and turns from a nice, gentle girl into a savage monster, much like what Catullus describes Lesbia as in carmen 60.
The girls, Helena and Hermia, also have a hard time believing and letting go of their men. Even though Helena knows that Demetrius loves Hermia, she still continuously chases after him despite his continuous insults and rejections of her. When Lysander falls for Helena, Hermia would not believe what she is seeing and continuous goes after Lysander. Catullus, in much of the same way, write many poems to try and get Lesbia back. Even though he feels that she has betrayed him, he still loves and wants her. Carmen 11 is often thought of as Catullus's final and failed attempt to win back Lesbia.
There is also the story of Pyramus and Thisbe inside the play. Just like how Catullus writes poems about different love stories of other couples to display what he is feeling and wants, the play Pyramus and Thisbe also shows a different love story.
One difference between the two is that A Midsummer Night's Dream ends with all the couples married to each other; however, Shakespeare does suggest that all might not be what meets the eye since their love is based on illusions. Catullus and Lesbia never got back together because Lesbia betrayed Catullus, and their love was not always real.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Introduction on Theme

In this blog, I will focus on the theme of love between two people.

I will use examples from any of the Catullus Lesbiam Amat, or Catullusne Lebiam Amat? poems as lens to examine modern life in songs, magazines, movies, TV shows, etc. Basically anything that features love and how the relationship is going. Catullus has poems about when he is furiously in love with Lesbia and times when the relationship is not so great. So through the lives of celebrities, actors, actresses, and singers, I will comment on how their love relationship is like what Catullus describes in his poems. It could be how they are absolutely in love with each other or how the relationship is breaking apart.

At the time, Catullus was looked down upon for writing about such fantasies and desires, but in today's time, the media constantly reports the personal lives of celebrities, and many of them are very similar to what Catullus is feeling when he writes his poems. I will try to have about an equal number of posts about when the relationship is going well or bad and how each person in the relationship is affected by love.