Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Judas Iscariot vs. Alfenus

In biblical texts, when Jesus was old enough to begin to preach the gospel and choose twelve disciples to help him spread God's word, Jesus appointed Judas Iscariot and eleven others. Judas was in charge of the disciples' funds, but he turned greedy and would steal from the poor to help himself (John 12:6). Jesus knew that Judas would eventually betray him according to scripture, and Judas did indeed comfirm it. Judas conspired with the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders, and arranged a plan to arrest Jesus. Judas approached Jesus as he was speaking and kissed him, which signaled the group with swords and clubs to seize Jesus and have him arrested. Jesus lets this happen claiming that he does not understand why Judas did not arrest him the other times Jesus was there when he was preachingm, but claims the Scripture must be fulfilled. Judas eventually committs suicide and is never "saved" from his sins because he never accepted Jesus in order to seek forgiveness.

In Catullus' poem, Carmen 30, the addressed Alfenus is called out as being decietful. In lines 1-2 Catullus asks: "Alfene immemor atque unanimis false sodalibus, iam te nil miseret, dure, tui dulcis amiculi?" which is translated, "Alfenus, thoughtless and deceitful to your congenial companions, have you no pity at all, harsh one, for your beloved friend?" And in line 4, "nec facta impia fallacum hominum caelicolis placent," translated "And the wicked deeds of treacheruous men are not pleasing to the gods." Catullus goes on to explain how he trusted Alfenus to keep their friendship, but Alfenus ends up betraying him. The poet also makes it clear that the gods will remember his wrong-doings when he dies.

When comparing these two pieces of literature, Judas and Alfenus are remarkably similar. They both betray a close friend, find it too late to ask for forgiveness, and find themselves damned to an eternal punishment. Although Catullus does not know that Alfenus is to betray him like Jesus knew Judas would, the end reaction is still similar. Catullus and Jesus are hurt and question why their betrayers would act in such a way and in whom they are able to place trust. Men have continually chosen to exhibit their sinful nature and inflict pain on others, which is demonstrated in these two stories.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


For the next nine months, I will be posting to this blog where I will be analyzing Catullus' Latin literature involving the theme "friends vs. enemies," in order to examine and relate biblical stories/texts involving this common motif.