The adressee of four of Catullus
' poems (24
), the subject of several more, and the object of the poet's love, little is known about the character and identity of the youth.
At first glance it seems as though once again Catullus has chosen an assumed name for his Love, in the same manner he dubbed Clodia - Lesbia. And indeed the name is a derivative of the Latin word Iuvens- youth or young. However in one of Cicero's speeches (Pro Plancio) he refers to the Iuventii as a consular family from the municipium of Tusculum.
According to Fordyce (one of the more famous, if prudish, commentators of Catullus) the name Iuventius is found also in Verona, Catullus' hometown. He deduces from this that it is likely that the Veronese Valerii and the Iuventii were friendly and that the boy was under Catullus' custedy during his stay in Rome. However from the text of poem 81 (and the lack of substantial proofs to his case) it seems more likely that Iuventius was a native Roman.
It seems that at least two other suitors contested over Iuventius' heart. One is refered to as Furius, which has lead some researchers to believe that this is a reference to fellow Neotros poet Furius Bibaculus, but again, there isn't much to substantiate this theory. The Other is called Aurelius, and we have no knowledge as to his identity.
Two of the Iuventian poems are of the most touching, beautiful and expressive poems ever written by Catullus, while the others are the poems of a bitter and jealous suitor. Regardless of the subject, all the poems in the Iuventian cycle have an ironic twist somewhere in them.
Other than what is found in Catullus' poems we have no outside knowledge of Iuventius.