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Q: Poetry of John Keats ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Poetry of John Keats
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: elliealtoid-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 06 May 2003 05:21 PDT
Expires: 05 Jun 2003 05:21 PDT
Question ID: 200091
Re:  "Hence Burgundy, Claret and Port!", January 31, 1818, first
published by Houghton, 1848; in the line
     Then follow, my Caius!  then follow:
who is the "Caius" referenced?
Subject: Re: Poetry of John Keats
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 06 May 2003 06:48 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Caius was a Christian author in the third century AD.  His writings
tell us much about the stature of Saint Peter and Saint Paul as they
were venerated in ancient Rome.  Little is know about the details of
his life, however.

You can read about him at the Catholic Encyclopedia site:

I hope this meets your needs.  If you'd like any additional
information or elaboration, just post a Request for Clarification, and
let me know.

Search stragtegy:  Caius

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 06 May 2003 07:03 PDT
Ooops...I take it back (answered in haste, I'm afraid...mea culpa).

John Keats is buried in the Protestant Cemetary in Rome right near the
pyramid of one Caius Cestius.

This is most likely the Caius that Keats referenced in his poem.  A
picture of the pyramid can be seen here:

and the site also tells us that:

"The pyramid of Caius Cestius stands in one of the oldest parts of the
Protestant Cemetery in Rome. It forms a backdrop to the graves of
Keats and Shelley (and is mentioned in Shelley's famous elegy for
Keats, "Adonais.")"


Another picture can be seen at this site:

which also tells us a bit more about Caius himself:


"Leaving St. Paul's gate (Porta San Paolo) along the Via Ostiense,
stands the original Pyramid of Caius Cestius , a burial monument that
this official who was in charge of the sacred banquets had erected as
his own tomb between 18 and 12b.C."

In charge of sacred banquets...hmmm...certainly in keeping with the
title of Keat's poem, "Burgundy, Claret and Port".  It would seem that
*this* Caius is definitely your man, and my apologies, again, for the
initial confusion I caused.

Request for Answer Clarification by elliealtoid-ga on 06 May 2003 12:04 PDT
Okay, I've been thinking about this some more. Have you any thoughts
on why Keats would reference this guy several years before he (Keats)
even went to Rome - where he subsequently died? I keep thinking he
must have had a friend to whom he referred as Caius, whether it was
THIS Caius or not. I found a reference to a trip to the Isle of Wight
in 1817 and another to Scotland in 1818, and I'm guessing the poem was
written during the latter trip.

Any thoughts?

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 06 May 2003 13:47 PDT
Hello again,

Interesting you should ask about Keats' Rome trips, since one of my
colleagues contacted me and made more or less the same point -- why
would he reference Caius before he died.

To tell the truth, though, I don't see any particular mystery here. 
Keats was certainly aware of things, ideas, places and people he had
never met or travelled to (just as you and I are aware of, say, the
Pyrmaids, without -- for me at least -- ever having actually visited

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius was restored by the Pope in the 17th
century, and popularized in engravings in the late 18th century -- you
can see one of them here:

My guess is that Keats was familiar with Caius and the Pyramid through
books, as well as, perhaps, through conversations with his
compatriots.  However, it is just a guess.  I saw no reference to
anyone in Keats' circle who he referred to as Caius.  Of course, he
wouldn't just casually make reference to the name...but I can't know
for sure what the signficance of it was to him.

My curiousity is piqued, though, so I'm going to do a bit more looking
around.  I'll let you know if I turn up anything else.


Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 06 May 2003 16:36 PDT
There's also this poem by Samuel Rogers called (*drumroll, please*)
Caius Cestius:

Rogers and Keats were contemporaries, though I'm not familiar with how
well acquainted they were, or what they thought of one another. 
Still, it's another indication that our friend Caius was "in the air"
at the time.
elliealtoid-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Second answer clearly correct - I would have been dissatisfied had the
research not gone further and posted the second commentary. Kudos to
her/him for being uneasy with her/his first answer and taking care!

Subject: Re: Poetry of John Keats
From: pafalafa-ga on 06 May 2003 07:26 PDT
Thanks a lot...I try NOT to screw up, but when I do screw up, it's
really important to me to make things right.  Glad you see you were
pleased with the outcome.

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