Jump to chapter
Guy Lee (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Catullus: The Complete Poems
- 1Phaselus ille quem uidetis, hospites,
- 2ait fuisse nauium celerrimus
- 3neque ullius natantis impetum trabis
- 4nequisse praeterire, siue palmulis
- 5opus foret uolare siue linteo.
- 6et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici
- 7negare litus insulasue Cycladas
- 8Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thracia
- 9Propontida trucemue Ponticum sinum
- 10ubi iste post phaselus antea fuit
- 11comata silua; nam Cytorio in iugo
- 12loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma.
- 13Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer,
- 14tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima
- 15ait phaselus. ultima ex origine
- 16tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,
- 17tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,
- 18et inde tot per impotentia freta
- 19erum tulisse, laeua siue dextera
- 20uocaret aura, siue utrumque Iuppiter
- 21simul secundus incidisset in pedem;
- 22neque ulla uota litoralibus Deis
- 23sibi esse facta cum ueniret a mari
- 24nouissime hunc adusque limpidum lacum.
- pg 625sed haec prius fuere; nunc recondita
- 26senet quiete seque dedicat tibi,
- 27gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.
- 1The sailing-boat you see there, visitors,
- 2Claims to have been the speediest of ships
- 3And not to have been incapable of passing
- 4Any swimming timber if need be
- Editor’s Note5By flying with either little palms or canvas.
- 6And he denies the threatening Adriatic
- 7Coast can deny this, the Cycladic islands,
- 8Famous Rhodes, Propontis shivering
- 9In Thracian gales or the grim Pontic gulf
- 10Where he, the future boat, was first of all
- Editor’s Note11A long-haired wood; for on Cytorus' top
- 12His hair would often speak in a loud whisper.
- 13Pontic Amastris and box-clad Cytorus,
- 14To you these things were best known and still are,
- 15The boat claims. In his distant origin
- 16He says it was your summit that he stood on,
- 17Your sea in which he dipped his little palms,
- 18And from there through so many stormy straits
- Editor’s Note19Carried his master, whether from left or right
- 20The breeze was calling, or a following
- 21Jupiter fell upon both feet at once.
- 22Nor were there any vows to the shore Gods
- 23Made for him as he voyaged finally
- 24From the open sea right up to this clear lake.
- pg 725But that was in the past; now he grows old
- 26In quiet retirement and devotes himself
- Editor’s Note27To you, twin Castor, and you, Castor's twin.
A technical tour de force in pure iambics (see Appendix B 2). The effect is one of breathless speed. The speaker is usually taken to be Catullus, speaking for the yacht that brought him back from Bithynia (see X. 7 and XLVI), and the lake to be Garda (see XXXI). The yacht is masculine and garrulous; ait in line 2 perhaps represents an inscription on it. The poem develops from the type of epigram in the Greek Anthology in which an object dedicated to a God speaks. It was well enough known to be parodied some ten years after Catullus' death in Catalepton x, attributed to Virgil.
5 and 17 The 'little palms' are oarblades, part of the personification of the boat.
11 and 13 Cytorus is the modern Kidros, and Amastris Amasra on the Black Sea.
19–21 It seemed best to render the Latin straight and not to introduce English nautical terms. The 'feet' are the ropes, or sheets, at the two lower corners of a square sail. 'Jupiter' here refers to the wind which as Sky-God he grants.
27 Castor and Pollux (whose name is spondaic and therefore inadmissible in this metre, but Catullus solves that problem memorably) were guardian Gods of seafarers.