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Catullus 4

Phasellus ille quem videtis, hospites,
ait fuisse navium celerimus,
neque ullius natantis impetum trabis
nequisse praeter ire, sive palmulis
opus foret volare sive linteo.
et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici
negare litus insulasve Cycladas
Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam
Propontida, trucemve Ponticum sinum,
ubi iste post phasellus antea fuit
comata silva: nam Cytorio in iugo
loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma.
Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer,
tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima
ait phasellus; ultima ex origine
tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,
tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,
et inde tot per impotentia freta
erum tulisse, laeva sive dextera
vocaret aura, sive utrumque Juppiter
simul secundus incidisset in pedem;
neque ulla vota litoralibus deis
sibi esse facta, cum veniret a mari
novissimo hunc ad usque limpidum lacum.
sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita
senet quiete seque dedicat tibi,
gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.

roman mosaic

That ship you see, strangers
says she was the swiftest
and there is nothing floats
whether with sail or oar
overtook to sink her.
Do the Cyclades deny it?
The Adriatic coast?
Does noble Rhodes? Horrible Thrace?
The treacherous Gulf of Pontus?
That is where she was born
a tree she says before a boat.
Her leafy branches fluently spoke
in the languages of wind in them.
Black Sea and Forest of Cytorus
she says she knew you first
that in your hills you know she stood
in you first tried her little oars
to carry her master over the storm
whatever the winds blew right or left
or Jupiter sent into her sails
she never had to make
vows to any little shore gods
as she’s come off the sea
up to this limpid lake
all that before, now she’s retired
quietly grows old, your servant
twin Castor and Castor’s twin.

floor mosaic


  1. Posted 27 Aug ’12 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Lovely. I didn’t know Catullus could write this sort of thing. Much better than his erotic stuff.

    • Posted 28 Aug ’12 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I am very fond of Catullus unerotic and erotic…

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