The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus


Phaselus ille, quem videtis, hospites,

Ait fuisse navium celerrimus,

Neque ullius natantis impetum trabis

Nequisse praeter ire, sive palmulis

Opus foret volare sive linteo. 5

Et hoc negat minacis Adriatici

Negare litus insulasve Cycladas

Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam

Propontida trucemve Ponticum sinum,

Vbi iste post phaselus antea fuit 10

Comata silva: nam Cytorio in iugo

Loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma.

Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer,

Tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima

Ait phaselus: ultima ex origine 15

Tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,

Tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,

Et inde tot per inpotentia freta

Erum tulisse, laeva sive dextera

Vocaret aura, sive utrumque Iuppiter 20

Simul secundus incidisset in pedem;

Neque ulla vota litoralibus deis

Sibi esse facta, cum veniret a marei

Novissime hunc ad usque limpidum lacum.

Sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita 25

Senet quiete seque dedicat tibi,

Gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.


On His Pinnace.

Yonder Pinnace ye (my guests!) behold

Saith she was erstwhile fleetest-fleet of crafts,

Nor could by swiftness of aught plank that swims,

Be she outstripped, whether paddle plied,

Or fared she scudding under canvas-sail. 5

Eke she defieth threat’ning Adrian shore,

Dare not denay her, insular Cyclades,

And noble Rhodos and ferocious Thrace,

Propontis too and blustering Pontic bight.

Where she (my Pinnace now) in times before, 10

Was leafy woodling on Cytórean Chine

For ever loquent lisping with her leaves.

Pontic Amastris! Box-tree-clad Cytórus!

Cognisant were ye, and you weet full well

(So saith my Pinnace) how from earliest age 15

Upon your highmost-spiring peak she stood,

How in your waters first her sculls were dipt,

And thence thro’ many and many an important strait

She bore her owner whether left or right,

Where breezes bade her fare, or Jupiter deigned 20

At once propitious strike the sail full square;

Nor to the sea-shore gods was aught of vow

By her deemed needful, when from Ocean’s bourne

Extreme she voyaged for this limpid lake.

Yet were such things whilome: now she retired 25

In quiet age devotes herself to thee

(O twin-born Castor) twain with Castor’s twin.

That pinnace which ye see, my friends, says that it was the speediest of boats, nor any craft the surface skimming but it could gain the lead, whether the course were gone o’er with plashing oars or bended sail. And this the menacing Adriatic shores may not deny, nor may the Island Cyclades, nor noble Rhodes and bristling Thrace, Propontis nor the gusty Pontic gulf, where itself (afterwards a pinnace to become) erstwhile was a foliaged clump; and oft on Cytorus’ ridge hath this foliage announced itself in vocal rustling. And to thee, Pontic Amastris, and to box-screened Cytorus, the pinnace vows that this was alway and yet is of common knowledge most notorious; states that from its primal being it stood upon thy topmost peak, dipped its oars in thy waters, and bore its master thence through surly seas of number frequent, whether the wind whistled ‘gainst the starboard quarter or the lee or whether Jove propitious fell on both the sheets at once; nor any vows [from stress of storm] to shore-gods were ever made by it when coming from the uttermost seas unto this glassy lake. But these things were of time gone by: now laid away, it rusts in peace and dedicates its age to thee, twin Castor, and to Castor’s twin.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52