[1-30] Introductory, explaining the circumstances that led to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis.
Peliaco: cf. the imitation of this proem by Ov. Am. 2.11.1 “prima malas docuit, mirantibus aequoris undis, Peliaco pinus vertice caesa vias” ; Prop. 4.22.11 “tuque tuo Colchum propellas remige Phasin, Peliacaeque trabis totum iter ipse legas” .
 liquidas: not an otiose epithet, but indicating the unstable water as unfitted to support a heavy body; cf. Verg. A. 5.859 “liquidas proiecit in undas praecipitem” ; Nemes. Buc. 2.76 “nec tremulum liquidis lumen splenderet in undis.”
 lecti iuuenes: so the Argonauts are called by Ennius Med. Exsul 209 R. “Argivi delecti viri” ) and Verg. Ecl. 4.34 “altera quae vehat Argo delectos heroas” ); cf. also Theocr. 13.18 “πασᾶν ἐκ πολίων προλελεγμένοι” (of the Argonauts).
 avertere: to win; especially used of plunder; cf. Caes. BC 3.59.4 “praedam omnem domum avertebant” ; Cic. Verr. 2.69.163 “innumerabilem frumenti numerum aversum ab re publica esse” ; Verg. A. 8.207 “quattuor a stabulis tauros avertit” .
 summis: with the partitive force.
 ipsa fecit: Catullus here follows the tradition of Apollonius 1.111 “au)th\ ga\r kai\ nh=a qoh\n ka/me” , with which cf. Phaedr. 4.7.9 “fabricasset Argus opere Palladio ratem” ; Sen. Med. 368 “non Palladia compacta manu Argo” ; Val. Flac. 1.94.
 With the general picture cf.
.Sil. Ital. 7.412ff.
 freti: the MS. feri hardly describes the beautiful faces and forms of Thetis and her companions, being usually joined with such adjectives as immanis, inhumanus, immansuetum; but on freti cf. Oct. 720 “talis emersam freto spumante Peleus coniugem accepit Thetim” .
 tum: Catullus represents this as the first meeting of Peleus and Thetis; but, according to Apollonius 1.558, Peleus, though an Argonaut, was long since married; while Val. Flacc. 1.130 represents the wedding of Peleus and Thetis as pictured among the adornments of the Argo itself, and Achilles as brought by Chiron to bid his father good-by before the sailing (Val. Flacc. 1.255).
 pater ipse: i.e. Zeus, who had himself intended to wed Thetis; but being warned by the Fates (or, according to other stories by Themis, or by Prometheus) that the son of Thetis would be greater than his father, he gave up his purpose, and furthermore, fearing that his own throne might be endangered by the existence of a rival, declared that Thetis should wed no immortal; cf. Aesch. PV 167ff., Aesch. PV 907 ff.; Ov. Met. 11.221 ff.
[23b] Cf. Crit. App.
 amores: not of Thetis herself (cf. Catul. 6.16n.), but of the passion of Zeus for her,—‘in whose favor the father of the gods himself resigned his passion.’ With the plural cf. Catul. 38.6; Catul. 64.334, Catul. 64.372; Catul. 68.69; Catul. 96.3; Pl. Merc. 2 “et argumentum et meos amores eloquar” ; Hor. Carm. 2.9.10 “ nec tibi Vespero surgente decedunt amores” ; Verg. Ecl. 9.56 “nostros in longum ducis amores.”
 Tethys: the daughter of Uranus and Ge, and the wife of her own brother Oceanus, by whom she became the mother of the sea-nymphs called Oceanides, of the rivers of earth, and of Nereus. From the marriage of Nereus with his sister Doris, one of the Oceanides, sprang the sea-nymphs called Nereides, of whom the most famous were Thetis, Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon, and Galatea, the beloved of Polyphemus.
 totum amplectitur orbem: cf. Hom. Il. 18.399 “ἀψοπ̓π̓όου Ὠκεανοῖο” ; Aesch. Prom. 138 “τοῦ περι πᾶσάν θ᾽ εἱλισσομένου χθόν᾽ ἀκοιμήτῳ ῥεύματι … πατρο , Ὠκεανοῦ” ; Val. Flac. 1.195 “terras salo complecteris omnes” ; Tib. 4.1.147 “Oceanus ponto qua continet orbem” ; Bryant, Thanatopsis 42 ““and, poured round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste.””
[31-42] The introductory narrative finished, the poet turns to the main theme, and describes first the gathering of the mortal wedding-guests.
 domum: sc. of Peleus.
 dona: wedding-gifts, not propiatory offerings to a superior.
 Phthiotica Tempe: with a poet's license concerning geography, Catullus calls the famous vale of Tempe through which the Peneus flows (cf. v. 285) Phthiotic, as synonymous with Thessalian in general, though in strictness the district of Phthiotis was the southernmost of the divisions of Thessaly, extending not so far north even as Pharsalus.
 Crannon and Larisa were both towns of Pelasgiotis near the Peneus.
 mollescunt colla invencis: since they no longer bore the yoke; in this expression, as in the following verses, the absolute desertion of the farm is pictured by representing it as if it had lasted a long time.
 humilis vinea: here, as, according to Varro RR 1.8, in Spain and some parts of Asia, the vines were not trained on trees, but either ran along the ground or were so cut as to be kept low. The latter plan is followed to-day in the great vineyards of California, and to some extent in Italy itself.
 curvis: perhaps referring to the crescent-shaped iron, the two points of which form the teeth of the rastrum pictured in Rich's Dict. Ant. s.v.
 attenuat arboris umbram: that the sun may reach and ripen the grapes. Attempts have been made by various critics to rearrange vv. 38-42 so as to produce a more consistent picture by bringing together details that concern the same objects; but there seems to be no good reason for criticising the alternation of the description between the tasks which men performed alone and those in which cattle shared (after the general statement made in v. 38 that men and beasts ceased from toil).
[43-266] The adornment of the palace of Peleus.
 ipsius: i.e. Peleus; such a remote reference of ipse, so that it is equivalent to some such word as dominus, is not uncommon; cf. Catul. 114.6; Ter. Andr. 360 “paululum obsoni; ipsus tristis” ; Verg. Ecl. 3.3 “ipse Neaeram dum fovet” ; Juv. 1.61 “lora tenebat ipse” .