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This poem, often called in the later MSS. and earlier editions the Epithalamium of Peleus and Thetis, is rather a brief epic, or epyllion, after the Alexandrian style, having for its basis the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, and for one of its divisions the marriage-song of the Parcae. But into this epyllion is wrought another which details the story of Theseus and Anadne under the guise of describing the embroidered drapery of the marriage-couch of Thetis. This second epyllion is even longer than the first, covering vv. 50-266, while the entire poem contains but 408 verses.—The date of composition is uncertain, though the finish of thought and expression seem to point to maturity of development on the part of the author.—Meter, dactylic hexameter.

[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. 2.11.1prima malas docuit, mirantibus aequoris undis, Peliaco pinus vertice caesa vias” ; Prop. 4.22.11tuque tuo Colchum propellas remige Phasin, Peliacaeque trabis totum iter ipse legas” .

prognatae: cf. the similar figure in Hor. Carm. 1.14.12[pinus] silvae filia nobilis.

[2] dicuntur: the poet makes it clear that he is repeating an ancient tradition; cf. vv. 19 fertur, 76 and 124 perhibent, 212 ferunt.

[2] liquidas: not an otiose epithet, but indicating the unstable water as unfitted to support a heavy body; cf. Verg. A. 5.859liquidas proiecit in undas praecipitem” ; Nemes. Buc. 2.76nec tremulum liquidis lumen splenderet in undis.

[2] nasse: cf. Catul. 4.3natantis trabis” ; Catul. 66.45iuventus per medium navit Athon” .

[3] Phasidos: the chief river of Colchis, rising in the Caucasus and flowing into the Euxine Sea at its eastern end.

[3] Aceteos: Gr. Αἰητείους: Aeetes was king of Colchis and father of Medea.

[4] lecti iuuenes: so the Argonauts are called by Ennius Med. Exsul 209 R.Argivi delecti viri” ) and Verg. Ecl. 4.34altera quae vehat Argo delectos heroas” ); cf. also Theocr. 13.18πασᾶν ἐκ πολίων προλελεγμένοι” (of the Argonauts).

[5] auratam pellem: for the story of the Argonautic expedition see Hom. Od. 12.69; Hes. Theog. 992; Apollod. 1.9.16ff; and the poems by Pind. Pyth. 4.1ff., Apollonius, and Valerius Flaccus.

[5] avertere: to win; especially used of plunder; cf. Caes. BC 3.59.4praedam omnem domum avertebant” ; Cic. Verr. 2.69.163innumerabilem frumenti numerum aversum ab re publica esse” ; Verg. A. 8.207quattuor a stabulis tauros avertit” .

[6] vada salsa: cf. Verg. A. 5.158longa sulcant vada salsa carina.

[6] cito decurrere puppi: cf. Ov. Fast. 6.777celeri decurrite cumba” .

[7] caerula verrentes aequora: cf. Verg. A. 3.208adnixi torquent spumas et caerula verrunt” .

[7] palmis: cf. Catul. 4.4n.palmulis.

[8] diva retinens: etc. i.e. Athena Polias; cf. Verg. Ecl. 2.61Pallas quas condidit arces ipsa colat” .

[8] quibus: referring to v. 4 lecti iuvenes.

[8] summis: with the partitive force.

[9] ipsa fecit: Catullus here follows the tradition of Apollonius 1.111au)th\ ga\r kai\ nh=a qoh\n ka/me” , with which cf. Phaedr. 4.7.9fabricasset Argus opere Palladio ratem” ; Sen. Med. 368non Palladia compacta manu Argo” ; Val. Flac. 1.94.

[9] currum: the newly invented vehicle for the sea is described by its similarity to those in use on land; cf. Cic. ND 2.35.89divinum et novum vehiculum Argonautarum” ; and v. 6 decurrere.

[11] cursu imbuit: cf. Val. Flac. 1.69ignaras Cereris qui vomere terras imbuit” ; Sil. Ital. 3.64iuvenem primo Hymenaeo imbuerat coniunx” .

[11] Amphitriten: i.e. the sea, as in Ov. Met. 1.14bracchia porrexerat Amphitrite” . For the descent of the goddess see v. 29 n. Tethys.

[12] ventosum aequor: cf. Verg. A. 6.335a Troia ventosa per aequora vectos” ; Ov. Her. 16.5ventosa per aequora vectum” .

[13] torta: cf.Verg. A. 3.208, cited on v. 7.

[13] incanduit unda: cf. Ov. Met. 4.530percussa recanduit unda” ; and with incanduit in this sense Plin. Pan. 30pars magna terrarum alto pulvere incanduit” .

[14] With the general picture cf.

ac totus multo spumabat remige pontus,
cum trepidae fremitu vitreis e sedibus antri
aequoreae pelago simul emersere sorores

Sil. Ital. 7.412ff.

[14] 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. 720talis emersam freto spumante Peleus coniugem accepit Thetim” .

[14] candenti e gurgite: cf. v. 13 incanduit unda; v. 18 e gurgite cano; Lucr. 2.767[mare] vertitur in canos candenti marmore fluctus” ; Sil. Ital. 14.362spumat canenti sulcatus gurgite limes” .

[15] monstrum admirantes: cf. the wonder expressed by the shepherd at the sight of the Argo in Accius ap. Cic. ND 2.35.89.

[15] Nereides: sea-nymphs, daughters of Nereus and Doris; cf. v. 29 n Tethys.

[17] oculis: emphasizing the reality of the wonderful sight; cf. Ter. Eun. 677hunc oculis suis nostrarum nunquam quisquam vidit” .

[18] nutricum: the word occurs only here in the sense of papillarum.

[18] tenus: with the genitive, as in Cic. Arat. 83lumborum tenus” , Verg. G. 3.53crurum tenus” .

[18] gurgite cano: cf. v. 14 n.; Ciris 514cano degurgite” .

[19] 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).

[19] fertur: cf. v. 2 n. dicuntur.

[20] hymenaeos: plural, as in v. 141; but singular with the same meaning in Catul. 66.2. On the lengthening of the preceding short syllable see Intr. 86g.

[21] 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.

[22] nimis optato: cf. Catul. 43.4n. nimis, and with the general sentiment of the verse, Verg. A. 6.649magnanimi heroes, nati melioribus annis.

[23] salvetesalvete iterum: cf. Verg. A. 5.80salve, sancte parens; iterum salvete” , etc.

[23] matrum: either there is hypallage of the adjective, or bonarum must be supplied in the lacuna, as Peerlkamp suggested. With the idea cf. Catul. 61.226ff.

[23b] Cf. Crit. App.

[24] Cf.

χαίρετε πολλάκι Μοῖσαι,
χαίρετ᾽: ἐγω δ᾽ ὕμμιν και ἐς ὕστερον ἅδιον ᾀσῶ


[25] taedis aucte: cf. Catul. 66.11auctus hymenaeo” .

[26] Thessaliae columen: cf. Ter. Phor. 287columen familiae” ; Hor. Carm. 2.17.3mearum columen rerum” ; Sen. Troad. 128columen patriae” ; Hom. Il. e)/rkos *)axaiw=n.

[27] 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. 2et argumentum et meos amores eloquar” ; Hor. Carm. 2.9.10 nec tibi Vespero surgente decedunt amores” ; Verg. Ecl. 9.56nostros in longum ducis amores.

[28] tenuit: sc. complexu; cf. Catul. 72.2; but otherwise in Catul. 11.18; Catul. 55.17.

[28] Nereine: Gr. Νηρηΐνη; but elsewhere the Latins use either Nereis (cf. v. 15) or Nerine (cf. Verg. Ecl. 7.37Nerine Galatea” ).

[29] 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.

[30] totum amplectitur orbem: cf. Hom. Il. 18.399ἀψοπ̓π̓όου Ὠκεανοῖο” ; Aesch. Prom. 138τοῦ περι πᾶσάν θ᾽ εἱλισσομένου χθόν᾽ ἀκοιμήτῳ ῥεύματιπατρο , Ὠκεανοῦ” ; Val. Flac. 1.195terras salo complecteris omnes” ; Tib. 4.1.147Oceanus 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.

[31] quae luces: with a general reference to the fixing of the wedding-day in v. 29.

[31] simul: sc. atque; cf. Catul. 22.15n.

[31] optatae: cf. with the thought, Catul. 62.30; Catul. 66.79.

[32] domum: sc. of Peleus.

[34] dona: wedding-gifts, not propiatory offerings to a superior.

[34] prae se: thus commonly of things carried in the hands; cf. Verg. A. 11.249munera praeferimus” .

[35] Cieros: otherwise Cierium, a town of Thessaliotis, according to Strabo 435.

[35] 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.

[36] Crannon and Larisa were both towns of Pelasgiotis near the Peneus.

[37] Pharsalum coeunt: the commoner form of the legend made Mt. Pelion the place of the wedding, and Chiron the host.

[38] 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.

[39] Cf. Verg. Ecl. 4.40f.non rastros patietur humus, non vinea falcem; robustus quoque iam tauris iuga solvet arator” .

[39] 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.

[39] 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.

[39] rastris: the rastrum was a heavy sort of rake of from two to four strong iron teeth, used to break up clods and to loosen the surface of the ground.

[40] prono: of the point of the share down-pressed, that it may cut a deep furrow; cf. Verg. G. 1.45depresso aratro” ; Verg. Georg. 2.203presso sub vomere” .

[41] 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.

[43] 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. 360paululum obsoni; ipsus tristis” ; Verg. Ecl. 3.3ipse Neaeram dum fovet” ; Juv. 1.61lora tenebat ipse” .

[43] opulenta recessit regia: the guest standing at the door looks through an imposing vista of room succeeding room; cf. on the word Verg. A. 2.300Anchisae domus arboribus obtecta