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Addressed to Gallus

1 I make you this warning, Gallus, in favor of continuous love
(so that you don't lose your mind and forget):
Disaster often comes to the unsuspecting lover.
The cruel Ascanius made that plain to the Argonauts.
Your boy approximates Theiodamantean Hylas,
in appearance as much as in name.

So, whether you choose streams in shady woods,
or the Anio's wave touches your feet,
whether you stroll on the Gigantean coast's shore,
on the wandering welcome of the stream, wherever,
always be on the lookout for ravenous Nymphs' attacks on him
(love isn't weaker for Italian Hadryades).
Don't insist on trekking to hard mounts and
frigid rock, Gallus, or to unexplored lakes:
Hercules wept by the untameable Ascanius
when he came wandering to foreign shores.

They say the Argo set off from the port at Pagasa
to make the long journey to Colchis;
already the gliding raft has crossed the Hellespont's waves
and has come ashore on Mysian rocks.
Here, the band of heroes, standing on the calm shore,
covers a coast decorated in lush foliage.

But the unconquered youth's companion has gone
beyond, to seek fresh water from a hidden spring.
Two brothers follow him, Aquilonian seed,
Zetes is above him and above him Calais,
standing with hands poised to snatch kisses,
to smother him with kisses, one at a time.
He hangs beneath a high wing, hidden,
and shoos away the rapid pranksters with his stick.
Already the race of Pandionian Orithyia has ceased.
o for shame! Hylas was on his way, on his way to the Hamadryads.

He was in Pege, the wet abode favored by
the Thynian Nymphs, beneath the peak of Mount Arganthus.
Dewy fruit hung from wild trees,
product of no human labor,
and shining lilies flourished all over in the damp grass,
mixed with purple poppies.
Like a child, he'd pluck them with his delicate nail,
preferring the flower to his assigned duty.
And now, lying mindless near the beautiful water,
he prolongs his dallying with the lovely reflections.

At last, he prepares to draw water with cupped palms,
propped on his right arm, drinking his fill.
The Dryad nymphs are excited by his whiteness,
they break off their usual chorus and stare.
Lightly, they draw him, slipping, into the gentle water.
Then, his body caught, Hylas raises a shout.
Far off, Hercules sends a response, but the breeze
returns the name from distant mountains.
You've been warned, Gallus: protect your love.
You appear to have trusted your beautiful Hylas to the Nymphs.

1 See poems 5, 10, and 13.

  • river flowing into gulf of Cius on southern Propontis (Sea of Marmora).
  • Hylas' father.
  • ANIO
  • river flowing down Sabine Hills through Tibur to the Tiber.
  • the Phlegraean fields just North of Naples.
  • wood nymphs.
  • Thessalian port where Argo was built, set sail.
  • south shore of the Propontis, or Black Sea.
  • ZETES . . . AND . . . CALAIS
  • This version found only here; elsewhere, Zetes and Calais, winged sons of North wind god Boreas, persuade Argonauts to give up search for Hercules; then killed by him.
  • daughter of Erechtheus, son of Pandion; mother of Zetes and Calais.
  • tree nymphs, but seems to stand for nymphs in general; here, of course, they are water nymphs.
  • PEGE
  • spring in Mysia.
  • load focus Latin (Lucian Mueller, 1898)
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    hide References (5 total)
    • Commentary references to this page (4):
      • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 61
      • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 62
      • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
      • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 65
    • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
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