fadeaccompli: (academia)
( Mar. 16th, 2017 12:03 pm)
Catullus's 64th poem (as the collection comes to us) is what we call an epyllion: a miniature epic, in which poets of his period showed off their ability to handle the epic style and epic topics, without running to the bloated and tedious length that those had become associated with over time. That still makes it his longest extant poem (and likely his longest ever): 408 lines. It's written in a lofty style he didn't usually deploy, a lofty meter, and on a lofty topic: the marriage of Peleus, one of the heroes that sailed in search of the golden fleece, and Thetis, a nymph prophesied to give birth to a son greater than his father. For which reason Zeus, who was terribly interested in her (because Zeus), married her to a mortal instead.

The prophesied son is Achilles, the greatest--and in some senses, last--of the heroes in that Age of Heroes. He's a pretty popular topic for poetry, art, and so forth. I mean, the whole damn Iliad is about him, in a sense: it begins with Achilles being angry and sullen, and ends with the funeral of Hector, pretty much the next-best hero, whom Achilles killed.

In Catullus's telling of the marriage of this man's parents, Achilles gets about a quarter of the poem. Half of it is given over to describing the bedspread on the marriage bed/couch, which shows Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus on an island after she helped him against the minotaur. Because what's more epic than dramatic ekphrasis, right? What's left of the poem is about Peleus, Thetis, and their wedding day.

So, with that introduction given! This is my translation of the poem. I've gone for a very literal translation, where possible--most of my digressions from the literal involve adjusting the syntax or moving an adjective around or swapping something between adjective/gerundive/active verb, so that it doesn't become wildly awkward in English--and I've resisted the urge to footnote.

Assume the usual warnings for anything written in the classical canon.

Long poem is long )
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