Although there are different interpretations of this poem, I think it’s a parody of an epic, since this fit’s Catullus’s personality and it’s talking about the greatness of a little bean boat, from the time it was cut from the woods in Mount Cytorius to the epic journeys it made through straits and sea, the fastest boat floating on the water. Translating note: I used the modern names of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea instead of the ancient names for ease of recognition.
This little bean of a boat, you see, dear guests,
says it was the fastest of ships,
that there was no piece of timber floating whose attack
it could not pass, if ever an oar blade
worked or ever a sail cloth flew.
And it denies that the Adriatic’s menacing
sea-shore can say otherwise, or Cycladic islands,
noble Rhodes, the rough Thracian
Sea of Marmara, or the ferocious Black Sea gulf.
Where it’s now a boat, before it was
a leafy tree on the Cytorian mountain range,
often speaking with whistling leaves—
Pontic Amastris and boxtree-bearing Cytorius,
To you these things have always been known,
said the little bean boat: from the deepest source
I stood on your peak,
and wet my oars in your sea,
and from thence, impossibly through your straits,
I bore my master, whether to the right or left,
called by the wind, or Jupiter, or both, if ever
set forth the sails full square;
nor were there any prayers to sea-shore gods
that I made, when I came from the sea
to this limpid lake at last.
But these things are all in the past: now you’re laid up,
and the old men quietly pay their respects.
Phaselus ille, quem uidetis, hospites,
ait fuisse nauium celerrimus,
neque ullius natantis impetum trabis
nequisse praeterire, siue palmulis
opus foret uolare siue linteo.
et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici
negare litus insulasue Cycladas
Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thracia
Propontida trucemue Ponticum sinum,
ubi iste post phaselus antea fuit
comata silua; 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
tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,
tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,
et inde tot per impotentia freta
erum tulisse, laeua siue dextera
uocaret aura, siue utrumque Iuppiter
simul secundus incidisset in pedem;
neque ulla uota litoralibus deis
sibi esse facta, cum ueniret a mari
nouissime hune ad usque limpidum lacum.
sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita
senet quiete seque dedict tibi.