- CODEX 4.4
- KEY-TEXT 044-1
- KEY-TEXT 044-2a
- KEY-TEXT 044-2b
- KEY-TEXT 044-3
- KEY-TEXT 044-3b
- KEY-TEXT 044-4
P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.418-440
intereā, Trōiānī festinant per viam. iamque ascendēbant collem qui est prope magnam urbem et dēsuper adspectat arcēs. Aenēas est stupefactus. mīrātur aedificia magna, portās, et viās.
Tyriī laborant intentē: pars aedificant murōs, pars aedificant arcem, pars subvolvent saxa manibus, pars optant locum aedificiō nōvō. Tyriī legunt iūra, magistrātūs, et senātum.
hīc aliī fodiunt portūs, hīc aliī ponunt alta fundāmenta theātrī, et faciunt immānēs columnās ē saxibus.
labor Tyriōrum est sicut apēs aestāte -- cum apēs volant celeriter per flōrea, exercent sub sōlē, ēdūcunt iuvenēs. aut cum premunt līquentia mella et complent cellās dulcī nectare, aut accipiunt onera aliōrum apium.
Aenēās clāmat, “ō fortūnātī hominēs, quōrum moenia iam surgunt!” et spectat urbem. saeptus nebulā, ambulat per mediōs hominēs, et miscet virīs neque spectatur.
intereā, corripuērunt viam, quā sēmita mōnstrat. iamque ascendēbant collem, quī imminet plūrimus urbī et dēsuper adspectat adversās arcēs. Aenēās mīrātur mōlem, quondam māgālia; mīrātur portās strepitumque et strāta viārum.
Tyriī instant ārdentēs: pars dūcere mūrōs, mōlīrīque arcem et subvolvere saxa manibus, pars optāre locum tēctō et conclūdere sulcō; legunt iūra magistrātūsque sānctumque senātum.
hīc aliī effodiunt portūs; hīc aliī locant alta fundāmenta theātrī, et excīdunt immānēs columnās ē rūpibus, alta decora futūrīs scaenīs.
labor, quālis apēs aestāte novā, per rūra flōrea, exercet sub sōle, cum ēdūcunt fētūs gentis, adultōs, aut cum stīpant līquentia mella et distendunt cellās dulcī nectare, aut accipiunt onera venientum, aut (agmine factō) arcent fūcōs (ignāvum pecus) ā praesēpibus; opus fervet, et fragrantia mella redolent thymō.
“ō fortūnātī, quōrum moenia iam surgunt!” Aenēās ait et suspicit fastīgia urbis. saeptus nebulā, īnfert sē (mīrābile dictū) per mediōs, et miscet virīs neque cernitur ūllī.
- corripuēre viam intereā, quā sēmita mōnstrat.
- iamque ascendēbant collem, quī plūrimus urbī
- imminet adversāsque adspectat dēsuper arcēs.
- mīrātur mōlem Aenēās, māgālia quondam,
- mīrātur portās strepitumque et strāta viārum.
- īnstant ārdentēs Tyriī: pars dūcere mūrōs,
- mōlīrīque arcem et manibus subvolvere saxa,
- pars optāre locum tēctō et conclūdere sulcō;
- iūra magistrātūsque legunt sānctumque senātum.
- hīc portūs aliī effodiunt; hīc alta theātrī
- fundāmenta locant aliī, immānēsque columnās
- rūpibus excīdunt, scaenīs decora alta futūrīs:
- quālis apēs aestāte novā per flōrea rūra
- exercet sub sōle labor, cum gentis adultōs
- ēdūcunt fētūs, aut cum līquentia mella
- stīpant et dulcī distendunt nectare cellās,
- aut onera accipiunt venientum, aut agmine factō
- ignāvum fūcōs pecus ā praesēpibus arcent;
- fervet opus, redolentque thymō fragrantia mella.
- 'ō fortūnātī, quōrum iam moenia surgunt!'
- Aenēās ait et fastīgia suspicit urbis.
- īnfert sē saeptus nebulā (mīrābile dictū)
- per mediōs, miscetque virīs neque cernitur ūllī.
P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.494-504
dum Aenēās videt haec mīrabilia et dum stupet, stat in ūnō locō. Dīdō, rēgīna pulcherrima, ambulat ad templum cum multīs iuvenibus.
quālis Dīāna (dum ambulat in rīpīs aut ambulat per viās ) ducit chorōs mille nymphae. Dīāna gerit pharetram umerō et, ambulāns, omnēs deās. mater gaudet in suō tactō pectore. talis erat Dīdō, quae ferēbat sē laeta per mediōs, īnstāns operī futūrīs rēgnīs.
dum haec mīranda videntur Dardaniō Aenēae, et dum stupet et, dēfixus, haeret in ūnō obtūtū, Dīdō, rēgīna, pulcherrima fōrmā, incessit ad templum magnā stīpante catervā iuvenum.
quālis Dīāna, in rīpīs Eurōtae aut per iuga Cynthī, exercet chorōs, quam mīlle secūtae hinc atque Orēades glomerantur hinc; illa fert pharetram umerō, gradiēnsque superēminet omnēs deās (gaudia pertemptant tacitum pectus Lātōnae): tālis erat Dīdō, tālem ferēbat sē laeta per mediōs, īnstāns operī futūrīs rēgnīs.
- haec dum Dardaniō Aenēae mīranda videntur,
- dum stupet obtūtūque haeret dēfixus in ūnō,
- rēgīna ad templum, fōrmā pulcherrima Dīdō,
- incessit, magnā iuvenum stīpante catervā.
- quālis in Eurōtae rīpīs aut per iuga Cynthī
- exercet Dīāna chorōs, quam mīlle secūtae
- hinc atque hinc glomerantur Orēades; illa pharetram
- fert umerō, gradiēnsque deās superēminet omnēs
- (Lātōnae tacitum pertemptant gaudia pectus):
- tālis erat Dīdō, tālem sē laeta ferēbat
- per mediōs, īnstāns operī rēgnīsque futūrīs.
P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.505-519
tum, prope iānuās templī dīvae, sub mediā testūdine templī, cum virīs armātīs, Dīdō sēdit in soliō alte. rēgīna dabat iūra lēgēsque virīs et dividēbat labōrem aequē aut sorte.
subito Aenēās videt Antheam et Sergestum et fortem Cloanthum et aliōs Trōiānōs. āter tempestās dispulerat aequore et miserat ad aliās ōrās. nunc illī appropinquābant in turbā.
Aenēas erat stupefactus. Achātēs erat stupefactus et laetitiā et metū. volēbant coniungere dextrās manūs sociōrum sed timēbant periculum.
ambo virī erant adhūc absconditus in nubē et spectābant sociōs. volēbant rogāre quae fortūna virīs, quō lītore relinquant navēs, quid veniant. omnēs ībant ā navibus et nunc petēbant templum.
tum, foribus dīvae, mediā testūdine templī, saepta armīs, resēdit subnīxa soliō alte. dabat iūra lēgēsque virīs, et aequābat labōrem operum partibus aut trahēbat sorte -- cum subitō Aenēās videt Anthea et Sergestum et fortem Cloanthum accēdere magnō concursū, et aliōs Teucrōrum, quōs āter turbō dispulerat aequore et āvexerat penitus aliās ōrās.
simul Aenēās ipse ostipuit, simul Achātēs percussus est et laetitiā et metū; avidī ārdēbant coniungere dextrās manūs, sed incognita rēs turbat animōs.
dissimulant et (cavā nūbe) speculantur amictī, quae fortūna virīs, quō lītore linquant classem, quid veniant; nam cūnctīs nāvibus lēctī ībant, ōrantēs veniam, et petēbant templum clāmōre.
- tum foribus dīvae, mediā testūdine templī,
- saepta armīs, soliōque alte subnīxa resēdit.
- iūra dabat lēgēsque virīs, operumque labōrem
- partibus aequābat iūstīs aut sorte trahēbat --
- cum subitō Aenēās concursū accēdere magnō
- Anthea Sergestumque videt fortemque Cloanthum,
- Teucrōrumque aliōs, āter quōs aequore turbō
- dispulerat penitusque aliās āvexerat ōrās.
- obstipuit simul ipse, simul percussus Achātēs
- laetitiāque metūque; avidī coniungere dextrās
- ārdēbant, sed rēs animōs incognita turbat.
- dissimulant et nūbe cavā speculantur amictī,
- quae fortūna virīs, classem quō lītore linquant,
- quid veniant; cūnctīs nam lēctī nāvibus ībant,
- ōrantēs veniam, et templum clāmōre petēbant.
P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.520-541
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postquam ingressī sunt et iīs dīcere cōram licet, aevus Īlioneus coepit aequō animō dīcēre: “ō rēgina, cui Iuppiter dedit condere novam urbem et vincere superbās gentēs iūstītiā, Trōēs miserī vectī per omnia marīa ōrāmus tē: prohibē malōs ignēs ā nāvibus, dā veniam piō generī, et aspice benignius nostrās rēs.
“nōn venīmūs ut dēleāmus Libycōs Penātēs ferrō aut ferāmus raptās praēdas ad lītora; eā vīs nōn est in animō nostrīs, et nōn victī habent tantam superbiam. est locus antīquus -- ā Graecīs “Hespēriā” vocātur -- potēns armīs atque ūbere humō; Oenōtrī virī habitābant; nunc Fāma dīcit aliōs dīxisse locum “Ītaliam” quia nōmen dūcis est.
“hīc cursūs fuit: cum, subitō nimbōsus Ōrīon tulit nōs in caecōs lapidēs, et ventī ferōcēs dispulērunt nōs et per undās et per invia saxa; nōs paucī adveniunt hūc ad ōrās vestrās. quod genus hominum est hōc? aut quae pātria tam bārbara permittit hunc mōrem? prohibēmur hospitiō harēnae; excitant bella, et vetant nōs stāre in prīmā terrā.”
postquam intrōgessī sunt et cōpia data est cōram fandī, maximus Īlioneus coepit placidō pectore sīc: “ō rēgīna, cui Iuppiter dedit condere novam urbem et frēnāre superbās gentēs iūstitiā, Trōes miserī ōrāmus tē, vectī omnia maria ventīs: prohibē īnfandōs ignēs ā nāvibus, parce piō generī, et aspice propius nostrās rēs.
“nōn vēnimus aut populāre Libycōs Penātēs ferrō aut vertere raptās praedās ad lītora; nōn est ea vīs animō, nec est tanta superbia victīs. est locus -- Graecī dīcunt cognōmine “Hesperiam”, terra antīque, potēns armīs atque ūbere glaebae; Oenōtrī virī coluērunt; nunc fāma est minōrēs dīxisse gentem “Ītaliam” dē nōmine ducis.
“hic cursus fuit: cum, subitō adsurgēns flūctū, nimbōsus Orīōn tulit nōs in caeca vada, et procācibus Austrīs penitus dispulit nōs et per undās superante salō et per invia saxa; nōs paucī adnāvimus hūc vestrīs ōrīs. quod genus est hoc hominum? quaeve patria tam barbara permittit hunc morem? prohibemur hospitiō harēnae; cient bella, et vetant nōs cōnsistere primā terrā.”
- postquam intrōgressī et cōram data cōpia fandī,
- maximus Īlioneus placidō sīc pectore coepit:
- “ō rēgīna, novam cui condere Iuppiter urbem
- iūstitiāque dedit gentēs frēnāre superbās,
- Trōes tē miserī, ventīs maria omnia vectī,
- ōrāmus: prohibē īnfandōs ā nāvibus ignēs,
- parce piō generī, et propius rēs aspice nostrās.
- nōn nōs aut ferrō Libycōs populāre Penātēs
- vēnimus, aut raptās ad lītora vertere praedās;
- nōn ea vīs animō, nec tanta superbia victīs.
- est locus, “Hesperiam”, Grāī cognōmine dīcunt,
- terra antīqua, potēns armīs atque ūbere glaebae;
- Oenōtrī coluēre virī; nunc fāma minōrēs
- “Ītaliam” dīxisse ducis dē nōmine gentem.
- hic cursus fuit:
- cum, subitō adsurgēns flūctū, nimbōsus Orīōn
- in vada caeca tulit, penitusque procācibus Austrīs
- perque undās, superante salō, perque invia saxa
- dispulit; hūc paucī vestrīs adnāvimus ōrīs.
- quod genus hoc hominum? quaeve hunc tam barbara mōrem
- permittit patria? hospitiō prohibēmur harēnae;
- bella cient, primāque vetant cōnsistere terrā.
P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.542-560
etiam sī odistis genus hūmānum et arma mortālia, scite deōs habere memorēs fandī atque nefandī. rex erat Aenēās nōbis, quō nemo fuit iūstior, nec maior fuit pietāte, nec maior fuit bellō et armīs. quem sī fāta servant virum, sī gaudet aura, aetheriā, neque adhūc habitat in crūdēlibus umbrīs, nōn necesse est timere; nec paeniteat tē contendere primum officiō.
et sunt urbēs Siculīs regiōnibus et arma, et clarus Acestēs ā trōiānō sanguine. Permitte nobīs subdūcere classem fractam ventīs, et aptāre trabēs silvīs et facere rēmōs: ut possimus tendere Ītaliam, si recipimus socios et regem, ut laetī petāmus Ītaliam Latiumque; sed si salūs missa est, et pontus Libyae habet tē, pater optime Teucrum, nec iam spēs Ïūlī restat, tunc petāmus freta Sīcaniae et sēdēs parātās, unde advectī sumus hūc, et rēgem Acestēn.”
Īlioneus dīxit tālibus verbīs; omnes Troes simul clamabant.
sī temnitis genus hūmānum et arma mortālia, at spērāte deōs memorēs fandī atque nefandī. rex erat Aenēās nōbis, quō alter fuit iūstior, nec fuit pietāte, nec fuit maior bellō et armīs. quem sī fāta servant virum, sī vēscitur aurā, aetheriā, neque adhūc occubat crūdēlibus umbrīs, nōn sumus metūs; nec paeniteat tē certāsse priōrem officiō.
et sunt urbēs Siculīs regiōnibus et arma, et Acestēs clārus ā trōiānō sanguine. liceat nobīs subdūcere classem quassātam ventīs, et aptāre trabēs silvīs et stringere rēmōs: sī datur nobīs tendere Ītaliam, sociīs et rēge receptō, ut laetī petāmus Ītaliam Latiumque; sīn salūs absūmpta, et pontus Libyae habet tē, pater optime Teucrum, nec spēs Ïūlī iam restat, at petāmus saltem freta Sīcaniae et sēdēs parātās, unde advectī sumus hūc, et rēgem Acestēn.”
Īlioneus dīxit tālibus verbīs; cūnctī Dardanidae simul fremēbant ōre.
- sī genus hūmānum et mortālia temnitis arma,
- at spērāte deōs memorēs fandī atque nefandi.
- rex erat Aenēās nōbis, quō iūstior alter,
- nec pietāte fuit, nec bellō maior et armīs.
- quem sī fāta virum servant, sī vēscitur aurā,
- aetheriā, neque adhūc crūdēlibus occubat umbrīs,
- nōn metus; officiō nec tē certāsse priōrem
- paeniteat. sunt et Siculīs regiōnibus urbēs
- armaque, Trōiānōque ā sanguine clārus Acestēs.
- quassātam ventīs liceat subdūcere classem,
- et silvīs aptāre trabēs et stringere rēmōs:
- sī datur Ītaliam, sociīs et rēge receptō,
- tendere, ut Ītaliam laetī Latiumque petāmus;
- sīn absūmpta salūs, et tē, pater optime Teucrum,
- pontus habet Libyae, nec spēs iam restat Ïūlī,
- at freta Sīcaniae saltem sēdēsque parātās,
- unde hūc advectī, rēgemque petāmus Acestēn.”
- tālibus Īlioneus; cūnctī simul ōre fremēbant
P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.561-578
tum Dīdō, oculis declinatis, dicit breviter: “mittite metum ē cordis, Teucrī; sēclūdite cūrās tuās. rēs dūra et novitās rēgnī cōgunt mē facere tālia, et cōgunt mē defendere fīnēs custodibus ubique.
“quis nesciat genus Aeneadum, quis nesciat Troiam, virtūtēsque virōsque, aut incendia tantī bellī? nōs Poenī nōn habemus adeō obtūnsa pectora nec Sōl iungit equōs tam longe ab urbe Tyriā. seu vōs petatis Hesperiam magnam et arva Sāturnia, sīve fīnēs Erycīs et rēgem Acestēn, mittam vōs tūtōs auxiliō et iuvābō vōs pecuniis meis.
“aut vultis habitare mēcum? urbs quam aedifico est vestra. Subdūcite nāvēs; Trōianus Tyriusque sunt mihi aequi; utinam rex ipse, Aenēās, adforet, compulsus eōdem tempestate. equidem dīmittam certōs virōs per lītora et iubēbo explorare extrēma Libyae, sī, Aenēās ēiectus, errat silvīs aut urbibus nostrīs.”
tum Dīdō, dēmissa vūltum, profātur breviter: “solvite metum ē corde, Teucrī; sēclūdite cūrās tuās. rēs dūra et novitās rēgnī cōgunt mē mōlīrī tālia, et (cōgunt mē) tuērī fīnēs lātē custōde.
“quis nesciat genus Aeneadum, quis nesciat urbem Trōiae, virtūtēsque virōsque, aut incendia tantī bellī? nōs Poenī nōn gestāmus adeō obtūnsa pectora nec Sōl iungit equōs tam āversus ab urbe Tyriā. seu vōs optātis Hesperiam magnam et arva Sāturnia, sīve fīnēs Erycīs et rēgem Acestēn, dīmittam vōs tūtōs auxiliō et iuvābō vōs opibus.
“vultis et cōnsīdere mēcum pariter hīs rēgnīs? vestra est urbem quam statuō, subdūcite nāvēs; Trōs Tyriusque agētur mihī nūllō discrīmine; atque utinam rēx ipse, Aenēās, adforet, compulsus eōdem Notō. equidem dīmittam certōs virōs per lītora et iubēbo lūstrāre extrēma Libyae, sī, ēiectus, Aenēās errat aliquibus silvīs aut urbibus nostrīs.”
- tum breviter Dīdō, vūltum dēmissa, profātur:
- “solvite corde metum, Teucrī, sēclūdite cūrās.
- rēs dūra et rēgnī novitās mē tālia cōgunt
- mōlīrī, et lātē fīnēs custōde tuērī.
- quis genus Aeneadum, quis Trōiae nesciat urbem,
- virtūtēsque virōsque, aut tantī incendia bellī?
- nōn obtūnsa adeō gestāmus pectora Poenī,
- nec tam āversus equōs Tyriā Sōl iungit ab urbe.
- seu vōs Hesperiam magnam Sāturniaque arva,
- sīve Erycīs fīnēs rēgemque optātis Acestēn,
- auxiliō tūtōs dīmittam, opibusque iuvābō.
- vultis et hīs mēcum pariter cōnsīdere rēgnīs?
- urbem quam statuō vestra est, subdūcite nāvēs;
- Trōs Tyriusque mihī nūllō discrīmine agētur;
- atque utinam rēx ipse, Notō compulsus eōdem
- adforet-- Aenēās! equidem per lītora certōs
- dīmittam et Libyae lūstrāre extrēma iubēbō,
- sī quibus ēiectus silvīs aut urbibus errat.”
Here in the middle of the first book of the Aeneid, the Demiurge is throwing you a curveball: some of the literature of love from the first century CE in Rome. Some background on Propertius should help! In addition, you may want to consider the future leges Iuliae of Augustus in 18-17 BCE.
Furthermore, we have prepared a grab-bag of stuff which should be super fun...or at least moderately fun. Well, we can promise less boredom at the very least. All translations courtesy of A.S. Kline via poetryintranslation.com
Horace - sermo 2
Book 1 Sat 2.1-22 When it comes to money men practise extremes
- The guild of girl flute-players, the quacks who sell drugs,
- The beggars, the jesters, the actresses, all of that tribe
- Are sad: they grieve that the singer Tigellius has died:
- He was so generous they say. But this fellow over here,
- Afraid of being a spendthrift, grudges his poor friend
- Whatever might stave off the pangs of hunger and cold.
- And if you ask that man there why, in his greedy ingratitude,
- He’s squandering his father’s and grandfather’s noble estate
- Buying up gourmet foodstuffs with money he’s borrowed,
- It’s so as not to be thought a mean-spirited miser.
- By some men that’s praised and by others condemned.
- While Fufidius, rich in land and the money he’s lent,
- Afraid of earning the name of a wastrel and spendthrift,
- Charges sixty per cent per annum, docked in advance,
- And presses you harder the nearer you are to ruin.
- He gathers in debts from young men with harsh fathers
- Kids who’ve just taken to wearing the toga: ‘Great Jove’
- All cry on hearing it, ‘but surely he spends on himself
- In line with his earnings? Well, you’d scarcely believe
- How bad a friend he is to himself. That father who exiled
- His son, whom Terence’s play depicts as living so
- Wretchedly, never tortured himself more than he does.
- Book 1 Sat 2.23-46 And in sexual matters some prefer adultery
- If you ask now: ‘What’s your point in all this? Well,
- In avoiding one vice a fool rushes into its opposite.
- Maltinus ambles around with his tunic hanging down:
- Another, a dandy, hoists his obscenely up to his crotch.
- Rufillus smells of lozenges, and Gargonius of goat.
- There’s no happy medium. Some will only touch women
- Whose ankles are hidden beneath a wife’s flounces:
- Another only those who frequent stinking brothels.
- Seeing someone he knew exit from one, Cato’s
- Noble words were: ‘A blessing on all your doings, since
- It’s fine when shameful lust swells youngsters’ veins
- For them to wander down here, and not mess around
- With other men’s wives.’ ‘I’d hate to be praised for that,’
- Says Cupiennius though, an admirer of white-robed snatch.
- If you wish bad luck on adulterers, it’s worth your while
- To listen how they struggle in every direction,
- And how their pleasure is marred by plenty of pain,
- And how in the midst of cruel dangers it’s rarely won.
- One man leaps from a roof: another, flogged, is hurt
- To the point of death: another in flight falls in with
- A gang of fierce robbers: a fourth pays gold for his life,
- A fifth’s done over by lads, it’s even happened
- That a husband with a sword’s reaped the lover’s
- Lusty cock and balls. ‘Legal’ all cried: Galba dissenting.
- Book 1 Sat 2.47-63 While others avoid wives like the plague
- How much safer it is to trade in second class wares,
- I mean with freedwomen, whom Sallust runs after
- As insanely as any adulterer. Yet if he wished
- To be kind and generous in accord with his means,
- With reason’s prompting, as modest liberality allows,
- He’d give just enough, not what meant shame and ruin
- For himself. But no he hugs himself and admires himself
- And praises himself for it, because: ‘I never touch wives.’
- As Marsaeus, Origo’s lover, who gave the house and farm
- He inherited to an actress, once said: ‘May I never
- Have anything to do with other men’s wives.’
- But you have with prostitutes and actresses, and so
- Your reputation suffers more than your wealth. Or
- Is it enough for you to avoid the tag, but not what
- Causes harm on every side? To throw away a good name,
- And squander an inheritance, is always wicked.
- What matter whether you sin with a wife or a whore?
- Book 1 Sat 2.64-85 The sin’s the same, but wives are more trouble
- Villius, Sulla’s ‘son-in-law’, suffered enough and more
- Because of Fausta – he, poor wretch, deceived by her name –
- He was punched, and attacked with a sword, and shown
- The door, while his rival Longarenus was there inside.
- In the face of such problems if a man’s lust were to say:
- ‘What are you up to? In all my wildness did I ever insist
- On an unchaste woman in a robe descended from some mighty consul?’
- Would he really reply: ‘But she’s a great man’s daughter.’
- If you’d only manage things sensibly, and not confuse
- What’s desirable with what hurts you, how much wiser
- The opposite advice Nature, rich in her own wealth, gives.
- Do you think it’s irrelevant whether your problems
- Are your fault or fate’s? Stop angling for wives if you don’t
- Want to be sorry, Your more likely to gain from it pain
- And effort, rather than reaping the fruits of delight.
- Cerinthus, her leg is no straighter, her thigh no softer,
- Among emeralds or snowy pearls, whatever you think,
- And it’s often better still with a girl in a cloak.
- At least she offers her goods without disguise, shows
- What she has for sale openly, won’t boast and flaunt
- Whatever charms she has, while hiding her faults.
- Book 1 Sat 2.86-110 Wives present endless obstacles
- It’s like rich men buying horses: they inspect them
- When they’re blanketed, so that if, as often happens,
- The hoof supporting a beautiful form is tender, the buyer
- Gazing isn’t misled by fine haunches, long neck, small head.
- In this they’re wise: don’t study her bodily graces
- With Lynceus’ eyes, yet blinder than Hypseae
- Ignore her imperfections. ‘Oh, what legs, what arms!’ True,
- But she’s narrow-hipped, long-nosed: short waist, big feet.
- With a wife you can only get to see her face:
- Unless she’s a Catia long robes hide the rest.
- If you want what’s forbidden (since that is what excites you),
- What walls protect, there’s a host of things in your way,
- Bodyguards, closed litters, hairdressers, hangers-on,
- A dress-hem down to her ankles, a robe on top,
- A thousand things that stop you gaining an open view.
- With the other type, no problem: You can see her almost
- Naked in Coan silk, no sign there of bad legs or ugly feet:
- And check her out with your eyes. Or would you rather
- Be tricked, parted from your cash before the goods are
- Revealed? Callimachus says how ‘the hunter chases
- The hare through deep snow, but won’t touch it at rest’,
- Adding: ‘That’s what my love is like, since it flies past
- What’s near, and only chases after what runs away.’
- Do you hope with such verses as those to keep
- Pain, passion, and a weight of care from your heart?
- Book 1 Sat 2.111-134 No married women for me!
- Wouldn’t it be better to ask what boundaries Nature
- Sets to desire, what privations she can stand and what
- Will grieve her, and so distinguish solid from void?
- Do you ask for a golden cup when you’re dying
- Of thirst? Do you scorn all but peacock, or turbot
- When you’re starving? When your prick swells, then,
- And a young slave girl or boy’s nearby you could take
- At that instant, would you rather burst with desire?
- Not I: I love the sexual pleasure that’s easy to get.
- ‘Wait a bit’, ‘More cash’, ‘If my husband’s away’, that girl’s
- For the priests, Philodemus says: requesting, himself,
- One who’s not too dear, or slow to come when she’s told.
- She should be fair and poised: dressed so as not to try
- To seem taller or whiter of skin than nature made her.
- When a girl like that slips her left thigh under my right,
- She’s Ilia or Egeria: I name her however I choose,
- No fear, while I fuck, of husbands back from the country,
- Doors bursting, dogs howling, the whole house echoing
- With the sound of his knocking, the girl deathly pale,
- Leaping the bed, her knowing maid shouting afraid
- For her limbs, the adulteress for her dowry, I for myself.
- Nor, clothes awry, of having to flee bare-foot, scared
- For my cash, my skin, or at the very least my reputation.
- It’s bad news to be caught: even with Fabio judging.
Catullus - selected poems
1. The Dedication: to Cornelius
To whom do I send this fresh little book
- of wit, just polished off with dry pumice?
- To you, Cornelius: since you were accustomed
- to consider my trifles worth something
- even then, when you alone of Italians
- dared to explain all the ages, in three learned
- works, by Jupiter, and with the greatest labour.
- Then take this little book for your own: whatever
- it is, and is worth: virgin Muse, patroness,
- let it last, for more lives than one.
51 An Imitation of Sappho: to Lesbia
- He seems equal to the gods, to me, that man,
- if it’s possible more than just divine,
- who sitting over against you, endlessly
- sees you and hears you
- laughing so sweetly, that with fierce pain I’m robbed
- of all of my senses: because that moment
- I see you, Lesbia, nothing’s left of me.....
- but my tongue is numbed, and through my poor limbs
- fires are raging, the echo of your voice
- rings in both ears, my eyes are covered
- with the dark of night.
- ‘Your idleness is loathsome Catullus:
- you delight in idleness, and too much posturing:
- idleness ruined the kings and the cities
- of former times.’
- I hate and love. And why, perhaps you’ll ask.
- I don’t know: but I feel, and I’m tormented.
2. Tears for Lesbia’s Sparrow
- Sparrow, my sweet girl’s delight,
- whom she plays with, holds to her breast,
- whom, greedy, she gives her little finger to,
- often provoking you to a sharp bite,
- whenever my shining desire wishes
- to play with something she loves,
- I suppose, while strong passion abates,
- it might be a small relief from her pain:
- might I toy with you as she does
- and ease the cares of a sad mind!
- 2b. Atalanta
- It’s as pleasing to me as, they say,
- that golden apple was to the swift girl,
- that loosed her belt, too long tied.
3. The Death of Lesbia’s Sparrow
- Mourn, O you Loves and Cupids
- and such of you as love beauty:
- my girl’s sparrow is dead,
- sparrow, the girl’s delight,
- whom she loved more than her eyes.
- For he was sweet as honey, and knew her
- as well as the girl her own mother,
- he never moved from her lap,
- but, hopping about here and there,
- chirped to his mistress alone.
- Now he goes down the shadowy road
- from which they say no one returns.
- Now let evil be yours, evil shadows of Orcus,
- that devour everything of beauty:
- you’ve stolen lovely sparrow from me.
- O evil deed! O poor little sparrow!
- Now, by your efforts, my girl’s eyes
- are swollen and red with weeping.
5. Let’s Live and Love: to Lesbia
- Let us live, my Lesbia, let us love,
- and all the words of the old, and so moral,
- may they be worth less than nothing to us!
- Suns may set, and suns may rise again:
- but when our brief light has set,
- night is one long everlasting sleep.
- Give me a thousand kisses, a hundred more,
- another thousand, and another hundred,
- and, when we’ve counted up the many thousands,
- confuse them so as not to know them all,
- so that no enemy may cast an evil eye,
- by knowing that there were so many kisses.
- 7. How Many Kisses: to Lesbia
- Lesbia, you ask how many kisses of yours
- would be enough and more to satisfy me.
- As many as the grains of Libyan sand
- that lie between hot Jupiter’s oracle,
- at Ammon, in resin-producing Cyrene,
- and old Battiades sacred tomb:
- or as many as the stars, when night is still,
- gazing down on secret human desires:
- as many of your kisses kissed
- are enough, and more, for mad Catullus,
- as can’t be counted by spies
- nor an evil tongue bewitch us.
43. No Comparison: to Ameana
- Greetings, girl with a nose not the shortest,
- feet not so lovely, eyes not of the darkest,
- fingers not slender, mouth never healed,
- and a not excessively charming tongue,
- bankrupt Formianus’s ‘little friend’.
- And the Province pronounces you beautiful?
- To be compared to my Lesbia?
- O witless and ignorant age!
86. True Beauty: to Lesbia
- Quintia’s lovely to many. To me she’s white, long,
- and straight: I acknowledge that’s so.
- But I don’t agree that’s beauty: there’s no charm,
- there’s not a speck of good taste in all of that long body.
- Lesbia’s lovely, possessed of all that’s most beautiful,
- besides she alone’s stolen all charm from all other women.
87. Incomparable: to Lesbia
- No woman can say she’s been loved so much,
- as my Lesbia in truth’s been loved by me.
- No faith in any tie was ever so great,
- as has been found, on my part, in love of you.
109. A Prayer: to Lesbia
- You declare that this love of ours will be happy,
- mea vita, and eternal between us.
- Great gods, let it be that she promises truthfully,
- and says it sincerely, and from her heart,
- so we may extend, through the whole of our life,
- this endless bond of sacred friendship.
13. Invitation: to Fabullus
- You’ll dine well, in a few days, with me,
- if the gods are kind to you, my dear Fabullus,
- and if you bring lots of good food with you,
- and don’t come without a pretty girl
- and wine and wit and all your laughter.
- I say you’ll dine well, and charmingly,
- if you bring all that: since your Catullus’s
- purse alas is full of cobwebs.
- But accept endearments in return for the wine
- or whatever’s sweeter and finer:
- since I’ll give you a perfume my girl
- was given by the Loves and Cupids,
- and when you’ve smelt it, you’ll ask the gods
- to make you, Fabullus, all nose.
40. You want Fame? : to Ravidus
- What illness of mind, poor little Ravidus,
- drives you headlong onto my iambics?
- What god, badly-disposed towards you,
- intends to start a mad quarrel?
- Or is it to achieve vulgar fame?
- Why the assault? You want to be known everywhere?
- You will be, seeing you’ve wanted to love
- my love, and with a long punishment.
70. Woman’s Faithfulness
- My girl says she’d rather marry no one but me,
- not if Jupiter himself were to ask her.
- She says: but what a girl says to her eager lover,
- should be written on the wind and in running water.
72. Familiarity: to Lesbia
- Once you said you preferred Catullus alone,
- Lesbia: would not have Jupiter before me.
- I prized you then not like an ordinary lover,
- but as a father prizes his children, his family.
- Now I know you: so, though I burn more fiercely,
- yet you’re worth much less to me, and slighter.
- How is that, you ask? The pain of such love
- makes a lover love more, but like less.
8. Advice: to himself
- Sad Catullus, stop playing the fool,
- and let what you know leads you to ruin, end.
- Once, bright days shone for you,
- when you came often drawn to the girl
- loved as no other will be loved by you.
- Then there were many pleasures with her,
- that you wished, and the girl not unwilling,
- truly the bright days shone for you.
- And now she no longer wants you: and you
- weak man, be unwilling to chase what flees,
- or live in misery: be strong-minded, stand firm.
- Goodbye girl, now Catullus is firm,
- he doesn’t search for you, won’t ask unwillingly.
- But you’ll grieve, when nobody asks.
- Woe to you, wicked girl, what life’s left for you?
- Who’ll submit to you now? Who’ll see your beauty?
- Who now will you love? Whose will they say you’ll be?
- Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
- But you, Catullus, be resolved to be firm.
92. Sign of Love: to Lesbia
- Lesbia always speaks ill of me, never shuts up
- about me: damn me if she doesn’t love me.
- What’s the sign? Because it’s the same with me: I’m
- continually complaining, but damn me if I don’t love her.
107. Back Again: to Lesbia
- If anything happens to one who desires it, and wishes
- and never expects it, it’s a special delight to the mind.
- Likewise, this is delight, dearer than gold, to me,
- that you come back to me, Lesbia, in my longing.
- come back, desired and un-hoped for, give yourself
- back to me. O day marked out with greater brightness!
- Who exists more happily than me, or can say
- that he wishes for any life greater than this?
76. Past Kindness: to the Gods
- If recalling past good deeds is pleasant to a man,
- when he thinks himself to have been virtuous,
- not violating sacred ties, nor using the names of gods
- in any contract in order to deceive men,
- then there are many pleasures left to you, Catullus,
- in the rest of life, due to this thankless passion.
- Since whatever good a man can do or say
- to anyone, has been said and done by you.
- All, that entrusted to a thankless heart is lost.
- Why torment yourself then any longer?
- Why not harden your mind, and shrink from it,
- and cease to be unhappy, since the gods are hostile?
- It’s difficult to suddenly let go of a former love,
- it’s difficult, but it would gratify you to do it:
- That’s your one salvation. That’s for you to prove,
- for you to try, whether you can or not.
- O gods, if mercy is yours, or if you ever brought help
- to a man at the very moment of his death,
- gaze at my pain and, if I’ve lived purely,
- lift this plague, this destruction from me,
- so that the torpor that creeps into my body’s depths
- drives out every joy from my heart.
- I no longer ask that she loves me to my face,
- or, the impossible, that she be chaste:
- I choose health, and to rid myself of this foul illness.
- O gods, grant me this for all my kindness.
75. Chained: to Lesbia
- My mind’s reduced to this, by your faults, Lesbia,
- and has ruined itself so in your service,
- that now it couldn’t wish you well,
- were you to become what’s best,
- or stop loving you if you do what’s worst.
83. The Husband: to Lesbia
- Lesbia says bad things about me to her husband’s face:
- it’s the greatest delight to that fool.
- Mule, don’t you see? If she forgot and was silent about me,
- that would be right: now since she moans and abuses,
- she not only remembers, but something more serious,
- she’s angry. That is, she’s inflamed, so she speaks.
11. Words against Lesbia: to Furius and Aurelius
Furius and Aurelius, you friends of Catullus,
- whether he penetrates farthest India,
- where the Eastern waves strike the shore
- with deep resonance,
- or among the Hyrcanians and supple Arabs,
- or Sacians and Parthian bowmen,
- or where the seven-mouthed Nile
- colours the waters,
- or whether he’ll climb the high Alps,
- viewing great Caesar’s monuments,
- the waters of Gallic Rhine,
- and the furthest fierce Britons,
- whatever the will of the heavens
- brings, ready now for anything,
- tell my girl this in a few
- ill-omened words.
- Let her live and be happy with her adulterers,
- hold all three-hundred in her embrace,
- truly love-less, wearing them all down
- again and again: let her not look for
- my love as before,
- she whose crime destroyed it, like the last
- flower of the field, touched once
- by the passing plough.
Propertius - Elegies Book 1
Book I.1:1-38 Love’s madness
- Cynthia was the first, to my cost, to trap me with her eyes: I was untouched by love before then. Amor it was who lowered my gaze of endless disdain, and, feet planted, bowed my head, till he taught me, recklessly, to scorn pure girls and live without sense, and this madness has not left me for one whole year now, though I do attract divine hostility.
- Milanion, did not shirk hard labour, Tullus, my friend, in crushing fierce Atalanta, Iasus’s daughter. Then he lingered lovesick in Parthenium’s caves, and faced wild beasts there: thrashed, what is more, by the club of Hylaeus, the Centaur, he moaned, wounded, among Arcadia’s stones. So he was able to overcome the swift-footed girl: such is the value of entreaty and effort in love. Dulled Amor, in me, has lost his wits, and forgets the familiar paths he once travelled.
- But you whose trickeries draw down the moon, whose task it is to seek revenge, through sacrifice on magic fires, go change my mistress’s mind, and make her cheeks grow paler than my own! Then I’ll believe you’ve power to lead rivers and stars wherever you wish, with Colchian charms.
- Or you, my friends who, too late, would draw me back from error, search out the cure for a sick heart. I will suffer the heat and the knife bravely, if only freedom might speak as indignation wishes. Lift me through furthest nations and seas, where never a woman can follow my track. You, to whom gods grant an easy hearing, who live forever secure in mutual love, you stay behind. Venus, our mistress, turns nights of bitterness against me, and Amor never fails to be found wanting. Avoid this evil I beg you: let each cling to his own love, and never alter the site of familiar desire. But if any hears my warning too late, O with what agony he will remember my words!
- Book I.2:1-32 Love goes naked
- What need is there, mea vita, to come with your hair adorned, and slither about in a thin silk dress from Cos? Why drench your tresses in myrrh of Orontes, betray yourself with gifts from strangers, ruin nature’s beauty with traded refinements, nor allow your limbs to gleam to true advantage? Believe me nothing could enhance your shape: naked Amor ever hates lying forms. Look at the colours that lovely earth throws out: still better the wild ivy that springs up of itself; loveliest the strawberry tree that grows in deserted hollows; and water knows how to run in untaught ways. The shores convince us dressed with natural pebbles, and birds sing all the sweeter without art.
- Phoebe did not set Castor on fire this way: she Leucippus’s daughter; nor Hilaira, her sister, Pollux, with trinkets. Not like this Marpessa, Evenus’s daughter, whom Idas and passionate Phoebus fought for by her father’s shore. Hippodamia did not attract Pelops, her Phrygian husband, with false brightness, to be whirled off on alien chariot-wheels. They did not slavishly add gems to faces of a lustre seen in Apelles’s paintings. Collecting lovers everywhere was never their inclination: to be chaste was beauty fine enough for them.
- Should I not fear now, that I may be worth less than these? If she pleases one man a girl has enough refinement: and Phoebus grants, to you above all, his gifts of song, andCalliope, gladly, her Aonian lyre, and your happy words never lack unique grace, all that Minerva and Venus approve of. If only those wretched luxuries wearied you, you would always be dearest to my life for these.
- Book I.3:1-46 After a night’s drinking
- Just as Ariadne, the girl of Cnossus, lay on the naked shore, fainting, while Theseus’s ship vanished; or as Andromeda, Cepheus’s child, lay recumbent in her first sleep free now of the harsh rock; or like one fallen on the grass by the Apidanus, exhausted by the endless Thracian dance; Cynthia seemed like that to me, breathing the tender silence, her head resting on unquiet hands, when I came, deep in wine, dragging my drunken feet, while the boys were shaking the late night torches.
- My senses not yet totally dazed, I tried to approach her, pressing gently against the bed: and though seized by a twin passion, here Amor there Bacchus, both cruel gods, urging me on, to attempt to slip my arm beneath her as she lay there, and lifting my hand snatch eager kisses, I was still not brave enough to trouble my mistress’s rest, fearing her proven fierceness in a quarrel, but, frozen there, clung to her, gazing intently, like Argus on Io’s new-horned brow.
- Now I freed the garlands from my forehead, and set them on your temples: now I delighted in playing with your loose hair, furtively slipping apples into your open hands, bestowing every gift on your ungrateful sleep, repeated gifts breathed from my bowed body. And whenever you, stirring, gave occasional sighs, I was transfixed, believing false omens, some vision bringing you strange fears, or that another forced you to be his, against your will.
- At last the moon, gliding by far windows, the busy moon with lingering light, opened her closed eyes, with its tender rays. Raised on one elbow on the soft bed, she cried: ‘Has another’s hostility driven you out, sealing her doors, bringing you back to my bed at last? Alas for me, where have you spent the long hours of this night, that was mine, you, worn out now, as the stars are put away? O you, cruel to me in my misery, I wish you the same long-drawn-out nights as those you endlessly offer to me. Till a moment ago, I staved off sleep, weaving the purple threads, and again, wearied, with the sound of Orpheus’s lyre. Until Sleep impelled me to sink down under his delightful wing I was moaning gently to myself, alone, all the while, for you, delayed so long, so often, by a stranger’s love. That was my last care, amongst my tears.’
- Book I.4:1-28 Constancy in Love
- Why do you urge me to change, to leave my mistress, Bassus, why praise so many lovely girls to me? Why not leave me to spend the rest of my life in increasingly familiar slavery? You may praise Antiope’s beauty, the daughter of Nycteus, and Hermione of Sparta, all those the ages of beauty saw: Cynthia denies them a name. Still less would she be slighted, or thought less, by severe critics, if she were compared with inferior forms. Her beauty is the least part of what inflames me: there are greater things I joy in dying for, Bassus: Nature’s complexion, and the grace of many an art, and pleasures it’s best to speak of beneath the silent sheets.
- The more you try to weaken our love, the more we both disappoint with acknowledged loyalty. You will not escape with impunity: the angry girl will know of it, and be your enemy with no unquiet voice. Cynthia will no longer look for you after this, nor entrust me to you. She will remember such crimes, and fiercely denounce you to all the other girls: alas, you’ll be loved on never a threshold. She will deny no altar her tears, no stone, wherever it may be, and however sacred.
- No loss hurts Cynthia so deeply as when the god is absent, love snatched from her: above all mine. Let her always feel so, I pray, and let me never discover cause in her for lament.
- Book I.5:1-32 Admonishment to Gallus
- Envious man, quiet your irksome cries at last and let us travel the road we are on, as one! What do you wish for, madman: to feel my passion? Unhappy man, you’re hastening to know the deepest hurt, set your footsteps on hidden fire, and drink all the poison of Thessaly. She’s not like the fickle girls you collect: she is not used to being mildly angered. Even if she does not reject your prayers, by chance, how many thousand cares she’ll bring you! She’ll not let you sleep, now, or free your eyes: she’s the one to bind the mind’s uncivilized forces. Ah, how often, scorned, you’ll run to my door, your brave words turning to sobs, a trembling ague of bitter tears descending, fear tracing its hideous lines on your face, and whatever words you wish to say, lost in your moaning, you, you wretch, no longer able to know who or where you are.
- Then you’ll be forced to know my mistress’s harsh service, and what it is to return home excluded. You’ll not marvel at my pallor any more, or at why I am thin all over. Your high birth will do you no good in love. Love does not yield to ancient faces. But if you show the smallest sign of guilt, how quickly your good name will be hearsay! I’ll not be able to bring you relief when you ask, while there’s no cure for my malady: rather, companions together in love and sorrow, we’ll be forced to weep on each other’s offered breast.
- So stop asking what my Cynthia can do, Gallus, she comes not without retribution to those who ask.
- Book I.6:1-36 Love’s bonds
- I’m not afraid to discover the Adriatic with you, Tullus, or set my sail, now, on the briny Aegean: I could climb Scythian heights, or go beyond the palace of Ethiopian Memnon. But, clinging there, my girl’s words always hinder me, her altering colour: her painful prayers. All night she goes on about passion, and complains there are no gods, since she’s forsaken. Though mine, she denies herself to me, she threatens, as a hurt lover does a man she’s angry with.
- I’ll not live an hour among such complaints: O let him perish who can make love, with them, at his ease! What use is it for me to discover wise Athens, or see the ancient treasures of Asia, only for Cynthia to cry out against me when the ship’s launched, and score her face with passionate hands, and declare she owes kisses to the opposing winds, that nothing is worse than a faithless lover?
- You can try and surpass your uncle’s well-deserved power, and re-establish our allies’ ancient rights, since your youth has never made room for love, and you’ve always loved fighting for your country. Let that Boy never burden you with my labours, and all the marks of my tears! Let me, whom Fate always wished to level, give up this life to utter worthlessness. Many have been lost, willingly, in wearisome love: earth buries me also among that number. I’m not born fitted for weapons or glory: this is the war to which the Fates would subject me.
- But whether you go where gentle Ionia extends, or where Pactolus’s waters gild the Lydian fields, your feet on the ground, or striking the sea with your oars, you’ll be part of the accepted order: then, if some hour comes when I’m not forgotten, you’ll know I live under cruel stars.
- Book I.7:1-26 In praise of Love Poetry
- While you write of Cadmus’s Thebes, and the bitter struggle of that war of brothers, and (bless me!) contest Homer’s primacy (if the Fates are kind to your song) I, Ponticus, as usual, follow my passions, and search for a means to suffer my lady. I’m forced more to serve sadness than wit, and moan at youth’s hard times.
- This, the way of life I suffer, this is my fame. Let my praise be simply that I pleased a learned maid, Ponticus, and often bore with her unjust threats. Let scorned lovers, after me, read my words with care, and benefit from knowing my ills. You, as well, if the Boy strikes home, with his sure shaft (something I wish the gods did not allow) will cry out in pain for that ancient citadel, the lost armies of the seven, thrown down in eternally silent neglect, and long helplessly to compose sweet verses. Love come late will not fill your song.
- Then you’ll often admire me, not as a humble poet: then you’ll prefer me to the wits of Rome: and the young men will not be silent round my tomb, crying: ‘There shall you lie, great singer of our passions.’ Take care, in your pride, not to condemn my work. When Love comes late the cost is often high.
- Book I.8:1-26 Cynthia’s journey
- Are you mad, then, that my worries do not stop you? Am I less to you than chilly Illyria? Does he seem so great to you, whoever he is, that you’ll go anywhere the wind takes your sails without me? Can you hear the roar of the furious seas unmoved; take your rest on the hard planks; tread the hoarfrost under your tender feet? Cynthia, can you bear unaccustomed snow? Oh, I wish the days to the winter solstice were doubled, and the Pleiades delayed, the sailors idle, the ropes be never loosed from the Tyrrhenian shore, and the hostile breezes not blow my prayers away! Yet may I never see such winds drop when your boat puts off, and the waves carry it onwards, leaving me rooted to the desolate strand, repeatedly crying out your cruelty with clenched fist.
- Yet whatever you deserve from me, you who renounce me: may Sicilian Galatea not frown on your journey: pass with happy oars Epirus’s Acroceraunian cliffs, and be received by Illyrian Oricos’s calm waters. No other girl will seduce me, mea vita, from bitterly uttering complaints of you at your threshold, nor will I fail to question the impatient sailors: ‘Say in what harbour my girl is confined?’ crying ‘Though she lives on Thessaly’s shore, or beyond the Scythian, yet she’ll be mine.’
- Book I.8A:27-46 Cynthia’s journey abandoned
- She’s here! She stays, she promised! Discontent, vanish, I’ve won: she could not endure my endless entreaties. Let eager Envy relinquish illusory joy. My Cynthia’s ceased to travel strange roads. I’m dear to her, and she says Rome’s best because of me, rejecting a kingdom without me. She’d rather be in bed, though narrow, with me, and be mine, whatever its size, than have the ancient region that was Hippodamia’s dowry, and the riches that the horses of Elis won. She did not rush from my breast, through avarice, though he’s given a lot, and he’d give her more.
- I could not dissuade her with gold or Indian pearls, but did so by service of flattering song. I rely, like this, on the Muses in love, nor is Apollo slow to help us lovers. Cynthia, the rare, is mine! Now my feet tread the highest stars: night and day come, she’s mine! No rival steals my certain love from me: this glory will crown my furthest age.
- Book I.9:1-34 Ponticus struck down by Love
- I told you love would come to you, Derider, and words of freedom would not be ever yours. Behold, you’re down and come, a suppliant, at a mistress’s behest, and now some girl, bought a moment since, commands you. Dodona’s oracular doves can’t outdo me in prophesying what young men each girl will tame. A service of pain and tears has made me expert: though I wish I could forgo knowing, be called an innocent in love!
- What use is it now, you wretch, to recite your serious poem, or weep for the Theban citadel of Amphion’s lyre? Mimnermus’s lyrics are worth more than Homer in love. Gentle Love seeks out sweet song.
- I beg you, go put away those learned books, and sing what every girl wants to know! What if access to her wasn’t so easy? Yet you, you madman, seek for water mid-river. You are still not pale, even, truly untouched by the fire: this is only the first spark of evil to come. Then you’ll prefer to seek Armenian tigers, or feel the bonds of the infernal wheel, than know the frequent darts of the Boy in your marrow, and be powerless to deny your angry one a single thing.
- Love grants no one an easy passage, driving them back with either hand. And don’t be deceived if she’s ready to satisfy you: if she’s yours, Ponticus, she’ll attack you more fiercely. Love won’t let you remove your gaze at leisure, nor keep watch in another’s name, Love, who doesn’t appear till he’s touched you to the bone.
- Whoever you are, flee those endless charms! Flint and oak would yield to them, more so you, yourself a frail spirit. So, if there’s honour, confess your error quick as you can. In love it often helps to spell out whom it is you die for.
- Book I.10:1-30 Educating Gallus
- O sweet dream, when I saw your first love: witness, there, to your tears! O what sweet pleasure for me to recall that night, O the one so often summoned by my longing, when I saw you dying, Gallus, in your girl’s arms, uttering words between long pauses! Though sleep pressed on my weary lids, though the Moon blushed, drawn through mid-heaven, I still could not draw back from your play; there was so much ardour in your exchanges.
- But, since you weren’t afraid to allow it, accept your reward for the joy of trust. I’ve not only learnt to be silent about your pain, there’s something greater in me, my friend, than loyalty. I can join parted lovers again, and open a mistress’s reluctant door. I can heal a lover’s fresh wounds: the power of my words is not slight. Cynthia repeatedly taught me what one should look for or beware of: Love has not been idle.
- Beware of picking a fight with your girl when she’s angry, don’t speak in pride; don’t stay silent for long: and if she asks something, don’t say no while frowning, and don’t let kind words shower on you in vain. She’ll come in a temper when she’s ignored and, wounded, she won’t remember to drop her justified threats. But the more you are humble, and subject to love, the more you’ll enjoy a fine performance. He’ll be able to endure one girl gladly, who is never found wanting, or free of feeling.
- Book I.11:1-30 Cynthia at Baiae
- While you idle at Baiae’s heart, Cynthia, where Hercules’s causeway hangs by the shore, now gazing at waves that washed Thesprotus’s kingdom, now at the waters by notedMisenum, does any thought find entrance, oh, that brings you nights mindful of me? Is there a place where the least of love remains? Or has some unknown rival, with false pretence of passion, drawn Cynthia away from my songs?
- I would much rather some little craft, relying on feeble oar, entertained you on Naple’s Lucrine Lake, or the waters easily parting, stroke after stroke, held you enclosed in the shallow waves of Teuthras, than free to hear another’s flattering whispers, settled voluptuously on some private shore! Far from watching eyes a girl slides into faithlessness, not remembering the gods we share. Not that your reputation is not well known to me, but in that place every desire’s to be feared.
- So, forgive me if my writings have annoyed you: my fears are to blame. I do not guard my mother now with greater care, nor without you have I any care for life.
- You’re my only home, my only parents, Cynthia: you, every moment of my happiness. If I am joyful or sad with the friends I meet, however I feel, I say: ‘Cynthia is the reason.’ Only leave corrupt Baiae as soon as you may: that coast will bring discord to many, coast fatal to chaste girls: O let the waters of Baiae vanish: they’re an offence to love!
- Book I.12:1-20 Faithfulness in separation
- Why don’t you stop inventing charges of apathy, Rome, the ‘knowing’, saying it grips me? She’s separated from my bed by as many miles as Russia’s rivers from Venice’sRiver Po. Cynthia doesn’t nourish familiar love in her arms, nor make sweet sounds in my ear. Once I pleased: then there was no one to touch us who could compare for loyalty in love. We were envied. Surely a god overcame me, or some herb picked from Promethean mountains shattered our bond?
- I am not who I was: distant journeys alter girls. How quickly love flies! Now I’m forced to endure long nights alone, for the first time, and be oppressive to myself. He’s happy who’s able to weep where his girl is: Love takes no small joy in a sprinkling of tears. Or he who, rejected, can change his desire: there is joy in a new slavery as well. But it is impossible for me ever to love another, or part from her. Cynthia was love’s beginning: Cynthia will be its end.
- Book I.13:1-36 He predicts Gallus’s fate
- You’ll laugh at my downfall, as you often do, Gallus, because I’m alone and free, love flown away. But I’ll never echo your words, faithless man. May no girl ever let youdown, Gallus. Even now with your growing reputation for deceit, never seeking to linger long in any passion, you begin to pale with desperation in belated love, and fall back, tripped, at the first step. She’ll be your torment for despising their sorrow: one girl will take revenge for the pain of many. She’ll put a stop to your roving desires, and she’ll not be fond of your eternal search for the new.
- No wicked rumour, or augury, told me this: I saw it: can you deny me, as witness, I pray? I saw you, languishing, arms wound round your neck, and weeping for ages, in her hands, Gallus, yearning to breathe your life out in words of longing: and lastly, my friend, a thing shame counsels me to hide: I couldn’t part your clinging, such was the wild passion between you. That god Neptune disguised as the Haemonian River Enipus didn’t squeeze the obliging Tyro so readily; Hercules’s love was never so hot for celestial Hebe, when he first felt delight on the ridge of Oeta. One day can outrun all lovers: she lit no faint torch in you, she’ll not let disdain reappear in you, or you be seduced. Desire spurs you on.
- I’m not surprised, since she rivals Leda, is worthy of Jupiter, and alone lovelier than Leda’s three children by him. She has more charm than the demi-goddesses of Greece: her words would force Jupiter to love her. Since you’re sure to die of love, once and for all, no other threshold was worthy. May she be kind to you, now new madness strikes, and, whatever you wish, may she be the one for you.
- Book I.14:1-24 Love’s Delight
- Though, you drink Lesbos’s wine, from Mentor’s cups, abandoned, in luxury, by Tiber’s waves, now amazed how quickly the boats slip by, now how slowly the barges are towed along: while the wood spreads its ranks over all the summits, thick as Caucasus’s many trees: still these things have no power to rival my love. Love refuses to bow to great riches.
- If she spins out sleep with me as desired, or draws out the whole day in easy loving, then the waters of Pactolus flow beneath my roof, and the Red Sea’s coral buds are gathered below the waves, then my delight says I am greater than kings: and may it endure, till Fate demands I vanish. For who can enjoy wealth if Love’s against him? No riches for me ifVenus proves sullen!
- She can exhaust the strong powers of heroes: she can even give pain to the toughest minds: she’s not fearful of crossing Arabian thresholds, nor afraid to climb on the purple couch, Tullus, and toss the wretched young man all over his bed. What comfort is dyed silk fabric? When she’s reconciled, and near me, I’ll not fear to despise whole kingdoms, or King Alcinous’ gifts.
- Book I.15:1-42 Cynthia’s infidelities
- Cynthia I often feared great pain from your fickleness, yet still I never expected treachery. See with what trials Fortune drags me down! Yet you still respond slowly to those fears, and can raise calm hands to last night’s tresses, and examine your looks in endless idleness, you go on decking out your breast with Eastern jewels, like a lovely woman preparing for some new lover.
- Calypso did not feel so when Odysseus, the Ithacan, left, when she wept long ago to the empty waves: she sat mourning for many days with unkempt hair, pouring out speech to the cruel brine, and though she might never see him again, she grieved still, thinking of their long happiness. Hypsipyle, troubled, did not stand like that in the empty bedroom while the winds snatched Jason away: Hypsipyle never felt pleasure after, melting, once and for all, for her Haemonian stranger. Alphesiboea was revenged on her brothers for her husbandAlcmaeon, and passion severed the bonds of loving blood. Evadne, famous for Argive chastity, died in the pitiful flames, raised high on her husband’s pyre.
- Yet none of them influence your mode of existence, so that you might also be known in story. Cynthia, cease now revoking your words by lying and refrain from provoking forgotten gods. O reckless girl, there’ll be more than enough grief in my misfortune if it chances that anything dark happens to you! Long before love for you alters in my heart, rivers will flow back from the vast ocean, and the year shall reverse its seasons: be whatever you wish, except another’s.
- Don’t let those eyes seem so worthless to you, in which your treachery was so often believed by me! You swore by them, that if you’d ever been false, they’d vanish away when your fingers touched them. Can you then raise them to the vast sun, and not tremble, aware of your guilty sins? Who forced on you the pallor of your shifting complexion: who drew tears from unwilling eyes? Those are the eyes I now die for, to warn lovers such as me: ‘No charms can ever be safely trusted!’
- Book I.16:1-48 Cynthia’s threshold speaks
- Now I’m bruised in night quarrels with drunkards, moaning often, struck by shameful hands, I, who used to open to great triumphs, Tarpeia’s entrance, honoured for chastity, whose threshold was crowded with golden teams, wet with the suppliant tears of captives. Disgraceful garlands aren’t lacking, hung on me, and always torches rest there, symbols of the excluded.
- Nor can I save my lady from infamous nights, honour surrendered in obscene singing. Nor does she repent as yet, or cease her notoriety: cease living more sinfully than this dissolute age. And, complaining, I’m forced to shed worse tears, made sadder by the length of some suppliants’ vigil. He never allows my columns to rest, renewing his sly insinuating song:
- ‘Entrance, crueller than my mistress’s depths, why are your solid doors closed now, and mute, for me? Why do you never open to admit my desire, unable to feel or tell her my secret prayers? Will there be no end assigned to my sadness, and sleep lie, unsightly, on your cool threshold? Midnight, the stars sinking to rest, and the icy winds of chill dawn, grieve for me. You alone never pity man’s grief, replying with mutually silent hinges.
- O I wish that my soft voice might pass through some hollow cleft, and enter my lady’s startled ears! Then she would never be able to check herself, and a sigh would surface amongst reluctant tears, though she seems more unyielding than flint or Sicilian stone, harder than iron or steel.
- Now she rests in another man’s fortunate arms, and my words fail on the nocturnal breeze. But to me, threshold, you’re the one, great cause of my grief, the one who is never conquered by gifts. No petulant tongue of mine ever offended you, in calling out angry drunken jests, that you should make me hoarse with endless complaining, guarding the crossroads in anxious waiting. Yet I have often created new lines of verse for you, and printed deep kisses on your steps. How often before now have I turned from your columns, treacherous one, and with hidden hands produced the required offering.’
- So with this and whatever else you helpless lovers invent, he drowns out the dawn chorus. And I’m condemned to eternal infamy, for my mistress’s failings now, for her lovers’ tears forever.
- Book I.17:1-28. He goes on a journey.
- Since I managed to flee the girl, now it’s right that I cry to the lonely halcyons: Cassiope’s harbour’s not yet had its accustomed sight of my boat, and all my prayers fall on a heartless shore. Yes, even in your absence, Cynthia, the winds promote your cause: hear with what savage threats the sky resounds. Will good fortune ever come to calm the storms? Will that little beach hold my ashes?
- Change your fierce complaints to something kinder and let night and hostile shoals be my punishment. Could you, dry-eyed, require my death, never to clasp my bones to your breast? O, perish the man, whoever he was, who first made ships and rigging, and ploughed the reluctant deep! Easier to change my mistress’s moods (however harsh, though, she’s still a rare girl) than to gaze at shores ringed with unknown forests, and search in the sky for the long-lost Twins.
- If the Fates had buried my grief at home, and an upright stone stood there to my last love, she would have given dear strands of hair to the fire, and laid my bones gently on soft rose-petals: she would have cried my name, over the final embers, and asked for earth to lie lightly on me.
- But you, the sea-born daughters of lovely Doris, happy choir, loosen our white sails: if ever love glided down and touched your waves, spare a friend, for gentler shores.
- Book I.18:1-32 Alone amongst Nature
- Truly this is a silent, lonely place for grieving, and the breath of the West Wind owns the empty wood. Here I could speak my secret sorrows freely, if only these solitary cliffs could be trusted.
- To what cause shall I attribute your disdain, my Cynthia? Cynthia, what reason for my grief did you give me? I, who but now was numbered among the joyous, now am forced to look for signs of your love. Why do I merit this? What spell turns you away from me? Is some new girl the root of your anger? You can give yourself to me again, fickle girl, since no other has ever set lovely foot on my threshold. Though my sorrow’s indebted to you for much grief my anger will never be so fierce with you that rage could ever be justified in you or your weeping eyes be disfigured with falling tears.
- Is it because I show few signs of altered complexion, and my faith does not cry aloud in my face? Beech-tree and pine, beloved of the Arcadian god, you will be witnesses, if trees know such passions. Oh, how often my words echo in gentle shadows and Cynthia is carved in your bark!
- Oh! How often has your injustice caused me pains that only your silent threshold knows? I am used to suffering your tyrannous orders with diffidence, without moaning about it in noisy complaint. For this I win sacred springs, cold rocks, and rough sleep by a wilderness track: and whatever my complaint can tell of must be uttered alone to melodious birds.
- Yet whatever you may be, let the woods echo ‘Cynthia’ to me, and let not the wild cliffs be free of your name.
- Book I.19:1-26 Death and transience
- I fear no sad shadows, now, my Cynthia, or care that death destines me for the final fires: but one fear is harder to bear than funeral processions, that perhaps my lonely corpse would lack your love. Cupid has not so lightly clung to my eyelids, that my dust could be void, love forgotten.
- That hero, Protesilaus, could not forget his sweet wife even in the dark region: the Thessalian came as a shade to his former home, longing with ghostly hands to touch his joy. Whatever I am there, I will ever be known as your shadow: a great love crosses the shores of death.
- Let the choir of lovely women of old, come to greet me there, those whom the spoils of Troy yielded to Argive men, none of whose beauty could mean more to me than yours, Cynthia, and (O allow this, Earth, and be just) though old age destined keeps you back, your bones will still be dear to my sad eyes. May you, living, feel this when I am dust: then no place of death can be bitter to me. How I fear lest you ignore my tomb, Cynthia, and some inimical passion draws you away from my ashes, and forces you, unwillingly, to dry the tears that fall!
- Constant threats will persuade a loyal girl. So, while we can, let there be joy between lovers: no length of time’s enough for lasting love.
- Book I:20:1-52 The story of Hylas: a warning to Gallus
- For your loyal love, Gallus, take this warning (Don’t let it slip from your vacant mind): ‘Fortune often attacks the imprudent lover’: so might the River Ascanius, harsh to theArgonauts, tell you.
- You have a lover, like Hylas, Theodamas’s son, no less handsome, not unequal in birth. Take care if you walk by sacred rivers in Umbrian forests, or the waters of Anio touch your feet, or if you wander the edge of the Phlegrean plain, or wherever a river gives wandering welcome, always defend your loving prey from the Nymphs (the Ausonian Dryads’ desire is no less) lest rough hills and cold rocks are yours, Gallus, and you enter eternally untried waters. The wretched wanderer Hercules suffered this misery, and wept by the wild River Ascanius, on an unknown shore.
- They say that the Argo sailed long ago from Pagasa’s shipyard, and set out on the long voyage to Phasis, and, once the Hellespont’s waves slid past, tied her hull to Mysia’s cliffs. Here the band of heroes landed on the quiet shore, and covered the ground with a soft layer of leaves. But the young unconquered hero’s companion strayed far, searching for the scarce waters of distant springs.
- The two brothers, Zetes and Calais, the sons of the North Wind, chased him, pursued him, both above him, with hovering grasp, to snatch kisses, and alternately fleeing with a kiss from his upturned face. But he hangs concealed beneath the edge of a wing and wards of their tricks in flight with a branch. At last the sons of Orithyia, Pandion’s daughter, cease: ah! Sadly, off goes Hylas, off to the Hamadryads.
- There lay the well of Pege, by the peak of Mount Arganthus, the watery haunt dear to Thynia’s Nymphs, over which moistened apples hung from the wild fruit-trees, and all around in the water-meadows white lilies grew, mixed with scarlet poppies, which he now picked with delicate fingers, childishly preferring flowers to his chosen task, and now bent innocently down to the lovely waves, prolonging his wandering with flattering reflections.
- At last with outstretched palms he prepared to drink from the spring, propped on his right shoulder, lifting full hands. Inflamed by his whiteness, the Dryad girls left their usual throng to marvel, easily pulling him headlong into the yielding waters. Then, as they seized his body, Hylas cried out: to him Hercules replied, again and again, from the distance, but the wind blew his name back, from the far waters.
- O Gallus warned by this, watch your affairs, entrusting handsome Hylas to the Nymphs.
- Book I.21:1-10 Gallus speaks his own epitaph
- ‘You who rush to escape the common fate, stricken soldier from the Etruscan ramparts, why turn your angry eyes where I lie groaning? I’m one of your closest comrades in arms. Save yourself then, so your parents might rejoice, don’t let my sister know of these things by your tears: how Gallus broke through the midst of Caesar’s swordsmen, but failed to escape some unknown hand: and whatever bones she finds strewn on Etruscan hills, let her never know them for mine.’
- Book I.22:1-10 Propertius’s place of origin.
- You ask, always in friendship, Tullus, what are my household gods, and of what race am I. If our country’s graves, at Perusia, are known to you, Italy’s graveyard in the darkest times, when Rome’s citizens dealt in war (and, to my special sorrow, Etruscan dust, you allowed my kinsman’s limbs to be scattered, you covered his wretched bones with no scrap of soil), know that Umbria rich in fertile ground bore me, where it touches there on the plain below.
Propertius - Elegies, selections from Book 4
Book IV.7:1-96 Cynthia: From Beyond the Grave
- There are Spirits, of a kind: death does not end it all, and the pale ghost escapes the ruined pyre. For Cynthia, lately buried beside the roadway’s murmur, seemed to lean above my couch, when sleep was denied me after love’s interment, and I grieved at the cold kingdom of my bed. The same hair she had, that was borne to the grave, the same eyes: her garment charred against her side: the fire had eaten the beryl ring from her finger, and Lethe’s waters had worn away her lips. She sighed out living breath and speech, but her brittle hands rattled their finger-bones.
- ‘Faithless man, of whom no girl can hope for better, does sleep already have power over you? Are the tricks of sleepless Subura now forgotten, and my windowsill, worn by nocturnal guile? From which I so often hung on a rope dropped to you, and came to your shoulders, hand over hand. Often we made love at the crossroads, and breast to breast our cloaks made the roadways warm. Alas for the silent pact whose false words the uncaring South-West Wind has swept away!
- None cried out at the dying light of my eyes: I’d have won another day if you’d recalled me. No watchman shook his split reeds for me: but, jostled, a broken tile cut my face. Who, at the end, saw you bowed at my graveside: who saw your funeral robe hot with tears? If you disliked going beyond the gate, you could have ordered my bier to travel there more slowly. Ungrateful man, why couldn’t you pray for a wind to fan my pyre? Why weren’t my flames redolent of nard? Was it such an effort, indeed, to scatter cheap hyacinths, or honour my tomb with a shattered jar?
- Let Lygdamus be branded: let the iron be white-hot for the slave of the house: I knew him when I drank the pale and doctored wine. And crafty Nomas, let her destroy her secret poisons: the burning potsherd will show her guilty hands. She who was open to the common gaze, those worthless nights, now leaves the track of her golden hem on the ground: and, if a talkative girl speaks of my beauty unjustly, she repays with heavier spinning tasks. Old Petale’s chained to a foul block of wood, for carrying garlands to my tomb: Lalage is whipped, hung by her entwined hair, since she dared to offer a plea in my name.
- You’ve let the woman melt down my golden image, so she might have her dowry from my fierce pyre. Still, though you deserve it, I’ll not criticise you, Propertius, my reign has been a long one in your books. I swear by the incantation of the Fates none may revoke, and may three-headed Cerberus bark gently for me, that I’ve been faithful, and if I lie, may the vipers hiss on my mound, and lie entwined about my bones.
- There are two places assigned beyond the foul stream, and the whole crowd of the dead row on opposing currents. One carries Clytemnestra’s faithlessness, another the monstrous framework of the lying Cretan cow: see, others swept onwards in a garlanded boat, where sweet airs caress Elysian roses, where tuneful lutes, where Cybele’s cymbals sound, and turbaned choirs to the Lydian lyre.
- Andromeda and Hypermestre, blameless wives, tell their story, with accustomed feeling: the first complains her arms are bruised, with the chains of her mother’s pride, that her hands were un-deserving of the icy rock. Hypermestre tells of her sisters daring, her mind incapable of committing such a crime. So with the tears of death we heal life’s passions: I conceal the many crimes of your unfaithfulness.
- But now I give this command to you, if perhaps you’re moved, if Chloris’ magic herbs have not quite entranced you: don’t let Parthenie, my nurse, lack in her years of weakness: she was known to you, was never greedy with you. And don’t let my lovely Latris, named for her serving role, hold up the mirror to some fresh mistress.
- Then burn whatever verses you made about my name: and cease now to sing my praises.
- Drive the ivy from my mound that with grasping clusters, and tangled leaves, binds my fragile bones; where fruitful Anio broods over fields of apple-branches, and ivory is unfading, because of Hercules’ power.
- Write, on a column’s midst, this verse, worthy of me but brief, so the traveller, hurrying, from the city, might read:
- HERE IN TIBUR’S EARTH LIES CYNTHIA THE GOLDEN:
- ANIO FRESH PRAISE IS ADDED TO YOUR SHORES.
- And don’t deny the dreams that come through sacred gateways: when sacred dreams come, they carry weight. By night we suffer, wandering, night frees the imprisoned spirits, and his cage abandoned Cerberus himself strays. At dawn the law demands return to the pools of Lethe: we are borne across, and the ferryman counts the load he’s carried.
- Now, let others have you: soon I alone will hold you: you’ll be with me, I’ll wear away the bone joined with bone.’
- After she’d ended, in complaint, her quarrel with me her shadow swiftly slipped from my embrace.
- Book IV.8:1-88 Cynthia in a fury
- Hear what caused a headlong flight, through the watery Esquiline, tonight, when a crowd of residents rushed through New Fields, and a shameful brawl broke out in a secret bar: though I wasn’t there, my name was not untarnished.
- Lanuvium, from of old, is guarded by an ancient serpent: the hour you spend on such a marvellous visit won’t be wasted; where the sacred way drops down through a dark abyss, where the hungry snake’s tribute penetrates (virgin, be wary of all such paths!), when he demands the annual offering of food, and twines, hissing, from the centre of the earth. Girls grow pale, sent down to such rites as these, when their hand is rashly entrusted to the serpent’s mouth. He seizes the tit-bits the virgins offer: the basket itself trembles in their hands. If they’ve remained chaste they return to their parents’ arms, and the farmers shout: ‘It will be a fertile year.’
- My Cynthia was carried there, by clipped horses. Juno was the pretext, but Venus was more likely. Appian Way, tell, I beg you, how she drove in triumph, you as witness, her wheels shooting past over your stones. She was a sight, sitting there, hanging over the end of the shaft, daring to loose the reins over foul places. For I say nothing of the silk-panelled coach of that plucked spendthrift, or his hounds with jewelled collars on their Molassian necks, he who’ll offer himself for sale, fated for filthy stuffing, while a shameful beard covers those smoothly shaven cheeks.
- Since harm so often befell our couch, I decided to change my bed by moving camp. There’s a certain Phyllis, who lives near Aventine Diana. When she’s sober nothing pleases: when she’s drunk anything goes. Teia is another, among the groves of Tarpeia, lovely, but full of wine, one man’s never enough. I decided to call on them to lighten the night-time, and refresh my amours with untried intrigue.
- There was a couch for three on a private lawn. Do you want to know how we lay, I between the two. Lygdamus was cup-bearer, with a set of summer glassware, and Greek wine that tasted Methymnian. Nile, the flute-player was yours, Phyllis was castanet dancer, and artless elegant roses were nicely scattered. Magnus the dwarf, himself, tiny of limb, waved his stunted hands to the boxwood flute. The lamp-flames flickered though the lamps were full, and the table sloped sideways on its legs. And I looked to throw Venus with lucky dice, but the wretched Dogs always leapt out at me. They sang, I was deaf: bared their breasts, I was blind. Alas, I was off alone by Lanuvium’s gates.
- When suddenly the doors creaked aloud on their hinges and a low murmur rose from the entrance by the Lares. Immediately Cynthia flung back the folding screens, with hair undone, and furiously fine. I dropped the glass from between my loosened fingers, and my lips paled though they were slack with wine. Her eyes flashed lightning, how the woman raged: a sight no less dire than the sacking of a city.
- She thrust her angry nails at Phyllis: Teia cried out in terror to the local waters. The raised torches disturbed the sleeping neighbours, and the whole street echoed with midnightmadness. The first tavern in a dark street swallowed the girls, with loose dresses and dishevelled hair.
- Cynthia exulted in the spoils, and ran back victorious to strike my face with perverse hands, put her mark on my neck, drew blood with her mouth, and most of all struck my eyes that deserved it. And then when her arms were tired with plaguing me, she rooted out Lygdamus lying sheltered by the left-hand couch, and, dragged forward, he begged my spirit to protect him. Lygdamus, I couldn’t do a thing: I was a prisoner like you.
- With outstretched hands, and only then, it came to a treaty, though she would barely allow me to touch her feet, and said: ‘If you’d have me pardon the sins you confess, accept what the form of my rule will be. You’re not to walk about, all dressed up, in the shade of Pompey’s colonnade, or when they strew the sand in the licentious Forum. Take care you don’t bend your neck to the back of the theatre, or give yourself over to your loitering by some open carriage. Most of all let Lygdamus be sold, he’s my main cause for complaint, and let his feet drag round double links of chain.’
- She spelt out her laws: I replied ‘I’ll obey the law.’ She smiled, with pride in the power I had granted. Then with fire she purified whatever the alien girls had touched, and washed the threshold with pure water. She ordered me to change all my clothes again, and touched my head three times with burning sulphur, and so I responded by changing the bed, every single sheet, and on the familiar couch we resolved our quarrel.
- Book IV.9:1-74 Hercules on the Palatine: the Sacred Grove
- In those days when Hercules, Amphitryon’s son drove the oxen, O Erythea, from your stalls, he reached the untamed, cattle-rich Palatine, and, weary himself, halted his weary herd, where the Velabrum dammed its flow, where the boatman sails over urban waters. But they were still not safe there, Cacus proving a treacherous host: he dishonoured Jupiterby thieving. Cacus lived there, robbing, from his dreaded cavern, he who gave out separate sounds from triple mouths. So there would be no obvious sign of the certain theft, he dragged the cattle backwards to his cave. Yet not without the god witnessing it: the bulls proclaimed the thief, and rage broke down the thief’s savage doors.
- Struck three times on the forehead by the Maenalian club, Cacus fell, and Alcides spoke as follows: ‘Cattle, cattle of Hercules, go, my cudgel’s last labour, twice sought after by me, twice my prize, cattle, sanctify the Cattle-Market, with your deep lowing: your pastures will become the famous Roman Forum.’ he spoke, and thirst tormented his parched throat, while the fertile earth supplied no water.
- But far away he heard the laughter of cloistered girls, where a Sacred Grove formed a shaded circle, the secret site of the Goddess, the women’s holy founts, and the rites never revealed to men without punishment. Wreaths of purple veiled its solitary threshold, and a ruined hut was lit by perfumed fires. A poplar with spreading foliage adorned the shrine, and its dense shadows hid the singing birds.
- He rushed there, his un-moistened beard thick with dust, and uttered less than god-like words before the doors: ‘O you, who linger in the grove’s sacred hollows, open your welcoming temple to a tired man. I stray, in need of a spring, the sound of waters round me, and a handful caught up from the stream would be enough.
- Have you not heard of one who lifted the globe on his back? I am he: the world I accepted calls me Alcides. Who has not heard of the mighty doings of Hercules’ club, and those shafts that were never used in vain against harmful creatures, and of how for me, the only mortal, the Stygian shadows shone? Accept me: weary, this land seems scarcely open to me.
- Even if you sacrifice to Juno, bitter against me, she herself would not shut her waters from me. But if any of you are afraid of my face or the lion’s pelt, or my hair bleached by the Libyan sun, I am the same who has carried out slave’s tasks in a cloak of Sidon, and spun the day’s tally on a Lydian distaff. My shaggy chest was caught in a soft breast-band, and I was fit to be a hard-handed girl.’
- So Hercules spoke: but the kindly priestess replied her white hair tied with a purple ribbon: ‘Avert your eyes, stranger, and go from this sacred grove, go then, and, by leaving its threshold, flee in safety. The altar that is guarded in this secluded hut is prohibited to men, and avenged by fearsome law. Tiresias the seer gazed at Pallas to his cost, while she was bathing her strong limbs, laying aside her Gorgon breastplate. Let the gods grant you other fountains: this water flows only for women wandering its secret channel.’ So the aged priestess spoke: he burst the concealing doorway with his shoulders, and the closed gate could not bar his raging thirst.
- But after he had quenched the burning and drained the river, his lips scarcely dry, he gave out this harsh decree: ‘This corner of the world accepts me while I drag out my fate; weary this land seems scarcely open to me. The great Altar,’ he said ‘dedicated to the recovery of my herd, this greatest of altars made by my hands, will never be open to women’s worship, so that for eternity Hercules’s thirst will not go un-avenged.’
- Hail, Sacred Father, on whom austere Juno now smiles. Sacred One, be favourable to my book. Thus the Sabine Cures enshrined this hero as the Sacred One, since he cleansed the world, purified at his hands.
- Book IV.10:1-48 The Temple of Feretrian Jupiter
- Now I’ll begin to reveal the origins of Feretrian Jupiter and the triple trophies won from three chieftains. I climb a steep path, but the glory of it gives me strength: I never delight in wreathes plucked on easy slopes.
- Romulus, you set the pattern first for this prize, and returned burdened with enemy spoils, victorious at the time when Caeninian Acron was attempting the gates of Rome, whom you spilled with your spear from his fallen mount. Acron the chieftain from Caenina’s citadel, descendant of Hercules, was once the scourge of your country, Rome. He dared to hope for spoils from Quirinus’s shoulders, but gave his own, not un-moistened by his blood. Romulus saw him, testing his spear against the hollow towers, and anticipated him with a pre-destined vow: ‘Jupiter this Acron falls as a victim today to you.’ He vowed it and Acron fell as Jupiter’s spoil.
- So he was accustomed to conquer, this Father of Rome and Virtue, who, born of thrifty stock, endured the rigour of camp. The horseman was skilled with the bridle, equally with the plough: and his helmet was wolf-skin, decorated with a shaggy crest: nor did his shield shine ornate with inlaid bronze: cattle carcasses had supplied his supple belt. There was no sound of war yet beyond the Tiber. The farthest prize was Nomentum, and three acres of captured Cora.
- The next example was Cossus with the killing of Tolumnius of Veii, when to conquer Veii was indeed a task. Alas, ancient Veii, you were also a kingdom then, and a golden throne was set in your market place: now the horn of the careless shepherd sounds within your walls, and they reap the harvest over your bones. It happened that Veii’s chieftain was standing on the gate-tower, speaking, not fearing for his city: and as the bronze-headed ram was battering the walls, where a long shield-work covered the line of siege, Cossus cried: ‘It’s better to meet brave men in the open.’ Without delay both placed themselves on level ground. The gods aided Latin hands, and Tolumnius’ severed head washed Roman horses in blood.
- Claudius also threw the enemy back when they’d crossed the Rhine, at that time when the Belgic shield of the giant chieftain Virdomarus was brought here. He boasted he was born of the Rhine itself, agile at throwing Gallic javelins from unswerving chariot-wheels. Hurling them, he advanced, in striped breeches, in front of the host: the engraved torque fell from his severed throat.
- Now triple spoils are stored in the temple: hence Feretrian, since, with sure omen, chief struck (ferit) chief with the sword: or because they carried (ferebant) the arms of the defeated on their shoulders, and from this the proud altar of Feretrian Jupiter’s named.
- Book IV.11:1-102 Cornelia to Paullus: From Beyond the Grave
- Paullus, no longer burden my grave with tears: the black gate opens to no one’s prayer. When once the dead obey the law of infernal places, the gate remains like adamant, unmoved by pleas. Though the god of the dark courts may hear your request, surely the shores of deafness will drink your tears. Entreaty moves the living: when the ferryman has his coin, the ghastly doorway closes on a world of shadows. The mournful trumpets sang it, when the unkindly torch was placed below my bier, and raging flames dragged down my head.
- What use was my marriage to Paullus, or the triumphal chariot of my ancestors, or those dear children, my glory? Cornelia found the Fates no less cruel: and I am now such a burden as five fingers might gather. Wretched night, and you, shallow sluggish marshes, and whatever waters surround my feet, I came here before my time, yet I’m not guilty. Father, make sweet your judgement on my soul.
- Or if some Aeacus sits as judge by his urn, let him protect my bones when the lot is drawn. Let the two brothers sit by, and near to Minos’s seat let the stern band of Furiesstand, in the hushed court. Sisyphus, be free now of your rock: Ixion’s wheel now be still: deceptive water let Tantalus’ mouth surround you: today let cruel Cerberus not attack the shades, and let his chain hang slack from the silent bars. I plead for myself: if I lie, may the sisters’ punishment, the unhappy urn, weigh upon my shoulders.
- If fame ever accrued to anyone from ancestral trophies, our statues tell of Numantian ancestry, equalled by the crowd of Libones on my mother’s side, and our house is strong in honour on both counts. Then, when the purple-hemmed dress was laid aside for the marriage torches, and a different ribbon caught and tied my hair, I was united to your bed, Paullus, only to leave it so: read it on this stone, she was wedded to one alone. I call as witness the ashes of my forebears, revered by you, Rome, beneath whose honours trampled Africa lies, and Perses, his heart stirred by having Achilles for ancestor, and Hercules, who shattered your house Avernus: and that the censor’s law was never eased for me: and my hearth never blushed for any sin of mine. Cornelia never harmed such magnificent war-trophies: she was more a pattern to be followed in that great house.
- My life never altered, wholly without reproach: we lived in honour from the wedding to the funeral torch. At birth I was bound by laws laid down by my race: nor could I be rendered more in fear of judgement. Let the urn deal out whatever harsh measures to me, no woman should be ashamed to sit beside me: not you, Claudia, rare servant of the turret-crowned Goddess, who hauled on the cable of Cybele’s laggard image, nor you Aemilia, your white robe living flame when Vesta asked for signs of the fire you swore to cherish. Nor have I wronged you, Scribonia, mother, my sweet origin: what do you wish changed in me, except my fate? My mother’s tears and the city’s grief exalt me, and my bones are protected by Caesar’s moans. He laments that living I was worthy sister to his daughter, and we have seen a god’s tears fall.
- Moreover I earned the robe of honour through child-bearing: it was not a childless house that I was snatched from. You Lepidus and Paullus, are my comfort in death: my eyes closed in your embrace. And I saw my brother twice installed in the magistrate’s chair: at the time of celebration of his consulship his sister was taken. Daughter, who are born to be a mirror of your father’s judgements, imitating me, make sure you have but one husband. And strengthen the race in turn: willingly I cross the ferry with so many of my own as my champions: this is the final reward, a woman’s triumph, that free tongues should praise my worthy bones.
- Now I commend our children to you, Paullus, our mutual pledges: thus anxiety still stirs, stamped in my ashes. The father must perform the mother’s duties: your shoulders must bear all my crowd of children. When you kiss their tears away, do so for their mother: now the whole household will be your burden. And if you must weep, do it without their seeing! When they come to you, deceive their kisses with dry cheeks!
- Let those nights be enough Paullus that you wear away for me, and the dreams where you often think you see my image: and when you speak secretly to my phantom, speak every word as though to one who answers.
- But if the bed that faces the doorway should be altered, and a careful stepmother occupy my place, boys, praise and accept your father’s wife: captivated, she will applaud your good manners. Don’t praise your mother too much: thoughtless speech that compares her with the first wife will become offences against her. Or if Paullus, you remember me, content that my shade suffices, and consider my ashes thus worthy, learn to feel now how old age advances, and leave no path open for a widower’s cares. What was taken from me let it increase your years: so my children may delight the aged Paullus. And it’s good that I never dressed in mother’s mourning: all my flock were at my funeral.
- My defence is complete. Rise witnesses who mourn me, as kindly Earth repays its reward for my life. Heaven is open to virtue also: let me be worthy of honour, whose ashes are carried to lie among distinguished sires.