from AMORES - I.10THE POETíS GIFT
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)trans. A. S. Kline
Qualis ab Eurota Phrygiis avecta carinis
coniugibus belli causa duobus erat,
qualis erat Lede, quam plumis abditus albis
callidus in falsa lusit adulter ave,
qualis Amymone siccis erravit in agris,
cum premeret summi verticis urna comas -
talis eras; aquilamque in te taurumque timebam,
et quidquid magno de Iove fecit amor.
Nunc timor omnis abest, animique resanuit error,
nec facies oculos iam capit ista meos.
cur sim mutatus, quaeris? quia munera poscis.
haec te non patitur causa placere mihi.
donec eras simplex, animum cum corpore amavi;
nunc mentis vitio laesa figura tua est.
et puer est et nudus Amor; sine sordibus annos
et nullas vestes, ut sit apertus, habet.
quid puerum Veneris pretio prostare iubetis?
quo pretium condat, non habet ille sinum!
nec Venus apta feris Veneris nec filius armis -
non decet inbelles aera merere deos.
Stat meretrix certo cuivis mercabilis aere,
et miseras iusso corpore quaerit opes;
devovet imperium tamen haec lenonis avari
et, quod vos facitis sponte, coacta facit.
Sumite in exemplum pecudes ratione carentes;
turpe erit, ingenium mitius esse feris.
non equa munus equum, non taurum vacca poposcit;
non aries placitam munere captat ovem.
sola viro mulier spoliis exultat ademptis,
sola locat noctes, sola licenda venit,
et vendit quod utrumque iuvat quod uterque petebat,
et pretium, quanti gaudeat ipsa, facit.
quae Venus ex aequo ventura est grata duobus,
altera cur illam vendit et alter emit?
cur mihi sit damno, tibi sit lucrosa voluptas,
quam socio motu femina virque ferunt?
Non bene conducti vendunt periuria testes,
non bene selecti iudicis arca patet.
turpe reos empta miseros defendere lingua;
quod faciat magni, turpe tribunal, opes;
turpe tori reditu census augere paternos,
et faciem lucro prostituisse suam.
gratia pro rebus merito debetur inemptis;
pro male conducto gratia nulla toro.
omnia conductor solvit; mercede soluta
non manet officio debitor ille tuo.
parcite, formosae, pretium pro nocte pacisci;
non habet eventus sordida praeda bonos.
non fuit armillas tanti pepigisse Sabinas,
ut premerent sacrae virginis arma caput;
e quibus exierat, traiecit viscera ferro
filius, et poenae causa monile fuit.
Nec tamen indignum est a divite praemia posci;
munera poscenti quod dare possit, habet.
carpite de plenis pendentes vitibus uvas;
praebeat Alcinoi poma benignus ager!
officium pauper numeret studiumque fidemque;
quod quis habet, dominae conferat omne suae.
est quoque carminibus meritas celebrare puellas
dos mea; quam volui, nota fit arte mea.
scindentur vestes, gemmae frangentur et aurum;
carmina quam tribuent, fama perennis erit.
nec dare, sed pretium posci dedignor et odi;
quod nego poscenti, desine velle, dabo!
Like the woman carried by the ships from Eurotas
to Troy, the cause of war between two husbands:
like Leda to whom the adulterous god made love,
craftily hidden, disguised in white plumage:
like Amymome wandering through arid fields,
with a water-pot on top of her head -
such were you: I feared eagles and bulls, for you,
and whatever else great Jupiter might make love as.
Now all fearís gone, my mind is healed of error,
now your beauty canít captivate my eyes.
Why am I changed, you ask? Because you want gifts.
Thatís the cause that stops you from pleasing me.
Once you were innocent, I loved you body and soul:
now your beautyís flawed by this defect of mind.
Love is a child and naked: without the shabbiness of age
and without clothing, so heís all openness.
Why tell Venusís son to sell himself for cash?
Where can he keep cash, heís got no clothes!
Neither Venus nor Venusís son carry arms -
unwarlike gods donít merit soldierís pay.
Even the whore whoís buyable for money,
and seeks alas to command wealth with her body:
nevertheless curses a grasping pimpís orders,
and is forced to do, what you do by choice.
Think about unreasoning creatures for example:
itís a disgrace, if the beasts are better natured than you.
Mares donít ask gifts of stallions, cows of bulls:
rams donít capture pleasing ewes with gifts.
Only a woman delights in taking spoils from her mate,
only she hires out her nights, comes for a price,
and sells what this one demands, what that one seeks,
or gives it as a gift, to please herself.
When making love pleases both partners alike,
why should she sell and the other buy?
When a man and a woman perform a joint act
why should the pleasure hurt me and profit you?
Itís wrong for witnesses to perjure themselves for gain,
itís wrong to open the purse of the chosen judges.
Itís a disgrace to defend the accused with a bought tongue:
a disgraceful court makes itself wealthy:
itís wrong to swell family wealth with the bedís proceeds,
or prostitute your good looks for money.
un-purchased, things deserve our thanks, on merit:
no thanks for the evil of a bought bed.
The buyer loosens all bonds: freed by payment
he no longer remains a debtor in your service.
Beware, you beauties, bargaining gifts for a night:
youíll have no good outcome from sordid presents.
Sabine bracelets werenít worth so much
when weapons pressed down on the sacred virginís head:
and Eriphyle died, her sonís sword through her body,
a necklace the reason for her punishment.
Still thereís nothing unworthy in asking gifts of the rich:
those who can give have presents demanded of them.
Pick your grapes from the most loaded vines:
Alcinousís fruitful orchard offers its apples!
Count on a poor man for duty, loyalty, devotion:
what a man has, let him gather it all for his lady.
My gift thenís to celebrate worthy girls in my song:
those that I wish, are made famous by my art.
dresses crumble, gold and gems are worn down:
but the tribute of song brings eternal fame.
Itís not giving, itís being asked for a gift I loathe and scorn:
Stop wanting what I refuse to supply, and Iíll give!

Trans. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2003


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