from AMORES - I.15HIS IMMORTALITY
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)trans. A. S. Kline
Quid mihi Livor edax, ignavos obicis annos,
ingeniique vocas carmen inertis opus;
non me more patrum, dum strenua sustinet aetas,
praemia militiae pulverulenta sequi,
nec me verbosas leges ediscere nec me
ingrato vocem prostituisse foro?
Mortale est, quod quaeris, opus. mihi fama perennis
quaeritur, in toto semper ut orbe canar.
vivet Maeonides, Tenedos dum stabit et Ide,
dum rapidas Simois in mare volvet aquas;
vivet et Ascraeus, dum mustis uva tumebit,
dum cadet incurva falce resecta Ceres.
Battiades semper toto cantabitur orbe;
quamvis ingenio non valet, arte valet.
nulla Sophocleo veniet iactura cothurno;
cum sole et luna semper Aratus erit;
dum fallax servus, durus pater, inproba lena
vivent et meretrix blanda, Menandros erit;
Ennius arte carens animosique Accius oris
casurum nullo tempore nomen habent.
Varronem primamque ratem quae nesciet aetas,
aureaque Aesonio terga petita duci?
carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti,
exitio terras cum dabit una dies;
Tityrus et segetes Aeneiaque arma legentur,
Roma triumphati dum caput orbis erit;
donec erunt ignes arcusque Cupidinis arma,
discentur numeri, culte Tibulle, tui;
Gallus et Hesperiis et Gallus notus Eois,
et sua cum Gallo nota Lycoris erit.
Ergo, cum silices, cum dens patientis aratri
depereant aevo, carmina morte carent.
cedant carminibus reges regumque triumphi,
cedat et auriferi ripa benigna Tagi!
vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo
pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua,
sustineamque coma metuentem frigora myrtum,
atque a sollicito multus amante legar!
pascitur in vivis Livor; post fata quiescit,
cum suus ex merito quemque tuetur honos.
ergo etiam cum me supremus adederit ignis,
vivam, parsque mei multa superstes erit.
Gnawing Envy, why reproach me with an indolent life:
and call the work of my genius idle song?
Is it that I donít follow the custom of the country,
seek the dusty reward of army life while Iím young?
That I donít study wordy laws,
or prostitute my voice in the forum?
The work you seek is mortal. I seek eternal fame,
to be sung throughout the whole world forever.
Homer will live, while Ida and Tenedos stand,
while Simois still runs swiftly to the sea:
Hesiod, as well, while the vintage ripens,
while the crops fall to the curving blade.
Callimachus will always be sung throughout the world:
not because of his imagination, but his art.
The tragedies of Sophocles will never be lost:
nor Aratus as long as thereís a sun and moon:
While devious slaves, stern fathers, cruel pimps,
and enticing whores live, so will Menander:
Artless Ennius, and brave-voiced Accius
have names that no time will erase.
What age will not know Varroís tale of the first ship,
and Jason leading the quest for the Golden Fleece?
Then, the works of sublime Lucretius will endure,
while thereís a day left till the worldís ruin.
Virgilís pastorals, and the Aeneid will be read,
while Rome triumphs over the world:
While Cupidís weapons are still the torch and arrows,
theyíll speak your measures, elegant Tibullus:
Gallus will be renowned in the west, Gallus in the east,
and Lycoris will be famous with her Gallus.
So, while granite, while the unyielding ploughshare
perish with the years, poetry will not die.
Leaders and countries yield to the triumphs of song,
and the lavish waters of gold-bearing Tagus yield!
Let the masses gaze at trash: let golden-haired Apollo
offer me a brimming cup of Castalian waters,
and Iíll wear a wreathe of myrtle, that hates the cold,
and be read by many an anxious lover!
Envy feeds on the living: itís quiet after death,
while everyone whoís dead gets their due honours.
So even when Iím given to the final flames,
Iíll live, and the better part of me will survive.

Trans. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2003


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