from "ARS AMATORIA III", 769-812from "THE ART OF LOVE III", 769-812
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)tr. Peter Green
............
............
ulteriora pudet docuisse, sed alma Dione
praecipue nostrum est, quod pudet,' inquit 'opus.'
nota sibi sit quaeque; modos a corpore certos

sumite: non omnes una figura decet.
quae facie praesignis erit, resupina iaceto;
spectentur tergo, quis sua terga placent.
Milanion umeris Atalantes crura ferebat:
si bona sunt, hoc sunt aspicienda modo.
parua uehatur equo: quod erat longissima, numquam
Thebais Hectoreo nupta resedit equo.
strata premat genibus paulum ceruice reflexa
femina per longum conspicienda latus.
cui femur est iuuenale, carent quoque pectora menda,
stet uir, in obliquo fusa sit ipsa toro.
nec tibi turpe puta crinem, ut Phylleia mater,
soluere, et effusis colla reflecte comis.
tu quoque, cui rugis uterum Lucina notauit,
ut celer auersis utere Parthus equis.
mille ioci Veneris; simplex minimique laboris,
cum iacet in dextrum semisupina latus.
sed neque Phoebei tripodes nec corniger Ammon
uera magis uobis quam mea Musa canet;
si qua fides, arti, quam longo fecimus usu,
credite: praestabunt carmina nostra fidem.
sentiat ex imis Venerem resoluta medullis
femina, et ex aequo res iuuet illa duos.
nec blandae uoces iucundaque murmura cessent
nec taceant mediis improba uerba iocis.
tu quoque, cui Veneris sensum natura negauit,
dulcia mendaci gaudia finge sono.
(infelix, cui torpet hebes locus ille, puella,
quo pariter debent femina uirque frui.)
tantum, cum finges, ne sis manifesta, caueto:
effice per motum luminaque ipsa fidem.
quid iuuet, et uoces et anhelitus arguat oris;
a pudet! arcanas pars habet ista notas.
gaudia post Veneris quae poscet munus amantem,
illa suas nolet pondus habere preces.
nec lucem in thalamos totis admitte fenestris:
aptius in uestro corpore multa latent.
lusus habet finem: cycnis descendere tempus,
duxerunt collo qui iuga nostra suo.
ut quondan iuuenes, ita nunc, mea turba, puellae
inscribant spoliis NASO MAGISTER ERAT.
............
............
What's left I blush to tell you; but kindly Venus
Claims as uniquely hers
All that raises a blush. Each woman should know herself,
pick methods
To suit her body: one fashion won't do for all.
Let the girl with a pretty face lie supine, let the lady
Who boasts a good back be viewed
From behind. Milanion bore Atalanta's legs on
His shoulders: nice legs should always be used this way.
The petite should ride horse (Andromache, Hector's Theban
Bride, was too tall for these games: no jockey she);
If you're built like a fashion model, with willowy figure,
Then kneel on the bed, your neck
A little arched; the girl who has perfect legs and bosom
Should lie sideways on, and make her lover stand.
Don't blush to unbind your hair like some ecstatic maenad
And tumble long tresses about
Your upcurved throat. If childbirth's seamed your belly
With wrinkles, then offer a rear
Engagement, Parthian style. Sex has countless positions -
An easy and undemanding one is to lie
On your right side, half-reclining. Neither Delphi nor Ammon
Will tell you more truth than my Muse.
Long experience, if anything, should establish credit: trust my
Art, and let these verses speak for themselves!
A woman should melt with passion to her very marrow,
The act should give equal pleasure to them both:
Keep up a flow of seductive whispered endearments,
Use sexy taboo words while you're making love,
And if nature's denied you the gift of achieving a climax,
Moan as though you were coming, put on an act!
(The girl who can't feel down there is really unlucky,
Missing out on what both sexes should enjoy.)
Only take care that you make your performance convincing,
Thrash about in a frenzy, roll your eyes,
Let your cries and gasping breath suggest what pleasure
You're getting (that part has its own private signs).
After the pleasures of sex, though, don't try to dun your lover
For a present: such habits defeat
Their own ends. And don't open all the bedroom windows:
Much of your body is better left unseen.
Our sport is ended: high time to quit this creative venture,
Turn loose the swans that drew my poet's ear.
As once the young men, so now let my girl-disciples
Inscribe their trophies: Ovid was my guide.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Green, 1982 - publ. Penguin Classics


...buy this book
next
index
translator's next