from ARS AMATORIA - III from THE ART OF LOVE - III
Ovidtrans. Len Krisak
Arma dedi Danais in Amazonas; arma supersunt,
Quae tibi dem et turmae, Penthesilea, tuae.
Ite in bella pares; vincant, quibus alma Dione
Faverit et toto qui volat orbe puer.
Non erat armatis aequum concurrere nudas;
Sic etiam vobis vincere turpe, viri.
Dixerit e multis aliquis 'quid virus in angues
Adicis, et rabidae tradis ovile lupae?'
Parcite paucarum diffundere crimen in omnes;
Spectetur meritis quaeque puella suis.
Si minor Atrides Helenen, Helenesque sororem
Quo premat Atrides crimine maior habet,
Si scelere Oeclides Talaioniae Eriphylae
Vivus et in vivis ad Styga venit equis,
Est pia Penelope lustris errante duobus
Et totidem lustris bella gerente viro.
Respice Phylaciden et quae comes isse marito
Fertur et ante annos occubuisse suos.
Fata Pheretiadae coniunx Pagasaea redemit:
Proque viro est uxor funere lata viri.
'Accipe me, Capaneu! cineres miscebimus' inquit
Iphias, in medios desiluitque rogos.
Ipsa quoque et cultu est et nomine femina Virtus:
Non mirum, populo si placet illa suo.
Nec tamen hae mentes nostra poscuntur ab arte:
Conveniunt cumbae vela minora meae.
Nil nisi lascivi per me discuntur amores;
Femina praecipiam quo sit amanda modo.
Femina nec flammas nec saevos excutit arcus;
Parcius haec video tela nocere viris.

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I've armed you Greeks against the Amazons, and mean
To do the same for them and for their queen.
Go battle equally! It's in Dione's hands
And in her son's, who flies through far-flung lands.
Defenceless women fighting men? It's not the same,
And victory would only bring men shame.
Now some might ask, 'Why give more venom to a snake,
Or lambs to she-wolves with a thirst to slake?'
Well, don't blame everyone for bad seed some have sown;
Instead, judge each young woman on her own.
True, Helen left poor Menelaus badly used,
And yes, her sister stood justly accused.
It's true as well Eriphyle once had her mate
Steed-drawn, to meet - alive - his Stygian fate.
But chaste Penelope stood by her wily lord,
Who ten long years had wandered, ten years warred.
Think of Protesilaus' wife, of whom it's said
She rushed to join her spouse but lately dead.
And then, Alcestis saved Admetus' forfeit life
By dying for him, like a perfect wife.
'O husband, let our ashes mix,' Evadne cried,
Then leapt upon the funeral pyre and died.
Virtue herself's a woman both by dress and name;
Plainly, she pleases those who seem the same.
Such minds are not required by the art I draft;
Less noble sails become its modest craft.
As I instruct the world in wanton love alone,
How men should love them, women will be shown.
And when do women shake their brands or brandish bows?
One seldom sees these used against male foes.

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Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Len Krisak 2003 - publ. P.N.Review Vol.30, No.1


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