from ARS AMATORIA - I HIS TASK
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) trans. A. S. Kline
Siquis in hoc artem populo non novŪt amandi,
Hoc legat et lecto carmine doctus amet.
Arte citae veloque rates remoque moventur,
Arte leves currus: arte regendus amor.
Curribus Automedon lentisque erat aptus habenis,
Tiphys in Haemonia puppe magister erat:
Me Venus artificem tenero praefecit Amori;
Tiphys et Automedon dicar Amoris ego.
Ille quidem ferus est et qui mihi saepe repugnet:
Sed puer est, aetas mollis et apta regi.
Phillyrides puerum cithara perfecit Achillem,
Atque animos placida contudit arte feros.
Qui totiens socios, totiens exterruit hostes,
Creditur annosum pertimuisse senem.
Quas Hector sensurus erat, poscente magistro
Verberibus iussas praebuit ille manus.
Aeacidae Chiron, ego sum praeceptor Amoris:
Saevus uterque puer, natos uterque dea.
Sed tamen et tauri cervix oneratur aratro,
Frenaque magnanimi dente teruntur equi;
Et mihi cedet Amor, quamvis mea vulneret arcu
Pectora, iactatas excutiatque faces.
Quo me fixit Amor, quo me violentius ussit,
Hoc melior facti vulneris ultor ero:
Non ego, Phoebe, datas a te mihi mentiar artes,
Nec nos aeriae voce monemur avis,
Nec mihi sunt visae Clio Cliusque sorores
Servanti pecudes vallibus, Ascra, tuis:
Usus opus movet hoc: vati parete perito;
Vera canam: coeptis, mater Amoris, ades!
Este procul, vittae tenues, insigne pudoris,
Quaeque tegis medios, instita longa, pedes.
Nos venerem tutam concessaque furta canemus,
Inque meo nullum carmine crimen erit.
Principio, quod amare velis, reperire labora,
Qui nova nunc primum miles in arma venis.
Proximus huic labor est placitam exorare puellam:
Tertius, ut longo tempore duret amor.
Hic modus, haec nostro signabitur area curru:
Haec erit admissa meta terenda rota.

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Should anyone here not know the art of love,
read this, and learn by reading how to love.
By art the boatís set gliding, with oar and sail,
by art the chariotís swift: loveís ruled by art.
Automedon was skilled with Achillesís chariot reins,
Tiphys in Thessaly was steersman of the Argo,
Venus appointed me as guide to gentle Love:
Iíll be known as Loveís Tiphys, and Automedon.
Itís true Loveís wild, and one who often flouts me:
but heís a child of tender years, fit to be ruled.
Chiron made the young Achilles perfect at the lyre,
and tempered his wild spirits through peaceful art.
He, who so terrified his enemies and friends,
they say he greatly feared the aged Centaur.
That hand that Hector was destined to know,
was held out, at his masterís orders, to be flogged.
I am Loveís teacher as Chiron was Achillesís,
both wild boys, both children of a goddess.
Yet the bullockís neck is bowed beneath the yoke,
and the spirited horseís teeth worn by the bit.
And Love will yield to me, though with his bow
he wounds my heart, shakes at me his burning torch.
The more he pierces me, the more violently he burns me,
so much the fitter am I to avenge the wounds.
Nor will I falsely say you gave me the art, Apollo,
no voice from a heavenly bird gives me advice,
I never caught sight of Clio or Clioís sisters
while herding the flocks, Ascra, in your valleys:
Experience prompts this work: listen to the expert poet:
I sing true: Venus, help my venture!
Far away from here, you badges of modesty,
the thin headband, the ankle-covering dress.
I sing of safe love, permissible intrigue,
and thereíll be nothing sinful in my song.
Now the first task for you who come as a raw recruit
is to find out who you might wish to love.
The next task is to make sure that she likes you:
the third, to see to it that the love will last.
Thatís my aim, thatís the ground my chariot will cover:
thatís the post my thundering wheels will scrape.

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Trans. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2003


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