P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Primus Translated by Christopher Marlowe

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Primus (Book 1)

Translated by Christopher Marlowe

Ovid's Amores Elegies

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia I.

Quemadmodum a Cupidine, pro bellis amoris scribere coactus sit.

We which were Ovid’s five books, now are three,
For these before the rest preferreth he:
If reading five thou plain’st of tediousness,
Two ta’en away, thy[128] labour will be less;

With Muse prepared,[129] I meant to sing of arms,
Choosing a subject fit for fierce alarms:
Both verses were alike till Love (men say)
Began to smile and took one foot away.
Rash boy, who gave thee power to change a line?
We are the Muses’ prophets, none of thine.
What, if thy mother take Diana’s[130] bow,
Shall Dian fan when love begins to glow?
In woody groves is’t meet that Ceres reign,
And quiver-bearing Dian till the plain?
Who’ll set the fair-tressed Sun in battle-ray
While Mars doth take the Aonian harp to play?
Great are thy kingdoms, over-strong and large,
Ambitious imp, why seek’st thou further charge?
Are all things thine? the Muses’ Tempe thine?
Then scarce can Phœbus say, “This harp is mine.”
When[131] in this work’s first verse I trod aloft,
Love slaked my muse, and made my numbers soft:
I have no mistress nor no favourite,
Being fittest matter for a wanton wit.
Thus I complained, but Love unlocked his quiver,
Took out the shaft, ordained my heart to shiver,
And bent his sinewy bow upon his knee,
Saying, “Poet, here’s a work beseeming thee.”
O, woe is me! he never shoots but hits,
I burn, love in my idle bosom sits:
Let my first verse be six, my last five feet:
Farewell stern war, for blunter poets meet!
Elegian muse, that warblest amorous lays,
Girt my shine[132] brow with seabank myrtle sprays.[133]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[128] So the Isham copy. Ed. A. “the.”

[129] Isham copy and ed. A. “vpreard, I meane.”

[130] The original has—

“Quid? si præripiat flavæ Venus arma Minervæ
Ventilet accensas flavæ Minerva comas.”


“Cum bene surrexit versu nova pagina, primo!
At tenuat nervos proximus ille meos.”

[132] Sheen.

[133] Dyce’s correction for “praise” of the old eds.

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia II.

Quod primo amore correptus, in triumphum duci se a Cupidine patiatur.

What makes my bed seem hard seeing it is soft?
Or why slips down the coverlet so oft?
Although the nights be long I sleep not tho[134]
My sides are sore with tumbling to and fro.
Were love the cause it’s like I should descry him,
Or lies he close and shoots where none can spy him?
‘Twas so; he strook me with a slender dart;
‘Tis cruel Love turmoils my captive heart.
Yielding or striving[135] do we give him might,
Let’s yield, a burden easily borne is light.
I saw a brandished fire increase in strength,
Which being not shak’d, I saw it die at length.
Young oxen newly yoked are beaten more,
Than oxen which have drawn the plough before:
And rough jades’ mouths with stubborn bits are torn,
But managed horses’ heads are lightly borne.[136]
Unwilling lovers, love doth more torment,
Than such as in their bondage feel content.
Lo! I confess, I am thy captive I,

And hold my conquered hands for thee to tie.
What need’st thou war? I sue to thee for grace:
With arms to conquer armless men is base.
Yoke Venus’ Doves, put myrtle on thy hair,
Vulcan will give thee chariots rich and fair:
The people thee applauding, thou shalt stand,
Guiding the harmless pigeons with thy hand.
Young men and women shalt thou lead as thrall,
So will thy triumph seem magnifical;
I, lately caught, will have a new-made wound,
And captive-like be manacled and bound:
Good meaning, Shame, and such as seek Love’s wrack
Shall follow thee, their hands tied at their back.
Thee all shall fear, and worship as a king
Iö triumphing shall thy people sing.
Smooth speeches, Fear and Rage shall by thee ride,
Which troops have always been on Cupid’s side;
Thou with these soldiers conquer’st gods and men,
Take these away, where is thine honour then?
Thy mother shall from heaven applaud this show,
And on their faces heaps of roses strow,
With beauty of thy wings, thy fair hair gilded,[137]
Ride golden Love in chariots richly builded!
Unless I err, full many shalt thou burn,
And give wounds infinite at every turn.
In spite of thee, forth will thine arrows fly,
A scorching flame burns all the standers by.
So, having conquered Inde, was Bacchus’ hue;
Thee pompous birds and him two tigers drew;
Then seeing I grace thy show in following thee,
Forbear to hurt thyself in spoiling me.
Behold thy kinsman[138] Cæsar’s prosperous bands,
Who guards the[139] conquered with his conquering hands.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[134] Then.

[135] So the Isham copy and ed. A. Other eds. “struggling.”

[136]Frena minus sentit quisquis ad arma facit.”—Marlowe’s line strongly supports the view that “bear hard” in Julius Cæsar means “curb, keep a tight rein over” (hence “eye with suspicion”). Cf. Christopher Clifford’s School of Horsemanship (1585):—”But the most part of horses takes it [a ‘wil of his owne’] through the unskilfulnesse of the rider by bearing too hard a hand upon them,” p. 35.

[137] “Our poet’s copy of Ovid had ‘Tu penna pulchros gemina variante capillos.'”—Dyce. (The true reading “Tu pennas gemma, gemma, variante capillos.”)

[138] Old eds. “kinsmans.”

[139] Old eds. “thee.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia III.

Ad amicam.

I ask but right, let her that caught me late,
Either love, or cause that I may never hate;
I crave[140] too much—would she but let me love her;
Jove knows with such-like prayers I daily move her.
Accept him that shall serve thee all his youth,
Accept him that shall love with spotless truth.
If lofty titles cannot make[141] me thine,
That am descended but of knightly line,
(Soon may you plough the little land I have;
I gladly grant my parents given to save;[142])
Apollo, Bacchus, and the Muses may;
And Cupid who hath marked me for thy prey;
My spotless life, which but to gods gives place,
Naked simplicity, and modest grace.
I love but one, and her I love change never,
If men have faith, I’ll live with thee for ever.
The years that fatal Destiny shall give
I’ll live with thee, and die ere thou shalt grieve.
Be thou the happy subject of my books
That I may write things worthy thy fair looks.
By verses, horned Iö got her name;
And she to whom in shape of swan[143] Jove came;
And she that on a feigned Bull swam to land,
Griping his false horns with her virgin hand,
So likewise we will through the world be rung
And with my name shall thine be always sung.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[140] Isham copy “aske.”

[141] Ed. A. “cause me to be thine.”

[142] “Temperat et sumptus parcus uterque parens.”

[143] Isham copy and ed. A. “Bull.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia IV.[144]

Amicam, qua arte quibusque nutibus in cæna, presente viro, uti debeat, admonet.

Thy husband to a banquet goes with me,
Pray God it may his latest supper be.
Shall I sit gazing as a bashful guest,
While others touch the damsel I love best?
Wilt lying under him, his bosom clip?
About thy neck shall he at pleasure skip?
Marvel not, though the fair bride did incite
The drunken Centaurs to a sudden fight.
I am no half horse, nor in woods I dwell,
Yet scarce my hands from thee contain I well.
But how thou should’st behave thyself now know,
Nor let the winds away my warnings blow.
Before thy husband come, though I not see
What may be done, yet there before him be.
Lie with him gently, when his limbs he spread
Upon the bed; but on my foot first tread.
View me, my becks, and speaking countenance;
Take, and return[145] each secret amorous glance.
Words without voice shall on my eyebrows sit,
Lines thou shalt read in wine by my hand writ.
When our lascivious toys come to thy mind,
Thy rosy cheeks be to thy thumb inclined.
If aught of me thou speak’st in inward thought,
Let thy soft finger to thy ear be brought.
When I, my light, do or say aught that please thee,
Turn round thy gold ring, as it were to ease thee.
Strike on the board like them that pray for evil,
When thou dost wish thy husband at the devil.[146]
What wine he fills thee, wisely will[147] him drink;
Ask thou the boy, what thou enough dost think.
When thou hast tasted, I will take the cup,
And where thou drink’st, on that part I will sup.
If he gives thee what first himself did taste,
Even in his face his offered gobbets[148] cast.
Let not thy neck by his vile arms be prest,
Nor lean thy soft head on his boisterous breast.
Thy bosom’s roseate buds let him not finger,
Chiefly on thy lips let not his lips linger
If thou givest kisses, I shall all disclose,[149]
Say they are mine, and hands on thee impose.
Yet this I’ll see, but if thy gown aught cover,
Suspicious fear in all my veins will hover.
Mingle not thighs, nor to his leg join thine,
Nor thy soft foot with his hard foot combine.
I have been wanton, therefore am perplexed,
And with mistrust of the like measure vexed.
I and my wench oft under clothes did lurk,
When pleasure moved us to our sweetest work.
Do not thou so; but throw thy mantle hence,
Lest I should think thee guilty of offence.
Entreat thy husband drink, but do not kiss,
And while he drinks, to add more do not miss;
If he lies down with wine and sleep opprest,
The thing and place shall counsel us the rest.
When to go homewards we rise all along
Have care to walk in middle of the throng.
There will I find thee or be found by thee,
There touch whatever thou canst touch of me.
Ay me! I warn what profits some few hours!
But we must part, when heaven with black night lours.
At night thy husband clips[150] thee: I will weep
And to the doors sight of thyself [will] keep:
Then will he kiss thee, and not only kiss,
But force thee give him my stolen honey-bliss.
Constrained against thy will give it the peasant,
Forbear sweet words, and be your sport unpleasant.
To him I pray it no delight may bring,
Or if it do, to thee no joy thence spring.
But, though this night thy fortune be to try it,
To me to-morrow constantly deny[151] it.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[144] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[145] So Dyce; old eds. “receive.”

[146] “Optabis merito cum mala multa viro.”

[147] “Bibat ipse jubeto.”

[148] So Dyce for “goblets” of the old eds. (“Rejice libatos illius ore cibos.”)

[149] “Fiam manifestus adulter.”

[150] The original has “Nocte vir includet.”

[151] “Dedisse nega.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia V.

Corinnæ concubitus.

In summer’s heat, and mid-time of the day,
To rest my limbs upon a bed I lay;
One window shut, the other open stood,
Which gave such light as twinkles in a wood,
Like twilight glimpse at setting of the sun,
Or night being past, and yet not day begun;
Such light to shamefaced maidens must be shown
Where they may sport, and seem to be unknown:
Then came Corinna in a long loose gown,
Her white neck hid with tresses hanging down,
Resembling fair Semiramis going to bed,
Or Lais of a thousand wooers sped.[152]
I snatched her gown: being thin, the harm was small,
Yet strived she to be covered therewithal;
And striving thus, as one that would be cast,
Betrayed herself, and yielded at the last.
Stark naked as she stood before mine eye,
Not one wen in her body could I spy.
What arms and shoulders did I touch and see!
How apt her breasts were to be pressed by me!
How smooth a belly under her waist saw I,
How large a leg, and what a lusty thigh!
To leave the rest, all liked me passing well;
I clinged her naked[153] body, down she fell:
Judge you the rest; being tired she bade me kiss;
Jove send me more such afternoons as this!

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[152] Isham copy and ed. A. “spread.”

[153] Ed. A. “her faire white body.” (“Et nudam pressi corpus ad usque meum.”)

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VI.[154]

Ad Janitorem, ut fores sibi aperiat.

Unworthy porter, bound in chains full sore,
On movèd hooks set ope the churlish door.
Little I ask, a little entrance make,
The gate half-ope my bent side in will take.
Long love my body to such use make[s] slender,
And to get out doth like apt members render.
He shows me how unheard to pass the watch,
And guides my feet lest, stumbling, falls they catch:
But in times past I feared vain shades, and night,
Wondering if any walkèd without light.
Love, hearing it, laughed with his tender mother,
And smiling said, “Be thou as bold as other.”
Forthwith love came; no dark night-flying sprite,
Nor hands prepared to slaughter, me affright.
Thee fear I too much: only thee I flatter:
Thy lightning can my life in pieces batter.
Why enviest me? this hostile den[155] unbar;
See how the gates with my tears watered are!
When thou stood’st naked ready to be beat,
For thee I did thy mistress fair entreat.
But what entreats for thee sometimes[156] took place,
(O mischief!) now for me obtain small grace.
Gratis thou mayest be free; give like for like;
Night goes away: the door’s bar backward strike.
Strike; so again hard chains shall bind thee never,
Nor servile water shalt thou drink for ever.
Hard-hearted Porter, dost and wilt not hear?
With stiff oak propped the gate doth still appear.
Such rampired gates besiegèd cities aid;
In midst of peace why art of arms afraid?
Exclud’st a lover, how would’st use a foe?
Strike back the bar, night fast away doth go.
With arms or armèd men I come not guarded;
I am alone, were furious love discarded.
Although I would, I cannot him cashier,
Before I be divided from my gear.[157]
See Love with me, wine moderate in my brain,
And on my hairs a crown of flowers remain.
Who fears these arms? who will not go to meet them?
Night runs away; with open entrance greet them.
Art careless? or is’t sleep forbids thee hear,
Giving the winds my words running in thine ear?
Well I remember, when I first did hire thee,
Watching till after midnight did not tire thee.
But now perchance thy wench with thee doth rest,
Ah, how thy lot is above my lot blest:
Though it be so, shut me not out therefore;
Night goes away: I pray thee ope the door.
Err we? or do the turnèd hinges sound,
And opening doors with creaking noise abound?[158]
We err: a strong blast seemed the gates to ope:
Ay me, how high that gale did lift my hope!
If Boreas bears[159] Orithyia’s rape in mind,
Come break these deaf doors with thy boisterous wind.
Silent the city is: night’s dewy host[160]
March fast away: the bar strike from the post.
Or I more stern than fire or sword will turn,
And with my brand these gorgeous houses burn.
Night, love, and wine to all extremes persuade:
Night, shameless wine, and love are fearless made.
All have I spent: no threats or prayers move thee;
O harder than the doors thou guard’st I prove thee,
No pretty wench’s keeper may’st thou be,
The careful prison is more meet for thee.
Now frosty night her flight begins to take,
And crowing cocks poor souls to work awake.
But thou, my crown, from sad hairs ta’en away,
On this hard threshold till the morning lay.
That when my mistress there beholds thee cast,
She may perceive how we the time did waste.
Whate’er thou art, farewell, be like me pained!
Careless farewell, with my fault not distained![161]
And farewell cruel posts, rough threshold’s block,
And doors conjoined with an hard iron lock!

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[154] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[155] Old eds. “dende.”

[156] Sometime (“quondam”).

[157] “Ante vel a membris dividar ipse meis.”

[158] Qy. “rebound?”

[159] Dyce reads, “If, Boreas, bear’st” (i.e., “thou bear’st”). But the change in the old eds. from the second to the third person is not very harsh.

[160] A picturesque rendering of

“Vitreoque madentia rore
Tempora noctis eunt.”

[161] “Lente nec admisso turpis amante … vale.” Of course “nec” should be taken with “admisso.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VII.[162]

Ad pacandam amicam, quam verberaverat.

Bind fast my hands, they have deservèd chains,
While rage is absent, take some friend the pains.
For rage against my wench moved my rash arm,
My mistress weeps whom my mad hand did harm.
I might have then my parents dear misused,
Or holy gods with cruel strokes abused.
Why, Ajax, master of the seven-fold shield,
Butchered the flocks he found in spacious field.
And he who on his mother venged his ire,

Against the Destinies durst sharp[163] darts require.
Could I therefore her comely tresses tear?
Yet was she gracèd with her ruffled hair.
So fair she was, Atalanta she resembled,
Before whose bow th’ Arcadian wild beasts trembled.
Such Ariadne was, when she bewails,
Her perjured Theseus’ flying vows and sails.
So, chaste Minerva, did Cassandra fall
Deflowered[164] except within thy temple wall.
That I was mad, and barbarous all men cried:
She nothing said; pale fear her tongue had tied.
But secretly her looks with checks did trounce me,
Her tears, she silent, guilty did pronounce me.
Would of mine arms my shoulders had been scanted:
Better I could part of myself have wanted.
To mine own self have I had strength so furious,
And to myself could I be so injurious?
Slaughter and mischiefs instruments, no better,
Deservèd chains these cursed hands shall fetter.
Punished I am, if I a Roman beat:
Over my mistress is my right more great?
Tydides left worst signs[165] of villainy;
He first a goddess struck: another I.
Yet he harmed less; whom I professed to love
I harmed: a foe did Diomede’s anger move.
Go now, thou conqueror, glorious triumphs raise,
Pay vows to Jove; engirt thy hairs with bays.
And let the troops which shall thy chariot follow,
“Iö, a strong man conquered this wench,” hollow.
Let the sad captive foremost, with locks spread
On her white neck, but for hurt cheeks,[166] be led.
Meeter it were her lips were blue with kissing,
And on her neck a wanton’s[167] mark not missing.
But, though I like a swelling flood was driven,
And as a prey unto blind anger given,
Was’t not enough the fearful wench to chide?
Nor thunder, in rough threatenings, haughty pride?
Nor shamefully her coat pull o’er her crown,
Which to her waist her girdle still kept down?
But cruelly her tresses having rent,
My nails to scratch her lovely cheeks I bent.
Sighing she stood, her bloodless white looks shewed,
Like marble from the Parian mountains hewed.
Her half-dead joints, and trembling limbs I saw,
Like poplar leaves blown with a stormy flaw.
Or slender ears, with gentle zephyr shaken,
Or waters’ tops with the warm south-wind taken.
And down her cheeks, the trickling tears did flow,
Like water gushing from consuming snow.
Then first I did perceive I had offended;
My blood the tears were that from her descended.
Before her feet thrice prostrate down I fell,
My fearèd hands thrice back she did repel.
But doubt thou not (revenge doth grief appease),
With thy sharp nails upon my face to seize;
Bescratch mine eyes, spare not my locks to break
(Anger will help thy hands though ne’er so weak);
And lest the sad signs of my crime remain,
Put in their place thy kembèd[168] hairs again.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[162] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[163] I should like to omit this word, to which there is nothing to correspond in the original.

[164] Marlowe has misunderstood the original “Sic nisi vittatis quod erat Cassandra capillis.”

[165] “Pessima Tydides scelerum monumenta reliquit.”

[166] An awkward translation of

“Si sinerent læsæ, candidia tota, genæ.”

[167] So ed. B.—Ed. C. “wanton.”

[168] Old eds. “keembed.” (“Pone recompositas in statione comas.”)

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VIII.[169]

Execratur lenam quæ puellam suam meretricis arte instituebat.

There is—whoe’er will know a bawd aright,
Give ear—there is an old trot Dipsas hight.[170]
Her name comes from the thing: she being wise,[171]
Sees not the morn on rosy horses rise,
She magic arts and Thessal charms doth know,
And makes large streams back to their fountains flow;
She knows with grass, with threads on wrung[172] wheels spun,
And what with mares’ rank humour[173] may be done.
When she will, cloudes the darkened heaven obscure,
When she will, day shines everywhere most pure.
If I have faith, I saw the stars drop blood,
The purple moon with sanguine visage stood;
Her I suspect among night’s spirits to fly,
And her old body in birds’ plumes to lie.
Fame saith as I suspect; and in her eyes,
Two eyeballs shine, and double light thence flies.
Great grandsires from their ancient graves she chides,
And with long charms the solid earth divides.
She draws chaste women to incontinence,
Nor doth her tongue want harmful eloquence.
By chance I heard her talk; these words she said,
While closely hid betwixt two doors I laid.
“Mistress, thou knowest thou hast a blest youth pleased,
He stayed and on thy looks his gazes seized.
And why should’st not please; none thy face exceeds;
Ay me, thy body hath no worthy weeds!
As thou art fair, would thou wert fortunate!
Wert thou rich, poor should not be my state.
Th’ opposèd star of Mars hath done thee harm;
Now Mars is gone, Venus thy side doth warm,
And brings good fortune; a rich lover plants
His love on thee, and can supply thy wants.
Such is his form as may with thine compare,
Would he not buy thee, thou for him should’st care.”[174]
She blushed: “Red shame becomes white cheeks; but this
If feigned, doth well; if true, it doth amiss.
When on thy lap thine eyes thou dost deject,
Each one according to his gifts respect.
Perhaps the Sabines rude, when Tatius reigned
To yield their love to more than one disdained.
Now Mars doth rage abroad without all pity,
And Venus rules in her Æneas’ city.
Fair women play; she’s chaste whom none will have
Or, but for bashfulness, herself would crave.
Shake off these wrinkles that thy front assault;
Wrinkles in beauty is a grievous fault.
Penelope in bows her youths’ strength tried,
Of horn the bow was that approved[175] their side.
Time flying slides hence closely, and deceives us,
And with swift horses the swift year[176] soon leaves us.
Brass shines with use; good garments would[177] be worn;
Houses not dwelt in, are with filth forlorn.
Beauty, not exercised, with age is spent,
Nor one or two men are sufficient.
Many to rob is more sure, and less hateful,
From dog-kept flocks come preys to wolves most grateful.
Behold, what gives the poet but new verses?
And therefore many thousand he rehearses.
The poet’s god arrayed in robes of gold,
Of his gilt harp the well-tuned strings doth hold.
Let Homer yield to such as presents bring,
(Trust me) to give, it is a witty thing.
Nor, so thou may’st obtain a wealthy prize,
The vain name of inferior slaves despise.
Nor let the arms of ancient lines[178] beguile thee;
Poor lover, with thy grandsires I exile thee.
Who seeks, for being fair, a night to have,
What he will give, with greater instance crave.
Make a small price, while thou thy nets dost lay;
Lest they should fly; being ta’en, the tyrant play.
Dissemble so, as loved he may be thought,
And take heed lest he gets that love for naught.
Deny him oft; feign now thy head doth ache:
And Isis now will show what ‘scuse to make.
Receive him soon, lest patient use he gain,
Or lest his love oft beaten back should wane.
To beggars shut, to bringers ope thy gate;
Let him within hear barred-out lovers prate.
And, as first wronged, the wrongèd sometimes banish;
Thy fault with his fault so repulsed will vanish.
But never give a spacious time to ire;
Anger delayed doth oft to hate retire.
And let thine eyes constrainèd learn to weep,
That this or that man may thy cheeks moist keep.
Nor, if thou cozenest one, dread to forswear,
Venus to mocked men lends a senseless ear.
Servants fit for thy purpose thou must hire,
To teach thy lover what thy thoughts desire.
Let them ask somewhat; many asking little,
Within a while great heaps grow of a tittle.
And sister, nurse, and mother spare him not;
By many hands great wealth is quickly got.
When causes fail thee to require a gift
By keeping of thy birth, make but a shift.
Beware lest he, unrivalled, loves secure;
Take strife away, love doth not well endure.
On all the bed men’s tumbling[179] let him view,
And thy neck with lascivious marks made blue.
Chiefly show him the gifts, which others send:
If he gives nothing, let him from thee wend.0
When thou hast so much as he gives no more,
Pray him to lend what thou may’st ne’er restore.
Let thy tongue flatter, while thy mind harm works;
Under sweet honey deadly poison lurks.
If this thou dost, to me by long use known,
(Nor let my words be with the winds hence blown)
Oft thou wilt say, ‘live well;’ thou wilt pray oft,
That my dead bones may in their grave lie soft.”
As thus she spake, my shadow me betrayed;
With much ado my hands I scarcely stayed;
But her blear eyes, bald scalp’s thin hoary fleeces,
And rivelled[180] cheeks I would have pulled a-pieces.
The gods send thee no house, a poor old age,
Perpetual thirst, and winter’s lasting rage.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[169] Not in Isham copy or ed A.

[170] “Est quædam, nomine Dipsas, anus.”


“Nigri non illa parentem
Memnonis in roseis sobria vidit equis.”

Cunningham suggests that “wise” was “one of the thousand and one euphemisms for ‘inebriated.'”

[172] The spelling in old eds. is “wrong.”

[173] “Virus amantis equæ.”

[174] “Si te non emptam vellet emendus erat.” (Marlowe’s copy must have read “amandus.”)

[175] Proved their strength. “Qui latus argueret corneus arcus erat.”

[176] The usual reading is “Ut celer admissis labitur amnis aquis.”

[177] “Vestis bona quaerit haberi.”

[178] Old eds. “liues.”

[179] “Ille viri toto videat vestigia lecto.”

[180]Rugosas genas.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia IX.[181]

Ad Atticum, amantem non oportere desidiosum esse, sicuti nec militem.

All lovers war, and Cupid hath his tent;
Attic, all lovers are to war far sent,
What age fits Mars, with Venus doth agree;
‘Tis shame for eld in war or love to be.
What years in soldiers captains do require,
Those in their lovers pretty maids desire.
Both of them watch: each on the hard earth sleeps:
His mistress’ door this, that his captain’s keeps.
Soldiers must travel far: the wench forth send,[182]
Her valiant lover follows without end.
Mounts, and rain-doubled floods he passeth over,
And treads the desert snowy heaps do[183] cover.
Going to sea, east winds he doth not chide,
Nor to hoist sail attends fit time and tide.
Who but a soldier or a lover’s bold
To suffer storm-mixed snows with night’s sharp cold?
One as a spy doth to his enemies go,
The other eyes his rival as his foe.
He cities great, this thresholds lies before:
This breaks town gates, but he his mistress’ door.
Oft to invade the sleeping foe ’tis good,
And armed to shed unarmèd people’s blood.
So the fierce troops of Thracian Rhesus fell,
And captive horses bade their lord farewell.
Sooth,[184] lovers watch till sleep the husband charms,
Who slumbering, they rise up in swelling arms.
The keepers’ hands[185] and corps-du-gard to pass,
The soldier’s, and poor lover’s work e’er was.
Doubtful is war and love; the vanquished rise,
And who thou never think’st should fall, down lies.
Therefore whoe’er love slothfulness doth call,
Let him surcease: love tries wit best of all.
Achilles burned, Briseis being ta’en away;
Trojans destroy the Greek wealth, while you may.
Hector to arms went from his wife’s embraces,
And on Andromache[186] his helmet laces.
Great Agamemnon was, men say, amazed,
On Priam’s loose-trest daughter when he gazed.
Mars in the deed the blacksmith’s net did stable;
In heaven was never more notorious fable.
Myself was dull and faint, to sloth inclined;
Pleasure and ease had mollified my mind.
A fair maid’s care expelled this sluggishness,
And to her tents willed me myself address.
Since may’st thou see me watch and night-wars move:
He that will not grow slothful, let him love.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[181] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[182] “Mitte puellam.”

[183] Old eds. “to.”

[184] So ed. B.—Ed. C “such.”

[185] “Custodum transire manus vigilumque catervas.” (For “hands” the poet should have written “bands.”)

[186] “Et galeam capiti quae daret uxor erat.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia X.[187]

Ad puellam, ne pro amore præmia poscat.

Such as the cause was of two husbands’ war,
Whom Trojan ships fetch’d from Europa far,
Such as was Leda, whom the god deluded
In snow-white plumes of a false swan included.
Such as Amymone through the dry fields strayed,
When on her head a water pitcher laid.
Such wert thou, and I feared the bull and eagle,
And whate’er Love made Jove, should thee inveigle.
Now all fear with my mind’s hot love abates:
No more this beauty mine eyes captivates.
Ask’st why I change? because thou crav’st reward;
This cause hath thee from pleasing me debarred.
While thou wert plain[188] I loved thy mind and face:
Now inward faults thy outward form disgrace.
Love is a naked boy, his years saunce[189] stain,
And hath no clothes, but open doth remain.
Will you for gain have Cupid sell himself?
He hath no bosom where to hide base pelf.
Love[190] and Love’s son are with fierce arms at[191] odds;
To serve for pay beseems not wanton gods.
The whore stands to be bought for each man’s money,
And seeks vild wealth by selling of her coney.
Yet greedy bawd’s command she curseth still,
And doth, constrained, what you do of goodwill.
Take from irrational beasts a precedent;
‘Tis shame their wits should be more excellent.
The mare asks not the horse, the cow the bull,
Nor the mild ewe gifts from the ram doth pull.
Only a woman gets spoils from a man,

Farms out herself on nights for what she can;
And lets[192] what both delight, what both desire,
Making her joy according to her hire.
The sport being such, as both alike sweet try it,
Why should one sell it and the other buy it?
Why should I lose, and thou gain by the pleasure,
Which man and woman reap in equal measure?
Knights of the post[193] of perjuries make sale,
The unjust judge for bribes becomes a stale.
‘Tis shame sold tongues the guilty should defend,
Or great wealth from a judgment-seat ascend.
‘Tis shame to grow rich by bed-merchandise,[194]
Or prostitute thy beauty for bad price.
Thanks worthily are due for things unbought;
For beds ill-hired we are indebted nought.
The hirer payeth all; his rent discharged,
From further duty he rests then enlarged.
Fair dames forbear rewards for nights to crave:
Ill-gotten goods good end will never have.
The Sabine gauntlets were too dearly won,
That unto death did press the holy nun.
The son slew her, that forth to meet him went,
And a rich necklace caused that punishment.
Yet think no scorn to ask a wealthy churl;
He wants no gifts into thy lap to hurl.
Take clustered grapes from an o’er-laden vine,
May[195] bounteous love[196] Alcinous’ fruit resign.
Let poor men show their service, faith and care;
All for their mistress, what they have, prepare.
In verse to praise kind wenches ’tis my part,
And whom I like eternise by mine art.
Garments do wear, jewels and gold do waste,
The fame that verse gives doth for ever last.
To give I love, but to be asked disdain;
Leave asking, and I’ll give what I refrain.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[187] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[188] “Simplex.”

[189] Sans.

[190] “Nec Venus apta,” &c.

[191] Old eds. “to.”

[192] “Vendit.”

[193] “Non bene conducti testes.”

[194] So ed. B.—ed. C “bad merchandise.”

[195] Old eds. “many.”

[196] The original has “ager.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XI.[197]

Napen alloquitur, ut paratas tabellas ad Corinnam perferat.

In skilful gathering ruffled hairs in order,
Napè, free-born, whose cunning hath no border,[198]
Thy service for night’s scapes is known commodious,
And to give signs dull wit to thee is odious.[199]
Corinna clips me oft by thy persuasion:
Never to harm me made thy faith evasion.
Receive these lines; them to my mistress carry;
Be sedulous; let no stay cause thee tarry,
Nor flint nor iron are in thy soft breast,
But pure simplicity in thee doth rest.
And ’tis supposed Love’s bow hath wounded thee;
Defend the ensigns of thy war in me.
If what I do, she asks, say “hope for night;”
The rest my hand doth in my letters write.
Time passeth while I speak; give her my writ,
But see that forthwith she peruseth it.
I charge thee mark her eyes and front in reading:
By speechless looks we guess at things succeeding.
Straight being read, will her to write much back,
I hate fair paper should writ matter lack.
Let her make verses and some blotted letter
On the last edge to stay mine eyes the better.
What needs she tire[200] her hand to hold the quill?
Let this word “Come,” alone the tables fill.
Then with triumphant laurel will I grace them
And in the midst of Venus’ temple place them,
Subscribing, that to her I consecrate
My faithful tables, being vile maple late.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[197] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[198] Bound.

[199] “Et dandis ingeniosa notis.”

[200] So Dyce for “try” of the old eds.

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XII.[201]

Tabellas quas miserat execratur quod amica noctem negabat.

Bewail my chance: the sad book is returned,
This day denial hath my sport adjourned.
Presages are not vain; when she departed,
Napè by stumbling on the threshold, started.
Going out again, pass forth the door more wisely,
And somewhat higher bear thy foot precisely.
Hence luckless tables! funeral wood, be flying!
And thou, the wax, stuffed full with notes denying!
Which I think gathered from cold hemlock’s flower,
Wherein bad honey Corsic bees did pour:
Yet as if mixed with red lead thou wert ruddy,
That colour rightly did appear so bloody.
As evil wood, thrown in the highways, lie,
Be broke with wheels of chariots passing by!
And him that hewed you out for needful uses,
I’ll prove had hands impure with all abuses.
Poor wretches on the tree themselves did strangle:
There sat the hangman for men’s necks to angle.
To hoarse scrich-owls foul shadows it allows;
Vultures and Furies[202] nestled in the boughs.
To these my love I foolishly committed,
And then with sweet words to my mistress fitted.
More fitly had they[203] wrangling bonds contained
From barbarous lips of some attorney strained.
Among day-books and bills they had lain better,
In which the merchant wails his bankrupt debtor.
Your name approves you made for such like things,
The number two no good divining brings.
Angry, I pray that rotten age you racks,
And sluttish white-mould overgrow the wax.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[201] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[202] “Volturis in ramis et strigis ova tulit.”

[203] Old eds. “thy.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIII.

Ad Auroram ne properet.

Now o’er the sea from her old love comes she
That draws the day from heaven’s cold axletree.
Aurora, whither slid’st thou? down again!
And birds for[204] Memnon yearly shall be slain.
Now in her tender arms I sweetly bide,
If ever, now well lies she by my side.
The air is cold, and sleep is sweetest now,
And birds send forth shrill notes from every bough.
Whither runn’st thou, that men and women love not?
Hold in thy rosy horses that they move not.
Ere thou rise, stars teach seamen where to sail,
But when thou com’st, they of their courses fail.
Poor travellers though tired, rise at thy sight,
And[205] soldiers make them ready to the fight.
The painful hind by thee to field is sent;
Slow oxen early in the yoke are pent.
Thou coz’nest boys of sleep, and dost betray them
To pedants that with cruel lashes pay them.
Thou mak’st the surety to the lawyer run,
That with one word hath nigh himself undone.
The lawyer and the client hate thy view,
Both whom thou raisest up to toil anew.
By thy means women of their rest are barred,
Thou settst their labouring hands to spin and card.
All[206] could I bear; but that the wench should rise,
Who can endure, save him with whom none lies?
How oft wished I night would not give thee place,
Nor morning stars shun thy uprising face.
How oft that either wind would break thy coach,
Or steeds might fall, forced with thick clouds’ approach.
Whither go’st thou, hateful nymph? Memnon the elf
Received his coal-black colour from thyself.
Say that thy love with Cephalus were not known,
Then thinkest thou thy loose life is not shown?
Would Tithon might but talk of thee awhile!
Not one in heaven should be more base and vile.
Thou leav’st his bed, because he’s faint through age,
And early mount’st thy hateful carriage:
But held’st[207] thou in thy arms some Cephalus,
Then would’st thou cry, “Stay night, and run not thus.”
Dost punish[208] me because years make him wane?
I did not bid thee wed an agèd swain.
The moon sleeps with Endymion every day;
Thou art as fair as she, then kiss and play.
Jove, that thou should’st not haste but wait his leisure,
Made two nights one to finish up his pleasure.
I chid[209] no more; she blushed, and therefore heard me,
Yet lingered not the day, but morning scared me.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[204] So Dyce for “from” of the old eds.

[205] This line is omitted in ed. A.

[206] Isham copy and ed. A “This.”

[207] Isham copy and ed. A “had’st.”

[208] Isham copy and ed. A “Punish ye me.”

[209] So the Isham copy. The other old eds. “chide.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIV.[210]

Puellam consolatur cui præ nimia cura comæ deciderant.

Leave colouring thy tresses, I did cry;
Now hast thou left no hairs at all to dye.
But what had been more fair had they been kept?
Beyond thy robes thy dangling locks had swept.
Fear’dst thou to dress them being fine and thin,
Like to the silk the curious[211] Seres spin.
Or threads which spider’s slender foot draws out,
Fastening her light web some old beam about?
Not black nor golden were they to our view,
Yet although [n]either, mixed of either’s hue;
Such as in hilly Ida’s watery plains,
The cedar tall, spoiled of his bark, retains.
Add[212] they were apt to curl a hundred ways,
And did to thee no cause of dolour raise.
Nor hath the needle, or the comb’s teeth reft them,
The maid that kembed them ever safely left them.
Oft was she dressed before mine eyes, yet never,
Snatching the comb to beat the wench, outdrive her.
Oft in the morn, her hairs not yet digested,
Half-sleeping on a purple bed she rested;
Yet seemly like a Thracian Bacchanal,
That tired doth rashly[213] on the green grass fall.
When they were slender and like downy moss,
Thy[214] troubled hairs, alas, endured great loss.
How patiently hot irons they did take,
In crookèd trannels[215] crispy curls to make.
I cried, “‘Tis sin, ’tis sin, these hairs to burn,
They well become thee, then to spare them turn.
Far off be force, no fire to them may reach,
Thy very hairs will the hot bodkin teach.”
Lost are the goodly locks, which from their crown,
Phœbus and Bacchus wished were hanging down.
Such were they as Diana[216] painted stands,
All naked holding in her wave-moist hands.
Why dost thy ill-kembed tresses’ loss lament?
Why in thy glass dost look, being discontent?
Be not to see with wonted eyes inclined;
To please thyself, thyself put out of mind.
No charmèd herbs of any harlot scathed thee,
No faithless witch in Thessal waters bathed thee.
No sickness harmed thee (far be that away!),
No envious tongue wrought thy thick locks’ decay.
By thine own hand and fault thy hurt doth grow,
Thou mad’st thy head with compound poison flow.
Now Germany shall captive hair-tires send thee,
And vanquished people curious dressings lend thee.
Which some admiring, O thou oft wilt blush!
And say, “He likes me for my borrowed bush.
Praising for me some unknown Guelder[217] dame,
But I remember when it was my fame.”
Alas she almost weeps, and her white cheeks,
Dyed red with shame to hide from shame she seeks.
She holds, and views her old locks in her lap;
Ay me! rare gifts unworthy such a hap!
Cheer up thyself, thy loss thou may’st repair,
And be hereafter seen with native hair.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[210] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[211] The original has “colorati Seres.”

[212] So ed. B.—Ed. C “And.”

[213] “Temere.”

[214] Old eds. “They.”

[215] Cunningham and the editor of 1826 may be right in reading “trammels” (i.e. ringlets). “Trannel” was the name for a bodkin. (The original has “Ut fieret torto flexilis orbe sinus.”)

[216] “Nuda Dione.”

[217] “Nescio quam pro me laudat nunc iste Sygambram.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XV.

Ad invidos, quod fama poetarum sit perennis.

Envy, why carp’st thou my time’s spent so ill?
And term’st[218] my works fruits of an idle quill?
Or that unlike the line from whence I sprung[219]
War’s dusty honours are refused being young?
Nor that I study not the brawling laws,
Nor set my voice to sail in every cause?
Thy scope is mortal; mine, eternal fame.
That all the world may[220] ever chant my name.
Homer shall live while Tenedos stands and Ide,
Or to[221] the sea swift Simois shall[222] slide.
Ascræus lives while grapes with new wine swell,
Or men with crookèd sickles corn down fell.
The[223] world shall of Callimachus ever speak;
His art excelled, although his wit was weak.
For ever lasts high Sophocles’ proud vein,
With sun and moon Aratus shall remain.
While bondmen cheat, fathers [be] hard,[224] bawds whorish,
And strumpets flatter, shall Menander flourish.
Rude Ennius, and Plautus[225] full of wit,
Are both in Fame’s eternal legend writ.
What age of Varro’s name shall not be told,
And Jason’s Argo,[226] and the fleece of gold?
Lofty Lucretius shall live that hour,
That nature shall dissolve this earthly bower.
Æneas’ war and Tityrus shall be read,
While Rome of all the conquered[227] world is head.
Till Cupid’s bow, and fiery shafts be broken,
Thy verses, sweet Tibullus, shall be spoken.
And Gallus shall be known from East to West,
So shall Lycoris whom he lovèd best.
Therefore when flint and iron wear away,
Verse is immortal and shall ne’er decay.
To[228] verse let kings give place and kingly shows,
And banks o’er which gold-bearing Tagus flows.
Let base-conceited wits admire vild things;
Fair Phœbus lead me to the Muses’ springs.
About my head be quivering myrtle wound,
And in sad lovers’ heads let me be found.
The living, not the dead, can envy bite,

For after death all men receive their right.
Then though death racks[229] my bones in funeral fire,
I’ll live, and as he pulls me down mount higher.

The same, by B. I.[230]

Envy, why twitt’st thou me, my time’s spent ill?
And call’st my verse fruits of an idle quill?
Or that (unlike the line from whence I sprung)
War’s dusty honours I pursue not young?
Or that I study not the tedious laws;
And prostitute my voice in every cause?
Thy scope is mortal; mine eternal fame,
Which through the world shall ever chant my name.
Homer will live, whilst Tenedos stands, and Ide,
Or to the sea, fleet Symois doth slide:
And so shall Hesiod too, while vines do bear,
Or crookèd sickles crop the ripened ear.
Callimachus, though in invention low,
Shall still be sung, since he in art doth flow;
No loss shall come to Sophocles’ proud vein;
With sun and moon Aratus shall remain.
Whilst slaves be false, fathers hard, and bawds be whorish,
Whilst harlots flatter, shall Meander flourish.
Ennius, though rude, and Accius’ high-reared strain,

A fresh applause in every age shall gain.
Of Varro’s name, what ear shall not be told?
Of Jason’s Argo and the fleece of gold?
Then, shall Lucretius’ lofty numbers die,
When earth, and seas in fire and flames shall fry.
Tityrus, Tillage, Æney shall be read,[231]
Whilst Rome of all the conquered world is head.
Till Cupid’s fires be out, and his bow broken,
Thy verses, neat Tibulus, shall be spoken.
Our Gallus shall be known from East to West,
So shall Lycoris, whom he now loves best.
The suffering ploughshare or the flint may wear,
But heavenly poesy no death can fear.
Kings shall give place to it, and kingly shows,
The banks o’er which gold-bearing Tagus flows.
Kneel hinds to trash: me let bright Phœbus swell,
With cups full flowing from the Muses’ well.
The frost-drad[232] myrtle shall impale my head,
And of sad lovers I’ll be often read.
Envy the living, not the dead doth bite,
For after death all men receive their right.
Then when this body falls in funeral fire,
My name shall live, and my best part aspire.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[218] Isham copy and ed. A “tearmes our.”

[219] Dyce’s correction for “come” of the old eds.

[220] Isham copy and ed. A “might.”

[221] So Isham copy and ed. A.—Dyce follows ed. B, “Or into sea.”

[222] So old eds.—Dyce “doth.”

[223] Isham copy and ed. A omit this line and the next.

[224] So Dyce.—Old eds. “fathers hoord.” (“Durus pater.”)

[225] The poet must have read “animosi Maccius oris.” The true reading is “animosique Accius oris.”

[226] Old eds. “Argos.”

[227] Isham copy and ed. A “conquering.”

[228] Isham copy and ed. A “Let kings give place to verse.”

[229] So the Isham copy.—Ed. A (followed by Dyce) gives “rocks.”—Eds. B and C “rakes” (and so Cunningham).

[230] I.e. Ben Jonson, who afterwards introduced it into the Poetaster (I. 1). This version is merely a revision of the preceding, which must also have been written by Ben Jonson.

[231] “Tityrus et fruges Æneïaque arma legentur.”

[232] “Metuentem frigora myrtum.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Translated by Christopher Marlowe

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Primus : Book 1 Translated by Christopher Marlowe

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Secundus : Book 2 Translated by Christopher Marlowe

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Tertius : Book 3 Translated by Christopher Marlowe