P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Secundus Translated by Christopher Marlowe

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Secundus (Book 2)

Translated by Christopher Marlowe

Ovid's Amores Elegies

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia I.[233]

Quod pro gigantomachia amores scribere sit coactus.

I, Ovid, poet, of my[234] wantonness,
Born at Peligny, to write more address.
So Cupid wills. Far hence be the severe!
You are unapt my looser lines to hear.
Let maids whom hot desire to husbands lead,[235]
And rude boys, touched with unknown love, me read:
That some youth hurt, as I am, with Love’s bow,
His own flame’s best-acquainted signs may know.
And long admiring say, “By what means learned,
Hath this same poet my sad chance discern’d?”
I durst the great celestial battles tell,
Hundred-hand Gyges, and had done it well;
With Earth’s revenge, and how Olympus top
High Ossa bore, Mount Pelion up to prop;
Jove and Jove’s thunderbolts I had in hand,
Which for[236] his heaven fell on the giants’ band.
My wench her door shut, Jove’s affairs I left,
Even Jove himself out of my wit was reft.
Pardon me, Jove! thy weapons aid me nought,
Her shut gates greater lightning than thine brought.
Toys, and light elegies, my darts I took,
Quickly soft words hard doors wide-open strook.
Verses reduce the hornèd bloody moon,
And call the sun’s white horses back[237] at noon.
Snakes leap by verse from caves of broken mountains,[238]
And turnèd streams run backward to their fountains.
Verses ope doors; and locks put in the post,
Although of oak, to yield to verses boast.
What helps it me of fierce Achill to sing?
What good to me will either Ajax bring?
Or he who warred and wandered twenty year?
Or woful Hector whom wild jades did tear?
But when I praise a pretty wench’s face,
She in requital doth me oft embrace.
A great reward! Heroes of[239] famous names
Farewell! your favour nought my mind inflames.
Wenches apply your fair looks to my verse,
Which golden Love doth unto me rehearse.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[234] Old eds. “thy.”

[235] A clear instance of a plural verb following a singular subject.

[236] “Quod bene pro cœlo mitteret ille suo.”

[237] Old eds. “blacke.”

[238] “Carmine dissiliunt, abruptis faucibus, angues.” (“Fauces” means both “jaw” and “mountain-gorge.” Marlowe has gone desperately wrong.)

[239] Old eds. “O.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia II.[240]

Ad Bagoum, ut custodiam puellæ sibi commissæ laxiorem habeat.

Bagous, whose care doth thy[241] mistress bridle,
While I speak some few, yet fit words, be idle.
I saw the damsel walking yesterday,
There, where the porch doth Danaus’ fact[242] display:
She pleased me soon; I sent, and did her woo;
Her trembling hand writ back she might not do.
And asking why, this answer she redoubled,
Because thy care too much thy mistress troubled.
Keeper, if thou be wise, cease hate to cherish,
Believe me, whom we fear, we wish to perish.
Nor is her husband wise: what needs defence,
When unprotected[243] there is no expense?
But furiously he follow[244] his love’s fire,
And thinks her chaste whom many do desire:
Stolen liberty she may by thee obtain,
Which giving her, she may give thee again:
Wilt thou her fault learn? she may make thee tremble.
Fear to be guilty, then thou may’st dissemble.
Think when she reads, her mother letters sent her:

Let him go forth known, that unknown did enter.
Let him go see her though she do not languish,
And then report her sick and full of anguish.
If long she stays, to think the time more short,
Lay down thy forehead in thy lap to snort.
Inquire not what with Isis may be done,
Nor fear lest she to the theàtres run.
Knowing her scapes, thine honour shall increase;
And what less labour than to hold thy peace?
Let him please, haunt the house, be kindly used,
Enjoy the wench; let all else be refused.
Vain causes feign of him, the true to hide,
And what she likes, let both hold ratified.
When most her husband bends the brows and frowns,
His fawning wench with her desire he crowns.
But yet sometimes to chide thee let her fall
Counterfeit tears: and thee lewd hangman call.
Object thou then, what she may well excuse,
To stain all faith in truth, by false crimes’ use.
Of wealth and honour so shall grow thy heap:
Do this, and soon thou shalt thy freedom reap.
On tell-tales’ necks thou seest the link-knit chains,
The filthy prison faithless breasts restrains.
Water in waters, and fruit, flying touch,
Tantalus seeks, his long tongue’s gain is such.
While Juno’s watchman Iö too much eyed,
Him timeless[245] death took, she was deified.
I saw one’s legs with fetters black and blue,
By whom the husband his wife’s incest[246] knew:
More he deserved; to both great harm he framed,
The man did grieve, the woman was defamed.
Trust me all husbands for such faults are sad,
Nor make they any man that hears them glad.
If he loves not, deaf ears thou dost importune,
Or if he loves, thy tale breeds his misfortune.
Nor is it easy proved though manifest;
She safe by favour of her judge doth rest.
Though himself see, he’ll credit her denial,
Condemn his eyes, and say there is no trial.
Spying his mistress’ tears he will lament
And say “This blab shall suffer punishment.”
Why fight’st ‘gainst odds? to thee, being cast, do hap
Sharp stripes; she sitteth in the judge’s lap.
To meet for poison or vild facts[247] we crave not;
My hands an unsheathed shining weapon have not.
We seek that, through thee, safely love we may;
What can be easier than the thing we pray?

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[240] Not in Isham copy or ed. “A.”

[241] So ed. B.—Ed. C “my.”

[242] The original has “agmen.” Cunningham suggests “pack.” If we retain “fact” the meaning is “Danaus’ guilt.”

[243] Old eds. “vn-protested.” (“Unde nihil, quamvis non tueare, perit.”)

[244] So ed. B.—Ed. C “follows.” (The sense wanted is “Furiously let him follow” &c.)

[245] “Ante suos annos occidit.”

[246] “Unde vir incestum scire coactus erat.” (Here “incestum” is “adultery.”)

[247] “Scelus.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia III.[248]

Ad Eunuchum servantem dominam.

Ay me, an eunuch keeps my mistress chaste,
That cannot Venus’ mutual pleasure taste.
Who first deprived young boys of their best part,
With self-same wounds he gave, he ought to smart.
To kind requests thou would’st more gentle prove,
If ever wench had made lukewarm thy love:
Thou wert not born to ride, or arms to bear,
Thy hands agree not with the warlike spear.
Men handle those; all manly hopes resign,
Thy mistress’ ensigns must be likewise thine.
Please her—her hate makes others thee abhor;
If she discards thee, what use serv’st thou for?
Good form there is, years apt to play together:
Unmeet is beauty without use to wither.
She may deceive thee, though thou her protect;
What two determine never wants effect.
Our prayers move thee to assist our drift,
While thou hast time yet to bestow that gift.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia IV.

Quod amet mulieres, cujuscunque formæ sint.

I mean not to defend the scapes[249] of any,
Or justify my vices being many;
For I confess, if that might merit favour,
Here I display my lewd and loose behaviour.
I loathe, yet after that I loathe I run:
Oh, how the burthen irks, that we should[250] shun.
I cannot rule myself but where Love please;
Am[251] driven like a ship upon rough seas.
No one face likes me best, all faces move,
A hundred reasons make me ever love.
If any eye me with a modest look,
I burn,[252] and by that blushful glance am took;
And she that’s coy I like, for being no clown,
Methinks she would be nimble when she’s down.
Though her sour looks a Sabine’s brow resemble,
I think she’ll do, but deeply can dissemble.
If she be learned, then for her skill I crave her;
If not, because she’s simple I would have her.
Before Callimachus one prefers me far;
Seeing she likes my books, why should we jar?
Another rails at me, and that I write,
Yet would I lie with her, if that I might:
Trips she, it likes me well; plods she, what than[253]?
She would be nimbler lying with a man.
And when one sweetly sings, then straight I long,
To quaver on her lips even in her song;
Or if one touch the lute with art and cunning,
Who would not love those hands[254] for their swift running?
And her I like that with a majesty,

Folds up her arms, and makes low courtesy.
To[255] leave myself, that am in love with all,
Some one of these might make the chastest fall.
If she be tall, she’s like an Amazon,
And therefore fills the bed she lies upon:
If short, she lies the rounder: to speak[256] troth,
Both short and long please me, for I love both.
I[257] think what one undecked would be, being drest;
Is she attired? then show her graces best.
A white wench thralls me, so doth golden yellow:
And nut-brown girls in doing have no fellow.
If her white neck be shadowed with black hair,
Why so was Leda’s, yet was Leda fair.
Amber-tress’d[258] is she? then on the morn think I:
My love alludes to every history:
A young wench pleaseth, and an old is good,
This for her looks, that for her womanhood:
Nay what is she, that any Roman loves,
But my ambitious ranging mind approves?

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[249] “Mendosos … mores.”

[250] “Heu quam, quae studeas ponere, ferre grave est.”

[251] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “And.”

[252] This is Dyce’s certain correction for the old eds. “blush.” (The originals has “uror.”)

[253] Then.

[254] Ed. A “those nimble hands.”


“Ut taceam de me, qui causa tangor ab omni,
Illic Hippolytum pone, Priapus erit.”

[256] So Isham copy and ed. A.—Eds. B, C “say.”

[257] This and the next three lines are omitted in Isham copy and ed. A.

[258] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “yellow trest.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia V.[259]

Ad amicam corruptam.

No love is so dear,—quivered Cupid, fly!—
That my chief wish should be so oft to die.
Minding thy fault, with death I wish to revel;
Alas! a wench is a perpetual evil.
No intercepted lines thy deeds display,
No gifts given secretly thy crime bewray.
O would my proofs as vain might be withstood!
Ay me, poor soul, why is my cause so good?
He’s happy, that his love dares boldly credit;
To whom his wench can say, “I never did it.”
He’s cruel, and too much his grief doth favour,
That seeks the conquest by her loose behaviour.
Poor wretch,[260] I saw when thou didst think I slumbered;
Not drunk, your faults on the spilt wine I numbered.
I saw your nodding eyebrows much to speak,
Even from your cheeks, part of a voice did break.
Not silent were thine eyes, the board with wine
Was scribbled, and thy fingers writ a line.
I knew your speech (what do not lovers see?)
And words that seemed for certain marks to be.
Now many guests were gone, the feast being done,
The youthful sort to divers pastimes run.
I saw you then unlawful kisses join;
(Such with my tongue it likes me to purloin);
None such the sister gives her brother grave,
But such kind wenches let their lovers have.
Phœbus gave not Diana such, ’tis thought,
But Venus often to her Mars such brought.
“What dost?” I cried; “transport’st thou my delight?
My lordly hands I’ll throw upon my right.
Such bliss is only common to us two,
In this sweet good why hath a third to do?”
This, and what grief enforced me say, I said:
A scarlet blush her guilty face arrayed;
Even such as by Aurora hath the sky,
Or maids that their betrothèd husbands spy;
Such as a rose mixed with a lily breeds,
Or when the moon travails with charmèd steeds.
Or such as, lest long years should turn the dye,
Arachne[261] stains Assyrian ivory.
To these, or some of these, like was her colour:
By chance her beauty never shinèd fuller.
She viewed the earth; the earth to view, beseemed her.
She lookèd sad; sad, comely I esteemed her.
Even kembèd as they were, her locks to rend,
And scratch her fair soft cheeks I did intend.
Seeing her face, mine upreared arms descended,
With her own armour was my wench defended.
I, that erewhile was fierce, now humbly sue,
Lest with worse kisses she should me endue.
She laughed, and kissed so sweetly as might make
Wrath-kindled Jove away his thunder shake.
I grieve lest others should such good perceive,
And wish hereby them all unknown[262] to leave.
Also much better were they than I tell,
And ever seemed as some new sweet befell.
‘Tis ill they pleased so much, for in my lips
Lay her whole tongue hid, mine in hers she dips.
This grieves me not; no joinèd kisses spent,
Bewail I only, though I them lament.
Nowhere can they be taught but in the bed;
I know no master of so great hire sped.[263]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[260] So Dyce for “Poor wench” of the old eds.—The original has “Ipse miser vidi.”

[261] “Maeonis Assyrium femina tinxit opus.” Dyce remarks that Marlowe “was induced to give this extraordinary version of the line by recollecting that in the sixth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses Arachne is termed ‘Maeonis,’ while her father is mentioned as a dyer.”

[262] A bad mistranslation of “Et volo non ex hac illa fuisse nota.”

[263] Far from the original “Nescio quis pretium grande magister habet.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VI.[264]

In mortem psittaci.

The parrot, from East India to me sent,[265]
Is dead; all fowls her exequies frequent!
Go godly[266] birds, striking your breasts, bewail,
And with rough claws your tender cheeks assail.
For woful hairs let piece-torn plumes abound,
For long shrild[267] trumpets let your notes resound.
Why Philomel dost Tereus’ lewdness mourn?
All wasting years have that complaint now[268] worn.
Thy tunes let this rare bird’s sad funeral borrow;
Itys[269] a great, but ancient cause of sorrow.
All you whose pinions in the clear air soar,
But most, thou friendly turtle-dove, deplore.
Full concord all your lives was you betwixt,
And to the end your constant faith stood fixt.
What Pylades did to Orestes prove,
Such to the parrot was the turtle-dove.
But what availed this faith? her rarest hue?
Or voice that how to change the wild notes knew?
What helps it thou wert given to please my wench?
Birds’ hapless glory, death thy life doth quench.
Thou with thy quills might’st make green emeralds dark,
And pass our scarlet of red saffron’s mark.
No such voice-feigning bird was on the ground,
Thou spok’st thy words so well with stammering sound.
Envy hath rapt thee, no fierce wars thou mov’dst;
Vain-babbling speech, and pleasant peace thou lov’dst.
Behold how quails among their battles live,
Which do perchance old age unto them give.
A little filled thee, and for love of talk,
Thy mouth to taste of many meats did balk.
Nuts were thy food, and poppy caused thee sleep,
Pure water’s moisture thirst away did keep.
The ravenous vulture lives, the puttock[270] hovers
Around the air, the cadess[271] rain discovers.
And crow[272] survives arms-bearing Pallas’ hate,
Whose life nine ages scarce bring out of date.
Dead is that speaking image of man’s voice,
The parrot given me, the far world’s[273] best choice.
The greedy spirits[274] take the best things first,
Supplying their void places with the worst.
Thersites did Protesilaus survive;
And Hector died, his brothers yet alive.
My wench’s vows for thee what should I show,
Which stormy south winds into sea did blow?
The seventh day came, none following might’st thou see,
And the Fate’s distaff empty stood to thee:
Yet words in thy benumbèd palate rung;
“Farewell, Corinna,” cried thy dying tongue.
Elysium hath a wood of holm-trees black,
Whose earth doth not perpetual green grass lack.
There good birds rest (if we believe things hidden),
Whence unclean fowls are said to be forbidden.
There harmless swans feed all abroad the river;
There lives the phœnix, one alone bird ever;
There Juno’s bird displays his gorgeous feather,
And loving doves kiss eagerly together.
The parrot into wood received with these,
Turns all the godly[275] birds to what she please.
A grave her bones hides: on her corps’ great grave,
The little stones these little verses have.
This tomb approves I pleased my mistress well
My mouth in speaking did all birds excell.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[265] Dyce remarks that Marlowe’s copy had “ales mihi missus” for “imitatrix ales.”

[266] So Dyce for “goodly” of the old eds. (“piæ volucres”).

[267] Shrill.

[268] So Dyce for “not” of the old eds.

[269] So Dyce for “It is as great.”

[270] “Miluus.”

[271] “Graculus.”

[272] Old eds. “crowes.”

[273] Old eds. “words.”

[274] Marlowe was very weak in Latin prosedy. The original has “manibus rapiuntur avaris.”

[275] Old eds. “goodly” (“pias volueres”).

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VII.[276]

Amicæ se purgat, quod ancillam non amet.

Dost me of new crimes always guilty frame?
To overcome, so oft to fight I shame.
If on the marble theatre I look,
One among many is, to grieve thee, took.
If some fair wench me secretly behold,
Thou arguest she doth secret marks unfold.
If I praise any, thy poor hairs thou tearest;
If blame, dissembling of my fault thou fearest.
If I look well, thou think’st thou dost not move,
If ill, thou say’st I die for others’ love.
Would I were culpable of some offence,
They that deserve pain, bear’t with patience.
Now rash accusing, and thy vain belief,
Forbid thine anger to procure my grief.
Lo, how the miserable great-eared ass,
Dulled with much beating, slowly forth doth pass!
Behold Cypassis, wont to dress thy head,
Is charged to violate her mistress’ bed!
The gods from this sin rid me of suspicion,

To like a base wench of despised condition.
With Venus’ game who will a servant grace?
Or any back, made rough with stripes, embrace?
Add she was diligent thy locks to braid,
And, for her skill, to thee a grateful maid.
Should I solicit her that is so just,—
To take repulse, and cause her show my lust?
I swear by Venus, and the winged boy’s bow,
Myself unguilty of this crime I know.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VIII.[277]

Ad Cypassim ancillam Corinnæ.

Cypassis, that a thousand ways trim’st hair,
Worthy to kemb none but a goddess fair,
Our pleasant scapes show thee no clown to be,
Apt to thy mistress, but more apt to me.
Who that our bodies were comprest bewrayed?
Whence knows Corinna that with thee I played?
Yet blushed I not, nor used I any saying,
That might be urged to witness our false playing.
What if a man with bondwomen offend,
To prove him foolish did I e’er contend?
Achilles burnt with face of captive Brisèis,
Great Agamemnon loved his servant Chrysèis.[278]
Greater than these myself I not esteem:
What gracèd kings, in me no shame I deem.
But when on thee her angry eyes did rush,
In both thy[279] cheeks she did perceive thee[280] blush.
But being present,[281] might that work the best,
By Venus deity how did I protest!
Thou goddess dost command a warm south blast,
My self oaths in Carpathian seas to cast.
For which good turn my sweet reward repay,
Let me lie with thee, brown Cypass, to-day.
Ungrate, why feign’st new fears, and dost refuse?
Well may’st thou one thing for thy mistress use.[282]
If thou deniest, fool, I’ll our deeds express,
And as a traitor mine own faults confess;
Telling thy mistress where I was with thee,
How oft, and by what means, we did agree.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[278] “Serva Phœbas” (i.e. Cassandra).

[279] Old eds. “my.”

[280] So ed. B.—Ed. C “the.”


“At quanto, si forte refers, præsentior ipse,
Per Veneris feci numina magna fidem.”

[282] The original has “Unum est e dominis emeruisse satis.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia IX.[283]

Ad Cupidinem.

O Cupid, that dost never cease my smart!
O boy, that liest so slothful in my heart!
Why me that always was the soldier found,
Dost harm, and in thy[284] tents why dost me wound?
Why burns thy brand, why strikes thy bow thy friends?
More glory by thy vanquished foes ascends.
Did not Pelides whom his spear did grieve,
Being required, with speedy help relieve?
Hunters leave taken beasts, pursue the chase,
And than things found do ever further pace.
We people wholly given thee, feel thine-arms,
Thy dull hand stays thy striving enemies’ harms.
Dost joy to have thy hookèd arrows shaked
In naked bones? love hath my bones left naked.
So many men and maidens without love,
Hence with great laud thou may’st a triumph move.
Rome, if her strength the huge world had not filled,
With strawy cabins now her courts should build.
The weary soldier hath the conquered fields,
His sword, laid by, safe, tho’ rude places yields;[285]
The dock inharbours ships drawn from the floods,
Horse freed from service range abroad the woods.
And time it was for me to live in quiet,
That have so oft served pretty wenches’ diet.
Yet should I curse a God, if he but said,
“Live without love,” so sweet ill is a maid.
For when my loathing it of heat deprives me,
I know not whither my mind’s whirlwind drives me.
Even as a headstrong courser bears away
His rider, vainly striving him to stay;
Or as a sudden gale thrusts into sea
The haven-touching bark, now near the lea;
So wavering Cupid brings me back amain,
And purple Love resumes his darts again.
Strike, boy, I offer thee my naked breast,
Here thou hast strength, here thy right hand doth rest.
Here of themselves thy shafts come, as if shot;
Better than I their quiver knows them not:
Hapless is he that all the night lies quiet.
And slumbering, thinks himself much blessèd by it.
Fool, what is sleep but image of cold death,
Long shalt thou rest when Fates expire thy breath.
But me let crafty damsel’s words deceive,
Great joys by hope I inly shall conceive.
Now let her flatter me, now chide me hard,
Let me[286] enjoy her oft, oft be debarred.
Cupid, by thee, Mars in great doubt doth trample,
And thy stepfather fights by thy example.
Light art thou, and more windy than thy wings;
Joys with uncertain faith thou tak’st and brings:
Yet Love, if thou with thy fair mother hear,
Within my breast no desert empire bear;
Subdue the wandering wenches to thy reign,
So of both people shalt thou homage gain.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[284] So ed. B.—Ed. C “my.”

[285] In some strange fashion Marlowe has mistaken the substantive “rudis” (the staff received by the gladiator on his discharge) with the adjective “rudis” (rude). The original has “Tutaque deposito poscitur ense rudis.”

[286] Old eds. “Let her enjoy me;” but the original has “Saepe fruar domina.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia X.

Ad Græcinum quod eodem tempore duas amet.

Græcinus (well I wot) thou told’st me once,
I could not be in love with two at once;
By thee deceived, by thee surprised am I,
For now I love two women equally:
Both are well favoured, both rich in array,
Which is the loveliest[287] it is hard to say:
This seems the fairest, so doth that to me;
And[288] this doth please me most, and so doth she;
Even as a boat tossed by contràry wind,
So with this love and that wavers my mind.
Venus, why doublest thou my endless smart?
Was not one wench enough to grieve my heart?
Why add’st thou stars to heaven, leaves to green woods,
And to the deep[289] vast sea fresh water-floods?
Yet this is better far than lie alone:
Let such as be mine enemies have none;
Yea, let my foes sleep in an empty bed,
And in the midst their bodies largely spread:
But may soft[290] love rouse up my drowsy eyes,
And from my mistress’ bosom let me rise!
Let one wench cloy me with sweet love’s delight,
If one can do’t; if not, two every night.
Though I am slender, I have store of pith,
Nor want I strength, but weight, to press her with:
Pleasure adds fuel to my lustful fire,
I pay them home with that they most desire:
Oft have I spent the night in wantonness,
And in the morn been lively ne’ertheless,
He’s happy who Love’s mutual skirmish slays;
And to the gods for that death Ovid prays.
Let soldiers[291] chase their enemies amain,
And with their blood eternal honour gain,
Let merchants seek wealth and[292] with perjured lips,
Being wrecked, carouse the sea tired by their ships;
But when I die, would I might droop with doing,
And in the midst thereof, set[293] my soul going,
That at my funerals some may weeping cry,
“Even as he led his life, so did he die.”

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[287] “Artibus in dubio est haec sit an illa prior.” Dyce suggests that Marlowe read “Artubus.”

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

[289] Eds. B, C, “vast deep sea.”

[290] The original has “saevus” (for which Marlowe seems to have read “suavis”).

[291] Isham copy and ed. A “souldiour … his,” and in the next line “his blood.”

[292] So Cunningham for—

“Let merchants seek wealth with perjured lips
And being wrecked,” &c.

[293] So Isham copy and eds. B, C—Ed. A “let.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XI.[294]

Ad amicam navigantem.

The lofty pine, from high Mount Pelion raught,[295]
Ill ways by rough seas wondering waves first taught;
Which rashly ‘twixt the sharp rocks in the deep,
Carried the famous golden-fleecèd sheep.
O would that no oars might in seas have sunk!
The Argo[296] wrecked had deadly waters drunk.
Lo, country gods and know[n] bed to forsake
Corinna means, and dangerous ways to take.
For thee the East and West winds make me pale,
With icy Boreas, and the Southern gale.
Thou shalt admire no woods or cities there,
The unjust seas all bluish do appear.
The ocean hath no painted stones or shells,
The sucking[297] shore with their abundance swells.
Maids on the shore, with marble-white feet tread,
So far ’tis safe; but to go farther, dread.
Let others tell how winds fierce battles wage,
How Scylla’s and Charybdis’ waters rage;
And with what rock[s] the feared Ceraunia threat;
In what gulf either Syrtes have their seat.
Let others tell this, and what each one speaks
Believe; no tempest the believer wreaks.[298]
Too late you look back, when with anchors weighed,
The crookèd bark hath her swift sails displayed.
The careful shipman now fears angry gusts,
And with the waters sees death near him thrusts.
But if that Triton toss the troubled flood,
In all thy face will be no crimson blood.
Then wilt thou Leda’s noble twin-stars pray,

And, he is happy whom the earth holds, say.
It is more safe to sleep, to read a book,
The Thracian harp with cunning to have strook.
But if my words with wingèd storm hence slip,
Yet, Galatea, favour thou her ship.
The loss of such a wench much blame will gather,
Both to the sea-nymphs and the sea-nymphs’ father.
Go, minding to return with prosperous wind,
Whose blast may hither strongly be inclined.
Let Nereus bend the waves unto this shore,
Hither the winds blow, here the spring-tide roar.
Request mild Zephyr’s help for thy avail,
And with thy hand assist thy swelling sail.
I from the shore thy known ship first will see,
And say it brings her that preserveth me.
I’ll clip[299] and kiss thee with all contentation;
For thy return shall fall the vowed oblation;
And in the form of beds we’ll strew soft sand;
Each little hill shall for a table stand:
There, wine being filled, thou many things shalt tell,
How, almost wrecked, thy ship in main seas fell.
And hasting to me, neither darksome night,
Nor violent south-winds did thee aught affright,
I’ll think all true, though it be feignèd matter!
Mine own desires why should myself not flatter?
Let the bright day-star cause in heaven this day be,
To bring that happy time so soon as may be.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[295] “Cæsa.”

[296] Old eds. “Argos.”

[297] “Bibuli litoris illa mora est.”

[298] Dyce was doubtless right in supposing “wreaks” to be used metri causa for “wrecks.” Cunningham wanted to give the meaning “recks;” but that meaning does not suit the context. The original has “credenti nulla procella nocet.”

[299] “Excipiamque humeris.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XII.[300]

Exultat, quod amica potitus sit.

About my temples go, triumphant bays!
Conquered Corinna in my bosom lays.
She whom her husband, guard, and gate, as foes,
Lest art should win her, firmly did enclose:
That victory doth chiefly triumph merit,
Which without bloodshed doth the prey inherit.
No little ditchèd towns, no lowly walls,
But to my share a captive damsel falls.
When Troy by ten years’ battle tumbled down,
With the Atrides many gained renown:
But I no partner of my glory brook,
Nor can another say his help I took.
I, guide and soldier, won the field and wear her,
I was both horseman, footman, standard-bearer.
Nor in my act hath fortune mingled chance:
O care-got[301] triumph hitherwards advance!
Nor is my war’s cause new; but for a queen,
Europe and Asia in firm peace had been;
The Lapiths and the Centaurs, for a woman,
To cruel arms their drunken selves did summon;
A woman forced the Trojans new to enter
Wars, just Latinus, in thy kingdom’s centre;
A woman against late-built Rome did send
The Sabine fathers, who sharp wars intend.
I saw how bulls for a white heifer strive,
She looking on them did more courage give.
And me with many, but me[302] without murther,
Cupid commands to move his ensigns further.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[301] “Cura parte triumphe mea.”

[302] Ed. B “but yet me.”—Ed. C “but yet without.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIII.[303]

Ad Isidem, ut parientem Corinnam servet.

While rashly her womb’s burden she casts out,
Weary Corinna hath her life in doubt.
She, secretly from[304] me, such harm attempted,
Angry I was, but fear my wrath exempted.
But she conceived of me; or I am sure
I oft have done what might as much procure.
Thou that frequent’st Canopus’ pleasant fields,
Memphis, and Pharos that sweet date-trees yields,
And where swift Nile in his large channel skipping,[305]
By seven huge mouths into the sea is slipping.
By feared Anubis’ visage I thee pray,—
So in thy temples shall Osiris stay,
And the dull snake about thy offerings creep,
And in thy pomp horned Apis with thee keep,—
Turn thy looks hither, and in one spare twain:
Thou givest my mistress life, she mine again.
She oft hath served thee upon certain days,
Where the French[306] rout engirt themselves with bays.
On labouring women thou dost pity take,
Whose bodies with their heavy burdens ache;
My wench, Lucina, I entreat thee favour;
Worthy she is, thou should’st in mercy save her.
In white, with incense, I’ll thine altars greet,
Myself will bring vowed gifts before thy feet,
Subscribing Naso with Corinna saved:
Do but deserve gifts with this title graved.
But, if in so great fear I may advise thee,
To have this skirmish fought let it suffice thee.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[304] Old eds. “with,” which must be a printer’s error. (The original has “clam me.”)

[305] Old eds. “slipping.”

[306] “Gallica turma” (i.e. the company of Galli, the priests of Isis).

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIV.[307]

In amicam, quod abortivum ipsa fecerit.

What helps it woman to be free from war,
Nor, being armed, fierce troops to follow far,
If without battle self-wrought wounds annoy them.
And their own privy-weaponed hands destroy them
Who unborn infants first to slay invented,
Deserved thereby with death to be tormented.
Because thy belly should rough wrinkles lack,
Wilt thou thy womb-inclosèd offspring wrack?
Had ancient mothers this vile custom cherished,

All human kind by their default[308] had perished;
Or[309] stones, our stock’s original should be hurled,
Again, by some, in this unpeopled world.
Who should have Priam’s wealthy substance won,
If watery Thetis had her child fordone?
In swelling womb her twins had Ilia killed,
He had not been that conquering Rome bid build.
Had Venus spoiled her belly’s Trojan fruit,
The earth of Cæsars had been destitute.
Thou also that wert born fair, had’st decayed,
If such a work thy mother had assayed.
Myself, that better die with loving may,
Had seen, my mother killing me, no[310] day.
Why tak’st increasing grapes from vinetrees full?
With cruel hand why dost green apples pull?
Fruits ripe will fall; let springing things increase;
Life is no light price of a small surcease.[311]
Why with hid irons are your bowels torn?
And why dire poison give you babes unborn?
At Colchis, stained with children’s blood, men rail,
And mother-murdered Itys they[312] bewail.
Both unkind parents; but, for causes sad,
Their wedlocks’ pledges[313] venged their husbands bad.
What Tereus, what Iäson you provokes,
To plague your bodies with such harmful strokes?
Armenian tigers never did so ill,
Nor dares the lioness her young whelps kill.
But tender damsels do it, though with pain;
Oft dies she that her paunch-wrapt[314] child hath slain:
She dies, and with loose hairs to grave is sent,
And whoe’er see her, worthily[315] lament.
But in the air let these words come to naught,
And my presages of no weight be thought.
Forgive her, gracious gods, this one delict,
And on the next fault punishment inflict.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[308] “Vitio.”

[309] Old eds. “On.”

[310] Old eds. “to-day.”

[311] “Est pretium parvæ non leve vita moræ.”

[312] Dyce’s suggestion for “thee” of the old eds. The original has “Aque sua caesum matre queruntur Ityn.”


“Sed tristibus utraque causis
Jactura socii sanguinis ulta virum.”

[314] An inelegant translation of “Saepe suos uteros quae necat ipse perit.”

[315] Marlowe has given a meaning the very opposite of the original—”Et clamant ‘Merito’ qui modo cumque vident.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XV.[316]

Ad annulum, quem dono amicæ dedit.

Thou ring that shalt my fair girl’s finger bind,
Wherein is seen the giver’s loving mind:
Be welcome to her, gladly let her take thee,
And, her small joints encircling, round hoop make thee.
Fit her so well, as she is fit for me,
And of just compass for her knuckles be.
Blest ring, thou in my mistress’ hand shall lie,
Myself, poor wretch, mine own gifts now envỳ.
O would that suddenly into my gift,

I could myself by secret magic shift!
Then would I wish thee touch my mistress’ pap,
And hide thy left hand underneath her lap,
I would get off, though strait and sticking fast,
And in her bosom strangely fall at last.
Then I, that I may seal her privy leaves,
Lest to the wax the hold-fast dry gem cleaves,
Would first my beauteous wench’s moist lips touch;
Only I’ll sign naught that may grieve me much.
I would not out, might I in one place hit:
But in less compass her small fingers knit.
My life! that I will shame thee never fear,
Or be[317] a load thou should’st refuse to bear.
Wear me, when warmest showers thy members wash,
And through the gem let thy lost waters pash,
But seeing thee, I think my thing will swell,
And even the ring perform a man’s part well.
Vain things why wish I? go, small gift, from hand;
Let her my faith, with thee given, understand.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[317] Old eds. “by.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XVI.[318]

Ad amicam, ut ad rura sua veniat.

Sulmo, Peligny’s third part, me contains,
A small, but wholesome soil with watery veins,
Although the sun to rive[319] the earth incline,
And the Icarian froward dog-star shine;
Pelignian fields with liquid rivers flow,
And on the soft ground fertile green grass grow;
With corn the earth abounds, with vines much more,
And some few pastures Pallas’ olives bore;
And by the rising herbs, where clear springs slide,
A grassy turf the moistened earth doth hide.
But absent is my fire; lies I’ll tell none,
My heat is here, what moves my heat is gone.
Pollux and Castor, might I stand betwixt,
In heaven without thee would I not be fixt.
Upon the cold earth pensive let them lay,
That mean to travel some long irksome way.
Or else will maidens young men’s mates to go,
If they determine to persèver so.
Then on the rough Alps should I tread aloft,
My hard way with my mistress would seem soft.
With her I durst the Libyan Syrts break through,
And raging seas in boisterous south-winds plough.
No barking dogs, that Scylla’s entrails bear,
Nor thy gulfs, crook’d Malea, would I fear.
No flowing waves with drownèd ships forth-poured
By cloyed Charybdis, and again devoured.
But if stern Neptune’s windy power prevail,
And waters’ force force helping Gods to fail,
With thy white arms upon my shoulders seize;
So sweet a burden I will bear with ease.
The youth oft swimming to his Hero kind,
Had then swum over, but the way was blind.
But without thee, although vine-planted ground
Contains me; though the streams the[320] fields surround;
Though hinds in brooks the running waters bring,
And cool gales shake the tall trees’ leafy spring;
Healthful Peligny, I esteem naught worth,
Nor do I like the country of my birth.
Scythia, Cilicia, Britain are as good,
And rocks dyed crimson with Prometheus’ blood.
Elms love the vines; the vines with elms abide,
Why doth my mistress from me oft divide?
Thou swear’dst,[321] division should not twixt us rise,
By me, and by my stars, thy radiant eyes;
Maids’ words more vain and light than falling leaves,
Which, as it seems, hence wind and sea bereaves.
If any godly care of me thou hast,
Add deeds unto thy promises at last.
And with swift nags drawing thy little coach
(Their reins let loose), right soon my house approach.
But when she comes, you[322] swelling mounts, sink down,
And falling valleys be the smooth ways’ crown.[323]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[319] “Findat.”

[320] Ed. B “in fields.”—Ed. C “in field.”

[321] Old eds. “swearest.”

[322] Old eds. “your.”

[323] “Et faciles curvis vallibus este viæ.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XVII.[324]

Quod Corinnæ soli sit serviturus.

To serve a wench if any think it shame,
He being judge, I am convinced of blame.
Let me be slandered, while my fire she hides,
That Paphos, and[325] flood-beat Cythera guides.
Would I had been my mistress’ gentle prey,
Since some fair one I should of force obey.
Beauty gives heart; Corinna’s looks excell;
Ay me, why is it known to her so well?
But by her glass disdainful pride she learns,
Nor she herself, but first trimmed up, discerns.
Not though thy face in all things make thee reign,
(O face, most cunning mine eyes to detain!)
Thou ought’st therefore to scorn me for thy mate,
Small things with greater may be copulate.
Love-snared Calypso is supposed to pray
A mortal nymph’s[326] refusing lord to stay.
Who doubts, with Peleus Thetis did consort,
Egeria with just Numa had good sport.
Venus with Vulcan, though, smith’s tools laid by,
With his stump foot he halts ill-favouredly.
This kind of verse is not alike; yet fit,
With shorter numbers the heroic sit.
And thou, my light, accept me howsoever;
Lay in the mid bed, there be my lawgiver.
My stay no crime, my flight no joy shall breed,
Nor of our love, to be ashamed we need.
For great revenues I good verses have,
And many by me to get glory crave.
I know a wench reports herself Corinne;
What would not she give that fair name to win?
But sundry floods in one bank never go,
Eurotas cold, and poplar-bearing Po;
Nor in my books shall one but thou be writ,
Thou dost alone give matter to my wit.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[325] Old eds. “and the.”

[326] Marlowe reads “nymphæ” for “nymphe.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XVIII.[327]

Ad Macrum, quod de amoribus scribat.

To tragic verse while thou Achilles train’st,
And new sworn soldiers’ maiden arms retain’st,
We, Macer, sit in Venus’ slothful shade,
And tender love hath great things hateful made.
Often at length, my wench depart I bid,
She in my lap sits still as erst she did.
I said, “It irks me:” half to weeping framed,
“Ay me!” she cries, “to love why art ashamed?”
Then wreathes about my neck her winding arms,
And thousand kisses gives, that work my harms:
I yield, and back my wit from battles bring,
Domestic acts, and mine own wars to sing.
Yet tragedies, and sceptres fill’d my lines,
But though I apt were for such high designs,
Love laughèd at my cloak, and buskins painted,
And rule, so soon with private hands acquainted.
My mistress’ deity also drew me fro it,
And love triumpheth o’er his buskined poet.
What lawful is, or we profess love’s art:
(Alas, my precepts turn myself to smart!)
We write, or what Penelope sends Ulysses,
Or Phillis’ tears that her Demophoon misses.
What thankless Jason, Macareus, and Paris,
Phedra, and Hippolyte may read, my care is.
And what poor Dido, with her drawn sword sharp,
Doth say, with her that loved the Aonian harp.
As[328] soon as from strange lands Sabinus came,
And writings did from divers places frame,
White-cheeked Penelope knew Ulysses’ sign,
The step-dame read Hippolytus’ lustless line.
Æneas to Elisa answer gives,
And Phillis hath to read, if now she lives.
Jason’s sad letter doth Hypsipyle greet;
Sappho her vowed harp lays at Phœbus’ feet.
Nor of thee, Macer, that resound’st forth arms,
Is golden love hid in Mars’ mid alarms.
There Paris is, and Helen’s crimes record,
With Laodamia, mate to her dead lord,
Unless I err to these thou more incline,
Than wars, and from thy tents wilt come to mine.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[328] The original has “Quam cito de toto rediit meus orbe Sabinus,” &c.

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIX.[329]

Ad rivalem cui uxor curæ non erat.

Fool, if to keep thy wife thou hast no need,
Keep her from me, my more desire to breed;
We scorn things lawful; stolen sweets we affect;
Cruel is he that loves whom none protect.
Let us, both lovers, hope and fear alike,
And may repulse place for our wishes strike.[330]
What should I do with fortune that ne’er fails me?
Nothing I love that at all times avails me.
Wily Corinna saw this blemish in me,
And craftily knows by what means to win me.
Ah, often, that her hale[331] head ached, she lying,
Willed me, whose slow feet sought delay, be flying!
Ah, oft, how much she might, she feigned offence;
And, doing wrong, made show of innocence.
So, having vexed, she nourished my warm fire,
And was again most apt to my desire.
To please me, what fair terms and sweet words has she!
Great gods! what kisses, and how many ga’[332] she!
Thou also that late took’st mine eyes away,

Oft cozen[333] me, oft, being wooed, say nay;
And on thy threshold let me lie dispread,
Suff’ring much cold by hoary night’s frost bred.
So shall my love continue many years;
This doth delight me, this my courage cheers.
Fat love, and too much fulsome, me annoys,
Even as sweet meat a glutted stomach cloys.
In brazen tower had not Danäe dwelt,
A mother’s joy by Jove she had not felt.
While Juno Iö keeps, when horns she wore,
Jove liked her better than he did before.
Who covets lawful things takes leaves from woods,
And drinks stolen waters in surrounding floods.
Her lover let her mock that long will reign:
Ay me, let not my warnings cause my pain!
Whatever haps, by sufferance harm is done,
What flies I follow, what follows me I shun.
But thou, of thy fair damsel too secure,
Begin to shut thy house at evening sure.
Search at the door who knocks oft in the dark,
In night’s deep silence why the ban-dogs[334] bark.
Whither[335] the subtle maid lines[336] brings and carries,
Why she alone in empty bed oft tarries.
Let this care sometimes bite thee to the quick,
That to deceits it may me forward prick.
To steal sands from the shore he loves a-life[337]
That can affect[338] a foolish wittol’s wife.
Now I forewarn, unless to keep her stronger
Thou dost begin, she shall be mine no longer.
Long have I borne much, hoping time would beat thee
To guard her well, that well I might entreat thee.[339]
Thou suffer’st what no husband can endure,
But of my love it will an end procure.
Shall I, poor soul, be never interdicted?
Nor never with night’s sharp revenge afflicted.
In sleeping shall I fearless draw my breath?
Wilt nothing do, why I should wish thy death?
Can I but loathe a husband grown a bawd?
By thy default thou dost our joys defraud.
Some other seek that may in patience strive with thee,
To pleasure me, forbid me to corrive with thee.[340]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[330] “Et faciat voto rara repulsa locum.”

[331] Old eds, “haole”—The construction is not plain without a reference to the original:—

“Ah, quotiens sani capitis mentita dolores,
Cunctantem tardo jussit abire pede.”

[332] So Dyce for “gave” of the old eds.

[333] The reading of the original is “Saepe time insidias.”

[334] Dogs tied up on account of their fierceness.

[335] Old eds. “Whether” (a common form of “whither”).

[336] “Tabellas.”

[337] As dearly as life.

[338] Old eds. “effect.”


“Multa diuque tuli; speravi saepe futurum
Cum bene servasses ut bene verba darem.”

[340] “Me tibi rivalem si juvat esse, veta.”

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