P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Tertius Translated by Christopher Marlowe

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Liber Tertius (Book 3)

Translated by Christopher Marlowe

Ovid's Amores Elegies

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia I.[341]

Deliberatio poetæ, utrum elegos pergat scribere an potius tragœdias.

An old wood stands, uncut of long years’ space,
‘Tis credible some godhead[342] haunts the place.
In midst thereof a stone-paved sacred spring,
Where round about small birds most sweetly sing.
Here while I walk, hid close in shady grove,
To find what work my muse might move, I strove,
Elegia came with hairs perfumèd sweet,
And one, I think, was longer, of her feet:
A decent form, thin robe, a lover’s look,
By her foot’s blemish greater grace she took.
Then with huge steps came violent Tragedy,
Stern was her front, her cloak[343] on ground did lie.
Her left hand held abroad a regal sceptre,
The Lydian buskin [in] fit paces kept her.
And first she[344] said, “When will thy love be spent,
O poet careless of thy argument?
Wine-bibbing banquets tell thy naughtiness,
Each cross-way’s corner doth as much express.
Oft some points at the prophet passing by,
And, ‘This is he whom fierce love burns,’ they cry.
A laughing-stock thou art to all the city;
While without shame thou sing’st thy lewdness’ ditty.
‘Tis time to move great things in lofty style,
Long hast thou loitered; greater works compile.
The subject hides thy wit; men’s acts resound;
This thou wilt say to be a worthy ground.
Thy muse hath played what may mild girls content,
And by those numbers is thy first youth spent.
Now give the Roman Tragedy a name,
To fill my laws thy wanton spirit frame.”
This said, she moved her buskins gaily varnished,
And seven times shook her head with thick locks garnished.
The other smiled (I wot), with wanton eyes:
Err I, or myrtle in her right hand lies?
“With lofty words stout Tragedy,” she said,
“Why tread’st me down? art thou aye gravely play’d?
Thou deign’st unequal lines should thee rehearse;
Thou fight’st against me using mine own verse.
Thy lofty style with mine I not compare,
Small doors unfitting for large houses are.
Light am I, and with me, my care, light Love;
Not stronger am I, than the thing I move.
Venus without me should be rustical:
This goddess’ company doth to me befal.
What gate thy stately words cannot unlock,
My flattering speeches soon wide open knock.
And I deserve more than thou canst in verity,
By suffering much not borne by thy severity.
By me Corinna learns, cozening her guard,
To get the door with little noise unbarred;
And slipped from bed, clothed in a loose nightgown,
To move her feet unheard in setting[345] down.
Ah, how oft on hard doors hung I engraved,
From no man’s reading fearing to be saved!
But, till the keeper[346] went forth, I forget not,
The maid to hide me in her bosom let not.
What gift with me was on her birthday sent,
But cruelly by her was drowned and rent.
First of thy mind the happy seeds I knew;[347]
Thou hast my gift, which she would from thee sue.”
She left;[348] I said, “You both I must beseech,
To empty air[349] may go my fearful speech.
With sceptres and high buskins th’ one would dress me,
So through the world should bright renown express me.
The other gives my love a conquering name;
Come, therefore, and to long verse shorter frame.
Grant, Tragedy, thy poet time’s least tittle:
Thy labour ever lasts; she asks but little.”
She gave me leave; soft loves, in time make haste;
Some greater work will urge me on at last.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[342] Old eds. “good head.”

[343] So Dyce—Old eds. “looke.” (“Palla jacebat humi.”)

[344] Old eds. “he.”

[345] Old eds. “sitting.” (“Atque impercussos nocte movere pedes.”)

[346] Ed. B “keepes;” ed. C “keepers.” This line and the next are a translation of:—

“Quin ego me memini, dum custos saevus abiret,
Ancillae missam delituisse sinu.”

[347] The original has

“Prima tuae movi felicia semina mentis.”

(Marlowe’s copy read “novi.”)

[348] “Desierat.”

[349] “In vacuas auras.” (The true reading is “aures.”)

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia II.[350]

Ad amicam cursum equorum spectantem.

I sit not here the noble horse to see;
Yet whom thou favour’st, pray may conqueror be.
To sit and talk with thee I hither came,
That thou may’st know with love thou mak’st me flame.
Thou view’st the course; I thee: let either heed
What please them, and their eyes let either feed.
What horse-driver thou favour’st most is best,
Because on him thy care doth hap to rest.
Such chance let me have: I would bravely run,
On swift steeds mounted till the race were done.
Now would I slack the reins, now lash their hide,
With wheels bent inward now the ring-turn ride,
In running if I see thee, I shall stay,
And from my hands the reins will slip away.
Ah, Pelops from his coach was almost felled,
Hippodamia’s looks while he beheld!
Yet he attained, by her support, to have her:
Let us all conquer by our mistress’ favour.
In vain, why fly’st back? force conjoins us now:

The place’s laws this benefit allow.
But spare my wench, thou at her right hand seated;
By thy sides touching ill she is entreated.[351]
And sit thou rounder,[352] that behind us see;
For shame press not her back with thy hard knee.
But on the ground thy clothes too loosely lie:
Gather them up, or lift them, lo, will I.
Envious[353] garments, so good legs to hide!
The more thou look’st, the more the gown’s envìed.
Swift Atalanta’s flying legs, like these,
Wish in his hands grasped did Hippomenes.
Coat-tucked Diana’s legs are painted like them,
When strong wild beasts, she, stronger, hunts to strike them.
Ere these were seen, I burnt: what will these do?
Flames into flame, floods thou pour’st seas into,
By these I judge; delight me may the rest,
Which lie hid, under her thin veil supprest.
Yet in the meantime wilt small winds bestow,
That from thy fan, moved by my hand, may blow?
Or is my heat of mind, not of the sky?
Is’t women’s love my captive breast doth fry?
While thus I speak, black dust her white robes ray;[354]
Foul dust, from her fair body go away!
Now comes the pomp; themselves let all men cheer;[355]
The shout is nigh; the golden pomp comes here.
First, Victory is brought with large spread wing:
Goddess, come here; make my love conquering.
Applaud you Neptune, that dare trust his wave,
The sea I use not: me my earth must have.
Soldier applaud thy Mars, no wars we move,
Peace pleaseth me, and in mid peace is love.
With augurs Phœbus, Phœbe with hunters stands.
To thee Minerva turn the craftsmen’s hands.
Ceres and Bacchus countrymen adore,
Champions please[356] Pollux, Castor loves horsemen more.
Thee, gentle Venus, and the boy that flies,
We praise: great goddess aid my enterprise.
Let my new mistress grant to be beloved;
She becked, and prosperous signs gave as she moved.
What Venus promised, promise thou we pray
Greater than her, by her leave, thou’rt, I’ll say.
The gods, and their rich pomp witness with me,
For evermore thou shalt my mistress be.
Thy legs hang down, thou may’st, if that be best,
Awhile[357] thy tiptoes on the footstool[358] rest.
Now greatest spectacles the Prætor sends,
Four chariot-horses from the lists’ even ends.
I see whom thou affect’st: he shall subdue;
The horses seem as thy[359] desire they knew.
Alas, he runs too far about the ring;

What dost? thy waggon in less compass bring.
What dost, unhappy? her good wishes fade:
Let with strong hand the rein to bend be made.
One slow we favour, Romans, him revoke:
And each give signs by casting up his cloak.
They call him back; lest their gowns toss thy hair,
To hide thee in my bosom straight repair.
But now again the barriers open lie,
And forth the gay troops on swift horses fly.
At least now conquer, and outrun the rest:
My mistress’ wish confirm with my request.
My mistress hath her wish; my wish remain:
He holds the palm: my palm is yet to gain.
She smiled, and with quick eyes behight[360] some grace:
Pay it not here, but in another place.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[351] “Contactu lateris laeditur ista tui.”

[352] “Tua contraha crura.”


“Invida vestis eras quod tam bona crura tegebas!
Quoque magis spectes … invida vestis eras.”

[354] Defile.

[355] A strange rendering of “linguis animisque favete.”

[356] Ed. B “pleace;” ed. C “place.”

[357] Old eds. “Or while.”

[358] “Cancellis” (i.e. the rails).

[359] Old eds. “they.”

[360] “Promisit.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia III.[361]

De amica quæ perjuraverat.

What, are there gods? herself she hath forswore,
And yet remains the face she had before.
How long her locks were ere her oath she took,
So long they be since she her faith forsook.
Fair white with rose-red was before commixt;
Now shine her looks pure white and red betwixt.
Her foot was small: her foot’s form is most fit:
Comely tall was she, comely tall she’s yet.
Sharp eyes she had: radiant like stars they be,
By which she, perjured oft, hath lied to[362] me.
In sooth, th’ eternal powers grant maids society
Falsely to swear; their beauty hath some deity.
By her eyes, I remember, late she swore,
And by mine eyes, and mine were painèd sore.
Say gods: if she unpunished you deceive,
For other faults why do I loss receive.
But did you not so envy[363] Cepheus’ daughter,
For her ill-beauteous mother judged to slaughter.
‘Tis not enough, she shakes your record off,
And, unrevenged, mocked gods with me doth scoff.
But by my pain to purge her perjuries,
Cozened, I am the cozener’s sacrifice.
God is a name, no substance, feared in vain,
And doth the world in fond belief detain.
Or if there be a God, he loves fine wenches,
And all things too much in their sole power drenches.
Mars girts his deadly sword on for my harm;
Pallas’ lance strikes me with unconquered arm;
At me Apollo bends his pliant bow;
At me Jove’s right hand lightning hath to throw.
The wrongèd gods dread fair ones to offend,
And fear those, that to fear them least intend.
Who now will care the altars to perfume?
Tut, men should not their courage so consume.
Jove throws down woods and castles with his fire,
But bids his darts from perjured girls retire.
Poor Semele among so many burned,
Her own request to her own torment turned.
But when her lover came, had she drawn back,
The father’s thigh should unborn Bacchus lack.
Why grieve I? and of heaven reproaches pen?
The gods have eyes, and breasts as well as men.
Were I a god, I should give women leave,
With lying lips my godhead to deceive.
Myself would swear the wenches true did swear,
And I would be none of the gods severe.
But yet their gift more moderately use,
Or in mine eyes, good wench, no pain transfuse.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[362] Old eds. “by.”


“At non invidiæ vobis Cephëia virgo est,
Pro male formosa jussa parente mori?”

(“Invidiæ” here means “discredit, odium.”)

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia IV.[364]

Ad virum servantem conjugem.

Rude man, ’tis vain thy damsel to commend
To keeper’s trust: their wits should them defend.
Who, without fear, is chaste, is chaste in sooth:
Who, because means want, doeth not, she doth.
Though thou her body guard, her mind is stained;
Nor, ‘less[365] she will, can any be restrained.
Nor can’st by watching keep her mind from sin,
All being shut out, the adulterer is within.
Who may offend, sins least; power to do ill

The fainting seeds of naughtiness doth kill.
Forbear to kindle vice by prohibition;
Sooner shall kindness gain thy will’s fruition.
I saw a horse against the bit stiff-necked,
Like lightning go, his struggling mouth being checked:
When he perceived the reins let slack, he stayed,
And on his loose mane the loose bridle laid.
How to attain what is denied we think,
Even as the sick desire forbidden drink.
Argus had either way an hundred eyes,
Yet by deceit Love did them all surprise.
In stone and iron walls Danäe shut,
Came forth a mother, though a maid there put.
Penelope, though no watch looked unto her,
Was not defiled by any gallant wooer.
What’s kept, we covet more: the care makes theft,
Few love what others have unguarded left.
Nor doth her face please, but her husband’s love:
I know not what men think should thee so move[366]
She is not chaste that’s kept, but a dear whore:[367]
Thy fear is than her body valued more.
Although thou chafe, stolen pleasure is sweet play;
She pleaseth best, “I fear,” if any say.
A free-born wench, no right ’tis up to lock,
So use we women of strange nations’ stock.
Because the keeper may come say, “I did it,”
She must be honest to thy servant’s credit.
He is too clownish whom a lewd wife grieves,
And this town’s well-known custom not believes;
Where Mars his sons not without fault did breed,
Remus and Romulus, Ilia’s twin-born seed.
Cannot a fair one, if not chaste, please thee?
Never can these by any means agree.
Kindly thy mistress use, if thou be wise;
Look gently, and rough husbands’ laws despise.
Honour what friends thy wife gives, she’ll give many,
Least labour so shall win great grace of any.
So shalt thou go with youths to feasts together,
And see at home much that thou ne’er brought’st thither.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[365] Old eds. “least.” (“Nec custodiri, ni velit, ulla potest.”)

[366] The original has “Nescio quid, quod te ceperit, esse putant.”

[367] Dyce calls this line an “erroneous version of ‘Non proba sit quam vir servat, sed adultera; cara est.'” But Merkel’s reading is “Non proba fit quam vir servat, sed adultera cara”—which is accurately rendered by Marlowe.

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VI.[368]

Ad amnem dum iter faceret ad amicam.

Flood with reed-grown[369] slime banks, till I be past
Thy waters stay: I to my mistress haste.
Thou hast no bridge, nor boat with ropes to throw,
That may transport me, without oars to row.
Thee I have passed, and knew thy stream none such,
When thy wave’s brim did scarce my ankles touch.
With snow thawed from the next hill now thou gushest,[370]
And in thy foul deep waters thick thou rushest.
What helps my haste? what to have ta’en small rest?
What day and night to travel in her quest?
If standing here I can by no means get
My foot upon the further bank to set.
Now wish I those wings noble Perseus had,
Bearing the head with dreadful adders[371] clad;
Now wish the chariot, whence corn fields were found,
First to be thrown upon the untilled ground:
I speak old poet’s wonderful inventions,
Ne’er was, nor [e’er] shall be, what my verse mentions.
Rather, thou large bank-overflowing river,
Slide in thy bounds; so shalt thou run for ever.
Trust me, land-stream, thou shalt no envy lack,
If I a lover be by thee held back.
Great floods ought to assist young men in love,
Great floods the force of it do often prove.
In mid Bithynia,[372] ’tis said, Inachus
Grew pale, and, in cold fords, hot lecherous.
Troy had not yet been ten years’ siege out stander,
When nymph Neæra rapt thy looks, Scamander.
What, not Alpheus in strange lands to run,
The Arcadian virgin’s constant love hath won?
And Creusa unto Xanthus first affied,
They say Peneus near Phthia’s town did hide.
What should I name Asop,[373] that Thebe loved,
Thebe who mother of five daughters proved,
If, Achelöus, I ask where thy horns stand,
Thou say’st, broke with Alcides’ angry hand.
Not Calydon, nor Ætolia did please;
One Deianira was more worth than these.
Rich Nile by seven mouths to the vast sea flowing,
Who so well keeps his water’s head from knowing,
Is by Evadne thought to take such flame,
As his deep whirlpools could not quench the same.
Dry Enipeus, Tyro to embrace,
Fly back his stream[374] charged; the stream charged, gave place.
Nor pass I thee, who hollow rocks down tumbling,
In Tibur’s field with watery foam art rumbling.
Whom Ilia pleased, though in her looks grief revelled,
Her cheeks were scratched, her goodly hairs dishevelled.
She, wailing Mar’s sin and her uncle’s crime,
Strayed barefoot through sole places[375] on a time.
Her, from his swift waves, the bold flood perceived,
And from the mid ford his hoarse voice upheaved,
Saying, “Why sadly tread’st my banks upon,
Ilia sprung from Idæan Laomedon?
Where’s thy attire? why wanderest here alone?
To stay thy tresses white veil hast thou none?
Why weep’st and spoil’st with tears thy watery eyes?
And fiercely knock’st thy breast that open lies?
His heart consists of flint and hardest steel,

That seeing thy tears can any joy then feel.
Fear not: to thee our court stands open wide,
There shalt be loved: Ilia, lay fear aside.
Thou o’er a hundred nymphs or more shalt reign,
For five score nymphs or more our floods contain.
Nor, Roman stock, scorn me so much I crave,
Gifts than my promise greater thou shalt have.”[376]
This said he: she her modest eyes held down.
Her woful bosom a warm shower did drown.
Thrice she prepared to fly, thrice she did stay,
By fear deprived of strength to run away.
Yet rending with enragèd thumb her tresses,
Her trembling mouth these unmeet sounds expresses:
“O would in my forefathers’ tomb deep laid,
My bones had been while yet I was a maid:
Why being a vestal am I wooed to wed,
Deflowered and stainèd in unlawful bed.
Why stay I? men point at me for a whore,
Shame, that should make me blush, I have no more.”
This said; her coat hoodwinked her fearful eyes,
And into water desperately she flies.
‘Tis said the slippery stream held up her breast,
And kindly gave her what she likèd best.
And I believe some wench thou hast affected,
But woods and groves keep your faults undetected.
While thus I speak the waters more abounded,
And from the channel all abroad surrounded.
Mad stream, why dost our mutual joys defer?
Clown, from my journey why dost me deter?
How would’st thou flow wert thou a noble flood?
If thy great fame in every region stood?
Thou hast no name, but com’st from snowy mountains;
No certain house thou hast, nor any fountains;
Thy springs are nought but rain and melted snow,
Which wealth cold winter doth on thee bestow.
Either thou art muddy in mid-winter tide,
Or full of dust dost on the dry earth slide.
What thirsty traveller ever drunk of thee?
Who said with grateful voice, “Perpetual be!”
Harmful to beasts, and to the fields thou proves,
Perchance these[377] others, me mine own loss moves.0
To this I fondly[378] loves of floods told plainly,
I shame so great names to have used so vainly.
I know not what expecting, I ere while,
Named Achelöus, Inachus, and Nile.[379]
But for thy merits I wish thee, white stream,[380]
Dry winters aye, and suns in heat extreme.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[368] Not in Isham copy or ed. A.—In the old copies this elegy is marked “Elegia v.” The fifth elegy (beginning “Nox erat et somnus,” &c.) was not contained in Marlowe’s copy.

[369] Old eds. “redde-growne.”

[370] So Dyce for “rushest” of the old eds.

[371] So Dyce for “arrowes” of the old eds.

[372] The original has “Inachus in Melie Bithynide pallidus isse.” &c.—Dyce suggests that Marlowe’s copy had “in media Bithynide.”

[373] Old eds. “Aesope.”

[374] Old eds. “shame.”

[375] “Loca sola.”

[376] The original has “Desit famosus qui notet ora pudor” (or “Desint … quae,” &c.)

[377] “Forsitan haec alios, me mea damna movent.”

[378] “Demens.”

[379] Old eds. “Ile.”

[380] Marlowe read “nunc candide” for “non candide.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VII.

Quod ab amica receptus, cum ea coire non potuit, conqueritur.

Either she was foul, or her attire was bad,
Or she was not the wench I wished to have had.
Idly I lay with her, as if I loved not,
And like a burden grieved the bed that moved not.
Though both of us performed our true intent,
Yet could I not cast anchor where I meant.
She on my neck her ivory arms did throw,
Her[381] arms far whiter than the Scythian snow.
And eagerly she kissed me with her tongue,
And under mine her wanton thigh she flung,
Yea, and she soothed me up, and called me “Sir,”[382]
And used all speech that might provoke and stir.
Yet like as if cold hemlock I had drunk,
It mockèd me, hung down the head and sunk.
Like a dull cipher, or rude block I lay,
Or shade, or body was I, who can say?
What will my age do, age I cannot shun,
Seeing[383] in my prime my force is spent and done?
I blush, that being youthful, hot, and lusty,
I prove neither youth nor man, but old and rusty.
Pure rose she, like a nun to sacrifice,
Or one that with her tender brother lies.
Yet boarded I the golden Chie[384] twice,
And Libas, and the white-cheeked Pitho thrice.
Corinna craved it in a summer’s night,
And nine sweet bouts had we[385] before daylight.
What, waste my limbs through some Thessalian charms?
May spells and drugs do silly souls such harms?
With virgin wax hath some imbast[386] my joints?
And pierced my liver with sharp needle-points?[387]
Charms change corn to grass and make it die:
By charms are running springs and fountains dry.
By charms mast drops from oaks, from vines grapes fall,
And fruit from trees when there’s no wind at all.
Why might not then my sinews be enchanted?
And I grow faint as with some spirit haunted?
To this, add shame: shame to perform it quailed me,
And was the second cause why vigour failed me.
My idle thoughts delighted her no more,
Than did the robe or garment which she wore.
Yet might her touch make youthful Pylius fire,
And Tithon livelier than his years require.
Even her I had, and she had me in vain,
What might I crave more, if I ask again?
I think the great gods grieved they had bestowed,
This[388] benefit: which lewdly[389] I foreslowed.[390]
I wished to be received in, in[391] I get me.
To kiss, I kiss;[392] to lie with her, she let me.
Why was I blest? why made king to refuse[393] it?
Chuff-like had I not gold and could not use it?
So in a spring thrives he that told so much,[394]
And looks upon the fruits he cannot touch.
Hath any rose so from a fresh young maid,
As she might straight have gone to church and prayed?
Well, I believe, she kissed not as she should,
Nor used the sleight and[395] cunning which she could.
Huge oaks, hard adamants might she have moved,
And with sweet words caus[ed] deaf rocks to have loved.
Worthy she was to move both gods and men,
But neither was I man nor livèd then.
Can deaf ears[396] take delight when Phæmius sings?
Or Thamyris in curious painted things?
What sweet thought is there but I had the same?
And one gave place still as another came.
Yet notwithstanding, like one dead it lay,
Drooping more than a rose pulled yesterday.
Now, when he should not jet, he bolts upright,
And craves his task, and seeks to be at fight.
Lie down with shame, and see thou stir no more.
Seeing thou[397] would’st deceive me as before.
Thou cozenest me: by thee surprised am I,
And bide sore loss[398] with endless infamy.
Nay more, the wench did not disdain a whit
To take it in her hand, and play with it.
But when she saw it would by no means stand,
But still drooped down, regarding not her hand,
“Why mock’st thou me,” she cried, “or being ill,
Who bade thee lie down here against thy will?
Either thou art witched with blood of frogs[399] new dead,
Or jaded cam’st thou from some other’s bed.”
With that, her loose gown on, from me she cast her;
In skipping out her naked feet much graced her.
And lest her maid should know of this disgrace,
To cover it, spilt water in the place.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[381] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A:—

“That were as white as is the Scithian snow.”

[382] “Dominumque vocavit.”

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

[384] “Flava Chlide.”

[385] So Isham copy and ed. A.—Eds. B, C “we had.”

[386] The verb “embase” or “imbase” is frequently found in the sense of “abase.” Here the meaning seems to be “weakened, enfeebled.” (Ovid’s words are “Sagave pœnicea defixit nomina cera.”)

[387] So Isham copy and ed. A (“needle points”).—Eds. B, C “needles’ points.”

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

[389] “Turpiter.”

[390] Neglected.

[391] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy “received in, and in I got me.”

[392] So old eds.—Dyce reads “kiss’d.”

[393] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “and refusde it.”

[394] “Sic aret mediis taciti vulgator in undis.”

[395] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “nor.”

[396] Isham copy “yeares;” ed. A “yeres;” eds. B, C “eare.”

[397] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “Seeing now thou.”

[398] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “great hurt.”

[399] The original has “Aut te trajectis Aeaea venefica lanis,” &c. (As Dyce remarks, Marlowe read “ranis.”)

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia VIII.[400]

Quod ad amica non recipiatur, dolet.

What man will now take liberal arts in hand,
Or think soft verse in any stead to stand?
Wit was sometimes more precious than gold;
Now poverty great barbarism we hold.
When our books did my mistress fair content,
I might not go whither my papers went.
She praised me, yet the gate shut fast upon her,
I here and there go, witty with dishonour.
See a rich chuff, whose wounds great wealth inferred,

For bloodshed knighted, before me preferred.
Fool, can’st thou him in thy white arms embrace?
Fool, can’st thou lie in his enfolding space?
Know’st not this head[401] a helm was wont to bear?
This side that serves thee, a sharp sword did wear.
His left hand, whereon gold doth ill alight,
A target bore: blood-sprinkled was his right.
Can’st touch that hand wherewith some one lies dead?
Ah, whither is thy breast’s soft nature fled?
Behold the signs of ancient fight, his scars!
Whate’er he hath, his body gained in wars.
Perhaps he’ll tell how oft he slew a man,
Confessing this, why dost thou touch him than?[402]
I, the pure priest of Phœbus and the Muses,
At thy deaf doors in verse sing my abuses.
Not what we slothful know,[403] let wise men learn,
But follow trembling camps and battles stern.
And for a good verse draw the first dart forth:[404]
Homer without this shall be nothing worth.
Jove, being admonished gold had sovereign power,
To win the maid came in a golden shower.
Till then, rough was her father, she severe,
The posts of brass, the walls of iron were.
But when in gifts the wise adulterer came,
She held her lap ope to receive the same.
Yet when old Saturn heaven’s rule possest,
All gain in darkness the deep earth supprest.
Gold, silver, iron’s heavy weight, and brass,
In hell were harboured; here was found no mass.
But better things it gave, corn without ploughs,
Apples, and honey in oaks’ hollow boughs.
With strong ploughshares no man the earth did cleave,
The ditcher no marks on the ground did leave.
Nor hanging oars the troubled seas did sweep,
Men kept the shore and sailed not into deep.
Against thyself, man’s nature, thou wert cunning,
And to thine own loss was thy wit swift running.
Why gird’st thy cities with a towerèd wall,
Why let’st discordant hands to armour fall?
What dost with seas? with th’ earth thou wert content;
Why seek’st not heaven, the third realm, to frequent?
Heaven thou affects: with Romulus, temples brave,
Bacchus, Alcides, and now Cæsar have.
Gold from the earth instead of fruits we pluck;
Soldiers by blood to be enriched have luck.
Courts shut the poor out; wealth gives estimation.
Thence grows the judge, and knight of reputation.
All,[405] they possess: they govern fields and laws,
They manage peace and raw war’s bloody jaws.
Only our loves let not such rich churls gain:

‘Tis well if some wench for the poor remain.
Now, Sabine-like, though chaste she seems to live,
One her[406] commands, who many things can give.
For me, she doth keeper[407] and husband fear,
If I should give, both would the house forbear.
If of scorned lovers god be venger just,
O let him change goods so ill-got to dust.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[401] So ed. B.—Ed. C “his.” (“Caput hoc galeam portare solebat.”)

[402] Then.

[403] Old eds. knew.

[404] Marlowe has quite mistaken the meaning of the original “Proque bono versu primum deducite pilum.”

[405] A very loose rendering of Ovid’s couplet—

“Omnia possideant; illis Campusque Forumque
Serviat; hi pacem crudaque bella gerant.”

[406] So Dyce for “she” of the old eds. (“Imperat ut captae qui dare multa potest.”)

[407] The original has “Me prohibet custos: in me timet illa maritum.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia IX.[408]

Tibulli mortem deflet.

If Thetis and the Morn their sons did wail,
And envious Fates great goddesses assail;
Sad Elegy,[409] thy woful hairs unbind:
Ah, now a name too true thou hast I find.
Tibullus, thy work’s poet, and thy fame,
Burns his dead body in the funeral flame.
Lo, Cupid brings his quiver spoilèd quite,
His broken bow, his firebrand without light!
How piteously with drooping wings he stands,
And knocks his bare breast with self-angry hands.
The locks spread on his neck receive his tears,
And shaking sobs his mouth for speeches bears.
So[410] at Æneas’ burial, men report,
Fair-faced Iülus, he went forth thy court.
And Venus grieves, Tibullus’ life being spent,
As when the wild boar Adon’s groin had rent.
The gods’ care we are called, and men of piety,
And some there be that think we have a deity.
Outrageous death profanes all holy things,
And on all creatures obscure darkness brings.
To Thracian Orpheus what did parents good?
Or songs amazing wild beasts of the wood?
Where[411] Linus by his father Phœbus laid,
To sing with his unequalled harp is said.
See Homer from whose fountain ever filled
Pierian dew to poets is distilled:
Him the last day in black Avern hath drowned:
Verses alone are with continuance crowned.
The work of poets lasts: Troy’s labour’s fame,
And that slow web night’s falsehood did unframe.
So Nemesis, so Delia famous are,
The one his first love, th’ other his new care.
What profit to us hath our pure life bred?
What to have lain alone in empty bed?
When bad Fates take good men, I am forbod
By secret thoughts to think there is a God.
Live godly, thou shalt die; though honour heaven,
Yet shall thy life be forcibly bereaven.
Trust in good verse, Tibullus feels death’s pains,

Scarce rests of all what a small urn contains.
Thee, sacred poet, could sad flames destroy?
Nor fearèd they thy body to annoy?
The holy gods’ gilt temples they might fire,
That durst to so great wickedness aspire.
Eryx’ bright empress turned her looks aside,
And some, that she refrained tears, have denied.
Yet better is’t, than if Corcyra’s Isle,
Had thee unknown interred in ground most vile.
Thy dying eyes here did thy mother close,
Nor did thy ashes her last offerings lose.
Part of her sorrow here thy sister bearing,
Comes forth, her unkembed[412] locks asunder tearing.
Nemesis and thy first wench join their kisses
With thine, nor this last fire their presence misses.
Delia departing, “Happier loved,” she saith,
“Was I: thou liv’dst, while thou esteem’dst my faith.”
Nemesis answers, “What’s my loss to thee?
His fainting hand in death engraspèd me.”
If aught remains of us but name and spirit,
Tibullus doth Elysium’s joy inherit.
Their youthful brows with ivy girt to meet him,
With Calvus learned Catullus comes, and greet him;
And thou, if falsely charged to wrong thy friend,
Callus, that car’dst[413] not blood and life to spend,
With these thy soul walks: souls if death release,
The godly[414] sweet Tibullus doth increase.
Thy bones, I pray, may in the urn safe rest,
And may th’ earth’s weight thy ashes naught molest.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[409] Ed. B “Eeliga”—Ed. C “Elegia.”


“Fratris in Aeneae sic illum funere dicunt
Egressum tectis, pulcher Iule, tuis.”

[411] The original has—

“Aelinon in silvis idem pater, aelinon, altis
Dicitur invita concinuisse lyra.”

In Marlowe’s copy the couplet must have been very different.

[412] Old eds. “vnkeembe” and “unkeemb’d.”

[413] Old eds. “carst.”

[414] “Auxisti numeros, culte Tibulle, pios.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia X.[415]

Ad Cererem, conquerens quod ejus sacris cum amica concumbere non permittatur.

Come were the times of Ceres’ sacrifice;
In empty bed alone my mistress lies.
Golden-haired Ceres crowned with ears of corn,
Why are our pleasures by thy means forborne?
Thee, goddess, bountiful all nations judge,
Nor less at man’s prosperity any grudge.
Rude husbandmen baked not their corn before,
Nor on the earth was known the name of floor.[416]
On mast of oaks, first oracles, men fed;
This was their meat, the soft grass was their bed.
First Ceres taught the seed in fields to swell,
And ripe-eared corn with sharp-edged scythes to fell.
She first constrained bulls’ necks to bear the yoke,
And untilled ground with crooked ploughshares broke.
Who thinks her to be glad at lovers’ smart,
And worshipped by their pain and lying apart?
Nor is she, though she loves the fertile fields,
A clown, nor no love from her warm breast yields:
Be witness Crete (nor Crete doth all things feign)
Crete proud that Jove her nursery maintain.
There, he who rules the world’s star-spangled towers,
A little boy drunk teat-distilling showers.
Faith to the witness Jove’s praise doth apply;
Ceres, I think, no known fault will deny.
The goddess saw Iasion on Candian Ide,
With strong hand striking wild beasts’ bristled hide.
She saw, and as her marrow took the flame,
Was divers ways distract with love and shame.
Love conquered shame, the furrows dry were burned,
And corn with least part of itself returned.
When well-tossed mattocks did the ground prepare,
Being fit-broken with the crooked share,
And seeds were equally in large fields cast,
The ploughman’s hopes were frustrate at the last.
The grain-rich goddess in high woods did stray,
Her long hair’s ear-wrought garland fell away.
Only was Crete fruitful that plenteous year;
Where Ceres went, each place was harvest there.
Ida, the seat of groves, did sing[417] with corn,
Which by the wild boar in the woods was shorn.
Law-giving Minos did such years desire,
And wished the goddess long might feel love’s fire.
Ceres, what sports[418] to thee so grievous were,
As in thy sacrifice we them forbear?
Why am I sad, when Proserpine is found,
And Juno-like with Dis reigns under ground?
Festival days ask Venus, songs, and wine,
These gifts are meet to please the powers divine.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[416] Threshing-floor (“area”).

[417] Marlowe has made the school-boy’s mistake of confusing “caneo” and “cano.”

[418] The original has

“Quod tibi secubitus tristes, dea flava, fuissent,
Hoc cogor sacris nunc ego ferre tuis.”

Marlowe appears to have read “Qui tibi concubitus,” &c.

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XI.[419]

Ad amicam a cujus amore discedere non potest.

Long have I borne much, mad thy faults me make;
Dishonest love, my wearied breast forsake!
Now have I freed myself, and fled the chain,
And what I have borne, shame to bear again.
We vanquish, and tread tamed love under feet,
Victorious wreaths[420] at length my temples greet.
Suffer, and harden: good grows by this grief,
Oft bitter juice brings to the sick relief.
I have sustained, so oft thrust from the door,
To lay my body on the hard moist floor.
I know not whom thou lewdly didst embrace,
When I to watch supplied a servant’s place.
I saw when forth a tirèd lover went.
His side past service, and his courage spent,
Yet this is less than if he had seen me;
May that shame fall mine enemies’ chance to be.
When have not I, fixed to thy side, close laid?
I have thy husband, guard, and fellow played.
The people by my company she pleased;
My love was cause that more men’s love she seized.
What, should I tell her vain tongue’s filthy lies,
And, to my loss, god-wronging perjuries?
What secret becks in banquets with her youths,
With privy signs, and talk dissembling truths?
Hearing her to be sick, I thither ran,
But with my rival sick she was not than.
These hardened me, with what I keep obscure:[421]
Some other seek, who will these things endure.
Now my ship in the wishèd haven crowned,
With joy hears Neptune’s swelling waters sound.
Leave thy once-powerful words, and flatteries,
I am not as I was before, unwise.
Now love and hate my light breast each way move,
But victory, I think, will hap to love.
I’ll hate, if I can; if not, love ‘gainst my will,
Bulls hate the yoke, yet what they hate have still.
I fly her lust, but follow beauty’s creature,
I loathe her manners, love her body’s feature.
Nor with thee, nor without thee can I live,
And doubt to which desire the palm to give.
Or less fair, or less lewd would thou might’st be:
Beauty with lewdness doth right ill agree.
Her deeds gain hate, her face entreateth love;
Ah, she doth more worth than her vices prove!
Spare me, oh, by our fellow bed, by all
The gods, who by thee, to be perjured fall.[422]
And by thy face to me a power divine,
And by thine eyes, whose radiance burns out mine!
Whate’er thou art, mine art thou: choose this course,
Wilt have me willing, or to love by force.
Rather I’ll hoist up sail, and use the wind,
That I may love yet, though against my mind.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[420] The original has “Venerunt capiti cornua sera meo.”

[421] “Et que taceo.”

[422] “Qui dant fallendos se tibi saepe, deos.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XII.[423]

Dolet amicam suam ita suis carminibus innotuisse ut rivales multos sibi pararit.

What day was that, which all sad haps to bring,
White birds to lovers did not[424] always sing?
Or is I think my wish against the stars?
Or shall I plain some god against me wars?
Who mine was called, whom I loved more than any,
I fear with me is common now to many.
Err I? or by my books[425] is she so known?
‘Tis so: by my wit her abuse is grown.
And justly: for her praise why did I tell?
The wench by my fault is set forth to sell.
The bawd I play, lovers to her I guide:
Her gate by my hands is set open wide.
‘Tis doubtful whether verse avail or harm,
Against my good they were an envious charm.
When Thebes, when Troy, when Cæsar should be writ,
Alone Corinna moves my wanton wit.
With Muse opposed, would I my lines had done,
And Phœbus had forsook my work begun!
Nor, as use will not poets’ record hear,

Would I my words would any credit bear.
Scylla by us her father’s rich hair steals,
And Scylla’s womb mad raging dogs conceals.
We cause feet fly, we mingle hares with snakes,
Victorious Perseus a winged steed’s back takes.
Our verse great Tityus a huge space outspreads,
And gives the viper-curlèd dog three heads.
We make Enceladus use a thousand arms,
And men enthralled by mermaid’s[426] singing charms.
The east winds in Ulysses’ bags we shut,
And blabbing Tantalus in mid-waters put.
Niobe flint, Callist we make a bear,
Bird-changèd Progne doth her Itys tear.[427]
Jove turns himself into a swan, or gold,
Or his bull’s horns Europa’s hand doth hold.
Proteus what should I name? teeth, Thebes’ first seed?
Oxen in whose mouths burning flames did breed?
Heaven-star, Electra,[428] that bewailed her sisters?
The ships, whose godhead in the sea now glisters?
The sun turned back from Atreus’ cursed table?
And sweet-touched harp that to move stones was able?
Poets’ large power is boundless and immense,
Nor have their words true history’s pretence.
And my wench ought to have seemed falsely praised,
Now your credulity harm to me hath raised.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[424] Marlowe has put his negative in the wrong place and made nonsense of the couplet:—

“Quis fuit ille dies quo tristia semper amanti
Omina non albae concinuistis aves?”

[425] Old eds. “lookes.”

[426] “Ambiguae captos virginis ore viros.” (“Ambigua virgo” is the sphinx.)

[427] The original has “Concinit Odrysium Cecropis ales Ityn.”

[428] Marlowe’s copy must have been very corrupt here. The true reading is

“Flere genis electra tuas, auriga, sorores?”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIII.[429]

De Junonis festo.

When fruit-filled Tuscia should a wife give me,
We touched the walls, Camillus, won by thee.
The priests to Juno did prepare chaste feasts,
With famous pageants, and their home-bred beasts.
To know their rites well recompensed my stay,
Though thither leads a rough steep hilly way.
There stands an old wood with thick trees dark clouded:
Who sees it grants some deity there is shrouded.
An altar takes men’s incense and oblation,
An altar made after the ancient fashion.
Here, when the pipe with solemn tunes doth sound,
The annual pomp goes on the covered[430] ground.
White heifers by glad people forth are led,
Which with the grass of Tuscan fields are fed,
And calves from whose feared front no threatening flies,
And little pigs, base hogsties’ sacrifice,
And rams with horns their hard heads wreathèd back;
Only the goddess-hated goat did lack,
By whom disclosed, she in the high woods took,
Is said to have attempted flight forsook.
Now[431] is the goat brought through the boys with darts,
And give[n] to him that the first wound imparts.
Where Juno comes, each youth and pretty maid,
Show[432] large ways, with their garments there displayed.
Jewels and gold their virgin tresses crown,
And stately robes to their gilt feet hang down.
As is the use, the nuns in white veils clad,
Upon their heads the holy mysteries had.
When the chief pomp comes, loud[433] the people hollow;
And she her vestal virgin priests doth follow.
Such was the Greek pomp, Agamemnon dead;
Which fact[434] and country wealth, Halesus fled.
And having wandered now through sea and land,
Built walls high towered with a prosperous hand.
He to th’ Hetrurians Juno’s feast commended:
Let me and them by it be aye befriended.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[430] “It per velatas annua pompa vias.”


“Nunc quoque per pueros jaculis incessitur index
Et pretium auctori vulneris ipsa datur.”

[432] “Praeverrunt latas veste jacente vias.”—Dyce remarks that Marlowe read “Praebuerant.”

[433] “Ore favent populi.” (In Henry’s monumental edition of Virgil’s Æneid, vol. iii. pp. 25-27, there is a very interesting note on the meaning of the formula “ore favete.” He denies the correctness of the ordinary interpretation “be silent.”)

[434] “Et scelus et patrias fugit Halæsus opes.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XIV.

Ad amicam, si peccatura est, ut occulte peccet.

Seeing thou art fair, I bar not thy false playing,
But let not me, poor soul, know[435] of thy straying.
Nor do I give thee counsel to live chaste,
But that thou would’st dissemble, when ’tis past.
She hath not trod awry, that doth deny it.
Such as confess have lost their good names by it.
What madness is’t to tell night-pranks[436] by day?
And[437] hidden secrets openly to bewray?
The strumpet with the stranger will not do,
Before the room be clear and door put-to.
Will you make shipwreck of your honest name,
And let the world be witness of the same?
Be more advised, walk as a puritan,
And I shall think you chaste, do what you can.
Slip still, only deny it when ’tis done,
And, before folk,[438] immodest speeches shun.
The bed is for lascivious toyings meet,
There use all tricks,[439] and tread shame under feet.
When you are up and dressed, be sage and grave,
And in the bed hide all the faults you have.
Be not ashamed to strip you, being there,
And mingle thighs, yours ever mine to bear.[440]
There in your rosy lips my tongue entomb,
Practise a thousand sports when there you come.
Forbear no wanton words you there would speak,
And with your pastime let the bedstead creak;
But with your robes put on an honest face,
And blush, and seem as you were full of grace.
Deceive all; let me err; and think I’m right,

And like a wittol think thee void of slight.
Why see I lines so oft received and given?
This bed and that by tumbling made uneven?
Like one start up your hair tost and displaced,
And with a wanton’s tooth your neck new-rased.
Grant this, that what you do I may not see;
If you weigh not ill speeches, yet weigh me.
My soul fleets[441] when I think what you have done,
And thorough[442] every vein doth cold blood run.
Then thee whom I must love, I hate in vain,
And would be dead, but dead[443] with thee remain.
I’ll not sift much, but hold thee soon excused.
Say but thou wert injuriously accused.
Though while the deed be doing you be took,
And I see when you ope the two-leaved book,[444]
Swear I was blind; deny[445] if you be wise,
And I will trust your words more than mine eyes.
From him that yields, the palm[446] is quickly got,
Teach but your tongue to say, “I did it not,”
And being justified by two words, think
The cause acquits you not, but I[447] that wink.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[436] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “night-sports.”

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

[438] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “people.”

[439] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “toyes.”

[440] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “mine ever yours.”

[441] “Mens abit.”

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

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

[444] The original has

“Et fuerint oculis probra videnda meis.”

[445] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “yeeld not.”

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

[447] So Isham copy and eds. A, B.—Ed. C “that I.”

P. Ovidii Nasonis Amorum Elegia XV.[448]

Ad Venerem, quod elegis finem imponat.

Tender Loves’ mother[449] a new poet get,
This last end to my Elegies is set.[450]
Which I, Peligny’s foster-child, have framed,
Nor am I by such wanton toys defamed.
Heir of an ancient house, if help that can,
Not only by war’s rage[451] made gentleman.
In Virgil Mantua joys: in Catull Verone;
Of me Peligny’s nation boasts alone;
Whom liberty to honest arms compelled,
When careful Rome in doubt their prowess held.[452]
And some guest viewing watery Sulmo’s walls,
Where little ground to be enclosed befalls,
“How such a poet could you bring forth?” says:
“How small soe’er, I’ll you for greatest praise.”
Both loves, to whom my heart long time did yield,[453]
Your golden ensigns pluck[454] out of my field.
Horned Bacchus graver fury doth distil,
A greater ground with great horse is to till.
Weak Elegies, delightful Muse, farewell;
A work that, after my death, here shall dwell.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


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

[449] “Tenerorum mater amorum.”

[450] “Marlowe’s copy of Ovid had ‘Traditur haec elegis ultima charta meis.'”—Dyce. (The true reading is “Raditur hic … meta meis.”)

[451] “Non modo militiae turbine factus eques.”

[452] “Cum timuit socias anxia turba manus.”

[453] “Marlowe’s copy of Ovid had ‘Culte puer, puerique parens mihi tempore longo.’ (instead of what we now read ‘Amathusia culti.’)”—Dyce.

[454] Old eds. “pluckt.”

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