Amores III:11A-B

Amores III:11A

Long have I borne your slights, but your insults have finally overcome my patience. I have liberated myself, broken my chains, and now am ashamed to have borne what I wasn’t ashamed to bear. I have revolted from Love’s domination and trampled him underfoot; at last I am grown a man. 

“Steel yourself and bear it,” I tell myself. “This hardship will pay future dividends. Often a bitter drink is the best thing for those who’ve been completely drained.”

Was it for this I bore the checks, that I was so often blocked by your gates and forced to lay my delicate body on the hard ground before them? Was it for this that I lay late before your barred door while you embraced What’s-his-face?

Oh, yes, I saw him–the lover who staggered from your house with his dick dragging! Even that was less painful than that he should see me and sneer–but this shame too I bore!

When did I fail to stand by you and be your protector, your husband and your comrade? Besides that, I introduced you into society. Because of my love, you were loved by many!

What shall I say of the lies your tongue told to deceive me, or the sworn promises you broke to my loss? What about the way you exchanged nods with other men at parties, or the innocent conversations your wink turned into come-ons?

You told me you were sick. Headlong and terrified I rushed to you–and found that you were well enough for my rival.

All this I ignored, enduring in silence. Just try to find another who’d bear what I have! But now at last I’ve garlanded my ship for departure and dare to launch it onto the tumbling waves. You can stop your flattery and the words that used to have the power to destroy me: I am not the fool I used to be.


Recent scholarship decided that what had been classed as one poem was actually two.

Amores III:IIB

Love and hatred strive, twisting my fickle heart in opposite directions; but I think love conquers.

I flee your wantonness, but your beauty draws me back from flight. I’d like to shun your immorality, but still I love your body. Thus I can neither live with you nor without you, and I don’t seem to know what I want.

I wish you were either less lovely or less of a slut, so that such a wonderful body were not the frame for debauched morals. Your behavior deserves my hatred, but your face demands that I love you. Alas for me, that face has more effect than your vices.

Spare me, I beg you, by the pledges we made to one another in bed; by all the gods who so often give you leave to foreswear yourself; by your face, which to me is itself the image of a great goddess; and finally by your eyes, which have blinded me.

Whatever you are, you will always be mine. No matter what you choose, you get me as well whether you want me or not; my madness compels me. I am a sail raised to the wind, compelled to love you whether I would or no.

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