Amores I:4-5

Amores I:4

Your husband is going to the same dinner party as we are; I pray that this is the last dinner he lives to eat!

How shall I react when I see my beloved mistress as a fellow guest? Will he be the one you fondle, and will you snuggle into his bosom to be petted? Will he put his hand on your shoulder whenever he pleases? 

No one should be surprised that when the wine had passed, the white body of Thessalian Hippodamia drove the Centaurs to violence! I don’t live in the forest and I’m not half a horse, but I can scarcely keep my hands off you.

This is how you must behave–and don’t give my words to the winds to scatter! Arrive ahead of your husband; we won’t be able to do anything if you precede him, but precede him anyway.

When he’s reclined on his couch and you walk over to lie beside him, wearing the visage of a modest wife, touch your foot secretly to mine.

Keep your eyes on me to catch my nods and meaningful looks: take and return these secret notes. My eyebrows will speak silent volumes, and you may read the words my fingers draw in wine on the tabletop.

When you think about the sex games we’ve played, touch your tender thumb to your rosy cheek. If you have a silent complaint about me, touch your earlobe with a gentle hand. If something I do or say pleases you, my light, rotate your ring with your finger.

Press the table with your hand the way those praying touch the ground. That will mean you’re wishing many well-deserved evils on your husband.

When he mixes you a cup of wine, I direct that you order him to drink it himself. Ask the slave lightly for what you want to drink.

When the cup returns to you, I’ll take a sip from the place where you then will drink. If perchance he tries to give you a tidbit he’s sampled, reject the bits his mouth has tasted.

Don’t let him put his arm around your shoulders, nor should you gently lay your head on his hard breast–nor let him reach under your garment and finger your nipples. Especially avoid giving him kisses! If you kiss him, I’ll openly admit to being your lover. I’ll cry, ‘Those are mine!’ and push him away.

Now, this just covers what I can see. The things that may go on under your cloak are a source of blind fear to me. don’t lay your thigh over his thigh, nor let your shins rub; nor let your gentle feet play with his hard ones.

Poor me! I have so much to fear because I know how shamelessly I’ve behaved in the past; memory of my own actions tortures me. Often I’ve hastened delight for myself and my mistress by carrying on the sweet work beneath the cover of our garments. You won’t do this, of course–but so that I can be sure, take off the cloak that would conceal his hand.

Encourage your husband to drink (but don’t wheedle him with kisses!), and while he’s drinking add wine secretly to his cup if you can manage it. If he’s dead to the world, lost in dreams and drink, we’ll know how to use the time and place.

Don’t go home till we’re all ready to go together, and make sure you stay in the middle of the group leaving. You’ll find me in the crowd or I’ll find you. Touch any part of me you can, then.

Ah, woe is me! I’m trying to make the best of a few hours, but night commands me to lie separate from my mistress. Your husband locks you in by night. Sadly with tears starting I go to the merciless gates–as far as I am permitted.

Now he takes your kisses–and now more than that! What you give me secretly, he demands of you by right. Still, you can show that you’re unwilling and give in to him as one compelled. Don’t whisper blandishments, and let your gift be grudging.

If my prayers have any value, I hope he will be unable to pleasure you; if not, then at least may he pleasure you only once. But however the luck of the night turns out, tomorrow deny with a strait face that anything happened.

***

Amores I:5

It was summer and the day had reached its middle hour. I was sprawled comfortably in the middle of the couch.

Part of the window was open, the other part shuttered, creating an almost-light like that of the deep woods. This is the way the evening shimmers as the sun sets or the moment when night has fled but day hasn’t yet broken. This is the sort of light that modest girls must have, where their timid embarrassment can hope for concealment.

Then comes Corinna with her tunic unbelted, her hair spilling to either side of her white neck. She looks as lovely as Semiramis going to her marriage bed or as the courtesan Lais, beloved of many men.

I tugged at her tunic. It was so thin that it hid little, but nevertheless she struggled to keep it on. Protesting like one who doesn’t really want to be listened to, she finally surrendered the garment not unhappily.

She stood before me with her clothes cast aside; her body was wholly without flaw. What shoulders, what lovely arms I saw and touched! How perfectly shaped for squeezing were her breasts! How flat her belly below her slender torso, how smooth and swelling her hips, how youthful her thigh.

But why do I describe individual beauties? I saw nothing that was not worthy of praise, and I pressed her naked body to mine.

Is there anyone who doesn’t know what happened next? Finally we both lay back exhausted. Noontime often brings me this kind of good fortune.

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