Amores II:1

I, Naso, born in the stream-cut Paelignian hills, composed this book also. I am the poet of my own dalliances.

And again Love has called me to write. Get away from here, get away, you moralists! You aren’t the right playhouse for my tender strains. 

Let the warm-blooded maiden read me to her betrothed, and let me be read by the love-struck boy who knows nothing of the art. Also there are men who, like me, has been wounded by the Love’s bow and who recognize the flames I describe. They wondering will cry, “Who was it that told the poet about what happened to me so that he could write this?”

I remember that once I dared to write of the heavenly battle, of Gyas with a hundred hands and as many heads, when Earth sought vengeance by piling Ossa on steep Pelion to assault Olympus. I was in the clouds and held the thunderbolt with Jupiter when he shot it skillfully to defend his heavens.

Then my girlfriend closed her gates to me. I dropped both Jupiter and the thunderbolt. In fact Jupiter flew right out of my mind.

Jupiter, you must forgive me: your weapons are of no aid to me now. That closed door was more of a thunderbolt to me than yours.

I returned to my own weapons, compliments and delicate lyrics. Such smooth words can soften the bar of any gate.

The proper verses can draw down the horns of the blood-red moon and call back the snowy horses of the racing sun. Serpents split apart, their jaws parted by a verse, and streams run back to their sources. Though they be made of oak, gates and the crossbars locked to the door posts will fall to my verses. Victory will come at last to me!

What would it gain me to sing of swift Achilles? What good to me are the deeds of Agamemnon or his brother Menelaus either one? What matter the wanderings of Odysseus after so many years of war, or the spectacle of poor Hector being dragged behind Achilles’ Thessalian horses?

But when a poet praises the face of a pretty girl, she herself comes to him as his payment. That’s a great price indeed!

Farewell, you heroes with famous names; your thanks don’t benefit me. But girls turn their lovely faces to the songs which purple-clad Love whispers to me.

Comments are closed.