Amores II:11

You swore to me, Graecinus, that no man could love two women at the same time. Because I believed you, I was unprepared and now (poor thing!) find myself in love with two women at the same time.

Either is beautiful, both are extremely careful in their toilette, and it’s a tossup as to which is the more accomplished. This one is prettier than that one in some ways, but that one is prettier than the first in other ways. 

Sometimes I prefer the one, sometimes the other; I wobble like a skiff buffeted by variable squalls. Shifting loves hold my mind divided.

Why Venus, Goddess of Eryx, did you double my endless griefs? Wasn’t one girl enough to plague me? Why add leaves to the trees, why sprinkle stars onto the night heavens, why stand on the shore to pour water into the deep sea?

Even so, this is better than if I lay alone at night. Let my enemies live a life of abstinence, let them sleep on a womanless couch, let them sprawl across a bed they share with no one.

I prefer that demanding Love rouse me from my torpid dreams. May I not be the only burden on my mattress, may no one prevent some girl from ruining me. A single girl is enough for me–but if I can’t have one, then two.

I’ll make do: though my limbs seem slender, they don’t lack strength. I may be small, but I’m wiry! Desire will nourish the strength of my loins: no girl has felt cheated by my performance. Often I’ve spent the entire night in lust and still at dawn remained strong and capable.

Happy is the man who perishes in the mutual struggles of Venus. May the Gods grant that this be the way that I die!

A soldier’s breast is pierced by the spears of the enemy; he buys eternal fame with his blood. The greedy merchant seeks wealth, and when he’s eventually shipwrecked, the water of the seas he’s plowed so often fill his lying mouth for the last time.

May my life slip away while I’m at the work of Venus; may I still be on the job when I die! May some weeping mourner at my funeral say, “He died in a way befitting his life.”

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