Amores II:18

Amores II:18

If any of you think it’s disgraceful that a man be the slave of a woman, then you can just call me a disgrace. I’m willing to be dishonored so long as Venus, who holds Paphos and wave-washed Cythera, burns me more gently. Would that my mistress were more gentle, but it was never in doubt that I would fall prey to a lovely woman.

The face tells you the personality: Corinna’s face is violent. Poor me, for I know this very well.

To be sure, the image in her mirror justifies her arrogance, unless she should see herself before she is made up. Still, Corinna, though your appearance (that face born to hold my eyes!) gives you kingdom over all things, you ought not scorn me in comparison: it’s possible for lesser lights to be worth mates for their betters.

The nymph Calypso is said to have been taken by love for the mortal Odysseus and to have detained him unwilling. The watery Nereid, Thetis, became mistress to the Peleus, King of Pthius, and the nymph Egeria to just King Numa. Venus was mated to Vulcan, though he limped to her on a twisted leg and was filthy with soot from the furnace. This verse is like Vulcan: coupling a heroic hexameter with a shorter line.

You too, my light, should accept me in the same fashion: it befits you like a judge to lay down the law in the middle of the Forum. I will not embarrass you nor stray far from your side. I will not deny our love.

In place of wealth I bring you well-received verses. Many women wish to become famous through me. I know a woman who goes around saying that she is Corinna. What do you think she would offer to make it true?

But distant rivers do not merge their streams: the frigid Eurotas cannot flow with the poplar-bordered Po. No one but you will be honored in my verses; you alone are the font of my genius.


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