You direct your song to angry Achilles, Macer, and don arms in your opening verse with the leaders combined at Troy.
For my own part, I slip into the ignoble shadows of Venus; delicate Cupid shatters my intentions to attempt great things.
Often I said to my girl, “Will you please go away?” but she immediately sat on my lap. Often I said, “I’m ashamed,” and she, scarcely holding back her tears, said, “Are you ashamed to love poor little me?” She wound her arms around my neck and gave me a thousand kisses, which completely destroyed my resolve.
I am defeated; my genius is recalled from the arms it had taken up. I write about my struggles here at home.
Nevertheless, I took up the scepter and doggedly worked on a tragedy, doing the best job I could. Cupid laughed and snatched away my dramatic cloak, my embroidered buskins and the scepter from my hand. Cupid dragged my inspiration back to my sordid mistress, scoring a triumph over the buskin-wearing bard.
What I am permitted to do is to lay bare the wiles of gentle Cupid (I have much experience with them, alas); or I may write about what Penelope said to the returning Ulysses and your tears for Demophon, abandoned Phyllis; or of Paris and Macareus and ungrateful Jason; or choose Hippolytus and Theseus, the father of Hippolytus; or what wretched Dido said, holding the drawn sword, or beloved Sappho sang on Lesbos with her Aonian lyre.
How swiftly my friend Sabinus wrote responses to my works from all over the world and spread them widely. Fair-skinned Penelope recognized the scars of Ulysses; stepmother Phaedra read the reply of Hippolytus; dutiful Aeneas wrote back to miserable Dido; Phyllis reads his reply as though he were living; sad letters come from Jason to Hypsipyle; and beloved Sappho vows her lyre to Apollo.
Nor are you safe, Macer, singing of war: golden Cupid stands silent in the midst of arms. Paris and his adulterous lover are here, a noble sin, and Laodamia is a comrade to her dead husband Protesilaus.
If I know you, you’ll not go on singing of war but will come over to my camp!