You don’t need to watch your wife, fool. That just plays into my hands and makes me want her the more. Whatever is permitted becomes unattractive. What isn’t permitted burns even hotter. Love becomes cold if another permits the love.
We lovers hope and fear equally, and an occasional rebuff makes a place for our prayer. What use is a woman to me who never tries to deceive me? I love nothing that doesn’t occasionally claw me!
Skilled Corinna saw how I was made and cleverly denied me the thing I was trying to gain. Ah, how often when she was perfectly well did she feign a headache and order me slow-footed to go off? Ah, how often did she pretend I’d done something wrong when we both knew I was completely innocent, to give her an excuse for tearing into me?
Thus she goads me, blowing back to full life the fire that was growing cold. Then she will again become biddable and up for anything I want. What flatteries does she hand me, such sweet words does she offer. Such kisses! And great gods, so many!
You too, who recently caught my eye, should often say you’re afraid we’ll be caught, often deny me what I beg you. Let me sleep before your doorposts and bear the deep cold of the frosty night. This will strengthen my love and keep it young for many years.
This nourishment of my spirit aids me. Soft, open love turns quickly to tedium and makes me bilious, just as eating too many sweets does the stomach.
If Danae hadn’t been locked in a bronze tower, Danae wouldn’t have born the child of Jupiter. When Juno tried to safeguard Io by turning her into a cow, as a cow she became more attractive to Jupiter.
Does anybody want what’s permitted and easy? He’s welcome to pluck leaves from trees and drink water from a great river. If a woman wants to rule for a long time, let her delude her lover. (Woe is me! I will be tortured by my own advice!)
Whatever happens, it will harm us to be agreeable. If she pursues me, I flee; if she flees, I pursue her. You who are complaisant about your lovely wife should begin to ask, “Who is that?” every time somebody taps furtively on your door. Ask why the dogs bark in the silence of the night, why her maid is going to and fro carrying letters, why she sleeps alone in her own bed so often.
Let concern over your wife gnaw your marrow; that will give me place and matter for my tricks. The man who is able to love the wife of a fool could steal sand on an empty beach!
I’m giving you fair warning: unless you begin to guard your wife, she will cease to be desirable to me. I’ve born much and for a long time. I’m glad to get this opportunity to warn you that you must guard her well.
Shall I, unhappy man, never be barred from your door? Will there never be a watchman waiting for me in the night? Will I fear nothing? Will I dream with no sighs of regret? Will you do nothing by which I could rightly wish you were dead?
Things are so easy for me because her husband is her pimp! My joy is ruined by your slackness!
Are you looking for another, whom your patience would please? If you want to help me be your rival, forbid me!