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The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius
Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Vincent Katz

Book Description | Reviews | Table of Contents

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Book 1

Chapter 1.1

Cynthia was the first. She caught me with her eyes, a fool
who had never before been touched by desires.
Love cast down my look of constant pride,
and he pressed on my head with his feet,
until he taught me to despise chaste girls,
perversely, and to live without plan.
Already, it’s been a whole year that the frenzy hasn’t stopped,
when, for all that, the gods are against me.

It wasn't by running away from difficulty, Tullus,
that Milanion crushed the hard Iasid's savagery.
He wandered mad in Parthenian caves,
face to face with hairy beasts.
One time, shocked by a wound from Hylaeus' stick,
he groaned in pain on the Arcadian cliffs.
That's how he was able to dominate that swift girl:
so much are prayers and exploits worth in love.

But in me Love is slow, does not stimulate any art,
and he forgets to go on ways he used to know.
You who do that trick with the moon,
who perform rites on magic altars,
change my mistress' mind,
make her face more pale than my own!
Then I'll believe in you, that you can lead stars
and streams from their paths with Cytinean songs.

But you, who call me too late as I slip away, friends,
get help for the insane.

fortiter et ferrum saeuos patiemur et ignis
sit modo libertas quae uelit ira loqui.
ferte per extremas gentis et ferte per undas,
qua non ulla meum femina norit iter.
uos remanete, quibus facili deus annuit aure,
sitis et in tuto semper amore pares.
in me nostra Venus noctes exercet amaras,
et nullo uacuus tempore defit Amor.

hoc, moneo, uitate malum: sua quemque moretur
cura, neque assueto mutet amore locum.
quod si quis monitis tardas aduerterit auris,
heu referet quanto uerba dolore mea!

Bravely will I endure knife and savage fires,
just let me say whatever I want in my rage.
Take me to exotic peoples, across the waves,
where no woman may know my path.
You stay, to whom the god has easily consented;
may you be equal always, in a safe love.
On me old Venus works bitter nights,
and Love is at no time absent.

Avoid this evil, I'm warning you. Let each one linger with his
sweetheart and not change place from an accustomed love.
Because if anyone should turn slow ears to these warnings,
he'll see how they'll come back to haunt him!

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File created: 8/7/2007

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