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SUCH as she who, snatched away from the banks of the Eurotas in the Phrygian ships, was for her two husbands the cause of so long a war; such as was Leda when cunning Jupiter, hidden beneath the deceptive disguise of a white-plumed swan, seduced her and made her his paramour; such as Amymone wandering in the parched fields of Argos, her urn upon her head; such wast thou in my eyes. I feared for thee the divers wiles that Love suggested to almighty Jove, I feared for thee the metamorphosis of the Eagle and the Bull. But now I fear no more. I am cured of my malady, no more mine eyes are blinded by thy loveliness. How came this change, thou askest? Why, ’tis that

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thou settest a price upon thy favours. This is the reason why thou pleasest me no more. So long as thou wast art less and free from guile I loved thee body and soul; but now this blemish on thy soul hath robbed thy body of its charms. Love is a child and Love is naked. The years have not corrupted him and he wears no clothes, that he may be without guile, Wherefore dost thou ask the child of Venus to sell his favours at a price? He wears no robe wherein to put the coin. The hard calling of a soldier suits neither Venus nor her son; how befits it, then, that divinities so unused to war should serve for pay?

"A courtesan selleth herself for a given price to the first customer; by yielding her body she gaineth her miserable pay. Yet withal she curseth the tyranny of the greedy whoremaster, and what thou doest for thy pleasure, she doth because she must.

Take, for an example, the beasts devoid of reason. Thou wilt blush to find the brutes possessed of finer feelings than thyself. The mare asks no gift of the stallion, nor the heifer of the bull; the ram payeth not the ewe on whom he wreaks his passion. Woman alone loves to flaunt the spoils she wrests from man. She alone setteth a price upon her favours; she alone offereth herself for hire. She selleth a pleasure that bringeth delight to both, a pleasure which both have longed for, and she maketh him pay for the bliss he giveth her. When love hath equal charms for both, wherefore should one sell it and the other buy? Wherefore should I lose, and thou win at a game wherein we both minister to our mutual bliss?

A witness may not sell his testimony for money; nor must a judge take bribes. It is a disgrace for an advocate to sell his services to a pauper or for a tribunal to grow fat on the proceeds of justice. So, too, it is shameful for a woman to augment her patrimony by bartering her charms and by selling her body to the highest bidder. Gratitude

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we owe for a favour freely given, but none for the sordid hiring of a woman and a bed. Once thou hast received thy pay, thy, hire--love and gratitude are at an end.

Ah, dear women, never set a price on the favours ye bestow. Ill-gotten gains will never prosper. Of what value were the bracelets of the Sabines to the young vestal who was crushed beneath the weight of their armour? A son plunged his sword into the loins that bore him; a necklace lured him to his crime.

Not that thou shouldst refrain from asking presents of a rich man. He hath the wherewithal to satisfy thy demands. Pluck the grapes that hang from the loaded vines; gather thy apples in the fruitful orchards of Alcinoüs. And for the poor man, bethink thee of the good he doeth thee, of his zeal and his fidelity. Let every man give what he hath unto his mistress. My wealth consists in celebrating in my verse the women who render themselves worthy of that honour. She who maketh me desire, her my art exalteth. Precious gifts and costly raiment will perish; gems set in gold will one day shattered be, but my verses shall endure for ever. What disgusts and enrages me is not giving, but seeing thee ask for pay. What I refuse thee when thou askest, I will freely give thee when thou askest not.


Qualis ab Eurota Phrygiis avecta carinis
    coniugibus belli causa duobus erat,
qualis erat Lede, quam plumis abditus albis
    callidus in falsa lusit adulter ave,
5 qualis Amymone siccis erravit in agris,
    cum premeret summi verticis urna comas--
talis eras; aquilamque in te taurumque timebam,
    et quidquid magno de Iove fecit amor.
Nunc timor omnis abest, animique resanuit error,
10     nec facies oculos iam capit ista meos.
cur sim mutatus, quaeris? quia munera poscis.
    haec te non patitur causa placere mihi.
donec eras simplex, animum cum corpore amavi;
    nunc mentis vitio laesa figura tua est.
15 et puer est et nudus Amor; sine sordibus annos
     et nullas vestes, ut sit apertus, habet.
quid puerum Veneris pretio prostare iubetis?
    quo pretium condat, non habet ille sinum!
nec Venus apta feris Veneris nec filius armis--
20     non decet inbelles aera merere deos.
Stat meretrix certo cuivis mercabilis aere,
    et miseras iusso corpore quaerit opes;
devovet imperium tamen haec lenonis avari
    et, quod vos facitis sponte, coacta facit.
25 Sumite in exemplum pecudes ratione carentes;
    turpe erit, ingenium mitius esse feris.
non equa munus equum, non taurum vacca poposcit;
    non aries placitam munere captat ovem.
sola viro mulier spoliis exultat ademptis,
30     sola locat noctes, sola licenda venit,
et vendit quod utrumque iuvat quod uterque petebat,
    et pretium, quanti gaudeat ipsa, facit.
quae Venus ex aequo ventura est grata duobus,
    altera cur illam vendit et alter emit?
35 cur mihi sit damno, tibi sit lucrosa voluptas,
    quam socio motu femina virque ferunt?
Non bene conducti vendunt periuria testes,
    non bene selecti iudicis arca patet.
turpe reos empta miseros defendere lingua;
40     quod faciat magni, turpe tribunal, opes;
turpe tori reditu census augere paternos,
    et faciem lucro prostituisse suam.
gratia pro rebus merito debetur inemptis;
    pro male conducto gratia nulla toro.
45 omnia conductor solvit; mercede soluta
    non manet officio debitor ille tuo.
parcite, formosae, pretium pro nocte pacisci;
    non habet eventus sordida praeda bonos.
non fuit armillas tanti pepigisse Sabinas,
50     ut premerent sacrae virginis arma caput;
e quibus exierat, traiecit viscera ferro
    filius, et poenae causa monile fuit.
Nec tamen indignum est a divite praemia posci;
    munera poscenti quod dare possit, habet.
55 carpite de plenis pendentes vitibus uvas;
    praebeat Alcinoi poma benignus ager!
officium pauper numeret studiumque fidemque;
    quod quis habet, dominae conferat omne suae.
est quoque carminibus meritas celebrare puellas
60     dos mea; quam volui, nota fit arte mea.
scindentur vestes, gemmae frangentur et aurum;
    carmina quam tribuent, fama perennis erit.
nec dare, sed pretium posci dedignor et odi;
    quod nego poscenti, desine velle, dabo!

Next: Elegy XI: He Asks Nape To Deliver A Love-letter To Her Mistress.