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O THOU who with such happy art dost bind and range thy mistress's hair, thou whom 'twere unjust to place in the ranks of ordinary servants, Nape, as skilful in contriving nocturnal assignations as in conveying missives to my beloved, thou hast often persuaded the hesitating Corinna to come to my arms; thou whose loyalty hath ofttimes saved me in

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a crisis, take these tablets and deliver them this very morning to my mistress. May thine ingenuity prove triumphant over eve obstacle. Thy breast is not made of adamant or steel; nor dost thou carry simplicity to excess. Thou too, methinks hath felt boy Cupid's darts. Fight then and defend the flag 'neath which we both do march. If she ask thee how I fare, tell her the hopes of spending a night with her keep me alive. For the rest, my passionate hand hath writ it on this waxen tablet.

Even as I speak, time fleeteth way. Go and choose a moment when she's free and give her these; but see to it that she read them straightway. Note her eves, her brow while she doth read. Her mute expression will inform thee of my fate As soon as she hath read my words, ask her to indite a long reply. I hate to see blank spaces on the wax. Let her lines be close together, let her writing fill up the margins, so I may feast my eyes upon her letters. Yet wherefore should she weary herself with writing? Let me read but a single word, Come, and swiftly I will deck my tablets with the laurels of victory, hang them as a votive offering in Venus' temple, and inscribe them thus: Unto Venus doth Ovid consecrate you, faithful ministers of his love which, but a while ago, were but a fragment of worthless maple."


Colligere incertos et in ordine ponere crines
    docta neque ancillas inter habenda Nape,
inque ministeriis furtivae cognita noctis
    utilis et dandis ingeniosa notis
5 saepe venire ad me dubitantem hortata Corinnam,
     saepe laboranti fida reperta mihi--
accipe et ad dominam peraratas mane tabellas
    perfer et obstantes sedula pelle moras!
nec silicum venae nec durum in pectore ferrum,
10     nec tibi simplicitas ordine maior adest.
credibile est et te sensisse Cupidinis arcus--
    in me militiae signa tuere tuae!
si quaeret quid agam, spe noctis vivere dices;
    cetera fert blanda cera notata manu.
15 Dum loquor, hora fugit. vacuae bene redde tabellas,
    verum continuo fac tamen illa legat.
adspicias oculos mando frontemque legentis;
    et tacito vultu scire futura licet.
nec mora, perlectis rescribat multa, iubeto;
20     odi, cum late splendida cera vacat.
conprimat ordinibus versus, oculosque moretur
    margine in extremo littera rasa meos.
Quid digitos opus est graphio lassare tenendo?
    hoc habeat scriptum tota tabella 'veni!'
25 non ego victrices lauro redimire tabellas
    nec Veneris media ponere in aede morer.

Next: Elegy XII: He Calls Down Curses On The Tablets Which Bring Him Word Of His Mistress's Refusal.