Sacred Texts  Classics  Ovid  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at




MOURN and lament with me! My tablets have come back, with this one sad word upon them scored: Impossible! I have some belief in omens. Just now, as she went out, Nape struck her foot against the threshold. Henceforth, when thou art sent anywhere, remember to walk more warily and pick up thy feet. Away with you, ye ill-omened

p. 24

tablets, away, thou sullen wood, and as for thee, thou wax that bringest her refusal, thou wast sucked from the flower of the towering hemlock; surely thou art the dregs of the vile honey of some Corsican bee. Thou seemest to have been stained with vermilion, and truly thou art of bloody hue. Go and kiss the ground, ye useless things; may the heavy wheel of the first cart that passes crush you into atoms. No, the fellow that hacked you from the tree to shape and fashion had filthy hands. That same tree must have served as a gibbet for some unlucky wretch, and furnished the crosses of death to the executioner; beneath its mournful shade the howlet shrieked., and amid its branches the vulture and the, screech-owl laid their eggs. To such wood as this was I mad enough to confide the secrets of my heart. Such was the wood I bade carry to my mistress the tenderest words of love. This wax would more appropriately have served for some crusty lawyer's writ, or for the diary wherein a miser might record the payments that wrung his heart. O lying tablets, little wonder that men call ye double; faith, ’twas a number of evil augury. What is the worst fate my wrath can wish you? May time devour you and rot you, and may the wax which covers you grow damp and foul with mildew!


Flete meos casus--tristes rediere tabellae
    infelix hodie littera posse negat.
omina sunt aliquid; modo cum discedere vellet,
    ad limen digitos restitit icta Nape.
5 missa foras iterum limen transire memento
    cautius atque alte sobria ferre pedem!
Ite hinc, difficiles, funebria ligna, tabellae,
    tuque, negaturis cera referta notis!--
quam, puto, de longae collectam flore cicutae
10     melle sub infami Corsica misit apis.
at tamquam minio penitus medicata rubebas--
    ille color vere sanguinolentus erat.
proiectae triviis iaceatis, inutile lignum,
    vosque rotae frangat praetereuntis onus!
15 illum etiam, qui vos ex arbore vertit in usum,
    convincam puras non habuisse manus.
praebuit illa arbor misero suspendia collo,
    carnifici diras praebuit illa cruces;
illa dedit turpes raucis bubonibus umbras,
20     vulturis in ramis et strigis ova tulit.
his ego commisi nostros insanus amores
    molliaque ad dominam verba ferenda dedi?
aptius hae capiant vadimonia garrula cerae,
    quas aliquis duro cognitor ore legat;
25 inter ephemeridas melius tabulasque iacerent,
    in quibus absumptas fleret avarus opes.
Ergo ego vos rebus duplices pro nomine sensi.
    auspicii numerus non erat ipse boni.
quid precer iratus, nisi vos cariosa senectus
30     rodat, et inmundo cera sit alba situ?

Next: Elegy XIII: He Entreats The Dawn To Hasten Not Her Coming.