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p. 45



YOU wonderful little hair-dresser, who only ought to have goddesses' hair to tend, Cypassis, whom in a stolen moment of delight I found by no means unexpert, you who suit your mistress so well, and me better still, tell me who has given our secret away? How did Corinna get wind of our clandestine delights? Did I turn red? Did I let fall a single word that could have betrayed our hidden pleasures a' Nay, didn't I swear that for a man to hanker after a servant-girl he couldn't have all his wits about him.

And yet the Thessalian hero burned with desire for the lovely Briseis, and she was but a slave. No more than a slave was she, the priestess that cast her lures about the King of Mycenæ. Am I then greater than Achilles, greater than the son of Tantalus? Shall I blush at what was deemed a fitting portion for a king?

Nevertheless, when she turned that angry look upon you, I saw you blush red all over. I was not anything like so flustered. I, if you remember, swore by great Venus herself that I was innocent. But you, my goddess, ordain that this beneficent lie may be swept by the warm South over the Carpathian deep.

In payment for these my services, my dusky Cypassis, grant me the sweet pleasure of lying with you to-day. Why do you say no? Why, ungrateful girl, why pretend you are afraid? It will be enough to have deserved well of one of your masters. If you are silly enough to refuse, I shall confess all we have done, I shall become my own accuser, and I shall tell your mistress-yes, I shall, Cypassis--where and how often we have met, what we did, in how many ways, And what they were.


Ponendis in mille modos perfecta capillis,
    comere sed solas digna, Cypassi, deas,
et mihi iucundo non rustica cognita furto,
    apta quidem dominae, sed magis apta mihi--
quis fuit inter nos sociati corporis index?
    sensit concubitus unde Corinna tuos?
num tamen erubui? num, verbo lapsus in ullo,
    furtivae Veneris conscia signa dedi?
Quid, quod in ancilla siquis delinquere possit,
    illum ego contendi mente carere bona?
Thessalus ancillae facie Briseidos arsit;
    serva Mycenaeo Phoebas amata duci.
nec sum ego Tantalide maior, nec maior Achille;
    quod decuit reges, cur mihi turpe putem?
Ut tamen iratos in te defixit ocellos,
    vidi te totis erubuisse genis;
at quanto, si forte refers, praesentior ipse
    per Veneris feci numina magna fidem!
tu, dea, tu iubeas animi periuria puri
    Carpathium tepidos per mare ferre Notos!
Pro quibus officiis pretium mihi dulce repende
    concubitus hodie, fusca Cypassi, tuos!
quid renuis fingisque novos, ingrata, timores?
    unum est e dominis emeruisse satis.
quod si stulta negas, index anteacta fatebor,
    et veniam culpae proditor ipse meae,
quoque loco tecum fuerim, quotiensque, Cypassi,
    narrabo dominae, quotque quibusque modis!

Next: Elegy IX: He Beseeches Cupid Not To Discharge All His Arrows At Him Alone.