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THERE exists (give ear, all ye who are fain to know a prostitute), there exists a certain old hag named Dipsas. Her name she deriveth from her calling. Never, in a sober state, does she behold dark Memnon's daughter with her steeds of roseate hue. Learned in magic and in the Ææan arts, she hath power to turn the swiftest rivers and make them flow backwards towards their sources. Skilled is she in the virtues of herbs, of linseed twisted on the cabalistic wheel, and of hippomanes. She needeth but to wish, and lo, the heavens grow dark with heavy clouds; to wish again, and lo, the heavens shine in purest splendour. I have seen, Wouldst thou believe it, blood drip from the stars. I have seen red blood overspread the face of the moon.

I suspect that she, living though she be, flies through the shadows of the night, and that her hag's body is covered with feathers. That is what I suspect, and such is the report. In her eyes shines a double pupil whence rays of fiery light dart forth. She calleth forth the dead from the graves, our grandsires and great-grandsires. At the sound of her incantations, the solid earth doth open. She delighteth to profane the chastity of the marriage bed, and her poisoned tongue is not lacking in eloquence. Chance, on a day, made me a witness of her lessons. I was able, thanks to our double doors, to hear unseen. Thus, then, she spake:

"Dost know, my fair one, that yesterday thou didst

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please the eye of one of our young favourites of fortune? He spied thee and his eyes never wandered from thy face. And whom, indeed, wouldst thou fail to attract? Thou yieldest in loveliness to none. But, alas, thy raiment is not worthy of thy beauty. Would thou wert rich as thou art fair. Win thou riches, and I shall no more be poor. The star of Mars in opposition hath been unkindly to thee; but Mars hath departed; and now Venus, the protectress of thy sex, hath taken his place. See how favourable to thee his advent is. A wealthy lover desireth thee and is fain to know what thou dost lack. His face and figure as thine own are fair, and if he fain would buy thy charms, so shouldst thou purchase his."

The girl blushed as she heard this. "Modesty," the crone went on," becometh a fair cheek, but ’tis useless, save when feigned. Real modesty is nearly always harmful. When, with downcast eyes, thou gazest modestly on thy bosom, look at none save in proportion to the price he offereth. Maybe, when Tatius was king, the heavy Sabine dames refused to give themselves to more men than one. Nowadays Mars employs our gallants in foreign wars; but Venus reigns in the City of her beloved Æneas. Enjoy yourselves, my pretty ones. She is chaste whom none hath courted. Or, if coyness doth not hold her back, she herself maketh the first advances. Come now, efface these frowns that delve their lines upon thy brow; with those wrinkles many a failing will be removed. ’Twas with a bow that Penelope tested the strength of her young lovers; and that bow, the index of their prowess, was of horn. Time hurries on, by us unheeded. It fleets away even as a river whose waters ever flow. Bronze is made bright by rubbing; what availeth fair apparel, if it be not worn. The palace that is tenantless decays beneath the moss that moulders it. So beauty, if there be none to enjoy, waxeth swiftly old. Nor do one or two lovers suffice. The more there be, the greater is the pay, and the more readily obtained.

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[paragraph continues] Rich is the booty that falls to the hoary wolves who seek their prey from a whole flock. Now tell me, what dost thou get from this poet of thine save his latest verses? A few thousand verses, such is the coin in which thy lover payeth. The god of poesy himself, robed in a mantle gold inwrought, touches the chords of a golden lyre. Let him who hath gold to give thee be greater in thy sight than great Homer himself. Mark my words, it does a man good to give. Scorn not the slave who has bought his freedom. ’Tis no crime to have thy foot marked with chalk, nor shouldst thou suffer thyself to be dazzled with the lordly display of a long line of ancestors. Begone and take thy forefathers with thee, thou needy lover. And how now? Here is another who would fain lie a night with thee, because he is comely. Ah, no indeed! Let him go and beg some money for thee from his own admirer.

"Be not over-exacting whilst thou art spreading thy nets, for fear lest the prey should escape thee; but once he is in thy power, fleece him as thou wilt. Simulated love is often no bad thing. Let him think thou lovest. But see thou love not for nothing. Sometimes withhold thy favours. As for a pretext, why, maybe thy head doth ache, or else the festival of Isis compels thee to abstain; but hold not thyself too long aloof, lest he grow used to the lack of thee, or lest love, by dint of being rebuffed, at length grow cold. Let thy door, closed to the needy, be open to the rich. Let the laments of the rejected reach the ears of the favoured lover. If thou woundest thy lover, be wroth with him as if he had hurt thee first. Forestall his upbraidings with thine own; but indulge not over-long thine anger. Anger too far prolonged hath oft engendered hate. Let thine eyes learn the secret of shedding tears at will and moistening thy cheek. If thou wouldst deceive, fear not to forswear thyself. Venus makes the gods deaf to the plaints of the deceived lover. Take into thy service a clever

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man and maid who may indicate what presents you would welcome. Let them also beg a few things for themselves. If they ask a little of many, each separate ear of corn will soon make up a rick. Let thy sister and thy mother and thy nurse lay thy lover under contribution. There will soon be a goodly heap of booty, when several hands labour at the task. Thou lackest a pretext for soliciting a present? Show him a cake and say it is thy birthday.

"Above all, never let thy lover think that he hath no rival; love, without rivalry, endureth not. Let him see upon thy bed the traces of another possessor of thy charms, and on thy neck the marks of his lascivious embraces; and above all, let him behold the gifts his rival hath bestowed on thee. If he brings nought with him, tell him of the novelties they are showing in the Via Sacra. When thou hast dragged from him a goodly tale of presents, bid him not despoil himself entirely, but ask him for a loan--that thou wilt ne'er repay. Let thy tongue beguile him, to conceal thy scheming; caress him, the more surely to lure him to his doom. Sweet honey hides the subtlest poison. If thou followest my lesson, which long experience has taught me, if thou tossest not my words to the winds, how oft, when I am dead, wilt thou pray the gods to let the earth lie lightly upon me."

Thus she was speaking, when my shadow betrayed me. ’Twas with difficulty I kept myself from tearing her last grey hairs, her eyes that were shedding drunken tears, and her cheeks furrowed all over with wrinkles. "May the gods," I said, "reject thee, and send thee a miserable old age, endless winters and an everlasting thirst."


Est quaedam--quicumque volet cognoscere lenam,
    audiat!--est quaedam nomine Dipsas anus.
ex re nomen habet--nigri non illa parentem
    Memnonis in roseis sobria vidit equis.
5 illa magas artes Aeaeaque carmina novit
    inque caput liquidas arte recurvat aquas;
scit bene, quid gramen, quid torto concita rhombo
    licia, quid valeat virus amantis equae.
cum voluit, toto glomerantur nubila caelo;
10     cum voluit, puro fulget in orbe dies.
sanguine, siqua fides, stillantia sidera vidi;
    purpureus Lunae sanguine vultus erat.
hanc ego nocturnas versam volitare per umbras
    suspicor et pluma corpus anile tegi.
15 suspicor, et fama est. oculis quoque pupula duplex
    fulminat, et gemino lumen ab orbe venit.
evocat antiquis proavos atavosque sepulcris
    et solidam longo carmine findit humum.
Haec sibi proposuit thalamos temerare pudicos;
20     nec tamen eloquio lingua nocente caret.
fors me sermoni testem dedit; illa monebat
    talia--me duplices occuluere fores:
'scis here te, mea lux, iuveni placuisse beato?
    haesit et in vultu constitit usque tuo.
25 et cur non placeas? nulli tua forma secunda est;
    me miseram, dignus corpore cultus abest!
tam felix esses quam formosissima, vellem--
    non ego, te facta divite, pauper ero.
stella tibi oppositi nocuit contraria Martis.
30     Mars abiit; signo nunc Venus apta suo.
prosit ut adveniens, en adspice! dives amator
    te cupiit; curae, quid tibi desit, habet.
est etiam facies, qua se tibi conparet, illi;
    si te non emptam vellet, emendus erat.'
35 Erubuit. 'decet alba quidem pudor ora, sed iste,
    si simules, prodest; verus obesse solet.
cum bene deiectis gremium spectabis ocellis,
    quantum quisque ferat, respiciendus erit.
forsitan inmundae Tatio regnante Sabinae
40     noluerint habiles pluribus esse viris;
nunc Mars externis animos exercet in armis,
    at Venus Aeneae regnat in urbe sui.
ludunt formosae; casta est, quam nemo rogavit--
    aut, si rusticitas non vetat, ipsa rogat.
45 has quoque, quae frontis rugas in vertice portant,
    excute; de rugis crimina multa cadent.
Penelope iuvenum vires temptabat in arcu;
    qui latus argueret, corneus arcus erat.
labitur occulte fallitque volubilis aetas,
50     ut celer admissis labitur amnis aquis.
aera nitent usu, vestis bona quaerit haberi,
    canescunt turpi tecta relicta situ--
forma, nisi admittas, nullo exercente senescit.
    nec satis effectus unus et alter habent;
55 certior e multis nec tam invidiosa rapina est.
    plena venit canis de grege praeda lupis.
Ecce, quid iste tuus praeter nova carmina vates
    donat? amatoris milia multa leges.
ipse deus vatum palla spectabilis aurea
60     tractat inauratae consona fila lyrae.
qui dabit, ille tibi magno sit maior Homero;
    crede mihi, res est ingeniosa dare.
nec tu, siquis erit capitis mercede redemptus,
    despice; gypsati crimen inane pedis.
65 nec te decipiant veteres circum atria cerae.
    tolle tuos tecum, pauper amator, avos!
qui, quia pulcher erit, poscet sine munere noctem,
    quod det, amatorem flagitet ante suum!
Parcius exigito pretium, dum retia tendis,
70     ne fugiant; captos legibus ure tuis!
nec nocuit simulatus amor; sine, credat amari,
    et cave ne gratis hic tibi constet amor!
saepe nega noctes. capitis modo finge dolorem,
     et modo, quae causas praebeat, Isis erit.
75 mox recipe, ut nullum patiendi colligat usum,
    neve relentescat saepe repulsus amor.
surda sit oranti tua ianua, laxa ferenti;
    audiat exclusi verba receptus amans;
et, quasi laesa prior, nonnumquam irascere laeso--
80     vanescit culpa culpa repensa tua.
sed numquam dederis spatiosum tempus in iram:
    saepe simultates ira morata facit.
quin etiam discant oculi lacrimare coacti,
    et faciant udas illa vel ille genas;
85 nec, siquem falles, tu periurare timeto--
    commodat in lusus numina surda Venus.
servus et ad partes sollers ancilla parentur,
    qui doceant, apte quid tibi possit emi;
et sibi pauca rogent--multos si pauca rogabunt,
90     postmodo de stipula grandis acervus erit.
et soror et mater, nutrix quoque carpat amantem;
    fit cito per multas praeda petita manus.
cum te deficient poscendi munera causae,
    natalem libo testificare tuum!
95 Ne securus amet nullo rivale, caveto;
    non bene, si tollas proelia, durat amor.
ille viri videat toto vestigia lecto
    factaque lascivis livida colla notis.
munera praecipue videat, quae miserit alter.
100     si dederit nemo, Sacra roganda Via est.
cum multa abstuleris, ut non tamen omnia donet,
    quod numquam reddas, commodet, ipsa roga!
lingua iuvet mentemque tegat--blandire noceque;
    inpia sub dulci melle venena latent.
105 Haec si praestiteris usu mihi cognita longo,
    nec tulerint voces ventus et aura meas,
saepe mihi dices vivae bene, saepe rogabis,
    ut mea defunctae molliter ossa cubent.'
Vox erat in cursu, cum me mea prodidit umbra,
110     at nostrae vix se continuere manus,
quin albam raramque comam lacrimosaque vino
    lumina rugosas distraherentque genas.
di tibi dent nullosque Lares inopemque senectam,
    et longas hiemes perpetuamque sitim!

Next: Elegy IX: He Compareth Love With War.