I MAKE no pretence of justifying the laxity of my morals; I never resort to untruthful pretexts to excuse my wanderings from the path of virtue. I freely confess my faults, if such avowals can serve any useful purpose. Now I have acknowledged my guilt in general terms, I mean to make a clean breast of all my follies. I curse my failings, yet I cannot help finding
pleasure in the very faults that I deplore. How burdensome is the yoke that one would fain cast off. I have not the strength nor the will-power to govern my passions; they bear me along with them, even as the swift tide hurries away the slender bark.
It is not any particular type of beauty that sets my heart on fire. A hundred motives compel me to be always in love. Here is a girl that drops her gaze demurely. That is enough, my heart catches fire and her modesty is the lure that ensnares me. And here is one that is out for booty. To her I fall a willing victim because she is no novice and because she bids fair to be keen and enterprising on a downy couch. And then, if I see one with an expression that recalls to me the Sabine dames, I forthwith tell myself that she has longings but knows how to conceal them. Are you a learned lady? I fall in love with your rare accomplishments. Unlearned? Your naïveté enthralls me. This one finds Callimachus a sorry poet compared with me. I please her, and lo, straightway she pleases me. This one finds fault with my verses and tells me I am no poet. Despite her strictures I fain would have her in my arms. This one walks languorously. Her gait enchants me. This one is prim. Peradventure, if she had a lover 'twould soften her. This one sings delightfully, and breathes from her soft throat the most melodious strains. I long to steal a kiss from her parted lips. Another lightly fingers the trembling chords of her lyre; where is he who could help adoring such skilful fingers? Here is one that wins me with her dancing. I feast my eyes on her seductive poses, on the rhythmic movements of her arms, on the swaying of her whole body as she moves in time to the music. But never mind me, whom anyone can set on fire. Let Hippolytus see her; even he would become a Priapus. You, my tall beauty, recall the heroines of olden days and the bed is not a whit too long for you. And you, my dainty little treasure; I love you, too, just as much.
[paragraph continues] Both are enchanting. Tall and short, I love them both. Here is one that wears no finery; I muse how jewels would enhance her beauty. Here is one tricked out with gems; how dazzling are her charms. Of fair and dark I am alike the slave; white-skinned or sunburnt, I adore them all. Black tresses flutter on a snowy neck? Leda's loveliness lay in her raven hair. Is she fair, the girl I see yonder? Why, ’twas to her golden hair Aurora owed her beauty. Everywhere history helps me to justify my love. A young woman delights me, an older one enthralls me. The one has the beauty of her body, the other experience and richness of mind, to recommend her. In a word, of all the beauties they rave about in Rome, there's none whose lover I am not fain to be.
Non ego mendosos ausim defendere mores