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p. 48



TWAS thou, oh, yes, I mind me well, ’twas thou, Græcinus, who wast wont to say a man could never love two women at a time. ’Tis, then, through thee that I have been deceivèd, through thee that, all defenceless and unarmed, I've fallen into the snare, for here in me--oh, scoundrel that I am--thou dost behold a man in love with two fair charmers at a time. Lovely are both and both in love with dress. In artifice I scarcely know which one the other doth surpass. Now doth the first the second one outshine, and now the second doth eclipse the first; yes, sometimes one, and then, anon, the other, taketh my fancy most. My heart, like to a barque tossed by opposing winds, veers sometimes hither, sometimes thither, between these rival loves. Oh, wherefore, Erycina, wherefore dost thou everlastingly increase my torments. Did not one mistress suffice to keep me busy? Wherefore to the trees add leaves, stars to the starry sky, or water to the boundless deep?

Howbeit 'twere better so, than live a loveless life. The life that scorns delights and lives laborious days I'll leave my enemies. Let them sleep soundly in their lonely beds, lie in the middle and stretch themselves to their heart's content. As for myself, I'd liefer cruel love should break my downy slumbers; I would not be my bed's sole burden, no, not I. Let my mistress, without let or hindrance, ease me of love's pangs if she alone be equal to the task. If she be not, then I'll have two of them. My body's thin, but strong; it lacks not strength, but flesh. Besides, Love's joys my prowess will sustain. Never a woman have I disappointed yet, and often after battling all the night, the morn hath found me ready to

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renew the fray. Happy he who dies in the lists of Love. I pray the gods that such may be my end. The soldier, if he will, may oppose his breast to the foemen's spears, and buy undying glory with his blood. The miser may roam the world in search of wealth, and when he's shipwrecked, let his lying mouth choke with the seas his vessel's keel hath ploughed. Be it my lot softly to fade away doing Love's service, to die in the very crisis of the fray. And may some gentle soul, shedding a tear upon my grave, exclaim "in sooth thy death did well become thy life."


Tu mihi, tu certe, memini, Graecine, negabas
    uno posse aliquem tempore amare duas.
per te ego decipior, per te deprensus inermis--
    ecce, duas uno tempore turpis amo!
utraque formosa est, operosae cultibus ambae;
    artibus in dubio est haec sit an illa prior.
pulchrior hac illa est, haec est quoque pulchrior illa;
    et magis haec nobis, et magis illa placet!
erro, velut ventis discordibus acta phaselos,
    dividuumque tenent alter et alter amor.
quid geminas, Erycina, meos sine fine dolores?
    non erat in curas una puella satis?
quid folia arboribus, quid pleno sidera caelo,
    in freta collectas alta quid addis aquas?
Sed tamen hoc melius, quam si sine amore iacerem--
    hostibus eveniat vita severa meis!
hostibus eveniat viduo dormire cubili
    et medio laxe ponere membra toro!
at mihi saevus amor somnos abrumpat inertes,
    simque mei lecti non ego solus onus!
me mea disperdat nullo prohibente puella--
    si satis una potest, si minus una, duae!
sufficiam--graciles, non sunt sine viribus artus;
    pondere, non nervis corpora nostra carent;
et lateri dabit in vires alimenta voluptas.
    decepta est opera nulla puella mea;
saepe ego lascive consumpsi tempora noctis,
    utilis et forti corpore mane fui.
felix, quem Veneris certamina mutua perdunt!
    di faciant, leti causa sit ista mei!
Induat adversis contraria pectora telis
    miles et aeternum sanguine nomen emat.
quaerat avarus opes et, quae lassarit arando,
    aequora periuro naufragus ore bibat.
at mihi contingat Veneris languescere motu,
    cum moriar, medium solvar et inter opus;
atque aliquis nostro lacrimans in funere dicat:
    'conveniens vitae mors fuit ista tuae!'

Next: Elegy XI: He Seeks To Dissuade Corinna From Going To Baiæ.