Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dirty Latin (part two)

Happy January everyone!  Today's Dirty Latin selection is from Ovid (he's the guy who wrote the Metamorphoses -- you may remember him from high school or college English!) He also wrote many other works, including the Ars Amatoria, or The Art of Love, where he instructs men and women on how to woo or be wooed.  (Funnily enough, he also wrote Remedia Amoris, or The Cures for Love, where he tells you how to get rid of a lover as well!)

This passage is from the end of Book II of the Ars Amatoria (Part XIX):

"See, the knowing bed receives two lovers:

halt, Muse, at the closed doors of the room.
Flowing words will be said, by themselves, without you:
and that left hand won’t lie idle on the bed.
Fingers will find what will arouse those parts,
where love’s dart is dipped in secrecy.
Hector did it once with vigour, for Andromache,
and wasn’t only useful in the wars.
And great Achilles did it for his captive maid,
when he lay in his sweet bed, weary from the fight.
You let yourself be touched by hands, Briseis,
that were still dyed with Trojan blood.
And was that what overjoyed you, lascivious girl,
those conquering fingers approaching your body?
Trust me, love’s pleasure’s not to be hurried,
but to be felt enticingly with lingering delays.
When you’ve reached the place, where a girl loves to be touched,
don’t let modesty prevent you touching her.
You’ll see her eyes flickering with tremulous brightness,
as sunlight often flashes from running water.
Moans and loving murmurs will arise,
and sweet sighs, and playful and fitting words.
But don’t desert your mistress by cramming on more sail,
or let her overtake you in your race:
hasten to the goal together: that’s the fullness of pleasure,
when man and woman lie there equally spent.
This is the pace you should indulge in, when you’re given
time for leisure, and fear does not urge on the secret work.
When delay’s not safe, lean usefully on the oar,
and plunge your spur into the galloping horse.
While strength and years allow, sustain the work:
bent age comes soon enough on silent feet.
Plough the earth with the blade, the sea with oars,
take a cruel weapon in your warring hands,
or spend your body, and strength, and time, on girls:
this is warlike service too, this too earns plenty."

This translation is thanks to A.S. Kline.

Photo found here.   

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