Delicias

Sandro Botticelli - Venere e Marte 1482-1483
Sandro Botticelli, Venere e Marte (ca. 1483)

Iunge, puer, teretes Veneris Martisque catenas:
gestet amans Mavors titulos et vincula portet
captivus, quem bella timent! utque ipse veharis,
iam roseis fera colla iugis submittat amator.
post vulnus, post bella potens Gradivus anhelat
in castris modo tiro tuis, semperque timendus
te timet et sequitur qua ducunt vincla marita.
ite, precor, Musae: dum Mars, dum blanda Cythere
imis ducta trahunt suspiria crebra medullis,
dumque intermixti captatur spiritus oris,
carmine doctiloquo Vulcani vincla parate,
quae Martem nectant Veneris nec bracchia laedant
inter delicias roseo prope livida serto.
(Reposianus, De Concubitu Martis et Veneris 10-22)

Draw tight, boy, the well-woven chains of Venus and of Mars: Let Mavors* in love wear the label of a slave, let him whom wars do dread be a prisoner bearing bonds! To let you ride triumphant, let the lover yield his savage neck to a rosy yoke. After wounds dealt and battles fought, powerful Gradivus pants as a new-enlisted recruit in your camp; he that should ever be feared fears you, following where wedlock’s bonds do lead. Pray, come, ye Muses: while Mars, while alluring Cythere** draw fast-following sighs from the depth of their being, and while they woo the breath of intermingled kisses, do ye with dulcet strain make ready Vulcan’s bonds to twine round Mars and yet do no hurt to Venus’ arms that mid their dalliance are half-discoloured with the pressure of even a garland of roses***.

* An ancient form of Mars: his surname Gradivus (14) marks him as god of the march (gradus).
** Cythere, a late Latin collateral form of Cytherea, refers to the birth of Venus from the sea at the island of Cythera.
*** i.e. arms so delicate that rose-leaves might almost make them black and blue.

(tr. Arnold M. Duff, with his notes; slightly adapted)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s