To them, neither Ares nor Kydoimos [battle tumult] were gods, neither Zeus the king, nor Kronos, nor Poseidon, but Kypris [Aphrodite] was their queen. Her they appeased with properly respectful gifts: with pictures of animals and with finely crafted perfumes, with burnt offerings of pure myrrh and sweet-smelling frankincense, and by pouring yellow honey on the ground. The altar was not drenched with the pure gore of bulls, but this was the greatest pollution among humans: to wash out the soul and eat the noble limbs. (tr. Andrej & Ivana Petrovic)
Nectar, vina, cibus, vestis, doctrina, facultas—
muneribus largis tu mihi, Gogo, sat es;
tu refluus Cicero, tu noster Apicius extas;
hinc satias verbis, pascis et inde cibis.
sed modo da veniam; bubla turgente quiesco,
nam fit lis uteri, si caro mixtra fremat.
hic, ubi bos recubat, fugiet, puto, pullus et anser;
cornibus et pinnis non furor aequus erit.
et modo iam somno languentia lumina claudo,
nam dormire meum carmina lenta probant.
(Venantius Fortunatus 7.2)
Nectar, wine, food, clothing, learning, and wit—with your generous presents, Gogo, you satisfy me. You are a Cicero reborn, an Apicius for our times; like one you gratify with words, like the other you nurture with food. But now, pray, pardon, because of beef not digested I’m calling a halt, for the belly is the site of dispute, if a mixture of meats growls complaints. Here, where the ox reclines, the chicken and goose will, I think, flee; between horns and feathers there will be no equal fight. But now I am closing my drowsy eyes in sleep; this playful poem gives proof of my sleepy state. (tr. Michael Roberts)
Amare liceat, si potiri non licet.
fruantur alii; non moror, non sum invidus;
nam sese excruciat, qui beatis invidet.
quos Venus amavit, facit amoris compotes;
nobis Cupido velle dat, posse abnegat.
olli purpurea delibantes oscula
clemente morsu rosea labia vellicent,
candentes dentes in se effligant suavio,
malas adorent ore et ingenuas genas
et pupularum nitidas geminas gemmulas.
quin et cum tenera membra molli lectulo
complictiora adhaerent Veneris glutino,
libido cum lasciva instinctos suscitat
sinuare ad Veneris cursum femina feminae
inter gannitus et subantis voculas,
carpant papillas atque amplexus intiment
arentque sulcos molles arvo Venerio
thyrsumque pangant hortulo in Cupidinis,
dent crebros ictus conivente lumine,
trepidante cursu Venere et anima fessula
eiaculent tepidum rorem niveis laticibus.
haec illi faciant, queis Venus non invidet;
at nobis casso saltem delectamine
amare liceat, si potiri non licet!
(Apuleius, Anth. Lat. 712)
May I be allowed to love, if I am not allowed to possess!
Others may enjoy it: I do not hinder them, I am not envious;
For he who envies the lucky ones, tortures himself.
To those whom Venus has loved, she grants love:
To me Cupid gives desire, but he denies me fulfilment.
Nibbling someone’s dark-red kisses
With soft biting let them peck rosy lips
Let them strike gleaming teeth against each other in an erotic kiss,
cheeks let them worship with their mouth, and modest temples,
And twinkling little twin gem eyes.
What is more, when tender limbs on a soft bed
Are more closely intertwined by the glue of Venus,
When lascivious lust rouses the instincts
To curve a woman’s thighs to Venus’ course
Between loving whimperings and soft excited words
Let them tease nipples and press embraces,
Let them plough soft furrows on Venus’ field
And plant the thyrsus in Cupid’s garden,
Let them give frequent pushes with closing eyes;
While Venus is still trembling from her course, and the mind is tired,
Let them ejaculate warm dew with snowy liquid.
This those may do whom Venus does not envy;
But as to me, with hollow enjoyment at least,
May I be allowed to love, if I am not allowed to possess! (tr. Regine May)
Lead a wife to your house when you are in good season, neither falling very many years short of thirty nor having added very many: this is a marriage in good season for you. The woman should have reached puberty four years earlier, and in the fifth she should marry. Marry a virgin so that you can teach her cherished usages: and above all marry one who lives near to you, after you have looked around carefully in all directions, lest your marriage cause your neighbors merriment. For a man acquires nothing better than a good wife, but nothing more chilling than a bad one, a dinner-ambusher, one who singes her husband without a torch, powerful though he be, and gives him over to a raw old age. (tr. Glenn W. Most)
Daughter of Amphimedo,
an excellent and …
woman, whom now the
mouldy earth holds,
there are many sexual delights of
the goddess for young men
besides The Divine Thing. One of them will be enough.
About these things, quietly,
when it becomes dark,
you and I, with the god’s help, will take counsel.
I will obey as you command me.
Much … me …
Under the coping-stone, under the gates …
Do not begrudge anything, dear girl,
for I will come to a halt in the grassy gardens. (tr. Marguerite Johnson & Terry Ryan)
Verbis conceptis deierare ausim, praeterquam qui Tiberium Gracchum necarunt, neminem inimicum tantum molestiae tantumque laboris quantum te ob has res mihi tradidisse, quem oportebat omnium eorum, quos antehac habui liberos partis tolerare, atque curare ut quam minimum sollicitudinis in senecta haberem, utique quaecumque ageres, ea velles maxume mihi placere, atque uti nefas haberes rerum maiorum adversum meam sententiam quicquam facere, praesertim mihi quoi parva pars vitae superest. ne id quidem tam breve spatium potest opitulari quin et mihi adversere et rem publicam profliges? denique quae pausa erit? ecquando desinet familia nostra insanire? ecquando modus ei rei haberi poterit? ecquando desinemus et habentes et praebentes molestiis insistere? ecquando perpudescet miscenda atque perturbanda re publica? sed si omnino id fieri non potest, ubi ego mortua ero, petito tribunatum: per me facito quod lubebit, cum ego non sentiam. ubi mortua ero, parentabis mihi et invocabis deum parentem. in eo tempore non pudebit te eorum deum preces expetere, quos vivos atque praesentes relictos atque desertos habueris? ne ille sirit Iuppiter te ea perseverare nec tibi tantam dementiam venire in animum! et si perseveras, vereor ne in omnem vitam tantum laboris culpa tua recipias, uti nullo tempore tute tibi placere possis.
(Cornelius Nepos, De Viris Illustribus fr. 2 Winstedt)
I would take a solemn oath that apart from those who killed Tiberius Gracchus no enemy has given me so much trouble and so much pain as you in this matter, who ought to undertake the part of all the children I have ever had, and to make sure that I should have as little worry as possible in my old age, and that, whatever your schemes might be, you should wish them to be agreeable to me, and that you should count it a sin to take any major step against my wishes, especially considering I have only a little part of life left. Cannot even that brief span of time aid me in preventing you from opposing me and ruining our country? Where will it all end? Will our family ever cease from madness? Will bounds ever be set to it? Shall we ever cease to dwell on affronts, both causing and suffering them? Shall we ever begin to feel true shame for confounding and harassing our country? But if that is quite impossible, when I am dead, then seek the Tribunate. Do what you like as far as I am concerned, when I am not there to know it. When I am dead, you will offer funerary sacrifices in my honour and invoke me as your hallowed parent At that time will you not be ashamed to seek the intercession of those hallowed ones whom, when they were alive and present, you abandoned and deserted? May Jove above not let you persist in this nor let such lunacy enter your mind! But if you do persist, I fear that through your own fault you will encounter so much trouble throughout your whole life that at no time you will be able to rest content. (tr. Edward J. Kenney, adapted by Emily Hemelrijk)