Erubui, stupui. quia tunc verecundia mentem
abstulit et blandum terror ademit opus,
contrectare manu coepit flagrantia membra
meque etiam digitis sollicitare suis.
nil mihi torpenti vel tactus profuit ignis:
perstitit in medio frigus ut ante foco.
‘quae te crudelis rapuit mihi femina?’ dixit,
‘cuius ab amplexu fessus ad arma redis?’
iurabam curis animum mordacibus uri
nec posse ad luxum tristia corda trahi.
illa dolum credens ‘non’ inquit ‘fallis amantem:
plurima certus amor lumina semper habet.
quin potius placido noli’ inquit ‘parcere ludo:
proice tristitias et renovare ioco.
obtundunt siquidem curarum pondera sensus:
intermissa minus sarcina pondus habet.’
tunc egomet toto nudatus corpore lecto
effusis lacrimis talia verba dedi:
‘cogimur, heu, senes crimen vitiumque fateri,
ne meus extinctus forte putetur amor.
me miserum, cuius non est culpanda voluptas!
vindicor infelix debilitatis ope.
en longo confecta situ tibi tradimus arma,
arma ministeriis quippe dicata tuis.
fac quodcumque potes, nos cessimus. hoc tamen ipso
grandior est hostis, quod minus ardet amor.’
protinus argutas admovit turpiter artes
meque cupit flammis vivificare suis.
ast ubi dilecti persensit funera membri
nec velut expositum surgere vidit opus,
erigitur viduoque toro laniata recumbens
vocibus his luctus et sua damna fovet:
(Maximianus, El. 5.55-87)
I blushed, I froze. Since shame then made me lose my mind
and panic cut off the alluring task,
she started fondling my burning prick by hand
and she aroused me with her fingers too.
Even the strokes of passion did not help my numbness;
frost stayed within the hearth, as in the past.
“What bitch has stolen you from me?” she said, “From whose
grasp do you come back tired to my arms?”
I swore my spirit was inflamed by gnawing cares;
sad hearts cannot be drawn to easy living.
Sensing a trick, she says, “You do not fool your lover!
Constant love always has its many eyes.”
She says, “What’s more, do not reject our pleasing play!
Give up your frowns and be restored by fun!
Indeed, if loads of burdens make your senses dull,
‘some easing of the weight’ relieves the load.”
Then, with my body fully naked on the bed,
I spoke with streaming tears some words like these:
“Alas, old men are forced to cop to blame and guilt,
in case it’s thought, perhaps, my love is quenched.
I am a wretch whose appetite is not to blame!
Jinxed, I’m excused by virtue of my weakness.
Look! I give you these arms weak from long disuse—
the arms assigned, of course, for your deployments.
Do what you can; I’ve yielded. For this reason, though,
the foe is stronger since love simmers less.”
She shamefully applied her cunning arts at once
and wanted to revive me with her lusts,
but when she recognized the cherished member’s death,
and saw the tool not rise, as if laid out,
and torn—prone on her widowed bed—she grew aroused
and nursed her grief and damage with these words:
(tr. A.M. Juster)