William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Idylle, 1851
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Idylle (1851)

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Non ego, ne pecces, cum sis formosa, recuso,
sed ne sit misero scire necesse mihi;
nec te nostra iubet fieri censura pudicam,
sed tamen, ut temptes dissimulare, rogat.
non peccat, quaecumque potest peccasse negare,
solaque famosam culpa professa facit.
quis furor est, quae nocte latent, in luce fateri,
et quae clam facias facta referre palam?
ignoto meretrix corpus iunctura Quiriti
opposita populum summovet ante sera;
tu tua prostitues famae peccata sinistrae
commissi perages indiciumque tui?
sit tibi mens melior, saltemve imitare pudicas,
teque probam, quamvis non eris, esse putem.
quae facis, haec facito; tantum fecisse negato,
nec pudeat coram verba modesta loqui!
(Ovid, Am. 3.14.1-16)

I don’’t say ‘don’’t sin’, since you’’re beautiful, but there’’s no need for me, poor fool, to know: and no censure of mine demands that you’’re chaste, it only asks that you try and conceal it. She didn’’t sin, if she can deny she sinned, only confession makes crimes notorious. What madness to expose, by day, what midnight hides: why make what’’s secret into a well-known fact? Some whore who couples with a nameless citizen moves away from the crowd before it’’s too late. Will you prostitute your sins for worthless fame and talk about what you’’ve done to fuel opinion? Improve your ways: at least pretend you’’re chaste, and I can approve, thinking you what you’’re not. What you do, keep doing it: just deny it, and don’’t be ashamed to speak modestly in public! (tr. Tony Kline)

2 thoughts on “Imitare”

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