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

Stat meretrix certo cuivis mercabilis aere,
et miseras iusso corpore quaerit opes;
devovet imperium tamen haec lenonis avari
et, quod vos facitis sponte, coacta facit.
sumite in exemplum pecudes ratione carentes;
turpe erit, ingenium mitius esse feris.
non equa munus equum, non taurum vacca poposcit;
non aries placitam munere captat ovem.
sola viro mulier spoliis exultat ademptis,
sola locat noctes, sola licenda venit,
et vendit quod utrumque iuvat, quod uterque petebat,
et pretium, quanti gaudeat ipsa, facit.
quae Venus ex aequo ventura est grata duobus,
altera cur illam vendit et alter emit?
cur mihi sit damno, tibi sit lucrosa voluptas,
quam socio motu femina virque ferunt?
(Ovid, Am. 1.10.21-36)

‘Tis the harlot stands for sale at the fixed price to anyone soe’er, and wins her wretched gains with body at the call; yet even she calls curses on the power of the greedy pander, and does because compelled what you perform of your own will. Look for pattern to the beasts of the field, unreasoning though they are; ’twill shame you to find the wild things gentler than yourself. Mare never claimed gift from stallion, nor cow from bull; the ram courts not the favoured ewe with gift. ‘Tis only woman glories in the spoil she takes from man, she only hires out her favours, she only comes to be hired, and makes a sale of what is delight to both and what both wished, and sets the price by the measure of her own delight. The love that is to be of equal joy to both—why should the one make sale of it, and the other purchase? Why should my pleasure cause me loss, and yours to you bring gain—the pleasure that man and woman both contribute to? (tr. Grant Showerman)

2 thoughts on “Mercabilis”

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