‘Art thou the grave of Charidas?’ ‘If for Arimmas’ son,
The Cyrenaean, you inquire, I am the very one.’
‘How goes it, Charidas, below?’ ‘Much gloom.’ ‘And the way back?’
‘A lie, there is none.’ ‘Pluto, then?’ ‘Pluto’s a myth.’ ‘Alack!’
‘I’m telling you the truth. If you want fairy tales instead,
The market price of oxen here is half a crown a head.’ (tr. G.M. Young)
Young men do not have as much suffering as is inflicted upon us tender-hearted women. They have friends of their own age to whom they can confidently tell their cares and sorrows, the games they pursue can cheer them, and they stroll the streets and let their eyes wander from one colorful picture to another. We on the contrary are not even allowed to look on the light, but are kept hidden in dark chambers, the prey of our thoughts. (tr. William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller)
Mice, if you have come for bread, go to some other corner (my hut is ill-supplied), where ye shall nibble fat cheese and dried figs, and get a plentiful dinner from the scraps. But if ye sharpen your teeth again on my books ye shall suffer for it and find that ye come to no pleasant banquet. (tr. William Roger Paton)
I hate these cyclic poets* who say “natheless eftsoon,” filchers of the verses of others, and so I pay more attention to elegies, for there is nothing I want to steal from Callimachus or Parthenius. Let me become like an “eared beast”** if ever I write “from the rivers sallow celandine.”*** But these epic poets strip Homer so shamelessly that they already write “Sing, O Goddess, the wrath.”****
* Contemporary writers of epic poems.
** So Callimachus calls a donkey.
*** Probably a quotation from Parthenius. He like Callimachus, wrote elegies.
**** i.e. the very first words of his poem.
Nothing is sweeter than love; all good things come second: even honey I spat from my mouth. Nossis says this, and whomever Cypris has not kissed does not know what roses her flowers are. (tr. William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller)
Wilt grant a favour if I name it? – Name it.
I love, but doubt if she’s not shy. – Not shy.
Then I’ve the right if I could claim it. – Claim it.
Then tell her for her love sigh I. – Ay, ay.
I have a little gift to make her. – Make her.
Then all that’s left to do’s to take her. – Take her. (tr. John Maxwell Edmonds)
Fly for me, mosquito: be my swift messenger. Alight on the rim of Zenophila’s ear and whisper this: “He is awake, and waits for you; but you forget those who love you, and sleep.” Up, fly! Yes, musical one, fly! But speak quietly, so you don’t wake the man who is sleeping with her and arouse in him pangs of jealousy against me. If you bring the girl, I will hood you with a lion’s pelt, mosquito, and give you a club to carry in your hand*.
* The mosquito would thus be attired like Heracles. While other instances of mosquitoes imitating Heracles are (not surprisingly) unknown, Love was sometimes depicted wearing a lion skin.
(tr. William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller, with the latter’s note)