Non bene conducti vendunt periuria testes,
non bene selecti iudicis arca patet.
turpe reos empta miseros defendere lingua;
quod faciat magni, turpe tribunal, opes;
turpe tori reditu census augere paternos,
et faciem lucro prostituisse suam.
gratia pro rebus merito debetur inemptis;
pro male conducto gratia nulla toro.
omnia conductor solvit; mercede soluta
non manet officio debitor ille tuo.
parcite, formosae, pretium pro nocte pacisci;
non habet eventus sordida praeda bonos.
non fuit armillas tanti pepigisse Sabinas,
ut premerent sacrae virginis arma caput;
e quibus exierat, traiecit viscera ferro
filius, et poenae causa monile fuit.
nec tamen indignum est a divite praemia posci;
munera poscenti quod dare possit, habet.
carpite de plenis pendentes vitibus uvas;
praebeat Alcinoi poma benignus ager!
officium pauper numeret studiumque fidemque;
quod quis habet, dominae conferat omne suae.
est quoque carminibus meritas celebrare puellas
dos mea; quam volui, nota fit arte mea.
scindentur vestes, gemmae frangentur et aurum;
carmina quam tribuent, fama perennis erit.
nec dare, sed pretium posci dedignor et odi;
quod nego poscenti, desine velle, dabo!
(Ovid, Am. 1.10.37-64)
It is not honour for witnesses to make false oaths for gain, nor for the chosen juror’s purse to lie open for the bribe. ‘Tis base to defend the wretched culprit with purchased eloquence; the court that makes great gains is base; ’tis base to swell a patrimony with a revenue from love, and to offer one’s own beauty for a price. Thanks are due and deserved for boons unbought; no thanks are felt for love that is meanly hired. He who has made the hire pays all; when the price is paid he remains no more a debtor for your favour. Spare, fair ones, to ask a price for your love; a sordid gain can bring no good in the end. ‘Twas not worth while for the holy maid to bargain for the Sabine armlets, only that arms should crush her down*; a son once pierced with the sword the bosom whence he came, and a necklace was the cause of the mother’s pain**. And yet it is no shame to ask for presents from the rich; they have wherefrom to give you when you ask. Pluck from full vines the hanging clusters; let the genial field of Alcinous yield its fruits! He who is poor counts out to you as pay his service, zeal, and faithfulness; the kind of wealth each has, let him bring it all to the mistress of his heart. My dower, too, it is to glorify the deserving fair in song; whoever I have willed is made famous by my art. Gowns will be rent to rags, and gems and gold be broke to fragments; the glory my songs shall give will last for ever. ‘Tis not the giving but the asking of a price, that I despise and hate. What I refuse at your demand, cease only to wish, and I will give!
* The Vestal Tarpeia asked as the price of her treason what the Sabines had on their left arms, meaning their armlets of gold, but was crushed beneath the shields they carried there.
** Knowing that the Fates had decreed his death in case he went, Eriphyle, for a necklace, caused her husband Amphiaraus to be one of the seven against Thebes, and was slain by Alcmaeon, her son.
(tr. Grant Showerman, with his notes)