Ovid, the Latin lover

Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid), Roman poet, born 20 March 43 BC

Ovid’s Amores 1.5: the poet’s most upbeat erotic composition. A cheeky poem (‘why itemize?’ the poet asks, having just itemized) that deserves a cheeky translation.

Midday: a long, hot afternoon ahead;
I threw my weary body on the bed.
The shutters, propped half-open for the breeze
cast dappled beams like sunlight through the trees:
the light that comes from sun’s departing ray,
or when night ends and yields to break of day,
the hazy gloom that decent girls require
to guard the reputation they desire.

In comes Corinna! — clad in low-slung frock,imgres-6
her neck agleam, each side a tumbling lock.
So came Semíramis the fair, ’tis said
and Laïs, the love of many men, to bed.
I tore the frock off. Little though it hid,
she fought to keep it on, a token bid;
for since she did not really fight to win,
my victory was easy: she gave in.

Clothes cast aside, she stood in front of me,
from head to toe her body blemish-free.
What arms to gaze on, shoulders to caress,
What nipples standing proud to stroke and press.
So trim a waist beneath that shapely rise,
Such lovely hips, such firm and youthful thighs...
Why itemize? No part but was divine.
I pulled her naked body hard to mine.

The rest you know. Worn out, we slept entwined.
May I enjoy more noondays of this kind.

Aestus erat, mediamque dies exegerat horam;
adposui medio membra levanda toro.
pars adaperta fuit, pars altera clausa fenestrae.
quale fere siluae lumen habere solent,
qualia sublucent fugiente crepuscula Phoebo                    5
aut ubi nox abiit nec tamen orta dies.
illa verecundis lux est praebenda puellis,
qua timidus latebras speret habere pudor.

ecce, Corinna venit tunica velata recincta,
candida dividua colla tegente coma,                                   10
qualiter in thalamos formosa Sameramis isse
dicitur et multis Lais amata viris.
deripui tunicam! nec multum rara nocebat,
pugnabat tunica sed tamen illa tegi;
quae, cum ita pugnaret tamquam quae vincere nollet,    15
victa est non aegre proditione sua.

ut stetit ante oculos posito velamine nostros,
in toto nusquam corpore menda fuit:
quos umeros, quales vidi tetigique lacertos!
forma papillarum quam fuit apta premi!                            20
quam castigato planus sub pectore venter!
quantum et quale latus! quam iuvenale femur!
singula quid referam? nil non laudabile vidi,
et nudam pressi corpus ad usque meum.

cetera quis nescit? lassi requieuimus ambo.                        25
proveniant medii sic mihi saepe dies.

About Armand D'Angour

Fellow and Tutor in Classics, Jesus College Oxford.
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