John Palcewski (forioscribe) wrote,
John Palcewski

Ovid’s Book of Love II


’Tis is not to the rich [saith Ovid] that I would teach the art of Love. A man who can give presents has no need of any lessons I can teach him. He has wit enough, and to spare, if he can say when he pleases, "Accept this gift." I give him best. His means are mightier than mine. I am the poor man's poet; because I am poor myself and I have known what it is to be in love. Not being able to pay them in presents, I pay my mistresses in poetry. The poor man must be circumspect in his love-affairs; he mustn't permit himself to use strong language; he must put up with many things that a rich lover would never endure.

Patience will soften tigers and Numidian lions; and slowly and surely you may accustom the bull to the rustic plough. What woman was ever more tameless than Atalanta of Nonacris; yet, for all her arrogance, she yielded at length to a lover's tender assiduities. They say that many a time, beneath the trees, Milanion wept at his mishaps and at his mistress's unkindness. Often upon his neck he bore, as he was bid, the treacherous toils; and often with his spear he pierced the savage boars. He was even struck by the arrows of Hylæus, but other darts, which were, alas, but too well known to him, had dealt him sorer wounds than that.

If only thou art prudent, thou wilt find my precepts are not over-hard to carry out. If she's obstinate, let her have her way, and you'll get the better of her in the end. Only whatever she tells you to do, be sure you do it. Blame what she blames; like what she likes; say what she says; deny what she denies. If she smiles, smile too; if she sheds tears, shed them too. In a word, model your mood on hers. If she wants to play draughts, play badly on purpose and let her win the game. If you're playing dice, don't let her be piqued at losing, but make it look as though your luck was always out. If your battle-field's the chessboard, see to it that your men of glass are mown down by the foe.

Why Hercules himself, who performed such mighty feats of bravery and strength, who won a seat in the Olympian realms he had carried on his shoulders, is said to have dwelt among the Ionian maids as one of them, to have held the work-basket and have spun coarse wool. The Tirynthian hero obeyed his mistress's commands; and will you hesitate to endure what he endured?

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