O THOU who dost never weary of tormenting me, who never givest me any peace of mind, why, Cupid, dost thou treat me thus, who never ceased to march beneath thy banner? Why dost thou wound me thus? Why scorchest thou thine own friends with that torch of thine; why doth thy bow transfix them with its shafts? 'Twere better thou should'st prove thy might on one who resisteth thee. Did not the hero of Hæmonia, after piercing Telephus with his spear, heal with that same spear the wound that he had made? The huntsman chaseth the quarry that flees before him, yet once he hath seized it, he setteth it at liberty, and hasteneth after a fresh prey. ’Tis for us, thy loyal followers, that thou dost keep thy weapons, albeit thy sluggish arm smiteth not the foe that resisteth. Wherefore spend thine arrows on these fleshless bones? For in truth Love hath left me nought but skin and bones. Loveless live so many maidens, so many youths know nought of love. Over these, then, should be thy victory.
Rome, had she not extended her might throughout the world, would be to-day nought but a huddled group of straw-thatched huts. The war-worn veteran lays down his arms and tills his allotted fields. The courser, freed from his stall, leapeth in the meadow; vast docks shelter the vessel that hath returned to port, and the gladiator yieldeth up his weapons for the wand that quits him of his toils. And I who have fought so many campaigns in Love's service, is it not time that I should live in peace?
Yet if some god should come to me and say, "Henceforth thou shalt live a loveless life," I should demur to his decree, so sweet a plague is woman. When I have had my fill of love, when I feel its fires no more, I am
driven I know not whither by an indescribable tumult of the mind. just as the horseman, tugging vainly at the foam-flecked bridle, sees himself hurried to the abyss's edge; just as the pinnace, nearing the shore and about to bound into port, is suddenly carried out to sea again by a gust of wind; so am I blown hither and thither by Cupid's changeful breath, and Love of the rosy cheeks makes me once more the target for his arrows.
Shoot on, my little one! I have laid down my arms; naked I stand, shoot on! Here show off thy strength; here display thy skill. Here in this spot, without awaiting thy command, thy arrows come and bury themselves; the quiver is scarcely more familiar to them than is my heart.
Foul fall the man who can slumber the whole night through and thinks so much of sleep. Fool! What is sleep but the image of cold Death. Thou shalt sleep long enough one of these days.
As for me, I would that my mistress should sometimes cheat me with lying promises. The anticipation of bliss I hold to be a boon in itself; I would have her sometimes caress, sometimes upbraid me. I like her to surrender often, and often to resist. If Mars is inconstant, Cupid, ’tis thanks to thee. Yea, ’tis after thy example that thy mother's lover bears his arms now here, now there. Thou art fickle, far lighter than thy wings, and as the fancy takes thee, thou givest and withholdest the delights of love. Howbeit if thou and thy gracious mother will but hearken to my prayers, thou wilt come and reign in my heart and never quit it more. May all the too inconstant host of fair ones rally to my banner. Thus of both sexes at once shalt thou adorèd be.
O numquam pro re satis indignande Cupido,
'Vive' deus 'posito' siquis mihi dicat 'amore!'