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LOVE, had read the title of this work. "’Tis war," said he, "I see ’tis war that's now declared against me." O, Cupid, do not so accuse thy poet; do not so accuse me, who so oft beneath thy sway have carried the standards thou didst give into my care. No Diomede am I by whom thy mother was wounded when the steeds of Mars bore her, all. bleeding, to her skyey home. Other youths oft burn with a languid flame; but I have always loved; and wouldst thou know what I am doing at this moment? Why, I am loving still! Nay, more than that: I have taught unto others the art of winning thy favours; I have shown how the promptings of blind passion should give place to the dictates of reason. Ah, no; none shall behold me going back upon my lessons, betraying thee, sweet child, recanting all that I have sung, and so destroying the work of my own hands.
Let every man who loves a woman that requites his love drink deep of his delight and spread his sails to prospering breezes. But if he is a hopeless wight that groans in the thraldom of an unworthy mistress, let him receive the assistance of my art so that he may escape from the toils. Wherefore would you have some poor unfortunate devil go and hang himself by a rope from a lofty beam and die a miserable death; or another plunge a dagger into his bowels? You, Cupid, are a lover of peace. The thought of murder fills you with horror. Now here is a man who, if he cannot cease to love, will die the miserable victim of an unhappy passion. Let him, therefore, cease to love, and you will not have his
death upon your conscience. You are a child, and you should know of nought save merry sport. Be then king of the realm of play; ’tis a gentle sceptre, suited to thy years. We know that thou hast many a keen arrow in thy quiver; but never are those arrows tinged with blood. Leave it to Mars, thy stepfather, to wage dire war with sword and spear; let him come forth victorious, stained with the foeman's gore; but as for thee, never engage in battles save those in which Venus, thy mother, has instructed thee to fight. They, at least, involve no risk to life and limb, and never have they caused a mother to bewail the death of a beloved son. So ordain it, if you will, that someone's door may be broken down in a nocturnal brawl, and that others may be adorned with many a wreath; grant that young men and timid maids may meet in secret embraces, and that, by hook or by crook, the suspicious husband may be deceived. Let I lover alternately beg and pray, and curse and swear, at his beloved's door. And when she repels him, let him sing his doleful plaint. Be satisfied with causing tears to flow; let tears be your toll, but never a life. Thy torch was never made to light the funeral pyre.
Thus spake I. And Love, stirring his gemmy wings, answered me and said, "Pursue thy self-allotted task." Come ye then and hear what I shall teach, unhappy youths whom your mistresses have deceived. To you I taught the art of love. Now learn from me the art of curing love. The hand that wounded you can also heal. The same soil brings forth the poisonous plants and likewise those that give balm and consolation. Often the rose beside the nettle blows. Telephus, the son of Hercules, had been wounded by the spear of Achilles, and that same spear did heal his wound.
And you, ye girls, list to what I tell you. Whatsoever things I teach are as useful to you as to your lovers. Arms we bestow on both opposing sides. If among the lessons that I inculcate, some there be of which you can
make no use, they at least set forth examples whereby you may take profit. My aim is practical: it is to extinguish cruel flames, an from love's fetters to free the captive heart. Phyllis had never died so soon had I been her preceptor. Nine times she came to the Ocean's brink; she would have come and gone more often had I been there. Nor yet with dying eyes would Dido have seen, from her lofty citadel, the Trojans spreading their sails to the winds. Despair would never have made that mother turn her cruel hand against the fruit of her own womb; the mother who slew her own brood to avenge herself upon her perjured spouse. Thanks to my art, Tereus, though mad with love for Philomel, would never have deserved to be changed into a bird for his sins. Were Phasiphaë my pupil, she'd love her bull no more. And Phædra? She'd be cured of her incestuous passion. Suppose I had to deal with Paris? Menelaus would have no trouble with Helen; and Troy would never be conquered and fall into the hands of the Greeks. If only the impious Scylla had read my verses, Nisus had still retained his purple lock of hair. My brothers and sisters, hearken me to words. Give up all tragic, sinister passions. Take me for your pilot; your bark and its fraughting souls shall voyage in safety towards the haven. Ovid you doubtless read when you learnt the art of love. ’Tis Ovid again that you must read to-day. I am the public champion. I will remove that perilous stuff that weighs upon the heart. But let each and every one of you second the efforts I shall make on your behalf.
At the outset of m task I invoke thee. Be thou to me propitious, O Apollo, who didst invent both Poetry and Medicine! Help thou in me the Poet, help the Physician, for I am both; and both these arts are under thy protection.
If you repent you of your love, stop on the threshold while you yet are able and ere yet your heart has been too deeply stirred. Suppress, ere yet they have gained
too strong a hold, the evil signs of the sudden seizure; and at the very outset let your steed refuse to go another step. Time makes all things to increase; time ripens the grape upon the vine; it changes the blade of tender green into the sturdy stalk. The tree, that shelters the wayfarer beneath its spreading branches, was, when ’twas planted, but a feeble sapling. Then you might have dragged it from the surface of the soil; now it stands a mighty tree deep-rooted in the earth. Consider, in a rapid mental inventory, what it is you love, and withdraw your neck from the yoke that is bound one day to hurt you. Fight against it at the beginning. It is late in the day to make up physic when delay has given the disease time to get a hold on you. Make haste then, and don't put off till to-morrow the cure you can work to-day. If you are not ready to-day, to-morrow you will be less so. Love has always got its excuses and finds pretexts for delays. The first day that comes is not too soon to begin the cure. Rivers are never very broad near their source. It is the little tributaries that make them wide. If you had realised earlier how great a sin you were preparing to commit, never, Myrrha, would your features have been covered with the bark of a tree. I have known wounds which might easily have been cured if taken in hand at once, but which, through being neglected, grew past all healing. But we like to cull the flowers of pleasure, and every day we tell ourselves, "To-morrow will do just as well." Meanwhile the fire spreads along our veins, and the baneful tree drives its roots deep into the soil. If once the favourable moment has gone by, if Love has taken firm root in the heart, the physician's task is a far less easy one. But because I've been called in at a late hour, I must not for that reason leave the patient to his fate. When the hero, the son of Pœas, was wounded, he was compelled, with bold hand, to cut off the affected part; nevertheless he was cured, and report has, it that it was he who, many years afterwards, ended the Trojan War.
A while ago I bade you take your malady in hand at once; now I bring you slow and tardy remedies. Endeavour, if you can, to master the fire at the outset, or, if you cannot, wait till it has burnt itself out. When the fit of madness is at its height, wait for the fit to pass. It is difficult to stop it in mid career. Foolish is the swimmer who, though he can cross a river slantwise, insists on swimming by steering right athwart the current. An impetuous spirit, a man who, as yet, is impatient of treatment, utterly refuses to listen to advice. Wait till he will let you examine his wounds; wait till he will listen to reason. Would any, save a madman, tell a mother not to weep at the burial of her son? At such a time as that, 'twere foolish to talk of resignation. When she has given full rein to her grief, and eased the burden of her affliction, then is the time, with words of consolation, to try to soften the blow. The art of medicine, one may almost say, is the art of choosing the moment to intervene. Given at the proper time, wine is beneficial; otherwise it does harm. If you don't undertake your treatment at the due and proper stage, you do but inflame and aggravate the malady.
When, then, you feel in a clue frame of mind to profit by the assistance of my art, take my advice and eschew idleness. Love is born of idleness and, once born, by idleness is fostered. Sloth is at once the cause and nourishment of this sensuous malady. Put sloth aside, and at once you break in twain the shafts of Love; his torch is out, and henceforth is but a thing for jest and mockery. As the plane tree loveth wine, as the poplar loveth the pure stream, as the marshy reed loveth slimy soil, so doth Venus delight in idleness. Love flees from toil; if, then, you would banish love from your heart, find some work for your idle hands to do and then you will be safe. Dolce far niente, too much sleep, gambling, and overmuch wine-bibbing cloud the brain and, though they deal it no serious wound, filch away its energy. Then
[paragraph continues] Love, finding the outposts all unmanned, captures the fortress at a blow. Cupid and idleness are boon companions. He shuns industrious folk. If your mind is unemployed, find work for it to do. There are the Courts of justice, there is the Law, there are your friends to be defended. Go forth and join the ranks of the candidates for civic offices; or join the forces and take part in warlike exercises. The pleasures of the senses will soon take to flight, a routed host. The fleeing Parthian offers you a chance to win distinction in the field. Score a double triumph over Love and over the Parthian and bring back your twofold trophy to the guardian deities of your country.
The instant Venus was wounded by the Ætolian's spear, she left it to her lover to carry on the war. Do you want to know why Ægisthus became an adulterer? The reason is plain: he had nothing to do. The other princes were detained at Troy in everlasting combats. Greece had transported all her forces into Asia. It was vain for Ægisthus to think of carrying on a war; there was none to carry on. Or of pleading at the Bar, there were no lawsuits in. Argos. But he was unwilling to do nothing' so he did what he could; he made love. Thus it is that Love finds a way into our hearts, and takes up his abode there. The country, too, soothes our spirits, and the divers occupation of a farmer's life. There is no care that will not yield to these heart-healing tasks. Tame the steer and make him bow his neck beneath the yoke, in order that with the sharp ploughshare he may break the stubborn glebe. And when you've ploughed your furrows, sow therein the grain of Ceres, which, in due time, the soil will give back to you with bounteous interest. See how the branches bend beneath their weight of fruit; how the trees may scarce sustain the load of good things they have produced! See how the streams flow on with a sweet murmur, and how the sheep browse on the tender grass! Yonder the goats seek the mountain crags and
scarped rocks, soon to come home to their young with their udders heavy with milk. The shepherd modulates his song upon his rustic pipe; close by him are his dogs, his trusty companions and the vigilant guardians of his flock. Yonder the deep woods resound with the lowing of kine. A heifer is crying for her lost calf. Shall I tell of the bees driven forth by smoke placed underneath their hives, so that their stores of honey may be removed? With Autumn come the fruits; Summer is beautiful with the ripening corn; Spring brings the flowers; and Winter, the cheerful fireside. Year by year, as the season comes round, the vine-dresser gathers the ripe grapes and treads out the new wine beneath his feet. Year by year, in due time, we see the harvester bind into sheaves the corn that he has reaped, and clear the shorn field with his wide-toothed rake. You can bed out plants in the moist loam of your kitchen-garden, and make little channels of fresh water to flow through it. And has the grafting season come? Then into the branch insert the alien branch, and lo, the tree will deck itself with borrowed leaves. When once these pleasures lay their healing charm upon your soul, Love has no further power to harm, and flutters away with weary pinion.
Then there are also the pleasures of the chase. Many a time has Venus been put ignominiously to flight, vanquished by Apollo's sister. Sometimes, accompanied by a hound with a keen scent, you may hunt the flying hare; sometimes spread your nets on the wooded slopes of the hills; scare the timid stag by divers means, and lay the wild boar low, pierced with thy huntsman's spear. Tired out, the night will bring thee sleep and not desire of woman, and heavy slumber shall refresh thy limbs. There are other sports of a milder nature, yet none the less diverting: you may go a bird-hunting--’tis game of little value--and take them in nets, or snare them with limèd twigs. You may also hide the bent hook beneath the deceiving bait which the greedy fish devours apace.
[paragraph continues] ’Tis by such means as these, or others like them, that you may beguile your time, until you have unlearned the art of love.
Above all, go far away; however strong the bonds that hold you back, leave the place. Go on a long journey. You will weep at the very thought of your mistress's name; you will stay your steps ere you have gone halfway. Never mind, the less you may wish to do so, the more resolutely you should hasten your flight. Keep on; force your reluctant feet to run. Fear, nor rain, nor Sabbath, nor the tragic anniversary of the Allia; let nothing stop you. Never trouble your head about how far you've come; think how much farther you've got to go. Don't invent excuses for lingering about town. Don't count the days. Don't be always gazing towards Rome; but fly. The Parthian flies, and flying saves his skin from his adversary's blows.
My treatment, you say, is drastic. I know it is; but if you want to be cured, you mustn't mind putting up with a deal of pain in the process. When I've been ill, I've often forced myself, much against my will, to swallow the most horribly bitter physic, and they wouldn't let me have any of the things I craved for. Why, to cure your body you'd suffer any mortal thing; and won't you slake your thirst with a drop of cold water, won't you do anything to get your mind well again? Yet that is the most precious part of you. In the treatment I prescribe, it's only the beginning that is difficult; it's only the early stages that are so painful. See how the yoke galls the ox that bears it for the first time; even as the harness galls the newly-broken colt. Perchance it causes you a pang to quit your ancestral home. You will quit it, notwithstanding; yet ere long you will be fain to see it again. Nevertheless, ’tis not your home that calls you back, ’tis Love. Home-sickness is merely a pretext to conceal your weakness. Once you've started, the country, your travelling companions, the very distance
you have come, will all tend to bring consolation to your spirit. But do not imagine it is enough to go away. You must stay away, in order that the fires which consume you may be extinguished and no spark lurk beneath the embers. If you are too impatient, if you return again before your mind has recovered its poise, Love will undo your efforts; all his dreadful might he'll turn against you anew. What if you have been away and return both hungry and thirsty? Your absence will but have added to your malady.
Let who will believe that magic and the noxious herbs of Hæmonia can be of any avail in love. Curses and spells have had their day. My Apollo, with his hallowed song, brings you lawful succour. No graves, at my command, will ope and wake their sleepers; nor will you see some ancient hag make the earth gape by the power of her unhallowed. incantations; you will not behold the corn removed from one field to another, or the sun's orb suddenly grow pale. But the Tiber, as is his wont, will flow into the sea; and the Moon, drawn by her white steeds, will follow her customary path. Nay, ’tis not spells that Love's malady shall be banished by magic from thy heart; and Cupid will not be scared away by the fumes of burning sulphur.
What, O Maid of Colchos, did the herbs of the Phasian land avail thee when thou didst desire to remain in the home of thy fathers? And how, O Circe, did the herbs of Persa bestead thee when a favouring wind bore away the vessels of Ulysses? All didst thou do, so that thy crafty guest might not depart; nevertheless, unperturbed and unimpeded, he pursued his flight. Nought didst thou leave undone to allay the cruel fire that was devouring thee; still Love, for a long time to come, was to hold sway over thy reluctant breast. Thou, who couldst change men into countless divers shapes, had'st not the power to change the laws that ruled thy heart. ’Tis said. that when Ulysses was making ready to depart,
thou wast fain to restrain him with these words: "No more do I entreat thee to become my spouse, albeit I remember I did, at first, conceive that hope. And yet, a goddess and the daughter of the Sun, it seemed to me that I was worth y to be thy wife. Oh, hasten not away, I do beseech thee; stay yet a little while, ’tis all I ask. What smaller boon than that could I implore? Look how high the seas are running; them oughtest thou to dread. Tarry awhile until the winds are favourable to thy sails. Wherefore wouldst thou flee? No new Troy is rising here. No one is calling his companions to arms. Here love and peace abide; here I alone suffer the pain of a grievous sorrow, and all this land shall be subject to, thy sway." Thus spake she; but none the less Ulysses unmoored his bark; vain were her words, and, with his sails, the south wind wafted them away. But still the fires of her passion burned, and Circe betook her to her wonted arts. Howbeit they could not mitigate the violence of her love. Whoever then thou mayest be that seekest succour from our art, put not thy faith in witchcraft and incantations. But if some potent reason retains you in the capital, hearken to the advice which I shall give you for your sojourn there. Full of courage is he who can win his liberty at a blow and, bursting all the bonds that bind him, find, then and there, ease for all his pain. If there breathes a man so strong of soul, he will compel even my admiration, and I shall say: "That man is in no need of any help from me." But you who, sick at heart, would fain unlearn to love the woman whom you love; but cannot; and yet still would--you shall be my pupil. Often revolve within your breast the deeds of your erring mistress; and keep before your eyes the losses she has caused you. Say to yourself, "She has filched from me this thing and that and, not content with larceny, her extravagance has compelled me to sell my patrimony. What vows she made, and how often has she broken them! How often has she left me lying
before her door! To others she gives her love, to me only her disdain. A common broker enjoys with her the nights of love which she refuses me." Let all these grievances embitter your feelings towards her. Recall them incessantly to your mind, and let them sow the seeds of hatred in it. And when you reproach her, may you wax eloquent; but if only you grieve enough, eloquent you will be without an effort. I was of late much occupied with a certain wench. She was not, however, suited to my temperament. Like a sick Podalirius, I was for curing myself with my own herbs, and I confess that for a doctor I was a disgracefully bad patient. I derived considerable benefit from continually harping on the defects of my mistress. I persevered with this treatment and it unquestionably did me good. "What poor legs the girl has," I kept saying. Yet truth to tell, they were nothing of the sort. "How very far from beautiful are her arms." Yet truth to tell, they were beautiful. "How squat she is." She wasn't. "What a lot of money she wants." And that was, indeed, the main count in the indictment. The good is often so near neighbour to the bad, that we often confound the two and condemn as a fault what is, in reality, a virtue. So far as you can, depreciate the qualities of your mistress and warp your own judgment by crossing, to her prejudice, the narrow limit betwixt good and bad. If she's plump, say she's stodgy; if she's dark, say she's [black]; if she's slim, say she's a skeleton; if she's not coy, say she's brazen; if she's modest, say she's a bumpkin. Nay, further, endow her with accomplishments she conspicuously lacks, ask her, in the most persuasive manner in the world, to display them. If she has no voice, urge her to sing. If she can't move her arms with grace, beseech her to dance. If her speech is uneducated, make her keep on talking to you. If she can't play a note, beg her to play. If her breasts are covered with pimples, let there be no scarf to conceal them. If her teeth are bad, tell her something to make her laugh.
[paragraph continues] Has she got watery eyes, tell her something to make her cry. It is also of service to appear before her suddenly, in the morning, before she's had time to complete her toilet. A pretty dress delights us, gold and jewellery cover a host of imperfections, and what one beholds of a woman is the least part of her. Amid all her extraneous adornments, it's no easy matter to find the genuine attractions. With the ægis of wealth does Love deceive the beholder. Take her unawares. You may do so with safety to yourself Her defects will suffice to dethrone her in your eyes. But that is not always so, for it often happens that "beauty unadorned's adorned the most " and captures many lovers. Moreover, there is no offence against decency in your putting in an appearance while she is smearing pomade on her face. You'll find she's got boxes containing concoctions of all the colours of the rainbow, and you'll see the paint trickling down in warm streams on to her breasts. The whole place stinks like Phineus' dinner-table, and I've often felt as if I was going to be sick.
And now I'll tell you how to act when you're in the paroxysm of your pleasure. For Love, if you're going to win, must be attacked on every side. There are some details, however, which modesty will not permit one to describe; but you will be clever enough to fill up the blanks. For certain critics have recently come down rather heavily on my books. They complain that my Muse is too unrestrained. But so long as my work gives pleasure, so long as I am celebrated all the world over., it is of no importance to me what one or two pettifoggers say about me. Even great Homer was slandered by envious tongues. Whoever and wherever you may be, Zoilus, Envy is your real name. Have not sacrilegious tongues outraged thy poems, thou whose genius brought to our shores Troy and her conquered gods? Calumny ever pursues the great, even as the winds hurl themselves on high places, and as Jove's thunderbolts strike the
mountain peaks. But you, whoever you may be, who are offended by the licentiousness of my poems, try, if you can, to acquire a sense of proportion. If we are going to sing of mighty wars, then let us sing them in the manner of Homer. But how could the pleasures of carnal love find a place therein? Tragedy sounds the lofty note. Noble rage should wear the tragic buskin. But our Muse should wear a moderate heel. The iambus can go what pace it will, now swift, now trailing its hinder foot, and is meet to be flung at the opposing foe. But let mild Elegy sing of Cupids and their quivers; she is a kindly mistress and should be suffered to, frolic as the fancy takes her. Achilles must not be sung to the strains of Callimachus; and thy voice, O Homer, is not the voice to sing of Cydippe. Who could bear to see Thaïs enacting the rôle of Andromache? And whoever acted Thaïs would cut a sorry figure as Andromache. But Thaïs belongs appropriately to my art. If my Muse is one with my subject, the victory is ours, and the charge brought against me fails. Out on thee, devouring Envy! Great already is the fame I enjoy. It will be greater still if I continue as I have begun. But you haste away too fast. If I do but live, you shall have many other causes of complaint, for I have many and many a song yet to sing. For glory delights me, and my zeal increases with. my love of glory. Our steed grows breathless at the beginning of the ascent. Elegy tells me that she owes me as deep a debt as the Epic owes to Virgil.
This is the answer to give to Envy. Now, draw in thy reins, my poet, and revolve in thine own orbit. When you are called to taste the delights of love and youthful dalliance, when the night of promised bliss approaches, then, lest you should have too much joy of your mistress if you go to her with a full quiver, find another charmer with whom you may blunt the edge of your attack. The love that follows love is not so fierce. But sweeter
than any is the love for which we have waited long. When it is cold, we love the sun; when hot, the shade. Water is pleasant to the parching tongue. I blush to say it, yet I will say it; when you're about the act of love with your mistress, take her in the posture that becomes her least. That will be easily accomplished. Rare is the woman who tells herself the truth. They deem themselves beautiful in every aspect. I bid you, too, fling open wide the windows of her room, and in the broad light of day, observe the blemishes of her body. But when you have attained the goal of pleasure; when you are o’erwearied both in body and in spirit; when your heart is heavy; when you are wishing you had never touched a woman, and deem it will be long ere you embrace another--then note in the tablets of your brain all the defects that you observe in her, and long let your gaze linger on her imperfections. "Feeble resources these," someone perchance will say. But means which, taken singly, are of no avail are potent when conjoined. The bite of a tiny adder will lay low a bull. Often a hound of modest size will hold a boar at bay. Gather all these remedies together; numbers will win.
But seeing that temperaments, like faces, are infinitely varied, use your judgment and follow not my behests too blindly. A thing which, in your eyes, might convey no offence, in another's might be quite unpardonable. Some men have known their ardour checked because they've seen unveiled those parts which modesty should hide; others because, leaving the bed wherein they've had their joy, they have perceived the unclean traces of the fray. Ye who could be deterred by trifles such as these, your love was but a jest: feeble the flames that warmed your breasts. Well, let the wingèd boy bend his bow more fiercely; then, more sorely stricken you'll come in multitudes to beg for stronger medicine. What shall I say of him who hides that he may behold his mistress performing her natural needs, and see those things which decency
forbids that we should look upon? God forbid that I should counsel anything so vile as that. Even were they effectual, such means should never be essayed.
I would counsel you also to have two mistresses at a time. If you could have more, it would be still better. When your heart is thus divided between two loves, the two passions mutually moderate each other. The mightiest rivers lose their force when split up into several streams; the fire dies down when you take away the fuel that feeds it. One anchor will not hold several ships, and you should always fish with more than one hook in the water. The man who has taken the precaution to have two strings to his bow has thereby made his final victory sure. But if you have been so rash as to confine your affections to a single mistress, lose no time now in adding to the number. Minos extinguished his flame for Pasiphaë by conceiving a passion for Procris. His second consort banished his memory of the first. The brother of Amphilochus, lest he should love for ever the daughter of Phegeus, made Callirhoë the partner of his couch. Œnone would have held Paris captive for ever had she not been supplanted by the adulterous queen of Sparta. The Odrysian tyrant would have continued faithful to his spouse, had not Philomela outrivalled her sister in beauty. .But wherefore should I linger over examples, examples so many that it would weary me to cite them? A new love always triumphs over the one it follows. A mother with several children bears more easily the death of one of them than she who cries, in bitter sorrow, "My son, my, son, I had but thee!"
Think not that herein I am expressing any new ideas. The son of Atreus, long before me, was familiar with this truth; and what did he not allow himself, that prince who was lord paramount of the whole of Greece! He loved his captive Chryseis whom as a victor he had taken as his spoil. But the maiden's father filled all the region round with his sorrowful lamentations. Wherefore
weepest thou, wretched old man? They are getting on famously together, and you do but hurt your daughter with your ill-timed importunities. At last, relying on Achilles to support him, Calchas demands that she should be set at liberty, and she returns to her father's roof. Then said Agamemnon, "There is another maiden no less fair than her, whose name, save for the first syllable, is identical with hers. Let Achilles, if he be wise, yield her up to me; or if he does not, he shall feel the power of my dominion. If anyone among you, men of Greece, shall dare to blame my conduct in this matter, he shall learn what the sceptre wielded by a strong hand can accomplish. For if, king as I am, I do not win her to share my bed, then let Thersites take my place upon the throne." Thus he spake. In place of Chryseis, who had been snatched from him, he took this slave, and in the arms of Briseis he forgot his former love.
Follow then the example of Agamemnon. Seek like him another object for your passion, and between two rival mistresses let your love, uncertain, hover. You ask me where you are to find them? Go read my Art of Love, voyage on, confident and fearless, and soon your bark shall be laden with pretty women. If my precepts are of any avail, if, by my voice, Apollo teaches aught that may be of use to mortal men, when your despairing heart is consumed with a passion fiercer than the fires of Ætna, act in such a manner that your mistress may deem you colder than ice. Pretend that you are cured, and if your heart still bleeds, never let her suspect it. Let laughter be upon your lips, though tears be in your heart. I do not bid you break with her in the very height of your passion. I lay upon you no mandate so severe as that. But learn to dissemble. Assume a calmness, if you have it not, and soon you'll really be as calm as now you feign to be. Often, so that I might drink no more, I've feigned to be asleep, and, in the midst of feigning, I've fallen asleep indeed. It's made me laugh sometimes to see how
a man, acting the passionate lover, has, like an unskilled hunter, fallen into his own net.
Love steals into our hearts, as it where, by habit; by habit also we can school ourselves to forget it. If you can pretend you're cured, cured you will be indeed. Your mistress, say, has promised you to lie with her a certain night. Go to her house. When you get there, you find the door barred and bolted against you. No matter. Be patient. Neither beg nor pray; but lie not down beside the cruel door. Next morning, never utter a reproach; and on your countenance wear no sign of grief. Seeing your cool indifference, she'll lay aside her arrogant disdain. That is some good, and for it you will have my art to thank. But try, and stint not, to deceive yourself, until you have forgot the way to love. A steed will oft refuse the bit that's offered him. Hide, even from yourself, the reason of your tactics, and, all unconsciously, You'll reach your goal. The bird is scared by the net when it is too plainly visible. So that your mistress; may not push her pride to the point of disdain, be round with her, and her arrogance will melt before your own. If you find her door open, as though by chance, and if she summons you by name again and again, pass by and take no heed. If she offers you an assignation for a given night, look doubtful and say, "I'm very much afraid I shall be unable to come." A man should easily be able to lay this discipline upon himself, if he's endowed with reason. Besides, you can always go and find immediate consolation in the arms of some woman of the town.
It could hardly be said that my treatment was too severe, seeing that I make it my object to reconcile pleasure and good sense. But as people and dispositions are infinitely varied, so must our treatment be varied too. A thousand ills require a thousand cures. There are some illnesses which demand an operation; others which the juice of a herb will heal. If you are too weak to go
away, do not attempt to shake off your fetters. Has cruel love got his foot upon your throat? Give up the hope less fight. Let the wind waft your vessel, and with your oar assist the waves that bear you along. You say you must find something to allay the thirst that consumes you? Well and good; you must. Drink then your fill, from the very middle of the river. Drink, not enough but too much, so that you vomit what you have taken in. Enjoy your mistress, drink unhindered of her charms. Spend your nights, our days, with her. Drink of her till you're sick. Satiety will cure you of your ills. Stay with her even when you think you could leave her without a pang. Never quit the house, which you have begun to hate, until you are worn out with those pleasures which excess has now turned to gall and wormwood in your heart. Love that is fed b jealousy dies hard. He who would banish love, must banish, first, mistrust. A man who is for ever on thorns lest he should lose his mistress, or fears that some rival will filch her from him, even Machaon himself could scarcely cure. If a woman has two sons and one of them is at the wars, ’tis he that is in danger whom she loves the more.
There is, hard by the Collinian gate, a venerable temple to which the lofty Eryx gave its name. There reigns a deity whose name is Oblivion. He gives unfailing succour to the sick; he dips his torch into the cold waters of Lethe. Thither come young men and maidens, the victims of unrequited love. Thither they come to seek oblivion for their sorrow. This god (was it indeed a god, or but the shadow of a dream?), this god spake to me and said, "O Ovid, thou who alternately dost kindle and extinguish the restless flames of love, add this precept to thy lessons. Let but a lover ponder on all the ills that threaten him, and he will love no more. To all of us hath the god allotted more or less of ills. Whoso fears the Puteal and Janus and the swift-coming Kalends, the sum of money he has borrowed shall be his torment.
[paragraph continues] The man that has a stern unbending father, even if all else be in accordance with his wishes, will ever have that father before his eyes. The man who has married a dowerless wife, and passes his days in poverty, will think his wife an obstacle to his success. Have you a vineyard where the grapes grow ripe on a rich soil? Beware lest the swelling grape be blighted. Another man has a ship on its way home: he will be always reminding himself that the sea is treacherous and fearing that the shore is strewn with his lost merchandise. Another man fears for his son on active service; another for his daughter, who is ripe for marriage. Who has not innumerable reasons for anxiety? Perchance you would have hated your mistress, Paris, if the death of your brothers, and the way they died, could have been brought before your, eyes" The god was still speaking when his childlike image vanished with my dream: if indeed he, too, were not a dream.
What am I to do? Abandoned, without a helmsman, amid the welter of waters, my bark drifts at random over uncharted seas. Lover, whosoever thou art, shun solitude: solitude for you is dangerous. Wherefore shouldst thou avoid it? Because you will be safer amid the throng. ’Tis not well for you to be alone. Solitude increases the torments of love. You will find it will ease the burden of your heart to mix freely with your fellows. If you remain alone, melancholy will descend upon you. The vision of your forsaken mistress will be ever resent to your eyes; you will imagine that you see her more you in the flesh. That is why the night is sadder than the light of day. There is no company about you then no troops of friends, to help you banish your sorrows. Do not shut yourself up indoors; do not go and hide your tear-stained visage where none may see it. Let Pylades be ever at hand to comfort his Orestes. In such circumstances, a trusty friend is a great resource. What was it but the loneliness of the woods that brought such woe to Phyllis? There is no doubt that solitude was the cause
of her death. She rushed with disordered tresses, like one of those Bacchantes--who every three years celebrate the feast of Bacchus on the Aonian hills. Sometimes she gazed out over the waste of waters; sometimes she flung herself down upon the sandy shore, fordone with weariness. "Faithless Demophoön," she cried to the unheeding waves; and her lamentations were broken by her sobs. By a narrow path, overhung with thick foliage, she often made her way to the seashore. And now she had just come thither for the ninth time. "The die is cast!" she cried. The colour left her cheeks, and she looked down at her girdle. She gazed also at the trees round about. Her courage faltered. She shuddered, and many times she clutched her throat with her hands. Ah, hapless Phyllis! Would to heaven thou hadst not been alone in that hour! The woods, that mourned thy death, would not have shed their leaves in grief for thee. And you, to whom your mistress has been unkind, or you, my fair one, jilted by your lover, think of Phyllis; be wise in time, and beware of too much solitude.
A certain young man of my acquaintance had religiously followed the advice of my Muse; he was just reaching port; he was virtually safe when the unexpected encounter of two passionate lovers carried him out to sea again. Love had only been hiding his shafts; and he quickly seized them again. Whoever you may be, if you would recover from your malady, keep clear of other people who are suffering from it. It is horribly contagious: you've only got to look at some other sufferer's wounds, and you feel as if you had been hit yourself. Many ailments are spread in this way. It often happens that a dry and barren field suddenly becomes fertile, being watered by a stream that has changed its course. Similarly Love glides imperceptibly into our hearts; that is, if we don't keep clear of lovers. But, in this regard, every man-jack of us is an adept at self-deception. I know a man who had recovered; it was the next-door
neighbour that brought on his relapse. Another man ran across his mistress by accident. It was too much for him. The wound hadn't properly healed: it opened again, and all my skill was useless. It's no easy matter to protect yourself against fire when the house next door is burning. It's just as well to keep out of harm's way. Don't go near the portico where she is wont to walk; and don't let any duty visits cause you to run the risk of seeing her. What's the good of trying to blow the smouldering embers into flame. You would do better to go and live in another hemisphere if you could. If you're fasting, it's not easy to keep away from a table that's laid for dinner; and the sound of running water is a mighty stimulant to thirst. It takes a lot to hold in a bull when he catches sight of a heifer, and your doughty stallion always neighs when he sees a mare.
When, after a deal of buffeting, you're just getting into harbour, it is not enough to give up your mistress, you must likewise keep out of the way of her mother, her nurse, her bosom friend; in short, of anyone and everyone connected with her. Mind some slave or servant-girl doesn't come with some message to you, and sham weeping as she delivers it. And don't, out of curiosity, inquire how she's getting on. It's dangerous. Hold your tongue: it will pay you. And don't go counting up the reasons you have had to break with your mistress. Give up accusing her. Silence will be the best way to pay her out; so keep silence till you don't care any more about her. It's far better to say nothing than to go about telling people you are no longer in love. The man who says to everybody, "I don't love her any more," is still in love. The best way to get a fire under is to tackle it methodically, steadily and surely. It's no good trying to smother it all at once. Drop her gradually. You'll reach safety in the end. A mountain stream is more impetuous than a river, but the course of the torrent is soon run; the river flows far and ceaselessly. Your love
should be like a cloud, it should gradually melt away into the air. It's a brutal thing to hate a woman one day whom you worshipped the day before. To make such a sudden change as that, you'd have to have the heart of a barbarian. just give up paying her attentions; that's enough. If a man finishes up by hating a woman, he's .either really still in love with her, or else he's in a frame of mind for which he won't easily find a cure. It is a disgraceful thing that a man and a woman, who were but lately head over ears in love, should suddenly become at daggers drawn. Even Themis disapproves of conduct such as that. A man will often bring an action against a woman and, notwithstanding, still be in love with her. When love leaves no resentment in its train, it departs quite quietly and peaceably. The other day I had fallen in with a young acquaintance of mine. His mistress was close at hand in a litter. He was upbraiding her with the most violent reproaches. just as he was about to serve his writ he exclaimed, "Let her descend from her litter." She did so, and no sooner had he set eyes upon her than he was another man. His hands dropped to his side; his tablets fell from his hands. He flung himself into her arms, crying, "You have won! You have won!" It's much wiser and much surer to let things drop peaceably than to quit the bed for the law-courts. Let her keep the presents you have given her, without making a fuss. It's very often well worth while to make a slight sacrifice. And then, if by chance you do happen to run across her, be sure and make use of the weapons with which I have armed you. So, be of good cheer! Fight the good fight! Penthesilea will get the worst of it. Remember your fortunate rival; think of the door banged and bolted in your face; and think of all the lies your mistress has told you, and all her broken vows. Don't take a lot of extra trouble over your hair because you have to meet her, or spend ages getting yourself up regardless of expense. Don't worry about the impression
you're going to make on a woman who henceforth is going to be a stranger to you. just treat her as you would treat an ordinary acquaintance.
Shall I tell you what is the greatest obstacle to our success? Well, it's this. We give up our mistresses too late, because we flatter ourselves that we are still the object of their affections. Our self-conceit adds fuel to our credulity. Don't believe in vows, there's nothing more misleading; and don't trust their sacred oaths. Beware of being moved by their tears. They've learnt the art of weeping. A lover's heart is a prey to countless artifices; it is like the pebble on the beach, tossed hither and thither by the waves of the sea. Don't proclaim the reasons which impel you to break it off. Don't prate about your grief, and go on grieving in secret. Don't reproach her with her misdeeds, for fear she should justify them. On the contrary, play a generous game with her, so that her case may seem better than your own. The strong man is the silent man. If you heap insults upon her, you're inviting her to justify herself. I am not going to rival the King of Ithaca. I should never dare, like him, to plunge Love's arrows and flaming torches into the river. I shall not clip his roseate wings, nor would I aim at slackening his sacred bow. The object of my song is but to give advice. Follow the counsels I give, and do thou, O Phœbus, the Healer, continue, as you have done hitherto, to smile upon my efforts. Lo! Phœbus is here: I heard his lyre, I heard his quiver sound. By those signs I recognise the god. Lo! Phœbus is at hand, and he will lend his aid!
Compare a stuff dyed with Tyrian purple to something dyed at Amyclæa. You wouldn't look at the latter. In the same way, let everyone of you compare his mistress with the illustrious beauties of the world, and he will blush for her. Paris thought Juno and Minerva were beautiful till he had seen Venus; after that, they were nowhere. And don't think merely of the face. Take
character and accomplishments into account. And don't let love blind your judgment.
The remedy that I am now going to propose to you is a little thing; yet despite its trifling nature, it has stood more than one lover in good stead, myself first of all. Do not keep, and read over, the letters your mistress has written you. The strongest resolution would be shaken by such a test. Never mind how great the pang it may cause you, give them to the flames, and, as you do so, say, "Thus may this fire destroy my love also." The daughter of Thestius, with the aid of an ember, burnt up her absent son. Will you then think twice before you cast these lying missives into the fire? Banish too, if you have strength of mind enough, the counterfeit presentment of her. Why keep doting on a lifeless image? ’Tis that that was Laodamia's undoing. Then there are certain places you must shun. Avoid the scenes where you've had her in your arms; they will be full of bitter memories for you. "It was there she used to sit. She used to lie there. There is the bed in which I slept with her arms about me; here, one night of pleasure, she gave me rapturous delight." Such recollections reawaken love. The old wound, not yet properly healed, opens again. Convalescents should never run risks. If you bring sulphur near an ember that is not quite extinguished, the fire springs up anew; a spark becomes a conflagration. So too, if you do not take care to avoid everything that might resuscitate your passion, you'll find the embers you think dead, flaming up once more. The Grecian fleet would fain have fled from Capherea and the misleading beacon which thou, old Nauplius, didst kindle to avenge the death of thy son. Glad at heart is the cautious mariner when he has passed through the straits of Scylla. Beware then of those regions which once were sweet to you. They may be your Syrtes. Avoid the rocks of Acroceraunia: ’tis here that cruel Charybdis ceaselessly spews forth again the waters that she swallows.
There are other remedies which one can hardly advise you to employ of your own free will, but which, when they chance to come one's way, are often potent in their effect. Let Phædra but lose her riches and Neptune will spare his grandson, nor will he suffer the monstrous bull to terrify the horses of Hippolytus. Had Pasiphaë been reduced to poverty, she would have loved less inordinately. Voluptuous love is fostered by riches. Why did no man take Hecale, and no woman Irus? Because he and she were poor. Poverty has not the wherewithal to nourish love. Howbeit, this is no sufficient reason why you should wish to be poor. But this, at all events, is important, and you should bear it in mind: Never go to the theatre until Love has been completely ousted from your heart. The sound of flutes and lyres and the human voice, and arms waved in time to the music, are sore enervators of the mind. Fictitious loves are continually being represented there.
It behoves me that I should, by my art, teach you what to avoid and what to cultivate. It pains me to say so; but have nought to do with poets who sing of love. I am robbing my own children of their birthright. Flee from Callimachus, for no enemy of love is he; and thou too, poet of Cos, thou workest ill, even as Callimachus. Sappho, of a surety, made me sweeter towards my mistress; nor did the poet of Teos impart rigidity to my morals. Who could read the poems of Tibullus without danger, or the verses of that bard who made Cynthia the sole burden of his song? Who could leave the reading of Gallus with heart untouched? And in my verses, too, there is an influence, I know not what, that prompts to love. But if Apollo, the god who is my guide, deceives not his singer, the greatest cause of our ills is a rival. Beware, therefore, of conjuring up to yourself the image of a rival, and resolutely persuade yourself that your mistress sleeps alone. What added fire to the passion of Orestes for Hermione was that she had taken another for
her lover. Wherefore, Menelaus, dost thou grieve? Thou didst go without thy spouse to Crete, and wast able to remain a long while apart from her. But since Paris carried her off, you have not been able to live without your Helen. Your love for her was increased by another's. What made Achilles weep the more bitterly when Briseis was taken from him was that she was transferring her charms to the couch of Plisthenes. And, believe me, he had reason for his tears. The son of Atreus did what any man was bound to do if he were not. grossly inactive. He did what I should have done, had I been he, and I am no wiser than he. That was the choicest fruit of this case of jealousy. For when Agamemnon swore by his sceptre that he had never touched Briseis, he never bethought him that his sceptre was divine.
The gods grant that you may be able resolutely to pass your late mistress's door, and that your feet may not belie your determination. And you will be able, if your will power is strong enough. But you must go on firmly, and dig the spurs deep into your horse's sides. Make believe that her house is a den of Lotophagi, a cave of Sirens. Crowd on full sail and row with all your might. It would be well, too, if you could bring yourself to look with calm indifference on the rival who lately caused you such an agony of grief. Even if you retain a particle of hate towards him, at least give him a civil nod. When you are able to embrace him, your cure will be complete.
Now, as a sound doctor should, I am going to give you a few hints about diet, about the things to eat and the things to avoid. Everything of a bulbous nature, whether from Daunia, Libya, or Megara, you should shun like poison; and, just as religiously, you should avoid rocket and all such aphrodisiacs. You would find it beneficial to take rue, which clears the sight, and anything, in general, of a sedative nature. What about wine,
you ask? I'll put the whole thing in a nutshell for you. Wine promotes sexual desire, provided you don't drink to intoxication. Wind fans a fire into flame; wind also puts it out. Either don't drink at all, or drink enough to drown your troubles. Half-way measures are injurious.
And now my task is o’er. Crown my wearied bark with garlands. I have reached the haven towards which I set my course. Young men and pretty girls, healed by my song, you will soon be rendering pious thanks to your poet.
P. OVIDI NASONIS REMEDIA AMORIS
Legerat huius Amor titulum nomenque libelli: