But if my suggestions have value, if Apollo
through my mouth teaches all to mortal men,
though, unhappy man, you’re roasting in the midst of Etna,
make it seem to your girl that you’re chillier than ice:
and if you’re grieving deeply, look happy, lest she see it,
and laugh, when tears come to you.
Not that I order you to break off in mid-sorrow:
my commands aren’t as cruel as that.
Pretend to what is not, and that the passion’s over,
so you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be.
I’ve often wished to seem asleep, lest it seem I’ve been drinking,
while I seemed so, I gave my conquered eyes to sleep:
I’ve laughed at one caught, who pretended to himself he was in love,
hunting birds, but fallen into his own net.
Love penetrates the heart by habit, through habit it’s forgotten:
he who can imagine he’s well, will be well.
She might ask you to come: go on the night agreed:
you’ve come, and the door is locked: well endure it.
Don’t speak fawning words, or abuse the doorpost,
nor lay your body on the hard threshold.
The new day will dawn: lose your words of grievance,
and show no signs of suffering in your face.
She’ll soon drop her disdain, when she sees your indifference:
this too’s a gift you’ll gather from my art.
Still, deceive yourself as well, don’t let there be a plan
to stop loving: the horse will often fight against the bit.
Conceal your advantage: what’s not declared will be:
the bird avoids the net that’s too apparent.
Don’t let her be too pleased with herself, nor have the power
to despise you: be brave, so she gives way to your bravery.
The door’s wide open? Though you’re called to, pass by.
There’s a night agreed? Hesitate to go on the given night.
To be able to endure it’s easy, when, if patience fails,
it’s fine to take your enjoyment with easy girls.
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2001 All Rights ReservedThis work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.