Saturday, September 17, 2011

OVID: Cures for Love



Part VII: Have More Than One Lover


I also urge you to have two girls at once
(You’re very brave if you could consider more):
When the heart’s divided it goes in both directions,
and one love saps the power of the other.
Vast rivers are thinned out through many channels:
fierce flames die down when the fuel’s removed.
One anchor’s not enough to hold a well-waxed hull,
a single hook’s not enough in clear water:
Who long ago arranged a double solace for himself,
long ago was victor on the highest summit.
But you, who were foolishly trusting of one mistress,
at least now a fresh love is to be contrived for you.
Minos quenched the fires of Pasiphae in Procris:
Cleopatra, Phineus’s first wife, left, conquered by Idaea.
Callirhoe made Alcmaeon share her bed
lest he always love Alphesiboea.
And Oenone would have held Paris, to the end of time,
if she’d not been harmed by Helen, her Spartan rival.
His wife Procne’s beauty would have pleased Tereus:
but Philomela, her imprisoned sister, was more beautiful.
Why dwell on more examples, a crowd that tires me?
Every love’s defeated by a fresh successor.
A mother loses one son of many more resolutely,
than one in tears who cries: ‘You were my only son.’
But don’t think I’m writing new rules for you
(and I wish these discoveries added to my glory!)
Agamemnon witnessed it (what did he not see, in fact,
he who was in command of all the Greeks?)
The conqueror loved Chryseis, captured in the war:
but her old father wept everywhere, foolishly.
Why weep, so annoyingly, old man? They suit each other well:
you wound you daughter, tactlessly, with your attentions.
When Calchas, later, safe, under Achilles’s protection, ordered
she be returned, and she was received by her father’s house,
Agamemnon said: ‘There’s one Briseis, close to her in beauty,
and, if you allow for the first syllable, her name’s the same:
If he’s wise, Achilles will hand her over to me, in lieu:
if he doesn’t, he’ll experience my power.
If your actions show mine to be at fault in this, you Greeks,
there’s something, a powerful sceptre, grasped in my hand.
For if I’m king, and no girl sleeps beside me, then it’s right
that impudent Thersites take my kingship.’
He spoke, and had, from her, much solace for the first girl,
and love was laid aside, driven out by new love.
So, from Agamemnon’s example, take up with new flames,
in order for your love to be distracted, in twin directions.
You ask, where you can find her? Read my works:
you’ll soon possess a boatload of girls.

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