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ELEGIA 4

Advirum servantem conjugem


Rude man, 'tis vaine, thy damsell to commend
To keepers frust: their wits should them defend.
Who, without feare, is chaste, is chast in sooth:
Who, because meanes want, doeth not, she doth.
Though thou her body guard, her minde is staind:
Nor, least she will, can any be restrainde.
Nor canst by watching keepe her minde from sinne.
All being shut out, th'adulterer is within.
Who may offend, sinnes least; power to do ill,
The fainting seedes of naughtinesse doth kill.
Forbeare to kindle vice by prohibition,
Sooner shall kindnesse game thy wills fruition.
I saw a horse against the bitte stiffe-neckt,
Like lightning go, his strugling mouth being checkt.
When he perceivd the reines let slacke, he stayde,
And on his loose mane the loose bridle laide.
How to attaine, what is denyed, we thinke,
Even as the sicke desire forbidden drinke.
Argus had either way an hundred eyes,
Yet by deceit Love did them all surprize.
In stone, and Yron walles Danae shut,
Came forth a mother, though a maide there put.
Penelope, though no watch look'd unto her,
Was not defilde by any gallant wooer.
What's kept, we covet more: the care makes theft:
Few love, what others have unguarded left.
Nor doth her face please, but her husbands love;
I know not, what men thinke should thee so move.
She is not chaste, that's kept, but a deare whore:
Thy feare is, then her body, valued more.
Although thou chafe, stolne pleasure is sweet play,
She pleaseth best, I feare, if any say.
A free-borne wench, no right 'tis up to locke:
So use we women of strange nations stocke.
Because the keeper may come say, I did it,
She must be honest to thy servants credit.
He is too clownish, whom a lewd wife grieves,
And this townes well knowne customes not beleeves,
Where Mars his sonnes not without fault did breed,
Remus and Romulus, Ilias twinne-borne seed.
Cannot a faire one, if not chast, please thee?
Never can these by any meanes agree.
Kindly thy mistris use, if thou be wise.
Looke gently, and rough husbands lawes despise.
Honour what friends thy wife gives, sheele give many:
Least labour so shall winne great grace of any.
So shalt thou go with youths to feasts together,
And see at home much, that thou nere broughtst thether.

load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
load focus English (various, 1855)
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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 4.98
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