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Book II

Now Io Paean sing! now wreaths prepare!
And with repeated Ios fill the air:
The prey is fall'n in my successful toils,
My artful nets inclose the lovely spoils.
My numbers now, ye smiling lovers, crown,
And make your poet deathless in renown:
With lasting fame my verse shall be enroll'd,
And I preferr'd to all the bards of old.
Thus Paris from the warlike Spartans bore
Their ravish'd bride to Ida's distant shore.
Victorious Pelops thus in triumph drove
The vanquish'd maid, and thus enjoy'd his love.
Stay, eager youth! your bark's but under sail;
The distant port requires a prosp'rous gale.
'Tis not enough the yielding beauty's found,
And with my aid your artful passion crown'd;
The conquests our successful conduct gain'd,
With art must be secur'd, by arts maintain'd.
The glory's more to guard than win the prize,
There all the toil and threatening danger lies.
If ever, Cupid, now indulgent prove;
O Venus! aid, thou charming queen of love!
Kind Erato, let thy auspicious name
Inspire the work, and raise my gen'rous flame.
The labour's great! a method I design
For love, and will the fetter'd god confine;
The god that roves the spacious world around,
In ev'ry clime, and distant region found;
Active and light, his wings elude our guard,
And to confine a deity is hard.
His guest from flight Minos inclos'd around,
Yet he with wings a daring passage found.
Thus Daedalus her offspring first confin'd;
Who, with a bull, in lewd embraces join'd:
Her teeming womb the horrid crime confess'd;
Big with a human bull, half man half beast.
Said he, " Just Minos, best of human kind,
Thy mercy let a prostrate exile find:
By fates compell'd my native shores to fly,
Permit me, where I durst not live, to die,
Enlarge my son, if you neglect my tears,
And show compassion to his blooming years:
Let not the youth a long confinement mourn,
Oh, free the son, or let his sire return!"
Thus he implor'd, but still implor'd in vain,
Nor could the freedom that he sought, obtain.
Convinc'd at length; " Now, Daedalus," he cried,
"Here's subject for thy art that's yet untried.
Minos the earth commands, and guards the sea,
No pass the land affords, the deep no way:
Heav'n's only free, we'll heav'n's auspicious height
Attempt to pass, where kinder fates invite;
Favor, ye powers above, my daring flight!"
Misfortunes oft prove to inventions kind,
Instruct our wit, and aid the lab'ring mind:
For who can credit men, in wild despair,
Should force a passage thro' the yielding air?
Feathers for wings design'd the artists chose,
And bound with thread his forming pinions close;
With temper'd wax the pointed end he wrought,
And to perfection his new labors brought.
The finish'd wings his smiling offspring views,
Admires the work, not conscious of their use:
To whom the father said, "Observe aright,
Observe, my son, these instruments of flight.
In vain the tyrant our escape retards,
The heavens he cannot, all but heav'n he guards:
Tho' earth and seas elude a father's care,
These wings shall waft us through the spacious air.
Nor shall my son celestial signs survey,
Far from the radient virgin take your way;
Or where Bootes the chill'd north commands,
And with his fau chion dread Orion stands:
I'll go before, me still retain in sight,
Where'er I lead securely make your flight.
For should we upward soar too near the sun,
Dissolv'd with heat the liquid wax will run;
Or near the seas an humbler flight maintain,
Our plumes will suffer by the streaming main.
A medium keep, the winds observe aright;
The winds will aid your advantageous flight."
He caution'd thus, and thus inform'd him long,
As careful birds instruct their tender young;
The spreading wings then to his shoulders bound,
His body pois'd, and rais'd him from the ground.
Prepar'd for flight, his aged arms embrace
The tender youth, whilst tears o'erflow his face.
A hill there was, from whence the anxious pair
Essay'd their wings, and forth they launch'd air;
Now his expanded plumes the artist plies,
Regards his son, and leads along the skies;
Pleas'd with the novelty of flight, the boy
Bounds in the air, and upward springs with joy.
The angler views them from the distant strand,
And quits the labors of his trembling hand;
Samos they past, and Naxos in their flight,
And Delos, with Apollo's presence bright.
Now on their right Lebintho's shores they found,
For fruitful lakes and shady groves renown'd.
When the aspiring boy forgot his fears,
Rash with hot youth and unexperienc'd years;
Upwards he soar'd, maintain'd a lofty stroke,
And his directing father's way forsook.
The wax, of heat impatient, melted run,
Nor could his wings sustain the blaze of sun.
From heaven he views the fatal depths below,
Whilst killing fears prevent the distant blow.
His struggling arms now no resistance find,
Nor poise the body nor receive the wind.
Falling, his father he implores in vain,
To aid his flight, and sinking limbs sustain;
His name invokes, till the expiring sound
Far in the floods with Icarus was drown'd.
The parent mourns, a parent now no more,
And seeks the absent youth on ev'ry shore;
"Where's my lov'd son, my Icarus?" he cries,
"Say in what distant region of the skies,
Or faithless clime the youthful wand'rer flies;"
Then view'd his pinions scatter'd o'er the stream.
The shore his bones received, the waves his name.
Minos with walls attempted to detain
His flying guests, but did attempt in vain;
Yet the wing'd god shall to our rules submit,
And Cupid yield to more prevailing wit.
Thessalian arts in vain rash lovers use,
In vain with drugs the scornful maid abuse;
The skilfull'st potions ineffectual prove.
Useless are magic remedies in love;
Could charms prevail, Circe had prov'd her art,
And fond Medea fix'd her Jason's heart;
Nor tempt with philters the disdainful dame;
They rage inspire, create a frantic flame:
Abstain from guilt, all vicious arts remove,
And make your passion worthy of her love.
Distrust your empty form and boasted face,
The nymph engage a thousand nobler ways;
To fix her vanquish'd heart entirely thine,
Accomplish'd graces to your native join.
Beauty's but frail, a charm that soon decays,
Its lustre fades as rolling years increase,
And age still triumphs o'er the ruin'd face.
This truth the fair but short liv'd-lily shows,
And prickles that survive the faded rose.
Learn, lovely boy, be with instruction wise!
Beauty and youth misspent are past advice.
Then cultivate thy mind with wit and fame,
Those lasting charms survive the funeral flame.
With arts and sciences your breast improve,
Of high import are languages in love:
The fam'd Ulysses was not fair nor young,
But eloquent and charming with his tongue:
And yet with him contented beauties strove,
And ev'ry sea-nymph sought the hero's love.
Calypso mourn'd when he forsook her shores,
And with fond waves detain'd his hasty oars,
Oft she enquir'd of ruin'd Ilium's fate,
Making him oft the wondrous tale relate;
Which with such grace his florid tongue could frame,
The story still was new, tho' still the same.
Now standing on the shores, " Again declare,"
Calypso cried, "your fam'd exploits in war."
lie with a wand, a slender wand he bore,
Delineates ev'ry action on the shore.
"Here's Troy," says he, then draws the walls in sand.
"There Simois flows, here my battalions stand.
A field there was," and then describes the field,
"Where Dolon, with rewards deceiv'd, we kill'd.
Just thus entrench'd imagine Rhesus lies,
And here we make his warlike steeds our prize."
Much he describ'd, when a destructive wave
Wash'd off the slender Troy, and rolling gave
To Rhesus and his tents one common grave.
Long with delight his charming tongue she heard,
The well-rais'd passion in her looks appear'd:
The goddess weeps to view his spreading sails,
So much a soldier with the sex prevails.
Distrust thy form, fond youth, and learn to know,
There's more requir'd in love than empty show.
With just disdain she treats the haughty mind,
'Tis complaisance that makes a beauty kind.
The hawk we hate that always lives in arms,
The raging wolf that ev'ry flock alarms:
But the mild swallow none with toils infest,
And none the soft Chaonian birds molest.1
Debates avoid, and rude contention shun;
A woman's with submissive language won.
Let the wife rail, and injur'd husband swear,
Such freedoms are allow'd the married pair;
Discord and strife to nuptial beds belong,
The portion justifies a clam'rous tongue.
With tender vows the yielding maid endear,
And let her only sighs and wishes hear;
Contrive with words and actions to delight,
Still charm her ear, and still oblige her sight.
I no instructions to the rich impart,
He needs not, that presents, my useless art:2
The giving lover's handsome, valiant, wise,
His happy fortune is above advice.
And, wanting wealth, with melting language move,
His honour storms a stubborn damsel's door;
I'm cautious to affront, because I'm poor.
With pleasing arts I court, with arts possess;
Or if I'm bounteous, 'tis in promises.
Enrag'd, I ruffl'd once Corinna's hair,
Long was I banish'd by the injur'd fair;
Long mournful nights for this consum'd alone,
Nor could my tears the furious maid atone.
Weeping, she vow'd, a suit of point I tore;
Falsely she vow'd, but I must purchase more.
Make not your guilty master's crime your own,
But by my punishment my error shun.
Indecent fury from her sight remove,
No passion let your mistress know, but love.
Yet if the haughty nymph's unkind, and coy,
Or shuns your sight; have patience, and enjoy.
By slow degrees we bend the stubborn bough;
What force resists, with art will pliant grow.
In vain we stem a torrent's rapid force,
But swim with ease, complying with its course.
By gentler arts we savage beasts reclaim,
And lions,3 bulls, and furious tigers tame.
Fiercely Atlanta o er the forest rov'd,
Cruel and wild, and yet at last she lov'd.
Melanion long deplor'd his hopeless flame,
And weeping, in the woods pursu'd the scornful dame.
On his submissive neck her toils he wore,
And with his mistress chased the dreadful boar.
Arm'd to the woods I bid you not repair,
Nor follow over hills the savage fair:
My soft injunctions less severe you'll find,
Easy to learn, and fram'd to ev'ry mind.
Her wishes never, nor her will withstand;
Submit, you conquer; serve, and you'll command.
Her words approve, deny what she denies,
Like where she likes, and where she scorns, despise.
Laugh when she smiles; when sad, dissolve in tears;
Let ev'ry gesture sympathize with hers.
If she delights, as women will, in play,
Her stakes return, your ready losings pay.
When she's at cards, or rattling dice she throws,
Connive at cheats, and generously lose.
A smiling winner let the nymph remain,
Let your pleas'd mistress every conquest gain.
In heat, with an umbrella ready stand;
When walking, offer your officious hand.
Her trembling hands, tho' you sustain the cold.
Cherish, and to your warmer bosom hold.
Think no inferior office a disgrace,
No action that a mistress gains is base.
The hero that eluded Juno's spite,
And every monster overcame in fight;
That pass'd so many bloody labours o'er,
And well deserv'd that heav'n whose weight he bore;
Amidst Ionian damsels carding stands,
And grasps the distaff in obedient hands;4
In all commands the haughty dame obeys:
And who disdains to act like Hercules?
If she's at law, be sure commend the laws;
Solicit with the judge, or plead her cause.
With patience at the assignation wait;
Early appear, attend her coming late.
Whene'er she wants a messenger, away,
And her commands with flying feet obey.
When late from supper she's returning home,
And calls her servant, as a servant come.
She for the country's air retires from towns;
You want a coach or horse, why foot it down:
Let not the sultry season of the year,
The falling snows, or constant rains deter.
Love is a warfare, and ignoble sloth
Seems equally contemptible in both:
In both are watchings, duels, anxious cares,
The soldier thus, and thus the lover fares;
With rain he's drench'd, with piercing tempests shakes,
And on the colder earth his lodging takes.
Fame says that Phoebus kept Admetus' herd,
And coarsely in an humble cottage far'd;
No servile offices the god denied:
Learn this ye lovers, and renounce your pride.
When all access is to your mistress hard,
When ev'ry door's secur'd, and window barr'd,
The roof untile, some desp'rate passage find;
You cannot be too bold to make her kind:
Oh, how she'll clasp you when the dangers o'er,
And value your deserving passion more.
Thus thro' the boisterous seas Leander mov'd,5
Not to possess, but show how much he lov'd.
Nor blushing think how low you condescend
To court her maids, and make each slave your friend;
Each by their names familiarly salute,
And beg them to promote your am'rous suit.
Perhaps a bribe's requir'd; your bounty show,
And from your slender fortunes part below.
A double bribe the chambermaid secures,
And when the fav'rite's gain'd, the fair is yours.
She'll add, to everything you do, a grace,
And watch the wanton hours, and time her praise.
When servants merry make, and feast, and play,6
Then give her something to keep holiday.
Retain them ev'ry one, the porter most,
And her who nightly guards the happy coast
I no profuse nor costly gifts commend,
But choose and time it well, whate'er you send.
Provide the product of the early year,
And let your boy the rural present bear;
Tell her 'twas fresh, and from your manor brought,
Tho' stale, and in the suburb market bought:
The first ripe cluster let your mistress eat,
With chesnut, melons, or fair peaches, treat;
Some larger fish, or choicer fowl, present;
They recommend your passion where they're sent.
'Tis with these arts the childless miser's caught,
Thus future legacies are basely bought;
But may his name with infamy be curst,
That practis'd them on love, and women first.
In tender sonnets most your flame rehearse,
But who, alas! of late are mov'd by verse?
Women a wealthy treating fool admire,
Applaud your wit,-but costly gifts require.
This is the golden age, all worship gold;
Honours are purchas'd, love and beauty sold.
Should Homer come with his harmonious train,
And not present, Homer's turn'd out again.
Some of the sex have sense, their number's small,
Most ignorant, yet vain pretenders all:
Flatter alike, smooth empty stanzas send,
They seldom sense, but sound and rhyme commend.
Should you with art compose each polish'd line,
And make her, like your numbers, all divine,
Yet she'll a treat or worthless toy prefer
To all the immortal poet's boasted care.
But he that covets to retain her heart,
Let him apply his flattery with art;
With lasting raptures on her beauty gaze,
And make her form the subject of his praise.
Purple commend, when she's in purple dress'd;
In scarlet, swear she looks in scarlet best;
Array'd in gold, her graceful mien adore,
Vowing those eyes transcend the sparkling ore.
With prudence place each compliment aright;
Tho' clad in crape, let homely crape delight.
In sorted colours, praise a varied dress;
In night-clothes or commode let either please.
Or when she combs or when she curls her hair,7
Commend her curious art and gallant air.
Singing, her voice, dancing, her steps, admire;
Applaud when she desists, and still desire.
Let all her words and actions wonder raise;
View her with raptures, and with raptures praise
Fierce as Medusa though your mistress prove,
These arts will teach the stubborn beauty love.
Be cautious lest you overact your part,
And temper your hypocrisy with art;
Let no false action give your words the lie,
For once deceiv'd, she's ever after shy.
In Autumn oft, when the luxurious year
Purples the grape, and shows the vintage near;
When sultry heats, when colder blasts arise,
And bodies languish with inconstant skies;
If vitious heav'n infects her tender veins,
And in her tainted blood some fever reigns;
Then your kind vows, your pious care bestow,
The blessings you expect to reap then sow;
Think nothing nauseous in her loath'd disease,
But with your ready hand contrive to please;
Weep in her sight, then fonder kisses give,
And let her burning lips your tears receive;
Much for her safety vow, but louder speak,
Let the nymph hear the lavish vows you make.
As health returns, so let your joys appear;
Oft smile with hope, and oft confess your fear.
This in her breast remains, these pleasing charms
Secure a passage to her grateful arms.
Reach nothing nauseous to her taste or sight,
Officious only when you most delight.
Nor bitter draughts nor hated med'cines give,
Let her from rivals what she loaths receive.
Those prosperous winds that launch'd our boat from shore,
When out at sea assists its course no more:
Time will your knowledge in our art improve,
Give strength and vigour to your forming love.
The dreadful bull was but a calf when young;8
The lofty oak but from an acorn sprung;
From narrow springs the noblest currents flow,
But swell their floods, and spread 'em as they go.
Be conversant with love, no toils refuse,
And conquer all fatigues with frequent use:
Still let her hear your sighs, your passion view
And night and day the flying maid pursue.
Then pause awhile; by fallow fields we gain;
A thirsty soil receives the welcome rain.
Phyllis was calm while with Demophoon bless'd,
His absence wounded most her raging breast:
Thus his chaste consort for Ulysses burn'd,
And Laodamia thus her absent husband mourn'd,
With speed return, you're ruined by delays,
Some happy youth may soon supply your place.
When Sparta's prince was from his Helen gone,
Could Helen be content to lie alone?
She in his bed receiv'd her am'rous guest,
And nightly clasp'd him to her panting breast.
Unthinking cuckold, to a proverb blind!
What, trust a beau and a fair wife behind!
Let furious hawks thy trembling turtles keep,
And to the mountain wolves commit thy sheep:
Helen is guiltless, and the lover's crime
But what yourself would act another time.
The youth was pressing, the dull husband gone;
Let ev'ry woman make the case her own.
Who could a prince, by Venus sent, refuse?
The cuckold's negligence is her excuse.
But not the foaming boar whom spears surround,
Revenging on the dogs his mortal wound;
Nor lioness, whose young receives the breast;
Nor viper by unwary footsteps press'd;
Nor drunkard by th' Aonian god possess'd,9
Transcend the woman's rage, by fury led,
To find a rival in her injur'd bed.
With fire and sword she flies; the frantic dame
Disdains the thought of tenderness or shame.
Her offspring's blood enrag'd Medea spilt;
A cruel mother, for the father's guilt:
And Progne's unrelenting fury proves10
That dire revenge pursues neglected loves.
Where sacred ties of honour are destroy'd,
Such errors cautious lovers must avoid.
Think not my precepts constancy enjoin;
Venus avert! far nobler's my design.
At large enjoy, conceal your passion well;
Nor use the modish vanity to tell:
Avoid presenting of suspected toys,
Nor to an hour confine your varied joys;
Desert the shades you did frequent before,
Nor make them conscious to a new amour
The nymph, when she betrays, disdains your guilt,
And by such falsehood taught, she learns to jilt.
While with a wife Atrides liv'd content,
Their loves were mutual, and she innocent;
But when inflam'd with every charming face,
Her lewdness still maintain'd an equal pace.
Chryses, as fame had told her, pray'd in vain,
Nor could by gifts his captive girl obtain;
Mournful Briseis, thy complaints she heard,
And how his lust the tedious war deferr'd.
This tamely heard, but with resentment view'd
The victor by his beauteous slave subdu'd;
With rage she saw her own neglected charms,
And took Aegisthus to her injur'd arms.
To lust and shame by his example led,
Who durst so openly profane her bed.
What you conceal, her more observing eye
Perhaps betrays: with oaths the fact deny,
And boldly give her jealousy the lie.
Not too submissive seem, nor over kind;
These are the symptoms of a guilty mind:
But no caresses, no endearments spare;
Enjoyment pacifies the angry fair.
There are, that strong provoking potions praise,
And nature with pernicious med'cines raise;
Nor drugs, nor herbs, will what you fancy prove,
And I pronounce 'em pois'nous all in love.
Some pepper bruis'd with seeds of nettle join,
And clary steep in bowls of mellow wine:
Venus is most averse to forced delights,
Extorted flames pollute her genial rites.
With fishes' spawn thy feeble nerves recruit,
And with eringo's hot salacious root;
The goddess worshipp'd by th' Erycian swains,
Megara's white shallot, so faint, disdains.
New eggs they take,11 and honey's liquid juice,
And leaves and apples of the pine infuse.
Prescribe no more, my muse, nor med'cine give,
Beauty and youth need no provocative.
You that conceal'd your secret crimes before,
Proclaim them now, now publish each amour.
Nor tax me with inconstancy; we find
The driving bark requires a veering wind:
Now northern blasts we court, now southern gales,
And ev'ry point befriends our shifted sails.
Thus chariot drivers with a flowing rein
Direct their steeds, then curb them in again.
Indulgence oft corrupts the faithless dame,
Secure from rivals she neglects your flame;
The mind without variety is cloy'd,
And nauseates pleasures it has long enjoy'd.
But as a fire whose wasted strength declines,
Converts to ashes and but faintly shines,
When sulphur's brought the spreading flames return,
And glowing embers with fresh fury burn:
A rival thus th' ungrateful maid reclaims,
Revives desire, and feeds her dying flames.
Oft make her jealous, give your fondness o'er,
And teaze her often with some new amour.
Happy, thrice happy youth, with pleasure bless'd,
Too great, too exquisite to be express'd,
That view'st the anguish of her jealous breast
Whene'er thy guilt the slighted beauty knows,
She swoons; her voice, and then her colour goes.
Oft would my furious nymph, in burning rage,
Assault my locks, and with her nails engage;
Then now she'd weep, what piercing glances east,
And vow to hate the perjur'd wretch at last.
Let not your mistress long your falsehood mourn;
Neglected fondness sill to fury turn.
But kindly clasp her in your arms again,
And on your breast her drooping head sustain;
Whilst weeping kiss, amidst her tears enjoy,
And with excess of bliss her rage destroy.
Let her a while lament, a while complain,
Then die with pleasure, as she died with pain.
Enjoyment cures her with its powerful charms,
She'll sign a pardon in your active arms.
First nature lay an undigested mass,
Heaven, earth, and ocean, wore one common face;
Then vaulted heav'n was fram'd, waves, earth, inclos'd;
And chaos was in beauteous forms dispos'd;
The beasts inhabit woods, the birds the air,
And to their floods the scaly fry repair.
Mankind alone enjoyed no certain place,
On rapine lived, a rude unpolish'd race;
Caves were their houses, herbs their food and bed,
Whilst each a savage from the other fled.
Love first disarm'd the fierceness of their mind,
And in one bed the men and women join'd.
The youth was eager, but unskill'd in joy,
Nor was the unexperienc'd virgin coy;
They knew no courtship, no instructor found,
Yet they enjoy'd, and bless'd the pleasing wound.
The birds with consorts propagate their kind,
And sporting fish their finny beauties find;
In am'rous fold the wanton serpents twine,
And dogs with their salacious females join.
The lusty bull delights his frisking dames,
And more lascivious goat her male inflames.
Mares furious grow with love, their boundaries force,
Plunging thro' waves to meet the neighing horse.
Go on, brave youth, thy gen'rous vigor try,
To the resenting maid this charm apply;
Love's soft'ning pleasures ev'ry grief remove,
There's nothing that can make your peace like love.
From drugs and philters no redress you'll find,
But nature with your mistress will be kind.
The love that's unconstrain'd will long endure,
Machaon's art was false, but mine is sure.
Whilst thus I sung, inflam'd with nobler fire,
I heard the great Apollo's tuneful lyre;
His hand a branch of spreading laurel bore,
And on his head a laurel wreath he wore;
Around he cast diffusive rays of light,
Confessing all the god to human sight,
" Thou master of lascivious arts," he said,
"To my frequented fane thy pupils lead;
And there inscrib'd in characters of gold,
This celebrated sentence you'll behold.
'First know yourself ;' who to himself is known,
Shall love with conduct, and his wishes crown.
Where nature has a handsome face bestow'd,
Or graceful shape, let both be often show'd:
Let men of wit and humor silence shun,
The artist sing, and soldier bluster on;
Of long harangues ye eloquent take heed,
Nor thy damn'd works thou teazing poet read."
Thus Phoebus spake: ajust obedience give,
And these injunctions from a god receive.
I mysteries unfold; to my advice
Attend, ye vulgar lovers, and grow wise.
The thriving grain in harvest often fails,
Oft prosp'rous winds turn adverse to our sails;
Few are the pleasures, tho' the toils are great;
With patience must submissive lovers wait.
What hares on Athos, bees on Hybla feed,
Or berries on the circling ivy breed?
As shells on sandy shores, as stars above,
So num'rous are the sure fatigues of love.
The lady's gone abroad, you're told; tho' seen,
Distrust your eyes, believe her not within.
Her lodgings on the promis'd night are close,
Resent it not, but on the earth repose.
Her maid will cry with an insulting tone,
"'What makes you saunter here? you sot, begone."
With moving words the cruel nymph entreat,
And place your garland on the bolted gate.
Why do I light and vulgar precepts use?
A nobler subject now inspires my muse;
Approaching joys I sing; ye youths, draw near;
Listen ye happy lovers and give ear;
The labor's great, and daring is my song.
Labors and great attempts to love belong.
As from the sacred oracles of Jove
Receive these grand mysterious truths in love.
Look down when she the ogling spark invites,
Nor touch the conscious tablets when she writes.
Appear not jealous tho' she's much from home,
Let her at pleasure go, unquestion'd come.
This crafty husbands to their wives permit,
And learn, when she's engag'd, to wink at it.
I own my frailties modestly confess;
And blushing, give those precepts I transgress;
Shall I, with patience, the known signal hear,
Retire, and leave a happy rival there!
What, tamely suffer the provoking wrong,
And be afraid to use my hands or tongue!
Corinna's husband kiss'd her in my sight;
I beat the saucy fool, and seiz'd my right.
I, like a fury, for my nymph engage,
And like a madman, when I miss her, rage.
My passion still prevails, convinc'd I yield!
He that submits to this is better skill'd.
Expose not, tho' you find her guilty flame,
Lest she abandon modesty and shame;
Conceal her faults, no secret crimes upbraid;
Nothing's so fond as a suspected maid.
Discover'd love increases with despair,
When both alike the guilt and scandal share:
All sense of modesty they lose in time,
Whilst each encourages the other's crime.
In heav'n this story's fam'd above the rest,
Amongst th' immortal drolls a standing jest.
How, Vulcan two transgressing lovers caught
And ev'ry god a pleas'd spectator brought.
Great Mars for Venus felt a guilty flame,
Neglected war, and own'd a lover's name,
To his desires the queen of love inclin'd;
No nymph in heav'n's so willing, none so kind.
Oft the lascivious fair, with scornful pride,
Would Vulcan's foot and sooty hands deride;
Yet both with decency their passion bore,
And modestly conceal'd the close amour,
But by the sun betray'd in their embrace,
(For what escapes the sun's observing rays?12
He told th' affronted god of his disgrace.
Ah foolish sun! and much unskill'd in love,
Thou hast an ill example set above!
Never a fair offending nymph betray,
She'll gratefully oblige you ev'ry way:
The crafty spouse around his bed prepares
Nets that deceive the eye, and secret snares:
A journey feigns, the impatient lovers met,
And naked were expos'd in Vulcan's net.
The gods deride the criminals in chains,
And scarce from tears the queen of love refrains;
Nor could her hands conceal her guilty face,
She wants that cover for another place.
To burly Mars a gay spectator said,
" Why so uneasy in that envied bed?
On me transfer your chains; I'll freely come
For your release, and suffer in your room."
At length, kind Neptune, freed by thy desires,
Mars goes for Crete, to Paphos she retires,
Their loves augmented with revengeful fires;
Now conversant with infamy and shame,
They set no bounds to their licentious flame.
But honest Vulcan, what was thy pretence,
To act so much unlike a god of sense?
They sin in public, you the shame repent,
Convinc'd that love increase with punishment.
Tho' in your pow'r, a rival ne'er expose,
Never his intercepted joys disclose:13
This I command, Venus commands the same,
Who hates the snares she once sustain'd with shame.
What impious wretch will Ceres' rites expose,14
Or Juno's solemn mysteries disclose!
His witty torments Tantalus deserves,15
That thirsts in waves and viewing banquets starves.
But Venus most in secresy delights:
Away, ye babblers, from her silent rites!
No pomp her mysteries attend, no noise!
No sounding brass proclaims the latent joys!
With folded arms the happy pair possess,
Nor should the fond betraying tongue confess
Those raptures, which no language can express.
When naked Venus casts her robes aside,
The parts obscene her hands extended hide;
No girl on propagating beasts will gaze,
But hangs her head, and turns away her face.
We darken'd beds and doors for love provide;
What nature cannot, decent habit hide.
Love darkens courts, at most a glimm'ring light,
To raise our joys, and just oblige the sight.
Ere happy men beneath the roof were laid,
When oaks provided them with food and shade,
Some gloomy cave receiv'd the wanton pair;
For light too modest, and unshaded air!
From public view they decently retir'd,
And secretly perform'd what love inspir'd.
Now scarce a modish fop about the town,
But boasts with whom, how oft, and where 'twas done;16
They taste no pleasure, relish no delight,
Till they recount what pass'd the happy night.
But men of honour always thought is base,
To prostitute each kinder nymph's embrace:
To blast her fame, and vainly hurt his own,
And furnish scandal for a lewd lampoon.
And here I must some guilty arts excuse,
And disingenuous shifts that lovers use,
To wrong the chaste and innocent abuse.
When long repuls'd they find their courtship vain,
Her character with infamy they stain;
Denied her person they debauch her fame,
And brand her innocence with public shame.
Go, jealous fool, the injur'd beauty guard,
Let ev'ry door be lock'd, and window barr'd!
The suff'ring nymph remains expos'd to wrong,
Her name's a prostitute to ev'ry tongue;
For malice with joy the lie receive,
Report, and what it wishes true, believe.
With care conceal whatever defects you find,
To all her faults seem like a lover blind.
Naked Andromeda when Perseus view'd,
He saw her faults, but yet pronounc'd them good.17
Andromache was tall,18 yet some report
Her Hector was so blind he thought her short.
At first what's nauseous lessens by degrees;
Young loves are nice, and difficult to please.
The infant plant that bears a tender rind,
Reels to and fro with ev'ry breath of wind;
But shooting upward to a tree at last,
It stems the storm, and braves the strongest blast
Time will defects and blemishes endear,
And make them lovely to your eyes appear:
Unusual scents at first may give offence;
Time reconciles them to the vanquish'd sense.
Her vices soften with some kinder phrase;
If she is swarthy as the negro's face,19
Call it a graceful brown, and that complexion praise.
The ruddy lass must be like Venus fair,
Or like Minerva that has yellow hair.
If pale and meagre, praise her shape and youth,
Active when small, when gross she's plump and smooth.
Ev'ry excess by soft'ning terms disguise,
And in some neighb'ring virtue hide each vibe.
Nor ask her age, consult no register,
Under whose reign she's born, or what's the year!
If fading youth chequers her hair with white,
Experience makes her perfect in delight;
In her embrace sublimer joys are found,
A fruitful soil, and cultivated ground!
The hours enjoy whilst youth and pleasures last,
Age hurries on, and death pursues too fast.
Or plough the seas, or cultivate the land,
Or wield the sword in thy advent'rous hand;
Or much in love thy nervous strength employ,
Embrace the fair, the grateful maid enjoy;
Pleasure and wealth reward thy pleasing pains,
The labour's great, but greater far the gains.
Add their experience in affairs of love,
For years and practice do alike improve,
Their arts repair the injuries of time,
And still preserve them in their charming prime;
In varied ways they act the pleasure o'er,
Not pictur'd postures can instruct you more.20
They want no courtship to provoke delight,
But meet your warmth with eager appetite;
Give me enjoyment, when the willing dame
Glows with desires, and burns with equal flame.21
I love to hear the soft transporting joys,
The frequent sighs, the tender murm'ring voice;
To see her eyes with varied pleasures move,
And all the nymph confess the pow'r of love.
Nature's not thus indulgent to the young,
These joys alone to riper years belong;
Who youth enjoys, drinks crude unready wine,
Let age your girl and sprightly juice refine,
Mellow their sweets, and make the taste divide.
To Helen who'd Hermione prefer,
Or Gorge think beyond her mother fair;
But he that covets the experienc'd dame,
Shall crown his joys and triumph in his flame.
One conscious bed receives the happy pair;
Retire, my muse; the door demands thy care.22
What charming words, what tender things are said,
What language flows without the useless aid!
There shall the roving hand employment find,
Inspire new flames, and make e'en virgins kind.
Thus Hector did Andromache delight,
Hector in love victorious, as in fight.
When weary from the field Achilles came,
Thus with delays he rais'd Briseis' flame;
Ah, could those arms, those fatal hands, delight!
Inspire kind thoughts, and raise thy appetite!
Coulds't thou, fond maid, be charm'd with his embrace,
Stain'd with the blood of half thy royal race.
Nor yet with speed the fleeting pleasures waste,
Still moderate your love's impetuous haste;
The bashful virgin, tho' appearing coy,
Detains your hand, and hugs the proffer'd joy.
Then view her eyes, with humid lustre bright,
Sparkling with rage, and trembling with delight;
Her kind complaints, her melting accents hear,
The eye she charms, and wounds the list'ning ear.
Defer not then the clasping nymphs embrace,
But with her love maintain an equal pace;
Raise to her heights the transports of your soul,
And fly united to the happy goal.
Observe these precepts when with leisure bless'd
No threatening fears your private hours molest.
When danger's near, your active force employ,
And urge with eager speed the hasty joy.
Then ply your oars, then practise this advice,
And strain with whip and spur to gain the prize.
The work's complete, triumphant palms prepare
With flow'ry deaths adorn my flowing hair.
As to the Greeks was Poldalirius' art,
To heal with med'cines the afflicted part;
Nestor's advice, Achilles' arms in field,
Automedon for chariot-driving skill'd;
As Calchas could explain the mystic bird,23
And Telemon could wield the brandish'd sword;
Such to the town my fam'd instructions prove,
So much am I renown'd for arts of love.
Me ev'ry youth shall praise, extol my name,
And o'er the globe diffuse my lasting fame.
I arms provide against the scornful fair;
Thus Vulcan arm'd Achilles for the war.
Whatever youth shall with my aid o'ercome,
And lead his Amazon in triumph home;24
Let him that conquers and enjoys the dame,
In gratitude for his instructed flame,
Inscribe the spoils with my auspicious name.
The tender girls my precepts next demand,
Them I commit to a more skilful hand.

1 The Chaonian bird is a dove. Chaonia is part of Epirus, so called from the fate of Chaon, an Athenian. There wasa temple of Dodonian Jupiter, where doves dispensed the sacred oracles with human voices. In the forest of Dodona, in Epirus, not far from the temple, there were doves thatprophecied. From whence, says Servius, comes the fable that Peliades, in the Thessalian tongue, signifies prophet and dove. Pausanias says that these doves gave answers from the Dodonean oaks. But Herodotus, in his Euterpe, writes, that these doves were prophecying women.

2 That is, riches will do all things, and interest easily gains a woman's heart, because the sex is generally covetous.

3 It is certain, no creature is so stately and fierce as a lion who, when he is hunted by dogs and huntsmen in the open field, seems to despise his pursuers, and flies slowly from them; but when he is in the woods, and thinks his shame may be saved by flight, he runs with great speed to avoid them. The first that ever tamed a lion, was a noble Carthaginian, whose name was Hanno; and he was condemned for that very reason: the Carthaginians not thinking their liberty could be secure, while a person lived who was able to tame so fierce an animal.

4 Speaking of Hercules, who for the love of Omphale used the distaff and basket, according to the fashion of the Ionian damsels.

5 This fable of Hero and Leander is as well known as any in Ovid; he treats of it in his epistles: we find it also in Musaeus's poem, and in Martial's epigrams.

6 This has allusion to a festival celebrated at Rome by the servants, in remembrance of a great piece of service their predecessors had done the Romans, soon after the invasion of the Gauls; the time of celebrating it was in July. It was done in honour of Juno Caprotina according to Macrobius, in his Saturnalia, book i. chap. 2. The free maidens and servants, says the same author, sacrificed on that day to Juno, under a wild fig-tree, called in Latin Caprilicus, in memory of that complaisant virtue which inspired the servant maids to expose themselves to the lust and revenge of the enemy for the preservation of the public honour. For after the Gauls had taken the city, and were driven out again, when things were restored to their former order, the neighbouring nations believing the Romans were very much weakened by the late invasion, siege, and sack, took hold of that opportunity to invade them, choosing Posthumius Livius of Fidenes for their chief, and demanded of the senate, that if they would preserve their city and authority, they should send them their wives and daughters. The senators taking the matter into consideration, could not tell what answer to return. They knew their own weakness and the strength of their enemies; and in this uncertainty a servant-maid called Tutelar, or Philotis. offered to go with some other maids of the same condition to the enemy. This proposal was generally liked, and accordingly the maids were dressed like the wives of the senators, and the daughters of free citizens, and went weeping to put themselves into the hands of the invaders. Livius ordered them to be dispersed into several quarters; and, as they had agreed among themselves, they tempted their new husbands to drink, pretending that day ought to be celebrated as a festival; and when they were almost dead drunk they gave the Romans a signal from the top of a fig-tree to fall on. The latter were encamped not far off; and at this signal they assautled and easily mastered the enemy's camp. putting most of them to the sword. The senate, to reward this important service, ordered that the servants should be made free, that they should have portions paid to them out of the public treasury, and allowed them to wear the ornaments they had taken. The day on which this happy expedition was executed, was called the Caprotine nones, from the wild fig-tree Caprificus, from whence the signa was given to the Romans to sally out and gain so glorious a victory; in remembrance of which action the servants sacrificed every year under this or some other fig-tree. Plutarch relates the same story in the life of Camillus.

7 We may perceive that either ladies were not so nice in managing their hair before their lovers in Ovid's time, or that the ladies he speaks of were not the nicest. They curled their hair with a bodkin, and sometimes with a hot iron, as in our lays; but they showed more of it than is the fashion with the modern ladies.

8 This and the following similes are taken from country affairs, which have an agreeable effect on this occasion, when the poet speaks of the tendency of every living thing to love.

9 Aonia is taken here for Boeotia, of which Thebes was the capital, where Bacchus was born; and the fury that transports people when they are drunk, is very well compared to that of wild beasts and vipers.

10 Progne, the wife of Tereus, king of Thrace, killed her own daughters and presented them to her husband, because he had ravished her sister Philumela.

11 Especially hens and partridges, which, as Almansor teaches, are wonderfully provocative. Pliny says they are very nourishing if not eaten to excess.

12 The sun sees all things, and nothing can avoid being seen by it, any more than it can dispense with being warmed by it.

13 He means intercepting a rival's letter, and discovering the contents. To intercept letters, and divulge a secret, was a crime punishable by the laws, by banishment, or interdiction of fire and water, by which was understood exile.

14 This is a simile, and shows us it was not lawful to reveal the mysteries of Ceres. Macrobius in the 11th chapter of his first book upon Scipio's dream, writes that the philosopher Numenius, being too curious to know the secrets of hidden things, incurred the wrath of the gods by divulging the Eleusinian mysteries, which were the same with those of Ceres.

15 He proves by the example of Tantalus, that no man should reveal secrets. Tantalus, so Diodorus tells us, was the son of Jupiter and the nymph Plota, equally rich and renowned. He dwelt in Paphlagonia, and was favoured by the gods for the dignity of his birth ; but having been told some of their secrets, and divulging them to mortals, he was thrown into hell for his crime, where his punishment was what Ovid tells us.

16 And who is there so ignorant as not to know that the fops of our age are exactly like those of Ovid's?

17 That is, as this poet elsewhere says, she was swarthy, or had not a good skin and complexion, yet Perseus liked her, delivered her from a sea-monster and married her.

18 The poet means she was very tall; so much so, that it was rather a disadvantage than a beauty, yet Hector thought she was of a moderate height. This princess was the daughtor of Aetion king of Thebes, and Hector's wife. Ovid is not the only author who takes notice of her tallness. Juvenal, in his sixth satire, wherein he rallies a lady of his time, who dressed her head very high, says she affected to have the air of Andromache.

19 Blacker than Illyrian pitch, says Ovid. by which we find Illyria was famous for it. The Greeks called the people who lived above Macedonia and Thrace, as far as Chaonia and Thesprotus to the Danube, Illyrians, according to Appian.

20 He speaks of obscene pictures representing nudities, and different postures, such as Carraccio's and Aretin's in latter days. For there was as bad in old times composed by Elephantis, from which Tiberius took the figures that were painted in his bed-chamber and closet.

21 From this we may perceive our poet abhorred the gallantry too much practiced among the Romans then, and Italians now, as well as in the eastern countries. Indeed, we can find nothing like it in all his writings, which can hardly be said of any of his contemporary poets, or scarcely in one of their authors at all, before or after him, until the Romans embraced Christianity. He says it is true, he is only less touched with that beastly passion; and by that is to be understood he was not touched at all.

22 Ovid, who was advanced a little too far, checks his muse, and bids her give back. It is certain, he ought to have stopped here: but he could not forbear telling what he had in his head. He, however, says but a little, and it is not necessary to explain it: the subject is too well known already. If our moralizing was convenient at any time, it must be now, for fear our imagination should out-run the poet's. As Ovid tells his muse here, so every man should tell himself, even in the most excellent things: when we are arrived at a certain point, we should abstain from saying any more, we should enioy the charms of philosophy retired. and by ourselves : for as the way of the world is now. it is scandalous in some companies to talk of it: and there are men even so stupid, as a ways to turn it in into ridicule. I shall be glad if my author's arguments have the effect he pretends to on this occasion.

23 As he could observe the flights of birds, or the entrails of beasts. Calchas was the son of Thestor, as Homer writes in his lst Iliad, famous for his skill in the art of divination, which he learnt of Apollo.

24 This he speaks by way of metaphor for some lady hard overcome, as if all lovers were warriors.

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  • Commentary references to this page (11):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 2
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 1.156
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 1.309
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 2.103
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 4.78
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 8.283
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 22.126
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.1207
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 3.3
    • R. G. Bury, The Symposium of Plato, 183A
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