You, who in Cupid's roll inscribe your name,
First seek an object worthy of your flame;1
Then strive, with art, your lady's mind to gain;
And last, provide your love may long remain.
On these three precepts all my work shall move:
These are the rules and principles of love.
Before your youth with marriage is oppress't,2
Make choice of one who suits your humour best
And such a damsel drops not from the sky;
She must be sought for with a curious eye.
The wary angler, in the winding brook,
Knows what the fish, and where to bait his hook.
The fowler and the huntsman know by name
The certain haunts and harbour of their game.
So must the lover beat the likeliest grounds;
Th' Assemblies where his quarries most abound:
Nor shall my novice wander far astray;
These rules shall put him in the ready way.
Thou shalt not fail around the continent,
As far as Perseus or as Paris went:
For Rome alone affords thee such a store,
As all the world can hardly shew thee more.
The face of heav'n with fewer stars is crown'd,
Than beauties in the Roman sphere are found.
Whether thy love is bent on blooming youth,
On dawning sweetness, in unartful truth;
Or courts the juicy joys of riper growth;
Here may'st thou find thy full desires in both:
Or if autumnal beauties please thy sight
(An age that knows to give and take delight;)
Millions of matrons, of the graver sort,
In common prudence, will not balk the sport.
In summer's heats thou need'st but only go
To Pompey's cool and shady portico;3
Or Concord's fane; or that proud edifice
Whose turrets near the bawdy suburbs rise;
Or to that other portico, where stands
The cruel father urging his commands.
And fifty daughters wait the time of rest,
To plunge their poniards in the bridegroom's breast.
Or Venus' temple; where, on annual nights,
They mourn Adonis with Assyrian rites.4
Nor shun the Jewish walk, where the foul drove
On sabbaths rest from everything but love.5
Nor Isis' temple; for that sacred whore
Makes others, what to Jove she was before;6
And if the hall itself be not belied,
E'en there the cause of love is often tried;
Near it at least, or in the palace yard,
From whence the noisy combatants are heard.
The crafty counsellors, in formal gown,7
There gain another's cause, but lose their own.
Their eloquence is nonpluss'd in the suit;
And lawyers, who had words at will, are mute.
Venus from her adjoining temple smiles
To see them caught in their litigious wiles;
Grave senators lead home the youthful dame,8
Returning clients when they patrons came.
But above all, the Playhouse is the place;9
There's choice of quarry in that narrow chace:
There take thy stand, and sharply looking out,
Soon may'st thou find a mistress in the rout,
For length of time or for a single bout.
The Theatres are berries for the fair;
Like ants or mole-hills thither they repair;
Like bees to hives so numerously they throng,
It may be said they to that place belong:
Thither they swarm who have the public voice;
There choose, if plenty not distracts thy choice.
To see, and to be seen, in heaps they run;
Some to undo, and some to be undone.

1 The poet here gives his advice as to three things: to seek after an amiable object: to win it by respect and complacency, and not to lose it after once gotten.

2 That is, while you are a freeman, unmarried, and not engaged to any other mistress. The truest meaning that can be given, is, that while you are young, and are not yet troubled with the infirmities of age (for an old man in love is ridiculous) choose where you please.

3 This was a shady walk which Pompey built for the people; and there were several in Rome of the same sort; but the most admirable one of all the porticos, was the Corinthian, near the Flaminian cirque, built by Cneius Octavius.

4 It was the custom among the Romans, to meet in the temples of Venus to mourn Adonis; of which the prophet Ezekiel speaks, (Ezek. viii. 14.); and infamous acts of lewdness were there committed, if we may believe Juvenal in his sixth satire.

5 There were great numbers of the Jews at Rome in Augustus's reign, who were allowed full liberty to exercise their ceremonies, according to the law of Moses. And the Roman ladies went often to see them out of curiosity, which gave occasion for assignations at their synagogues.

6 That is, many women were debauched by Isis's means, as she was by Jupiter under the name of Io.

7 The following verses are a happy paraphrase of Ovid; in whose time we find the long robe dealt as much with the stola, etc., as it does in our own.

8 We see these assemblies were composed of all sorts of persons; upon which our French author remarks thus: " This does not very well agree to the practice in our days; and I cannot comprehend how gallant women could frequent the courts of justice : where it is to be supposed, nobody came but such as had business and suits depending."

9 It must be owned, the theatres, amphitheatres, cirques, hippodromes, and all places where the public feasts and rejoicings were kept, were very fatal to the chastity of the women of old.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: