Amores (Ovid)

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Militat omnis amans.

Every lover is a soldier.

In toto nusquam corpore menda fuit.

Nowhere on all her body was sign of fault.

Amores ('Love Affairs') is Ovid's first completed book of poetry, written in elegiac couplets. It was first published in 16 BC in five books, but Ovid, by his own account, later edited it down into the three-book edition that survives today. The book follows the popular model of the erotic elegy, as made famous by figures such as Tibullus or Propertius, but is often subversive and humorous with these tropes, exaggerating common motifs and devices to the point of absurdity.


Grant Showerman, ed. Ovid: Heroides and Amores, LCL 41 (1914); revised by G. P. Goold (1989)
  • In toto nusquam corpore menda fuit.
    • Nowhere on all her body was sign of fault.
      • I; v, line 25 (tr. Grant Showerman)
    • Variant translation: Christopher Marlowe (c. 1599): "Not one wen in her body could I spie."

  • Militat omnis amans, et habet sua castra Cupido; ...
    Quae bello est habilis, Veneri quoque convenit aetas.
      Turpe senex miles, turpe senilis amor.
    • Every lover is a soldier, and Cupid has a camp of his own. ... The age that is meet for the wars is also suited to Venus. 'Tis unseemly for the old man to soldier, unseemly for the old man to love.
      • Book I; ix, 1 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Qui nolet fieri desidiosus, amet!
    • Whoso would not lose all his spirit, let him love!
      • Book I; ix, 46 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Procul omen abesto!
    • Far from us be the omen!
      • Book I; xiv, 41 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Aequo animo poenam, qui meruere, ferunt.
    • Those who have merited punishment bear it with even mind.
      • Book II, vii, 12 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Quod licet ingratum est. Quod non licet acrius urit.
    • What one may do freely has no charm; what one may not do pricks more keenly on.
      • Book II; xix, 3 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Cui peccare licet, peccat minus; ipsa potestas
      Semina nequitiae languidiora facit.
    • She to whom erring is free, errs less; very power makes less quick the seeds of sin.
      • Book III, iv, 9 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata.
    • We ever strive for what is forbid, and ever covet what is denied.
      • Book III; iv, 17 (tr. Grant Showerman)
    • Variant translation: Thomas Adams, The Fatal Banquet, Part II, Sermon 14 (in Works, vol. 1 (Edinburgh, 1861), p. 176: "We hunt for things unlawful with swift feet, / As if forbidden joys were only sweet."

  • Dedecus hoc sumpta dissimulavit aqua.
    • She covered up my sorry performance by taking a bath.
      • Book III; vii, 84 (tr. G. P. Goold)
    • Variant translation: Paul LaCroix, History of Prostitution, trans. Samuel Putnam, vol. 1 (Chicago, 1926), p. 532: "She did not forego her ablutions."

  • Ingenium quondam fuerat pretiosius auro;
       At nunc barbaria est grandis, habere nihil.
    • Time was when genius was more precious than gold; but now to have nothing is monstrous barbarism.
      • Book III; viii, 3 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Cum rapiunt mala fata bonos—ignoscite fasso!—
      Sollicitor nullos esse putare deos.
    Vive pius—moriere; pius cole sacra—colentem
      Mors gravis a templis in cava busta trahet;
    Carminibus confide bonis—iacet, ecce, Tibullus:
      Vix manet e toto, parva quod urna capit!
    • When evil fate sweeps away the good—forgive me who say it!—I am tempted to think there are no gods. Live the duteous life—you will die; be faithful in your worship—in the very act of worship heavy death will drag you from the temple to the hollow tomb; put your trust in beautiful song—behold, Tibullus lies dead: from his whole self there scarce remains what the slight urn receives!
      • Book III; ix, 35 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Luctantur pectusque leve in contraria tendunt
      Hac amor hac odium, sed, puto, vincit amor.
    Odero, si potero; si non, invitus amabo.
    • Struggling over my fickle heart, love draws it now this way, and now hate that—but love, I think, is winning. I will hate, if I have strength; if not, I shall love unwilling.
      • Book III; xi, 33 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Sic ego nec sine te nec tecum vivere possum.
    • Thus I can live neither with you nor without you.
      • Book III; xiv, 39 (tr. Grant Showerman)
      • Compare: Nec possum tecum vivere nec sine te ("I cannot live with you nor without you"), Martial, XII, 46

Classical and Foreign Quotations[edit]

W. Francis H. King, ed. Classical and Foreign Quotations, 3rd ed. (1904), nos. 264, 368, 380, 398, 412, 426, 549, 707, 751, 889, 921, 1219, 1391, 1748, 1858, 1890, 2075, 2281, 2307, 2498, 2948
  • Cedant carminibus reges, regumque triumphi.
    • To verse must kings, and regal triumphs yield.
      • 1, 15, 33.

  • Confiteor, si quid prodest delicta fateri.
    • I confess my fault if the confession be of any avail.
      • 2, 4, 3.

  • Conveniens vitæ mors fuit ista suæ.
    • His death was in keeping with his life.
      • 2, 10, 38.

  • Crede mihi, res est ingeniosa dare.
    • Believe me, giving is a matter that requires judgment.
      • 1, 8, 62.

  • Cui peccare licet, peccat minus. Ipsa potestas
    Semina nequitiæ languidiora facit.
    • Who’s free to sin, sins less: the very power
      Robs evildoing of its choicest flower.
      • 3, 4, 9.

  • Cur opus adfectas, ambitiose, novum?
    • Why, ambitious youth, do you undertake a new work?
      • 1, 1, 14.

  • Da populo, da verba mihi, sine nescius errem;
    Et liceat stulte credulitate frui.
    • Pray undeceive me not, nor let me know that I mistaken be,
      I would a little longer yet enjoy my fond credulity.
      • 3, 14, 29.
      • To a Faithless Mistress.

  • Eveniat nostris hostibus ille pudor.
    • May such shame be the portion of my enemy!
      • 3, 11, 16.
      • For similar imprecations, cf. Di meliora piis, erroremque hostibus illum!—"God give His servants better fortune, and send that error to His enemies!" (Virgil, Georgics, 3, 513); Sic pereant omnes inimici tui, Domine: qui autem diligunt te, sicut sol in ortu suo splendet, ita rutilent!—"So let all Thine enemies perish, O Lord, but let them that love Thee shine as the sun shineth in his rising!" (Vulgate Judges 5, 31).

  • Et nulli cessura fides, sine crimine mores,
    Nudaque simplicitas, purpureusque pudor.
    • Trusty good faith, a life without a stain,
      Of blushing purity, of manners plain.
      • 1, 3, 13.

  • Fabula (nec sentis) tota jactaris in urbe.

  • Heu! melior quanto sors tua sorte mea!
    • Alas! how much superior is your lot to mine.
      • 1, 6, 46.

  • Hoc illi garrula lingua dedit.
    • This penalty his chattering tongue has paid.
      • 2, 2, 44.
      • Said of Tantalus for revealing the secrets of the gods.

  • Labitur occulte, fallitque volubilis ætas.
    • Time glides away unnoticed, and eludes us in his flight.
      • 1, 8, 49.

  • Leve fit quod bene fertur onus.
    • The burden which is borne with cheerfulness becomes light.
      • 1, 2, 10.

  • Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata.
    • We are always striving after what is forbidden, and coveting the prohibited.
      • 3, 4, 17.
      • Cf. Quicquid servatur, cupimus magis, ipsaque furem / Cura vocat. Pauci, quod sinit alter, amant.—"Whatever is carefully guarded we covet all the more, and the very solicitude invites a thief: few long for what others leave alone." (3, 4, 25); Quod licet ingratum est: quod non licet acrius urit.—"What is lawful is unattractive; what is unlawful excites all the more keenly." (2, 19, 3); Permissum fit vile nefas.—"Permitted sin loses its value." (Maximianus Etruscus (falsely attributed to Cornelius Gallus), Elegies, 3, 77 (in Lemaire’s Bibliotheca Classica Latina, vol. 140, p. 246)); Vile est quod licet.—"What is lawful is of little value." (Petronius, 93).

  • Non ego sum stultus, ut ante fui.
    • I am no longer the fool I was.
      • 3, 11, 32.
      • i.e. "I have learned by experience."

  • Omina sunt aliquid.
    • There is something in omens.
      • 1, 12, 3.

  • Perter et obdura: dolor hic tibi proderit olim:
    Sæpe tulit lassis succus amarus opem.
    • Bear and endure: some day your pains will tell.
      The bitter draught has oft made sick men well.
      • 3, 11, 7.
      • Cf. Perfer et obdura: multo graviora tulisti.—"Bear and endure: you have borne much harder things than this." (Tristia, 5, 11, 7).
      • Patience.

  • Quid tibi cum pelago? Terra contenta fuisses.
    • What business had you with the sea? You might have been content with the land.
      • 3, 8, 49.

  • Qui nolet fieri desidiosus, amet.
    • If any man wish to escape idleness, let him fall in love.
      • 1, 9, 46.

  • Sero respicitur tellus, ubi fune soluto,
    Currit in immensum panda carina salum.
    • It is too late to look back to the land,
      With moorings loosed, and keel slipped from the strand.
      • 2, 11, 23.

  • Vix a te videor posse tenere manus.
    • I can scarcely keep my hands off you!
      • 1, 4, 10.
      • Translated by Sydney Smith: as said to the lady in red velvet, whose gown reminded him so vividly of his pulpit cushion.


  • For all of his much loving, the poet of the Amores is philosophic in love, and his light-hearted freedom from its pains finds light and airy expression. [...] The heart that indites the matter of the Amores is no less free from suspicion of heaviness than the hand that obeys the heart; their language is limpid, smooth, and flowing, fit medium of their fluent and limpid thought.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: