Talk:Prostitution in ancient Rome

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search


  • Such as she, who, borne away from the Eurotas, in the Phrygian ships, was the cause of warfare to her two husbands; such as Leda was, whom her crafty paramour, concealed in his white feathers, deceived under the form of a fictitious bird; such as Amymone used to wander in the parched fields of Argos, when the urn was pressing the locks on the top of her head; such were you; and I was in dread of both the eagle and the bull with respect to you, and whatever form besides Love has created of the mighty Jove.
    Now, all fears are gone, and the disease of my mind is cured; and now no longer does that form of yours rivet my eyes. Do you inquire why I am changed? It is, because you require presents. This reason does not allow of your pleasing me. So long as you were disinterested, I was in love with your mind together with your person; now, in my estimation, your appearance is affected by this blemish on your disposition. Love is both a child and naked; he has years without sordidness, and he wears no clothes, that he may be without concealment, Why do you require the son of Venus to be prostituted at a price? He has no fold in his dress, in which to conceal that price. Neither Venus is suited for cruel arms, nor yet the son of Venus; it befits not such unwarlike Divinities to serve for pay. The courtesan stands for hire to any one at a certain price; and with her submissive body, she seeks for wretched pelf. Still, she curses the tyranny of the avaricious procurer; and she does, by compulsion, what you are doing of your own free will.
    Take, as an example, the cattle, devoid of reason; it were a shocking thing for there to be a finer feeling in the brutes. The mare asks no gift of the horse, nor the cow of the bull; the ram does not woo the ewe, induced by presents. Woman alone takes pleasure in spoils torn from the man; she alone lets out her nights; alone is she on sale, to be hired at a price. She sells, too, joys that delight them both, and which both covet; and she makes it a matter of pay, at what price she herself is to be gratified. Those joys, Which are so equally sweet to both, why does the one sell, and why the other buy them? Why must that delight prove a loss to me, to you a gain, for which the female and the male combine with kindred impulse? Witnesses hired dishonestly, sell their perjuries; the chest of the commissioned judge is disgracefully open for the bribe.
    'Tis a dishonourable thing to defend the wretched criminals with a tongue that is purchased; 'tis a disgrace for a tribunal to make great acquisitions. 'Tis a disgrace for a woman to increase her patrimonial possessions by the profits of her embraces, and to prostitute her beauty for lucre. Thanks are justly due for things obtained without purchase; there are no thanks for an intercourse disgracefully bartered. He who hires, pays all his due; the price once paid, he no longer remains a debtor for your acquiescence. Cease, ye beauties, to bargain for pay for your favours. Sordid gains bring no good results. It was not worth her while to bargain for the Sabine bracelets, in order that the arms should crush the head of the sacred maiden. The son pierced with the sword those entrails from which he had sprung, and a simple necklace was the cause of the punishment.
    But yet it is not unbecoming for a present to be asked of the wealthy man; he has something to give to her who does ask for a present. Pluck the grapes that hang from the loaded vines; let the fruitful soil of Alcinoüs afford the apples. Let the needy man proffer duty, zeal, and fidelity; what each one possesses, let him bestow it all upon his mistress. My endowments, too, are in my lines to sing the praises of those fair who deserve them; she, whom I choose, becomes celebrated through my skill. Vestments will rend, gems and gold will spoil; the fame which poesy confers is everlasting.
    Still I do not detest giving and revolt at it, but at being asked for a price. Cease to demand it, and I will give you that which I refuse you while you ask.