Bar the Dawn from My Bed
By Alicia Lopez
Amores 1.13.1-32, 35-48
Iam super oceanum venit a seniore marito
flava pruinoso quae vehit axe diem.
“Quo properas, Aurora? mane!—sic Memnonis umbris
annua sollemni caede parentet avis!
nunc iuvat in teneris dominae iacuisse lacertis;
si quando, lateri nunc bene iuncta meo est.
nunc etiam somni pingues et frigidus aer,
et liquidum tenui gutture cantat avis.
quo properas, ingrata viris, ingrata puellis?
roscida purpurea supprime lora manu!
Ante tuos ortus melius sua sidera servat
navita nec media nescius errat aqua;
te surgit quamvis lassus veniente viator,
et miles saevas aptat ad arma manus.
prima bidente vides oneratos arva colentes;
prima vocas tardos sub iuga panda boves.
tu pueros somno fraudas tradisque magistris,
ut subeant tenerae verbera saeva manus;
atque eadem sponsum incautos ante atria mittis,
unius ut verbi grandia damna ferant.
nec tu consulto, nec tu iucunda diserto;
cogitur ad lites surgere uterque novas.
tu, cum feminei possint cessare labores,
lanificam revocas ad sua pensa manum.
Omnia perpeterer—sed surgere mane puellas,
quis nisi cui non est ulla puella ferat?
optavi quotiens, ne nox tibi cedere vellet,
ne fugerent vultus sidera mota tuos!
optavi quotiens, aut ventus frangeret axem,
aut caderet spissa nube retentus equus!
Tithono vellem de te narrare liceret;
fabula non caelo turpior ulla foret.
illum dum refugis, longo quia grandior aevo,
surgis ad invisas a sene mane rotas.
at si, quem mavis, Cephalum conplexa teneres,
clamares: ‘lente currite, noctis equi!’
Cur ego plectar amans, si vir tibi marcet ab annis?
num me nupsisti conciliante seni?
adspice, quot somnos iuveni donarit amato
Luna!—neque illius forma secunda tuae.
ipse deum genitor, ne te tam saepe videret,
commisit noctes in sua vota duas.”
Iurgia finieram. scires audisse: rubebat—
nec tamen adsueto tardius orta dies!
Above the sea, the golden one who carries the day to the frosty sky
is already coming from her aging spouse.
“Where do you rush to, Dawn? Stay!—so that the bird, Memnon’s shadow,
May perform the funeral for the solemn murder.
Now I am happy to lie in the tender arms of my lover;
Whenever she is woven to my side.
Even now sleep is sweet, and the air is cold,
And a bird sings sweetly with its tender throat.
Where do you rush to, you who is hateful to men, horrid to women?
Stop your dewy sandals with your rosy fingers.
Before you rise, a sailor can better watch over his stars
And does not wander in unknown waters.
The traveler, however tired, rises with your coming,
And the soldier takes up weapons with savage hands.
You are the first to see the farmers burdened with two-pronged hoes;
You are the first to call the lazy cows under the arched yoke.
You steal the children from sleep and hand them over to the teachers
so that the young may face the savage slaps on their hands,
and it is you also who sends the careless to pledge before courts
so that just one slip of the tongue may cast down a harsh sentence.
Nor are you kind to the lawyers, the eloquent prosecutor and the defense attorney,
Each of whom rises for new lawsuits.
You, when a woman’s work might cease,
call back the wool-working hand to its loom.
I could endure all of those things—except the girls rising in the morning—
Who but one who is not a lover would bear that?
How many times I wished that night would not yield to you,
And that the stars, moved by you, would not flee from your face!
How many times I wished that either the wind would break your chariot
or that a thick could would hold up your horse.
I wish your husband, Tithonus, could gossip about you;
No woman is more shameful than you.
You flee Tithonus because he is much older than you;
You rise from the old man in the morning for your detested rounds.
But, if you were embracing young Cephalus,
You would shout: ‘Run slowly, horses of night!’
Why should I, a lover, be punished, if your husband is old?
Did you marry the old man with me as a wedding witness?
Look how great a sleep the Moon gave to her young lover,
The moon who is not second in beauty to you.
The creator of the gods himself, lest he see you too often,
Combined two nights to fulfil his wish.”
Thus, I ended my complaint. You know I dared to argue: Dawn blushed—
But, the day rose, as usual, no later.
One of my favorite parts of studying Classics is stumbling across little nuggets of relatable content. While of course, there are always big themes that span most works of literature (heroics, sacrifice, love, loss, etc.), I treasure the little similarities, like wanting to stay in bed, that are still wildly relatable thousands of years later. Ovid’s work invokes, chats with, and challenges gods, goddesses, lovers, and friends alike all while still remaining witty and personable. I’ve found that regardless of the recipient, each of Ovid’s pieces has a personal touch to it that is uniquely Ovid. I tried to preserve as much of that as I could in my translation.
Alicia Lopez (College ’23) is a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Classical Studies and English.