Elegia I.3

Arion 28 (2):97-98 (2020)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Elegia i.3 PROPERTIUS Translated by Steven J.Willett Just as she lay when Theseus’ keel was sliding seaward, the Cnossian maid languid on the desolate shore; just as Cepheus’ daughter reclined in her first slumber, Andromeda, now freed from jagged rocks; just as the Thracian bacchant, weary from incessant dancing, slumps on the grassy bank of the Apidanus; even so Cynthia seemed to breathe a soft repose, her head pillowed on open unruly hands, when I came dragging footsteps wobbly with too much wine, the boys waving burnt-out torches in the late night. Against her I tried, not all my senses utterly derelict, to advance gently on the compliant couch; and, though seized by a double ardor—each was commanding me, love here and wine there, both implacable gods— to assault her by slipping my arm lightly beneath her body and with a hand advanced take kisses and arms, yet I lacked the courage to shatter my mistress’ repose, fearing the brawls whose savagery I’d tasted; so I remained standing there motionless with rapt eyes, like Argus at the strange sight of Io’s horns. And now I was untying the garlands from my forehead and placing them, Cynthia, around your temples; and now I was finding it pleasant to smooth your fallen tresses; then I was giving you stolen apples in hollow palms; but I was lavishing all these gifts on ungrateful sleep, gifts that often tumbled from your sloping lap; and every time you heaved a sigh stirring fitfully, arion 28.2 fall 2020 98 elegia 1.3 I froze, foolishly credulous of an empty sign, fearful that some dream was bringing you strange terrors, or some man was forcing you reluctantly to be his: until the moon drifting across the opposite windows, the meddling moon whose eyes incline to linger, drew her closely-lidded eyes open under its delicate beams. Then, her elbow propped on the soft couch, she asked: “Has another’s rejection finally brought you back to my bed, chucked out with the doors slammed in your face? Where have you squandered the long hours of my night, languid, alas for me, as the stars are waning? Oh, I pray that you may endure, you beast, such nights as you are always making poor me to suffer! Just now I was cheating sleep with purple yarn at the loom, and then, exhausted, with song on Orpheus’ lyre; and sometimes, quite desolate, I softly complained to myself of the long waits your outside loves often cost me. Till sleep with gentle wings brushed me down to oblivion. That was the last concern of all my tears.”...

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