Amores 1.2

Esse quid hoc dīcam, quod tam mihi dūra videntur

strāta, neque in lēctō pallia nostra sedent,

et vacuus somnō noctem, quam longa, perēgī,

lassaque versātī corporis ossa dolent?

nam, puto, sentīrem, sī quō temptārer amōre 5

an subit et tēctā callidus arte nocet?

sīc erit: haesērunt tenuēs in corde sagittae,

et possessa ferus pectora versat Amor.

cēdimus, an subitum luctandō accendimus ignem?

cēdāmus: leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus.10

vīdī ego iactātās mōtā face crēscere flammās

et vīdī nūllō concutiente morī.

verbera plūra ferunt quam quōs iuvat ūsus arātrī,

dētrāctant prēnsī dum iuga prīma, bovēs.

asper equus dūrīs contunditur ōra lupātīs:15

frēna minus sentit, quisquis ad arma facit.

ācrius invītōs multōque ferōcius urget,

quam quī servitium ferre fatentur, Amor.

ēn ego, cōnfiteor, tua sum nova praeda, Cupīdō;

porrigimus victās ad tua iūra manūs.20

nil opus est bellō: pācem veniamque rogāmus;

nec tibi laus armīs victus inermis erō.

necte comam myrtō, māternās iunge columbās;

quī deceat, currum vītricus ipse dabit;

inque datō currū, populō clāmante triumphum,25

stābis et adiunctās arte movēbis avēs.

dūcentur captī iuvenēs captaeque puellae:

haec tibi magnificus pompa triumphus erit.

ipse ego, praeda recēns, factum modo vulnus habēbō

et nova captīvā vincula mente feram.30

Mēns Bona dūcētur manibus post terga retortīs

et Pudor et castrīs quicquid Amōris obest.

omnia tē metuent, ad tē sua bracchia tendēns

vulgus 'iō' magnā vōce 'triumphe' canet.

Blanditiae comitēs tibi erunt Errorque Furorque,35

assiduē partēs turba secūta tuās.

hīs tū mīlitibus superās hominēsque deōsque;

haec tibi sī dēmās commoda, nūdus eris.

laeta triumphantī dē summō māter Olympō

plaudet et appositās sparget in ōra rosās.40

tū pinnās gemmā, gemmā variante capillōs

ībis in aurātīs aureus ipse rotīs.

tum quoque nōn paucōs, sī tē bene nōvimus, ūrēs;

tum quoque praeteriēns vulnera multa dabis.

nōn possunt, licet ipse velīs, cessāre sagittae;45

fervida vīcīnō flamma vapōre nocet.

tālis erat domitā Bacchus Gangētide terrā:

tū gravis ālitibus, tigribus ille fuit.

ergō cum possim sacrī pars esse triumphī,

parce tuās in mē perdere victor opēs.50

aspice cognātī fēlīcia Caesaris arma:

quā vīcit, victōs prōtegit ille manū.

1.2: Conquered by Cupid

The first eight lines of the poem connect it more or less directly with Amores 1.1. The poet has been unable to sleep, and at first does not know why; it might be love, but, he says, surely he would have noticed. [full essay]

1-2: Esse quid hoc dicam: dicam is deliberative subjunctive (AG §444), governing an indirect statement, the subject of which is hoc: "I should say that this is what?" i.e., "What should I say this is?"  "What's going on?" quod: "that"; for quid quod?, "what of the fact that?" nostra = mea

3–4: vacuus somnō: vacuus can govern an ablative of separation to mean "free from a thing" (AG §400). quam longa: perhaps = tam longa quam fuit, but more likely a parenthetical exclamation, with nox understood as its subject = et vacuus somnō noctem—quam longa!—perēgī. versātī > versō -āre "to turn round, to spin," used of tossing and turning one's body.

5–6: puto: the o of first person singular endings is long by nature, but is often regarded as short by the poets. sentīrem, sī quō temptārer amōre: a present contrary to fact condition; quō = aliquō (AG §310a). an: as in Amores 1.1.15, an introduces a rather surprised question (AG §335b). subit > subeō, -īre, -iī, -itum can mean "steal in on"; the subject is amor / Amor.

7–8: erit: the so-called future of surprised realization: "That’ll be it!" versat > versō -āre, "push something this way and that," i.e., "control."

9–10: cēdimus, an ... accendimus: both verbs are interrogative; an can introduce a second question asked as an alternative to the first one. Take accendō as "intensify, aggravate." leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus: a "sententia" or proverb. bene: "with fortitude."

11–12: vīdī ego: remember that ego is intensive: "I myself have seen." morī: assume eās (= flammās). nūllō concutiente: "when no one shakes them." Ovid has seen the flames of love extinguished on their own. 

13–14: verbera > verber, verberis, n. "whip" or "the blow of a whip" (rare in the singular); ferre verbera means "endure beatings." quōs = eī bovēs quōs. dētractant prēnsī dum iuga prīma: "while cattle when they have been rounded up (prēnsi) refuse to submit themselves to their first yokes." The point is that oxen who don’t cause difficulties when they are first yoked up, and who actually enjoy the ūsus arātrī, suffer far less than oxen who resist.

15–16: ōra: the Greek accusative (accusative of specification), (AG §397b). quisquis: i.e., quisquis equus. ad arma facit: "adapts itself to its harness"; faciō here means "be effective in dealing with"; arma here means "equipment."

17–18: multō: ablative of degree of difference (AG §414); multō is to be taken with both ācrius and ferōcius. fatentur: "to agree to."

19-20: porrigimus: manūs porrigere more typically means "stretch out the hands to take something," but here the gesture is apparently one of submission.

21–22: nil: nihil and nil can be used in accusative with adverbial force (AG §390 n.2). opus est bellō: opus est is impersonal, "there is a need for" (+ ablative, (AG §411)). laus > laus, laudis, f. "praise" but also "cause of praise, glory"; here a predicate nominative.

23–24. maternās ... columbās: doves were sacred to Venus, Cupid’s mother. quī deceat: subjunctive in a relative clause of purpose (AG §531.2); the antecedent of quī is currum; understand as the direct object. vītricus:  "step-father," probably Vulcan, who was married to Venus; but perhaps also Mars, who had a famous love affair with Venus. Cupid’s father was Jupiter. dabit: Vulcan, as the Gods’ craftsman, will build, and thus give, a chariot to Cupid. Greek myrtle bush with flowers at the Berkeley Botanical Garden.

25–26: arte: construe with movēbis as an ablative of manner (cum understood), (AG §412); best translated adverbially, "skillfully." movēbis: i.e., Cupid will drive the team of birds harnessed to the chariot; moveō is not a normal word for "drive," and seems intentionally awkward, i.e., "you’ll get those birds moving." The arch of Titus (ca. AD 81) shows the triumphal procession the victor, Titus, who stands in the chariot, as Ovid suggests to Cupid (inque dato curru ... stabis). The crowd is also present, as are the personifications of Victory and Rome.

27–28: triumphus: refers primarily to the actual procession of the victorious general. The triumphal procession on the frieze from the temple of Apollo in Circo, Rome (1st c. BC), shows captives, hands tied behind their backs (see line 31, manibus post terga retortīs), and spoils being led in a triumphal procession on a litter. There is also on the litter a fine representation of a Roman military trophy: four round shields, barbarian dress (including a tunic and a mantle, and an odd-looking, wiglike hairpiece) all arranged on the trunk of a tree.

29–30: factum modo: "only just made / inflicted"; reinforces praeda recens. captīvā: notice the scansion, which reveals that captīvā modifies mente, in an ablative absolute (AG §420).

31–32: Mēns Bona: Mēns was the personification of good counsel, and had a temple on the Capitoline hill in the center of Rome. post terga: plural for singular. Pudor: unlike Mēns Bona, Pudor is personified only by the poets; there was no actual cult of Pudor in Rome, though there was a cult of Pudicitia (more explicitly female chastity). castris quidquid Amoris obest = quidquid obest castris amoris, i.e., "any enemy of Amor"; castris means not only "camp" but also, by metonymy, "army." The theme of "Love’s War" will be taken up more extensively in Amōrēs 1.9. 

33–34: omnia: the neuter makes this a more sweeping claim than omnēs would have done: everything is afraid of Cupid. 'iō ... triumphe': the ritual cry shouted at a triumphal procession.

35–36: Blanditiae: "flattery, charm"; here personified. partēs ... tuās: "your side"; partēs is the normal word for a political faction or for one side in any dispute. turba: "crowd," especially in a procession; in apposition to Blanditiae, Error and Furor of the preceding line.

37–38: tibi: dative of disadvantage (AG §376). dēmās: indefinite subjunctive, with a generalizing second person subject: "if you should remove," i.e., "should anyone remove." commoda: commodum in the plural often means "assets," including military ones; Blanditiae, Error and Furor are thus no longer personifications (attendants in Cupid’s triumph), but abstractions (his weapons). eris: the apodosis of a future less vivid condition can be in the present or future indicative; the shift indicates that the speaker becomes more certain that the event will take place (AG §516b).

39–40: triumphantī: sc. tibi; dative with plaudit, "applaud for, show one's approval for." appositās: "laid out"; the reference may be to roses laid out at a banquet of the gods (Barsby), or perhaps to roses placed by worshippers on Venus’ altars. in ōra: plural for singular, and metonymy: ōs often means "face" or "head."

41–42: pinnās gemmā, gemmā ... capillōs: asyndeton, chiasmus, and anaphora. rotīs > rota, -ae, f. "wheel"; in plural, by metonymy, "vehicle in motion," here "chariot."

43–44: nōn paucōs: litotes: "not a few" means "some."

45–46: licet: "although, even if." vīcīnō: "close at hand." The image of Cupid in triumph afflicting mortals far and wide (praeteriēns vulnera multa dabis), was picked up in early 17th century emblem book, Amorum Emblemata (Antwerp, 1608), perhaps inspired by this passage. Venus and Cupid ride on high in a triumphal chariot, and Cupid's arrows are stuck in everything from humans to owls, and elephants to fabulous sea-beasts.

47–48: Gangētide: "of the Ganges, Indian." Bacchus/Dionysus was famous for his triumphant arrival, complete with tigers, from India. tū gravis ālitibus: ambiguous, since gravis can mean either physically heavy or emotionally burdensome, and since ālitibus can be either dative or ablative; either "you are a heavy load for the birds (drawing your chariot)," taking ālitibus as a dative of disadvantage; or "you are a heavy burden (for other people) because of your birds," taking ālitibus as an ablative of cause; or "you oppress (i.e. gravis) with your birds …"(Barsby), taking ālitibus as an ablative of means. tigribus: note the chiasmus and the asyndeton. There is the same ambiguity about Bacchus as for Cupid: either "he was a heavy burden for the tigers (drawing his chariot)," "he was a heavy burden because of his tigers," or "he oppressed with his tigers." A 3rd century mosaic from a house in Roman Spain shows the theme (popular in mosaics as well as on sarcophagi) of Bacchus/Dionysus in triumph, returning from India. The god rides in a chariot drawn by tigers, accompanied by Ariadne (?), and a satyr, the lone representatives of his usually large retinue.

49–50: parce: parcō can be used with the infinitive to mean "refrain from." in mē: in + acc. can be used with a verb of spending (here, perdere, "wasting") to mean "on" or "upon." perdere ... opes: "waste your resources"; < ops, opis, f. "might, power" but often, in the plural, "resources."

51–52: cognātī ... Caesaris: the Caesar referred to is the emperor Augustus (C. Julius Caesar Augustus), who was the great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar the dictator. The gens Iulia traced its ancestry to Iulus, the son of Aeneas, and Aeneas was the son of Anchises and Venus. victōs prōtegitclementia was one of the virtues for which Augustus was celebrated.

strātum -ī n.: bedding, coverlet; (often in pl.) bed1

lectus -ī m.: couch, bed

pallium -ī n.: coverlet, mantle

peragō -agere -ēgī -āctum: pass through; chase; complete

lassus -a -um: tired, weary

versō -āre: turn around, spin


callidus -a -um: clever, crafty, cunning

haereō haerēre haesī haesitum: stick, adhere

tenuis -e: slender, thin

sagitta -ae f.: arrow

possideō -sidēre -sēdī -sessum: have in one's control, possess, hold

luctor -ārī: wrestle, struggle, strive

accendō -cendere -cendī -cēnsum: intensify, aggravate

iactō -āre: throw, cast11

concutiō -cutere -cussī -cussum: shake, strike, shatter

verber -eris n.: whip, the blow of the whip

plūs plūris: more

arātrum -ī n.: plough

dētrāctō -āre: decline, refuse

pre(he)ndō -(he)ndere -(he)ndī -(he)nsum: lay hold of, seize, grasp

asper -era -erum: rough, harsh; wild, uncultivated

contundō -tundere -tudī -tūsum: crush, bruise, break

lupātus -a -um.: jagged-toothed15

frēnum -ī n.: bridle, reins

invītus -a -um: unwilling

ferox -ōcis: fierce, savage, ferocious

urgeō urgēre ursī: press, drive on; urge, insist

servitium -i n.: slavery, servitude

ēn: lo! behold!

Cupīdō -inis m.: Cupid

porrigō -rigere -rēxī -rēctum: stretch out, reach, extend20

venia -ae f.:  favor, indulgence; pardon, forgiveness

inermis -e: unarmed, defenseless

nectō nectere nexī nexum: tie, bind, connect, weave

myrtus -ī m./f.: myrtle [image]

māternus -a -um: maternal

columba -ae f.: pigeon, dove

vītricus -ī m.: stepfather

clamō -āre: shout, call

triumphus -ī m.: triumph, triumphal procession25

adiungō -iungere -iūnxī -iūnctum: join to, connect; yoke, harness

magnificus -a -um: grand, splendid, magnificent

pompa -ae f.: procession, parade

captīvus -a -um: captured, captive30

retorqueō -torquēre -torsī -tortum: twist back, bend back

obsum -esse -fuī: be in the way, hinder, be against

brācchium -ī n.: the forearm (elbow to hand), arm

iō: hurrah! oh!

blanditia -ae f.: flattery, charm35

assiduus -a -um: continual, constant

dēmō dēmere dēmpsī demptum: take away, subtract

commodum -ī n.: advantage, benefit, (pl.) assets

triumphō -āre: triumph, have a triumph

summus -a -um: highest, uppermost; final

Olympus -ī m.: Olympus

plaudō plaudere plausī plausum: clap, applaud (for) (+dat.)

appōnō -pōnere -posuī -positum: place near; appoint

rosa -ae f.: rose40

pinna -ae f.: feather, wing

gemma -ae f.: jewel, gem

variō -āre: vary, diversify; adorn with various colors

capillus -ī m.: hair

aurātus -a -um: golden

rota -ae f.: wheel; chariot

ūrō ūrere ussī ustum: burn

praetereō -īre -iī -itum: go by, pass by

cessō -āre: cease, leave off45

fervidus -a -um: intensely hot, blazing

vapor -ōris m.: vapor, steam; heat

domō domēre domuī domitum: subdue, tame, conquer

Bacchus -ī m.: Bacchus

Gangēs -is m.: of the Ganges, Indian

āles -itis m./f.: large bird, bird of prey

tigris tigris m.: tiger

cognātus -a -um: related by birth

Caesar -aris m.: Caesar


prōtegō -tegere -texī -tectum: cover, conceal; protect

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Suggested Citation

William Turpin. Ovid: Amores Book 1. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-947822-00-9.