Amores 1.9

Mīlitat omnis amāns, et habet sua castra Cupīdō;

Attice, crēde mihī, mīlitat omnis amāns.

quae bellō est habilis, Venerī quoque convenit aetās:

turpe senex mīles, turpe senīlis amor.

quōs petiēre ducēs animōs in mīlite fortī,5

hōs petit in sociō bella puella virō:

pervigilant ambō, terrā requiēscit uterque;

ille forēs dominae servat, at ille ducis.

mīlitis officium longa est via: mitte puellam,

strēnuus exemptō fīne sequētur amāns;10

ībit in adversōs montēs duplicātaque nimbō

flūmina, congestās exteret ille nivēs,

nec freta pressūrus tumidōs causābitur Eurōs

aptave verrendīs sīdera quaeret aquīs.

quis nisi vel mīles vel amāns et frīgora noctis15

et dēnsō mixtās perferet imbre nivēs?

mittitur īnfestōs alter speculātor in hostēs,

in rīvāle oculōs alter, ut hoste, tenet.

ille gravēs urbēs, hic dūrae līmen amīcae

obsidet; hic portās frangit, at ille forēs.20

saepe sopōrātōs invādere prōfuit hostēs

caedere et armātā vulgus inerme manū.

sīc fera Thrēiciī cecidērunt agmina Rhēsī,

et dominum captī dēseruistis equī.

nempe marītōrum somnīs ūtuntur amantēs25

et sua sōpītīs hostibus arma movent.

custōdum trānsīre manūs vigilumque catervās

mīlitis et miserī semper amantis opus.

Mārs dubius, nec certa Venus: victīque resurgunt,

quōsque negēs umquam posse iacēre, cadunt.30

ergō dēsidiam quīcumque vocābat amōrem,

dēsinat: ingeniī est experientis Amor.

ardet in abductā Brīsēide magnus Achillēs

(dum licet Argēās frangite, Trōes, opēs);

Hector ab Andromachēs complexibus ībat ad arma,35

et galeam capitī quae daret, uxor erat;

summa ducum, Ātrīdēs vīsā Priamēide fertur

Maenadis effūsīs obstipuisse comīs.

Mārs quoque dēprēnsus fabrīlia vincula sēnsit:

nōtior in caelō fābula nūlla fuit.40

ipse ego segnis eram discīnctaque in ōtia nātus;

mollierant animōs lectus et umbra meōs;

impulit ignāvum fōrmōsae cūra puellae,

iussit et in castrīs aera merēre suīs.

inde vidēs agilem nocturnaque bella gerentem:45

quī nōlet fierī dēsidiōsus, amet.

1.9: Love and War

This is an easy poem to like. Part of the appeal is that, for once, we can place it within a specific literary tradition without the aid of commentaries. We all know that “all is fair in love and war,” and poets have understood that young men in war and young men in love have much in common. [full essay]

1–2: amāns: = amātor. castra: "warfare," by metonymy. Attice: Ovid addresses a friend (not otherwise known) by name; note the chiastic structure of the first couplet (ABBA).

3–4: quae: the antecedent is aetās; "the (same) age which." bellō est habilis, Venerī … convenit: the adjective habilis ("suited") is linked to a dative of reference (bellō), and the verb convenit ("befits") takes a dative object (Venerī). turpe: neuter predicate nominative, supply est; "is a shameful thing." senīlis amor = senex amāns.

5–6: petiēre = petiērunt; gnomic perfect (AG §475); see note on 8.71. quōs … animōs: "the (same) courage which"; the antecedent (animōs) has been drawn into the relative clause. sociō: note that socius can have military overtones: "ally." bella: > bellus, -a, -um "pretty," NOT bellum, n.

7–8: forēs: Roman lovers conducted long vigils outside their mistresses’ doors, as in Amōrēs 1.6. servat: "guard." ducis: "of his general"; understand forēs servat from the previous clause.

9–10: via: = iter (in a military context); soldiers often had to travel long distances to reach the field of battle. mitte puellam: imperative as the equivalent of a protasis in a condition (AG §521b). exemptō fīne: "with end removed," i.e. "endlessly"; ablative absolute (AG §420).

11–12: nimbō > nimbus, -ī, m. "rain-cloud" hence "cloud-burst, downpour." Ablative of cause/means.

13–14: freta > fretum, -ī, n. "strait" but also, in both plural and singular, "the sea"; freta pressūrus = "about to set sail." tumidōs "swollen," i.e. "causing the sea to swell," or perhaps in the developed sense of "raging, angry." Eurōs: "winds"; Eurus is technically the east or southeast wind, but the word is used of winds generally. verrendīs ... aquīs: "for skimming the water," i.e., for sailing. The dative of the gerundive is used with certain adjectives (like apta), especially those expressing fitness or adaptability (AG §505a). sīdera: someone considering a sea voyage might claim to be waiting for weather in which he could see stars to steer by. quaeret: understand nec from line 13.

17–18: alter … alter: "the one … the other," "the soldier … the lover." speculātor: "as a spy."

19–20: ille … hic: "the soldier … the lover." gravēs: "hard to capture." hic … ille: "the soldier … the lover."

21–22: sopōrātōs: = dormientēs. prōfuit: gnomic perfect (AG §475).

23–24: fera Thrēiciī cecidērunt agmina Rhēsī: In Book 10 of the Iliad Odysseus and Diomedes kill Rhesus, a Thracian ally of the Trojans, steal his horses, and escape. captī dēseruistis equī: in an apostrophe with mock tragic effect, the author now addresses the horses of Rhesus in the vocative. A 4th c. BC Greek vase from southern Italy shows the scene to which Ovid refers: Odysseus (at right) and Diomedes take the horses. The Thracians sleep, wearing the multicolored dress of Persians contemporary with the artist, which gives them an "eastern" look distinct from the Greeks, whose toned bodies are exposed and emphasized.

25–26: nempe: "certainly," introducing a statement confirming what has just been said, with the expectation that it will not be contradicted. somnīs: ablative object of ūtuntur, "take advantage of the sleep." sua ... arma movent: "wield their weapons," in the context a sexual double entendre. sōpītīs hostibus: ablative absolute (AG §420).

27–28: trānsīre: the subject of opus [est] in line 28, manūs: "band, troop." opus: supply est, "it is the task of."

29–30: Mars … Venus: supply est for both clauses. By metonymy, Mars = bellum, Venus = amor. The outcome of both war and love is uncertain. negēs: potential subjunctive (AG §447.2). quōsque negēs: "and those whom you would deny," followed by indirect statement. iacēre: "lie prostrate, be brought low."

31–32: dēsidiam: "idleness, inactivity"; part of a double accusative with vocābat, "whoever used to call love idleness." ingeniī ... experientis: "of an enterprising nature"; genitive of quality / description used instead of a predicate nominative (AG §345).

33–34: ardet: historical present for vividness (AG §469). It represents both his anger at Agamemnon (for taking away Briseis) and his passion for Briseis, the first of several famous examples Ovid gives from mythology of love mixing with war. in abductā Brīsēide: Briseis was the concubine of Achilles. Her appropriation by Agamemnon provoked the "wrath of Achilles" on which the Iliad hinges. For the forms of Greek nouns in the third declension, see AG §81. In + abl., here "over / because of / in the matter of." dum licet: Achilles’ anger about his loss of Briseis led him to withdraw from the fighting, allowing the Trojans their best chance of defeating the Greek army. Argēās > Argēus, -a, -um "Argive, of Argos," used (as in Homer) as an equivalent of "Greek." Troes: "Trojans, men of Troy"; apostrophe. opēs: "military strength, troops."

35–36: Andromachēs: Greek genitive singular > Andromachē, -ēs, f. Andromache, the wife of Hector. For the scene of their parting, see Iliad 6.369–502. complexibus: "embrace." galeam: "helmet"; Hector’s helmet figures prominently in his parting from Andromache, when its plume frightens their little boy Astyanax. Galeam capitī … daret = "put the helmet on his head." quae: "she who," postponed to emphasize galeam. uxor erat: "was his wife."  The subject of Andromache's farewell to Hector has been treated many times by artists, seldom more movingly than by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) in "Ettore e Andromaca," created as a plaster model in 1966. Chirico typically works with figures that are mannequins, which oddly increases their emblematic humanity. This bronze casting comes from a park in Monaco.

37–38: summa ducum: "head of the leaders"; Agamemnon was the paramount Greek king. Atrīdēs > Atrīdēs, -ae m. "son of Atreus" (patronymic), Agamemnon. Priamēide > Priamēis, -idos f. "daughter of Priam" (patronymic), Cassandra, for whom see on 1.7.17 above. For the forms of Greek nouns in the third declension, see AG §81. fertur: "is said." ferō is often used, especially in the passive, to mean "relate, tell." Maenadis: Cassandra was actually not a Maenad, but since her hair was always messy she is compared to one of the Maenads, who were notoriously unkempt. obstipuisse: "to have been stunned at" + dat.

39–40: Mars quoque ... : Hephaestus made a snare to catch Mars in the act of adultery with his wife Aphrodite (Odyssey 8.266–366). nōtior in caelō fābula nūlla fuit: After Vulcan trapped Venus and Mars in flagrante delicto with his net of chains (fabrīlia vincula), he summoned all the Olympian gods to witness their humiliating predicament. An astonishing cameo made by the Italian virtuoso carver Domenico Calabresi in the 19th c., and now in the British Museum, shows Vulcan casting the net to entrap his wife Venus with her lover, Mars. Vulcan is drawing the attention of the gods of Olympus to this event: they are represented by the busts surrounding the scene. Exploiting the naturally occurring black and white alternate layers found in onyx, Calabresi has produced a scene in high relief, deeply undercutting the net to leave it standing proud of the surface.

41–42: discinctaque in otia: "for easygoing leisure." discinctus means "wearing a tunic without a belt, wearing loose clothes," hence "easygoing, undisciplined." discincta otia is a striking phrase, in fact a transferred epithet, since logically the adjective applies to ipse ego, not otia. lectus et umbra: = lectus umbrōsus (hendiadys, on which see 1.4.53).

43–44: ignāvum: understand . puellae: objective genitive (AG §348). iussit: supply as the subject of the infinitive merēre. in castrīs … suīs: "in her camp," the same metaphor as in line 1. aera: "(military) pay."

45–46: vidēs: understand as direct object.

mīlitō -āre: to serve as a soldier

Cupīdō -inis m.: Cupid

Atticus -ī m.: Atticus

habilis -e: suited

Venus -eris f.: Venus

senīlis -e: of an old man, senile

bellus -a -um: pretty6

pervigilō -āre: keep vigil

ambō -ae -ō: both

requiescō -quiescere -quiēvī -quiētum: rest, repose

foris foris f.: door

strēnuus -a -um: brisk, prompt, vigorous

eximō -imere -ēmī -ēmptum: take out, remove10

duplicō -āre: fold over; double

nimbus -ī m.: rain-cloud, cloud-burst, downpour

congerō -gerere -gessī -gestum: gather together, collect; pile up

exterō -terere -trīvī -trītum: rub out, wear away

nix nivis f.: snow

fretum -ī n.: strait; (pl.) sea

tumidus -a -um: swollen

causor -ārī: plead, pretend, blame

Eurus -ī m.: winds, Southwest wind

ve: or, or if you will, or as you please; either...or

verrō verrere verrī: sweep, sweep over, skim

frīgus -oris n.: cold, coldness15

dēnsus -a -um: thick, dense; frequent

perferō -ferre -tulī -lātum: carry through, bear to the end, endure

imber -ris m.: rain, shower

infestus -a -um: hostile, savage

speculātor -ōris m.: as a spy

rīvālis -is m.: rival

obsideō -sidēre sēdī -sessum: sit down near, blockade, beseige20

sopōrātus -a -um: lulled to sleep, asleep

invādō -vādere -vāsī -vāsum: attack, assault, fall upon

armō -āre: equip, arm

inermis -e: unarmed, defenseless

Thrēicius -a -um: Thracian

Rhēsus -ī m.: Rhesus

nempe: certainly


sōpiō sōpīre sōpīvī sōpītum: put to sleep, lull to sleep

vigil -ilis m.: sentry, guard

caterva -ae f.: crowd, troop

resurgō -surgere -surrēxī -surrēctum: rise again, reappear

dēsidia -ae f.: idleness, inactivity31

experiens -ntis: active, enterprising

abdūcō -dūcere -duxī -ductum: lead away, carry off

Brīsēis -idis f.: Briseis, daughter of Breses

Achillēs -is m.: Achilles

Argēus -a -um: Argive, of Argos

Trōs Trōis m.: Trojan, a man of Troy

Hector -oris m.: Hector

Andromachē -ēs f.: Andromache, the wife of Hector

complexus -ūs m.: embrace35

galea -ae f.: helmet

summus -a -um: highest, uppermost; final

Atrīdēs -ae m.: son of Atreus, Agamemnon

Priamēis -idos f.: daughter of Priam, Cassandra

Maenas -adis f.: Maenad, priestess of Bacchus

obstō -stāre -stitī -stātūrum: stand before, obstruct, hinder

Mārs Mārtis m.: Mars

dēpre(he)ndō -pre(he)ndere -pre(he)ndī -pre(he)nsum: catch, seize

fabrilis -e: skillfully made

segnis -e: slow, slothful

discīnctus -a -um: wearing a tunic without a belt, wearing loose clothes; easygoing, undisciplined41

molliō mollīre mollīvī mollītum: make pliable, soften, weaken

lectus -ī m.: couch, bed

impellō -pellere -pulī -pulsum: drive against, strike upon; set in motion

ignāvus -a -um: lazy, idle

formōsus -a -um: shapely, beautiful

agilis -e: light, agile

nocturnus -a -um: by night, nocturnal45

dēsidiōsus -a -um: slothful, idle, lazy

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Suggested Citation

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