Amores 1.4

Vir tuus est epulās nōbīs aditūrus eāsdem:

ultima cēna tuō sit precor illa virō.

ergō ego dīlectam tantum convīva puellam

aspiciam? tangī quem iuvet, alter erit,

alteriusque sinūs aptē subiecta fovēbis?5

iniciet collō, cum volet, ille manum?

dēsine mīrārī, positō quod candida vīnō

Ātracis ambiguōs trāxit in arma virōs;

nec mihi silva domus nec equō mea membra cohaerent:

vix ā tē videor posse tenēre manūs.10

quae tibi sint facienda tamen cognōsce, nec Eurīs

dā mea nec tepidīs verba ferenda Notīs.

ante venī quam vir; nec quid, sī vēneris ante,

possit agī videō, sed tamen ante venī.

cum premet ille torum, vultū comes ipsa modestō15

ībis ut accumbās, clam mihi tange pedem;

mē spectā nūtūsque meōs vultumque loquācem:

excipe fūrtīvās et refer ipsa notās.

verba superciliīs sine vōce loquentia dīcam;

verba legēs digitīs, verba notāta merō.20

cum tibi succurret Veneris lascīvia nostrae,

purpureās tenerō pollice tange genās;

sīquid erit, dē mē tacitā quod mente querāris,

pendeat extrēmā mollis ab aure manus;

cum tibi, quae faciam, mea lūx, dīcamve, placēbunt,25

versētur digitīs ānulus usque tuīs;

tange manū mēnsam, tangunt quō mōre precantēs,

optābis meritō cum mala multa virō.

quod tibi miscuerit, sapiās, bibat ipse iubētō;

tū puerum leviter posce, quod ipsa volēs:30

quae tū reddiderīs, ego prīmus pōcula sūmam,

et, quā tū biberīs, hāc ego parte bibam.

sī tibi forte dabit quod praegustāverit ipse,

rēice lībātōs illius ōre cibōs.

nec premat impositīs sinitō tua colla lacertīs,35

mīte nec in rigidō pectore pōne caput,

nec sinus admittat digitōs habilēsve papillae;

ōscula praecipuē nūlla dedisse velīs.

ōscula sī dederis, fīam manifestus amātor

et dīcam “mea sunt” iniciamque manum.40

haec tamen aspiciam, sed quae bene pallia cēlant,

illa mihī caecī causa timōris erunt.

nec femorī committe femur nec crūre cohaerē

nec tenerum dūrō cum pede iunge pedem.

multa miser timeō, quia fēcī multa protervē,45

exemplīque metū torqueor ipse meī:

saepe mihī dominaeque meae properāta voluptās

veste sub iniectā dulce perēgit opus.

hoc tū nōn faciēs; sed nē fēcisse putēris,

cōnscia dē tergō pallia dēme tuō.50

vir bibat usque rogā (precibus tamen ōscula dēsint),

dumque bibit, fūrtim, sī potes, adde merum.

sī bene compositus somnō vīnōque iacēbit,

cōnsilium nōbīs rēsque locusque dabunt.

cum surgēs abitūra domum, surgēmus et omnēs,55

in medium turbae fac memor agmen eās:

agmine mē inveniēs aut inveniēris in illō;

quidquid ibī poteris tangere, tange, meī.

mē miserum! monuī, paucās quod prōsit in hōrās;

sēparor ā dominā nocte iubente meā.60

nocte vir inclūdet; lacrimīs ego maestus obortīs,

quā licet, ad saevās prōsequar usque forēs.

ōscula iam sūmet, iam nōn tantum ōscula sūmet:

quod mihi dās furtim, iūre coacta dabis.

vērum invīta datō (potes hoc) similisque coactae:65

blanditiae taceant sitque maligna Venus.

sī mea vōta valent, illum quoque nē iuvet optō;

sī minus, at certē tē iuvet inde nihil.

sed quaecumque tamen noctem fortūna sequētur,

crās mihi cōnstantī vōce dedisse negā.70

    1.4: Secret Signs

    The poem opens with the poet speaking, at least in theory, to the girl. He’s heard that her vir is going to be at dinner with her, and he’s jealous.  [full essay]

    1–2: vir: can mean either "husband" or "boyfriend / lover"; the ambiguity is perhaps intentional. The oblivious vir as a woman’s "significant other" is a standard figure in Roman love elegy. nōbīs: dative of reference with eāsdem (AG §376); he will be attending the same banquet as you and I will be. sit precor: = precor ut sit, "I pray that (that dinner) will be." Verbs of praying, ordering, etc., usually introduce indirect commands with ut + subj., but occasionally ut is omitted (AG §565). Ovid’s prayer is a rather harsh sentiment, considering that the vir is the wronged individual.

    3–4: tantum: can be construed either with convīva ("only a dinner guest") or with aspiciam ("Shall I only look upon?") convīva: Stands in apposition to ego: "Shall I, a mere table companion, look upon?" tangī quem iuvet: = is quem iuvet ā tē tangī, "he who enjoys being touched by you."

    5–6: sinūs … fovebis: "will you warm the chest." Sinus refers to the fold produced by the draping of clothes; the folds of clothing most commonly referred to are those at the breast, hence "bosom, breast," and therefore "embrace," in plural as well as singular. subiecta: "snuggling closely against." A dining-couch could accommodate two or three people. iniciet ... manum: a double entendre: manum inicere + dative can mean "to put one's hand on" or, in a legal sense, "to seize," as a way of making a formal claim on a person or thing. collō: dative with the compound verb iniciō (AG §370).  A fresco found in the triclinium of the "casa dei casti amanti" (actually a baker's residence) at Pompeii nicely illustrates Ovid's phrase sinus fovebis. The couples recline on their left elbows, men at the head of their respective couches, women below them nearer the foot, leaning against the mens' chests and clutching large drinking vessels. A slave stands at left, supporting a woman who has had too much to drink (her companion sits on a third couch, not visible here). The gestures suggest a lively conversation, and the whole composition is an idealized representation of the pleasures of a high-style convivial event of the kind Ovid describes. See Matthew Roller, Dining Posture in Ancient Rome (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), pp. 61-64.

    7–8: positō quod ... vīnō: construe quod first, "that"; verbs of perceiving, such as sciō, crēdō, videō and even mīror often introduce a quod clause acting as the direct object of that verb. positō … vīnō: "after wine was served," ablative absolute (AG §420). Drunkenness was a factor in the centaurs’ attack. Atracis > Ātracis, -idis, f. "the woman from Atrax (a town in Thessaly). The reference is to Hippodamia, whose wedding to Pirithous, king of the Lapiths, turned violent when the centaurs, who were guests, were so aroused by her beauty that they tried to carry her off. ambiguōs ... virōs: the centaurs, half-man/half-horse creatures; hence ambiguous men."   A Roman floor mosiac (3rd-4th century AD) in the San Antonio Museum of Art shows Lapiths and Centaurs battling over Hippodamia.

    9–10: nec mihi silva domus: understand est. The poet explains that he is not an uncivilized beast prone to uncontrolled acts (as the centaurs are). equō: dative with the compound verb cohaerent (AG §370); again, a reference to the centaurs. tenēre: "to keep (away), to restrain, to hold back."

    11–12: quae tibi sint facienda: "(the things) which must be done by you," i.e., what you must do. The gerundive injects a matter-of-fact tone. The verb is subjunctive in an indirect question (AG §574).

    13–14: venī: present imperative; note the scansion (āntĕ vĕnī).

    15–16: torum: "couch"; at formal dinners the Romans ate lying down. vultū ... accumbās: this clause is a second cum clause, with the cum supplied by cum premet ille torum; the asyndeton suggests that the speaker is in a highly emotional state. comes: note that comes, comitis "companion" can be feminine as well as masculine. accumbās: "take your place (reclining) at the table." mihi: dative of advantage (AG §376). The frame of a first-century BC Roman dining couch survives from a tomb near Canosa di Puglia, Italy. Bronze fittings decorate a wood frame (restored). Straps originally would have supported a mattress covered with luxurious textiles (see the frecso from the casa dei casti amanti discussed above). The ends of the couch are decorated with bronze fulcra (the curving ends of the arm rests) which terminate in lion heads in the front and duck heads in the back. Couches were highly valued pieces of furniture that were often buried with honored family members.

    17–18: furtīvās ... notās: with both excipe and refer; for nota, -ae, f. as "signal," see OLD 7.

    19–20: digitīs: ablative of means with notāta (AG §409). merō: "with wine," ablative of means.

    21–22: Veneris = amōris (metonymy). purpureās: as in 1.3.14 "purple" implies "blushing."

    23–24: quid = aliquid (AG §310a). dē mē tacitā quod mente querāris = quod dē mē tacitā mente querāris; poets sometimes postpone conjunctions for metrical or stylistic reasons. Querāris is potential subjunctive (AG §447.2). extremā ... aure: scansion shows that these words are to be taken together; extremus can mean "the lowest part," so she is presumably supposed to touch her earlobe.

    25–26: quae: = ea quae; the antecedent of the relative pronoun is often omitted, (AG §307c). mea lūx: a term of endearment; vocative case.

    27–28: tangunt: understand mēnsam, normally "table" but also "altar"; touching an altar was a normal gesture of prayer. quō mōre: "in the manner in which." optābis … cum: "when(ever) you hope for"; cum is postponed. Cum normally takes the indicative when it means "on every occasion which."

    29–30: quod = id quod. sapiās: hortatory subjunctive, used to express a proviso: "may you be wise" means "if you are wise" (AG §528a). But the expression seems to be a colloquial way of saying "be wise," "be sensible." bibat ipse iubētō = iubētō ut bibat ipse. iubētō is future imperative (AG §449); the form suggests the language of formal legislation. iubeō normally takes accusative + infinitive, but can also take ut + subjunctive. For the omission of ut with verbs of commanding see (AG §565a) (cf. line 2 above). puerum: i.e. the cupbearer; a male slave, of whatever age, could be called puer. leviter: "quietly" (adverb). posce: "call for, demand," with double accusative (ask x for y, AG §396); the word is often used of asking for wine in particular. quod = id quod, as in line 29: "that (only) which."

    31–32: quae: the antecedent is pōcula. reddideris: future perfect, but translate as present, "return." The final syllable of the second person singular in the future perfect is often lengthened in poetry immediately before the caesura. quā: "on whatever part (of the cup)"; construe with parte (line 32). A fine 1st c. AD example of a Roman silver wine cup of the kind Ovid probably has in mind can be see in the Getty Villa, Malibu, CA.  

    35–36: nec premat ... sinitō: = nec (ut) premat ... sinitō, "do not allow him to press"; sinitō (future imperative) is mock formal in tone, like iubeto in line 29. colla: plural for singular.

    37–38: sinus: "the folds of your dress." Refer to note on sinus in line 5. digitōs = digitōs eius. papillae: understand admittant, from the preceding sinus admittat. nūlla dedisse velīs: "may you wish to have given no (kisses)," i.e., don’t give any. The tone is mock formal, as with the future imperatives above.

    39–40: manifestus amātor: a play on legal language; fūr manifestus is the technical term for a thief caught red-handed. iniciam ... manum: for manum inicere see above on line 6.

    47–48: mihi dominaeque meae: datives of advantage (AG §376). voluptās: used explicitly of the pleasure connected with sex, see OLD 5; here possibly personified (OLD 3). perēgit opus: an explicit sexual reference, with dulce opus as a euphemism for sexual intercourse. For a close parallel, see Ovid's Ars Amatoria 2.480: arte Venus nūlla dulce perēgit opus.

    49–50: pallia: plural for singular.

    51–52: vir bibat usque rogā = rogā (ut) vir bibat usque; for the omission of ut with verbs of commanding, see (AG §565a). merum: here perhaps undiluted wine (contrast line 20); the point then would be that she is secretly making his drink stronger than he expects. But it is possible that she is simply supposed to keep adding ordinary wine, secretly, so that he will drink more.

    53–54: compositus: "settled in a position of rest." somnō vīnōque = somnō vīnī, by hendiadys (the use of two substantives connected by a conjunction, instead of a substantive with an adjective or genitive). consilium: accusative.

    55–56: in medium turbae ... agmen: "into the middle part of the crowd’s line of march"; agmen, agminis n. can refer to any group of people or things moving in the same direction together, but is often used of a column of soldiers on the march. fac memor ... eās = fac ut memor sīs ut eās; eās is present subjunctive of . For the omission of ut with verbs of commanding see AG §565a.

    57–58: meī: partitive genitive, with quidquid (AG §346a3).

    59–60: mē miserum: accusative of exclamation (AG §397d). Ovid speaks to himself in an aside. paucās quod prōsit in hōrās: "I have given the sort of advice which is useful (only) for a few hours." Prosit is subjunctive in a relative clause of characteristic (AG §535). iubente … nocte: ablative absolute (AG §420).

    61–62: inclūdet: understand as direct object. Address to the puella resumes. quā: "where, to what extent"; adverb. prosequar: "I will accompany (you)." saevās … forēs: The "savage doors" are the front doors of his girlfriend’s house; front doors provide the typical setting in Roman poetry for expressions of unrequited love by an excluded lover (exclūsus amātor). See further on Amōrēs 1.6.

    63–64: iūre: this may indicate that the woman is bound "by law" to kiss her vir, who would then have to be a husband; but it is also possible that Ovid is speaking more metaphorically of the "rights" of a rival lover.

    65–66: vērum: "but." invita: feminine nominative singular, agreeing with the subject of dato. datō: another future imperative (AG §449) like iubētō in line 29; understand ōscula (line 63) as the direct object. potes hoc: possum can be construed with a simple accusative, meaning "be able to do." similisque coactae: "like a woman who has been compelled"; participles, like all adjectives, can be used as nouns (AG §494a).

    67–68: illum quoque nē iuvet optō = opto ne iuvet illum quoque.  iuvet is impersonal: me iuvat, for example, means "it helps me," i.e. "it’s good for me to" or "I enjoy it."  So the poet hopes that the vir (illum) "won’t enjoy it." The point of quoque becomes clearer after the next line: the poet claims that his mistress won’t enjoy her encounter with her vir, and here he hopes that this will be true for the vir as well (quoque). sī minus = sī mea vōta minus valent; minus here = nōn. at certē: "then at least," an emphatic and colloquial way of introducing the apodosis of a condition. inde: "from there, thence," but used sometimes to express causation; adverb. nihil: internal accusative with the impersonal iuvet (me nihil iuvat means "I enjoy it not at all when").

    69–70: quaecumque … noctem fortūna sequētur: "whatever fortune attends the night," i.e., whatever happens tonight. The verb is future in Latin—regular, and more logical than English, which uses the present tense in this type of clause. dedisse: picks up das, dabis, and datō in lines 64–65; but do can also be used absolutely to mean "grant sexual favors."

    epula -ae f.: banquet, dinner party

    cēna -ae f.: dinner

    convīva -ae m.: guest, table-companion

    subiciō -icere -iēcī -iectum: throw under, place under, lift

    foveō fovēre fōvī fōtum: warm; caress5

    iniciō -icere -iēcī -iectum: cast into, throw over

    collum -ī n. : neck

    Ātrax -acis f.: the woman Atrax, a town in Thessaly

    ambiguus -a -um: uncertain, ambiguous

    cohaereō -haerēre -haesī -haesum: cling to, adhere to

    Eurus -ī m.: the Southwest Wind10

    tepidus -a -um: warm, tepid

    Notus -ī m.:  the South Wind

    torus -ī m.: couch

    modestus -a -um: moderate, respectful, unassuming15

    accumbō -cumbere -cubuī -cubitum: lie down; recline at dinner

    clam: (adv.) secretly

    nūtus -ūs m.: nod, command

    loquax -ācis: garrulous, loquacious; full of frogs

    furtīvus -a -um:secret, furtive

    nota -ae f.: signal

    supercilium -ī n.: eyebrow

    digitus -ī m.: finger; toe

    notō -āre: mark, write

    merum -ī n.: wine; wine unmixed with water20

    succurrō -currere -currī -cursūrum: come to mind

    lascīvia -ae f.: playfulness; wantonness, licentiousness

    purpureus -a -um: purple

    pollex -icis m.: thumb

    gena -ae f.: cheek

    sīquī sīqua sīquid: if any (one)

    versō -āre: turn, spin; turn back and forth, twist; torment

    ānulus -ī m.: ring26

    meritō: (adv.) deservedly, justly

    sapiō sapere sapīvī: be wise, be sensible

    bibō bibere bibī: drink


    poculum -ī n.: drinking-cup, goblet

    praegustō -āre: taste before

    rēiciō -icere -iēcī -iectum: throw back or away; reject with scorn, spurn

    lībō -āre: taste

    lacertus -ī m.: the arm, esp. the upper arm35

    mitis -e: mild, soft, ripe

    rigidus -a -um: hard, rigid

    admittō -mittere -mīsī -missum: send in; let in, allow

    habilis -e: easily handled, supple

    papilla -ae f.: nipple, breast

    osculum -ī n.: kiss

    praecipuē: (adv.) especially, particularly

    manifestus -a -um: clear, evident, manifest

    amātor -ōris m.: lover

    pallium -ī n.: coverlet, mantle, toga, outer garment of any kind40

    celō -āre: hide, conceal; cover; keep in the dark, deceive

    femur -oris n.: thigh

    crūs -ūris n.: shin, leg

    protervē: (adv.) boldly, impudently45

    torqueō torquēre torsī tortum: twist, wrench; torment, torture

    peragō -agere -ēgī -āctum: complete, carry out

    cōnscius -a -um: having common knowledge with another; conspiratorial, conspiring; aware

    dēmō dēmere dēmpsī demptum: take away, subtract


    furtim: (adv.) stealthily, secretly

    memor -oris: mindful, remembering56

    sēparō -āre: sever, separate60

    inclūdo -clūdere -clūsī clūsum: shut in; confine

    oborior -orīrī -ortus sum: arise, appear

    prosequor -sequī -secūtus sum: follow, accompany, attend

    foris foris f.: door

    invītus -a -um: unwilling65

    blanditia -ae f.: flattery, endearment (often pl. with sg. meaning)

    malignus -a -um: malignant, wicked, malicious

    Venus -eris f.: Venus

    crās: tomorrow

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    Suggested Citation

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