Elegy XIII: Don't Hurry, Dawn!
From Amores, by Ovid
The Golden One, bringer of day, in ice-rimed chariot, Charges over the ocean, fleeing her aged husband.
Aurora, why the hurry? Slow down. Let Memnon’s shades,
Those solemn birds, perform their ritual slaughter.
Let me linger awhile in my lover’s arms;
Let me delight in her flank pressed sweetly to mine.
For now dreams are still rich—the air is still cool,
And a limpid song pours from a bird’s delicate throat.
Why the hurry? Men and their lovers dread your arrival—
Pull back with rosy fingers on those dew-covered reins!
Before you rise the sailor can better navigate by the stars
And doesn’t wander blindly off course into mid-ocean;
The traveler, however road-weary, must rise at your coming,
And the fearsome soldier must take his weapon in hand.
You burden the field worker with his heavy mattock;
You summon the tired oxen to the curve of their yoke
You rob boys of sleep, handing them over to schoolmasters
So their tender hands may be subjected to the whip;
And you send tired, incautious men to court to bail out a friend
Where one rash word leads to financial ruin.
The prosecutor and the learned defense curse you equally
As you compel each to rise again to yet more casework.
When women are finally able to rest after incessant labor
You call the hand that spins the wool back to its duty.
I could endure anything else—but only men without lovers
want girls to rise early from their beds.
How often have I begged night not to yield to you—
The stars not to flee at the sight of your face!
How often have I begged the wind to shatter your axel—
Or your horse to trip on a thick cloud and fall!
What, were you never afire with love for Cephalus?
Do you think that your iniquity with him isn’t well known?
Hateful Aurora, why the hurry? Your son was born black;
Does that mean black is also the color of his mother’s heart?
I wish Tithonus were strong enough to expose you
Heaven would recoil at the shameful tale.
Fleeing him who is so many eons older than you
You climb early into your chariot, that old man’s bane.
But if Cephalus, or a young man like him, held you in his arms
You, too, would cry, “Slow down, horses of the night!”
Why punish my love because age shrivels your spouse?
Was it on my advice that you married the dotard?
Look how much sleep the Moon gave her lover—
And Luna is no less lovely than you are.
The father of the gods, sick to death of you,
Made two nights one in order to indulge his desires.
I’ve finished my rant. She must have heard it, for she blushes—
And the day rises no later than is customary.
Original Latin Text
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!
[quid, si Cephalio numquam flagraret amore?
an putat ignotam nequitiam esse suam?]
invida, quo properas? quod erat tibi filius ater,
materni fuerat pectoris ille color.
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!