You who have been taught to gather stray locks and then put them in order
And must not be regarded among other slave-girls, Nape,
And known to be useful in the services of secret night
Useful and clever in giving letters,
Having often encouraged hesitating Corinna to come to me,
Often having been found loyal to me when I am troubled,
Receive these tablets written this morning and bear them to [your] mistress
And zealously drive out any opposing delays.
You have neither veins of flint nor hard iron in your breast
Nor is there a lack of sophistication greater than your rank;
It is likely that you too have felt Cupid’s bow:
Defend the standards of your own army in me.
If she asks how I am, say that I live in hope of night;
The soft wax marked by my persuasive hand tells the rest.
While I speak, time flies: deliver the tablets [to her] when she is quite free,
But nonetheless make sure she reads them immediately.
I order you to study her eye and brow as she reads:
Even from a silent countenance one can know the future.
Without delay, with the message read, bid her to write back at length:
I hate when the sparkling wax is broadly empty.
Let her pack close the lines together. Let the letter having been erased
in the farthest margin stay my eyes.
But what necessity is there for her to weary her fingers by holding the stylus?
Let the whole tablet have just this written on it: ‘Come’.
I shouldn’t delay to wreathe the victorious tablets with laurel
Nor set them in the middle of Venus’ temple.
Underneath I shall write: “Naso dedicates these servants
Faithful [to him] to Venus. But recently you have been humble maple-wood.”
colligere incertos et in ordine ponere crines
docta neque ancillas inter habenda Nape,
inque ministeriis furtivae cognita noctis
utilis et dandis ingeniosa notis
saepe venire ad me dubitantem hortata Corinnam,
saepe laboranti fida reperta mihi—
accipe et ad dominam peraratas mane tabellas
perfer et obstantes sedula pelle moras!
nec silicum venae nec durum in pectore ferrum,
nec tibi simplicitas ordine maior adest.
credibile est et te sensisse Cupidinis arcus—
in me militiae signa tuere tuae!
si quaeret quid agam, spe noctis vivere dices;
cetera fert blanda cera notata manu.
dum loquor, hora fugit. vacuae bene redde tabellas,
verum continuo fac tamen illa legat.
adspicias oculos mando frontemque legentis;
et tacito vultu scire futura licet.
nec mora, perlectis rescribat multa, iubeto;
odi, cum late splendida cera vacat.
conprimat ordinibus versus, oculosque moretur
margine in extremo littera rasa meos.
quid digitos opus est graphio lassare tenendo?
hoc habeat scriptum tota tabella ‘veni!’
non ego victrices lauro redimire tabellas
nec Veneris media ponere in aede morer.
subscribam: ‘VENERI FIDAS SIBI NASO MINISTRAS
DEDICAT, AT NUPER VILE FUISTIS ACER.’