I was telling you ‘Stop dyeing your hair’;
Now you have no locks which you can dye.
Yet what was more abundant than that hair, had you let it be?
It had reached right down, to the fullest extent of your side.
Moreover, it was so fine and as such you were scared to adorn it,
Like the woven cloth which the sunburnt Chinese wear,
Or the thread that the spider spins with slender foot,
Weaving its work with lightness beneath an abandoned beam?
Nevertheless, it was not black, and nor yet was it golden,
But, though of neither colour, it was mixed with both,
Just as a lofty cedar, in the dewy valleys
Of mountainous Ida, when its bark is stripped.
Furthermore, it was docile, and apt for a hundred styles
And it had never caused you any anguish:
Pins did not cause it to break, nor the teeth of a comb;
The hairdresser’s body was always safe;
My mistress often had her hair dressed before my eyes,
And she never took a hair-pin and pierced [the maid’s] arms.
Often, too, she lay half-reclining on the purple couch
In the morning, with hair not yet arranged;
Then also in her dishevelled state, she was becoming, like a Thracian Bacchanal,
When she lies easily on the fresh grass, exhausted.
But, even though your locks were slender and like down,
Alas, such sufferings and torments they endured!
How patiently they had been exposed to fire and steel,
So that a woven together curve might become a tortured ball!
I used to cry ‘This is a crime, a crime to scorch those locks.
They are beautiful as they are: spare your own head, iron-hearted [girl].
Take violence far from this place: it is not [hair] which is destined for burning;
The hair itself instructs the pins applied to it.’
The lovely locks have perished, which Apollo and Bacchus
Would wish to have on their own heads;
I might compare them, with those naked Dione,
Painted, once held out with dripping hand.
Why do you complain that badly-arranged hair has perished?
Why do you foolishly lay aside your mirror with woeful hand?
You do not do well to gaze at yourself with opportune eyes:
In order to please, you ought to be forgetful of your former self.
It is not the bewitched herbs of a female rival that have harmed you,
Nor a treacherous witch that has washed you with Thessalian water,
Nor has a violent disease impaired you (may omen be absent from these words),
Nor an envious tongue thinned your dense locks:
You suffer a loss rendered by your own guilty hand;
You yourself mixed and applied the poison to your own head.
Now Germany will send you captive tresses;
You will be saved by the gift of a conquered nation.
O how often you will blush when someone admires your locks
And say ‘Now I find favour through purchased goods:
Now he praises some Sygambrian woman or other instead of me;
Yet I remember when that glory was my own.’
Miserable me! She scarcely retains her tears and covers her face
With her right hand as she paints her tender cheeks with blushes;
She holds her old hair in her lap and gazes at it,
Alas, a gift not deserving of that place.
Compose your face and with it your mind: Your injury is reparable:
You will soon catch the eye with your natural hair.
dicebam 'medicare tuos desiste capillos';
tingere quam possis, iam tibi nulla coma est.
at si passa fores, quid erat spatiosius illis?
contigerant imum, qua patet usque, latus.
quid, quod erant tenues, et quos ornare timeres,
vela colorati qualia Seres habent,
vel pede quod gracili deducit aranea filum,
cum leve deserta sub trabe nectit opus?
nec tamen ater erat nec erat tamen aureus ille
sed, quamvis neuter, mixtus uterque color,
qualem clivosae madidis in vallibus Idae
ardua derepto cortice cedrus habet.
adde, quod et dociles et centum flexibus apti
et tibi nullius causa doloris erant:
non acus abrupit, non vallum pectinis illos;
ornatrix tuto corpore semper erat;
ante meos saepe est oculos ornata nec umquam
bracchia derepta saucia fecit acu.
saepe etiam nondum digestis mane capillis
purpureo iacuit semisupina toro;
tum quoque erat neclecta decens, ut Threcia Bacche,
cum temere in viridi gramine lassa iacet.
cum graciles essent tamen et lanuginis instar,
heu, male vexatae quanta tulere comae!
quam se praebuerunt ferro patienter et igni,
ut fieret torto nexilis orbe sinus!
clamabam: 'scelus est istos, scelus urere crines.
sponte decent; capiti, ferrea, parce tuo.
vim procul hinc remove! non est, qui debeat uri;
erudit admotas ipse capillus acus.'
formosae periere comae—quas vellet Apollo,
quas vellet capiti Bacchus inesse suo;
illis contulerim, quas quondam nuda Dione
pingitur umenti sustinuisse manu.
quid male dispositos quereris periisse capillos?
quid speculum maesta ponis, inepta, manu?
non bene consuetis a te spectaris ocellis:
ut placeas, debes inmemor esse tui.
non te cantatae laeserunt paelicis herbae,
non anus Haemonia perfida lavit aqua,
nec tibi vis morbi nocuit (procul omen abesto),
nec minuit densas invida lingua comas:
facta manu culpaque tua dispendia sentis;
ipsa dabas capiti mixta venena tuo.
nunc tibi captivos mittet Germania crines;
tuta triumphatae munere gentis eris.
o quam saepe comas aliquo mirante rubebis
et dices: 'empta nunc ego merce probor:
nescio quam pro me laudat nunc iste Sygambram;
fama tamen memini cum fuit ista mea.'
me miserum! lacrimas male continet oraque dextra
protegit ingenuas picta rubore genas;
sustinet antiquos gremio spectatque capillos,
ei mihi, non illo munera digna loco.
collige cum vultu mentem! reparabile damnum est:
postmodo nativa conspiciere coma.