Qui Martem terra, Neptunum effugit in undis, Coniugis Atrides victima dira fuit. 335Cui non defleta est Ephyraeae flamma Creüsae, Et nece natorum sanguinolenta parens? Flevit Amyntorides per inania lumina Phoenix: Hippolytum pavidi diripuistis equi. Quid fodis inmeritis, Phineu, sua lumina natis? 340Poena reversura est in caput ista tuum. Omnia feminea sunt ista libidine mota; Acrior est nostra, plusque furoris habet. Ergo age, ne dubita cunctas sperare puellas; Vix erit e multis, quae neget, una, tibi. Quae dant quaeque negant, gaudent tamen esse rogatae: 346Ut iam fallaris, tuta repulsa tua est. Sed cur fallaris, cum sit nova grata voluptas Et capiant animos plus aliena suis? Fertilior seges est alienis semper in agris, 350Vicinumque pecus grandius uber habet.
Sed prius ancillam captandae nosse puellae Cura sit: accessus molliet illa tuos. Proxima consiliis dominae sit ut illa, videto, Neve parum tacitis conscia fida iocis. 355Hanc tu pollicitis, hanc tu corrumpe rogando: Quod petis, ex facili, si volet illa, feres. Illa leget tempus (medici quoque tempora servant) Quo facilis dominae mens sit et apta capi. Mens erit apta capi tum, cum laetissima rerum 360Ut seges in pingui luxuriabit humo. Pectora dum gaudent nec sunt adstricta dolore, Ipsa patent, blanda tum subit arte Venus.
Atreus, who escaped Mars on land and Neptune on the deep, was the dire victim of his wife. Who has not bewailed the flames of Creusa of Ephyre, and the mother stained with her children’s blood? Phoenix, son of Amyntor, shed tears from empty eyes; ye frightened horses, ye tore Hippolytus in pieces. Why piercest thou, O Phineus, the eyes of thine innocent sons?1 upon thine own head will the punishment fall. All those crimes were prompted by women’s lust; keener is it than ours, and has more of madness. Come then, doubt not that you may win all women; scarce one out of many will there be to say you nay. And, grant they or deny, yet are they pleased to have been asked: suppose, say, you are mistaken, your rejection brings no danger. But why should you be mistaken, since ’tis new delights that win welcome, and what is not ours charms more than our own? In fields not ours the crops are ever more bounteous, and the neighbouring herd has richer udders.
But take care first to know the handmaid2 of the woman you would win; she will make your approach easy. See that she be nearest the counsels of her mistress, and one who may be trusted with the secret of your stolen sport. Corrupt her with promises, corrupt her with prayers; if she be willing, you will gain your end with ease. She will choose a time (physicians also observe times) when her mistress is in an easy mood and apt for winning. Then will her mind be apt for winning when in the fulness of joy she grows wanton like the corn crop in a rich soil.3 When hearts are glad, and not fast bound by grief, then do they lie open, and Venus steals in