The Epistles of Ovid

The Epistles of Ovid
By P. Ovidius Naso
London J. Nunn, Great-Queen-Street; R. Priestly, 143, High-Holborn; R. Lea, Greek-Street, Soho; and J. Rodwell, New-Bond-Street 1813

Perseus Documents Collection Table of Contents

Penelope to Ulysses

Phyllis to Demophoon

Briseis to Achilles

Phaedra to Hippolytus

Oenone to Paris

Hypsipyle to Jason

Dido to Aeneas

Hermione to Orestes

Deianira to Hercules

Ariadne to Theseus

Canace to Macareus

Medea to Jason

Laodamia to Protesilaus

Hypermnestra to Lynceus

Sappho to Phaon

Paris to Helen

Helen to Paris

Leander to Hero

Hero to Leander

Acontius to Cydippe

Cydippe to Acontius

Funded by The Annenberg CPB/Project

Phyllis to Demophoon


Fool that I was! I even repaired your leaky ships, that you might have a trusty fleet wherein to desert me; I supplied you also with rowers to help forward your flight. Wretched beyond expression, to be thus wounded by my own darts! Alas! I foolishly gave credit to your deluding words, of which you have such command. [50] I confided in your race and kindred gods; I trusted to your tears: are these too taught to dissemble? Yes; even they have their artifices, and often conspire to delude. In fine, I believed your false protestations. Why did you commit so many perjuries to gain credit with me, when unhappily I was too willing to trust you? [55] Nor do I repent that I received you into my harbour and kingdom: this ought to have been the utmost bound of my indulgence. I am only ashamed of having crowned my hospiality with the present of my bed, and yielded myself up to your embraces. [60] Oh! had the night preceding that fatal one been my last, Phyllis had died chaste and honest. I hoped the best, because I was conscious I deserved well of you. Hope, founded upon desert, is just and unblameable. Surely it is no mighty glory to deceive a credulous maid; my innocent simplicity merited a kind return.

[65] You have by your flattering words deluded a woman, and one that loved you. May the gods grant that this may be your greatest boast! May you stand in the midst of the city among the posterity of geus! May the statue of your father graced with inscriptions and trophies stand first! When the stories of Scyron and stern Procrustes shall be read, [70] Sinis, and the Minotaur; Thebes brought under subjection, the Centaurs dispersed, and the dark palace of the infernal god alarmed, may thy hated image bear this inscription: This is he, who betrayed his innocent believing hostess. [75] Of all the mighty acts of your father, Ariadne deserted seems to please you most. You admire only in him what alone seems to want an excuse, and are the perfidious heir of your father's treachery. She (nor do I envy her) enjoys a better match, [80] and rides in state, drawn by harnessed tigers. But the Thracian youths whom I scorned before, now shun my embraces, because I preferred a stranger to my own subjects. Some in derision say, Let her now repair to learned Athens; we will find another to rule over warlike Thrace: [85] the end proves all things. May heaven deny him success in every thing, who presumes to judge of actions by the event: for, were your vessels to plough the Thracian waves, I should still be said to have studied my own and my people is good. But alas! I have consulted neither. You think no more of my palace, [90] nor will you ever again bathe your wearied limbs in the Thracian lake. Our parting scene still presents itself to my fancy: your fleet being in readiness to sail, you embraced me, and, falling upon my neck, oft repeated the long-breathed kisses: [95] you mixed your tears with mine, and complained that the wind was favorable; then parting, cried, Be sure, Phyllis, to expect your Demophon. Can I expect one who left me never to return? [100] Can I expect ships never designed to visit these coasts? And yet I still expect you; return, though late, that your only crime may be too long a stay.