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

Cydippe to Acontius


Nor do I wonder that he perceives my repugnance to his addresses, when I myself have betrayed it by manifest sings. If he approaches the bed, I turn upon my other side. I refuse to speak, and close my eyes, as if inclined to sleep; or, if he offers to touch me with his hand, reject it with some warmth. He groans and sighs within himself; and, though far from deserving such usage, observes me cold and averse to him. Ah me, how you rejoice! what pleasure this confession gives you! How silly to own thus frankly my

thoughts of him! If I were to speak like myself, you, who contrived these snares for me, were far more deserving of my disdain. You write for leave to visit me in my present illness. You are far from me; and yet, distant as you are, you wound deeply. I wondered with myself how you came to be named Acontius; but find now that you can dart wounds from far. It is certain that I have not yet recovered from this wound, pierced from far by your letter, as by a javelin. But to what end should you come here? To see my feeble body, the double trophy of your ingenuity? I am wasted to a skeleton, my color is become pale, such as I remember to have observed in the apple you threw at me. My fair cheeks are no more adorned with a becoming red, but have rather the appearance of newly-polished marble; or silver at a feast, when deadened by the chillness of water. Were you to see me now, you would deny me to be the same with her you first saw, nor think me worthy to be sought by so

many artifices. You would gladly release me from the promise I made of being joined to you for ever, and wish that the Goddess herself might also cease to exact the performance. Perhaps too you might endeavour to make me swear the contrary of my former oath, and throw at me another form of words, to be in like manner read over. Yet I could wish that according to your request you might see me, and learn the feeble condition of one whom you wish for your bride. Had you a heart, Acontius, more hard than steel, yet you could not forbear addressing the Gods in my behalf. But not to keep you ignorant of the only means left to restore me to my health, recourse has been had to the God who predicts futurity at Delphi. He also, as fame reports, complains of broken vows. This a God, this a poet, this even my own lines proclaim. But nothing of that kind is wanting to give force to your wishes. Whence all this favor to you? unless perhaps you have found the secret to bind the Gods themselves by a new form of words. If you thus find the Gods propitious, it is fit that I submit to their will, and, as they have made you their choice, make you also mine. I have already acquainted my mother with the vow into which you artfully betrayed me; keeping my eyes, full of shame, fixed all the time upon the ground. The rest must be left to your care: it is even more than becomes a virgin, that I have thus ventured to make known my sentiments to you by a letter. My feeble fingers are now sufficiently tired by the pen, and my sickly hand is unable to bear longer fatigue. What remains for me to write, but that it is now my wish to be for ever thine? Farewell.