Sextus Propertius: The Love Elegies











Book 1……….4

Book 2……….21

Book 3……….54

Book 4……….77




Book 1



Book I.1:1-38 Love’s madness. 2

Book I.2:1-32 Love goes naked. 2

Book I.3:1-46 After a night’s drinking. 3

Book I.4:1-28 Constancy in Love. 3

Book I.5:1-32 Admonishment to Gallus. 4

Book I.6:1-36 Love’s bonds. 4

Book I.7:1-26 In praise of Love Poetry. 5

Book I.8:1-26 Cynthia’s journey. 5

Book I.8A:27-46 Cynthia’s journey abandoned. 6

Book I.9:1-34 Ponticus struck down by Love. 6

Book I.10:1-30 Educating Gallus. 7

Book I.11:1-30 Cynthia at Baiae. 7

Book I.12:1-20 Faithfulness in separation. 8

Book I.13:1-36 He predicts Gallus’s fate. 8

Book I.14:1-24 Love’s Delight8

Book I.15:1-42 Cynthia’s infidelities. 9

Book I.16:1-48 Cynthia’s threshold speaks. 10

Book I.17:1-28. He goes on a journey.10

Book I.18:1-32 Alone amongst Nature. 11

Book I.19:1-26 Death and transience. 11

Book I:20:1-52 The story of Hylas: a warning to Gallus. 12

Book I.21:1-10 Gallus speaks his own epitaph. 13

Book I.22:1-10 Propertius’s place of origin.13


Book I.1:1-38 Love’s madness


            Cynthia was the first, to my cost, to trap me with her eyes: I was untouched by love before then. It was Amor lowered my gaze of endless disdain, and, feet planted, bowed my head, till he taught me, recklessly, to scorn pure girls and live without sense, and now this madness has not left me for one whole year, though I do attract divine hostility.

            Milanion, did not shirk hard labour, Tullus, my friend, to crush fierce Atalanta, Iasus’s daughter. Then he strayed lovesick in Parthenium’s caves, and faced wild beasts there: thrashed, what is more, by the club of Hylaeus, the Centaur, he moaned, wounded, among Arcadia’s stones. So he was able to overcome the swift-footed girl: such is the value of entreaty and effort in love. Dulled Amor, in me, has lost his wits, and forgets the familiar paths he travelled before.

            But you whose trickeries draw down the moon, whose task it is to seek revenge, by sacrifice on magic fires, go change my mistress’s mind, and make her cheeks grow paler than my own! Then I will believe you have power to lead rivers and stars wherever you wish, with Colchian charms.

            Or you, my friends who, too late, would draw me back from error, search out the cure for a sick heart. I will suffer the heat and the knife bravely, if only freedom can speak as indignation wishes. Lift me through furthest nations and seas, where never a woman can follow my track. You, to whom gods grant an easy hearing, who live forever secure in mutual love, stay behind. Venus, our mistress, turns nights of bitterness against me, and Amor never fails to be found wanting. Avoid this evil I beg you: let each cling to his own love, and never alter the places of familiar desire. But if one hears my warning too late, O with what agony he will remember my words!


Book I.2:1-32 Love goes naked


            What need is there, mea vita, to come with your hair adorned, and slither about in a thin silk dress from Cos? Why drench your tresses in myrrh of Orontes, and betray yourself with gifts from strangers; ruin nature’s beauty with traded refinements; not allow your limbs to gleam to true advantage? Believe me, nothing could enhance your shape: naked Amor never loves lying forms. Look at the colours that lovely earth throws out: but better the wild ivy that springs up of itself; loveliest the strawberry tree that grows in deserted hollows; and the water knows how to run in untaught ways. The shores convince us dressed with natural pebbles, and birds sing much sweeter without art.

            Phoebe did not set Castor on fire this way, she Leucippus’s daughter; nor Hilaira, her sister, Pollux, with trinkets. Not like this Marpessa, Evenus’s daughter, whom Idas and passionate Phoebus fought for by her father’s shore. Hippodamia did not attract Pelops, her Phrygian husband, with false brightness, to be whirled off on alien chariot-wheels. They did not slavishly add jewels to faces of a lustre seen in Apelles’s paintings. Collecting lovers everywhere was never their inclination: to be chaste was great enough beauty for them.

            Might I not be afraid now, that I might be worth less than these? If she pleases one man a girl has enough refinement: and Phoebus grants, to you above all, his gifts of song, and Calliope, gladly, her Aonian lyre, and your happy words never lack unique grace, all that Minerva and Venus approve of. If only those wretched luxuries wearied you, you would always be dearest to my life for these.


Book I.3:1-46 After a night’s drinking


            Just as Ariadne, the girl of Cnossus, lay on the naked shore, fainting, while Theseus’s ship vanished; or as Andromeda, Cepheus’s child, lay recumbent in her first sleep free now of the harsh rock; or like one fallen on the grass by Apidanus, exhausted by the endless Thracian dance; Cynthia seemed like that to me, breathing the tender silence, her head resting on unquiet hands, when I came, deep in wine, dragging my drunken feet, and the boys were shaking the late night torches.

            My senses not totally dazed yet, I tried to approach her, pressing gently against the bed: and though seized by a twin passion, here Amor and there Bacchus, both cruel gods, urging me on, to attempt to slip my arm under her as she lay there, and lifting my hand snatch eager kisses, I was still not brave enough to trouble my mistress’s rest, fearing her proven fierceness in quarreling, but, frozen there, clung to her, gazing intently, like Argus on Io’s newly horned brow.

            Now I freed the garlands from my forehead, and set them on your temples: now I delighted in playing with your loose hair, furtively slipping apples into your open hands, bestowing every gift on your ungrateful sleep, repeated gifts breathed from my bowed body. And whenever you, stirring, gave an infrequent sigh, I was transfixed, believing false omens, some vision bringing you strange fears, or another forced you to be his, against your will.

            At last the moon, gliding by distant windows, the busy moon with lingering light, opened her closed eyes, with its tender rays. Raised on one elbow on the soft bed, she cried: ‘Has another’s severity driven you out, closing her doors, bringing you back to my bed at last? Alas for me, where have you spent the long hours of this night, that was mine, you, worn out now, as the stars are put away? O you, cruel to me in my misery, I wish you the same long-drawn out nights as those you endlessly offer to me. Till a moment ago, I staved off sleep, weaving the purple threads, and again, wearied, with the sound of Orpheus’s lyre. Until Sleep impelled me to sink down under his delightful wing I was moaning gently to myself, alone, all the while, for you, delayed so long, so often, by a stranger’s love. That was my last care, amongst my tears.’


Book I.4:1-28 Constancy in Love


            Why do you urge me to alter, and leave my mistress, Bassus, praising so many lovely girls to me? Why not allow me to spend the rest of my life in increasingly familiar slavery? You can praise Antiope’s beauty, the daughter of Nycteus, and Hermione of Sparta, all those the ages of beauty saw: Cynthia denies them a name. Still less would she be slighted, or thought less, by severe critics, if she were compared with inferior forms. Her beauty is the least part of what inflames me: there are greater things I take joy in dying for, Bassus: Nature’s complexion, and the grace of many an art, and pleasures it is best to speak of under the silent sheets.

            The more you try to weaken our love, the more both disappoint with acknowledged loyalty. You will not escape with impunity: the furious girl will know of it, and will be an enemy to you with no unquiet voice. Cynthia will no longer look for you after this, nor entrust me to you. She will remember such crimes, and angrily denounce you amongst all the other girls: alas, you will be loved on never a threshold. She will slight no altar of her tears, no stone, wherever it may be, and however sacred.

            No loss hurts Cynthia so deeply as when the god is absent, love snatched away from her: above all mine. Let her always be so, I pray, and let me never discover cause in her for lament.


Book I.5:1-32 Admonishment to Gallus


            Envious man, quiet your irksome cries at last, and let us travel the path we are on, as one! What do you wish for, madman: to feel my passions? Unhappy man, you are hastening to know the deepest hurt, and set your footsteps on hidden fires, and drink all the poisons of Thessaly. She is not like the fickle girls you collect: she is not used to being angered mildly. Even if, by chance, she does not reject your prayers, how many thousand cares she will bring you! She will not let you sleep, now, or loose your eyes: she is the one to bind the mind’s uncivilised forces. Ah, how often, scorned, you will run to my door, your brave words turning to sobbing, a trembling ague of bitter tears descending, fear tracing its hideous lines on your face, and whatever words you wish to say, lost in your moaning, you, you wretch, no longer able to know who or where you are.

            Then you’ll be forced to know my mistress’s harsh service, and what it is to return home excluded. You’ll not marvel at my pallor any longer, or at why I am thin all over. Your high birth will do you no good in love. Love does not yield to ancient faces. But if you show the smallest sign of guilt, how quickly your good name will be hearsay! I’ll not be able to bring you relief when you ask, while there is no cure for my malady: rather, companions together in love and sorrow, we will be forced to weep on each other’s offered breast.

            So stop asking what my Cynthia can do, Gallus, she does not come without punishment to those who ask.


Book I.6:1-36 Love’s bonds


            I’m not afraid to discover the Adriatic with you, Tullus, or set my sail, now, on the briny Aegean: I could climb Scythian heights, or go beyond the palace of Ethiopian Memnon. But, clinging there, my girl’s words always hinder me, her altering colour: her painful prayers. All night she goes on about passion, and complains there are no gods, if she is forsaken. Though mine, she denies herself to me, she threatens, as a hurt lover does a man she’s indignant with.

            I’ll not live an hour among such complaints: O let him perish who can make love, with them, at his ease! What use is it for me to discover wise Athens, or see the ancient treasures of Asia, only for Cynthia to cry out against me when the ship’s launched, and mark her face with passionate hands, and declare she owes kisses to the opposing winds, that nothing is worse than a faithless lover?

            You can try and surpass your uncle’s well-deserved power, and re-establish our allies’ ancient rights, since your youth has never had room for love, and you’ve always loved fighting for your country. Let that Boy never burden you with my labours, and all the marks of my tears! Let me, whom Fate always wished to level, give up this life to utter worthlessness. Many have been lost, willingly, in wearisome love: earth buries me also among that number. I’m not born fitted for weapons or glory: this is the war the Fates wish to subject me to.

            But whether you go where gentle Ionia extends, or where Pactolus’s waters gild the Lydian fields, your feet on the earth, or striking the sea with your oars, you’ll be part of the accepted order: then, if an hour comes when I’m not forgotten, you’ll know I live under cruel stars.


Book I.7:1-26 In praise of Love Poetry


            While you write of Cadmus’s Thebes, and the bitter struggle of that war of brothers, and, bless me, contest Homer’s primacy (if the Fates are kind to your song) I, Ponticus, as usual, follow my passions, and search for a means to endure my lady. I’m forced more to serve sadness than wit, and moan at youth’s hard times.

            This the way of life I suffer, this is my fame. Let my only praise be that I pleased a learned maid, Ponticus, and often bore with her unjust threats. Let scorned lovers, after me, read my words with care, and benefit from knowing my ills. You, as well, if the Boy strikes home, with his sure shaft (that I wish the gods didn’t allow) will cry out in pain for that ancient citadel, the lost armies of the seven, thrown down in eternally silent neglect, and helplessly long to compose sweet verses. Love come late will not fill your song.

            Then you’ll often admire me, not as a humble poet: then you’ll prefer me to the intellects of Rome: and the young men will not keep silent around my tomb, crying: ‘You lie there, the great singer of our ardors.’ Take care not to condemn my work in your pride. Love that comes late often charges a high rate.


Book I.8:1-26 Cynthia’s journey


            Are you mad, then, that my anxiety does not stop you? Am I less to you than chilly Illyria? Does he seem so great to you, whoever he is, that you’ll go anywhere the wind takes your sails, without me? Can you hear the roar of the furious seas unmoved, and lie down on hard planks; tread the hoarfrost under your tender feet? Cynthia, can you bear unaccustomed snow? Oh, I wish that the days till the winter solstice were doubled, and the Pleiades delayed, the sailors sitting idle, the ropes be never loosed from the Tyrrhenian shore, and the hostile breezes not blow my prayers away! Yet may I never see such winds drop when your boat puts off, and the waves carry it onwards, leaving me rooted to the desolate strand, repeatedly crying out your cruelty with clenched fist.

            Yet whatever you deserve from me, you who renounce me, may Sicilian Galatea not frown on your journey: pass with happy oars Epirus’s Acroceraunian cliffs, and be received by Illyrian Oricos’s calm waters. No other girl will seduce me, mea vita, from bitterly uttering complaints about you at your threshold, nor will I fail to question the impatient sailors: ‘Tell in what harbour my girl is confined?’ and say ‘Though she lives on Thessaly’s shore, or beyond the Scythian, she’ll be mine.’


Book I.8A:27-46 Cynthia’s journey abandoned


            She is here! She stays, she promised! Discontent, vanish, I’ve won: she could not endure my endless entreaties. Let eager Envy relinquish its illusory joy. My Cynthia has ceased to travel strange roads. I’m dear to her, and because of me she says Rome is best, and rejects a kingdom without me. She’d rather stay in bed, though narrow, with me, and be mine, whatever its size, than have the ancient region that was Hippodamia’s dowry, and the riches that the horses of Elis won. She did not rush from my breast, in avarice, though he gave a lot, and he’d give her more.

            I could not dissuade her from it with gold or Indian pearls, but by the service of flattering song. I rely, like this, on the Muses in love, nor is Apollo slow to help lovers. Cynthia, the rare, is mine! Now my feet tread the highest stars: night and day come, she’s mine! No rival steals my certain love from me: this glory will crown my old age.


Book I.9:1-34 Ponticus struck down by Love


            I told you love would come to you, Derider, and words of freedom wouldn’t always be yours. Behold, you are down, and come, a suppliant, at a mistress’s command, and now some girl, bought a moment ago, orders you about. Dodona’s oracular doves cannot outdo me for saying what young men each girl will tame. A service of pain and tears has made me an expert: though I wish I could leave it, be called an innocent in love!

            What use is it now, you wretch, to speak your serious poem, or weep for the Theban citadel of Amphion’s lyre? Mimnermus’s lyrics are worth more than Homer in love. Gentle Love seeks sweet songs.

            I beg you, go, put away those serious books, and sing what every girl wishes to know! What if access to her wasn’t as easy? Yet you, you madman, look for water mid-river. You are still not pale, even, truly untouched by the fire: this is the first spark of the evil to come. Then you will prefer to go near Armenian tigers, or know the bonds of the infernal wheel, than feel the frequent darts of the Boy in your marrow, and be powerless to deny your angry one a single thing.

            Love grants no one an easy passage, without pushing them back with either hand. And do not be deceived if she’s ready to satisfy you: if she’s yours, Ponticus, she attacks you more fiercely. Love won’t allow you to remove your gaze at leisure, nor keep watch in another’s name, Love, who doesn’t appear until he’s touched you to the bone.

            Whoever you are, run from endless charms! Flint and oak might give in to them, much less you, yourself a frail spirit. So, if there is honour, confess your error as soon as you can. In love it often helps to say who it is you die for.


Book I.10:1-30 Educating Gallus


            O sweet dream, when I saw your first love: witness, there, to your tears! O what sweet pleasure for me to remember that night, O the one so often summoned by my longing, when I saw you dying, Gallus, in your girl’s arms, uttering words with long pauses! Though sleep pressed on my weary lids, and the Moon blushed, drawn through mid-heaven, I still could not draw back from your play, there was so much ardour in your exchanges.

            But, since you were not afraid to let me, accept your reward for the joy of trust. I’ve not only learnt to be silent about your pain, there is something greater in me, my friend, than loyalty. I can join parted lovers again, and open a mistress’s reluctant door. I can heal someone’s fresh wounds: the power of my words is not slight. Cynthia repeatedly taught me what one should look for or beware of: Love’s not been idle.

            Beware of picking a fight with your girl when she’s angry, don’t speak in pride, don’t stay silent for long: and if she requests something, don’t say no with a frown on your face, and don’t let kind words shower on you in vain. She’ll come in a temper when she’s ignored, and wounded she won’t remember to drop her justified threats. But the more you are humble, and subject to love, the more you’ll enjoy a fine performance. He’ll be able to endure one girl gladly, who is never found wanting, or free of feeling.


Book I.11:1-30 Cynthia at Baiae


            While you idle at Baiae’s heart, Cynthia, where Hercules’s causeway hangs by the shore, now gazing at waves that washed Thesprotus’s kingdom, now at the waters by noted Misenum, does any thought enter, oh, that brings you nights mindful of me? Is there a place where the least of love remains? Has some unknown rival, with false pretences of passion, drawn Cynthia away from my songs?

            I would much rather some little craft, relying on paltry oar, entertained you on Naple’s Lucrine Lake, or the waters easily parting, hand after hand, held you enclosed in the shallow waves of Teuthras, than free to hear another’s flattering whispers, settled voluptuously on some private shore! Away from watching eyes a girl slips into faithlessness, not remembering the gods we share. Not because your reputation is not well known to me, but that in that place every desire is to be feared.

            So, forgive me if my writings have brought you annoyance: my fears are to blame. I do not watch over my mother now with greater care, nor without you have I any care for my life.

            You are my only home, my only parents, Cynthia: you, every moment of my happiness. If I am joyful or sad with the friends I meet, however I am, I say: ‘Cynthia is the reason.’ Only leave corrupt Baiae as soon as you may: that coast will bring discord to many, a coast fatal to chaste girls: O let the waters of Baiae vanish, an offence to love!


Book I.12:1-20 Faithfulness in separation


            Why don’t you stop inventing charges of apathy, Rome, the ‘knowing’, saying it hinders me? She’s separated from my bed by as many miles as Russia’s rivers from Venice’s River Po. Cynthia doesn’t nurture familiar love in her arms, nor make sweet sounds in my ears. I pleased once: at that time there was no one to touch us who could compare for loyalty in love.  We were envied. Surely a god overwhelmed me, or some herb picked from Promethean mountains shattered our bond?

            I am not who I was: distant journeys alter girls. How quickly love flies! Now I am forced to endure long nights alone, for the first time, and be oppressive to myself. He’s happy who is able to weep where his girl is: Love takes no small joy in a sprinkling of tears. Or he who, rejected, can change his desire: there is joy in a new slavery as well. But is it impossible for me ever to love another, or part from her. Cynthia was love’s beginning: Cynthia will be its end.


Book I.13:1-36 He predicts Gallus’s fate


            You’ll laugh at my downfall, as you often do, Gallus, because I’m alone and free, love lifted away. But I’ll never imitate your words, faithless man. May no girl ever let you down, Gallus. Even now with your growing reputation for deceiving them, never seeking to linger long in any passion, you begin to pale with desperation in belated love, and fall back, tripped, at the first step. She’ll be your torment for despising their sorrows: one girl will take revenge for the pain of many. She’ll put a stop to your roving desires, and she’ll not always be fond of your search for the new.

            No wicked rumour, or augury, told me this: I saw it: can you deny me, as a witness, I pray? I saw you, languishing, arms wound round your neck, and weeping for ages, in her hands, Gallus, and yearning to breathe your life out in words of longing: and lastly, my friend, what shame tells me to hide: I couldn’t part your clinging, such was the wild passion between you. That god Neptune disguised as the Haemonian River Enipus didn’t squeeze the obliging Tyro so readily; Hercules’s love was never so hot for celestial Hebe, as he first felt delight on the ridge of Oeta. One day could outrun all lovers: she lit no faint torch in you, she’ll not let disdain reappear in you, or you be seduced. Desire spurs you on.

            I’m not surprised, since she rivals Leda, is worthy of Jupiter, and alone lovelier than Leda’s three children by him. She’s more charm than the demi-goddesses of Greece: her words would make Jupiter love her. Since you are sure to die of love once and for all: no other threshold was worthy. May she be kind to you, since new madness strikes, and, whatever you wish for, may she be the one for you.


Book I.14:1-24 Love’s Delight


            Though, you drink Lesbos’s wine, from Mentor’s cups, abandoned, in luxury, by Tiber’s waves, and now are amazed at how quickly the boats slip by, and now at how slowly the barges are towed along: and the wood spreads its line of trees all over the summits, thick as Caucasus’s many trees: still these things have no power to rival my love. Love is unable to bow down to great wealth.

            If She spins out sleep with me as desired, or draws out the whole day in easy loving, then the waters of Pactolus come under my roof, and the Red Sea’s coral buds are gathered from under the waves, then my delights say that I am greater than kings: and may they endure, till Fate wants me to vanish. For who can enjoy wealth if Love is against him? No riches for me if Venus is sullen!

            She can exhaust the strong powers of heroes: she can even be pain to the toughest of minds: she’s not apprehensive at crossing Arabian thresholds, nor afraid to climb on to the purple couch, Tullus, and toss the miserable young man all over his bed. What comfort is dyed silken fabric? When she’s reconciled, and near me, I’ll not fear to despise whole kingdoms, or Alcinous’s gifts.


Book I.15:1-42 Cynthia’s infidelities


            Cynthia I’ve often feared great pain from your fickleness, yet I still did not expect treachery. See with what trials Fortune drags me down! Yet you still respond slowly to my anxiety, and can lift your hands to last night’s tresses, and examine your looks in endless idleness, and go on decking out your breast with Eastern jewels, like a beautiful woman preparing to meet a new lover.

            Calypso didn’t feel like that when Odysseus, the Ithacan, left her, when she wept long ago to the empty waves: she sat mourning for many days with unkempt hair, pouring out speech to the cruel brine, and though she would never see him again, she still grieved, thinking of their long happiness. Hypsipyle, troubled, didn’t stand like that in the empty bedroom when the winds snatched Jason away: Hypsipyle never felt pleasure again after that, melting, once and for all, for her Haemonian stranger. Alphesiboea was revenged on her own brothers for her husband Alcmaeon, and passion broke the bonds of loving blood. Evadne, famous for Argive chastity, died in the pitiful flames, raised high on her husband’s pyre.

            Yet none of these alters your existence, that you might also be known in story. Cynthia, stop now revoking your words by lying, and refrain from provoking forgotten gods. O reckless girl, there’ll be more than enough grief at my misfortune if it chances that anything dark happens to you! Long before the love for you changes in my heart, rivers will flow out of the vast ocean, and the year reverse its seasons: be whatever you wish, except another’s.

            Don’t let those eyes appear so worthless to you through which your treachery was so often believed by me! You swore by them, if you’d been false in anything, they’d vanish away when your fingers touched them. And can you raise them to the vast sun, and not tremble, aware of your guilty sins? Who forced your pallor of shifting complexion, and drew tears from unwilling eyes? Those are the eyes I now die for, to warn lovers like me: ‘No charms can ever be safely trusted!’


Book I.16:1-48 Cynthia’s threshold speaks


            Now I’m bruised in night quarrels with drunkards, moaning often, struck by shameful hands, I, who used to open to great triumphs, Tarpeia’s entrance, honoured for chastity, whose threshold was crowded with golden teams, wet with the suppliant tears of captives. Disgraceful garlands aren’t lacking, hung on me, and always the torches lie there, symbols of the excluded.

            Nor can I save my lady from infamous nights, honour surrendered in obscene singing. Nor does she repent as yet, to cease her notoriety: stop living more sinfully than this dissolute age.  And complaining, I’m forced to shed worse tears, made sadder by the length of some suppliants’ vigil. He never allows my columns to rest, renewing his sly insinuating song:

            ‘Entrance, crueller than my mistress’s depths, why are your solid doors closed now, and mute, for me? Why do you never unfasten and admit my desire, unable to feel or tell her my secret prayers? Will there be no end assigned to my sadness, and sleep lie, unsightly, on your cool threshold?  Midnight, the stars sinking to rest, and the icy winds of chill dawn, grieve for me. You alone never pity man’s grief, replying with mutually silent hinges.

            O I wish that my soft voice might cross through some hollow cleft, and enter my lady’s startled ears! Then she would never be able to check herself, and a sigh would surface amongst reluctant tears, though she were more unyielding than flint or Sicilian stones, harder than iron or steel.

            Now she lies resting in another man’s fortunate arms, and my words fall on nocturnal breezes. But to me, threshold, you are the one, great cause of my grief, never conquered by gifts. No petulant tongue of mine has ever offended you, used to calling out angry drunken jests, that you should make me hoarse with endless complaining, guarding the crossroads in anxious waiting. Yet I have often elicited new lines of verse for you, and printed deep kisses on your steps. How often before now have I turned from your columns, treacherous one, and with hidden hands produced the required offering.’

            So with this and whatever you helpless lovers invent, he drowns out the dawn chorus. So I’m condemned to eternal infamy, for my mistress’s failings now, for her lovers’ tears forever.


Book I.17:1-28. He goes on a journey.


            Since I managed to flee the girl, now it’s right that I speak to the lonely halcyons: Cassiope’s harbour hasn’t had its accustomed sight of my boat, and all my prayers fall on a heartless shore. Yes, even in your absence, Cynthia, the winds promote your cause: hear what savage threats the sky sounds. Will good fortune ever come to calm the storms? Will that little beach hold my ashes?

            Change your fierce complaints to something kinder, and let night and the hostile shoals be my punishment. Would you, dry-eyed, require my death, and never clasp my bones to your breast? O, perish the man, who-ever he was, who first made ships and rigging and journeyed over the reluctant deep! Easier to change my mistress’s moods (however hard, though, she’s still a rare girl) than to gaze at shores ringed with unknown forests, and search in the sky for the long-lost Twins.

            If the Fates had buried my grief at home, and an upright stone stood there to my last love, she would have given dear strands of hair to the fire, and laid my bones gently on soft rose-petals: she would have cried out my name over the final embers, and asked for earth to lie lightly on me.

            But you, the sea-born daughters of lovely Doris, happy choir, loosen our white sails: if ever love glided down and touched your waves, spare a friend, for gentler shores.


Book I.18:1-32 Alone amongst Nature


            Truly this is a silent, lonely place for grieving, and the breath of the West Wind owns the empty wood. Here I can speak my secret sorrows freely, if only these solitary cliffs could be trusted.

            What cause shall I attribute your disdain to, my Cynthia? Cynthia, what reason for my grief did you give me? I who but now was numbered among the joyous lovers, now am forced to look for signs of your love. Why do I merit all this? What spell turns you away from me? Is some new girl the root of your anger? You can give yourself to me again, fickle girl, since no other has ever set lovely foot on my threshold. Though my sorrow’s indebted to you for much grief, my anger will not be so fierce with you that rage would ever be justified in you, or your weeping eyes be disfigured with falling tears.

            Is it because I show few signs of altered complexion, and my faith does not shout aloud in my face? Beech-tree and pine, beloved of the Arcadian god, you will be witnesses, if trees know these passions. Oh, how often my words echo under gentle shadows, and Cynthia is carved in your bark!

            Oh! How often has your injustice caused me pains that only your silent threshold knows? I am used to suffering your tyrannous orders with diffidence, without moaning about it in noisy complaints. For this I receive sacred springs, cold rocks, and rough sleep by a wilderness track: and whatever my complaining can tell of, must be uttered alone to melodious birds.

            Yet whatever you are, let the woods echo ‘Cynthia’ to me, and let not the wild cliffs be free of your name.


Book I.19:1-26 Death and transience


            I do not fear the sad shadows, now, my Cynthia, or care about death, destined for the final fires: but this fear is harder to bear than my funeral procession, that perhaps my corpse would lack your love. Cupid has not so lightly clung to my eyelids, that my dust can be void, love forgotten.

            The hero, Protesilaus, could not forget his sweet wife even in the dark region: the Thessalian came as a shade to his former home, longing with ghostly hands to touch his delight. Whatever I am there, I will always be known as your shadow: a great love crosses the shore of death.

            Let the choir of lovely women of old, come to greet me there, those whom the spoils of Troy yielded to Argive men, none of whose beauty shall mean more to me than yours, Cynthia, and (O allow this, Earth, and be just) though a destined old age keeps you back, your bones will still be dear to my sad eyes. May you, living, feel this when I am dust: then no place of death will be bitter to me. How I fear lest you ignore my tomb, Cynthia, and some inimical passion draws you away from my ashes, and forces you, unwillingly, to dry the tears that fall!

            Constant threats will persuade a loyal girl. So, while we can, let there be joy between lovers: no length of time’s enough for lasting love.


Book I:20:1-52 The story of Hylas: a warning to Gallus


            For your loyal love, Gallus, take this warning (Don’t let it slip from your vacant mind): ‘Fortune often attacks the imprudent lover’: so might the River Ascanius, harsh to the Argonauts, tell you.

            You have a lover, like Hylas, Theodamas’s son, no less handsome, not unequal in birth. Take care if you walk by the sacred rivers in Umbrian forests, or waters of Anio touch your feet, or if you wander the edge of the Phlegrean plain, or wherever a river gives wandering welcome, always defend your loving prey from the Nymphs (the Ausonian Dryads’ desire is no less) lest rough hills and cold rocks are yours, Gallus, and you enter eternally untried waters. The wretched wanderer Hercules suffered this misery, and wept by the wild River Ascanius, on an unknown shore.

            They say that the Argo sailed long ago from Pagasa’s shipyard, and set out on the long voyage to Phasis, and, once the Hellespont’s waves slid past, tied her hull to Mysia’s cliffs. Here the band of heroes landed on the quiet shore, and covered the ground with a soft layer of leaves. But the young unconquered hero’s companion strayed far, searching for the scarce waters of distant springs.

            The two brothers, Zetes and Calais, the sons of the North Wind, chased him, pursued him, both above, with hovering grasp, to snatch kisses, and alternately fleeing with a kiss from his upturned face. But he hangs concealed beneath the edge of a wing, and wards of their tricks in flight, with a branch. At last the sons of Orithyia, Pandion’s daughter, cease: ah! Sadly, off goes Hylas, going to the Hamadryads.

            There lay the well of Pege, by the peak of Mount Arganthus, the watery haunt dear to Thynia’s Nymphs, over which moistened apples hung from wild fruit-trees free from cultivation, and round about in the water-meadows grew white lilies mixed with scarlet poppies, that he now picked with delicate fingers, childishly preferring the flowers to his chosen task, and now bent innocently down to the lovely waves, prolonging his wandering with flattering reflections.

            At last with outstretched palms he prepared to drink from the spring, propped on his right shoulder, lifting full hands. Inflamed by his whiteness, the Dryad girls left their usual throng to marvel, easily pulling him headlong into the yielding waters. Then, as they seized his body, Hylas cried out: to that Hercules replied, again and again, from the distance, but the wind blew the name back, from the far waters.

            O Gallus, warned by this, guard your affairs, in entrusting handsome Hylas to Nymphs.


Book I.21:1-10 Gallus speaks his own epitaph


            ‘You who rush to escape the common fate, stricken soldier from the Etruscan ramparts, why turn your angry eyes towards my groaning? I’m one of your closest comrades in arms. Save yourself then, so your parents can be glad, and don’t let my sister know of these things by your tears: how Gallus broke out through the midst of Caesar’s swordsmen, but couldn’t escape some unknown hand: and whatever bones she finds scattered over the Etruscan hills, let her not know them as mine.’


Book I.22:1-10 Propertius’s place of origin.


            You ask, always in friendship, Tullus, what are my household gods, and of what people am I. If our country’s graves, at Perusia, are known to you, Italy’s graveyard in darkest times, when Rome’s citizens dealt in war (as, to my special sorrow, Etruscan dust, you have allowed my kinsman’s limbs to be scattered, you cover his wretched bones with no scrap of soil), know that Umbria rich in fertile ground bore me, where it touches there on the plain below.




Book 2



Book II.1:1-78 To Maecenas: His subject matter. 14

Book II.2:1-16 Her beauty. 15

Book II.3:1-54 Her qualities and graces.16

Book II.4:1-22 His mistress’s harshness.16

Book II.5:1-30 Sinful Cynthia. 17

Book II.6:1-42 His jealousy. 17

Book II.7:1-20 Lifting of the law that bachelors must marry. 18

Book II.8:1-12 She is leaving him... 18

Book II.8A:13-40 Propertius scorned. 19

Book II.9:1-52 Cynthia’s new lover. 19

Book II.10:1-26 A change of style needed.20

Book II.11:1-6 ‘Let other men write about you’20

Book II.12:1-24 A portrait of Amor. 20

Book II.13:1-16 His wish for Cynthia’s appreciation of his verse. 21

Book II.13A:17-58 His wishes for his funeral21

Book II.14:1-32 Reconciliation. 22

Book II.15:1-54 Joy in true love. 23

Book II.16:1-56 Cynthia faithless. 23

Book II.17:1-18 His faithfulness, though ignored. 24

Book II.18:1-4 Lover’s Stoicism... 25

Book II.18A:5-22 Youth and Age. 25

Book II.18B:23-38 Painted Lady. 25

Book II.19:1-32 Cynthia is off to the country. 26

Book II.20:1-36 His loyalty. 26

Book II.21:1-20 Cynthia deceived by Panthus. 27

Book II.22:1-42 His philandering. 27

Book II.22A:43-50 False promises. 28

Book II.23:1-24 The advantage of a bought woman. 28

Book II.24:1-16 Propertius’s book well-known. 28

Book II.24A:17-52 Recriminations. 29

Book II.25:1-48 Constancy and Inconstancy. 29

Book II.26:1-20 A dream of shipwreck. 30

Book II.26A:21-58 Faithful love. 30

Book II.27:1-16 Fate and Love. 31

Book II.28:1-46 Cynthia has an illness. 31

Book II.28A:47-62 Transience. 32

Book II.29:1-22 Drunk and out late. 32

Book II.29A:23-42 Waking Cynthia. 33

Book II.30:1-40 No escape from Love. 33

Book II.31:1-16 The New Colonnade. 34

Book II.32:1-62 Cynthia talked about34

Book II.33:1-22 Cynthia performing the rites. 35

Book II.33A:23-44 Cynthia drinking late. 35

Book II.34:1-94 His poetic role, and his future fame. 36


Book II.1:1-78 To Maecenas: His subject matter


            You ask where the passions come from I write so much about, and this book, gentle on the tongue. Neither Apollo nor Calliope sang them to me. The girl herself creates my genius.

            If you want her to go in a gleam of Cos, this whole book will be Coan silk: if I’ve seen straying hair cloud her forehead, she joys to walk, pride in her worshipped tresses: or if ivory fingers brought songs from the lyre, I marvel what fingering sweeps the strings: or when she closes eyelids, calling on sleep, I come to a thousand reasons for verse: or if naked she wrestles me, free of our clothes, then in truth we make whole Iliads: whatever she does or says, a great tale’s born out of nothing.

            Even if, Maecenas, the Fates had given me strength to lead crowds of heroes to war, I would not sing Titans; Ossa on Olympus, with Pelion a road to Heaven; or ancient Thebes; or Troy that made Homer’s name; or split seas meeting at Xerxes’s order; Remus’s first kingdom, or the spirit of proud Carthage, or the German threat and Marius’s service. I would remember the wars of your Caesar, his doings, and you, under mighty Caesar, would be my next concern.

            As often as I sang Mutina; Philippi, the citizens graveyard; the sea-fights in that Sicilian rout; the ruined Etruscan fires of the former race; Ptolemy’s Pharos, its captive shore; or sang of Egypt and Nile, when crippled, in mourning, he ran to the city, with seven imprisoned streams; or the necks of kings hung round with golden chains; or Actium’s prows on the Sacred Way; my Muse would always weave you into those wars, mind loyal at making or breaking peace.

            Achilles gave witness of a friend’s love to the gods, Theseus to the shades, one of Patroclus, son of Menoetius, the other of Pirithous, Ixion’s son. But Callimachus’s frail chest could not thunder out Jupiter’s tumult with the giant Enceladus, over the Phlegrean Plain, nor have I the strength of mind to carve Caesar’s line, back to Phrygian forebears, in hard enough verse.

             The sailor talks of breezes: the ploughman, of oxen: the soldier counts wounds, the shepherd counts sheep: I in my turn count sinuous flailings in narrowest beds: let every man spend the day where he can, in his art. Glorious to die in love: a further glory, if it’s given, to us, to love only once: O may I enjoy my love alone!

 If I am right, she finds fault with dubious women, and disapproves the whole Iliad because of Helen.

            Though it be for me to taste Phaedra’s chalice, from which Hippolytus had no harm; or for me to die of Circe’s herbs; or for Medea to heat the Colchian cauldron over Iolcus’s fire; since only one woman has stolen my senses, it is from her house that my funeral cortege shall go.

            Medicine cures all human sorrows: only love loves no doctor for its disease. Machaon healed Philoctetes limping feet; Chiron, Phillyra’s son, the eyes of Phoenix; Asclepius, the Epidaurian god, gave dead Androgeon back to his father’s hearth, using Cretan herbs, and Telephus, the Mysian warrior, from Achilles’s Haemonian spear by which he knew his wound, by that spear itself knew relief. 

            If any one can take away my illness, he alone can put apples in Tantalus’s hand: he will fill urns from the virgin Danaids’ jars, lest their tender necks grow heavy with unloosed water; he will free Prometheus’s arms from Caucasian cliffs, and drive the vulture from his heart.

            So whenever the Fates demand my life, and I become a brief name in slight marble, Maecenas, the hope and envy of our youth, true glory of my death or life, if by chance your road take you by my tomb, halt your chariot from Britain, with its engraved yoke, and as you weep, lay these words on the silent dust: ‘A hard mistress was this wretch’s fate.’


Book II.2:1-16 Her beauty


            I was free, and thought to enjoy an empty bed: but though I arranged my peace, Amor betrayed me. Why does such human beauty linger on Earth? Jupiter I forgive you your rapes of old. Yellow is her hair, and slender are her hands, her whole figure is sublime, and her walk as noble as Jupiter’s sister, or Pallas Athene, going to Dulichian altars, her breasts covered by the Gorgon’s snaky locks.

            She is lovely as Ischomache, the Lapith’s demi-goddess, sweet plunder for the Centaurs amidst the marriage feast, or Hecate by the sacred waters of Boebeis, lying down, a virgin goddess, it is said, by Mercury’s side. And you Goddesses, yield, whom shepherd Paris saw once, laying your clothes aside for him, on the slopes of Ida’s mountain! I wish that the years might never touch that beauty, yet that she might live the ages of the Sibyl of Cumae.


Book II.3:1-54 Her qualities and graces.


            You who said that nothing could touch you now, you’re caught: that pride of yours has fallen! You can hardly find rest for a single month, poor thing, and now there’ll be another disgraceful book about you.

            I tried whether a fish could live on dry sand it has never known before, or a savage wild boar live in the sea, or whether I could keep stern studies’ watch by night: love is deferred but never destroyed.

            It was not her face, bright as it is, that won me (lilies are not more white than my lady; as if Maeotic snows contend with the reds of Spain, or rose-petals swim in purest milk) nor her hair, ordered, flowing down her smooth neck, nor her eyes, twin fires, that are my starlight, nor a girl shining in Arabian silk (I am no lover flattering for nothing): but how beautifully she dances when the wine is set aside, like Ariadne taking the lead among the ecstatic cries of the Maenads, and how when she sets herself to sing in the Sapphic style, she plays with the skill of Aganippe’s lyre, and joins her verse to that of ancient Corinna, and thinks Erinna’s songs unequal to her own.

            When you were born, mea vita, did Love, dressed in white, not sneeze a clear omen for you, in your first hours of daylight? The gods granted these heavenly gifts to you: in case you think your mother gave them to you: such gifts beyond the human are not inborn: these graces were not a nine-month creation. You are born to be the unique glory among Roman girls: you will be the first Roman girl to sleep with Jove, and never visit mortal beds amongst us. The beauty of Helen returns, to Earth, a second time.

            Why should I marvel now that our youths are on fire because of this? It would have been more glorious for you, Troy, to have perished because of this. I used to wonder that a girl could have caused so mighty a war, Asia versus Europe at Pergama. But Paris, and Menelaus, you were both wise, Menelaus demanding her return, Paris slow to reply. That face was something: that even Achilles died for: even to Priam it was a proven cause for war. If any man wants to outdo the fame of ancient paintings, let him take my lady as the model for his art: If he shows her to the East, if he shows her to the West, he will inflame the West, he will inflame the East.

            At least let me keep within her bounds! Or if it should be that another love comes to me, let it be fiercer and let me die. Just as the ox at first rejects the plough, but later accepts the yoke and goes quietly to the fields, so spirited youth frets at first, in love, but takes the rough with the smooth, later, when tamed. Melampus the prophet, accepted shame in chains, convicted of stealing Iphiclus’s cattle, but Pero’s great beauty drove him, not profit, she his bride to be in Amythaons’ house.


Book II.4:1-22 His mistress’s harshness.


            First you must grieve, many times, at your mistress’s wrongs towards you, often requesting something, often being rejected. And often chew your innocent fingernails in your teeth, and tap the ground nervously with your foot, in anger!

            My hair was drenched with scent: no use: nor my departing feet, delaying, with measured step. Magic plants are worth nothing here, nor a Colchian witch of night, nor herbs distilled by Perimede’s hand, since we see no cause or visible blow from anywhere: still, it’s a dark path so many evils come by.

            The patient doesn’t need a doctor, or a soft bed: it’s not the wind or weather hurts him. He walks about – and suddenly his funeral startles his friends. Whatever love is it’s unforeseen like this. What deceitful fortune-teller have I not been victim of, what old woman has not pondered my dreams ten times?

            If anyone wants to be my enemy, let him desire girls: and delight in boys if he wants to be my friend. You go down the tranquil stream in a boat in safety: how can such tiny waves from the bank hurt you? Often his mood alters with a single word: she will scarcely be satisfied with your blood.


Book II.5:1-30 Sinful Cynthia


            Is it true all Rome talks about you, Cynthia, and you live in unveiled wantonness? Did I expect to deserve this? I’ll deal punishment, faithless girl, and my breeze will blow somewhere else. I’ll find one of all the deceitful women who wishes to be made famous by my song, who won’t taunt me with such harsh ways: she’ll insult you: ah, so long loved, you’ll weep too late.

            Now my anger’s fresh: now’s the time to go: if pain returns, believe me, love will be back. The Carpathian waves don’t change in the northerlies as fast, or the black storm cloud, in a shifting southwest gale, as lovers’ anger alters at a word. While you can take your neck from the unjust yoke. Then you won’t grieve at all, except for the very first night: all love’s evils are slight, if you are patient.

            But, by the gentle laws of our lady Juno, mea vita, stop hurting yourself on purpose. It’s not just the bull that hits out with a curving horn at its aggressor, even a sheep, it’s true, opposes an enemy. I won’t rip the clothes off your lying flesh, or break open your shut doors, or tear at your plaited hair in anger, or dare to bruise you with my hard fists. Let some ignoramus look for quarrels as shabby as these, a man whose head no ivy ever encircled. I’ll go write: what your lifetime won’t rub out: ‘Cynthia, strong in beauty: Cynthia light of word.’ Trust me, though you defy scandal’s murmur, this verse, Cynthia, will make you pale.


Book II.6:1-42 His jealousy


            There was never so much crowding round Lais’s house in Corinth, at whose doors all of Greece lay down. Never such a swarm for Menander’s Thais, once, whom the populace of Athens amused themselves with. Nor for Phryne, rich from so many lovers, she might have rebuilt the ruined walls of Thebes.

            Why, you even invent false relatives, and don’t lack for those who have the right to kiss you. The faces of young men in your paintings, and their names, annoy me, even the tender voiceless boy in the cradle. I’ll be wounded if your mother smothers you in kisses, your sister, or the girlfriend you sleep with. Everything hurts me: I’m afraid: (forgive my fear) and, wretched, suspect a man under every shift.

            Once, so the tale is, wars occurred for jealousies like these: see there the origins of Troy’s destruction. The same craziness made the Centaurs smash cups violently fighting Pirithous. Why seek Greek examples? You were the author of that crime, Romulus, reared on a she-wolf’s savage milk: you taught them to rape Sabine virgins and go unpunished: through you Love dares what he pleases now in Rome.

            Admetus’s wife, Alcestis, was blessed, and Ulysses’s bedmate, Penelope, and every woman who loves her husband’s home!  What use is it girls building temples in honour of Chastity, if every bride’s allowed to do what she wants?

            The hand that first painted obscene pictures, and set up disgraceful things to view in innocent homes, corrupted the unknowing eyes of young girls, and denied them ignorance of sin itself. Oh, let him groan who sent abroad, through art, the trouble latent in silent pleasures! Once they didn’t deck out their houses with those images, then the walls weren’t painted with sin. Not without cause cobwebs wreathe the shrines, and rank weeds clothe neglected gods.

            What guards shall I set for you, then, what lintel that no hostile foot shall ever cross? For a sad imprisonment will achieve nothing against your will. She’s only safe, Cynthia, who is ashamed to sin. No wife or mistress will ever seduce me: you will always be my mistress, and my wife.


Book II.7:1-20 Lifting of the law that bachelors must marry


            Cynthia was delighted, of course, when that law was repealed: we wept for ages in case it might divide us. Though Jupiter himself can’t separate two lovers against their will. ‘But Caesar is mighty.’ But Caesar’s might is in armies: conquered people are worth nothing in love.

            I’d sooner suffer my head being parted from my body than quench this fire to humour a bride, or as a husband pass by your sealed threshold, and, having betrayed it, look back with streaming eyes. Ah, what sleep my flute would sing you to then, a flute sadder than a funeral trumpet!

            Is it for me to supply sons for our country’s triumphs? There’ll be no soldiers from my line. But if I followed the true camp of my mistress, Castor’s horse would not be grand enough for me. It was in fact through this that my glory gained such a name, glorious as far as the wintry Dneiper. You are the only one who pleases me: let me please you, Cynthia, alone: and this love will be more to me than being called ‘father’.


Book II.8:1-12 She is leaving him


            She’s being torn away from me, the girl I’ve loved so long, and, friend, do you stop me from shedding tears? No enmities are bitter but those of love: cut my throat indeed and I’ll be a milder enemy. Can I watch her leaning on another’s arm, she, no longer called mine, who was called mine a moment ago?

            All things may be overturned: surely, love’s affairs may be overturned: you win or you lose: this is the wheel of love. Often, great leaders, great tyrants have fallen: and Thebes stood once, and there was noble Troy. Many as the gifts I gave, or many as the songs I made: yet she, the cruel one, never said: ‘I love.’


Book II.8A:13-40 Propertius scorned


            So, cruel girl, through all of the years now, have I, who supported you and your household, have I ever seemed a free man to you? Perhaps you’ll always hurl scornful words at my head?

            So, will you die, like this, Propertius, you who are still a young man? Then die: let her rejoice at your death! Let her disturb my ghost, and harass my shade, insult my pyre, and trample my bones! Why! Didn’t Haemon of Boeotia, his side wounded by his own sword, fall by Antigone’s tomb, and mingle his bones with those of the luckless girl, not wishing to return to the palace of Thebes without her? But you, also, man, will not escape: you should die with me: both our blood will trickle from this same blade. However much my coming death is shameful to me, shameful though it be indeed, you will still die it. The Theban princes fell in no less dire a struggle for a kingdom, their mother torn between them, than if we fought, with my girl between us, I, not fleeing my own death if I could achieve yours.

            Even Achilles, left abandoned, his mistress snatched away, allowed his arms to lie there in his tent. He saw the fleeing Achaeans mangled on the beach, and the Dorian camp ablaze with Hector’s torch: he saw Patroclus hideous with sand, lying dead, blood in his outspread hair: and he suffered all that because of lovely Briseis.  Grief rages, so deeply, when love is torn away. Then when his captive girl was returned later in retribution, he dragged that same brave Hector behind his Thessalian horses.

            No wonder that Amor triumphs over me, since I am so much the lesser by birth or arms.


Book II.9:1-52 Cynthia’s new lover


            That which he is, I was, often: but perhaps one day he’ll be thrown out, and another one will be dearer to you.

            Penelope was able to live un-touched for twenty years, a woman worthy of so many suitors. She was able to evade marriage by cunning weaving, cleverly unravelling the day’s weft by night: and though she never hoped to see Ulysses again, she stayed, growing old, waiting for his return. Briseis, too, clutching dead Achilles, beat at her own bright face with frenzied hands, and, a weeping slave, bathed her bloodstained lord, as he lay by the yellow waters of Simois, and besmirched her hair, and lifted the mighty bones and flesh of great Achilles with her weak hands. Peleus was not with you Achilles, nor your sea-goddess mother, nor Scyrian Deidamia, bereaved in her bed.

            So it was that Greece, then, was happy in its true daughters: then honour was respected even among the camps. But you, you, impious girl, couldn’t be free a single night, or remain alone a single day! Why, you both drank from the cup, laughing away: and perhaps there were wicked words about me. You even chase after him, who left you once before. The gods grant that you may enjoy being slave to that man!

            Were they for this the vows I undertook for your health, when the waters of Styx had all but gone over your head, and we friends stood, weeping, round your bed? Where was he, by the gods, faithless girl, what was he then to you?

            What if I was a soldier, detained in far-off India, or my ship was stationed on the Ocean? But it’s easy for you to compose lies and deceits: that is one art that women have always learned. The Syrtes’s shoals don’t change as quickly in the shifting storms: the leaves don’t tremble as quickly in the wintry South-west gale, as a woman’s given word fails in her anger, whether the cause is weighty, or whether the cause is slight.

            Now, since this wilfulness pleases you, I concede. I beg you, Boys, bring out your sharper arrows, compete at shooting me, and free my life from me! My blood will be a great honour to you.

            The stars are witnesses, girl, and the frost at dawn, and the doors that opened secretly for unhappy me, that nothing in my life was ever as dear as you: and you will be, from now on, also, though you’re so unkind to me. No woman will leave a trace in my bed: I’ll be alone, since I can’t be yours. And I wish, if I’ve lead a pious life, maybe, for that man, in the midst of love, to become a stone!


Book II.10:1-26 A change of style needed.     


            Now it’s time to circle Helicon with other metres; time to give the Thessalian horse its run of the field. Now I want to talk about squadrons brave in fight, and mention my leader’s Roman camp. But if I lack the power, surely my courage will be praised: it’s enough to have willed great things.

            Let first youth sing of Love, the end of life of tumult: I sing war, now my girl’s written about. Now, I want to set off with a more serious aspect: now my Muse teaches me, on a different lute.  Surge, mind: vigour now, away from these low songs, Muses: now this work will be large-voiced, so:

            ‘Now Euphrates rejects the Parthian’s cavalry protection, and mourns that he reduced Crassus’s presence. Even India, Augustus, bows its neck to your triumph, and Arabia’s virgin house trembles for you; and if any country removes itself to the furthest ends of the earth, let it feel your hand afterwards, when it’s captive.’

            I’m a follower of camps like this: I’ll be a great poet singing of your camp: let the fates guard that day!

            Just as when we can’t reach the head of some tall statue, the garland is set before its lowly feet, so now, helpless to embark on a song of praise, I offer cheap incense from a poor man’s rites. My verses as yet don’t know Hesiod’s founts of Ascra, Love has only washed them in Permessus, Apollo’s stream.


Book II.11:1-6 ‘Let other men write about you’


            Let other men write about you, or yourself be all unknown. Let the man who sows his seed in barren soil praise you. All your gifts, believe me, the dark funeral day will bear away with you, on that one bed: and he’ll despise your dust, the man who passes by: he’ll not say: ‘These ashes were once a learned maid.’


Book II.12:1-24 A portrait of Amor


            Whoever he was who first depicted Amor as a boy, don’t you think he possessed a wonderful touch? He was the first to see that lovers live without sense, and that great good is lost in trivial cares. Also, with meaning, he added the wings of the wind, and made the god hover in the human heart: true, since we’re thrown about on shifting winds, and the breeze never lingers in a single place.

            And it’s right that his hand should grip barbed arrows, and the Cretan quiver’s hung across his shoulders, since he hits us before we can safely see the enemy, and no one escapes unwounded from his hurt.

            His darts remain in me, and his form, of a boy, remains, but surely he’s lost his wings, since he never flies anywhere else but in my heart, and, oh, he wages war endlessly in my blood.

            What joy is it for you, Amor, to inhabit my thirsting heart? If you know shame, transfer your war elsewhere: better to try those innocent of your poison. It’s not me you hit: it’s only my tenuous shadow.

            If you destroy me, who will there be to sing like this? (This slender Muse of mine, is your great glory.) Who will sing the face, the hands, or the dark eyes of my girl, or how sweetly her footsteps are accustomed to fall.


Book II.13:1-16 His wish for Cynthia’s appreciation of his verse


            Erythra is not armed with as many Persian shafts, as the arrows Love has fixed in my chest. He ordered me not to despise the lesser Muses, and told me to live like this in Ascra’s grove. Not so that the oaks of Mount Pierus would follow after my words, or so that I could lead wild creatures down to Ismara’s valley, but more that Cynthia might wonder at my verse. Then I’d be better known in my art than the Argive, Linus.

            I’m not merely an admirer of beauty and virtue, or the fact that a woman mentions that her ancestors are famous. It’s my joy to have read in the arms of a learned girl, and to have my writing approved by her discerning ear. When I sample that, goodbye to the muddled talk of the people: since I will be secure with my lady as my judge.

            If, perhaps, she might turn her mind to peace with kindness, I can then withstand Jupiter’s enmity.


Book II.13A:17-58 His wishes for his funeral


When death closes my eyes at last, then, listen what will serve as my funeral. No long spread-out procession of images for me, then: no empty trumpeting wailing my end. Don’t smooth out a bed, there, on ivory posts for me, no corpse on a couch, pressing down mounds of Attalic cloth of gold. Leave out the line of perfumed dishes for me: put in the limited offerings of a plebeian rite.

            Enough for me, and more than enough: if three little books form my procession that I take as my greatest gift to Persephone.

            And surely you’ll follow: scratches on your bare breasts; never wearying of calling my name; and place the last kiss on my frozen lips, when the onyx jar with its Syrian nard is granted me. Then when the fire beneath turns me to ashes, let the little jar receive my shade, and over my poor tomb add in a laurel, to cast a shade on the place where my flame went out, and let there be this couplet:





            So the fame of my tomb will be no less than that of the grave of blood, of Achilles the hero. And when you too come near your end, remember: come, grey-haired, this way, to the stones of memory. For the rest, beware of being unkind to my tomb: earth is aware and is not wholly ignorant of the truth.

            How I wish that any one of the Three Sisters had ordered me to give up my breath at the first, in my cradle. Why is the spirit preserved, still, for an unknown hour? Nestor’s pyre was seen after three past generations: yet, if some Phrygian soldier, from the walls of Troy, had cut short his fated old age, he would have never have seen his son, Antilochus, interred, or cried out: ‘O Death, why do you come so slowly to me?’

            Yet you, when a friend is lost, will sometimes weep: it’s a law of the gods, to care for past men. Witness the fierce wild boar that once struck down white Adonis, hunting the ridge of Ida; there in the marsh, they say, his beauty lay, and you, Venus, ran there with out-spread hair. But you will call back my voiceless shade in vain, Cynthia: what power will my poor bones have to speak?


Book II.14:1-32 Reconciliation


            Agamemnon didn’t joy like this over his triumph at Troy, when Laomedon’s great wealth went down to ruin: Ulysses wasn’t as happy, when, wanderings done, he touched the shore of beloved Ithaca: nor Electra, finding Orestes safe, when she’d cried, as a sister, clasping his supposed ashes: nor Ariadne, daughter of Minos, seeing Theseus return unharmed, with her guiding thread, out of Daedalus’s maze: as I with the joys I gathered last night. I’ll be immortal if there’s another like that. Yet when I used to go, with a suppliant’s hanging head, she spoke of me as worth less than a dried up pond.

            She doesn’t try to oppose me now with unjustified disdain, and she can’t sit indifferent to my moans. I wish her peace terms had not been made known to me so late! Now the medicine’s wasted on the ashes. The path was under my feet and I was blind: no one of course can see when crazed with love.

            This attitude I have found the best: lovers, show disdain! She comes today, who said no, yesterday.

            Others, frustrated, knocked, and called my lady’s name: the girl, at ease, kept her head by mine. This victory’s more than conquering Parthia to me: she is my spoil: my chariot: my riches. I’ll add rich gifts to your sanctuary’s columns Cynthia, and this will be the verse below my name:




            Now, mea lux, shall my ship preserved come to your shores, or sink, fully laden, in the shallows? Because if you change towards me, perhaps through some fault of mine, may I lie down dying at your threshold!


Book II.15:1-54 Joy in true love


            O happy me! O night shining for me! And O you bed made blessed by my delights! How many words thrashed out when the lights were near us, what striving together when light was taken away! Now with naked breasts she struggled against me, now, tunic gathered, demanding delay. She, with her lips, opening my eyelids weary with sleep, and saying: ‘Is this how you lie here, laggard?’

 Our arms were varied in how many changing embraces! How long my kisses lingered on your lips!

            No joy in corrupting Venus to a blind motion: know, if you do not, the eyes are the guides of Love. They say, Paris himself was ruined by the Spartan, Helen, as she rose naked from the bed of Menelaus. And Endymion, they say, was naked, when he aroused Diana, and lay with the naked goddess.

            But if you insist from pride in lying down dressed, you’ll feel my hands in your ripped-up clothing: what’s more if anger provokes me further, you’ll show bruised arms to your mother. Sagging breasts don’t stop you from playing yet: let her think of that whom childbirth’s already shamed.

            While the fates allow it, we’ll sate our eyes with love: the long night comes upon you, the day does not return. And I wish you might tie us like this, clinging together, in chains that no day might ever unloose! Let doves, coupled together in love, be your image, male and female wholly joined. He is wrong who looks for an end to love’s madness: true love has no knowledge of limits. Earth will sooner taunt farmers with false spring; Sol the sun-god drive with black horses; streams start calling waters back to their fountains; the fish be stranded, the deep dry land; sooner than I can transfer my pangs to another: hers am I living, hers will I be in death.

            But if she will grant me such nights with her as this, one year will be as long as a lifetime. If she gives me many, I’ll be immortalised in them: even one night might make any man a god. If all men longed to pass their lives like this, and lie there, with bodies held down by draughts of wine, there would be no vicious swords, or ships of war, nor would our bones be tossed in Actium’s deep, nor would Rome so often racked by its rounds of private victories, be weary, grieving with loosened hair. This at least those that come after us can justly praise: our cups of wine offended none of the gods.

            You while the light lasts then, don’t leave off life’s joys! Though you give all your kisses, they’ll be all too few.

Just as the leaves fall from dried garlands: you see them scatter in cups and float there: so we, now, the lovers, who hope for great things: perhaps fate, tomorrow, will end our day.


Book II.16:1-56 Cynthia faithless


            A praetor came just now from the land of Illyria: the greatest prize for you, the greatest worry for me. Couldn’t he have lost his life on the Ceraunian rocks? O, Neptune, what gifts I’d have given you!

            Now banquets are given, the tables burdened, without me: now the door’s open all night, but without me. Well, if you’re wise, don’t neglect the harvest on offer: strip the stupid animal of his whole fleece; then, when he’s left a pauper, his gifts all spent, tell him to sail to new Illyrias!

            Cynthia doesn’t chase high office or care for honour: she’s the one always weighing a lover’s purse. But you, Venus, O, help me in my pain, let his incessant lusts destroy his member! 

            Can anyone then buy her love with gifts? The shameful girl is undone by money. She’s always sending me to sea to look for jewels, and orders gifts from Tyre itself. And I wish that no one in Rome was wealthy, and our Leader himself would live in a thatched cottage. Mistresses wouldn’t be saleable for a gift, and a girl would grow grey-haired in the one house. You would never lie seven nights apart, your gleaming arms around so vile a man, and not because I have sinned (you are the witness) but because everywhere lightness was always the friend of beauty. A barbarian, excluded by birth, stamps his foot, and now, suddenly blessed, he holds my kingdom!

            See what bitterness Eriphyla found in gifts, and with what misfortunes Creusa burned as a bride. Is there no insult sufficient to quench my tears? Surely this grief will never be far behind your sins? So many days have gone by since desire for the theatre or the arena stirred me, and food gives me no joy. I should be ashamed, oh, ashamed! But perhaps as they say sinful love is always deaf.

            See Antony, that general, who a moment ago, filled Actium’s waves with the vain cries of condemned soldiers: infamous love commanded him to recall his ships, turn his back, and run to the furthest corner of the globe. This is Caesar’s power and this is his glory: he who conquered sheathed his sword.

            But, that man, whatever clothes he gave you, whatever emeralds, or yellow-glowing topazes, I’d like to see swift-moving hurricanes whirl them into the void: I wish they were earth or water to you.

            Jupiter doesn’t always smile at lovers’ faithlessness or turn deaf ears to their prayers. You’ve heard the thunderclap rumble through the sky, and the lightning bolt leap down from its airy home. Neither the Pleiades nor rainy Orion does these things: it’s not for nothing the angry lightning falls. It’s then the god chooses to punish deceitful girls, since he himself wept once when he was deceived.

            So don’t let clothes from Sidon count for so much, so that you’re frightened whenever the South wind bears a cloud.


Book II.17:1-18 His faithfulness, though ignored


            To lie about the night, to lead a lover on with promises, that’s to have hands dyed with his blood! I’m the poet of these things, so often whiling away bitter nights, alone, tossing from side to side in bed.

            Whether you’re moved by Tantalus’s fate by the water, parched as the liquid retreats from his thirsty mouth, or whether you admire Sisyphus’s labour, rolling his awkward burden up the whole mountain side: nothing in the world lives more harshly than a lover, nor, if you are at all wise, is it what you’d less wish to be.

            I whom envious admiration once considered happy, I too am hardly allowed in, now, one day out of ten. Now I’d enjoy hurling my body from a hard rock, impious girl, or take powdered drugs in my fingers. I can’t even sleep at the crossroads under a clear moon, or send my words through the crack in the door.

            But though it’s a fact, I’ll take care not to change my mistress: then she will cry, when she senses the loyalty, in me.


Book II.18:1-4 Lover’s Stoicism


            Continual complaints cause dislike in many: a woman is often moved by a silent man. If you’ve seen something, always deny you’ve seen! Or if anything happens to pain you, deny the pain!


Book II.18A:5-22 Youth and Age


            What if my youth were white with age’s white hair, and sagging wrinkles furrowed my brow? At least Aurora didn’t reject Tithonus, old, didn’t allow him to lie there lonely in the House of Dawn. She often fondled him, descending into her waters, before she bathed her yoked horses with care. She, when she rested in his arms, by neighbouring India, lamented that day returned too soon.

            Climbing into her chariot she spoke of the gods’ injustice, and offered her services, unwillingly, to the world. Her joy was greater that old Tithonus was alive, than her grief was heavy at the loss of Memnon. A girl like that was not ashamed to sleep with an old man, or press so many kisses on his white hair.

            But you even hate my youth, unfaithful girl, though you yourself will be a bowed old woman on a day not so far away. Still, I let care fade, since Cupid is often inclined to be harsh on the man, to whom he was once kind.


Book II.18B:23-38 Painted Lady


            Now do you even imitate the Britons, stained with woad, you crazy girl, and play games, with foreign glitter painting your cheeks? Everything’s proper form is as Nature made it: Belgian colour looks foul on Roman cheeks. May there be many an evil for that girl, in the underworld, who, false and foolish, dyes her hair! Get rid of it: I’ll still see you as beautiful, truly: your beauty’s sufficient for me, if only you come often. If some girl stains her forehead dark blue, does that mean dark blue beauty’s fine?

            Since you have no brother with you and no son, I’ll be brother and I’ll be son in one for you. Let your couch itself always keep watch over you: and don’t desire to sit with your face over-painted.

            I’ll believe what rumour tells me: so refuse to do it: bad news leaps across land and sea.


Book II.19:1-32 Cynthia is off to the country


             Even though you’re leaving Rome against my wish, Cynthia, I’m glad, since you’re without me, you’re staying in the country, off the beaten track. There’ll be no young seducer in those chaste fields, one whose flatteries won’t let you be true; no fights will start up under your window; and your sleep won’t be troubled by being called.

            You’ll be alone, and you’ll gaze, alone, Cynthia, at mountains, herds, and the soil of poverty-stricken farmers. No games will have the power to corrupt you there, no sanctuary temples giving the most frequent chances for your sins. There you’ll watch the oxen continually ploughing: and the vines losing their leaves to the pruning-hook’s skill: and you’ll carry a meagre offering of incense to a crude shrine, where a kid will fall in front of the rustic altar: and you’ll constantly copy their choral dance bare-legged: but only if everything’s safe from alien men.

            I’ll go hunting: now I take pleasure, at once, in accepting the rites of Diana, and dropping my vows to Venus. I’ll start catching wild creatures, and fasten horns to fir trees, and control the audacious dogs myself. Still, I’ll not try great lions, or hurry to meet the wild boar face to face. It’s daring enough if I take the gentle hare, or pierce a bird with a neat rod, where Clitumnus covers the beautiful stream with his own woods, and his wave bathes the snow-white heifers.

            You, mea vita, whenever you venture anything, remember I’ll be coming for you, in a few days time. So solitary woods and vagrant streams in mossy hills can’t stop me from trying your name on my tireless tongue: everyone wishes to hurt those who are absent.


Book II.20:1-36 His loyalty


            Why cry more than Briseis when she was led away? Why weep more sadly than Andromache, the anxious prisoner? Why do you weary the gods, crazy girl, with tales of my deceit? Why complain my faithfulness has fallen away?  Attica’s night-owl doesn’t cry that loud in funereal mourning in Athenian trees: nor does Niobe, with a dozen monuments to her pride, pour as many tears down sorrowing Sipylus’s slopes.

            Though my arms were fastened with bronze links: though my members were enclosed by Danae’s tower: I would break chains of bronze for you, mea vita, and leap over Danae’s iron tower. My ears are deaf to whatever they say of you: only don’t doubt my seriousness. I swear by my mother’s bones and the bones of my father (if I deceive, oh may the ashes of either weigh heavy on me!) that I’ll be yours, mea vita, into the final shadows: one day, one faith will carry both away.

            But if your name or your beauty did not hold me, the gentleness of your demands might hold me. Now the orbit’s traced of the seventh full moon, since never a street corner’s been silent about us, while your threshold has frequently been kind to me, and I’ve frequently had access to your bed. But I’ve not bought a single night with expensive presents: whatever I’ve been, it’s through the great grace of your spirit.

            Many men sought to be yours, you have sought me only: can I fail to remember your qualities?  If I do let the tragic Furies torment me, or Aeacus damn me with infernal justice, and I be spread out amongst Tityus’s vultures, and myself bear rocks with Sisyphus’s labour.

            But don’t let me be entreated with pleading letters: my faithfulness at the last will be such as it was at the start. This is the whole of my law: that alone among lovers, I don’t give up in a hurry, and I don’t begin without thought.


Book II.21:1-20 Cynthia deceived by Panthus


As many times as Panthus has written a letter to you,

about me, so many times may Venus be no friend of his. But now I seem to be a truer oracle to you than Dodona’s. That handsome lover of yours has a wife!

            So many nights wasted? Aren’t you ashamed? See, he’s free, he sings: you, far too credulous, lie alone. And now you’re a conversation piece between them: He says arrogantly you were often at his house against his will. Let me be ruined, if he seeks anything else but glory from you: he, the husband gains praise from this.

            So Jason, the stranger, once deceived Medea of Colchis: she was thrown out of the house (and next Creusa had it). So Calypso was foiled by Ulysses, the Ithacan warrior: she saw her lover spread his sails. O girls too ready to lend an ear to lovers, having been dropped, learn not to be thoughtlessly kind!

            You’ve long been looking for someone else who’ll stay: the lesson you had at first, foolish girl, should teach you to be careful. I, whatever the place, I’m yours, in every moment, whether I am in sickness or in health.


Book II.22:1-42 His philandering


            You know that before today many girls pleased me equally: you know, Demophoon, many troubles come to me. No crossroad’s traversed by my feet in vain. O, the theatre was made to be my constant downfall. Whether some girl spreads her white arms in a tender gesture, or whether she sings in various modes! Meanwhile our eyes search out their own wound, if some beauty sits there, her breast not hidden, or if drifting hair strays over a chaste forehead, hair that an Indian jewel clasps at the crown: so that, if she says no to me, perhaps with a stern look, cold sweat falls from my brow.

            Demophoon, do you ask why I’m so soft on them all? Love has no answer to your question: ‘Why?’

            Why do some men slash their arms with sacred knives, and are cut to pieces to frenzied Phrygian rhythms? Nature at birth gave every man his fault: fate granted me always to love someone. Even though the fate of Thamyris the bard came upon me, I’d never be blind to beauty, my jealous friend.

            But you’re wrong if I seem small to you, thin bodied: worshipping Venus has never been an effort. It’s all right to ask: often a girl has found my attentions effective the whole night through. Jupiter, for Alcmene, halted both the Bears, and the heavens went two nights without their king: yet, as a result, he still didn’t come wearily to the lightning. What about when Achilles left Briseis’s arms? Did the Trojans run from the Greek javelins less? When fierce Hector rose from Andromache’s bed, did the Mycenaean fleet not fear the battle? One or the other could destroy ships or walls: in this I am Achilles, in this I am fierce Hector.

            See how now the sun, and now the moon serve in the sky: well one girl’s still not enough for me. Let another girl hold and fondle me in passion’s embrace: yes, another, if she will not grant me space: or if by chance she’s made angry by my attentions to her, let her know there’s some other who wishes to be mine!

            For two cables protect a ship at anchor better, and an anxious mother’s safer rearing twins.


Book II.22A:43-50 False promises


            Either say no if you’re cruel: or if you’re not cruel, come! Why take pleasure in dealing out pointless words?  This one pain, above all others, is sharpest for a lover, if she suddenly refuses to come as he hoped.

            What great sighs hurl him round his whole bed, as he kills some unknown man, who has been admitted! And wearies the boy by asking about what he’s already heard, and orders him to ask about the fate he fears to know.


Book II.23:1-24 The advantage of a bought woman


            I who was persuaded to keep away from the public roads, now water fetched from the lake tastes sweet to me. Should any freeborn man give bribes to another man’s slave to bring him the message that his mistress promised? And ask so many times: ‘What colonnade shades her now?’ or ‘Which way does she direct her feet, on the Plain of Mars?’

            Then when you’ve carried through the Labours, that story tells of, for her to write ‘Have you anything for me?’ so that you can face a surly guard, or often, imprisoned, lurk in some vile hole. What it costs us, that night that comes just once in a whole year! Let them perish, those who take pleasure in closed doors!

            In contrast, isn’t she pleasing, the girl who goes with her cloak thrown back, not fenced in by a threatening guard, who often wears out the Sacred Way in dirty slippers, and let’s there be no delay if anyone wants to approach her: she never puts you off, nor chatters at you, demanding what your stingy father often complains at having given you, and she won’t say: ‘I’m scared, get up quickly, I beg you, unlucky man: my husband’s coming to day, to me, from the country.’ Let the girls that Iraq and Syria have sent to me delight me: I don’t like shamefaced robbery in bed. Now that no freedom’s left to any lover, he who’d be free, let him wish for no more love.


Book II.24:1-16 Propertius’s book well-known


            ‘You would say that, now that you’re common talk because of that notorious book, and your Cynthia’s scanned by the whole Forum?’ Who wouldn’t bead with sweat at those words in the circumstances, whether from honest shame, or from keeping quiet about his affairs? But if my Cynthia breathed on me as good-naturedly, I wouldn’t be called the source of evil: I wouldn’t be paraded, infamous, through the whole city, and, though I wasn’t on fire with goodness, I’d deceive.

            So let it be no surprise to you, my seeking common girls: they bring me into less disrepute: surely not a trivial reason?

            And just now she wanted a proud peacock’s tail as a fan, and to hold a crystal ball in her cold hand, and, angering me, longs to ask for ivory dice, whatever glitters on the Sacred Way. O, perish the thought that the expense bothers me, but I’m ashamed to be a laughing-stock for my deceitful lady, now.


Book II.24A:17-52 Recriminations


            Is this what at first you ordered me to take delight in? Aren’t you ashamed, being beautiful, to be so wayward? We’ve hardly spent one night or more of passion, and now you tell me I’m a burden in your bed. A moment ago you praised me, and read my poetry: does your love so rapidly avert his wings?

            Let that man contend with me in ingenuity, contend in art, let him be taught how to love in one house first. If it’s a pleasure to you, let him fight with Lernean Hydras, and bring you apples from the dragon in the Hesperides: let him gladly drink foul poisons, or shipwrecked, drink the waters, and never decline to be miserable because of you (I wish, mea vita, you’d try me with labours like these!).

            Then this insolent man will be one of the cowards for you, who now comes, officiously, swollen with honour: next year there’ll be discord between you.

            But the Sibyl’s whole lifetime will not alter me: nor Hercules’s labours: nor death’s dark day. You’ll gather them and say: ‘These are your ashes, Propertius: alas, you were true to me, you indeed were true, though your ancestors’ blood wasn’t noble, and you weren’t as rich as others.’ There’s nothing I won’t suffer, injuries won’t change me: I don’t consider it a pain to bear a lovely girl.

            I believe that not a few have been undone by your figure, but I believe that many men have not been true. Theseus took delight for a brief space in Ariadne, Demophoon in Phyllis: both unwelcome guests. Now Medea is seen, by you, on Jason’s boat, and in a moment left alone by the man she saved.

            The woman who acts out simulated love for many men is hard: she, whoever she is, who’s able to prepare herself for more than one man. Don’t seek to compare me with the noble, or the rich: they’ll hardly come gathering your ashes on your final day. I’ll do it for you: but I beg rather that, with unbound hair, you’ll beat your naked breasts for me.


Book II.25:1-48 Constancy and Inconstancy


            Unique woman, born to beauty, you, the object of my pain, since my fate excludes me from your saying: ‘Come, often’: your form will be made most famous by my books: by your permission, Calvus: and Catullus, peace to you, by yours.

            The aged soldier sleeps by his grounded weapons; ancient oxen refuse to pull the plough; the rotting ship rests on empty sands; and the warrior’s ancient shield hangs idle on the temple wall. But no old age would draw me away from loving you, not even if I were Nestor, or I were Tithonus.

            Wouldn’t it be better to serve a cruel tyrant, and groan inside your brazen bull, savage Perillus? Wouldn’t it be better to harden at the Gorgon’s gaze, or even suffer those Caucasian vultures? But I will still endure.

            The iron blade is eaten by rust, and the flint by drops of water: but that love is not worn down by any mistress’s threshold which remains and suffers to hear threats that are undeserved. More: the lover pleads, when despised: and when wronged confesses sins: and himself returns with reluctant step.

            You as well, credulous man, waxing proud when love’s at the full: no woman stays firm for long. Does anyone perform his vows in mid-storm, when often a ship drifts shattered in the harbour? Or demand his prize before the race is run, and the wheel has touched the post seven times? The favourable breeze plays us false in love: when it comes late, great is the ruin that comes.

            You, meanwhile, though she still delights in you, contain imprisoned joy in your silent heart. For I don’t know why, but in his love pact, it is always his boastful words that seem to harm the lover.  Though she often calls for you, remember, go only once: that which is envied often fails to last.

            But were there to be ages like those that pleased the girls of old, I would be what you are now: I’m conquered by time. But this age should still not change my habits: let each man be allowed to go his own way.

            But you, that recall service to many loves, if so, what pain afflicts your eyes! You see a tender girl of pure white, you see a dark: either colouring commands you. You see a form that expresses the Greek, or you see our beauties, either aspect seizes you. Whether she’s in common dress or scarlet, the one or the other’s a single road to a cruel wound. Since one girl can lead your eyes to sufficient sleeplessness, one woman, whoever’s she is, is plenty of trouble.


Book II.26:1-20 A dream of shipwreck


            I saw you, in my dreams, mea vita, shipwrecked, striking out with weary hands, at the Ionian waters, confessing whatever ways you lied to me, unable to raise your head, hair heavy with brine, like Helle, whom once the golden ram carried on his soft back, driven through the dark waves.

            How frightened I was, that perhaps the sea would bear your name, and the sailor would weep for you, slipping through your waters! What gifts I entertained for Neptune, then, for Castor and his brother, what gifts for you Leucothoe, now a goddess! At least, like one about to die, you called my name, often, barely lifting your fingertips above the deep.

            Yet if Glaucus had seen your eyes, by chance, you’d have become a mermaid among Ionian waters, and the Nereids would have chided you, from envy, white Nesaee and sea-green Cymothoe. But I saw a dolphin leap to help you, who once before, I think, bore Arion’s lyre. And already I was trying to hurl myself from a high rock, when fear woke me from such visions.


Book II.26A:21-58 Faithful love


            Let them admire the fact, now, that so lovely a girl serves me, and that they talk of my power throughout the city! Though Cambyses and the rivers of Croesus should return, she will not say: ‘Rise up, poet, from the bed.’ While she reads to me, she says she hates rich men: no girl cherishes poetry with such reverence. Loyalty is great in love: constancy greatly serves it: he, who can give many gifts, can have his many lovers.

            If my girl thinks of travelling over the wide sea, I’ll follow her, and one breeze will blow the faithful pair onward. One shore will calm us, and one tree overspread us, and we will often drink at a single spring. And one plank will do for two lovers, whether the prow’s my bed or the stern.

            I’ll patiently endure it all: though the savage East Wind blows; or the chill South drives our sails into uncertainty; and whatever winds vexed unhappy Ulysses, and the thousand ships of Greece by Euboea’s shore; and the one that separated two coasts, when a dove led a ship, the Argo, into an unknown sea.

            Let Jupiter himself set our boat on fire, so long as she is never absent from my eyes. Surely we’ll both be hurled on the same shore, naked, together: the wave can carry me off, so long as earth protects you.

            Yet Neptune’s not so cruel to great love: Neptune equals his brother Jove in loving. Amymone’s a witness, taken in the fields, bringing forth water, Lerna’s marshes struck by the trident. The god redeemed his pledge for that embrace, and the golden urn poured out a celestial stream. And Orithyia, though raped, denied that Boreas was cruel: this god tames the earth and deep oceans.

            Believe me Scylla will be gentle to us, and huge Charybdis who never ceases from her changing flow: no shadows will hide the stars themselves, Orion will show clear, and the Kids. What does it matter if my life is laid down upon your body? It will not be a dishonourable death.


Book II.27:1-16 Fate and Love


            You mortals, then, enquire for the uncertain funeral hour, and by what road death will come to you: and you enquire of the cloudless sky, by Phoenician art, which stars are good for man, and which are evil!

            Whether we chase the Parthians on foot, or the Britons at sea, the dangers of earth’s and ocean’s paths are hidden. You weep again that your head is threatened by war, when Mars joins the wavering ranks on either side: and by your burning house, by your house in ruins: and no cup of darkness to lift to your lips. Only the lover knows when he will perish and by what death, and doesn’t fear weapons or blasts from the North Wind.

            Though he sits at the oar among the Stygian reeds, and sees the mournful sails of the boat of Hell, if only the breath of his mistress’s voice recalls him, he’ll return by a road acknowledged by no known law.


Book II.28:1-46 Cynthia has an illness


             Jupiter, be merciful, at last, to the unfortunate girl: such a beauty’s death would be your crime. That time has come when the scorching air burns, and Earth starts to blaze under the torrid Dog-star. But it’s not the heat that’s guilty, or heaven to blame, it’s her, so often holding the gods less sacred. This undoes girls, this has undone them before: what they promise, the winds and the waves carry away.

            Was Venus annoyed that you were compared to her? She’s jealous of all those who vie with her in beauty. Or did you slight Pelasgian Juno’s temple, or dare to deny that Athene’s eyes were fair? You beauties have never learned to be sparing with words. Your tongue was harmful to you in this: your beauty gave it to you. But vexed, as you have been, by so many of life’s dangers, comes the gentler hour of an ultimate day,

            Io lowed in her first years with altered forehead: she’s a goddess now, who drank Nile water as a heifer. Ino strayed as a girl over the earth: she the wretched sailors call on, as Leucothoe. Andromeda was given to the sea-monster: even she was the honoured wife of Perseus. Callisto, a she-bear, wandered Arcadian pastures: now she rules sails of night with her star.

            But if the Fates by chance hurry their silence on you, the Fates, blessed, of your tomb, you can tell Semele about the dangers of beauty, and she’ll believe you, a girl taught by her ills: and you’ll be first among all of Homer’s heroines, without question. Now, as best as you can, comply, stricken, with fate: the god and the harsh day itself may both change. Juno, the wife, might even forgive you: even Juno is moved if a young girl dies.

            The chanting of magic, the whirling bullroarers cease, and the laurel lies scorched in the quenched fires. Now the Moon refuses as often to climb down from heaven, and the dismal night bird sounds its funeral note. One raft of fate carries both our loves, setting dark-blue sails to the lake of Hell. But take pity on both of us, not just on one! I’ll live, if she does: if she dies, so will I. 

            I bind myself with a sacred verse against this wish: I write: ‘By Jupiter, the Mighty, the girl is saved’: before your feet, having taken pains, she herself can sit, and, sitting there, tell you all her troubles.


Book II.28A:47-62 Transience


            Persephone, let your mercy endure: Dis, don’t set out to be more cruel than her. There are so many thousands of lovely girls among the dead: if it’s allowed, leave one beautiful one up here! Down there with you is Iope; with you shining Tyro; with you is Europa, and wicked Pasiphae; and whatever beauty old Troy and Achaia bore, the bankrupt kingdoms of ancient Priam and of Apollo; and whoever among that number was a Roman girl, perished: every one of them the greedy fire possesses. No one has endless fortune, or eternal beauty: later or sooner death awaits us all.

            Since you have escaped, mea lux, out of great danger pay Diana the gift of the song and dance you owe her, and keep vigil as well for that heifer, now a goddess; and, for my sake, give her the ten nights you vowed.


Book II.29:1-22 Drunk and out late


            While I wandered last night, mea lux, in drink, and with never a servant’s hand to guide me, a crowd of I don’t know how many tiny boys came against me (it was fear stopped me counting them); some held little torches, and some held arrows, and some of them seemed ready to chain me. But all were naked. One more lascivious than the rest, said: ‘Take him, you know him well, already: this is the one, the woman, angered, has given us.’

            Saying this, in a moment, a rope was round my neck. Another one ordered me thrust in their midst, and a third cried: ‘Let him die, if he doesn’t think we are gods! She’s waited up all hours for you, unworthy man, while you’ve been looking for who knows what door: you fool. When she’s loosed the windings of her Sidonian turban, and flickered her heavy eyelids, it won’t be Arabian perfumes will breathe on you, but the ones Love made himself with his own fingers.

            Stop, now, brothers, now he promises true love, and look, now, we have come to the house as ordered.’ And so they led me back under my lover’s roof, saying: ‘Go on, now, and learn how to stay home of nights.’   


Book II.29A:23-42 Waking Cynthia


            It was dawn, and I wanted to see if she slept alone: and alone she was, in her bed. I was stunned: she’d never looked more beautiful for me, not even when, in her purple shift, she went off and told her dreams to virginal Vesta, in case they might threaten harm to her or me. So she looked to me, shedding recent sleep. Oh, how great is the power of beauty in itself! ‘Why,’ she said: ‘you’re an early spy on your mistress, do you think my morals are yours? I’m not so easy: it’s enough for me to know one man, either you, or someone who’ll be truer. There are no traces deep in the bed, signs of wallowing about, or of mutual slumber. Look, no breath panting from my whole body, confessing adultery.’ Speaking, she pushed my kiss away with her hand, and leapt up, loosened sandals on her feet. So I withdrew from spying on such chaste love: since then I’ve had not one happy night.


Book II.30:1-40 No escape from Love


            Now, you get ready to go to Phrygia, cruel one, now, over the waves, and seek by ship the shore of Hyrcanian seas. Where are you going, O, mad one? There’s no escape: though you head out to Tanais, Love will follow you there. Not even if carried through the air on Pegasus’s back, not if the wings of Perseus moved your feet. Even if winds, divided, snatch you on winged sandals, the highways of Mercury will do you no good. Love always pursues overhead, pursues lovers, and himself sits heavy on the neck that was free. He’s the shrewd spy who watches, and he’ll never let you raise captive eyes from the ground. But then if you sin, he’s a sympathetic god, if only prompt prayer is seen to be there.

            Let hard old men denounce the revels: mea vita, let us wear out the path we chose. Their ears are filled with ancient rules: this is the place where the skilled pipe should play, that which floated on Maeander’s shallows, hurled there unjustly, swelling Minerva’s cheeks, making her ugly.

            Should I be ashamed to live serving one mistress? If it’s a crime, it’s a crime of Love. Don’t reproach me with it. Cynthia, be pleased to lie with me, in caves of dew, in mossy hills. There you will see the Muses clinging to cliffs, and singing Jove’s sweet thefts in ancient times, how he burned for Semele, and was ruined for Io, and finally flew, a bird, to the roofs of Troy. (Though if no one exists who withstood the Winged One’s power, why am I the only one charged with the common crime?) Nor will you trouble the Virgins decorous faces: their choir is not unknowing of what Love is, given a certain one did lie entwined on the rocks of Bistonia, clasped by the form of Oeagrus.

            Then, when they put you in the front rank of the circling dance, Bacchus there in the middle with his cunning wand, then I will let the sacred ivy berries hang from my head: since without you my genius has no power.


Book II.31:1-16 The New Colonnade


            You ask why I come to you late? Today Phoebus’s gold colonnade was opened by mighty Caesar; such a great sight, laid out with columns from Carthage, and between them the crowd of old Danaus’s daughters. Then in the midst, the temple reared up in bright marble, dearer to Phoebus than his Ortygian land. Right on the top were two chariots of the Sun, and the doors of Libyan ivory, beautifully done. One mourned the Gauls thrown off Parnassus’s peak, and the other the death, of Niobe, Tantalus’s daughter. Next the Pythian god himself was singing, in flowing robes, between his sister and mother. He who seemed to me, more beautiful than the true Phoebus, lips parted in marble song to a silent lyre. And, round the altar, stood four of Myron’s cattle, carved statues of oxen, true to life.


Book II.32:1-62 Cynthia talked about


            He who sees you sins: so he who can’t see you will not long for you: the eyes commit the crime. O Cynthia, why else do you search out dubious oracles at Praeneste, or the walls of Aeaean Telegonus? Why do chariots take you to Herculean Tibur? Why the Appian Way, so often, to Lanuvium? Cynthia, I wish you’d walk here when you were free! But the crowd tell me not to trust you, when it sees you rush faithfully, carrying a torch, on fire, to the sacred grove, and bear light to the goddess Trivia.

            No wonder Pompey’s Portico with its shady colonnade, famed for its canopy of cloth of gold, seems worthless, its rising rows of evenly planted plane-trees, the waters that fall from slumbering Maro, lightly bubbling liquid throughout the city, till Triton buries the stream again in his mouth.

            You betray yourself: these trips of yours show some furtive passion: mad girl, it’s our eyes you flee, and not the city. It won’t do, you plot inane schemes against me: you spread familiar nets for me without skill. But I’m the least of it: losing your good name will bring you as much pain as you deserve. Lately a rumour spoke evil in my ear, and nothing good was said about you in the city.

            But you shouldn’t give credence to hostile tongues: the stories have always punished beauties. Your name hasn’t been tarnished, by being caught with drugs: Apollo bears witness that your hands are clean. If a night or two has been spent in lengthy play, petty crimes don’t move me. Helen abandoned her country for a foreign lover, and was brought home again alive without being judged. They say that Venus herself was corrupted by libidinous Mars, but was always honoured, nevertheless, in heaven. Though Ida’s mountain tells how a nymph loved shepherd Paris, and slept with him among the flocks, the crowd of Hamadryad sisters saw it, and Silenus, head of the ancient troop of Satyrs, with whom, in the hollows of Ida, Naiad, you gathered falling apples, catching them underneath in your hands.

            Contemplating such debaucheries, surely no one asks: ‘Why is she so well off? Who gave it? Where did his gifts come from?’ O great is your happiness Rome, these days, if a single girl swims against the stream. Lesbia did all these things before, with impunity: anyone who follows her is surely less to blame. He’s only lately set foot in this city if he asks for the ancient Tatii or the strict Sabine. You’ll sooner have power to dry up the waves of the sea, or gather the stars in a human hand, than make it so that our girls don’t want to sin: that was the custom held to in Saturn’s age, and when Deucalion’s waters flooded the globe: but after Deucalion’s ancient waters, who could ever keep a chaste bed, what goddess could live alone with a single god?

            The snow-white shape of a savage bull once corrupted great Minos’s wife, they say, and Danae enclosed in a tower of bronze, was no less unable, in chastity, to deny mighty Jove. So if you imitate Greek and Roman women, I sentence you to be free for life!


Book II.33:1-22 Cynthia performing the rites


            The wretched rites are back again: Cynthia’s been occupied these ten nights. And I wish they’d end, these sacraments Inachus’s daughter sent from tepid Nile to Italy’s women! This goddess, whoever she was, who so often separates lovers, was always ill-natured. Surely Io you learnt from hidden couplings with Jove, what it is to go many ways, when Juno ordered you, a girl, to wear horns, and lose your speech to the harsh sound cows make.

            Oh, how often you galled your mouth on oak-leaves, and chewed, in your stall, on once-eaten strawberry leaves! Surely, it’s not because Jupiter removed the wild aspect from your face, you’ve for that reason been made a proud goddess? Surely you’ve enough swarthy acolytes in Egypt? Why take such a long journey to Rome? What good is it to you that the girls sleep alone? Believe me, your horns will be back again, or we’ll chase you, savage one, from our city: there was never friendship between Tiber and Nile.

            But you, for whom my sorrows are far too calming, let’s do the journey three times, in those nights when we’re free.


Book II.33A:23-44 Cynthia drinking late


            You don’t listen, and you let my words rattle around, though Icarius’s oxen now draw their slow stars downward. You drink, indifferent: are you not wrecked by midnight, and is your hand not weary throwing the dice? Perish the man who discovered neat wine, and first corrupted good water with nectar! Icarius you were rightly killed by Cecropian farmers, you have found how bitter the scent is of the vine. You, Eurytion the Centaur, also died from wine, and Polyphemus, you by Ismarian neat. Wine kills our beauty, and corrupts our youth: often through wine a lover doesn’t know her man.

            Alas for me, much wine doesn’t alter you! Drink then: you’re lovely: wine does you no harm, though your garland droops down, and dips into your glass, and you read my verse in a slow voice. Let your table be drenched with more jets of Falernian, and foam higher in your golden cup.

            No girl ever willingly goes to bed alone: something there is that desire forces us all to search for. Passion is often greater in absent lovers: endless presence is lowering for the man who’s always around.


Book II.34:1-94 His poetic role, and his future fame


            Why should any man trust his girl’s beauty to Amor, now? Mine was nearly stolen away like that. I speak as an expert, no one’s to be trusted in love: it’s rare that anyone doesn’t aim to make beauty his own. That god corrupts families, separates friends, and makes sad calls to arms to those in happy agreement. The stranger who came in friendship to Menelaus was an adulterer, and didn’t the Colchian woman go off with an unknown man?

            Lynceus, you traitor, then, how could you lay hands on my darling? Didn’t your hands let you down? What if she hadn’t been so constant and true? Could you have lived with the shame? Kill me with daggers or poison: just take yourself off, away from my mistress. You can be a companion in life and body: I will make you the lord of my fortune, my friend, it’s merely the bed, the one bed, I beg you to shun. I can’t accept Jove as a rival. I’m jealous of my shadow alone, a thing of nothing, a fool who often trembles with fear. Still there’s one excuse for which I’d forgive such a crime, that your words were in error from too much wine. But the frown of strict morality will never fool me: everyone knows by now how good it is to love.

            My Lynceus, himself, insane at last with love! I’m only glad you’ve joined our gods. What use now the wisdom of Socratic works, or being able to talk of the nature of things? What use to you are songs on Aeschylus’s lyre? Old men are no help with a great love. You’d do better to imitate Coan Philetus, and the dreams of diffident Callimachus.

            Now though you tell again how Aetolian Achelous’s water flowed, weak with vast love; and how Maeander’s deceptive flood wanders the Phrygian plain, confusing its course; and how Arion, Adrastus’s victorious stallion, was vocal in grief at Archemorus’s funeral: the fate of Amphiarus’s four-horse chariot’s no use to you, or Capaneus’s downfall, pleasing to mighty Jove. Stop composing tragic Aeschylean verse, stop and let your limbs go, in soft choric dancing. Begin to turn your verse on a tighter lathe, and come to your own flames, hardened poet. You shall not go more safely than Homer, or than Antimachus: a virtuous girl even looks down on the gods.

            However the bull’s not yoked to the heavy plough until his horns are caught in a strong noose. Nor will you be able to suffer harsh love on your own. First, your truculence must be quelled by me.

            Of all these girls none will ask the origin of the universe, or why the Moon eclipses her brother’s course, or if there’s really a judge beyond the Stygian waters, or if the lightning crashes down on purpose. Look at me, with hardly any wealth left to my family, with no ancestral triumphs long ago, but here I rule the fun, among the crowd of girls, by the intellect you disparage!

            Let me, whom the god has surely struck to the marrow, languish set among last night’s wreaths. Virgil can sing Actium’s shores that Phoebus watches over, and Caesar’s brave ships: he, who now brings to life the battles of Aeneas of Troy, and the walls he built on Lavinium’s coast. Give way you Roman authors! Give way you Greeks! Something more than the Iliad’s being born.

            Under the pine-trees of shadowed Galaesus, you sing, of Thyrsis and Daphnis, with the practised flute, and how the gift of ten apples, or an un-weaned kid, can corrupt a girl. Happy who buys their love cheaply with apples! Tityrus herself, the unkind, might sing for that. Happy that Corydon who tries to snatch virgin Alexis, delight of his master, the farmer! Though he rests, exhausted, from playing his pipe, he’s praised by the loose Hamadryads. And you sing the precepts of old Hesiod, the poet, what plains crops grow well on, what hills should grow vines. You make such music as Apollo mingles, fingers plucking his cunning lyre.

            Still, these songs will not be unwelcome to one who can sing them, whether he’s expert in love or a total novice. The swan dies, melodious, with no less spirit, though with less effrontery than the ignorant song of the goose.

            So, Varro amused himself, when he’d done with Jason: Varro, Leucadia’s hottest lover; So sing the writings of lustful Catullus, whose Lesbia’s known more widely than Helen. So, even the pages of learned Calvus confess, when he sang of wretched Quintilia’s death. And but now, in the waters of Hell, dead Gallus washed multiple wounds, from lovely Lycoris!

            Why not Cynthia then, praised by Propertius’s verse, if Fame wishes to place me among them.




Book 3



Book III.1:1-38 Invocation. 38

Book III.2:1-26 Mind endures. 38

Book III.3:1-52 A dream of Helicon. 39

Book III.4:1-22 War and peace. 40

Book III.5:1-48 The poetic life. 40

Book III.6:1-42 After the quarrel41

Book III.7:1-72 The death of his friend Paetus.41

Book III.8:1-34 His mistress’s fury. 43

Book III.8A:34-40 Words for a rival43

Book III.9:1-60 He asks for Maecenas’s favour. 43

Book III.10:1-32 Cynthia’s birthday.44

Book III.11:1-72 Woman’s power. 45

Book III.12:1-38 Chaste and faithful Galla. 46

Book III.13:1-66 Money the root of corruption. 47

Book III.14:1-34 The Spartan Girls. 48

Book III.15:1-46 He asks Cynthia not to be jealous. 48

Book III.16:1-30 A letter. 49

Book III.17:1-42 A Prayer to Bacchus. 50

Book III.18:1-34 The death of Marcellus, Augustus’s nephew.50

Book III.19:1-28 Female desire. 51

Book III.20:1-30 A new contract of Love. 51

Book III.21:1-34 Recipes for quenching love. 52

Book III.22:1-42 Come home Tullus. 53

Book III.23:1-24 The lost writing tablets. 53

Book III.24:1-20 Coming to his senses. 54

Book III.25:1-18 The End of the Affair. 54


Book III.1:1-38 Invocation


            Ghosts of Callimachus, and shrines of Coan Philetas, I pray you, allow me to walk in your grove. I am the first to enter, a priest of the pure fountain, to celebrate Italian mysteries in the rhythms of Greece. Tell me in what valley did you both spin out your song? On what feet did you enter? Which waters did you drink?

            Away with the man who keeps Phoebus stuck in battle! Let verse be finished, polished with pumice – because of it Fame lifts me high above Earth, and, born of me, a Muse goes, in triumph, with flower-hung horses, and young Loves ride with me in a chariot, and a crowd of writers hangs at my wheels. Why struggle, vainly, against me, with slack reins? It’s not given to us to reach the Muses by a broad road.

            Rome, many will add praises to your story, singing that Persia will be a boundary of Empire: but my art carries its text down from the Sister’s mountain, so you can read it in peace, by a way that’s undefiled.

            Muses grant your poet gentle garlands: a hard crown would never suit my head. But what the envious crowd have stolen from me in life, Honour will pay me, once I’m dead, with double interest. The future ages render all things greater once they’re dead: names come dearer to the lips after the funeral. Otherwise who would know of the citadel breached by a Horse of fir; or of how the rivers fought with Achilles the hero, Idaean Simois, and Scamander, Jupiter’s child; or of how the chariot wheels three times stained the ground with Hector’s blood.

            Their own soil would scarcely know Deiphobus, Helenus, Pulydamas, or Paris embracing any kind of arms. Yes, there’d be little talk of Ilium, of Troy twice captured by Hercules, god of Oeta. Nor would Homer, himself, who wrote your fall, not feel his work made greater by posterity. And Rome will praise me among later generations: I foresee that day myself, after the fire. Apollo, Lycia’s god, accepts my prayers, and ordains the grave shall not be scorned whose stone will mark my bones.            


Book III.2:1-26 Mind endures


            Let me return, meanwhile, to the world of my poetry: let my girl take delight, moved by familiar tones. They say that Orpheus, with his Thracian lyre, tamed wild creatures, held back flowing rivers: Cithaeron’s stones were whisked to Thebes by magic, and joined, of their own will, to form a piece of wall. Even, Galatea, it’s true, below wild Etna, wheeled her brine-wet horses, Polyphemus, to your songs.

            No wonder if, befriended by Bacchus and Phoebus, a crowd of girls cherish my words? Though my house isn’t propped on Taenarian columns, or ivory-roofed with gilded beams, though my orchards aren’t Phaeacia’s woods, nor does Marcian water moisten elaborate grottoes; the Muses are my companions, and my songs are dear to the reader, and Calliope never tires of my music.

            Happy the girl, if she’s famed in my book! My poems are so many records of your beauty. The Pyramids reared to the stars, at such expense; Jupiter’s shrine at Elis that imitates heaven; the precious wealth of the tomb of Mausolus; not one can escape the final state of death. Their beauty’s taken, by fire, by rain, by the thud of the years: ruined: their weight overthrown. But the name I’ve earned, with my mind, will not be razed by time: Mind stands firm, a deathless ornament.


Book III.3:1-52 A dream of Helicon


            I dreamt I lay in Helicon’s soft shade, where the fountain of Pegasus flows, owning the power, Alba, to speak of your kings, and speak of the actions of your kings, a mighty task. I’d already put my lips to those lofty streams, from which Ennius, thirsting father, once drank, and sang of the Curiatii, the brothers, and the Horatii, their spears; and the royal tokens carried by Aemilius’s boat; Fabius’s victorious delaying, the cock-up at Cannae, the gods moved by prayer; the Lares driving Hannibal out of their home in Rome, and Jupiter saved by the voice of geese.

            Then Phoebus, spotting me, from his Castalian grove, leant on his golden lyre, by a cave, saying: ‘What’s your business with that stream, you madman? Who asked you to meddle with epic song? There isn’t a hope of fame for you from this, Propertius: soft are the meadows where your little wheels should roll, your little book often thrown on the bench, read by a girl waiting alone for a lover. Why is your page wrenched from its destined track? Your mind’s little boat’s not to be freighted. Scrape an oar through the water, the other through sand: you’ll be safe: the biggest storm’s out at sea.’

            He said it, and showed me a place with his ivory plectrum, where a new path had been made in mossy ground. Here was an emerald cavern lined with pebbles, and timbrels hung from its pumice stone; orgiastic emblems of the Muses; a statue of father Silenus made of clay; and your reed-pipes, Pan of Tegea; and birds, my crowd of the doves of my mistress Venus, dipped their red beaks into the Gorgon’s pool; while nine assorted girls busied soft hands in the place given to each of them by fate. This one chose ivy for a wand, that one tuned the strings for a song, and another planted roses with either hand.

            And one of this crowd of goddesses touched me (it was Calliope, I think, by her face), saying:

            ‘You’ll always be happy pulled by snow-white swans: the sound of the war-horse won’t lead you to fight. It’s not for you to blow war cries from blaring trumpets, staining Boeotia’s grove with Mars; or care in what fields the conflict’s set under Marius’s standard, how Rome repels German power, how barbaric Rhine, steeped with Swabian blood, sweeps mangled corpses down through its sorrowing waves.

            You’ll sing wreathed lovers at another threshold, and the drunken signals of nocturnal flight, so that he who wishes, with skill, to plunder irksome husbands, through you knows how to spirit off captive girls.’

            So Calliope said, and, drawing up liquid from her fountain, sprinkled my lips with the waters of Philetas.


Book III.4:1-22 War and peace


            Caesar, our god, plots war against rich India, cutting the straits, in his fleet, over the pearl-bearing ocean. Men, the rewards are big: far lands prepare triumphs: Tiber, and Euphrates will flow to your tune.  Too late, but that province will come, under Ausonia’s wands, Parthia’s trophies will get to know Latin Jupiter. Go, get going, prows expert in battle: set sail: and armoured horses do your usual duty! I sing you auspicious omens. And avenge that disaster of Crassus! Go and take care of Roman history!

            Father Mars, and fatal lights of sacred Vesta, I pray that the day will come before I die, when I’ll see Caesar’s axles burdened with booty, and his horses stopping often for vulgar cheers, and then I’ll begin to look, pressing my dear girl’s breast, and scan the titles of captured cities, the shafts from fleeing horsemen, the bows of trousered soldiers, and the captive leaders sitting beneath their weapons!

            May Venus herself protect your children: let it be eternal, this head, that survives from Aeneas’s line. Let the prize go to those who earned it by their efforts: it’s enough for me I can cheer them on their Sacred Way.


Book III.5:1-48 The poetic life


            Amor’s the god of peace: it’s peace we lovers worship: the hard fight I have with my lady’s enough for me. My heart’s not so taken with hateful gold; nor does my thirst drink out of cut gems; nor is rich Campania ploughed for me by a thousand yokes; nor do I buy bronzes from your ruins, unlucky Corinth.

            O primal earth shaped badly by Prometheus! He set to work on the heart without enough care. He laid the body out with art, but forgot the mind: the right road for the spirit should have been first.

            Now we’re hurled by the wind over such seas, and look for enemies, weaving new wars on wars. But you’ll take no wealth to the waters of Acheron: carried, naked fool, on the boat of Hell. Conquered and conqueror mingled, as one, in the shadows: Captive Jugurtha, you sit by Marius the Consul: Croesus of Lydia not far from Dulichian Irus: that death’s best that comes on the day our part is done.

            It pleases me to have lived on Helicon when I was young, and entangled my hands in the Muses’s dance. It pleases me too to cloud my mind with much wine, and always have spring roses round my head. And when the weight of years obstructs Venus, and age flecks dark hair with white, then let me discover the laws of nature, what god controls this bit of the world by his skill; how the moon rises and how it wanes, and how each month it returns, horns merged, to the full; where the winds come from to conquer the sea; where the East Wind gets to with his gales; where the unfailing water comes from in the clouds; whether some future day will burrow under the citadels of the world; why the rainbow drinks the rain; why the peaks of Perrhaebian Pindus trembled, and the sun’s orb mourned, his horses black; why Bootes is late to turn his oxen and wain; why the dance of the Pleaides is joined in a crowd of fires; why the deep sea never leaves its bounds, and the whole year has four seasons; whether, below ground, gods rule, Giants are tortured; if Tisiphone’s hair is plagued with black snakes, Alcmaeon by Furies, Phineus by hunger; and if there’s a wheel, and a rock to roll, and thirst beside the water; and Cerberus, triple-throated, guarding the cave of Hell, and Tityos’s scant nine acres; or whether an idle tale has come down to wretched mortals, and fear can’t be found beyond the fire.

            This is the end of life that waits for me: you, to whom war’s more pleasing, you bring Crassus’s standards home.


Book III.6:1-42 After the quarrel


            If you want our mistress’s yoke to be taken from your neck, Lygdamus, tell me truly how you judge the girl. Surely you wouldn’t trick me into swelling with empty joy, telling me things you think I’d like to believe. Every messenger should be without deceit: a fearful servant should be even truer. Now, start to tell it from the first inception, if you can: I’ll drink it in through thirsty ears.

            So, did you see her weep with dishevelled hair, vast waters pouring from her eyes? Did you see no mirror, Lygdamus, on the covers, on the bed? No rings on her snow-white fingers? And a mourning-robe hanging from her soft arms, and her letter-case closed lying by the foot of the bed. Was the house sad, and her servants sad, carding thread, and she, herself spinning among them, and pressing the wool to her eyes, drying their moisture, and going over our quarrel in querulous tones?

            ‘Is this what he promised me, Lygdamus, you’re a witness? There’s punishment for breaking faith, with a slave as witness. How can he leave me here so wretched, having done nothing, and have in his house someone I wouldn’t speak of! He’s glad that I melt away, alone, in an empty bed. If that pleases him, let him mock at my death, Lygdamus. She didn’t win by her morals, but by magic herbs, the bitch: he’s led by the bullroarer whirling on its string. He’s drawn to her by omens, from swollen frogs and toads, and the bones of dried snakes she’s fished out, and the feathers of screech owls found among fallen tombs, and a woollen fillet bound to a murdered man. If my dreams tell no lies, you’re a witness Lygdamus, he’ll be punished, in full, if late, at my feet. The spider will weave corruption in his empty bed, and Venus will sleep, herself, on their nights together.’

            If my girl moaned to you with truth in her heart, run back, Lygdamus, the same way again, and carry my message back with lots of tears, that there’s anger but no deceit in my love, that I’m afflicted with torture in the selfsame fires: I’ll swear to be virtuous for twelve days. Then if sweet peace exists, after such a war, Lygdamus you’ll be free through me.


Book III.7:1-72 The death of his friend Paetus.


            So money you’re the cause of a troubled life! It’s because of you we go death’s path prematurely: you offer human vices cruel nourishment: from your source the seeds of unhappiness spring. Three or four times with wild seas you overwhelmed Paetus, as he was setting sail towards Pharos’s harbour.

            While he was chasing you, the poor man was cut down in his prime, and floats an alien food for far-off fish. And his mother can’t give due burial to his pious dust, or bury him among his kinsfolk’s ashes.

            Paetus, the seabirds hover over your bones, and you have the whole Carpathian Sea now for a tomb. Cruel North-Wind, whom ravished Orithyia feared, how great are the spoils to be won from him? Why do you find joy in shipwreck, Neptune? That ship carried righteous men.

            Paetus, why number your years: why as you swim is your dear mother’s name on your lips? The waves have no gods. Though your cables were fastened to rocks, the storms in the night fell on them: frayed them all: tore them away. Return his body to earth: his spirit is lost in the deep. Worthless sands, of your own will, cover Paetus. And the sailor, as often as he sails past Paetus’s tomb, let him say: ‘You can make even brave men fear.’

            Go, and shape curving keels, and weave the causes of death: these deaths come from the actions of human hands. Earth was too small for fate, we have added the oceans: by our arts we have added to the luckless paths of fortune. Can the anchor hold you, whom the household gods could not? What would you say he’s earned, whose Country’s too small for him? 

             Whatever you build is the winds’: no keel ever grows old: the harbour itself belies your faith. Nature lying in wait has paved the watery paths of greed: and it can scarcely be that you can, even once, succeed. There are shores that testify to Agamemnon’s pain, where Argynnus’s punishment makes Mimas’s waters famous: Atrides would not let the fleet sail, for the loss of this boy, and Iphigenia was sacrificed through this delay. The cliffs of Caphareus shattered a triumphant fleet, when the Greeks were shipwrecked drawn down by the salt mass. Ulysses wept for his comrades hurled down one by one: his wiliness was worth nothing confronting the sea.

            Yet if Paetus had been content to plough the fields with his father’s oxen, had he accepted the weight of my advice, he would still be alive, a gentle guest, before his household gods: a poor man, but on dry land crying only for wealth. Paetus couldn’t bear to hear the shrieking storm, or wound his soft hands with hard ropes: but rested his head on multi-coloured down, among Chian marble, on Orician terebinth wood. From him, still living, the surge tore away his nails, and unwillingly, poor man, his throat swallowed the waters: then the wild night saw him carried on a piece of plank: so many evils gathered for Paetus to perish.

            Still he gave this command, weeping, with his last moans, as the dark wave closed over his dying breath: ‘Gods of Aegean seas, with power over the waters, you winds and every wave that bow down my head, where are you carrying away the sad years of my first manhood? Are these guilty hands I bring to your seas? Alas for me, the sharp cliffs of the halycon will tear me! The dark-green god has struck me with his trident. At least let the tide hurl me on Italian shores: what is left of me will suffice if it only reaches my mother.’ At these words, the flood pulled him down into its whirling vortex.

            O you hundred sea-nymphs, Nereus’s daughters, and you Thetis, whom a mother’s indignation once drew from the sea, you should have placed your arms beneath his weary head: he was no heavy weight for your hands. But you, fierce Northern Wind, will never see my sails: I would rather lie indolent before my lady’s portals.


Book III.8:1-34 His mistress’s fury


            Our quarrel by lamplight last night was sweet to me, and all those insults from your furious tongue, when frenzied with drinking you pushed the table back, and threw full glasses over me, with an angry hand. Truly bold, attack my hair, you, and mark my face with your lovely nails, threaten to scorch my eyes with a flame beneath them, rip my clothes and bare my chest!

            You give me certain signs of love: no woman is in pain unless out of deep passion. That woman who hurls abuse with raving mouth, she rolls around before mighty Venus’s feet, she packs guards round her in a crowd, or follows in the middle of the road like a stricken Maenad, or demented dreams keep terrifying the frightened girl, or a girl pictured in a painting moves her to misery.

            I’m a true augur of the soul’s torments: I’ve learnt these are always the signs of certain love. There is no constant faithfulness that won’t turn to quarrelling: let cold women fall to my enemies. Let my friends see the wounds in my bitten neck: let the bruises show my girl has been with me.

            I want to suffer with love, or hear about suffering: I’d rather see your tears or else my own, whenever your eyebrows send me hidden messages, or you write with your fingers words that can’t be spoken. I hate those sighs that never shatter sleep: I would always wish to turn pale for an angry girl.

            The passion was dearer to Paris when he could cut his way through Greek ranks to bring pleasure to his daughter of Tyndareus. While the Danaans conquered, while savage Hector held them, he fought a nobler war in Helen’s lap. I’ll always be fighting with you, or with a rival for you: you at peace will never please me.


Book III.8A:34-40 Words for a rival


            Be glad, that no one equals your beauty: you’d be sorry if there were: but as of now you’ve a right to your pride.

            As for you, a Vulcan, who wove a net for our bed, may your father-in-law be immortal, and your house never lack her mother! You who were granted the wealth of one stolen night, it was her anger against me, not love of you that gave it.


Book III.9:1-60 He asks for Maecenas’s favour


            Maecenas, knight of the blood of Etruscan kings, you who are keen to achieve success: why set me adrift on such a vast literary sea? Such big sails don’t suit this boat of mine.

            It’s shameful to carry on your head a weight it can’t bear, and soon sag at the knee, and turn to depart. All things are not equally suited to all: the palm’s not won by dragging at the selfsame yoke. 

            Lysippus’s glory is to carve with the stamp of life: Calamis’s, I consider is in his perfect horses. Apelles claims highest place for paintings of Venus: Parrhasius deserves his for art in miniature. Mentor’s theme is rather in sculpted groups: through Mys acanthus winds its brief way. For Phidias Jupiter clothes himself in an ivory statue: the marble of Cnidos, Triop’s city, praises Praxiteles. Some race their four-horse chariots for the palms of Elis, glory is born in others’ fleet of foot: this man’s made for peace, that one for camps and war: every man pursues the seeds of his nature.

            But I’ve accepted your rule of life Maecenas, and I’m forced to counter you with your own example. Though an officer of the Roman state, allowed to set up the axes of law, and judge in the midst of the Forum; though you pass through the fierce spears of the Medes, and burden your house with weapons on nails; though Caesar grants you power to achieve things, and easy money slithers in all the time; you hold back, and, humbly, crouch in the lowly shadows: and draw in your bellying sails yourself.

            Trust me such judgement will equate you with great Camillus, and you will also be on men’s lips, and your steps will be bound to Caesar’s glory: Maecenas’s loyalty will be his true memorial.

            I don’t plough the swollen sea in a sailing boat: my whole dalliance is close to a little stream. I won’t weep for Cadmus’s city sunk in its native embers, nor of the seven equally fateful battles: I won’t tell of the Scaean Gate, Pergama, Apollo’s stronghold, or how the Danaan fleet came back at the tenth Spring, and the Wooden Horse, by Athene’s art, was victor, driving the walls that Neptune built under the Greek plough. Enough to have given satisfaction, amongst Callimachus’s slim volumes: and to have sung, Philetas, Dorian poet, in your style. Let these poems inflame our youths, and our girls: let them celebrate me as a god, and bring me sacrifice!

            Lead me on, and I’ll sing of Jupiter’s weapons, and Coeus threatening Heaven, and Eurymedon on Phlegra’s hills: and I’ll bring on the pair of kings from a she-wolf’s teat, the strong walls built at Remus’s death, and the high Palatine Hill cropped by the Roman bulls, and my ingenuity will rise at your command!

            I’ll honour your chariot’s minor triumphs from either wing, the shafts of the Parthian’s cunning flight once they’re taken, the camp of Pelusium demolished by the Roman sword, and Antony’s hands heavy with his fate.

            Gentle patron seize the reins of my fresh undertakings, and give the sign with your right hand when my wheels are let loose. Concede this praise to me Maecenas, and of you they’ll say, that I was of your party.


Book III.10:1-32 Cynthia’s birthday.


            I wondered what the Muses had sent me, at dawn, standing by my bed in the reddening sunlight. They sent a sign it was my girl’s birthday, and clapped their hands three times for luck. Let this day pass without a cloud, the winds still in the air, and threatening waves fall gently on dry land. Let me see no one sad today: let Niobe’s rock itself suppress its tears. Let the halcyons’ cries be silent, leaving off their sighing, and Itys’s mother not cry out his loss.

            And oh, you, my dearest girl, born to happy auguries, rise, and pray to the gods who require their dues. First wash sleep away with pure water, and dress your shining hair with deft fingers. Then wear those clothes that first charmed Propertius’s eyes, and do not let your brow be free of flowers.

            And ask that the beauty that is your power may always be yours, and that your command over my person might last forever. Then when you’ve worshipped with incense at wreathed altars, and their happy flames have lit the whole house, think of a feast, and let the night fly by with wine, and let the perfumed onyx anoint my nostril with oil of saffron. Submit the strident flute to nocturnal dancing, and let your wantonness be free with words, and let sweet banqueting stave off unwelcome sleep, and the common breeze of the neighbouring street be full of the sound.

            And let fate reveal to us, in the falling dice, those whom the Boy strikes with his heavy wings. When the hours have gone with many a glass, and Venus appoints the sacred rites that wait on night, let’s fulfil the year’s solemnities in our room, and so complete the journey of your natal day.


Book III.11:1-72 Woman’s power


            Why do you wonder if a woman entwines my life and brings a man enslaved under her rule? Why fabricate charges of cowardice against my person, because I can’t break my yoke and snap the chains?  The sailor can best foretell his future fate, the soldier is taught by his wounds to nurture fear. I once boasted like you when I was young: now let my example teach you to be afraid.

            The witch of Colchis drove the fiery bulls in a yoke of steel, and sowed civil war in the warrior-bearing soil, and closed the serpent guard’s fierce jaws, so that the Golden Fleece would reach Aeson’s halls. Amazon Penthesilea once dared to attack the Danaan fleet with arrows fired from horseback: she whose bright beauty conquered the conquering hero, when the golden helmet laid bare her forehead.

            Omphale the Lydian girl bathing in Gyges’s lake gained such a name for beauty that Hercules who had established his pillars in a world at peace, drew out soft spinner’s tasks with hardened hands. Semiramis built Babylon, the Persian city, so that it rose a solid mass with ramparts of baked brick, and two chariots might set out on the walls, in opposite directions, without their axles touching and sides scraping: she diverted the River Euphrates through the centre of the city she founded, and commanded Bactra to bow its head to her rule.

            Why should I seize on heroes, why gods who stand accused? Jupiter shames himself and his house. Why Cleopatra, who heaped insults on our army, a woman worn out by her own attendants, who demanded the walls of Rome and the Senate bound to her rule, as a reward from her obscene husband? Noxious Alexandria, place so skilled in deceit, and Memphis so often bloody with our grief, where the sand robbed Pompey of his three triumphs. Rome, no day will ever wipe away the stain. Better for you Pompey, ill at Naples, if your funeral procession had crossed the Phlegraean Plain, or that you had bowed your neck to Caesar, your father-in-law.

            Truly that whore, queen of incestuous Canopus, a brand burned by the blood of Philip, dared to oppose our Jupiter with yapping Anubis, and forced Tiber to suffer the threats of Nile, and banished the Roman trumpet with the rattle of the sistrum, and chased the Liburnian prow with a poled barge, and spread her foul mosquito nets over the Tarpeian Rock, and gave judgements among Marius’s weapons and statues.

            The city, high on its seven hills, that directs the whole Earth, was terrified of a woman’s power and fearful of her threats. What’s it worth now to have shattered Tarquin’s axes, whose life branded him with the name of ‘Proud’, if we have to endure a woman? Celebrate a triumph Rome, and saved by Augustus beg long life for him! You fled then to the wandering mouths of frightened Nile: your hands received Romulus’s chains. I saw your arms bitten by the sacred asps, and your limbs draw sleep in by a secret path. And your tongue spoke overpowered by endless wine: ‘This was not as much to be feared, Rome, as your fellow-citizen!’

            Curtius closing the Forum’s chasm, created his monument, and Decius’s cavalry charge shattered the battle-line, Horatius’s Way attests to the holding of the bridge, and there’s one to whom the raven, Corvus, has given a name. The gods founded them, may the gods protect these walls: with Caesar alive, Rome need scarcely fear Jove.

            Where are Scipio’s ships now, where are Camillus’s standards, or Bosphorus lately captured by Pompey’s might, or Hannibal’s spoils, or conquered Syphax’s Libyan trophies, or Pyrrhus’s glory trampled under our feet?

            Apollo of Actium will speak of how the line was turned: one day of battle carried off so vast a host. But you, sailor, whether leaving or making for harbour, be mindful of Caesar through all the Ionian Sea.


Book III.12:1-38 Chaste and faithful Galla


             Postumus, how could you leave Galla crying, to follow Augustus’s brave standards, as a soldier? Was the glory of Parthia’s spoils worth so much to you, with Galla repeatedly begging you not to do it? If it’s allowed may all you greedy ones perish equally, and whoever prefers his weapon to a faithful bride!

            You, you madman, wrapped in your cloak for a covering, weary, will drink Araxes’s water from your helmet. She in the meantime will pine away at each idle rumour, for fear your courage will cost you dear, or the arrows of Medes enjoy your death, or the armoured knight on a golden horse, or some bit of you be brought back in an urn to be wept over. That’s how they come back, those who fall in those places. O Postumus you are three or four times blessed by Galla’s chastity! Your morals deserve a different wife! What shall a girl do with no fear to guard her, with Rome to instruct her in its voluptuousness? But rest secure: gifts will not win Galla, and she will not recall how hard you were.

            On whatever day fate sends you safely home, modest Galla will hang about your neck. Postumus will be another Ulysses with a wife to wonder at: such long delay did him no harm: ten years of war; the Cicones’ Mount Ismara; Calpe; then the burning of your eye-socket Polyphemus; Circe’s beguilements; the lotus and its binding spell; Scylla and Charybdis, separated by alternate tides; Lampetie’s oxen bellowing on Ithacan spits (Lampetie his daughter grazed them for Phoebus); and fleeing the bed of Calypso, Aeaea’s weeping girl, swimming for so many nights and wintry days; entering the black halls of the silent spirits; and approaching the Sirens’ waters with deafened sailors; and renewing his ancient bow at the death of the suitors; and so making an end of his wanderings.

            Not in vain, since his wife had stayed chaste at home. Aelia Galla will outdo Penelope’s loyalty.        


Book III.13:1-66 Money the root of corruption


            You ask why a night with eager women is expensive, and why our exhausted powers bemoan Venus’s losses. The reason for such ruin is clear and certain: the path to voluptuousness has been made too easy.

            The Indian ants bring gold dust from the vaulted mine, and Venus’s conch, the nautilus, comes from the Red Sea, and Cadmus’s Tyre sends purple dyes, and the Arabian shepherd strong scented cinammon. These weapons take sheltered modesty by storm: even those who show disdain like yours Penelope. Wives go out dressed in a spendthrift’s fortune, and drag the results of their disgrace in front of our faces. There’s no respect shown in asking or supplying, or if there is, money dispels any reluctance.

            Happy that singular custom at the funerals of Eastern husbands that the reddening dawn colours with her chariot! Since when the last brand is thrown on the dead man’s bier, his dutiful crowd of wives stand round with spreading hair, and compete in a fatal contest, as to who shall follow the husband while alive: it is shame for them not to be allowed to die. The winners are inflamed and offer their breasts to the fire and rest their scorched faces on their husband. Here the race of brides is treacherous: here no girl has Evadne’s loyalty or Penelope’s sense of duty.

            Happy were the young country folk, once, peaceable: whose wealth was in orchards and harvests. Their gifts were Cydonian apples shaken from the branches, and they gave punnets full of blackberries, now took violets in their hands, now brought back shining lilies mingled together in the virgins’ baskets, and carried grapes wrapped in their own leaves, or some multi-coloured bird of various hue.

            With such blandishments as these the kisses of girls were won, given to sylvan youths in secret hollows. The skin of a roe deer was wholly sufficient to cover lovers, and the tall grass grew as nature’s bed. The pine leaned over them and threw its rich shadows round them: and it was not a sin to see the goddesses naked. The horned ram, head of the flock, led back his sated ewes himself to the empty fold of Pan the shepherd god. All the gods and goddesses by whom the land’s protected offered kindly words to our hearths: ‘Stranger, whoever you are who comes, you may hunt the hare on my paths, or the bird if perhaps you seek it: and whether you hunt your quarry with dogs or with a limed stick, call upon me, from the crag, for Pan to be your companion.’

            But now the shrines decay in deserted groves: all worship money now piety is vanquished. Money drives out loyalty, justice is bought for money, money rules the law, and, without the law, then shame.

            Scorched thresholds testify to Brennus’s sacrilege, attacking the Pythian kingdom of Apollo, the unshorn god: and then Parnassus shook its laurel-crowned summit, and scattered fearful snow over the army of Gaul. For money, vile Polymestor of Thrace, reared you, Polydorus, in impious hospitality. Amphiaraus is lost, and his horses swallowed up, so that you Eriphyla can cover your shoulders with gold.

            I will speak: - and I wish that I might be my country’s true prophet! – Proud Rome is being destroyed by wealth. I speak truth, but no one will believe. Since, neither was Cassandra, the Trojan Maenad, believed to be truthful in the ruin of Pergama: only she cried out that Paris was forging Phrygia’s doom, only she that the deceitful horse was entering her house. Her frenzies were fitting for her father and her house: in vain her tongue experienced the true gods.


Book III.14:1-34 The Spartan Girls


            I admire many of the rules of your training, Sparta, but most of all at the great blessings derived from the girls’ gymnasia, where a girl can exercise her body, naked, without blame, among wrestling men, when the swift-thrown ball eludes the grasp, and the curved rod sounds against the ring, and the woman is left panting at the furthest goal, and suffers bruises in the hard wrestling.

            Now she fastens near the glove the thongs that her wrists delight in, now whirls the discus’s flying weight in a circle, and now her hair sprinkled with hoar frost, she follows her father’s dogs over the long ridges of Taygetus, beats the ring with her horses, binds the sword to her white flank, and shields the virgin head with hollow bronze, like the crowd of warlike Amazons who bathe bare-breasted in Thermodon’s stream; or as Helen, on the sands of Eurotas, between Castor and Pollux, one to be victor in boxing, the other with horses: with naked breasts she carried weapons, they say, and did not blush with her divine brothers there.

            So Sparta’s law forbids lovers to keep apart, and lets each man walk by her side in the crossways, and there is no fear for her, no guardians for captive girls, no dread of bitter punishment from a stern husband. You yourself can speak about things without a go-between: no long waiting rebuffs you. No Tyrian garments beguile roving eyes, no affected toying with perfumed hair.

            But my love goes surrounded by a great crowd, without the slimmest chance of getting an oar in: and you can’t come upon how to act, or what words to ask with: the lover is in a blind alley.

            Rome, if you’d only follow the rules and wrestling of Sparta, you’d be dearer to me for that blessing.


Book III.15:1-46 He asks Cynthia not to be jealous


            So let me know, now, no more storms in my love, and let the night not come to me when I lie awake without you! When the modesty of my boyhood’s purple-bordered toga was hidden from me, and I was given freedom to know the ways of love, she, Lycinna, was my confederate: oh not one to be taken with gifts, she first initiated my inexperienced spirit on its first nights.

            While three years have passed (it is not much less) I can barely remember ten words between us. Your love has buried everything, no woman, since you, has thrown a sweet chain about my neck.

            Dirce is evidence, made jealous by a true reproach that Antiope had slept with her Lycus. Ah, how often the queen tore at Antiope’s lovely hair, and pierced her tender cheeks with ungentle fingernails! How often she loaded the servant girl with unreasonable tasks, and ordered her to sleep on the hard ground! Often she suffered her to live in filth and darkness, often she refused her foul water for her thirst. Jupiter will you never help Antiope’s deep trouble? Heavy chains scar her wrists. If you are a god, your girl’s slavery’s a shame on you: whom but Jupiter should Antiope cry to when fettered?

            Yet on her own, with whatever strength was in her body, she broke the royal manacles with both hands. Then with frightened step she ran to Cithaeron’s heights. It was night and her sad couch was scattered with frost. Often troubled by the echoing sound of the rushing Asopus, she thought that her mistress’s steps were behind her. Driven from her house their mother tested her hard-hearted son Zethus and her son Amphion easily moved to tears.

            And as the sea ceases its vast heaving, when the East wind leaves its assault on the South-West, and the coast is quiet, and the sounds of the shore diminish, so the girl sank on her bended knees. Still piety came though late: her sons knew their error. Worthy old shepherd who reared Jupiter’s sons, you restored the mother to her boys, and they fastened Dirce, to be dragged to death beneath the savage bull’s horns. Antiope, know Jupiter’s power: Dirce is your glory dragged along to meet death in many places. Zethus’s fields are bloodied, and Amphion sings the Paeans from your cliffs, Aracynthus.

            But be careful of tormenting Lycinna who does not deserve it: your headlong anger knows no retreat. May no story about us strike your ears: you alone I will love, though burned by the funeral pyre.         

Book III.16:1-30 A letter


            Midnight, and a letter came to me from my lady ordering me, without delay, to Tibur, where the white summits show their twin towers, and Anio’s water falls in spreading pools. What to do? Commit myself to covering darkness, and fear audacious hands on my members? Yet if I were to ignore her message from fear, her weeping would be worse than an enemy in the night. I sinned once, and suffered a year’s repulsion: her hands on me show no mercy.

            Yet no one would hurt a sacred lover: he could go like this down the middle of Sciron’s road. Whoever’s a lover, might walk on Scythia’s shore, with no one there so barbarous as to harm him. The Moon helps him on his way; the stars light the ruts; Love shakes the blazing torch up ahead; raging wild dogs avert their gaping jaws. The road’s safe at any time for such as him. Who’s so cruel as to scatter the impoverished blood of a lover, and one whom Venus herself befriends?

            But if I knew my certain death followed the event, perhaps such a fate would be worth more to me. She’ll bring perfumes and deck my tomb with garlands, and sit by my bust and guard it. Gods don’t let her stick my bones in a crowded place, where the vulgar make a busy track of the highway! Lovers’ tombs are dishonoured by that after death. Let a leafy tree hide me in quiet ground, or bury me entrenched in unknown sands: it won’t give me joy to have my name on the street.


Book III.17:1-42 A Prayer to Bacchus


            Now, O Bacchus, I prostrate myself humbly in front of your altars: father, give me tranquillity: prosper my passage. You can restrain the disdain of angry Venus, and there’s a medicine for sorrows in your wine. Lovers are joined by you, by you set free. Bacchus wash this trouble from my soul. That you also are not innocent of love, Ariadne bears witness, drawn through the sky, by lynxes of yours, to the stars.

            This disease that has kept the flame in my bones from of old, the funeral pyre or your wine will heal. A sober night is always a torment for lonely lovers, and hope and fear strain their spirits this way and that.

            But if your gifts by heating my brain summon sleep to my bones, then I’ll sow vines and plant the hills in rows, watching myself that no wild creatures harm them. If only I can crown my vats with purple unfermented wine, and the new grape stain my trampling feet, then what’s left of my life I’ll live by you and your horns, and Bacchus, they’ll say I’m the poet of your worth.

            I’ll tell how your mother gave birth from Etna’s lightning bolt; of the Indian warriors routed by Nysa’s dancers; of Lycurgus raging vainly at the new-found vine; of Pentheus’s death pleasing to the three-fold Maenads; and the Tuscan sailors in the curbed bodies of dolphins sliding into the depths from the vine-tangled ship; and sweet-smelling streams for you through the midst of Dia, from which the Naxian people drank your wine.

            Your white neck burdened with trailing clusters of ivy-berries, Bassareus, a Lydian turban crowns your hair. Your smooth throat will glisten with scented olive oil, and the flowing robe will brush your naked feet. Dircean Thebes will beat the soft drums, and goat-footed Pans will play on unstopped reeds. Nearby the Great Goddess, Cybele, with turreted crown will clash harsh cymbals in the Idaean dance. The mixing bowl will stand in front of your temple doors, for wine to be poured over your sacrifice from the golden ladle.

            These I’ll tell of not humbly, but in an elevated style, in such a breath as sounded from Pindar’s lips. Only do you set me free from this despotic servitude, and conquer this anxious mind with sleep.


Book III.18:1-34 The death of Marcellus, Augustus’s nephew.


            Where the sea barred from shadowy Lake Avernus plays by Baiae’s steamy pools of warm water; where Misenus, trumpeter of Troy, lies in the sand, and the road built by Hercules’s efforts resounds; there, where the cymbals clashed for the Theban god when he sought to favour the cities of men - but now Baiae hateful with this great crime, what hostile god exists in your waters? – there, burdened, Marcellus sank his head under the Stygian waves, and his spirit haunts your lake.

            What profit did he get from birth or courage or the best of mothers, or being embraced at Caesar’s hearth? Or a moment ago the waving awnings in the crowded theatre, and everything fondled by his mother’s hands? He is dead, and his twentieth year is left ruined: such a bright day confined in such a small circle.

            Go now, indulge your imagination, and dream of your triumphs, enjoy the whole theatre’s standing ovation, outdo Attalus’s cloths of gold, and let the great games be all a glitter: you’ll yield them to the flames. All must still go there, of high or low station: though evil, this road is frequented by all: the triple-headed baying hound, Cerberus, must be entreated, the grim old boatman Charon’s common ferry be boarded. Though a cautious man sheathe himself in iron or bronze, death will still drag out his hidden head.

            No beauty saved Nireus, or courage Achilles, or wealth Croesus, produced from Pactolus’s streams. This was the sadness that unknowingly ravaged the Achaeans, when Agamemnon’s new passion cost them dearly.

            Let them carry this body void of its soul, to you, Boatman, who ferries across the dutiful shades: where Marcus Claudius conqueror of Sicily’s land, and Julius Caesar, are, he has left humankind, on the path to the stars.


Book III.19:1-28 Female desire


            You often taunt me with my passion: believe me, it commands you more. You, when you’ve snapped the reins of the modesty you despise, can set no limits to your mind ensnared. The fire in burning corn will sooner be stamped out, the rivers return to the founts where they were born, the Syrtes offer quiet harbour, and savage Cape Malea offer the sailor kind welcome on its shore, than any man be able to restrain your course, or curb the spurs of your impetuous wantonness.

            Witness Pasiphae who suffered the disdain of the Cretan bull, and wore the deceptive horns of the wooden cow. Witness Tyro, Salmoneus’s daughter, burning for Thessalian Enipeus, longing to yield completely to the river-god. Myrrha too is a reproach, on fire for her aged father, buried in the foliage of a new-created tree. Why need I mention Medea, who, in her time as a mother, satisfied her fury by the murder of her children? Or Clytemnestra through whom the whole House of Mycenean Pelops remains infamous for her adultery?

            And you Scylla, oh, sold on Minos’s beauty, shore off your father’s kingdom with his purple lock of hair. That was the dowry the virgin pledged to his enemy! Nisus, treacherous love opened your city gates. And you, unmarried ones, burn torches of happier omen: the girl clutches the Cretan ship and is dragged away.

            Still Minos does not sit as a judge in Hell without reason: though he conquered, he was merciful to his foe.


Book III.20:1-30 A new contract of Love


            Do you think the man you’ve seen set sail from your couch can remember your beauty now? Cruel the man who could exchange his girl for wealth! Was all Africa worth as much as those tears? But you, foolish girl, think idle words are gods. Perhaps he wears out his heart on another passion.

            Beauty is your power, the chaste arts that are Minerva’s, and brilliant glory reflects on you from your grandfather’s learning. Your house is fortunate, if only your lover is true. I’ll be true: run, girl, to my bed!

            My first night has come! Grant me the space of a first night: Moon linger longer over our first couch. You also Phoebus, who prolong the fires of summer, shorten the path of your lingering light.

            First the terms must be laid out, and the pledges sealed, and the contract written for my new love. Amor with his own seal binds these tokens: the witness, the whirling crown of Ariadne the starry goddess.

            How many hours must give way to my discourse, before Venus urges sweet battles on us! For, if the bed’s not bound round with certain terms, nights without sleep have no gods to avenge them, and passion soon loosens the chains it imposed. Let the first omens keep us loyal.

            So then, who breaks the pledges sworn on the altars, and dishonours the nuptial rites on a strange bed, let him know all the miseries love is used to: may he offer his person to sly gossip, and may his mistress’s window not open to his weeping at night: may he love forever, and forever lack love’s fruition.


Book III.21:1-34 Recipes for quenching love


            I’m compelled to set out on the long route to learned Athens, so that the journey’s distance might free me of love’s burden. For love for my girl grows with constant gazing: love offers itself as its greatest nourishment.

            I’ve tried every way, by which love can be put to flight: but the god himself presses me on every side. Still she’ll barely ever admit me, and often denies me: or if she comes sleeps fully clothed at the edge of the bed. There’s only one solution: changing countries, love will travel as far from my mind, as Cynthia is from my eyes.

            Let’s go then, my friends, launch our ship on the sea, and draw lots in pairs for your turn at the oars. Hoist happy sails to the top of the mast: now the wind favours the sailor’s watery path. Towers of Rome, and you, my friends, farewell, and farewell you too, girl, whatever you meant to me!

            So now I’ll be carried off, the Adriatic’s untried guest, and now be forced to approach with prayers the gods of the sounding wave. Then when my boat has crossed the Ionian Sea, and dropped its sails in Lechaeum’s placid waters, hurry, feet, to endure the task that’s left, where the fields of the Isthmus keep back either sea. Then where the shores of Piraeus’s harbour greet me, I’ll climb the long reaches of Theseus’s road.

            There I’ll begin to mend my soul in Plato’s School, or in your Gardens, learned Epicurus; or pursue Demosthenes’s weapon, the study of oratory; the salty wit of your books, learned Menander; or ornate pictures will captivate my eyes; or what hands have finished in ivory or more frequently bronze.

            Either the passage of years, or the long spaces of the deep will heal the wounds in my silent breast: or if I die, fate will crush me, not shameful love: and that day of death will be an honour to me.


Book III.22:1-42 Come home Tullus


            Tullus, has cool Cyzicus pleased you for so many years, where the isthmus flows with Propontus’s waters? And Cybele of Dindymus fashioned from carved tusks; and the path taken by the horses of Dis the rapist? Though the cities of Helle, daughter of Athamas, delight you, perhaps, Tullus, still be moved by my longing.

            Though you gaze at Atlas holding up the whole sky; or the head of Medusa severed by Perseus’s hand; the stables of Geryon; or the marks, in the dust, of Hercules and Antaeus, or the Hesperides’s dances: though your oarsmen drive back the Colchian River Phasis, and follow the whole route of those timbers cut on Pelion, a rough pine tree forced to the form of a new prow, sailed through the rocks led by Argos’s dove: though Ortygia is to be seen and the shores of Cayster, and where the Nile water governs seven channels: all these miracles give way to Roman lands: here nature has placed all that has ever been. It’s a land better fitted for defence than for attack: Fame is not ashamed of your history Rome. Since our power is established by loyalty as much as weapons: our wrath restrains victorious hands.

            Here flows Tibur’s Anio; Clitumnus from Umbrian tracks; and Marcius’s works with eternal water; Alba’s lake and Nemi thick with leaves, and the healing spring Pollux’s horse drank. But no horned snakes slithering on scaly bellies, Italian waters are not seething with strange monsters. Here Andromeda’s chains do not clink for her mother’s sin; no Phoebus flees Ausonian banquets in terror; no distant fires have burned anyone in person, as Althaea brought about her son Meleager’s ruin. No savage Bacchantes hunt Pentheus through the trees, nor are Greek ships set free by the substitution of a doe. Juno has no power to curve horns from her rival’s brow, or disfigure her beauty with a cow’s ugliness. No torturing trees of Sinis, nor rocks that gave no welcome to the Greeks, nor beams curved to one’s fate.

            This place gave you birth, Tullus, this is your sweetest home, here is honour to seek, worthy of your people. Here are citizens for your oratory: here is ample hope of offspring, and the fitting love of a future wife.


Book III.23:1-24 The lost writing tablets


            So, my clever writing-tablets are lost, then, and so many good texts too! They were worn away by my hands former usage, and they required good faith by not being sealed. Moreover without me they knew how to pacify my girls, and how to speak eloquent words without me. It wasn’t gold fittings made them precious: they were dingy wax on ordinary boxwood. Such as they were they stayed faithful always to me, and always produced a good effect.

            Perhaps the tablets were entrusted with these words: ‘I am angry because you were late yesterday, you laggard. Or did someone else seem lovelier to you? Or did you spread some unkind slander about me?’ Or she said: ‘Come today, we’ll rest together: all night, Love has been preparing a welcome.’ And whatever else a willing and talkative girl invents when she sets a time, with flattering wiles.

            Oh well, now some miser writes his accounts on them, and places them with his dire ledgers! Whoever gives me them back can have gold: who would keep pieces of wood and not have money? Go boy, and quickly stick these words on some column, and write that your master lives on the Esquiline.


Book III.24:1-20 Coming to his senses


            Woman the faith you place in your beauty’s mistaken: for a while now my eyes have made you far too proud. My love has paid such tributes to you, Cynthia, it shames me that you’re honoured by my verse.

            I often praised the many beauties combined in you, because love thought you were what you are not. Your aspect was often compared with rosy Dawn, though the beauty of your face was all applied by hand: my father’s friends couldn’t divert me from this, nor any Thessalian witch, with the wide sea, wash it away. This I confessed, in truth, not compelled by knife or flame, wrecked on Aegean waters. I was seized and seethed in Venus’s cruel cauldron: I was bound, my hands twisted behind my back.

            Behold, my wreathed boats reach harbour, the Syrtes are past, and I cast anchor. I come to my senses now at last, weary of the wild surge, and my wounds are closed and healed.

            Good Sense, if there is such a goddess, I dedicate myself to your shrine!  Jupiter was deaf to all my prayers.          

Book III.25:1-18 The End of the Affair


            I was laughed at among the guests seated for the banquet, and whoever wished was able to gossip about me. I managed to serve you faithfully for five years: you’ll often grieve for my loyalty with bitten nails.

            Tears have no effect on me: I was ensnared by those wiles: Cynthia you only every wept with guile. I will weep, departing, but insult overcomes tears: you do not allow the yoke to move in harmony.

            Now goodbye to the threshold weeping at my words: to the entrance never hurt by my hand in anger. But let age’s weight burden you with hidden years and luckless wrinkles come to your features! May you long then to tear out white hairs by their roots, ah, when the mirror rebukes you with your wrinkles, and may you in turn, rejected, suffer proud arrogance, and, changed to an old woman, regret what you have done!

            These are the dread events my pages prophesy for you: learn to fear the fate of your beauty!




Book 4



Book IV.1:1-70 Rome and its history. 55

Book IV.1A:71-150 Horos’s soliloquy: Propertius’s role.56

Book IV.2:1-64 The God Vertumnus. 57

Book IV.3:1-72 A wife’s letter. 58

Book IV.4:1-94 The Tarpeian Hill59

Book IV.5:1-78 Elegy for the Procuress. 61

Book IV.6:1-86 The Temple of Palatine Apollo.. 62

Book IV.7:1-96 Cynthia: From Beyond the Grave. 63

Book IV.8:1-88 Cynthia in a fury. 65

Book IV.9:1-74 Hercules on the Palatine: the Sacred Grove. 66

Book IV.10:1-48 The Temple of Feretrian Jupiter. 68

Book IV.11:1-102 Cornelia to Paullus: From Beyond the Grave. 68


Book IV.1:1-70 Rome and its history


            Here, whatever you see, stranger, which is mighty Rome, before Trojan Aeneas was hills and grass: and Evander’s fugitive herd lay where the Palatine stands, sacred to Apollo of Ships. These golden temples sprang from earthly gods: there was no disgrace in houses made without art: Tarpeian Jupiter thundered from a bare cliff, and Tiber was foreign to our cattle.

            Where Remus’s house raises itself from that stairway, a single hearth was a whole kingdom to the brothers. The Curia that shines up there robed with the purple hem of the Senate, held the Fathers, dressed in animal skins, to its rustic heart. A shepherd’s horn called the citizens to speak in ancient times: often the Senate was a hundred of them in a field.

            No billowing awnings hung over the theatre’s space: the stage didn’t smell of its customary saffron. No man cared to seek out alien gods: while the awed people trembled at their father’s rites. But, they celebrated the Parilia, annually, with bonfires of straw, and such purification as we repeat now with the docked horse’s blood.

            Vesta, poor, delighted in garlanded donkeys, and skinny cattle pulled cheap emblems. At the Compitalia the narrow crossroads were purified with the blood of fatted pigs, and the shepherd offered sheep’s guts to the sound of reed pipes. The ploughman, dressed in skins, flourished his hairy scourge, from which lawless Fabius Lupercus took the Lupercalia’s sacred rite.

            Their raw soldiers did not gleam with threatening armour: they joined in battle naked, with fire-hardened pikes. Lycmon, the countryman, pitched the first general’s tent, and the greater part of Tatius’s wealth was in sheep. So were the Titienses, heroic Ramnes, and the Luceres of Solonium, so Romulus drove four white triumphal horses.

            For certain Bovillae was hardly a suburb of the tiny city, and Gabii was greatly crowded, that now is nothing. And Alba stood, powerful, founded through the omen of a white sow, when it was a long journey from there to Fidenae. The Roman child has nothing of his fathers save the name, nor reflects that a she-wolf was his race’s foster-mother.

            Here, Troy, for the best, you sent your exiled household gods. Here, at such auguries, the Trojan vessel sailed! Even then the omens were good, since the open womb of the Wooden Horse did not fatally wound her, when the trembling father clung to his son’s back, and the flames were afraid to scorch those pious shoulders.

            Then came the spirited Decii, and the consulship of Brutus, and Venus herself carried Caesar’s arms here, bore the victorious arms of a resurgent Troy. Iulus, a fortunate country received your gods, since the tripod of Avernus’s quivering Sybil told Remus on the Aventine to purify the fields. And Cassandra, the prophetess of Troy’s ravings proved truthful in time, concerning ancient Priam: ‘Wheel your horses, Greeks! You win in vain! Troy’s earth will live, and Jupiter grant arms to her ashes!’

            Wolf of Mars, the best of nurses to our State, what towers have sprung from your milk! Now to try and set out those towers in patriotic verse, ah me, how puny the sound that rises from my mouth! But however thin the streams that flow from my chest, it is all in the service of my country. Let Ennius crown his verse with a shaggy garland: Bacchus, hold out to me leaves of your ivy, so that my books might make Umbria swell with pride, Umbria fatherland of the Roman Callimachus! Whoever sees the towers of Assisi climbing from the valley, honour those walls according to my genius! Rome, favour me, the work soars up for you: citizens grant me good omens, and let a bird on the right sing at my inception! I will cry: ‘Fall Troy, and Trojan Rome arise!’: and I will sing the lengthy perils on sea and land. I will sing rites and days, and the ancient names of places: my horses need to strain towards that goal.


Book IV.1A:71-150 Horos’s soliloquy: Propertius’s role.


            ‘Where are you rushing to, Propertius, straying rashly, speaking about Fate? The threads you spin are not from a true distaff. Singing, you summon tears: Apollo’s averted: you demand words you’ll regret from an unwilling lyre. I’ll speak the truth from true sources, or prove myself a seer who does not know how to move the stars on their bronze sphere. Orops of Babylon, child of Archytas, fathered me, Horos, and my house is descended from Conon as ancestor. The gods are my witnesses, that I’ve not disgraced my family. Now men make profit out of the gods (Jupiter is tricked by gold) and from the stars return on the slanting zodiac’s circle, Jupiter’s fortunate planet, rapacious Mars, and heavy Saturn a weight on every head: what Pisces determines, and Leo’s fierce sign, and Capricorn washed in the western sea.

            When Arria was in labour with her twin sons (forbidden to by a god, she gave her sons weapons), I foretold they would be unable to bring back their spears to their father’s household gods: and now in truth two graves confirm my word. Since Lupercus, protecting his horse’s wounded head, failed to defend himself when the horse fell: while Gallus guarding the standards entrusted to him in camp, died for the eagle’s beak, bathing it in his blood. Ill-fated boys, both killed by a mother’s greed! My prophecy touched on truth, though unwillingly.

            I, too, cried out, when Lucina prolonged Cinara’s labour pains, and her womb’s tardy burden delayed: “Make Juno a vow she must hear!” She gave birth: my books won the prize! These things are not expounded in the desert cave of Jupiter Ammon, or by entrails that speak what the gods commit to them, or by him who interprets the crow’s wing-beats, or by the dead shade produced from mystical waters. The track of the heavens must be examined, and the path of truth among the stars, and knowledge looked for from the five zones. 

            Calchas was a profound example: since he freed at Aulis the ships clinging rightly to god-fearing cliffs: the same who bloodied a sword on the neck of Agamemnon’s girl, and granted the Atrides bloodstained sails. Yet the Greeks did not return: quench your tears, razed Troy, and consider Euboea’s bay! Nauplius raises his fires by night in vengeance, and Greece sails weighed down by her spoils. Victorious Ajax, son of Oileus, rape, then love, your prophetess, Cassandra, though Minerva forbids her to be stripped of her robe!

            So much for history: now I turn to your stars: prepare yourself impartially to witness new grief. Ancient Umbria gave birth to you, at a noble hearth: am I lying? Or has my mouth revealed your country? Where misty Mevania wets the open plain, and the summer waters of the Umbrian lake steam, and the wall towers from the summit of climbing Assisi, that wall made more famous by your genius?

            Not of an age to gather them, you gathered your father’s bones, and yourself were forced to find a meaner home. Since though many bullocks ploughed your fields, the merciless measuring-rod stole your wealth of land. Soon the bulla of gold was banished from your untried neck, and the toga of a free man assumed in front of your mother’s gods, then Apollo taught you a little of his singing, and told you not to thunder out your words in the frantic Forum.

            But you create elegies, deceptive art: – this is your battlefield – that the rest of the crowd might write by your example. You will suffer the charming struggles of Venus’s arms, and will be an enemy fit for Venus’s boys. Since whatever victories your labour wins you, one girl will escape your grasp: and though you shake the deeply fixed hook from your mouth, it will do no good: the fishing-spear will spike your jaw.

            You’ll gaze at night or day at her whim: unless she commands it the tear won’t fall from your eye. A thousand sentries won’t help you, or a thousand seals on her threshold: a crack is enough once she’s decided to cheat you.

            Now whether your ship is tossed about in mid-ocean, or you go unarmed among armed men, or the trembling earth yawns in a gaping chasm: fear the avaricious back of the Crab, eight-footed Cancer.’


Book IV.2:1-64 The God Vertumnus


            ‘Why marvel at my many shapes in one body? Learn the native tokens of the god Vertumnus. I am a Tuscan born of Tuscans, and do not regret that I have abandoned Volsinii’s hearths in battle. This crowd of mine delights me, I enjoy no ivory temple: it’s enough that I see the Roman Forum.

            Tiber once took its course there, and they say the sound of oars was heard over the beaten waters: but once he had given so much ground to his adopted children, I was named the god Vertumnus from the river’s winding (verso) or because I receive the first fruits from the returning (vertentis) spring, you believe them to be a ‘return’ for the sacrifice to Vertumnus.

            The first grape changes hue, for me, in darkening bunches, and hairy ears of corn swell with milky grains. Here you see sweet cherries, autumn plums, and mulberries redden through summer days. Here the grafter pays his vows with apple garlands, when the unwilling pear stock has borne fruit.

            Be silent empty rumour: there’s another pointer to my name: but believe the god who speaks about himself. My nature is adaptable to every form: turn me (verte) into whatever you wish: I’ll be noble. Clothe me in Coan silk, I’ll be no bad girl: and when I wear the toga who’ll say I am no man? Give me a scythe and tie twists of hay on my forehead: you can swear the grass was cut by my hand. Once I carried weapons, I remember, and was praised for it: yet I was a reaper when burdened by the basket’s weight.

            I’m sober for the law: but when the garland’s there, you’ll cry out that the wine’s gone to my head. Circle my head with a turban I’ll impersonate Bacchus’s form: if you’ll give me his lyre I’ll impersonate Apollo. Loaded down with nets I hunt: but with limed reed I’m the patron god of wildfowling.

            Vertumnus has also a charioteer’s likeness, and of him who lightly leaps from horse to horse. Supply me with rod and I’ll catch fish, or go as a neat pedlar with trailing tunic. I can bend like a shepherd over his crook, or carry baskets of roses through the dust. Why should I add, what is my greatest fame, that the garden’s choice gifts are given into my hands? Dark-green cucumbers, gourds with swollen bellies, and the cabbages tied with light rushes mark me out: no flower of the field grows that is not placed on my brow, and fittingly droops before me. Because the single shape became (vertebar) all, my native tongue from that gave me my name.

            And Rome, you gave rewards to my Tuscans, (from whom the Vicus Tuscus, the Tuscan Way takes its name today) at the time when Lygmon came with armed allies, and crushed fierce Tatius’s Sabine soldiers. I saw the broken ranks, the abandoned weapons, and the enemy turn their backs in shameful flight. Seed of the Gods, grant that the toga’d crowds of Rome may pass before my feet forever.

            Six lines are to be added: you, who hurry to answer bail, I will not delay you: this is the last mark on the way.

            I was a maple stock, cut by a swift sickle: before Numa, I was a humble god in a grateful city. But, Mamurius, creator of my statue in bronze, may the rough earth never spoil your skilful hands, that were able to cast me for such peaceful use. The work is alone, but the honour the work is given is not.’ 


Book IV.3:1-72 A wife’s letter


            ‘Arethusa sends this message to her Lycotas: if you can be mine, when you are so often absent. Still, if any part you wish to read is smeared, that blot will have been made by my tears: or if any letter puzzles you by its wavering outline, it will be the sign of my now fading hand.

            A moment ago Bactra saw you in the east again, now the Neuric enemy with armoured horses, the wintry Getae and Britain with its painted chariots, and the dark-skinned Indians pounded by the eastern waves.

            Was this the marriage oath and the night sealed with kisses, when, an innocent, I yielded to the urgency of your conquering arms? The ill-omened torch, carried before me by those who led, drew its dark light from a ruined pyre: and I was sprinkled with Stygian waters, and the headband was not set right among my hair: the god of marriage was not my friend.

            Oh, my harmful vows hang from every gate: and this is the fourth cloak I weave for your camp. Let him perish who tore a stake from an innocent tree, and made mournful trumpets from shrill horns, he is more worthy than Ocnus to lean on, and twist the rope, and feed your hunger, mule, to eternity! 

            Tell me, does the breastplate cut your tender shoulders? Does the heavy spear chafe your unwarlike hands? May they sooner hurt you than some girl’s teeth cause me tears, by marking your neck! They say your face is lean and drawn: but I pray that pallor is from desire for me. While I, when evening leads on the bitter night, kiss the weapons you have left behind. Then I moan by starlight that your cloak is not over all the bed, and that the birds that bring the dawn don’t sing.

            On winter nights I labour to spin for your campaigns, and cut Tyrian cloth for the sword: and I learn where the Araxes flows you must conquer, and how many miles a Parthian horse can go without water: I’m driven to study the world depicted on a map, and learn what kind of position the god set up there, which countries are sluggish with frost, which crumble with heat, which kindly wind will bring your sail to Italy.

            One caring sister sits here, and my pale nurse swears that the winter’s a time of delay. Fortunate Hippolyte! With naked breasts she carried weapons, and barbarously hid her soft hair under a helmet. If only the Roman camps were open to women! I would have been a loyal burden for your campaign. Scythian hills would not hinder me when the mighty god turns the waters to ice with deeper cold. Every love is powerful, but greater in an acknowledged partner: this fire Venus herself fans into life.

            Why then should robes of Phoenician purple gleam for me now, or clear crystals decorate my fingers? Everything’s mute and silent, and the Lares’s closed shrine is barely opened by one girl, through custom, on the infrequent Calends. The whimpering of the little puppy Craugis is dear to me: she is the only one to claim your share of the bed.

            I roof over the shrines with flowers, cover the crossroads with sacred branches, and the Sabine herb crackles on ancient altars. If the owl hoots perched on a neighbouring beam, or the flickering lamp merits a drop of wine, that day proclaims the slaughter of this year’s lambs, and the priests readied, burn for fresh profits.

            I beg you not to set so much glory in scaling Bactra’s walls, or the plunder of fine linen torn from a perfumed chieftain, when the lead shot scatters from the twisted sling, and the cunning bow twangs from the wheeling horse! But (and when the land of Parthia’s brood are overcome, may the headless spear follow your triumphant horses) preserve unsullied the pact of our marriage-bed! That is the sole condition on which I would have you back: And when I have carried your votive armour to the Capene Gate, I’ll inscribe there:



Book IV.4:1-94 The Tarpeian Hill


            I’ll tell of the Tarpeian Grove, and Tarpeia’s shameful tomb, and the capture of Jupiter’s ancient threshold. Tatius encircled this hill with a maple-wood palisade, and ringed his camp securely with mounds of earth. What was Rome then, when Cures’ trumpeter made Jupiter’s neighbouring cliffs shiver with a long peal, and Sabine javelins were piled in the Roman Forum, where now laws are issued to a subject world? The hills were walls: where the Curia is hedged in, the war-horse drank from the self-same spring.

            There was a pleasant grove hidden in an ivied hollow and many a tree filled the native streams with rustling. It was Silvanus’s branched house, where sweet pipings called the sheep out of the heat to drink. Here Tarpeia drew water for the Goddess: and the jar of earthenware burdened her head.

            And could one death be sufficient for that wicked girl, who wanted to betray your flames, Vesta? She saw Tatius practising manoeuvres on the sandy plain, and lifting his ornate spear among the yellow crests. She was stunned by the king’s face, and the royal armour, and the urn slipped through her careless hands. She often feigned that the innocent moon was ominous, and said she must wash her hair in the stream. She often took silver lilies to the lovely nymphs, so that Romulus’s spear might not hurt Tatius’s face: and when she climbed the Capitol clouded with the first fires, she brought back arms torn by hairy brambles. And sitting on that Tarpeian Hill of hers, she sobbed out, from there, her wound that nearby Jupiter would not forgive:

            ‘Campfires and royal tent of Tatius’s host, and Sabine weapons lovely to my eyes, O if only I might sit as a prisoner before your household gods, as a prisoner contemplating my Tatius’s face! Hills of Rome, and Rome that crowns the hills, and Vesta shamed by my wickedness, farewell! That horse, will carry my passions to his camp, whose mane is dressed to the right, by Tatius himself!

            No wonder Scylla was fierce with her father’s hair, and her white waist was transformed to fierce dogs? No wonder the horns of a monstrous brother were betrayed, when the winding path was clear from Ariadne’s rewound thread. What a reproach I will become to Ausonia’s girls, a traitress chosen as servant to the virgin flame! If anyone wonders at Pallas’s quenched fires, let them forgive: the altar is drenched with my tears.

            So rumour says, tomorrow, there will be a purging of the whole city: you must seize the dew-wet spine of the thorny hill. The whole track is slippery and treacherous: since it always hides silent water on its deceptive path. O if only I knew the incantations of the magical Muse! Then my tongue would have brought help to my lovely man. The ornate robe is worthy of you, not him without honour of a mother, nourished by the harsh teats of a brutal she-wolf.

            Stranger, as your queen, shall I give birth so in your palace! Rome betrayed comes with me, no poor gift to you. If not, so that the raped Sabine women are not un-avenged, rape me, and choosing one after the others repay in kind! I can separate the warring armies: you brides, strike a peace treaty my wedding-robe intervening.  Hymenaeus add your measure: trumpeter cease your wild sounds: believe me my bed will soften your warfare.

            Now the fourth bugle-call sings out the coming of day, and the stars themselves fall slipping into the Ocean. I will try to sleep, I will search out dreams of you: let your kind shadow come before my eyes.’

            She spoke, and let her arms fall in uneasy sleep, not knowing alas that she had lain down among fresh frenzies. For Vesta, the blessed guardian of Troy’s embers, fuelled her sin, and buried more burning torches in her bones. She ran, like a Thracian by swift Thermodon, tearing at her clothes, with naked breasts.

            It was a festival in the city (the city-fathers called it the Parilia) on the first such day the walls were started, the annual shepherds’ feast, holiday in the city, when rural plates are dripping with luxuries, while the drunken crowd leaps with dusty feet over scattered piles of burning straw. Romulus decreed that the watch should be free to rest, and the camp be silent, the trumpets cease. Tarpeia determined this was her chance, and met with the enemy: she struck a deal, she herself to be a partner to that deal.

            The hill was difficult to climb, but unguarded due to the feast: suddenly he struck down with his sword the dogs that were liable to bark. All displayed sleep: but Jupiter alone resolved to keep watch to your ruin. She had betrayed the gate’s trust and her sleeping country, and sought to marry that day as she wished. But Tatius (since even the enemy gave no rewards to wickedness) said: ‘Marry, and climb my royal bed!’ He spoke, and had her buried under his comrades’ heaped up shields. This was your dowry, virgin, fitting for your services.

            The hill took its name from the enemy’s guide, Tarpeia. O, watcher, unjustly you win a reward from fate.


Book IV.5:1-78 Elegy for the Procuress


            Earth cover your grave with thorns, Procuress, and let your shadow feel what you do not wish for, thirst: and may your ghost not rest among your ashes, and vengeful Cerberus terrorise your shameful bones with famished howling!

             Clever at winning even adamant Hippolytus to love, and always darkest omen to a peaceful bed, she could even force Penelope to be indifferent to rumours of her husband, and wed with lascivious Antinous. If she wishes it, the magnet will be unable to attract iron, and the bird will play the stepmother to her nestlings.

            And indeed, if she brought herbs from the Colline field to the trench, what’s firm would be dissolved to flowing water. She dared to set rules for the spellbound moon, and disguise her shape as a nocturnal wolf, so that by art she could blind watching husbands, and tear out the innocent eyes of crows with her nails, and considered with owls concerning my blood, and for me collected the fluids produced by a pregnant mare.

            She practised her role, alas, with flattering words, and just as the diligent mole drills out his stone-filled track: ‘If, at dawn, the golden shores of the Dorozantes delight you, or the shell that’s proud beneath the Tyrian waters, or King Eurypylus’s weave of the silk of Cos pleases you, or limp figures cut from beds of cloth of gold, or the goods they send from palmy Thebes, or murra cups baked in Parthian fires, then forget your loyalty, overturn the gods, let lies conquer, and shatter the harmful laws of chastity! Pretending to have a husband raises the price: employ excuses! Love returns mightier for a night’s delay.

            If by chance he roughs up your hair, his anger’s useful: after it press him into buying peace. Then when he’s purchased your embraces and you’ve promised love, pretend that these are the pure days of Isis. Let Iole flag up April Kalends to you, Amycle hammer home that your birthday’s in May. He sits in supplication – take your chair and write anything at all: if he trembles at these wiles, you’ve got him! Always have fresh bite-marks on your neck, that he might think were given in the to and fro of love-quarrels. But don’t be taken with Medea’s clinging reproaches  (surely she endured scorn for daring to ask first), but rather that costly Thais of witty Menander, when the adultress in his comedy cheats the shrewd Scythians.

            Alter your style for the man: if he boasts of his singing, go along with him, and join in with your tipsy words. Let your doorman look out for the bringers of gifts: if they knock empty-handed, let him sleep on, with the bolt slid home. Don’t be displeased at the soldier not fashioned for love, or the sailor if he carries gold in his rough hand, or one from whose barbarous neck a price-tag hung when he danced with whitened feet in the market-place. Consider the gold, and not the hand that offers the gold!

            Though you listen to poems what will you get but words? “What need is there, mea vita, to come with your hair adorned, and slither about in a thin silk dress from Cos?” The one who brings poems but no gifts of silken gowns, let his penniless lyre be dumb for you. While it’s springtime in the blood, while your year’s free of wrinkles, make use of your face today lest it pleases no one tomorrow! I have seen the budding roses of fragrant Paestum left scorched at dawn by the South Wind.’

            While Acanthis troubled my mistress’s mind like this my bones could be counted under my paper-thin skin. But, Venus O Queen, accept a ring-dove as an offering, its neck cut before your altars. I saw the cough congeal in her wrinkled throat, and the bloodstained phlegm issue from her hollow teeth, and she breathed out her decaying spirit on her father’s mat: the unfinished hut shivered by a cold hearth.  For the funeral there were stolen bindings for her scant hair, and a turban faded from lying in the dirt, and a dog, ever wakeful to my distress, when I was to slip the bolt with secretive fingers. Let the procuress’s tomb be an ancient wine-jar with a broken neck: and wild fig-tree push down with force upon it. Whoever loves strike at this grave with rough stones, and mingled with the stones add your curses!


Book IV.6:1-86 The Temple of Palatine Apollo


            The priest makes the sacrifice: let silence aid the sacrifice, and let the heifer fall, struck down before my altars. Let Rome’s wreath compete with Philetas’s ivy-clusters, and let the urn provide the waters of Cyrene. Give me soft costmary, and offerings of lovely incense, and let the loop of wool go three times round the fire. Sprinkle me with water, and by the new altars let the ivory flute sing of Phrygian jars. Fraud go far from here, and Injury to other skies: purifying laurel makes smooth the priest’s fresh path.

            Muse, we will speak of the Temple of Palatine Apollo: Calliope, the subject is worthy of your favour. The song is created in Caesar’s name:  while Caesar is sung, Jupiter, I beg you, yourself, to listen. There is a secluded harbour of Phoebus’s Athamanian coast, whose bay quiets the murmur of the Ionian Sea, Actium’s open water, remembering the Julian fleet, not a route demanding of sailors’ prayers. Here the world’s forces gathered: a weight of pine stood on the water, but fortune did not favour their oars alike.

            The enemy fleet, was doomed by Trojan Quirinus, and the shameful javelins fit for a woman’s hand: there was Augustus’s ship, sails filled by Jupiter’s favour, standards now skilful in victory for their country. Now Nereus bent the formations in a twin arc, and the water trembled painted by the glitter of weapons, when Phoebus, quitting Delos, anchored under his protection (since, uniquely floating, it suffered the South Wind’s anger), stood over Augustus’s stern, and a strange flame shone, three times, snaking down in oblique fire.

            Phoebus did not come with his hair streaming around his neck, or with the mild song of the tortoise-shell lyre, but with that aspect that gazed on Agamemnon, Pelop’s son, and came out of the Dorian camp to the greedy fires, or as he destroyed the Python, writhing in its coils, the serpent that the peaceful Muses feared.

            Then he spoke: ‘O Augustus, world-deliverer, sprung from Alba Longa, acknowledged as greater than your Trojan ancestors, conquer by sea: the land is already yours: my bow is on your side, and every arrow burdening my quiver favours you. Free your country from fear, that relying on you as its protector, weights your prow with the State’s prayers. Unless you defend her, Romulus misread the birds flying from the Palatine, he the augur of the foundation of Rome’s walls. And they dare to come too near with their oars: shameful that Latium’s waters should suffer a queen’s sails while you are commander. Do not fear that their ships are winged with a hundred oars: their fleet rides an unwilling sea. Though their prows carry Centaurs with threatening stones, you’ll find they are hollow timber and painted terrors. The cause exalts or breaks a soldier’s strength: unless it is just, shame downs his weapons. The moment has come, commit your fleet: I declare the moment: I lead the Julian prows with laurelled hand.’

            He spoke, and lent the contents of his quiver to the bow: after his bowshot, Caesar’s javelin was next. Rome won, through Apollo’s loyalty: the woman was punished: broken sceptres floated on the Ionian Sea. But Caesar his ‘father’ marvelled, out of his comet released by Venus: ‘I am a god: and this shows evidence of my blood.’

            Triton honoured it with music, and all the goddesses of the sea applauded, as they circled the standards of freedom. The woman trusting vainly in her swift vessel headed for the Nile, commanding one thing only, not to die at another’s order. The best thing, by all the gods! What sort of a triumph would one woman make in the streets where Jugurtha was once led!

            So Apollo of Actium gained his temple, each of whose arrows destroyed ten ships.

            I have sung of war enough: Apollo the victor now demands my lyre, and sheds his weapons for the dance of peace. Now let guests in white robes enter the gentle grove: and let lovely roses flow round my neck. Let wine, from Falernian wine presses, be poured, and Cilician saffron three times bathe my hair. Let the Muse fire the mind of drunken poets: Bacchus you are used to being an inspiration to your Apollo.

            Let one tell of the slavery of the Sycambri of the marshes, another sing the dark-skinned kingdoms of Cephean Meroe, another record how the Parthians lately acknowledged defeat with a truce. ‘Let him return the Roman standards, he will soon give up his own: or if Augustus spares the Eastern quivers for a while, let him leave those trophies for his grandsons to win. Crassus, be glad, if you know of it, among the dark dunes: we can cross the Euphrates to your grave.’

            So I will pass the night with drinking, so with song, until daylight shines its rays into my wine.


Book IV.7:1-96 Cynthia: From Beyond the Grave


            There are Spirits, of a kind: death does not end it all, and the pale ghost escapes the ruined pyre. For Cynthia, lately buried, beside the roadway’s murmur, seemed to lean over my couch, when sleep was withheld from me, after love’s interment, and I grieved at the cold kingdom of my bed. The same hair she had, that was borne to the grave, the same eyes: her garment was charred against her side, and the fire had eaten the beryl ring from her finger, and Lethe’s waters had worn away her lips. She sighed living breath, and speech, but her brittle hands rattled their finger-bones.

            ‘Faithless man, from whom no girl can hope for better, can sleep already have power over you? Are the tricks of sleepless Subura now forgotten, and my windowsill, worn by nocturnal guile? From which I so often hung on a rope let down to you, and came to your shoulders, hand over hand. Often we made love at the crossroads, and, breast to breast, our cloaks made the roadways warm. Alas for the silent pact whose false words the uncaring South-West Wind has swept away!

            No one cried out at the dying light of my eyes: I would have won another day if you’d recalled me. No watchman shook his split reeds for me: and, jostled, a broken tile cut my face. Who, at the end, saw you, bowed at my graveside, who saw your funeral robe hot with tears? If you disliked to go beyond the gate, you could have ordered that my bier travelled there more slowly. Ungrateful man, why didn’t you pray for a wind to fan my pyre? Why weren’t my flames redolent of nard? Was it indeed such an effort to scatter cheap hyacinths, or honour my tomb with a shattered jar?

            Let Lygdamus be branded, let the iron be white-hot for the slave of the house: I knew him when I drank the pale and doctored wine. And crafty Nomas, let her destroy her secret poisons: the burning potsherd will reveal her guilty hands. She who was open to the common gaze, through worthless nights, now leaves the track of a golden hem on the ground: and, if a talkative girl speaks of my beauty unjustly, repays it with heavier spinning tasks. Old Petale is chained to a foul block of wood, for carrying garlands to my tomb: Lalage is whipped, hung by her entwined hair, since she dared to make a request in my name.

            You allowed the woman to melt down my golden image, so she might have her dowry from my blazing pyre. Still, though you deserve it, I’ll not criticise you, Propertius, my reign was a long one in your books. I swear by the incantation of the Fates, that no one may revoke, so may three-headed Cerberus bark gently for me, that I have been faithful. If I am lying, may vipers hiss on my mound, and lie coiled above my bones.

            There are two places assigned beyond the foul stream, and the whole crowd of the dead row on opposing waters. One carries Clytemnestra’s unfaithfulness, another the monstrous framework of the lying Cretan cow:  see, others are swept onwards in a garlanded boat, where sweet airs caress Elysian roses, where tuneful lutes, where Cybele’s cymbals sound, and turbaned choirs to the Lydian lyre.

            Andromeda and Hypermestre, blameless wives, tell their story, with accustomed feeling: the first complains her arms are bruised, with the chains of her mother’s pride, and that her hands were un-deserving of the icy rock. Hypermestre tells how her sisters were so daring, her mind incapable of committing such a crime. So with the tears of death we heal the desires of life: I conceal the many crimes of your unfaithfulness.

            But now I give this command to you, if perhaps you are moved, if Chloris’s magic herbs do not wholly entrance you: don’t let Parthenie, my nurse, lack anything in her years of weakness: she was known to you, was never greedy with you. And don’t let my lovely Latris, who was named for her role, hold the mirror for some fresh mistress.

            And burn whatever verses you made about my name: cease to sing my praises.

            Drive the ivy from my mound that, with grasping clusters, and with tangled leaves, binds my fragile bones; where fruitful Anio broods over fields of apple-branches, and ivory never fades, because of Hercules’s power.

            Write, on a column’s midst, this verse, worthy of me but brief, so that the traveller, hurrying, from the city, might read:






            Don’t deny the dreams that come through sacred gateways: when sacred dreams come, they carry weight. By night we suffer wandering, night frees the imprisoned spirits, and, his cage abandoned, Cerberus himself strays. At dawn the laws demand return to the pools of Lethe: we are carried across, the ferryman counts the load he’s carried.

            Now, let others have you: soon I alone will hold you: you’ll be with me and I’ll wear away bone joined with bone.’

            After she had ended, in complaint, her quarrel with me, her shadow slipped from my embrace.


Book IV.8:1-88 Cynthia in a fury


            Hear about what caused headlong flight, through the watery Esquiline, tonight, when a crowd of residents rushed through the New Fields, and a shameful brawl broke out in a secret bar: though I wasn’t there, my name was not unstained.

            Lanuvium, from of old, is guarded by an ancient serpent: the hour you spend on such a marvellous visit won’t be wasted; where the sacred way is dragged down through a dark abyss, where the hungry snake’s tribute penetrates (virgin, be wary of all such paths!), when he demands the annual offering of food, and twines, hissing, from the centre of the earth. Girls grow pale, sent down to such rites as these, when their hand is rashly entrusted to the serpent’s mouth. He seizes the tit-bits the virgins offer: the basket itself trembles in their hands. If they’ve remained chaste they return to their parents’ arms, and the farmers shout: ‘It will be a fertile year.’

            My Cynthia was carried there, by clipped horses. Juno was the pretext, but Venus was more likely. Appian Way, tell, I beg you, of how she drove in triumph, with you as witness, her wheels shooting past over your stones. She was a sight, sitting there, hanging over the end of the shaft, daring to loose the reins over foul places. For I say nothing of the silk-panelled coach of that plucked spendthrift, and his hounds with jewelled collars on their Molassian necks, who’ll offer himself for sale, fated for filthy stuffing, while a shameful beard will cover those smoothly shaven cheeks.

            Since harm so often befell our couch, I decided to change my bed by moving camp. There is a certain Phyllis, living near Aventine Diana. When she’s sober nothing pleases: when she’s drunk everything goes. Teia is another, among the groves of Tarpeia, lovely, but full of wine, one man is not enough. I decided to call on them to lighten the night-time, and refresh my amours with untried intrigue.

            There was a couch for three on a private lawn. Do you want to know how we lay? I was between the two. Lygdamus was cup-bearer, and there was a set of summer glassware, and Greek wine that tasted Methymnian. Nile, the flute-player was yours, Phyllis was castanet dancer, and artless elegant roses were appropriately scattered. Magnus the dwarf himself, tiny in limb, waved his stunted hands around to the boxwood flute. The lamps flames flickered though the lamps were full, and the table sloped sideways on its legs. And I looked to throw Venus on the lucky dice, but the wretched Dogs always leapt out at me. They sang, I was deaf: bared their breasts, I was blind. Alas, I was off alone by Lanuvium’s gates.

            When suddenly the doors creaked aloud on their hinges, and a low murmur sounded from the entrance by the Lares. Immediately Cynthia flung back the folding screens, with hair undone, but furiously fine.  I dropped the glass from between loosened fingers, and my lips paled though they were slack with wine. Her eyes flashed lightning, and how the woman raged, a sight no less terrible than the sacking of a city.

            She thrust her angry nails at Phyllis: Teia cried out in terror to the neighbouring waters. The raised torches disturbed the sleeping citizens, and the whole street echoed with midnight madness. The first tavern in a dark street swallowed the girls, with loose dresses and dishevelled hair.

            Cynthia exulted in the spoils, and ran back victorious to strike my face with perverse hands, put her mark on my neck, drew blood with her mouth, and most of all struck my eyes that deserved it. And then when her arms were tired with plaguing me, she rooted out Lygdamus lying sheltered by the left-hand couch, and, dragged forward, he begged my spirit to protect him. Lygdamus, I couldn’t do a thing: I was a prisoner like you.

            With outstretched hands, and only then, it came to a treaty, while she would barely allow me to touch her feet, and she said: ‘If you’d have me pardon the sins you confess, accept what the shape of my laws will be. You’re not to walk about, all dressed up, in the shade of Pompey’s colonnade, or when they strew the sand in the licentious Forum. Take care you don’t bend your neck up to the back of the theatre, or give yourself over to your loitering by some open carriage. Most of all let Lygdamus be sold, he’s my main cause for complaint, and let his feet drag around double links of chain.’

            She spelt out her laws: I replied ‘I’ll obey the law.’ She smiled, with pride in the power I had granted. Then with fire she purified wherever the alien girls had touched, and washed the threshold with pure water. She ordered me to change all my clothes again, and touched my head three times with burning sulphur, and so I responded by changing the bed, every single sheet, and on the familiar couch we resolved our quarrel.


Book IV.9:1-74 Hercules on the Palatine: the Sacred Grove


            In those days when Hercules, Amphitryon’s son drove the oxen, O Erythea, from your stalls, he reached the untamed, cattle-rich Palatine, and, weary himself, halted his weary herd, where the Velabrum dammed its flow, where the boatman sailed over urban waters. But they were still not safe there, Cacus proving a treacherous host: he dishonoured Jupiter by thieving. Cacus live there robbing from his dreaded cavern, he who gave out separate sound from triple mouths. So there would be no obvious sign of the certain theft, he dragged the cattle backwards to his cave. Not without the god witnessing it: the bulls roared their fury, fury and rage broke down the savage doors.

            Struck three times on the forehead by the Maenalian club, Cacus fell, and Alcides spoke as follows: ‘Cattle, cattle of Hercules, go, my cudgel’s last labour, twice sought after by me, twice my prize, cattle, sanctify the Cattle-Market, with your deep lowing: your pastures will become the famous Roman Forum.’ he spoke, and thirst tormented his parched throat, while fertile earth supplied no water.

            But far away he heard the laughter of cloistered girls, where a Sacred Grove formed a shaded circle, the secret site of the Goddess, and the women’s holy fountains, and the rites never revealed to men without punishment. Wreaths of purple veiled its solitary threshold, and a ruined hut was lit by perfumed fires. A poplar with spreading foliage adorned the shrine, and its dense shadows hid singing birds.

            He rushed there, his un-moistened beard thick with dust, and uttered less than god-like words before the doors: ‘O you who linger in the grove’s sacred hollows, open your welcoming temple to a tired man. I stray, in need of a spring, the sound of waters round me, and a handful caught up from the stream would be enough.

            Have you not heard of one who carried the globe on his back? I am he: the world I accepted calls me Alcides. Who has not heard of the mighty doings of Hercules’s club, and those shafts that were never used in vain against harmful creatures, and of how for me, the only mortal, the Stygian shadows shone? Accept me here: weary, this land is scarcely open to me.

            Even if you sacrificed to Juno, bitter against me, she herself would not have shut her waters from me. But if any of you are afraid of my face or the lion’s pelt, or my hair bleached by the Libyan sun, I am the same who has carried out the slave’s tasks, in a cloak of Sidon, and spun the day’s tally on a Lydian distaff. My shaggy chest was caught in a soft breast-band, and I was fit to be a hard-handed girl.’

            So Hercules spoke: but the kindly priestess replied, her white hair tied with a purple ribbon: ‘Avert your eyes, stranger, and go from this sacred grove, go then, and, by leaving its threshold, flee in safety. The altar that is guarded in this secluded hut is prohibited to men, and avenged by fearsome law. Tiresias the seer gazed at Pallas to his cost, while she was bathing her strong limbs, laying aside her Gorgon breastplate. Let the gods grant you other fountains: this water flows only for women wandering its secret channel.’ So the aged priestess spoke: he burst the concealing doorway with his shoulders, and the closed gate could not bar his raging thirst.

            But after he had quenched the burning and drained the river, his lips scarcely dry, he gave out this harsh decree: ‘This corner of the world has accepted me, as I drag out my fate: weary, this land is scarcely open to me. The great Altar,’ he said ‘dedicated to the recovery of my herd, this greatest of altars made by my hands, will never be open to women’s worship, so that for eternity Hercules’s thirst will not go un-avenged.’

            Hail, Sacred Father, on whom austere Juno now smiles. Sacred one, sit favourably in my book. So the Sabine Cures enshrined this hero as the Sacred one, since he had cleansed the world, purified at his hands.


Book IV.10:1-48 The Temple of Feretrian Jupiter


            Now I will begin to reveal the origins of Feretrian Jupiter and the triple trophies won from three chieftains. I climb a steep path, but the glory of it gives me strength: I don’t enjoy wreathes plucked on easy slopes.

            Romulus, you set the pattern first for this prize, and returned burdened with enemy spoils, victorious at the time when Caeninian Acron was attempting the gates of Rome, whom you spilled with your spear on his fallen mount. Acron the chieftain from Caenina’s citadel, descendant of Hercules, was once the scourge of your lands, Rome. He dared to hope for spoils from Quirinus’s shoulders, but gave his own, not un-moistened by his blood. Romulus saw him, weighing his spear against the hollow towers, and anticipated him with an already certain vow: ‘Jupiter this Acron falls as a victim today to you.’ He vowed it and Acron fell as Jupiter’s spoil.

            So he was accustomed to conquer, the Father of Rome and Virtue, who, born of thrifty stock, endured the rigour of camp. The horseman was skilled with the bridle equally with the plough: and his helmet was wolf-skin, decorated with a shaggy crest: nor did his shield shine ornate with inlaid bronze: cattle carcasses had supplied his supple belt. There was no sound of war yet beyond the Tiber. The farthest prize was Nomentum, and three acres of captured Cora.

            The next example was Cossus with the killing of Tolumnius of Veii, when to conquer Veii was indeed a task. Alas, ancient Veii, you were also a kingdom then, and a golden throne was set in your market place: now the horn of the careless shepherd sounds within your walls, and they reap the harvest above your bones. It happened that Veii’s chieftain was standing on the gate-tower, speaking, not fearing for his city: and while the bronze-headed ram was battering the walls, where a long shield-work covered the line of siege, Cossus cried: ‘Brave men are better to meet in the open.’ Without delay both placed themselves on level ground. The gods aided Latin hands, and Tolumnius’s severed head washed Roman horses in blood.

            Claudius also threw the enemy back from the Rhine they had crossed, at that time when the Belgic shield of the giant chieftain Virdomarus was brought here. He boasted he was born of the Rhine itself, agile at throwing Gallic javelins from unswerving chariot-wheels. Hurling them, he advanced, in striped breeches, in front of the host: the engraved torque fell from his severed throat.

            Now triple spoils are stored in the temple: hence Feretrian, since with sure omen chief struck (ferit) chief with the sword: or because they carried (ferebant) the arms of the defeated on their shoulders, and from this the proud altar of Feretrian Jupiter is named.


Book IV.11:1-102 Cornelia to Paullus: From Beyond the Grave


            Paullus, no longer burden my grave with tears: the black gate opens to no prayer. When once the dead obey the laws of the infernal places, the gate remains like adamant, unmoved by plea. Though the god of the dark courts may hear your request, surely the shores of deafness will drink your tears. Entreaty moves the living: when the ferryman has received his coin, the ghastly doorway closes on a world of shadows. The mournful trumpets sang it, when the unkindly torch was placed below my bier, and flames dragged down my head.

            What use was my marriage to Paullus, or the triumphal chariot of my ancestors, or such dear children, my glory? Cornelia found the Fates no less cruel: and I am now such a burden as five fingers might gather. Wretched night, and you, shallow sluggish marshes, and whatever waters surround my feet, I come here before my time, yet I am not guilty: Father grant sweet judgement to my soul.

            Or if some Aeacus sits as judge, by his urn, let him protect my bones when the lot is drawn. Let the two brothers sit by him, and near to Minos’s seat, let the stern band of Furies stand, in the hushed court. Sisyphus, be free of your rock: Ixion’s wheel be still: deceptive water let Tantalus’s mouth trap you: today let cruel Cerberus not attack the shades, and let his chain hang slack from the silent bar. I plead for myself: if I lie, may the sisters’ punishment, the unhappy urn, weigh down my shoulders.

            If fame ever accrued to anyone from ancestral trophies, our statues tell of Numantian ancestry, equalled by the crowd of Libones on my mother’s side, and our house is strong in honour on both counts. Then, when the purple hemmed dress was laid aside for the marriage torches, and a different ribbon caught and tied my hair, I was united to your bed, Paullus, only to leave it so: read it on this stone, she was wedded to one alone. I call as witness the ashes of my forebears, revered by you, Rome, beneath whose honours trampled Africa lies, and Perses, his heart stirred by having Achilles for ancestor, and Hercules, that shattered your house Avernus: and that the censor’s law was never softened for me: and that my hearth never blushed for any sin of mine. Cornelia never harmed such magnificent war-trophies: she was more a pattern to be followed in that great house.

            My life never altered: wholly without reproach: we lived in honour from the wedding to the funeral torch. My birth gave me laws to follow from my blood, nor could I be rendered more in fear of judgement. Let the urn deal out whatever harsh measures to me, no woman shall be ashamed to sit by me: not you, Claudia, rare servant of the turret-crowned Goddess, who hauled on the cable of Cybele’s laggard image, or you Aemilia, whose white robe revealed the living flame, when Vesta asked for signs of the fire you swore to cherish. Nor have I wronged you, Scribonia, mother, my sweet origin: what do you wish to change in me, except my fate? My mother’s tears and the city’s grief exalt me, and my bones are protected by Caesar’s moans. He laments that living I was worthy sister to his daughter, and we saw a god’s tears fall.

            Moreover I earned the robe of honour through child-bearing: it was not a childless house that I was snatched away from. You Lepidus and Paullus, are my comfort in death: my eyes closed in your embrace. And I saw my brother twice installed in the magistrate’s chair: at the time of celebration of his consulship his sister was taken.  Daughter, you who are born to be a mirror of your father’s judgements, imitating me, make sure you have only one husband. And strengthen the race in turn: willingly I cross the ferry with so many of my own as my champions: this is the final reward, a woman’s triumph, that free tongues should praise her deserving ashes.

            Now I commend our children to you, Paullus, our mutual pledges: this anxiety still stirs, stamped in my ashes. The father must perform the mother’s duties: your shoulders must bear all my crowd of children. When you kiss their tears away, do so for their mother: now the whole household begins to be your burden. And if you must weep, do it without their seeing! When they come to you, deceive their kisses with dry cheeks!

            Let those nights be enough, Paullus, that you wear away for me, and the dreams where you often think it is my image: and when you speak secretly to my phantom, speak every word as though to one who answers.

            But if the bed that faces the doorway should be altered, and a careful stepmother occupy my place, boys, praise and accept your father’s wife: captivated, she will applaud your good manners. Don’t praise your mother too much: thoughtless speech that compares her with the first wife will become offences against her. Or if he remembers me, content that my shade suffices, and considers my ashes so worthy, learn now to feel how old age advances, and leave no path open for a widower’s cares. What was taken from me let it increase your years: so my children may delight the aged Paullus. And it is good: that I never dressed in mother’s mourning: all my flock came to my funeral.

            My defence is complete. Rise, witnesses, who mourn me, while kindly Earth repays the reward for my life. Heaven also is open to virtue: let me be worthy of honour, whose ashes are carried to lie among distinguished ancestors.








Book IV.5:1-78. A procuress, probably an invented character.



A name for the Greek mainland, derived from a region in the northern Peloponnese. Hence the Acheans, for the name of the people who fought against Troy in Homer’s Iliad.

Book II.28A:47-62. Its beautiful women.


Achaemenius, Achaemenian, Persian, Persia

Book II.13:1-16. Persian, from the Achaemenian Dynasty



A river and river god, whose waters separated Acarnania and Aetolia in north-western Greece. He wrestled with Hercules for the love of Deianira, and lost one of his horns. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book IX:1-88

            Book II.34:1-94. His waters shattered by love.



A river of the underworld, the underworld itself. The god of the river, father of Ascalaphus by the nymph Orphne. It is in the deepest pit of the infernal regions.

            Book III.5:1-48. The depths of the underworld.



The Greek hero of the Trojan War. The son of Peleus, king of Thessaly, and the sea-goddess Thetis (See Homer’s Iliad).

            Book II.1:1-78. He loved Patroclus.

            Book II.3:1-54. He died indirectly because of Helen.

            Book II.8A:1-40. His anger at Briseis being taken from him. His friendship with Patroclus, and killing of Hector.

            Book II.9:1-52. His dead body cared for by Briseis.

            Book II.22:1-42. Lovemaking did not affect his strength.

            Book III.1:1-38. He fought with the river-gods of the rivers Simois and Scamander (Xanthus).

            Book III.18:1-34. Not saved from daeth by his courage.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Claimed as an ancestor by Perses.


Achivus, Achaeans, Achaea

A name for the Greek mainland, derived from a region in the northern Peloponnese. Hence the Acheans, for the name of the people who fought against Troy in Homer’s Iliad.

            Book II.8A:1-40. Book III.18:1-34. The Greeks at Troy.



            Book IV.10:1-48. The Sabine king of Caenina who attacked Rome provoked by the rape of the Sabine women.


Actiacus, Actium

The promontory in Epirus site of the famous naval battle in the bay between Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) and Antony in 31BC. (It lies opposite the modern port of Préveza on the Gulf of Amvrakia.)

Antony was defeated by Octavians’ admiral, Agrippa and the outcome led to Cleopatra’s downfall. Passed by Aeneas. Associated with Apollo.

            Book II.1:1-78. The triumph in Rome after Actium is mentioned.

            Book II.15:1-54. The evils of Civil War.

            Book II.16:1-56. Antony defeated there.

            Book II.34:1-94. A fit subject for Virgil.

            Book III.11:1-72. The promontory of Leucas overlooking the bay contained the temple of Apollo.



The son of Pheres, king of Pherae in Thessaly. He married Alcestis, who fulfilled a promise made by Artemis-Diana that on the day of his death he would be spared if a member of his family died for him. She was rescued from the underworld by Hercules (or alternatively rejected by Persephone)

            Book II.6:1-42. Her loyalty.



The son of Myrrha by her father Cinyras, born after her transformation into a myrrh-tree. (As such he is a vegetation god born from the heart of the wood.) Venus fell in love with him. She warned him to avoid savage creatures, but he ignored her warning and was killed by a wild boar that gashed his thigh. His blood became the windflower, the anemone. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book X 503-739.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Wept over by Venus.



A king of Argos who led the Seven against Thebes, to restore Polynices, son of Oedipus to the throne. He survived thanks to his speaking winged horse Arion. When the sons of the Seven, the Epigoni, tried to seek revenge ten years later his son Aegialeus was killed. Adrastus died of grief.

            Book II.34:1-94. His horse Arion.


Adryas, Dryades, The Dryads

The wood-nymphs. They inhabit the oak trees in Ceres sacred grove and dance at her festivals

            Book I:20:1-52. Inhabitants of the Ausonian woods.



The son of Jupiter and Aegina, grandson of Asopus, the river-god of the north-eastern Peloponnese. He named his island, in the Saronic gulf, Aegina after his mother. Its ancient name was Oenopia.

            Book II.20:1-36. Book IV.11:1-102. His father Jupiter made him a judge of the dead in the  Underworld for his piety.



The island of Circe. (Cape Circeo a promontory, once an island with marshes on the landward side).

            Book II.32:1-62. Telegonus was Circe’s son.

            Book III.12:1-38. Propertius seems to confuse it with Calypso’s island.


Aegaeus, Aegean

            The Aegean Sea between Greece and Asia Minor.

            Book I.6:1-36. Book III.7:1-72. It is mentioned.

            Book III.24:1-20. Metaphorically the sea of love, since Venus-Aphrodite was born from its waves.


Aegyptus, Egypt

The country in North Africa. Its great river is the Nile. It was ruled by a Macedonian dynasty, of which the famous Cleopatra was a member, and became a Roman province. Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt, and mistress of Julius Caesar and Antony. She fell from power and committed suicide when she and Antony were defeated at the battle of Actium. (See Suetonius ‘The Twelve Caesars’ and, of course, Shakespeare.)

            Book II.1:1-78. Conquered by the Romans.

            Book II.33:1-22.Home of the cult of Isis.



            Book IV.11:1-102. A Vestal Virgin who cleared herself of the charge that she had allowed the sacred fire to go out by placing part of her dress in the ashes at which the fire flared.


Aemilius Paulus

            Aemilius Paullus defeated Demetrius of Pherae in 219BC.

            Book III.3:1-52. A subject of epic.



A Trojan prince, the son of Venus and Anchises, and the hero of Virgil’s Aeneid.  (See Turner’s etching and painting, The Golden Bough- British Museum and Tate Gallery.) He leaves ruined Troy carrying his father, and the sacred icons of Venus, and, with his son Ascanius also, sails to Delos where he sacrifices to the Delian gods. He consults the oracle of Apollo and is told to seek out his ancient mother and ancestral shores. He reaches Carthage, deserts Dido, and reaches Cumae. (See Virgil, The Aeneid I, IV, and V)

He visits the Sibyl, who conducts him to the Underworld, having plucked the golden bough. He sees his father’s shade in the fields of Elysium. (See Virgil, The Aeneid VI). He returns from the Underworld, and sails from Cumae north, along the western Italian coast, to Caieta (modern Gaeta) where he marks the funeral of Caieta his old nurse, who gives her name to the place. (See Virgil’s Aeneid, the opening lines of book VII.). He sets up Caieta’s tomb and inscribes an epitaph. He wins the throne of Latinus, and marries his daughter, Lavinia. He wages war with the Rutulians under Turnus, and is supported by Evander. He is deified as Indiges. Helenus prophesied that Aeneas carried the destiny of Troy and its descendant city, Rome.

            Book II.34:1-94. Sung by Virgil.

            Book III.4:1-22. Augustus descended (in the Imperial myth) from Aeneas.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The ancestor of the Romans.


Aeolius, Aeolic

            Book II.3:1-54. The Aeolic school of Greek lyric poets, Sappho being the most famous.



The Greek Tragedian (525-c456BC), author of the Oresteian Trilogy.

            Book II.34:1-94. His style not suitable for love poetry.



Jason, the son of Aeson, leader of the Argonauts, and hero of the adventure of the Golden Fleece. The fleece is represented in the sky by the constellation and zodiacal sign of Aries, the Ram. In ancient times it contained the point of the vernal equinox (The First Point of Aries) that has since moved by precession into Pisces.

            Book I.15:1-42. His desertion of Hypsipyle.


Aetna, Etna

            A volcanic mountain in Sicily.

            Book III.2:1-26. Polyphemus tried to woo Galatea there.

            Book III.17:1-42. Jupiter’s lightning bolts were forged there.



            Book III.20:1-30. The African continent and its potential wealth.


Aganippeus, Aganippe

The fountain of the Muses on Mount Helicon.

            Book II.3:1-54. Cynthia rivals the Muses.



Alba Longa was a town near Rome, ruled by Numitor, the father of Rhea Silvia. By Mars she conceived Romulus and Remus. Later she was called Ilia, the Trojan, from Ilium, Troy, and made the daughter of Aeneas to fit the myth of Trojan origin for the Romans.

            Book III.3:1-52. The early kings of Rome.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Founded there because of a favourable omen.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Augustus’s ancestral ‘home’.


Albanus, The Alban Lake

            Book III.22:1-42. The lake in the Alban Hills near Rome. See Nemi.



            Book I:20:1-52. Book IV.9:1-74. An epithet of Hercules as a descendant of Alceus.



The mythical King of the Phaeacians (Phaeacia is perhaps identified with Corfu), the grandson of Neptune. He married his sister Arete, and Nausicaa was their daughter. In Homer’s Odyssey VI he loads Odysseus with gifts, and is punished by Neptune for his generosity to Odysseus. The Argonauts also touched at Phaeacia.

            Book I.14:1-24. A source of gifts.


Alcmaeonius, Alcmaeon

The son of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle. He led the Epigoni in the War of the Seven against Thebes. He killed his mother who had betrayed her husband to his death through vanity, and was pursued by the Furies.

            Book I.15:1-42. He is alluded to.

            Book III.5:1-48. Pursued by the Furies.


Alcmene, Alcmena

The daughter of Electryon king of Tiryns, wife of Amphitryon, and mother of Hercules by the god Jupiter. Arachne depicted her rape by Jupiter disguised as Amphitryon. Deianira, wife of Hercules, sister of Meleager, is her daughter-in-law.

            Book II.22:1-42. Loved by Jupiter.


Ales, see Amor



            The city of Northern Egypt.

            Book III.11:1-72. Cleopatra’s northern capital.



            A faithless shepherd-boy in Virgil.

            Book II.34:1-94. See Virgil’s Eclogue II.



The wife of Alcmaeon who killed him, after he had deserted her for Callirhoe. She killed her own brothers to cancel the blood-debt. This is part of a complicated series of myths centreing on the magic necklace and robe of Harmonia. See Graves ‘The Greek Myths’ and Calasso ‘The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony’.

Book I.15:1-42. Her loyalty.



The mother of Meleager, and wife of Oeneus, king of Calydon. The sister of the Thestiadae, Plexippus and Toxeus. She sought revenge for their deaths at the hands of her own son, Meleager. She threw into the fire the piece of wood that was linked to Meleager’s life, and which she once rescued from the flames, at the time of the Fates prophecy to her.

            Book III.22:1-42. The burning brand.


Amazonis, TheAmazons

One of the Amazons, a race of warlike women living by the River Thermodon, probably based on the Scythian warrior princesses of the Black Sea area (See Herodotus). In particular Hippolyte the mother of Hippolytus by Theseus.

            Book III.11:1-72. Penthesilea from Maeotis, near the Sea of Azov.

            Book III.14:1-34. They bathed naked in the river Thermodon.



            Book I.3:1-46. The god of Love and Sexual Desire, equated to Cupid.

            Book I.1:1-38. He is cruel in subduing lovers.

            Book I.2:1-32. He dislikes artifice.

            Book I.7:1-26. The god of love.

            Book I.14:1-24. Wealth is irrelevant to him.

            Book II.2:1-16. He ignores the desire for peace.

            Book II.3:1-54. Love dressed in white sneezed a good omen at Cynthia’s birth.

            Book II.6:1-42. God of free love.

            Book II.8A:1-40. A powerful god.

            Book II.12:1-24. Depicted as a boy armed with bow and barbed arrows, who wounds lovers.

            Book II.13:1-16. The archer god of love.

            Book II.29:1-22. The God of love, making sexual perfumes.

            Book II.30:1-40. No escape from him.

            Book II.34:1-94. Not to be trusted with beautiful girls.

            Book III.1:1-38. Multiple servants.

            Book III.5:1-48. A peace-loving god.

            Book III.16:1-30. He carries a blazing torch for lovers.

            Book III.20:1-30. He seals lovers’ contracts.



A Greek seer, one of the heroes, the Oeclides, at the Calydonian Boar Hunt. The son of Oecleus, father of Alcmaeon, and husband of Eriphyle. He foresaw his death, but was persuaded to join the war of the Seven Against Thebes by his wife, Eriphyle. Jupiter saved him by opening up a chasm where he fell, and he and his chariot and horses were swallowed up. He had a famous oracular shrine at the spot at Oropus in Boeotia.

            Book II.34:1-94. Not a fit subject for love.

            Book III.13:1-66. Destroyed by his wife’s greed. She was tempted by the necklace of Harmonia to persuade him to go to the war.



The husband of Niobe, and son of Jupiter and Antiope. The King of Thebes. His magical use of the lyre, given him by Mercury, enabled him to build the walls of Thebes. Antiope was the daughter of Nycteus of Thebes, famed for her beauty and loved by Jupiter in satyr form. She bore twin sons Amphion and Zethus. Her father exposed them on Mt Cithaeron, but they were found and raised by a shepherd. Later they built the walls of Thebes, Amphion, the husband of Niobe, using the magical music of his lyre (See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 176, XV 427). Antiope fled her father but was imprisoned by Lycus and his wife Dirce who tormented her. Her sons avenged her by killing Dirce.

            Book I.9:1-34. He is mentioned.

            Book III.15:1-46. Avenged his mother.



            Book IV.9:1-74. Hercules as the son of Amphitryon, the husband of Alcmena and son in turn of Alceus, King of Thebes.



            Book IV.5:1-78. One of Cynthia’s (?) slaves.



A daughter of Danaus. Searching for water in time of drought, she was saved from a satyr by Neptune. She slept with Neptune, and with his trident he created a spring named for her, source of the river Lerna, flowing  from a rock near the site where they mated.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Loved by Neptune.


Amythaonius, Amythaon

            The father of Melampus.

            Book II.3:1-54. He is mentioned.



            The son of Minos King of Crete, killed in Attica.

            Book II.1:1-78. Propertius has Aesculapius restore him to life.


Andromacha, Andromache

The wife of Hector, who was taken captive after his death and the fall of Troy, to become the wife of Neoptolemus.

            Book II.20:1-36. A weeping prisoner.

            Book II.22:1-42. Wife of Hector.


Andromede, Andromeda

The daughter of Cepheus and Cassiope (Iope) who was chained to a rock and exposed to a sea-monster Cetus because of her mother’s sin. She is represented by the constellation Andromeda which contains the Andromeda galaxy M31 a spiral like our own, the most distant object visible to the naked eye. Cetus is represented by the constellation of Cetus, the Whale, between Pisces and Eridanus which contains the variable star, Mira. Perseus offered to rescue her. (See Burne-Jones’s oil paintings and gouaches in the Perseus series, particularly The Rock of Doom). He killed the sea serpent and claims her as his bride.

            Book I.3:1-46. She is mentioned.

            Book II.28:1-46. Changes of fortune.

            Book III.22:1-42. Book IV.7:1-96. Offered as a sacrifice for the sins of her mother.


Anienus, River Anio

            A river near Rome, on which Tibur (Tivoli) stands.

            Book I:20:1-52. A country pleasure area.

            Book III.16:1-30. Book III.22:1-42. Tibur’s river.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Cynthia buried beside it.



            Book III.22:1-42. A Libyan giant killed by Hercules.



The daughter of Oedipus, King of Thebes, by Jocasta. She broke the city laws to bury her brother Polynices, and committed suicide. See Sophocles’s Antigone.

            Book II.8A:1-40. She is mentioned.



            The son of Nestor.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Died before his father, killed at Troy.



The poet of Colophon, who wrote an epic about the Seven Against Thebes, and love elegies to his mistress Lyde.

            Book II.34:1-94. His love for Lyde.



            Book IV.5:1-78. The chief suitor to Penelope in the Odyssey.



The daughter of Nycteus of Thebes, famed for her beauty and loved by Jupiter in satyr form. She bore twin sons Amphion and Zethus. Her father exposed them on Mt Cithaeron, but they were found and raised by a shepherd. Later they built the walls of Thebes, Amphion, the husband of Niobe, using the magical music of his lyre (See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 176, XV 427). Antiope fled her father but was imprisoned by Lycus and his wife Dirce who tormented her. Her sons avenged her by killing Dirce.

            Book I.4:1-28. Her beauty recognised.

            Book III.15:1-46. Dirce’s jealousy.


Antonius (Marcus), Antony

Antony, the Roman general, who seized the inheritance at Julius Caesar’s death, despite his will, and who was defeated by Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) at Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul, and Octavian’s naval commander, Vispanius Agrippa, at the naval battle of Actium in 31BC. Lover of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.

            Book II.16:1-56. Defeated at Actium.

            Book III.9:1-60. His hands ‘heavy with his fate’, his fate being, in a double entendre, Cleopatra.



The jackal-headed god Anpu of Egypt, identified with Mercury, and ‘opener of the roads of the dead’. He accompanies Isis.

            Book III.11:1-72. An emblem of Cleopatra.


Aonius, Aonia

            Book I.2:1-32. Part of Boetia containing Mount Helicon the haunt of the Muses.


Apelles, Apelleus

The Greek painter, of Colophon near Smyrna. He lived in the fourth century BC.

            Book I.2:1-32. Famous for his skill in portraying colour, light and surfaces.

            Book III.9:1-60. Famous for his paintings of Venus/erotica.



            A river in Thessaly.               

Book I.3:1-46. Maenads.


Apollo, see Phoebus

            Book III.9:1-60. Patron god of Troy.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. God of song.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Associated with the victory at Actium. His temple on the Palatine.


Appia (Via)

The Great South Road of Rome, which left the city on the east by the Capene Gate.

            Book II.32:1-62. Book IV.8:1-88.The way to Lanuvium.



            Book IV.5:1-78. The kalends of April were associated with courtesans who sacrificed to Venus and Fortuna virilis.


Aquilonius, Boreas, Aquilo

The North Wind, see Boreas.

            Book II.5:1-30. Book III.7:1-72. The north wind.


Ara Maxima

            Book IV.9:1-74. An altar situated in the Forum Boarium.



The countries bordering the eastern side of the Red Sea.

            Book I.14:1-24. Referred to.

            Book II.10:1-26. Subject to Augustus.



            Book I.14:1-24. Arabian. Propertius may be referring to Aelius Gallus who was Prefect of Egypt, and led a failed expedition to Arabia in 24BC.

            Book II.3:1-54. A source of traded silk.

            Book II.29:1-22. A source of perfumes.

            Book III.13:1-66. A source of cinammon.



Part of the Cithaeron mountain range on the borders of Attica and Boeotia.

            Book III.15:1-46. Dirce killed there.



            The River in Armenia flowing into the Caspian Sea.

            Book III.12:1-38. Book IV.3:1-72. A feature of the Parthian campaign.


Arcadius, Arcadia

A region in the centre of the Peloponnese, the archetypal rural paradise, anmed after Arcas, Callisto’s son. [‘Et in Arcadia ego’, ‘and I too (Death) am here in paradise’. See the paintings by Nicholas Poussin, Paris, Louvre; and Chatsworth, England]

            Book I.1:1-38. The location of Milanion and Atalanta (or Calydon).

            Book I.18:1-32. The haunt of the great god Pan.

            Book II.28:1-46. Callisto’s home.



The son of Eurydice and Lycurgus king of Nemea. The infant was killed by a snake while his nurse Hypsipyle had gone to show the Seven Against Thebes a spring. His funeral rites were the origin of the Nemean Games.

            Book II.34:1-94. The horse Arion wept at his funeral.



Possibly the mathematician and philosopher of the Pythagorean School who flourished in Tarentum (the Spartan colony on the heel of Italy) c 400BC.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. His ‘child’ is Orops.



The twin constellations of the Great and Little Bear, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, individually or together.

            Book II.22:1-42. The constellations halted in the sky.



It is not known whether Arethusa is a pseudonym or a fictional name.

            Book IV.3:1-72. Her letter to her husband Lycotas.



A mountain in Mysia.

            Book I:20:1-52. Hylas was seized there by the Nymphs.


Argeus, Argus

Argus was the steersman of the Argo, the first ship, built by Jason, and sailed to Colchis through the Hellespont and the Black Sea, in search of the Golden Fleece. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book VII.

            Book I:20:1-52. Hercules and Hylas sailed with the Argonauts.

            Book II.26A:21-58. The Argo navigated the Symplegades, the clashing rocks at the entrance to the Bosphorus by releasing a dove: when the dove’s tail feathers were clipped by the rocks the Argonauts rowed through, swiftly, following.

            Book III.22:1-42. The timbers of the Argo were cut on Mount Pelion.


Argivus, Argive

Of Argos the capital city of Argolis in the Peloponnese, but used to mean Greek, generally.

            Book I.15:1-42. Evadne of Argos.

            Book I.19:1-26. Greek.

            Book II.25:1-48. Greek beauty.



A creature with a thousand eyes, the son of Arestor, set to guard Io by Juno. He was killed by Mercury. After his death, Juno sets his eyes in the peacock’s tail.

            Book I.3:1-46. He is mentioned.



A youth apparently loved by Agamemnon who was punished for some sin by drowning.

            Book III.7:1-72. Mourned by Agamemnon.


Ariadne, Ariadna

A daughter of Minos. Half-sister of the Minotaur, and sister of Phaedra, she helped Theseus on Crete.

She fled to Dia with Theseus and was abandoned there, but rescued by Bacchus, and her crown is set among the stars as the Corona Borealis. (See Titian’s painting – Bacchus and Ariadne – National Gallery, London: and Annibale Carracci’s fresco – The triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne – Farnese Palace, Rome)). The Northern Crown, the Corona Borealis, is a constellation between Hercules and Serpens Caput, consisting of an arc of seven stars, its central jewel being the blue-white star Gemma.

            Book I.3:1-46. She is mentioned.

            Book II.3:1-54. Leads the Bacchic dancers.

            Book II.14:1-32. Book IV.4:1-94. Helped Theseus navigate the Labyrinth by means of a ball of thread that he unwound (the clew).

            Book III.17:1-42. Set among the stars by Bacchus.

            Book III.20:1-30. Her starry crown in the sky.


Arion, the horse of Adrastus

The winged horse of Adrastus, one of the Seven Against Thebes, gifted with human speech. He mourned Archemorus.

            Book II.34:1-94. Not a fit subject for love poetry.


Arionius, of Arion the Musician

Arion was a late seventh century BC Greek poet, who invented the dithyramb, a wild choric hymn, or Bacchanalian song, as a literary form. He was thrown from a ship during a sea voyage, by the crew, but a dolphin rescued him, and carried him to Corinth.

            Book II.26:1-20. A symbolised image of Propertius himself, rescuing Cynthia from spiritual shipwreck.


Armenius, Armenia

The country situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, famous for its tigers.

            Book I.9:1-34. Tiger country.



A friend or kinswoman of Propertius. The mother of Lupercus and Gallus.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. She fated her sons to die in war.



A river in Mysia, in Asia Minor.

            Book I:20:1-52 Visited by the Argonauts.


Ascraeus, Ascra

            Book II.10:1-26. Book II.13:1-16. The ancient Greek poet Hesiod’s birthplace in Boeotia.

            Book II.34:1-94. Hesiod.



            The regions of Asia Minor, Persia and India.

            Book I.6:1-36. Noted for their riches.

            Book II.3:1-54. Represented by Troy.


Asis, Assisi

            Asisium, modern Assisi, in Umbria.

            Book IV.1:1-70 .Book IV.1A:71-150.The birthplace of Propertius.



            A river in Boeotia.

            Book III.15:1-46. Its course lies near Mount Cithaeron.



The daughter of Iasus and Clymene beaten in the foot-race by Milanion q.v. who decoyed her with golden apples given him by Venus-Aphrodite.

            Book I.1:1-38. She is mentioned.


Athaman, Athamanes

            Book IV.6:1-86. The Athamanes were a people of Epirus.


Athamantis, Helle, the Hellespont

The daughter of Athamas and Nephele, sister of Phrixus. Escaping from Ino on the golden ram, she fell into the sea and was drowned, giving her name to the Hellespont, the straits that link the Propontis with the Aegean Sea, close to the site of Troy.

            Book I:20:1-52. Passed by the Argonauts.

            Book III.22:1-42. Helle as the daughter of Athamas.


Athenae, Athens

            The Greek city, sacred to Minerva-Athene.

            Book I.6:1-36. Book III.21:1-34. Renowned for its learning.



The Titan who rules the Moon with Phoebe the Titaness. Leader of the Titans in their war with the gods. The son of Iapetus by the nymph Clymene. His brothers were Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius. Represented as Mount Atlas in North-western Africa, holding up the heavens. Father of the Pleiades, Hyades and Hesperides.

            Book III.22:1-42. The far west, the Pillars of Hercules.



            Book I.8:1-26. From Atrax, a town in Thessaly, hence Thessalian.


Atrida, Atrides, Agamemnon

The king of Mycenae, son of Atreus, hence called Atrides,  brother of Menelaüs, husband of Clytaemnestra, father of Orestes, Iphigenia, and Electra. The leader of the Greek army in the Trojan War. See Homer’s Iliad, and Aeschylus’s Oresteian tragedies.

            Book II.14:1-32. Victor at Troy.

            Book III.7:1-72. Mourned for Argynnas, and sacrificed Iphigenia.

            Book III.18:1-34. Perhaps a reference to Argynnas.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Doomed by the sacrifice of Iphigenia.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Punished by Apollo with plague for the rape of Chryseis.


Attalicus, Attalic

Attalus III of Pergamum (d 133BC) left his great wealth to the Roman people. Attalica came to mean cloth of gold which he was said to have invented.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Book III.18:1-34. Cloth of gold.


Atticus, Attica

The region of southern Greece containing Athens.

            Book II.20:1-36. Haunt of the night-owl sacred to Athene-Minerva.



Julius Caesar’s grand-nephew, whom he adopted and declared as his heir, Octavius Caesar (Octavian). (The honorary title Augustus was bestowed by the Senate 16th Jan 27BC). His wife was Livia. Jupiter prophesies his future glory: his defeat of Antony, who had seized the inheritance, at Mutina: his defeat of the conspirators Cassius and Brutus at the twin battles of Philippi: his (Agrippa’s) defeat of Antony at Actium: and his (Agrippa’s) defeat of Pompey’s son at Mylae and Naulochus off Sicily. (See the sculpture of Augustus, from Primaporta, in the Vatican)

            Book II.1:1-78. Maecenas was a close friend of the Emperor.

            Book II.7:1-20. His power questioned in private matters.

            Book II.10:1-26. India and Arabia subject to him.

            Book II.16:1-56.Propertius wishes Augustus might live more humbly, referring to the casa Romuli preserved on the Palatine Hill.

            Book II.16:1-56. Book II.34:1-94. Defeated Antony at Actium.

            Book II.31:1-16. Opens the new Colonnade.

            Book III.4:1-22. Plans a campaign in India. Actually the campaign to Parthia in 20BC.

            Book III.9:1-60. Patron of Maecenas. Propertius hints at homosexual relations between them.

            Book III.11:1-72. Eliminated Antony’s and Cleopatra’s armies and navy. In a double entendre Propertius hints that Augustus may be a worse tyrant than those eliminated.

            Book III.12:1-38. His expedition to Parthia.

            Book III.18:1-34. His nephew Marcellus.

            Book IV.1:1-70. His arms derived from Aeneas.

            Book IV.6:1-86. His defeat of Antony at Actium (as Octavian)

            Book IV.11:1-102. Mourned Cornelia, half-sister to his daughter Julia. Julia was later banished for sexual laxity.



The Boeotian harbour where the Greek fleet massed prior to setting out for Troy and where Iphigenia was sacrificed. The area was a rich fishing-ground.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The harbour from which the Greeks set out.


Aurora, Pallantias

Goddess of the Morning, and wife of Tithonus, daughter of the Titan Pallas, hence called Pallantias or Pallantis, who fathered Zelus (zeal), Cratus (strength), Bia (force) and Nicë (victory) on the River Styx. Longs to renew the youth of her mortal husband Tithonus. She had gained eternal life for him but not eternal youth. She sees her son Memnon killed by Achilles, and begs Jupiter to grant him honours. He creates the Memnonides, a flight of warring birds from the ashes.

            Book II.18A:5-22. Not ashamed to love an older man.

            Book III.13:1-66. The dawn.


Ausonius, Ausonia

A country in lower Italy, or used for Italy itself. (Broadly modern Campania, occupying the Tyrrhenian coast and the western slopes of the Apennines, colonised by Greeks and Etruscans, and Calabria the ‘toe’ of the Italian ‘boot’ between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, colonised by the Greeks, and part of Magna Graecia)

            Book I:20:1-52. Home of Dryads.

            Book II.33:1-22. Italy.

            Book III.4:1-22. Italy’s control (Imperial wands).

            Book III.22:1-42. A mythological reference to an Ausonian banquet.

            Book IV.4:1-94. The girls of Ausonia, one of whom is Tarpeia.



The South Wind. Eurus is the East Wind, Zephyrus the West Wind, and Boreas is the North Wind.

            Book II.26A:21-58. A stormwind.



One of the Seven Hills of Rome. Aventinus was a mythical Alban king.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Its fields purified by Remus.

            Book IV.8:1-88. Its temple of Diana.



A name for the Underworld. A lake there. Identified with a lake near Cumae north of Naples, the haunt of the Sibyl, where a chasm was reputed to be an entrance to Hades itself. It was birdless, hence the Greek a-ornus.

            Book III.18:1-34. The lake, also near Baiae.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The Sybil’s haunt.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Entered by Hercules.



            The Mesopotamian city. Faced with glazed brick.

            Book III.11:1-72. Built by Semiramis in myth.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Noted for its priestly atronomers.


Baccha, Bacchantes

            Book III.22:1-42. The Maenads.



            The god Dionysus, the ‘twice-born’, the god of the vine. The son of Jupiter and Semele. His worship was celebrated with orgiastic rites borrowed from Phrygia. His female followers are the Maenades. He carries the thyrsus, a wand tipped with a pine-cone, the Maenads and Satyrs following him carrying ivy-twined fir branches as thyrsi. (See Caravaggio’s painting –Bacchus – Uffizi, Florence)

Snatched from his mother Semele’s womb when she was destroyed by Jupiter’s fire, he was sewn into Jupiter’s thigh, reared by Ino and hidden by the nymphs of Mount Nysa. (See Charles Shannon’s painting – The Childhood (or Education) of Bacchus – Private Collection)

He is Dionysus Sabazius, the barley-god of Thrace and Phrygia, ‘formosissimus alto conspiceris caelo’ the morning and evening star, the star-son, identified by the Jews with Adonis, consort of the Great Goddess Venus Aphrodite or Astarte, and therefore manifested with her in the planet Venus. Later he is the horned Lucifer, ‘son of the morning’.

Wine at the marriage feast or banquet is his gift. (See Velázquez’s painting – The Drinkers, or the Triumph of Bacchus – Prado, Madrid) (Note: Wine in Ancient Greece contained honey, aloes, thyme, myrtle berries etc. to form a thick sweet syrup which was diluted when drinking, hence the mixing bowls etc. at the banquets.)

            Book I.3:1-46. Book III.2:1-26. He is mentioned, as god of wine.

            Book II.30:1-40. The Maenads’ dance.

            Book III.17:1-42. A hymn to Bacchus.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Wreathed with ivy.

            Book IV.2:1-64. He wore an Indian turban.

            Book IV.6:1-86. His wine inspires Apollo. Drink aids the Muse.



A town in Persia, modern Balkh.

            Book III.1:1-38. Persia. Propertius hints that the glory of making it a boundary of Empire may also represent Rome’s furthest outreach.

            Book III.11:1-72. Persia ruled by Semiramis.

            Book IV.3:1-72. Lycotas is posted there.



The modern Baia, opposite Pozzuoli on the Bay of Pozzuoli, once the fashionable bathing place of the Romans, owing its name, in legend, to Baios, the navigator of Odysseus. The Emperors built magnificent palaces there. There was a causeway attributed to Hercules. Part now lies beneath the sea due to subsidence. It was a notoriously loose place for sexual intrigue.

            Book I.11:1-30. Cynthia is there.

            Book III.18:1-34. Marcellus died there in 23BC.



            Book III.17:1-42. Bassareus, an epithet of Bacchus.



A satiric poet, writer of iambi, and friend to Propertius whose work is now lost.

            Book I.4:1-28. Encourages disloyalty.


Belgicus, Belgian

            The Celtic tribes of Belgium.

            Book II.18B:23-38. Painted their faces.

            Book IV.10:1-48. Lead by Virdomarus crossed the Rhine.


Bellerophonteus, Pegasus

Pegasus the winged horse of Bellerophon, a blow from whose hoof created the Hippocrene spring on Helicon. Bellerophon was the heroic grandson of Sisyphus.

            Book III.3:1-52. The fountain Hippocrene.


Bistonius, Bistones

A people of Thrace. Thrace itself.

            Book II.30:1-40. The birthplace of Orpheus.



            Book II.2:1-16. A lake in Thessaly.


Boeotius, Boeotia

A country in mid-Greece containing Thebes.

            Book II.8A:1-40. Haemon’s city.

            Book III.3:1-52. Contains Mount Helicon.



The constellation of the Waggoner, or Herdsman, or Bear Herd. The nearby constellation of Ursa Major is the Waggon, or Plough, or Great Bear. He holds the leash of the constellation of the hunting dogs, Canes Venatici. He is sometimes identified with Arcas son of Jupiter and Callisto. Arcas may alternatively be the Little Bear.

He is alternatively identified with Icarius the father of Erigone. Led to his grave by his dog Maera, she committed suicide by hanging, and was set in the sky as the constellation Virgo.

            Book III.5:1-48. A winter constellation in northern latitudes.



The North Wind. Eurus is the East Wind,Zephyrus is the WestWind, and Auster is the South Wind. He is identified with Thrace and the north. He steals Orithyia, daughter of Erectheus of Athens, and marries her. She bears him the two Argonauts, Calais and Zetes. (See Evelyn de Morgan’s painting–Boreas and Orithyia– Cragside, Northumberland)

            Book I:20:1-52. His winged sons, Calais and Zetes.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Not cruel in his abduction of Orithyia.

            Book II.27:1-16. Book III.7:1-72. A cold stormwind. Feared by the raped Orithyia.


Borysthenidae, Dnieper

            The Borysthenes, the modern River Dneiper.

            Book II.7:1-20. Mentioned as a distant region.


Bosporus, Bosphorus

The gateway to the Black Sea. (Pontus)

            Book III.11:1-72. Mithridates King of Pontus defeated by Pompey.  Mithridates the Great, sixth king of Pontus of that name, was defeated by Lucullus and Pompey. Julius Caesar crushed his son Pharnaces in a swift battle at Zela in 47BC (So swift a victory that Caesar spoke the famous words ‘veni, vidi, vici ‘ = ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’).



            Book IV.9:1-74. The cattle-market at Rome, more commonly called the Boaria.



            A small town near Rome.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Later a suburb.



            The leader of the Gauls who attacked Delphi in 278BC.

            Book III.13:1-66. He committed sacrilege.


Brimo, Hecate

The daughter of the Titans Perses and Asterie, Latona’s sister. A Thracian goddess of witches, her name is a feminine form of Apollo’s title ‘the far-darter’. She was a lunar goddess, with shining Titans for parents. In Hades she was Prytania of the dead, or the Invincible Queen. She gave riches, wisdom, and victory, and presided over flocks and navigation. She had three bodies and three heads, those of a lioness, a bitch, and a mare. Her ancient power was to give to or withhold from mortals any gift. She was sometimes merged with the lunar aspect of Diana-Artemis, and presided over purifications and expiations. She was the goddess of enchantments and magic charms, and sent demons to earth to torture mortals. At night she appeared with her retinue of infernal dogs, haunting crossroads (as Trivia), tombs and the scenes of crimes. At crossroads her columns or statues had three faces – the Triple Hecates – and offerings were made at the full moon to propitiate her.

            Book II.2:1-16. Propertius refers to Hecate as Brimo, a name for Demeter at Eleusis, perhaps for Persephone also, indicating the underworld aspect of the Triple Goddess. He suggests she slept with Mercury.



The daughter of Brises of Lyrnessus. The town was sacked by Achilles, who took her captive. Agamemnon seized her to compensate for the loss of Chryseis.

            Book II.8A:1-40. Achilles is angered at her loss.

            Book II.9:1-52. She cared for his corpse.

            Book II.20:1-36. Wept on being led away from Achilles’s tent.

            Book II.22:1-42. Lover of Achilles.


Britannus, Britannia, Britain

The island province of Britain, off the west coast of Europe, part of what is now Great Britain.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book IV.3:1-72. The ancient British leaders fought from decorated and painted chariots. Maecenas has a ceremonial example.

            Book II.18B:23-38. The British painted themselves with blue woad. (The dried, powdered and fermented leaves of the biennial wildflower Isatis tinctoria)

            Book II.27:1-16. The enemy in the West.



Lucius Junius Brutus drove out the king Tarquinius Superbus in 510BC and became one of Rome’s first two consuls of the Republic.

            Book IV.1:1-70. His consulship.



            Book IV.9:1-74. A robber who lived on the Aventine and was killed by Hercules for stealing his cattle.



Of Cadmus.

            Book III.13:1-66. His native city of Tyre.



The son of the Phoenician king Agenor, who searched for his sister Europa stolen by Jupiter.

            Book I.7:1-26. The founder of Thebes.

            Book III.9:1-60. Thebes destroyed when Semele was burnt to death by Jupiter’s consuming fire.



            Book IV.10:1-48. Caenina was a small town in Latium.


Caesar, Augustus

Julius Caesar’s grand-nephew, whom he adopted and declared as his heir, Octavius Caesar (Octavian). (The honorary title Augustus was bestowed by the Senate 16th Jan 27BC). His wife was Livia. He defeated Antony, who had seized the inheritance, at Mutina: the conspirators Cassius and Brutus at the twin battles of Philippi: Antony at Actium: and Pompey’s son at Mylae and Naulochus off Sicily. (See the sculpture of Augustus, from Primaporta, in the Vatican)

            Book I.21:1-10. As Octavian he committed atrocities at Perusia in 41BC.


Caesar, Julius

            The Roman general and Tribune.

            Book III.11:1-72. Father in law of Pompey.

            Book III.18:1-34.Deified.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Augustus his adopted ‘son’.



One of the winged sons of Boreas and Orithyia. One of the Argonauts.

            Book I:20:1-52. He pursues Hylas.



The Athenian sculptor of the early fifth century BC. He was famous for his horses. He was one of the great archaic sculptors of the last pre-classical generation. See Pausanias Book V on Eleia.

            Book III.9:1-60. Famous for horses.



A seer and priest, the son of Thestor, who accompanied the Greeks to Troy. He foresaw the long duration of the war and the ultimate Greek victory, and that the sacrifice of Iphigenia to Diana at Aulis would bring the Greeks favourable winds.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Set loose the fate of the Greeks and Trojans.



The Hellenistic poet of Cyrene (c305-240BC) who worked at Alexandria in Egypt. Aetia (Causes) was one of his main works. With Philetas of Cos he was a major influence on Propertius who calls himself the Roman Callimachus. See the opening of Book IV.

            Book II.1:1-78. A lyric voice.

            Book II.34:1-94. A poet to imitate when in love.

            Book III.1:1-38. An invocation to his spirit.

            Book III.9:1-60. The poet’s slim volumes.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Propertius considers himself the Roman Callimachus.



The Muse of epic poetry. The mother of Orpheus and orginally the sole Muse. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses V 339 and X 148.

            Book I.2:1-32. She is a supreme artist on the lyre and grants inspiration in song.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book IV.6:1-86. Muse who inspires song.

            Book II.30:1-40. Lay with Oeagrus, or with Apollo disguised as Oeagrus, to conceive Orpheus.

            Book III.2:1-26. A patroness of Propertius’s verse.

            Book III.3:1-52. In his dream of Helicon.



A nymph of Nonacris in Arcadia, a favourite of Phoebe-Diana. The daughter of Lycaon. Jupiter raped her. Pregnant by Jupiter she was expelled from the band of Diana’s virgin followers by Diana as Cynthia, in her Moon goddess mode. Gave birth to a son Arcas. She was turned into a bear by Juno, and ultimately into the constellation of the Great Bear, Ursa Major. Arcas became Ursa Minor.

            Book II.28:1-46. Changes of fortune.



            Gibraltar, the location of the Pillars of Hercules.

            Book III.12:1-38. Visited by Ulysses.



Gaius Licinius Calvus, the poet friend of Catullus and Propertius, and a member of the Alexandrian School. His works are lost. He wrote poems addressed to a girl he called Quintilia.

            Book II.25:1-48. A fellow poet.

            Book II.34:1-94. Wrote of Quintilia’s death.



The daughter of Atlas, living on Ogygia a remote island, where she held Odysseus as her lover for seven years, until Jupiter (Zeus) ordered her to send him on his way home to Ithaca, and his wife Penelope.

            Book I.15:1-42. Mourned his loss faithfully.

            Book II.21:1-20. Book III.12:1-38. He finally escaped her.



Cambyses II, son of Cyrus II, and King of Persia (529-522BC). He married the daughter of the king of Medes. He conquered Egypt, was aflicted with madness, killed his brother, Bardiya, and sister, and tried to kill Croesus king of Lydia. The Magi revolted against his rule, and he was accidentally wounded to death at Agbatana in Syria. See Herodotus The Histories Book III.

            Book II.26A:21-58. A symbol of wealth.


Camena, see Muses



Marcus Furius Camillus pursued and defeated the Gauls who sacked Rome in 387BC. He recovered the spoils they had taken and opposed the suggestion to move the surviving Romans to Veii.

            Book III.9:1-60. Maecenas to be compared with him.

            Book III.11:1-72. A Roman hero.



The Italian coastal and inland region south-east of Latium and Rome, containing Naples.

            Book III.5:1-48. Rich farming country.


Campus Martius

The Plain of Mars in Rome, just ouside the city where military and athletic skills were practised.

            Book II.23:1-24. Cynthia there, up to no good?



The constellation of the Crab, and the zodiacal sun sign. It represents the crab that attacked Hercules while he was fighting the multi-headed Hydra and was crushed underfoot but subsequently raised to the stars. The sun in ancient times was in this constellation when furthest north of the equator at the summer solstice (June 21st). Hence the latitude where the sun appeared overhead at noon on that day was called the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north).

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Associated with greed and avariciousness.


Canis, Sirius

Sirius (=searing, or scorching), the Dog-star, alpha Canis Majoris, in the constellation Canis Major, the brightest star in the sky. The ancient Egyptians based their calendar on its motion, and the hottest part of July and August was the Dog-days, variously dated by the heliacal and cosmical rising of Sirius.

            Book II.28:1-46. The dry parched days.


Cannensis, Cannae

The Roman army was destroyed at Cannae in 216BC by Hannibal’s Carthaginian forces. It was the worst defeat in Roman history and 50,000 men were lost out of an army of 86,000 among them the consul Aemilius Paullus. A number of tribes seceded from Rome. (Samnites, Capua, Lucanians, Bruttians)

            Book III.3:1-52. An ironic subject for epic poetry.



The town in Egypt twelve miles from Alexandria.

            Book III.11:1-72. Associated with Cleopatra.



An Argive leader, one of the Seven against Thebes. He boasted he would take the city against the will of Jupiter-Zeus, and was killed for his hubris by Jupiter’s lightning bolt.

He was a synonym for pride in the Middle Ages.

            Book II.34:1-94. Not a fit subject for poetry.


Capena Porta

            Book IV.3:1-72. The Capene Gate, through which the Via Appia entered Rome. The natural route for anyone entering from the East.



A headland of Euboea on which Nauplius lit a false beacon causing the Greek fleet returning from Troy to be wrecked. He did this to avenge the death of his son Palamedes, falsely done to death by the Greeks.

            Book III.7:1-72. The Greek fleet destroyed.


Capitolia, The Capitol

            The south-west summit of the Capitoline Hill.

            Book IV.4:1-94. It’s temple of Jupiter.



The Zodiacal constellation of the Goat. Depicted with a fish’s tail it represents the goat-Pan his lower half transformed to a fish when he jumped into a river to escape the monster Typhon. The winter solstice was formerly in Capricorn and the latitude where the Sun appeared overhead at noon on that day (23.5 deg south on December 22nd) became known as the Tropic of Capricorn.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The Zodiacal sign of the Goat.


Carpathius, Carpathian

The southern region of the Aegean Sea. Carpathus is an island between Crete and Rhodes.

            Book II.5:1-30. Subject to storms.

            Book III.7:1-72. Scene of Paetus’s death by drowning.


Carthago, Carthage

The Phoenician city in North Africa, allegedly founded by Dido of Tyre, a manifestation of the great Goddess. Under Hannibal the Carthaginians nearly defeated the Romans in Italy. The city was razed finally by Publius Scipio Africanus Minor in 146BC.

            Book II.1:1-78. It is mentioned.

            Book II.31:1-16. A source of Punic marble, giallo antico, yellow marble stained with red.



The daughter of Priam and Hecuba, gifted with prophecy by Apollo, but cursed to tell the truth and not be believed. Taken back to Greece by Agamemnon. (See Aeschylus: The Agamemnon). Dragged from the burning temple by her hair as Troy falls, her rape by Ajax moderatior (the minor Ajax) causes Minerva’s anger to fall on the returning Greeks.

            Book III.13:1-66. Her prophecy not believed. There may be a double entendre here, an allusion to Ajax’s rape of her in the mention of the horse (= also of course the Wooden Horse).

            Book IV.1:1-70. She prophesied the rebirth of Troy elsewhere.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Raped by Ajax moderatior.



A port in the north of Corfu (Corcyra)

            Book I.17:1-28. Propertius travels there.


Castalius, Castalian Spring

            Book III.3:1-52. The Castalian spring and grove of Apollo and the Muses on Mount Parnassus.



Phoebe, a priestess of Athene-Minerva, and Hilaira a priestess of Diana-Artemis, daughters of Leucippus, the Messenian co-king were abducted and raped by Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces) known as the Dioscuri, the sons of Jupiter by Leda. The two sisters had been betrothed to Lynceus and Idas the sons of Aphareus king in Messene. Idas later married Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus by Alcippe, after winning her in a chariot race using a winged chariot lent by his true father Neptune-Poseidon.

            Book I.2:1-32. He is mentioned.

            Book II.7:1-20. The Dioscuri were famous horsemen.

            Book II.26:1-20. Gods to whom sailors prayed for safety at sea, since the Twins, Gemini, were stars to navigate by, and their visibility in autumn signified calm weather.

            Book III.14:1-34. Castor was famous for his boxing.



Gaius Valerius Catullus (c84-c54AD), the Roman lyric poet, friend of Calvus and Propertius. He wrote poems addressed to a girl he called Lesbia (most probably Clodia Metelli).

            Book II.25:1-48. A fellow poet.

            Book II.34:1-94. Lustful (lascivus) Catullus, writing of Lesbia.


Caucasus, Caucasius

The mountain range in Asia. Prometheus was chained there.

            Book I.14:1-24. Thickly wooded.

            Book II.1:1-78. Prometheus is mentioned.

            Book II.25:1-48. The vultures of Caucasus mentioned, presumably those which tormented Prometheus.



A river famous for its swans in Lydia in Asia Minor. Ephesus is near its mouth.

            Book III.22:1-42. Asia Minor. Lydia.


Cecropius, Cecrops

The mythical founder of Athens. He was a son of mother Earth like Erechthonius (who some think was his father). He was part man and part serpent. His three daughters were Aglauros, Herse and Pandrosus who were goddesses of the Acropolis in Athens.

            Book II.20:1-36. Book II.33A:23-44. Athenian.


Centauricus, Centaurs

Creatures, half-man and half-horse living in the mountains of Thessaly, hence called biformes, duplex natura, semihomines, bimembres. They were the sons of Ixion, and a cloud, in the form of Juno.

            Book II.2:1-16. Their battle with the Lapiths mentioned.

            Book II.6:1-42. Fought with Pirithous and the Lapiths.

            Book II.33A:23-44. Eurytion the Centaur.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Decorative rams on vessels?


Cepheius, Cepheus

The king of Ethiopia, husband of Cassiope, and father of Andromeda. He is represented by the constellation Cepheus near Cassiopeia which includes the prototype of the Cepheid variable stars used as standard light sources for measurement of distances in space. He accepted Perseus’s offer to rescue Andromeda, promising him a kingdom as dowry for defeating the sea serpent and winning her.  

            Book I.3:1-46. He is mentioned.

            Book IV.6:1-86. His capital city was Meroe.


Ceraunia, Ceraunus, Acroceraunia

A long promontory on the coast of Epirus in north-western Greece, north of Corfu, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic south of ancient Illyria. A notorious rocky shoreline (modern Cape Gjuhezes).

            Book I.8:1-26. Dangerous waters.

            Book II.16:1-56. On the route from Illyria.



The three-headed watchdog of the Underworld

            Book III.5:1-48. Book III.18:1-34. Book IV.5:1-78. Book IV.7:1-96. Book IV.11:1-102. Guards Hell’s gate.



The sacred oak grove of Chaonia at Dodona in Epirus, the site of an ancient oracle of Jupiter (Zeus). The oracular priestesses were called the ‘doves’, and the dove was their sacred bird of augury.

            Book I.9:1-34. Divination mentioned.



The ferryman who carries the dead across the River Styx in the underworld, whose tributary is the Acheron. (See Dante’s Inferno).

            Book III.18:1-34. Book IV.11:1-102. The ferryman.



The whirlpool between Italy and Sicily in the Messenian straits. Charybdis was the voracious daughter of Mother Earth and Neptune, hurled into the sea, and thrice, daily, drawing in and spewing out a huge volume of water.

            Book II.26A:21-58. A danger to ships.

            Book III.12:1-38. A threat to Ulysses.



One of the Centaurs, half-man and half-horse. He was the son of Philyra and Saturn. Phoebus Apollo took his new born son Aesculapius to his cave for protection. He is represented in the sky by the constellation Centaurus, which contains the nearest star to the sun, Alpha Centauri. Father of Ocyroë, by Chariclo the water-nymph. Begot by Saturn disguised as a horse. His home is on Mount Pelion. He was the tutor of Achilles, wise and skilled in medicine and archery.

            Book II.1:1-78. He cured Phoenix’s blindness.


Chius, Chios

The Ionian island of Chios.

            Book III.7:1-72. Famous for its marble.



            Book IV.7:1-96. Propertius’s mistress after Cynthia.



A Thracian tribe defeated by Ulysses. See Odyssey IX 40.

            Book III.12:1-38. An adventure of Ulysses.


Cilissa, Cilicia

            Book IV.6:1-86. Of Cilicia in Asia Minor.



A Germanic tribe defeated by Gaius Marius in 101BC.

            Book II.1:1-78. They are mentioned.



An unknown mother.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. In labour.


Circaeus, see Circe



The sea-nymph, daughter of Sol and Perse, and the granddaughter of Oceanus. (Kirke or Circe means a small falcon)She was famed for her beauty and magic arts and lived on the ‘island’ of Aeaea, which is the promontory of Circeii. (Cape Circeo between Anzio and Gaeta, on the west coast of Italy, now part of the magnificent Parco Nazionale del Circeo extending to Capo Portiere in the north, and providing a reminder of the ancient Pontine Marshes before they were drained, rich in wildfowl and varied tree species.) Cicero mentions that Circe was worshipped religiously by the colonists at Circei. (‘On the Nature of the Gods’, Bk III 47)

(See John Melhuish Strudwick’s painting – Circe and Scylla – Walker Art Gallery, Sudley, Merseyside, England: See Dosso Dossi’s painting - Circe and her Lovers in a Landscape- National gallery of Art, Washington)

She transforms Ulysses’s men into beasts. Mercury gives him the plant moly to enable him to approach her. He marries her and frees his men, staying for a year on her island. (Moly has been variously identified as ‘wild rue’, wild cyclamen, and a sort of garlic, allium moly. John Gerard’s Herbal of 1633 Ch.100 gives seven plants under this heading, of which the third, Moly Homericum, is he suggests the Moly of Theophrastus, Pliny and Homer – Odyssey XX- and he describes it as a wild garlic.) See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book XIV 223.

            Book II.1:1-78. Famed for her magic herbs.

            Book III.12:1-38. Bewitched Ulysses’s men.



Mount Cithaeron in Boeotia, near Thebes.

            Book III.2:1-26. Its rocks moved to Thebes, see Antiope.

            Book III.15:1-46. Antiope took refuge there.


Claudia Quinta

Book IV.11:1-102. Claudia dragged free the grounded ship carrying Cybele’s image when the mysteries were introduced into Rome in 205BC. She thereby cleared herself of a suspicion of unchastity.


Claudius (Marcus Marcellus Maior)

He killed Virdomarus king of the Insubres at Clastidium in 222BC, conquered Syracuse in Sicily in the Second Punic War, and was the ancestor of Marcus Claudius Marcellus.

            Book III.18:1-34. Deified.

            Book IV.10:1-48. His killing of Virdomarus.



Queen of Egypt, mistress of Julius Caesar and Antony. She fell from power and committed suicide when she and Antony were defeated at the battle of Actium. (See Suetonius ‘The Twelve Caesars’ and, of course, Shakespeare.)

            Book III.11:1-72. Vilified by Propertius.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Her fleet fought alongside Antony’s at Actium. She subsequently committed suicide by the bite of a poisonous asp.



An Umbrian river.

            Book II.19:1-32. Book III.22:1-42. It is mentioned.



The wife of Agamemnon, and daughter of Tyndareus. She murdered Agamemnon and married her lover Aegisthus, his cousin. She was killed in revenge by her son Orestes, spurred on by his sister Electra. See Aeschylus The Agamemnon.

Book III.19:1-28. Book IV.7:1-96.An example of female adulterous lust.


Cocles (see Horatius)



A Giant.

            Book III.9:1-60. A reference to their war with the Gods.



A country in Asia south east of the Black Sea.The destination of the Argonauts and home of Medea.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book II.21:1-20. Medea is Colchian.

            Book III.22:1-42. The River Phasis in Colchis.



            Book IV.5:1-78. The Colline Gate.Nearby on the campus sceleratus the Vestal Virgins who broke their vows were buried alive.



The festival of the Lares Compitalia, the Lares of the crossroads, took place at the end of December.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Sacrifices made and the crossroads sprinkled.



A Greek astrologer of Samos who flourished c250BC.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. An ancestor of Horos.



            Book IV.10:1-48. An ancient town of the Volsii, south-east of Rome.



            Book II.3:1-54. The lyric poetess of Boeotia (6th Century BC). A contemporary of Pindar, her work is lost apart from a few fragments.


Corinthus, Corinth

The city north of Mycenae, on the Isthmus between Attica and the Argolis. Built on the hill of Acrocorinth it and Ithome were ‘the horns of the Greek bull’: whoever held them held the Peloponnese. It was destroyed by the Roman general Mummius in 146BC and rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 44BC.)

            Book III.5:1-48. The Romans ‘mined’ the ruins for the famed Corinthian bronzes.

            Book II.6:1-42. Lais lived there.



            Book IV.11:1-102. The wife of Lucius Aemilius Paullus. The daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio and Scribonia Libo who later became Augustus’s wife.



            A shepherd in love with the faithless shepherd-boy Alexis in Virgil.

            Book II.34:1-94. See Virgil’s Eclogue II.


Cossus (Aulus Cornelius Cossus)

            Book IV.10:1-48. Consul in 428BC. His defeat of Tolumnius.



The Ionian Greek Island of Cos in the Aegean off the coast of ancient Caria, famous for its silks.

            Book I.2:1-32. Book IV.5:1-78. Its silk is mentioned.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book IV.2:1-64. Coan silk.

            Book III.1:1-38. Birthplace of Philetas.



Marcus Linius Crassus (c112-53BC) was the third member of the First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and Pompey. He and his son invaded Mesopotamia and were defeated by the Parthians at Carrhae. The army was routed and the satndards captured. This was a sensitive area of Roman military disgrace which Propertius enjoys touching on.

            Book II.10:1-26. He is mentioned.

            Book III.4:1-22. The disaster is mentioned. Propertius mocking ironically at Imperial ambitions and effectiveness.

            Book III.5:1-48. Propertius again taunting.

            Book IV.6:1-86. His grave accessible following the truce with Parthia.



            Book IV.3:1-72. Arethusa’s dog. The Greek word for baying is κραυγή.


Cressus, see Crete


Cretaeus, Crete

The island in the Mediterranean Sea. (Dictaean from Mount Dicte.) Home to the Minoan civilisation. Its legendary king was Minos.

            Book II.1:1-78. Famous for healing herbs.

            Book III.19:1-28. The Cretan bull that mounted Pasiphae. Also a reference here to Minos and his fleet that commanded the Cretan waters.

            Book IV.7:1-96. The Cretan bull.



The daughter of King Creon of Corinth. Jason married her, after deserting Medea. Medea sent Creusa a gift of a poisnoed robe whioch burned both her and Creon to death.

            Book II.16:1-56. The danger of gifts.

            Book II.21:1-20. Replaced Medea in Jason’s palace.



King of Lydia and Ionia, defeated by Cyrus II of Persia at Sardis in 536BC. He became noted for his wisdom. See Herodotus, The Histories Books I and III.

            Book II.26A:21-58. A symbol of great wealth.

            Book III.5:1-48. In the underworld.

            Book III.18:1-34. Not saved from death by his wealth.


Cumaeus, The Sibyl, Sibylla

The priestess of Apollo in the temple at Cumae built by Daedalus. She prophesied perched on or over a tripod.

She guided Aeneas through the underworld and shows him the golden bough that he must pluck from the tree. She told him how she was offered immortality by Phoebus, but forgot to ask also for lasting youth, dooming her to wither away until she was merely a voice. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book XIV 104.

            Book II.2:1-16. Propertius wishes Cynthia youth and beauty as well as eternal life.



The god of love, son of Venus (Aphrodite). He is portrayed as a blind winged child armed with a bow and arrows, and he carries a flaming torch. His arrows bring love’s wounds.

            Book I.6:1-36. He brings love’s pain, as well as joy.

            Book I.7:1-26. He can strike at any time.

            Book I.9:1-34. He helps love and hinders it. His arrows bring pain.

            Book I.19:1-26. He is associated with love’s blindness.

            Book II.9:1-52. He is served by young Cupids.

            Book II.18A:5-22. Often is cruel to those he once was kind to.

            Book III.10:1-32. He strikes lovers with his wings.



The ancient capital of the Sabines.

            Book IV.4:1-94. Of the Sabines.

            Book IV.9:1-74. The Sabines.



The Senate House, and Senate, the meeting place of a curia, the earliest division of the Roman people.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Book IV.4:1-94. The Senate.


Curius, The Curiatii

Two sets of three brothers the Alban Curiatii and the Roman Horatii fought each other in the wars between Rome and Alba Longa. Two Horatii were killed, the third killed all the three Curatii.

            Book III.3:1-52. A subject for epic.



A myth was invented to explain the presence of a deep pit in the Forum. A chasm opened which could only be closed by the sacrifice of Rome’s greatest treasure. Marcus Curtius a young knight rode into it and it shut upon him.

            Book III.11:1-72. Roman hero.



The Phrygian great goddess, personifying the earth in its savage state, worshipped in caves and on mountaintops. Merged with Rhea, the mother of the gods. Her consort was Attis, slain by a wild boar like Adonis. His festival was celebrated by the followers of Cybele, the Galli, or Corybantes, who were noted for convulsive dances to the music of flutes, drums and cymbals, and self-mutilation in an orgiastic fury.

            Book III.17:1-42. Book IV.7:1-96. She wore a turretted crown, and was worshipped to the clashing of cymbals. Her worship was ecstatic like that of Bacchus.

            Book III.22:1-42. Worshipped at Dindymus, a mountain on the shore of the Sea of Marmara (Propontus). Her statue, of gold with a face made of hippotamus ivory, was taken, by the people of Cyzicus, (Kyzikos), from Prokennesos, an island to the northwest. (Modern Marmara Adasi.) See Pausanias Book VIII 46.4

            Book IV.11:1-102. Her image freed by Claudia.


Cydonium, Cydonia

Cydonia, the modern Canea in Crete.

            Book III.13:1-66. Famous for its quinces.



            Book II.26:1-20. A Nereid.



Propertius’s unknown mistress: probably a courtesan, possibly a ‘liberated’ married woman. Apuleius in his Apology (ch 10) suggests that she was named Hostia, and III.20:8 suggests that Propertius is connecting her with Hostius a minor epic poet of the second century BC.

            Book I.1:1-38. She captured his heart.

            Book I.3:1-46. She berates him for his absences.

            Book I.4:1-28. She prizes loyalty.

            Book I.5:1-32. Loving her brings pain.

            Book I.6:1-36. She demands his presence continually.

            Book I.8:1-26. She intends a sea voyage.

            Book I.8A:27-46. She abandons the journey and the bribe.

            Book I.10:1-30. His ‘teacher’ in matters of love.

            Book I.11:1-30. She is on the loose at Baiae.

            Book I.12:1-20. She is hundreds of miles distant.

            Book I.15:1-42. Her infidelity.

            Book I.17:1-28. He has travelled away from her.

            Book I.18:1-32. He suffers her disdain.

            Book I.19:1-26. He fears she will not mourn him.

            Book II.5:1-30. Her flagrant wantonness.

            Book II.7:1-20. Her delight at repeal of the law compelling bachelors to marry.

            Book II.13:1-16. He wishes her appreciation of his verse.

            Book II.13A:1-58. He addresses her concerning his funeral.

            Book II.14:1-32. He is reconciled to her.

            Book II.16:1-56. She is mercenary.

            Book II.19:1-32. She’s leaving Rome for the country.

            Book II.24:1-16. Notorious because of his book.

            Book II.30:1-40. The forerunner of  Marlowe’s ‘Come live with me and be my love’.

            Book II.32:1-62. Her loose behaviour.

            Book II.33:1-22. Performs the rites of Isis.

            Book II.34:1-94. Celebrated and famous through Propertius’s poetry.

            Book III.21:1-34. She is making his life miserable.

            Book III.24:1-20. He is weary of this love.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Cynthia from beyond the grave.

            Book IV.8:1-88. She travels to Lanuvium.



            Book II.34:1-94. An epithet for Phoebus-Apollo who was born by Mount Cynthus on Delos.


Cyrenaeus, Cyrene

            Book IV.6:1-86. Callimachus’s  birthplace in North Africa.


Cytaeine, Cytaeis, Colchis

Colchis at the eastern end of the Black Sea, the home of Medea, famous for its Thessalian witches.

            Book I.1:1-38. A source of magic charms and incantations.

            Book II.4:1-22. The country of witchcraft.


Cytherea, see Venus



            Book III.22:1-42. Ancient Kyzikos, a town on the eastern side of the southern coast of the Propontic Isthmus. (Sea of Marmara). Strabo claimed it was founded by the Argonauts.


Daedalius, Daedalus

The mythical Athenian architect who built the Labyrinth for King Minos of Crete.

(See Michael Ayrton’s extended series of sculptures, bronzes, and artefacts celebrating Daedalus, Icarus and the Minotaur.)

He made wings of bee’s-wax and feathers to escape from Crete. Warning Icarus, his son, to follow him in a middle course, they flew towards Ionia. Between Samos and Lebinthos Icarus flew too high and the wax melted, and he drowned in the Icarian Sea and was buried on the island of Icaria.

            Book II.14:1-32. Architect of the Labyrinth.



The daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos. he was warned by an oracle that his daughter’s son would kill him, so he shut her in a brazen tower, but Jupiter raped her in the form of a shower of gold. Their son Perseus killed Acrisius accidentally in a discus-throwing competition.

            Book II.20:1-36. The tower.

            Book II.32:1-62. Seduced rather than raped by Jupiter?


Danaus, The Danaids

The fifty daughters of Danaüs, granddaughters of Belus, king of Egypt. They were forced to marry their cousins, the fifty sons of Aegyptus, and, with one exception, Hypermnestra, who saved the life of Lynceus, because he preserved her virginity, killed them on their wedding night. The others were punished in Hades by having to fill a bottomless cistern with water carried in leaking sieves.

            Book II.1:1-78. Water carriers in a Propertian double-entendre!

            Book II.26A:21-58. Book III.8:1-34. Book III.9:1-60. Book III.22:1-42. Book IV.1:1-70. Book IV.1A:71-150. The Danaans=the Greeks at Troy. Book III.22 mentions the killing of Iphigenia and her substitution by a roe sent by Diana.

            Book II.31:1-16. Statues in the new Colonnade.



A Virgilian shepherd. (A Sicilian shepherd in other poetry, said to have invented  the pastoral genre)

            Book II.34:1-94. See Virgil’s Eclogues V and VII.


Dardanius, Trojan, Troy

An epithet applied to the descendants of Dardanus, the son of Jupiter and the Pleiad Electra, who came from Italy to the Troad, and was one of the ancestors of the Trojan royal house.

            Book I.19:1-26. Book IV.1:1-70. Trojan.        



Decius Mus, the hero of the Samnite Wars of the fourth century BC dreamed that one army would have to sacrifice its leader, the other its entire power, so he charged the enemy alone and was killed in order to guarantee the victory.

            Book III.11:1-72. A Roman hero.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Three Decii, Roman generals, gave their lives for their country, father, son and grandson in 336, 296 and 279 BC.



The daughter of Lycomedes, king of Scyros, who fell in love with Achilles while he was concealed on the island by Thetis to save him from the TrojanWar. She bore his son Neoptolemus.

            Book II.9:1-52. Bereaved at his death.



Son of Priam of Troy. A Trojan prince who fought in the war.

            Book III.1:1-38. Attempted with Hector to kill Paris.



The Greek island in the Aegean, one of the Cyclades, birthplace of, and sacred to, Apollo (Phoebus) and Diana (Phoebe, Artemis), hence the adjective Delian. (Pausanias VIII xlvii, mentions the sacred palm-tree, noted there in Homer’s Odyssey 6, 162, and the ancient olive.) Its ancient name was Ortygia. A wandering island, that gave sanctuary to Latona (Leto). Having been hounded by jealous Juno (Hera), she gave birth there to the twins Apollo and Diana, between an olive tree and a date-palm on the north side of Mount Cynthus. Delos then became fixed in the sea. In a variant she gave birth to Artemis-Diana on the islet of Ortygia nearby.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Apollo’s island.



A pseudonym for a friend of Propertius.

            Book II.22:1-42. His friend.

Book II.24A:17-52. A son of Theseus who loved Phyllis, daughter of Sithon king of Thrace. he deserted her. She killed herself but was turned into an almond tree, which flowered when he returned, remorsefully, to find her. (See Burne-Jones’s marvellous painting: The Tree of Forgiveness, Lady Lever Art Gallery: Merseyside, England)



The Greek orator and Athenian Statesman of the fourth century BC who attacked the growing power of Macedon under Philip II, seeing it as a threat to the Greek world.

            Book III.21:1-34. A master of oratory.



King of Phthia. He and his wife Pyrrha, his cousin, and daughter of Epimetheus, were survivors of the flood. He was he son of Prometheus. (See Michelangelo’s scenes from the Great Flood, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome). See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book I:313-347.

            Book II.32:1-62. Ancient times.



An old name for Naxos.

            Book III.17:1-42. Wine flowed there for Bacchus.



The goddess Diana, Phoebe, or Artemis the daughter of Jupiter and Latona (hence her epithet Latonia) and twin sister of Phoebus-Apollo. She was born on the island of Ortygia which is Delos (hence her epithet Ortygia). Goddess of the moon and the hunt. She carries a bow, quiver and arrows. She and her followers are virgins. She is worshipped as the triple goddess, as Hecate in the underworld, Luna the moon, in the heavens, and Diana the huntress on earth. (Skelton’s ‘Diana in the leaves green, Luna who so bright doth sheen, Persephone in hell’) Callisto is one of her followers. (See Luca Penni’s – Diana Huntress – Louvre, Paris, and Jean Goujon’s sculpture (attributed) – Diana of Anet – Louvre, Paris.)

            Book II.15:1-54, She loved Endymion.

            Book II.19:1-32. The recipient of vows of chastity, and prayers for luck in hunting.

            Book II.28A:47-62. The recipient of vows from women in time of illness.

            Book IV.8:1-88. Her temple on the Aventine.


Dindymis, Dindymus

            Book III.22:1-42. A mountain near Cyzicus on the southeast of the Sea of Marmara (Propontis) with a famous shrine of Cybele.



            Book III.17:1-42. The Dircean spring was at Thebes.



Antiope was the daughter of Nycteus of Thebes, famed for her beauty and loved by Jupiter in satyr form. She bore twin sons Amphion and Zethus. Her father exposed them on Mt Cithaeron, but they were found and raised by a shepherd. Later they built the walls of Thebes, Amphion, the husband of Niobe, using the magical music of his lyre (See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 176, XV 427). Antiope fled her father but was imprisoned by Lycus and his wife Dirce who tormented her. Her sons avenged her by killing Dirce.

            Book III.15:1-46. Her jealousy of Antiope.



A name for Pluto, king of the Underworld, brother of Neptune and Jupiter. His kingdom in the Underworld described. At Venus’s instigation Cupid struck him with an arrow to make him fall in love with Persephone.He raped and abducted her, re-entering Hades through the pool of Cyane. Jupiter decreeed that she could only spend half the year with him and must spend the other half with Ceres.

            Book II.28A:47-62. Husband of Persephone.

            Book III.22:1-42. His rape of Persephone is sited at various places, here Propertius suggests the Black Sea region.



The town in Epirus in north western Greece, site of the Oracle of Jupiter-Zeus, whose responses were delivered by the rustling of the oak trees in the sacred grove. (After 1200BC the goddess Naia, worshipped there, who continued to be honoured as Dione, was joined by Zeus Naios. The sanctuary was destroyed in 391AD.)

            Book II.21:1-20. Regarded as unreliable?


Doricus, Dorian

            Book II.8A:1-40. Book IV.6:1-86. A synonym for Greek.



The daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, wife of Nereus the old man of the sea who is a shape-changer, and mother of the fifty Nereids, the attendants on Thetis. The Nereids are mermaids.

            Book I.17:1-28. The Nereids are mentioned as her daughters.



            Book IV.5:1-78. A fictitious or otherwise unknown people.


Dorus, Dorian


            Book III.9:1-60. Philetas, the Dorian poet.



            Book I:20:1-52. The wood nymphs.


Dulichius, Dulichia

An island off the west coast of Greece, identified with Ithaca, as Ulysses homeland. Athene was his guardian goddess and she was worshipped at the altars there.

            Book II.2:1-16. Athene-Minerva worshipped.

            Book II.14:1-32. Book II.21:1-20. Ithaca.

            Book III.5:1-48. Home of the beggar Irus.


Edonis, Thrace

The country bordering the Black Sea, Propontis and the northeastern Aegean. The cults of Bacchus and Orpheus were followed there.

            Book I.3:1-46. Maenads.



The daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, sister of Iphigenia and Orestes. She aided her brother Orestes on his return, when he avenged Agamemnon’s death. (See Aeschylus, the Oresteia)

            Book II.14:1-32. Her joy at Orestes return,


Eleus, Elis

A city and country in the western Peloponnese.

Site of the quinquennial games at Olympia.

            Book I.8A:27-46. Famous for its horses. See Hippodamia.

            Book III.2:1-26. The shrine of Jupiter with its famous statue, by Phidias, at Olympia one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, still subject to time.

            Book III.9:1-60. The palms awarded at the Olympic Games at Olympia in Elis.


Elysius, Elysian

            Book IV.7:1-96. A region of the underworld for spirits in bliss, rewarding virtue in life.



            One of the Giants who fought with the Gods.

            Book II.1:1-78. The fight is mentioned.



Diana, as the moon goddess, loved Endymion the King of Elis (or a Carian shepherd) while he slept on Mount Latmos. She made him sleep eternally so that she could gaze at him.

            Book II.15:1-54. Propertius suggests their intimacy.


Enipeus, Enipus (River and God)

The God of the River Enipus in Thessaly. Neptune disguised himself as the river-god and raped Tyro in a dark wave of the river at its confluence with the Alpheius.

            Book I.13:1-36. The disguise mentioned.

            Book III.19:1-28. Tyro desired him.



Quintus Ennius (239-169BC), the ‘father of Roman poetry’ .He wrote an epic on Roman history, Annals, of which part survives.

            Book III.3:1-52. Propertius imagines himself writing epic.

            Book IV.1:1-70. An epic poet.



            From the Eastern countries. Eastern. The Dawn.

            Book I.15:1-42. Eastern.

            Book I.16:1-48. The Dawn.

            Book II.3:1-54. The East.

            Book II.18A:5-22. Dawn from the East.

            Book III.13:1-66. The Eastern custom of suttee.

            Book III.24:1-20. Rosy faced.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Parthia, in the East.


Ephyreus, Corinth

            Book II.6:1-42. Ephyra was an ancient name for Corinth.



The Greek Philosopher (341-271BC) and founder of the Epicurean School.

            Book III.21:1-34. A source of knowledge.


Epidaurius, Asclepius

Asclepius (Aesculapius) was the son of Coronis and Apollo. He was saved by Apollo from his mother’s body and given to Chiron the Centaur to rear. He is represented in the sky by the constellation Ophiucus near Scorpius, depicting a man entwined in the coils of a serpent, consisting of the split constellation, Serpens Cauda and Serpens Caput, which contains Barnard’s star, having the greatest proper motion of any star and being the second nearest to the sun.

 He saved Rome from the plague, and became a resident god. His cult centre was Epidaurus where there was a statue of the god with a golden beard. Cicero mentions that Dionysius the Elder, Tyrant of Syracuse wrenched off the gold. (‘On the Nature of the Gods, Bk III 82) Epidaurus was a city in Argolis, sacred to Aesculapius. (The pre-Greek god Maleas was later equated with Apollo, and he and his son Aesculapius were worshipped there. There were games in honour of the god every four years, and from 395BC a drama festival. The impressive ancient theatre has been restored and plays are performed there. From the end of the 5th c. BC the cult of Asklepios spread widely through the ancient world reaching Athens in 420BC and Rome (as Aesculapius) in 293BC.

            Book II.1:1-78. He restored Androgeon to life.



            Of Erechtheus an early king of Athens, Athenian.

            Book II.34:1-94. A reference to Aeschylus’s works.



A son of Vulcan (Hephaestus), born without a mother (or born from the Earth after Hephaestus the victim of a deception had been repulsed by Athene). Legendary king of Athens and a skilled charioteer. He is represented by the constellation Auriga the charioteer, containing the star Capella. (Alternatively the constellation represents the she-goat Amaltheia that suckled the infant Jupiter, and the stars ζ (zeta) and η (eta) Aurigae are her Kids. It is a constellation visible in the winter months.)

            Book II.6:1-42. =Athenian.



            Book I.12:1-20. The River Po in Northern Italy its mouth near Venice.



            Book II.3:1-54. A poetess of Lesbos, contemporary with Sappho.


Erinys, The Furies, The Eumenides

A Fury. The Furies, The Three Sisters, were Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera, the daughters of Night and Uranus. They were the personified pangs of cruel conscience that pursued the guilty. (See AeschylusThe Eumenides). Their abode is in Hades by the Styx. They were called, ironically, the Eumenides, or Kindly Ones.

            Book II.20:1-36. Conscience.

            Book III.5:1-48.They pursued Alcmaeon.


Eriphyla, Eriphyle

She was bribed by Polynices with the gift of the famous necklace of Aphrodite given to her ancestress Harmonia, Cadmus’s wife. She induced her husband, the seer, Amphiaraus to join the Seven against Thebes leading to his death. He agreed though he foresaw that he would not return. Their son Alcmaeon killed her in retribution.

            Book II.16:1-56. The danger of gifts.

            Book III.13:1-66. Her greed.


Erycinus, Eryx

There was a famous shrine of Venus-Aphrodite at Eryx on the western extremity of Sicily,  for which Daedalus made the golden honeycomb.

            Book III.13:1-66. The nautilus shell is descsribed as Venus’s conch.



            Book IV.9:1-74. An Island in the bay of Gades ruled by Geryon.



            A mythical King of the East.

            Book II.13:1-16. A Persian archer.


Esquiliae, The Esquiline

            Book III.23:1-24. Book IV.8:1-88. Propertius lives on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome.


Etruscus, Etruscan, Etruscans, Etrurians

A country in Central Italy. Its people are the Etrurians or Etruscans. Hence Tuscany in modern Italy. The Tyrrhenians migrated into Italy from Lydia (Tyrrha on the River Cayster) to form the rootstock of the Etrurians (Etruscans).

            Book I.21:1-10. Perusia (modern Perugia) was in Etruria, where Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) defeated Lucius Antonius in the Civil Wars in 41BC with much bloodshed.

            Book I.22:1-10. Perusia again.

            Book II.1:1-78. A further reference to civil bloodshed. Propertius makes clear his anti-war stance.

            Book III.9:1-60. Maecenas is described as of Etruscan descent.


Euboicus, Euboea

The large island close to eastern Greece separated from it by the Euboean Gulf. It contains Eretria and Aegae. Anthedon is on the mainland across the Gulf from Euboea.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Book IV.1A:71-150. The Greek ships were landlocked at Aulis opposite waiting for a favourable wind for Troy.



A Fury. The Furies, The Three Sisters, were Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera, the daughters of Night and Uranus. They were the personified pangs of cruel conscience that pursued the guilty. (See Aeschylus – The Eumenides). Their abode is in Hades by the Styx.

            Book IV.11:1-102. The Furies.



            One of the great rivers of Mesopotamia or modern Iraq.

            Book II.10:1-26. Book IV.6:1-86. Mesopotamia, scene of Crassus’s defeat.

            Book II.23:1-24. Girls from Iraq, dancers and prostitutes.

            Book III.4:1-22. On campaign the soldiers will have the country and by double entendre the river’s waters flow to their tune (as they relieve themselves in it!)

            Book III.11:1-72. Its waters diverted to pass through Babylon.


Europa, Europe

The European Continent.

            Book II.3:1-54. Represented by the Greeks at Troy.


Europe, Europa

Daughter of Agenor, king of Phoenicia, abducted by Jupiter disguised as a white bull. (See Paolo Veronese’s painting – The Rape of Europa – Palazzo Ducale, Venice). Minos was her son.

            Book II.28A:47-62. A beauty.



            The river of Sparta, in Laconica.

            Book III.14:1-34. Helen exercised there.



The East Wind. Auster is the South Wind, Zephyrus the West Wind, and Boreas is the North Wind.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Book III.5:1-48. Book III.15:1-46. A stormwind.



A Giant.

            Book III.9:1-60. A reference to their war with the Gods.



            Book IV.5:1-78. King of Cos.



He was killed at the battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs, at the marriage of Pirithous and Hippodamia.

            Book II.33A:23-44. A victim of drunkenness.



The wife of Capaneus, one of the Seven against Thebes. She threw herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre rather than live on after his death.

            Book I.15:1-42. Book III.13:1-66. A type of loyalty.



An exiled Greek king of Arcadia who settled on the site of ancient Rome.

            Book IV.1:1-70. His cattle.



A son of Mars.

Marpessa was the daughter of Evenus, the son of Mars, by his wife Alcippe. Her father wished her to remain virgin, and her suitors were forced to compete in a chariot race with him, the losers forfeiting their lives. Apollo vowed to win her and end the custom, but Idas borrowing his father Neptune’s chariot pre-empted him. Idas snatched her: Evenus gave chase, but killed his horses and drowned himself in the Lycormas, then renamed the Evenus, in disgust at failing to overtake Idas. Apollo and Idas fought over Marpessa, but Jupiter parted them and she chose Idas fearing that Apollo would be faithless to her.

            Book I.2:1-32. He is mentioned.


Fabius (Q. Maximus)

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosos, Cunctator (‘The Delayer’) (?275-203BC). He was appointed Dictator of Rome after Hannibal’s victory at Lake Trasimene in 217BC. He was nicknamed Cunctator for his tactics in delaying open battle with the Carthaginians. When the Roman army was destroyed at Cannae in 216BC pursuing open warfare his tactics were vindicated.

            Book III.3:1-52. An ironic subject for epic.


Fabius, Fabii, see Lupercus



A district in Campania producing a strong, highly-prized wine, Falernian.

            Book II.33A:23-44. Cynthia drinking.

            Book IV.6:1-86. A prized wine.



            Book II.34:1-94. Fame personified. (But fama also means public opinion, rumour and tradition, a little gentle irony here?)

            Book III.1:1-38. Propertius already famous?



            The Fates, The Three Goddesses, The Parcae, The Three Sisters.

The three Fates were born of Erebus and Night. Clothed in white, they spin, measure out, and sever the thread of each human life. Clotho spins the thread. Lachesis measures it. Atropos wields the shears.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Book II.28:1-46. The Fates determine life span.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Cynthia swears an oath by them.



            Book IV.10:1-48. A title of Jupiter. His Feretrian Temple on the Capitoline, where the spoils, the spolia opima, of leaders killed in single combat by Roman generals were dedicated and displayed.



            A town near Rome in Latium.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Once regarded as distant from Alba Longa.



The Roman Forum. The main thoroughfare.

            Book II.24:1-16. Book IV.1A:71-150. The marketplace.

            Book III.9:1-60. Maecenas as a magistrate has the right to set up a court of justice there.

            Book III.11:1-72. Curtius’s sacrifice there.

            Book IV.2:1-64. The Vicus Tuscus lead to it.

            Book IV.4:1-94. The centre of early Rome.

            Book IV.8:1-88. A licentious area.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Its origins.



A town not far from Rome in Latium.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Overshadowed later by Rome.



A river near Tarentum.Tarentum was a city on the ‘heel’ of Italy founded by Lacedaemonians, the modern Taranto, and a commercial port. The Spartan colony of Taras, it was founded in 708BC and became the greatest city of Magna Graecia, famous for its purple murex dyes, wool etc. It was a centre of Pythagorean philosophy. It became subject to Rome in 272BC, and surrendered to Hannibal in 209BC for which it was severely punished, on being retaken.

            Book II.34:1-94. Probably a reference to Virgil’s Georgics IV 125.



A sea nymph, daughter of Nereus and Doris. ( See the fresco ‘Galatea’ by Raphael, Rome, Farnesina). She told her story to Scylla. Loving Acis, she was pursued by Polyphemus. When Acis was crushed by the rock, thrown at him by Polyphemus, she changed Acis into his ancestral form of a river.

See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XIII 738 onwards.

            Book I.8:1-26. Sicilian coasts are intended, since her story is set on Sicily.

            Book III.2:1-26. Listened to the Song of Polyphemus.



Aelia Galla, the wife of Postumus. Possibly the sister of Aelius Gallus, successor to Cornelius Gallus as prefect of Egypt.

            Book III.12:1-38. Her faithfulness.



The Gauls of the region of modern France.

            Book II.31:1-16. Book III.13:1-66. Under Brennus they sacked Apollo’s oracle at Delphi in 278BC. An earthquake repulsed them.



            Phrygian from Gallus a river of Phrygia in Asia Minor.

            Book II.13A:1-58. The region (Dardania) containing Troy.


Gallus (1)

A friend of Propertius.

            Book I.5:1-32. He is warned off.

            Book I.10:1-30. Advice to him.

            Book I.13:1-36. Gallus in love.

            Book I:20:1-52. Has a male lover, a handsome boy.


Gallus (2)

            Book I.21:1-10. A soldier, perhaps a kinsman of Propertius.


Gallus (3)

The son of Arria, possibly a friend or kinsman of Propertius.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. He died in war.


Gallus (C. Cornelius)

Gaius Cornelius Gallus (c69-26BC). The first notable Roman elegiac poet who wrote of his mistress Lycoris. He was First Prefect of Egypt, but lost Augustus’s favour perhaps through ambition and was obliged to commit suicide.

            Book II.34:1-94. Recently dead, dating Book II to around 26BC.


Geryones, Geryon

            Book III.22:1-42. The monster with three bodies, killed by Hercules. In the Tenth Labour, Hercules brought back Geryon’s famous herd of cattle after shooting three arrows through the three bodies. Geryon was the son of Chrysaor and Callirhoë, and King of Tartessus in Spain.


Geta, Getae

            Book IV.3:1-72. The Getae. A Scythian tribe.

            Book IV.5:1-78. Scythian slaves appeared in a play by Menander.



The sons of Heaven and Earth, Uranus and Ge. They rebelled against Jupiter but were defeated and buried beneath mountains and volcanos.

            Book III.5:1-48. Tormented underground.



The ora Gigantea is the volcanic Phlegrean plain, north of Naples where the gods fought the giants.

            Book I:20:1-52. A country pleasure area.



A fisherman of Anthedon in Boeotia. He was transformed into a sea god by the chance eating of a magic herb, and told the story of his transformation to Scylla who rejected him. He asked Circe for help and she in turn fell in love with him. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book XII 906.

            Book II.26:1-20. A sea-god.


Gnosius, Cnossos

            The royal city of Crete, ruled by Minos, hence the Minoan period.

            Book I.3:1-46. Ariadne comes from there.

            Book II.12:1-24. Cretan.



Medusa was the best known of the Three Gorgons, the daughters of Phorcys. A winged monster with snake locks, glaring eyes and brazen claws whose gaze turns men to stone. Her sisters were Stheino and Euryale. Perseus was helped by Athene-Minerva and Hermes-Mercury to overcome Medusa. He was not to look at her head directly but only in a brightly-polished shield. He cut off her head with an adamantine sickle, at which Pegasus the winged horse and the warrior Chrysaor sprang from her body. He used her head to petrify Atlas. Minerva had placed snakes on her head because Medusa was violated, by Neptune, in Minerva’s temple.

Book II.2:1-16. Book IV.9:1-74. Minerva wears a breastplate depicting her.

            Book II.25:1-48. Turned men to stone with her gaze.

            Book III.22:1-42. Her head severed by Perseus. The Gorgons lived in the lands of the Hyperboreans to the far north-west.


Gorgoneus, Pegasus, Hippocrene

The fountain that was created by a blow from Pegasus’s hoof. He was a child sprung from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa. Medusa was one of the three Gorgons, daughters of Phorcys the wise old man of the sea. She is represented in the sky by part of the constellation Perseus, who holds her decapitated head. Perseus turned Atlas and others to stone with her severed head. Neptune lay with her in the form of a bird, and she produced Pegasus. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses IV 743 and VI 119.

            Book III.3:1-52. The Hippocrene fountain on Helicon.


Graecia, Graecus, Graius, Greece

The country in southern Europe, bordering on the Ionian (West of Greece), Cretan (South of Greece) and Aegean  Seas.

            Book II.6:1-42. Corinth, a Greek city.

            Book II.9:1-52. Greece.

            Book II.32:1-62. Greek women.

            Book II.34:1-94. Greek authors.

            Book III.1:1-38. Greek metres/rhythms.

            Book III.7:1-72. The Greek fleet.

            Book III.8:1-34. The Greeks at Troy.

            Book III.22:1-42. Book IV.1A:71-150. The fleet wrecked on Caphareus.

            Book IV.8:1-88. Greek wine.


Gygaeus, Gyges

A lake near Sardis named after Gyges king of Lydia. For the lake see Herodotus Book I Ch 93. For Gyges see Book I Ch 8 onwards.

            Book III.11:1-72. Omphale bathed there.



            The Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Western Greece.

            Book I.6:1-36. It is mentioned.


Hadriacus. The Adriatic

            The Adriatric Sea between Italy and northern Greece.

            Book III.21:1-34. On the way to Athens from Rome.


Haedus, The Kids

A binary star (zeta Aurigae) in the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer (of which the brightest star is Capella).

            Book II.26A:21-58. A harbinger of good weather if seen clearly.



The son of Creon, king of Thebes (brother to Jocasta and successor to Oedipus) who was to have married Antigone, but committed suicide when she was entombed. See Sophocles’s Antigone.

            Book II.8A:1-40. His death for love is mentioned.


Haemonius, Haemonia

The ancient name for Thessaly.

            Book I.13:1-36. The River Enipeus is located there.

            Book I.15:1-42. Jason came from there.

            Book II.1:1-78. Achilles’s spear, which belonged to his father Peleus, came from there.

            Book II.8A:1-40. Achilles’s Thessalian horses.

            Book II.10:1-26. A Thessalian horse the metaphor for epic poetry.



Nymphs of the woods.

            Book I:20:1-52. They are mentioned.

            Book II.32:1-62. Saw Paris and Oenone.

            Book II.34:1-94. Wanton or loose. (facilis)



The Carthaginian general, son of Hamilcar, who campaigned in Italy during the Second Punic War (218-201BC). He crossed the Alps turning the Roman flank and defeated the Roman armies at Lake Trasimene and Cannae. Publius Cornelius Scipio crossed to Africa in 204BC and Hannibal was recalled to Carthage, and defeated at Zama in 201BC. Hannibal fled to Harumetum. A complex series of events led to his suicide in 183BC.

            Book III.3:1-52. Subject of epic.

            Book III.11:1-72. His spoils.



The daughter of Iuno, born without a father. She married Hercules after his deification. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book IX 394.

            Book I.13:1-36. She is mentioned.


Hector, Hectoreus

The Trojan hero, son of Priam and Hecuba. His wife was Andromache. He torched the Greek ships, and terrified the Greeks in battle, bringing the gods with him to the battlefield. He was killed by Achilles.

            Book II.8A:1-40. Book III.1:1-38. His body dragged behind Achilles’s chariot.

            Book II.22:1-42. His fierceness unaffected by lovemaking.

            Book III.8:1-34. The main champion of the Trojans.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Trojans. People of Hector.


Helena, Helen

The daughter of Leda and Jupiter (Tyndareus was her putative father), sister of Clytemnaestra, and the Dioscuri. The wife of Menelaüs. She was taken, by Paris, to Troy, instigating the Trojan War.

            Book II.1:1-78. Noted for her many lovers and suitors.

            Book II.3:1-54. A standard for feminine beauty.

            Book II.15:1-54. Desired by Paris.

            Book II.32:1-62. Went with a foreign stranger.

            Book II.34:1-94. A loose woman. Lesbia compared with her.

            Book III.8:1-34. The lover of Paris.

            Book III.14:1-34. Helen exercised bare-breasted with her brothers.



A son of Priam of Troy. He fought in the War, and was gifted with powers of prophecy.

            Book III.1:1-38. A famous name.



The mountain in Boeotia near the Gulf of Corinth where the Muses lived. The sacred springs of Helicon were Aganippe and Hippocrene, both giving poetic inspiration. The Muses’ other favourite haunt was Mount Parnassus in Phocis with its Castalian Spring. They also guarded the oracle at Delphi. The fountain of Hippocrene sprang from under the hoof of Pegasus, the winged horse. Helicon is the domain of poetic genius.

            Book II.10:1-26. The place of poetic inspiration.

            Book III.3:1-52. Propertius dreams he is there.

            Book III.5:1-48. Symbol of the poetic life.



The daughter of Athamas and Nephele, sister of Phrixus. Escaping from Ino on the golden ram, she fell into the sea and was drowned, giving her name to the Hellespont, the gateway to the Bosphorus and Black Sea from the Adriatic.

            Book II.26:1-20. Drowned, giving her name to the waters.

            Book III.22:1-42. Her cities of the region.



The Hero, son of Jupiter. He was set in the sky as the constellation Hercules between Lyra and Corona Borealis.

The son of Jupiter and Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon. Called Alcides from Amphitryon’s father Alceus. Called also Amphitryoniades. Called also Tyrinthius from Tiryns his home city in the Argolis.

            Book I.11:1-30. Book III.18:1-34. The causeway at Baiae attributed to him. It was a narrow strip of land, the via Herculea, dividing the Lucrine Lake from the sea. He was said to have built it when he carried of Geryon’s cattle.

            Book I.13:1-36. He married Hebe after his deification, she the daughter of Iuno, born without a father. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book IX 394.

            Book I:20:1-52.He loved Hylas.

            Book II.23:1-24. Jupiter predicted at his birth that a scion of Perseus would be born, greater than all other descendants. Juno delayed Hercules birth and hastened that of Eurystheus, grandson of Perseus, making Hercules subservient to him. Hercules was set twelve labours by Eurystheus at Juno’s instigation:

1.                               The killing of the Nemean lion.

2.                                The destruction of the Lernean Hydra.  He used the poison from the Hydra for his arrows.

3.                               The capture of the stag with golden antlers.

4.                                The capture of the Erymanthian Boar.

5.                               The cleansing of the stables of Augeas king of Elis.

6.                               The killing of the birds of the Stymphalian Lake in Arcadia.

7.                               The capture of the Cretan wild bull.

8.                               The capture of the mares of Diomede of Thrace, that ate human flesh.

9.                               The taking of the girdle of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons.

10.                           The killing of Geryon and the capture of his oxen.

11.                            The securing of the apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. He held up the sky for Atlas in order to deceive him and obtain them.

12.                            The bringing of the dog Cerberus from Hades to the upper world.

            Book II.24A:17-52. His Twelve Labours are referred to.

            Book II.32:1-62. Tibur described as Herculean.

            Book III.1:1-38 He captured Troy and  rescued Hesione, with the help of Telamon, and gave her to Telamon in marriage. Philoctetes received his bow and arrows after his death, destined to be needed at Troy.

            Book III.11:1-72. His love for Omphale unmanned him.

            Book III.22:1-42. He fought with Antaeus and overcame him.

            Book IV.7:1-96. The air of Tibur supposedly preserved ivory, Hercules being specially worshiped there.

            Book IV.9:1-74. The Palatine Hill. Hercules and the Sacred Grove. Note that there was a Sabine cult of Hercules Sancus, with a possible realtionship to the verb sancio, to make sacred.

            Book IV.10:1-48. An ancestor of Acron.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Claimed as an ancestor by Perses.



The daughter of Helen and Menelaus. Orestes and Neoptolemus (=Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles) were rivals for her love.

            Book I.4:1-28. Famed for her beauty.



The three nymphs who tended the garden with the golden apples on a western island beyond Mount Atlas. Their names were Hespere, Aegle, and Erytheis, the daughters of Night, or of Atlas and Hesperis, the daughter of Hesperus. In the Eleventh Labour, Hercules obtains the golden apples by deceiving Atlas.

            Book II.24A:17-52. A demanding task.

            Book III.22:1-42. Their dances in the far west.


Hesperius, Hesper, Hesperus

The evening star (the planet Venus). It sets after the sun and remains close to the sun being an inner planet. Hence the meaning of Western or Italian.

            Book II.3:1-54. Western.


Hiberus, Spain

The Roman province in south-western Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

            Book II.3:1-54. Vermilion dye came from there.



Phoebe, a priestess of Athene-Minerva, and Hilaira a priestess of Diana-Artemis, daughters of Leucippus, the Messenian co-king were abducted and raped by Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces) known as the Dioscuri, the sons of Jupiter by Leda. The two sisters had been betrothed to Lynceus and Idas the sons of Aphareus king in Messene. Idas later married Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus by Alcippe, after winning her in a chariot race using a winged chariot lent by his true father Neptune-Poseidon.

            Book I.2:1-32. She is mentioned as a woman who relied on her natural charms.



The daughter of Oenomaus, the Arcadian ruler of Elis and Pisa. He prevented her marriage by challenging suitors to a chariot race, on a course from Pisa near the river Alpheus at Olympia to the altar of Neptune on the Isthmus of Corinth. The losers forfeited their life. Pelops raced for her. In love with him, she bribed Myrtilus, Oenomaus’s charioteer to remove the lymch-pins from the axles, and the king was killed in the race. Myrtilus was later killed by Pelops but was set in the heavens by Mercury as the constellation of the Charioteer, Auriga. (The constellation is equally linked with Erichthonius, legendary king of Athens). Auriga contains the satr Capella the sixth brightest in the sky.

            Book I.2:1-32. She is mentioned as a woman who relied on her natural beauty only.

            Book I.8A:27-46. Her dowry was the Peloponnese, conquered by Pelops her husband.



Queen of the Amazons, warrior maidens living near the Rivers Tanaïs and Thermodon in Scythia, based on Greek knowledge of the Scythian princesses of the Sarmatian people of the Black Sea region. Burials of warrior princesses have been excavated from the tumuli of the area around Rostov, and north west of the Sea of Azov. See Herodotus IV 110-117, for the Amazons and Scythians. In the Ninth Labour, Hercules obtained the golden girdle of Hippolyte.

            Book IV.3:1-72. Able to go to war.



The son of Theseus and the Amazon Hippolyte. He was admired by Phaedra, his step-mother, and was killed at Troezen, after meeting ‘a bull from the sea’. He was brought to life again by Aesculapius, and hidden by Diana (Cynthia, the moon-goddess) who set him down in the sacred grove at Arician Nemi, where he became Virbius, the consort of the goddess (as Adonis was of Venus, and Attis of Cybele), and the King of the Wood (Rex Nemorensis). All this is retold and developed in Frazer’s monumental work on magic and religion, ‘The Golden Bough’ (see Chapter I et seq.). (See also Euripides’s play ‘Hippolytos’, and Racine’s ‘Phaedra’.)

            Book II.1:1-78. Phaedra’s stepson.

            Book IV.5:1-78. Resisted Phaedra’s advances.


Homerus, Homer

The possibly mythical Greek epic poet who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey.

            Book I.7:1-26. The greatest of poets.

            Book I.9:1-34. Not too useful when in love.

            Book II.1:1-78. He sang of Troy.

            Book II.34:1-94. Is supposed to have loved Penelope, as recorded by Hermesianax.

            Book III.1:1-38. His Iliad.


Horatius, The Horatii

Two sets of three brothers the Alban Curiatii and the Roman Horatii fought each other in the wars between Rome and Alba Longa. Two Horatii were killed, the third killed all the three Curatii.

            Book III.3:1-52. A subject for epic.

            Book III.11:1-72. Horatius, who kept the bridge against Lars Porsena’s army. (see Macaulay’s poem from Lays of Ancient Rome)



An unknown astrologer. Perhaps fictitious.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The son of Orops.



A region on the northern borders of Scythia.

            Book I.8:1-26. Distant, beyond Scythia.



A Centaur who atacked and tried to rape Atalanta at the Calydonian Boar Hunt. He wounded her lover Milanion (or Meleager) as he protected her, and was shot down by her. (Many variants of this myth exist).

            Book I.1:1-38. He is mentioned.



The beautiful son of Theodamas, loved by Hercules, who sailed with the hero on the Argos. Propertius tells how Hylas was pursued by Zetes and Calais, the sons of the North Wind, escaped them, but was taken by the Nymphs.

            Book I:20:1-52. The story of Hylas.


Hymenaeus, Hymen

            Book IV.4:1-94. The god of marriage. His blessing was asked at the marriage-feast.



A river in southern Russia. The Kuban or Bug.

            Book I.12:1-20. Mentioned.



A daughter of Danaus. She refused to obey her father and would not murder her husband on his wedding night. Her forty-nine sisters obeyed.

            Book IV.7:1-96. The virtuous exception.



            The daughter of Thoas, king of Lemnos.

Thoas was king there when the Lemnian women murdered their menfolk because of their adultery with Thracian girls. His life was spared because his daughter Hypsipyle set him adrift in an oarless boat. As Queen of Lemnos she welcomed Jason and the Argonauts. He deserted her to continue the quest for the Golden Fleece.

            Book I.15:1-42. She mourned for him.


Hyrcanus, Hyrcania, Caspian Sea

The region around the Caspian Sea.

            Book II.30:1-40. Cynthia is headed there.


Iacchus, see Bacchus

            Book II.3:1-54. A name for Bacchus from the ecstatic shouts of his followers the Maenads.



Atalanta, the daughter of Iasus of Calydon. He exposed her on the Parthenian hill near Calydon, having wished for a male heir. She was suckled by a bear sent by Diana-Artemis. She was later won by Milanion (According to a variant myth she was Schoeneus’s daughter and won by Hippomenes, see Ovid’s Metamorphoses X 560). She later defiled the sanctuary of Zeus, with Melanion, by lying with him in an oracular cave, and both were changed into lions.

            Book I.1:1-38. She is mentioned.


Iason, Jason

The son of Aeson, and leader of the Argonauts: hero of the adventure of the Golden Fleece. The fleece is represented in the sky by the constellation and zodiacal sign of Aries, the Ram. In ancient times it contained the point of the vernal equinox (The First Point of Aries) that has since moved by precession into Pisces. He reached Colchis and the court of King Aeetes. He accepted Medea’s help and promised her marriage. He completed the tasks set and won the Golden Fleece, and married Medea, before returning to Iolchos.He asked Medea to lengthen his father’s life.He acquired the throne of Corinth, and married a new bride Glauce (Creusa). Medea in revenge for his disloyalty to her sent Glauce a wedding gift of a golden crown and white robe, which burst into flames when she put them on, and consumed her and the palace. Medea then killed her own sons by Jason, and fled his wrath.

            Book II.24A:17-52. He abandons Medea.

            Book II.34:1-94. The hero of Apollonius Rhodius’s Argonautica translated by Varro.





Penelope, the daughter of Icarius brother of Tyndareus, and the Naiad Periboea.

            Book III.13:1-66. Disdainful of the suitors’ gifts.



The daughter of Icarius the Athenian, Erigone was loved by Bacchus. Her country was Panchaia. She was set in the sky as the constellation Virgo, after her suicide, by hanging, in despair at finding her father Icarius’s body. He had learned the art of winemaking and gave the wine to some peasants who thinking they were poisoned murdered him. Icarius is identified with the constellation Boötes.

            Book II.33A:23-44. The constellation.


Idaeus, Ida, Idalius, Mount Ida

One Mount Ida is near Troy. There is a second Mount Ida on Crete.

            Book II.2:1-16. Paris and the Goddesses on the Trojan Ida.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Adonis killed on the Cretan Ida. He was identified with Tammuz of the Lebanon, and was a consort of the Great Goddess, Ishtar= Venus-Aphrodite.

            Book II.32:1-62. Oenone loved Paris on the Trojan Ida.

            Book III.1:1-38. Source of the river Simois at Troy.

            Book III.17:1-42. Cybele worshipped on Trojan Ida.



A son of Neptune, putative son of Aphareus king of Messene, by Aphareus’s half-sister Arene. Lynceus was his brother. He participated with Lynceus in the Calydonian boar-hunt, and they both sailed with the Argo.

Marpessa was the daughter of Evenus, the son of Mars, by his wife Alcippe. Her father wished her to remain virgin, and her suitors were forced to compete in a chariot race with him, the losers forfeiting their lives. Apollo vowed to win her and end the custom, but Idas borrowing his father Neptune’s chariot pre-empted him. Idas snatched her: Evenus gave chase, but killed his horses and drowned himself in the Lycormas then renamed the Evenus in disgust at failing to overtake Idas. Apollo and Idas fought over Marpessa, but Jupiter parted them and she chose Idas fearing that Apollo would be faithless to her.

            Book I.2:1-32. He is mentioned.


Iliacus, Ilion, Ilius

            A name for Troy.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Book III.1:1-38. Book III.13:1-66. Troy.

            Book IV.4:1-94. The embers of fallen Troy.


Ilias. The Iliad

Homer’s epic verse story of the Trojan War, specifically the Anger of Achilles and its aftermath.

            Book II.1:1-78. Mentioned for its length and greatness.

            Book II.34:1-94. The standard of highest poetic achievement.


Illyria, Illyricus

The North-Eastern seabord of the Adriatic, north of Epirus.

            Book I.8:1-26. Cold climate.

            Book II.16:1-56. A Roman province. A praetor arrives from there.


Inachis, see Io

Io, daughter of Inachus.

            Book II.33:1-22. Worshipped as Isis.


Inachius, Inachus

            Book I.13:1-36. Inachus was King of Argos, hence Argive=Greek.

            Book II.13:1-16. Greek Linus.


India, Indicus

            The Indian sub-continent, part of Asia.

            Book I.8A:27-46. Pearls were imported from there.

            Book II.9:1-52. A military outposting.

            Book II.10:1-26. Subject to Rome.

            Book II.22:1-42. A source of gemstones.

            Book III.4:1-22. Augustus planning a campaign there.

            Book III.13:1-66. Herodotus and Pliny say that ants brought gold dust from the Indian mines in winter, which was gathered by the Indians in summer when the ants sheltered from the heat. See Herodotus Book III Chs. 102-105.

            Book III.17:1-42. Indian warriors routed by the Bacchic dancers.



The daughter of Cadmus, wife of Athamas, and sister of Semele and Agave. She fosters the infant Bacchus. She participated in the killing of Pentheus. She incurred the hatred of Juno. Maddened by Tisiphone, and the death of her son Learchus, at the hand of his father, she leapt into the sea, and was changed to the sea-goddess Leucothoë by Neptune, at Venus’s request.

            Book II.28:1-46. Became a goddess. Changes of fortune.



The daughter of Inachus a river-god of Argolis, chased and raped by Jupiter, she was changed to a heifer by Jupiter and conceded as a gift to Juno. She was guarded by hundred-eyed Argus. After Mercury killed Argus, and driven by Juno’s fury, Io reached the Nile, and was returned to human form. With her son Epaphus she was worshipped in Egypt as a goddess. Io is therefore synonymous with Isis (or Hathor the cow-headed goddess with whom she was often confused), and Epaphus with Horus.

            Book I.3:1-46. She is mentioned.

            Book II.28:1-46. Changes of fortune.

            Book II.30:1-40. Loved by Jupiter.

            Book II.33:1-22. Worshipped as Isis.

            Book III.22:1-42. Transformed by Juno.


Iolciacis, Iolcus

            A seaport town in Thessaly from which the Argonauts sailed.

They return there with Medea and the Golden Fleece.

            Book II.1:1-78. Medea in Iolcus.



            Book IV.5:1-78. One of Cynthia’s (?) slaves.


Ionia, Ionius

Ionia was the Greek coastal region of Asia Minor, often extended to include Lydia and Caria, and the associated offshore islands in the Aegean.

The Ionian Sea (Ionius) is on the other western side of the Greek mainland.

            Book I.6:1-36. Ionia noted for its soft richness.

            Book II.26:1-20. The Ionian sea, subject to storms causing shipwreck.

            Book III.11:1-72. Augustus-Octavian’s naval battleground. Propertius hints at homosexual proclivities again.

            Book III.21:1-34. On the route to Athens.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Off the site of Actium.



            (1). The daughter of Iphiclus and wife of Theseus.

(2). The daughter of Aeolus, wife of Cepheus, and mother of Andromeda, more commonly called Cassiope.

            Book II.28A:47-62. A beauty.



Melampus the son of Amythaon, undertook to steal the cattle of Iphiclus for Neleus, so that Bias his brother or he himself could win Pero, Neleus’s daughter. He was captured and chained but escaped and succeeded in marrying her.

            Book II.3:1-54. Iphiclus is mentioned.



The daughter of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and Clytaemnestra. She is called Mycenis. She was sacrificed by her father at Aulis, to gain favourable winds for the passage to Troy but snatched away by Diana. (to Tauris)

            Book III.7:1-72. Book IV.1A:71-150. Her sacrifice.



A beggar on Ithaca, in the palace of Ulysses who defeats him in a boxing match. See Homer’s Odyssey.

            Book III.5:1-48. In the underworld.


Ischomache, Hippodamia

The daughter of Adrastus, and wife of Pirithoüs. Eurytus the Centaur attempted to carry her off at her wedding and precipitated the battle between Lapiths and Centaurs.

            Book II.2:1-16. Her beauty. A daughter of the Lapithae.



            Book IV.5:1-78. The Egyptian Goddess. See Io. Worshipped throughout the Empire, women remained celibate while performing her rites and vigils.


Ismara, Ismarius

            Book II.13:1-16. Book III.12:1-38. The home of the Cicones in Thrace. Thracian.

            Book II.33A:23-44. Ulysses gives Polyphemus neat wine from there.


Isthmos, The Isthmus

The Isthmus of Corinth between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Sea.

            Book III.21:1-34. On the route to Athens.



Italy. The country, with capital at Rome, the centre of the Roman Empire in Propertius’s day.

            Book I.22:1-10. The country and people.

            Book III.7:1-72. Italian shores.


Italus, Italian

            Book III.1:1-38. Italian mysteries. (Itala orgia)

            Book III.22:1-42. Italian waters.


Ithacus, Ulysses, Odysseus

Odysseus, the hero from Ithaca. Also called Ulysses. The Greek hero, son of Laërtes. See Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. He fought at Troy, spent many years returning home, was noted for his cunning and resilience. His patron was Minerva-Athene, goddess of the mind and intellect. Penelope his wife is the type of faithfulness, waiting patiently for his return.

(See Francesco Primaticcio’s painting – Ulysses and Penelope – The Toledo Museum of Art)

            Book I.15:1-42. He is mentioned. Calypso delayed him.

            Book III.12:1-38. Of Ithaca.



The son of Tereus and Procne. He was murdered by his mother in revenge for Tereus’s rape of Philomela, and his flesh was served to his father at a banquet. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book VI 437.

            Book III.10:1-32. His mother’s grief.



King of Numidia, in North Africa, defeated and killed by Marius in 104BC.

            Book III.5:1-48. In the underworld.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Led in defeat through the streets of Rome.


Iulius, Julian

Of the Julian dynasty.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Used of Augustus’s fleet



The son of Aeneas, Ascanius, who built Alba Longa and was its first king.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Trojan lineage.


Iuno, Juno

The daughter of Rhea and Saturn, wife of Jupiter, and the queen of the gods. A representation of the pre-Hellenic Great Goddess. (See the Metope of Temple E at Selinus – The Marriage of Hera and Zeus – Palermo, National Museum.)

            Book II.2:1-16. The sister, and wife, of Jupiter.

            Book II.5:1-30. The goddess of women’s arts, and domestic order.

            Book II.28:1-46. Called Pelasgian. Moved by the deaths of young girls.

            Book II.33:1-22. Book III.22:1-42. Changed Io into a heifer.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Presides over childbirth.

            Book IV.8:1-88. Her temple at Lanuvium.

            Book IV.9:1-74. She persecuted Hercules. See the entry for Hercules for further detail.


Iuppiter, Jupiter

The sky-god, son of Saturn and Rhea, born on Mount Lycaeum in Arcadia and nurtured on Mount Ida in Crete. The oak is his sacred tree. His emblems of power are the sceptre and lightning-bolt. His wife and sister is Juno (Iuno). (See the sculpted bust(copy) by Brassides, the Jupiter of Otricoli, Vatican)

            Book I.13:1-36. He raped Leda in the form of a swan.

            Book II.1:1-78. He fought the Giants.

            Book II.2:1-16. Responsible for a long list of rapes of desirable girls, and many resultant offspring. His adulteries resented by Juno.

            Book II.3:1-54. Notorious adulterer.

            Book II.7:1-20. Powerless to separate loyal lovers.

            Book II.13:1-16. A synonym for Augustus. Propertius was probably in trouble with the authorities for the seditious nature of his verse.

            Book II.16:1-56. Punishes faithless girls.

            Book II.22:1-42. Fathered Hercules on Alcmene.

            Book II.26A:21-58, Sends the lightning.

            Book II.28:1-46. A God who protects lovely girls.

            Book II.30:1-40. He raped Semele, Io, and flying as an eagle to Troy carried off Ganymede, the son of king Tros (a dig at Augustus, imputing homosexual practices to him?)

            Book II.32:1-62. He raped Danae.

            Book II.33:1-22. He loved Io.

            Book II.34:1-94. A potential rival where lovely women are concerned.

            Book II.34:1-94. He struck down Capaneus.

            Book III.1:1-38. Father of the river-god Xanthus (Scamander).

            Book III.2:1-26. His shrine at Elis.

            Book III.3:1-52. The Capitol with its temple of Jupiter was saved by the cries of geese during the surprise attack by the Sabines.

            Book III.4:1-22. The Roman Jupiter=Augustus. Propertius suggests Augustus might be unduly interested in the Persian trophies=catamites, an innuendo about Augustus’s sexual proclivities.

            Book III.9:1-60. The god portrayed at his temple at Olympia by Phidias’s chryselephantine statue, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. God also of the thunderbolt.

            Book III.11:1-72. The gods behaviour reprehensible, by analogy Augustus’s also.

            Book III.11:1-72. Augustus, challenged by Cleopatra.

            Book III.15:1-46. The god raped Antiope, taking the form of a satyr.

            Book III.24:1-20. Not a god of commonsense.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Book IV.4:1-94. His temple on the Tarpeian Hill, the Capitoline. He aided the founding of Rome as a rebirth of Troy.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Prophecies bought for gold. Jupiter the planet astrologically connected with good fortune (Fortuna Maior). Ammon, an Egyptian and Libyan god, worshipped in the form of a Ram-headed deity, was identified by the Romans and Greeks with Jupiter and Zeus.

            Book IV.6:1-86. His supposed support for Augustus at Actium.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Outraged by Cacus’s thieving.

            Book IV.10:1-48. His temple as Feretrian Jupiter.



            King of the Lapithae, father of Pirithoüs, and of the Centaurs.

The father of Nessus and the other centaurs. He attempted to seduce Juno, but Jupiter created a false image of her, caught Ixion in the act with this simulacrum, and bound him to a fiery wheel that rolls through the sky (or turns in the Underworld).

            Book II.1:1-78.His son is Pirithous.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Tormented in Hades.


Ixionides, see Pirithous

            Book II.1:1-78. Pirithous, son of Ixion.


Lacaena, Lacon, Sparta

Sparta, the chief city of Laconia on the River Eurotas, and also called Lacadaemon

            Book I.4:1-28. The city of Hermione.

            Book II.15:1-54. Of Sparta.

            Book III.14:1-34. Men and women exercsied naked.



A famous courtesan of Corinth.

            Book II.6:1-42. Her popularity.



            Book IV.7:1-96. One of Cynthia’s slaves.



The daughter of the Sun, Phoebus-Apollo and guardian of his cattle which Ulysses and his crew sacrificed.

            Book III.12:1-38. An adventure of Ulysses.



A small town on the Appian Way south east of Rome.

            Book II.32:1-62. Cynthia goes there.

            Book IV.8:1-88. The fertility ritual there.



The king of Troy, son of Ilus the younger, father of Priam, Hesione and Antigone of Troy.

            Book II.14:1-32. Troy’s wealth.


Lapitha, Lapithae, Lapiths

An ancient people of south western Thessaly. The marriage of Pirithoüs and Hippodamia was disrupted by Eurytus one of the centaurs invited to the feast, leading to the battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs. (See the sculpture from the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia – e.g. the detail, Lapith Woman and Centaur)

            Book II.2:1-16. Hippodamia was a daughter of the Lapiths.


Lar, Lares, Penates

The Lares were spirits of the dead, worshipped at crossroads, and in the home as guardian deities, coupled usually with the Penates. The Penates were the old Latin household gods, two in number, whose name derives from penus a larder, or storage room for food. They were closely linked to the family and shared its joys and sorrows. Their altar was the hearth, which they shared with Vesta. Their images were placed at the back of the atrium in front of the Genius, the anonymous deity that protected and was the creative force in all groups and families, and, as the Genius of the head of the house and represented as a serpent, was placed between the Lar (the Etruscan guardian of the house) and Penates. At meals they were placed between the plates and offered the first food. The Penates moved with a family and became extinct if the family did.

            Book III.3:1-52. They resisted Hannibal.

            Book III.7:1-72. Those of Paetus.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The Trojan household gods.

            Book IV.3:1-72. The shrine of the Lar opened at the Calends, the first of each month.

            Book IV.8:1-88. The shrine of the Lares by the entrance to the house.


Latinus, Latius, Latin


            Book II.32:1-62. Roman women.

            Book III.4:1-22. Roman Jupiter=Augustus.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Roman waters. The Adriatic, off Actium.

            Book IV.10:1-48. Roman hands.



            Book IV.7:1-96. A slave of Cynthia. Her name from the Greek ‘to serve’ = λατρεύειν


Lavinus, Lavinium

Lavinium, a city of Latium, founded by Aeneas. (Between the modern Ostia and Anzio)

            Book II.34:1-94. Founded by Aeneas.



The western port of Corinth.

            Book III.21:1-34. On the route to Athens.



The daughter of Thestius, and wife of the Spartan king Tyndareus. She had twin sons Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux), the Tyndaridae, following her rape by Jupiter in the form of a swan. Castor and Pollux are represented in the sky by the two bright stars in the constellation of Gemini, the Twins. They were the protectors of mariners appearing in the rigging as the electrical phenomenon now known as St Elmo’s fire. Gemini contains the radiant of the Geminid meteor shower. (See the painting Leda, by Gustave Moreau in the Gustave Moreau Museum Paris). Propertius takes Leda’s other daughter by Tyndareus, Clytemnestra to be human and not divine.

            Book I.13:1-36. She is mentioned.



The constellation and zodiacal sign of the Lion. It contains the star Regulus ‘the heart of the lion’, one of the four guardians of the heavens in Babylonian astronomy, which lies nearly on the ecliptic. (The others are Aldebaran in Taurus, Antares in Scorpius, and Fomalhaut ‘the Fish’s Eye’ in Piscis Austrinus. All four are at roughly ninety degrees to one another). The constellation represents the Nemean lion killed by Hercules as the first of his twelve labours.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The Zodiacal sign of the Lion.



            Book IV.11:1-102. A son of Paullus.



The marsh where the Hydra lived destroyed by Hercules in the Second Labour.

            Book II.24A:17-52. A demanding task.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Neptune created the spring of Amymone, source of the river Lerna there, with his trident.



            The subject of Catullus’s love poems. Probably Clodia Metelli.

            Book II.32:1-62. Set a precedent for loose behaviour.

            Book II.34:1-94. ‘Better-known’ than Helen. (An ironic comment on her loose behaviour)


Lesbius, Lesbos

The island in the eastern Aegean. Among its cities were Mytilene and Methymna. Famous as the home of Sappho the poetess, whose love of women gave rise to the term lesbian. Through Sappho and Alcaeus a centre, around 600BC, for Greek lyric poetry, Sappho being the first great individual voice of European lyric song.

            Book I.14:1-24. Its wine is mentioned.


Lethaeus, Lethe

A river of the Underworld, whose waters bring forgetfulness.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Its waters have withered Cynthia’s lips.



            Book II.34:1-94. Varro’s mistress.


Leucadius, see Actium



The son of Gorgophone by Perieres. He co-ruled Messene with his brother Aphareus, and gave the city of Leuctra its name. His daughters, the Leucippides, were Phoebe and Hilaira (Hilaeira).

             Book I.2:1-32. He is mentioned.



Ino the daughter of Cadmus, wife of Athamas, and sister of Semele and Agave. She fostered the infant Bacchus (Dionysus). She participated in the killing of Pentheus. She incurred the hatred of Juno. Maddened by Tisiphone, and the death of her son Learchus, at the hands of his father, she leapt into the sea, and was changed to the sea-goddess Leucothoë by Neptune, at Venus’s request.

Leucothoe is the White Goddess, the sea-goddess, who as a sea-mew helped Ulysses (See Homer’s Odyssey). She is a manifestation of the Great Goddess in her archetypal form. (See Robert Graves’s ‘The White Goddess’).

            Book II.26:1-20. Prayed to for safety and help at sea.

            Book II.28:1-46. The deified Ino.


Liber, see Bacchus



Book IV.11:1-102. The ancestors of Cornelia, a branch of the Scribonii, the senatorial family.



A galley with a ram, light and manoeuvrable, widely used by the Romans e.g. by Octavian at Actium.

            Book III.11:1-72. Its prow, a Propertian sexual reference.



            The country in North Africa.

            Book II.31:1-16. A source of ivory.

            Book III.11:1-72. Syphax, its king.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. It contained the shrine of Jupiter Ammon.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Hercules hair bleached there.



A mythological early poet. The son of Oeagrus and the Muse Calliope, brother of Orpheus. Killed by Apollo out of jealousy (in a tanist ritual?) the famous Lament for Linus crossed the ancient world.

            Book II.13:1-16. Famous poet.



The followers of Lygmon (Lucumo), who united with the Titienses, the people of Titus Tatius, and the Ramnes followers of Romulus

            Book IV.1:1-70. Early Romans.



            Book II.19:1-32. The dawn. The morning star.



‘The light bringer’, the Roman goddess of childbirth, a manifestation of Juno, but also applied to Diana, as the Great Goddess.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Goddess of childbirth.



A lagoon on the Bay of Naples near Baiae.

            Book I.11:1-30. Cynthia stays nearby.



The Moon as celestial body and as manifestation of the Triple Goddess.

            Book I.10:1-30. Book II.28:1-46. Referred to.

            Book II.34:1-94. The phenomenon of Lunar eclipse.

            Book III.20:1-30. The Moon.


Lupercus (1)

A priest of Lupercus, the Roman version of Pan Lukaios. The priests were divided into the colleges of the Fabii and Quintilii

            Book IV.1:1-70. The festival of the Lupercalia took place on February 15th. Men dressed only in animal skins ran through the streets striking women with goatskin thongs to promote fertility.


Lupercus (2)

The son of Arria, possibly a friend or kinsman of Propertius.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. He died in war.


Lyaeus, see Bacchus



Propertius’s first love.

            Book III.15:1-46. Cynthia jealous of his past.


Lycius, Lycia

A region in south-west Asia Minor where Phoebus was the major deity.

            Book III.1:1-38. Phoebus.


Lycomedius, see Luceres



            Book II.34:1-94. The mistress of the poet Gallus.



It is not known whether Lycotas is a pseudonym or a fictional name.

            Book IV.3:1-72. The husband of Arethusa.    



The legendary king of Thrace who disapproved of the orgiastic rites of Bacchus-Dionysus and captured the god, who maddened him so that he killed his own son thinking he was pruning a vine.

            Book III.17:1-42. Maddened by the god.



            Book III.15:1-46. The husband of Dirce.



A country in Asia Minor, containing Ephesus, with its temple of Artemis-Diana, and Smyrna. Famous for its wealth.

            Book I.6:1-36. Noted for its wealth and gold-bearing streams.

            Book III.5:1-48. Croesus was king of Lydia.

            Book III.11:1-72. Omphale was queen of Lydia.

            Book III.17:1-42. A Lydian turban crowns Bacchus’s head.

            Book IV.7:1-96. The Lydian lyre.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Hercules served Omphale there.



A slave of Cynthia and then Propertius.

            Book III.6:1-42. A message bearer.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Cynthia doubted his loyalty.

            Book IV.8:1-88. Attends on Propertius.


Lygmon, Lycmon

An Etruscan general who assisted Romulus against Tatius king of the Sabines, and joined with them in a peace settlement. He was also called Lucumo and his people the Luceres. (those of Romulus were the Ramnes, and of Tatius the Titienses) He came from Solonium a town near Lanuvium, according to Propertius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

            Book IV.1:1-70. A countryman.

            Book IV.2:1-64. The crushing of the Sabines.



A fellow poet and friend of Propertius. Possibly a pseudonym for Lucius Varius Rufus.

            Book II.34:1-94. Addressed by Propertius, for attempting something with Cynthia.



            Book III.9:1-60. The sculptor born at Sicyon who flourished in the second half of the fourth century BC. He was a popular bronze-caster famous for precision of detail and slim bodily proportions, and for moments of action. (See the bronze praying boy in Berlin, and the reliefs from the statue base of Poulydamas, both probably by pupils). Pausanias (Book VI) mentions statues by him at Olympia in Eleia.



A Greek physician at the siege of Troy.

            Book II.1:1-78. He healed Philoctetes.


Maeander, Maeandrius

The Maeander river in Lydia in Asia Minor famous for its wandering course, hence ‘meander’. Also its river-god. (Pausanias mentions, VIII vii, a boiling hot spring that comes out of the riverbed and out of a rock mid-stream. Also, V xiv, that it is famous for its many huge tamarisk trees.)

            Book II.30:1-40. Minerva invented the flute there, but threw it into the river when it puffed out her cheeks, marring her beauty.

            Book II.34:1-94. Its wanderings as a subject no help in love.



Gaius Maecenas (c70-8BC) diplomat, private citizen, patron of the arts, friend of Augustus. His protégés included Virgil, Horace and Propertius.

            Book II.1:1-78. He is addressed

            Book III.9:1-60. He is addressed as Propertius’s patron and is the subject of veiled jokes, some homosexual regarding Augustus, which may have been an acceptable practice within Maecenas’s set as it was in Elizabethan England in some circles.



            Book IV.9:1-74. Arcadian, from Mount Maenalus in Arcady.


Maenas, The Maenads

The Bacchantes, the female followers of Bacchus-Dionysus, noted for their ecstatic worship of the god. Dionysus brought terror and joy. The Maenads’ secret female mysteries may indicate older rituals of ecstatic human sacrifice.

            Book III.8:1-34. Frenzied women.

            Book III.13:1-66. Cassandra, a frenzied prophetess.

            Book III.17:1-42. Book III.22:1-42. They killed Pentheus.


Maeonius, Maeotic

             Book II.3:1-54. Lake Maeotis the modern Sea of Azov.



            Book IV.8:1-88. A dwarf entertainer.



The most southerly promontory of the Peloponnese.

            Book III.19:1-28. A dangerous headland.



Mamurius Veturius, a mythical metalworker at the time of Numa.

            Book IV.2:1-64. His statue of Vertumnus.



            Book III.18:1-34. Augustus’s nephew who died at Baiae in 23BC.



Quintus Marcius Rex built an aqueduct in 144BC the aqua Marcia, with excellent water.

            Book III.2:1-26. Book III.22:1-42. Its water.



The general Gaius Marius defeated Jugurtha in North Africa in 104BC and the Germanic tribes of the Teutones and Cimbri in 102-101BC. He was seven times consul.

            Book II.1:1-78. He is mentioned for his service to the State.

            Book III.3:1-52. A subject for others’ poetry.

            Book III.5:1-48. In the underworld.

            Book III.11:1-72. His weapons and statues honoured, but desecrated by Cleopatra’s presence.



A companion (or son) of Bacchus.

            Book II.32:1-62. A stone fountain, a statue of Maro, in Rome.



The daughter of Evenus, the son of Mars, by his wife Alcippe. Her father wished her to remain virgin, and her suitors were forced to compete in a chariot race with him, the losers forfeiting their lives. Apollo vowed to win her and end the custom, but Idas borrowing his father Neptune’s chariot pre-empted him. Idas snatched her, Evenus gave chase, but killed his horses and drowned himself in the Lycormas then renamed the Evenus in disgust at failing to overtake Idas. Apollo and Idas fought over Marpessa, but Jupiter parted them and she chose Idas fearing that Apollo would be faithless to her.

            Book I.2:1-32. She is mentioned.



The war god, son of Jupiter and Juno. An old name for him is Mavors. Venus commited adultery with him and he was caught in a net with her by her husband Vulcan. The father of Romulus. He asked for Romulus’s deification.

            Book II.32:1-62. Committed adultery with Venus.

            Book III.3:1-52. Book III.4:1-22. The God of War.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The father of Romulus. The she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus was under his protection.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The planet Mars associated astrologically with anger, energy, and rapaciousness.


Mausoleus, Mausolus, The Mausoleum

The Mausoleum was the tomb of king Mausolus, ruler of Caria (377-353BC. His widow Artemisia erected the white marble monument over 130 feet high, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

            Book III.2:1-26. Subject to time.



A name for Mars.

            Book II.27:1-16. God of war.



The daughter of Aeetes, king of Colchis and the Caucasian nymph Asterodeia. She is called Aeetias. As told by Ovid in Book VII of the Metamorphoses, a famous sorceress, she conceives a passion for Jason and agonises over the betrayal of her country for him. (See Gustave Moreau’s painting ‘Jason and Medea’, Louvre, Paris: Frederick Sandys painting ‘Medea’, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, England: and Castiglione’s painting, ‘Medea casting a spell’, Wadsworth Athanaeum, Hartford, Connecticut). She determines to help Jason and makes him swear on the altar of Triple Hecate to marry her. She gives him magic herbs to facilitate his tasks (probably including the Colchian crocus, meadow saffron, colchicum autumnale, that sprang from the blood of the tortured Prometheus. The plant is highly toxic, and the seeds and corms were collected for the extraction of the narcotic drug colchicine, tinctura colchici, used as a specific against gout.). Jason carries out his tasks using the magic herbs, including magic juice (juniper?) to subdue the dragon, and takes Medea back with him to Iolchos. She offers to attempt to renew Aeson’s life at Jason’s request. She makes a magic potion and restores Aeson’s youth. She rejuvenates the nymphs of Mount Nysa. She then deceives Pelias’s daughters and employs them to help destroy him. She flees through the air with her winged dragons, making a clockwise journey round the Aegean, the Cyclades, the Peloponnese, Aetolia, and Arcadia, to reach Corinth. There she kills Glauce her rival, and then sacrifices her own sons, before fleeing to Athens where she marries King Aegeus. She attempts to poison Theseus using aconite, but Aegeus recognises Theseus’s sword as his own, and dashes the cup away in time. Medea vanishes in a mist conjured by her magic spells.

            Book II.1:1-78. The Colchian witch.

            Book II.21:1-20. Jason deceived her, leaving her for Creusa.

            Book II.24A:17-52. Book IV.5:1-78. Abandoned by Jason.

            Book II.34:1-94. Went with a stranger.

            Book III.11:1-72. She helped Jason overcome the brazen bulls, defeat the warrior’s born of the dragon’s teeth, and lull the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece.

            Book III.19:1-28. She murdered her children by Jason.


Medus, The Medes

The Median Empire was founded by Dyakku and made great by Cyaxares (625-585BC). It was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus II.

            Book III.9:1-60. Book III.12:1-38. Parthians (of Persia, originally north-eastern Persia).



The son of Amythaon, who undertook to steal the cattle of Iphiclus for Neleus, so that Bias his brother or he himself could win Pero, Neleus’s daughter. He was captured and chained but escaped and succeeded in marrying her.

            Book II.3:1-54. Driven by love for her.



King of Calydon, the son of Oeneus, and Althaea, daughter of Thestius. As prince, a hero of Calydon. He joined the Calydonian Boar hunt and fell in love with Atalanta. He killed the boar but in an argument over the spoils he murdered his uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus.His mother Althaea punished him, with death, by throwing the brand that was linked to his life, into the fire. Deianira was his sister.

            Book III.22:1-42. His mother took his life.



The Ethiopian king, son of Tithonus and Aurora (The Dawn), killed by Achilles while fighting for the Trojans. He was changed to a bird by Aurora on his funeral pyre. The Memnonides were birds, created at the same time, which flew every year to his tomb at Troy from Ethiopia to re-enact the War. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XIII 579. In Egypt he was said to have survived and ruled Ethiopia subsequently.

            Book I.6:1-36. He is mentioned, indicating Ethiopia and the south.

            Book II.18A:5-22. His death mourned by Aurora.



The city in Egypt.

            Book III.11:1-72. Pompey murdered in Egypt.


Menandreus, Menandrus, Menander

The playwright (341-290BC) and leading author of the school of New Greek Comedy.

            Book II.6:1-42. Book IV.5:1-78. He wrote a play with Thais as a character.

            Book III.21:1-34. A source of wit and learning.



The younger son of Atreus, and brother of Agamemnon, hence called Atrides minor. Paris’s theft of his wife Helen instigated the Trojan War

            Book II.3:1-54. He demanded her return.

            Book II.15:1-54. Helen’s abduction.

            Book II.34:1-94. Paris abused his hospitality.



            Book II.1:1-78. Patroclus the son of Menoetius.


Mens Bona

            Book III.24:1-20. The Romans erected a Temple to Good Sense in 217BC.



A famous Greek silversmith of the early fourth century BC.

            Book I.14:1-24. His work is mentioned.

            Book III.9:1-60. A specialist in sculpted groups.



            Book I.14:1-24. Of Mentor.


Mercurius, Mercury

The messenger god, Hermes, son of Jupiter and the Pleiad Maia, the daughter of Atlas. He is therefore called Atlantiades. His birthplace was Mount Cyllene, and he is therefore called Cyllenius. He has winged feet, and a winged cap, carries a scimitar, and has a magic wand, the caduceus, with twin snakes twined around it, that brings sleep and healing. The caduceus is the symbol of medicine. (See Botticelli’s painting Primavera.)

            Book II.2:1-16. He slept with Hecate (Brimo).

            Book II.30:1-40. The skies are the highways of the god.



            Book IV.6:1-86. The capital city of Cepheus’s Ethiopia.



An early king of the island of Cos.

            Book II.34:1-94. Coan. Philetas of Cos.



            Book IV.8:1-88. Wine from Methymna in Lesbos.



            The modern Bevagna near Assisi.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Near Propertius’s birthplace.


Milanion, Melanion

The Greek hero, son of Amphidamas the Arcadian who won Atalanta daughter of Iasus and Clymene, famous for her running. She was a virgin follower of Diana-Artemis. She agreed to marry any suitor who could beat her in the race, those defeated forfeiting their lives. Venus-Aphrodite gave Milanion three golden apples, which he used as lures to delay Atalanta in the foot-race.

Book I.1:1-38. He knew the toils of love.



A mountain in Lydia falling to a headland called Argennum which may have been connected with Argynnus.

            Book III.7:1-72. Scene of Argynnus’s death.



The erotic lyric poet of Colophon who lived around 630BC.

            Book I.9:1-34. A minor lyric poet is still more useful than Homer in love.



The Roman name for Athene the goddess of the mind and women’s arts (also a goddess of war and the goddess of boundaries – see the Stele of Athena, bas-relief, Athens, Acropolis Museum).

            Book I.2:1-32. She presides over the feminine arts, and the intellect.

            Book II.30:1-40. Minerva invented the flute by the River Maeander, but threw it into the river when it puffed out her cheeks, marring her beauty.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Forbade the violation of Cassandra.


Minois, Ariadne

Ariadne daughter of king Minos.

            Book II.24A:17-52. Abandoned by Theseus.



The King of Crete, ruler of a hundred cities. Son of Jupiter and Europa. Husband of Pasiphae. Father of Ariadne and Phaedra.

            Book II.14:1-32. Ariadne’s father.

            Book III.19:1-28. Scylla betrayed the city of Megara to him. Also he is a judge of the dead, with Rhadamanthus and Aeacus.

            Book IV.11:1-102. His brother is Rhadamanthus.



The descendants of Minyas, living in Orchomenus in Boeotia. They formed the core crew of Jason’s Argos, hence a name for the Argonauts.

            Book I:20:1-52. The Argonauts.



Aeneas’s trumpeter Misenus.

The location at the northern end of the Bay of Naples where he was buried. The modern Cape Miseno between Naples and Ischia. See Virgil’s Aeneid VI 155.

            Book I.11:1-30. Cynthia stays nearby.

            Book III.18:1-34. Marcellus died nearby in 23BC.



            Book IV.8:1-88. The Molossi were a tribe of Epirus.


Musa, The Muses

The nine Muses are the virgin daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne (Memory). They are the patronesses of the arts. Clio (History), Melpomene (Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Enterpe (Lyric Poetry), Terpsichore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry), Urania (Astronomy), and Polyhymnia (Sacred Song).. Their epithets are Aonides, and Thespiades. Mount Helicon is one of their haunts, and called Virgineus from them.

            Book I.8A:27-46. Their arts help lovers.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book II.10:1-26. Book II.12:1-24. Book IV.6:1-86The spirit of creative art in the individual poet. Propertius’s Muse.

            Book II.13:1-16. The lesser lyric muses.

            Book II.30:1-40. Live on Helicon. Called The Virgins, The Sisters.

            Book III.1:1-38. His muse.

            Book III.1:1-38. Called the Sisters, on Mount Helicon.

            Book III.2:1-26. The poet’s companions.

            Book III.3:1-52. Their emblems.

            Book III.5:1-48. Poetry is their dance.

            Book III.10:1-32. They send him a sign (!) that it is Cynthia’s birthday.

            Book IV.4:1-94. Goddesses of incantation and magic.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Peace-loving goddesses.



A city in Cisalpine Gaul. (The modern Modena). Antony fought Decimus Brutus there, and was in turn defeated by Octavian (Later Augustus Caesar) in 43BC.

            Book II.1:1-78. An example of an episode of Civil War.



The city in the Argolis, near Argos and Tiryns. Excavated by Schliemann who opened the beehive tombs of the royal tomb circle. Famous for its Lion Gate once topped perhaps by a statue of the Cretan Great Goddess. Agamemnon’s citadel.

            Book II.22:1-42. Myceneans=the Greeks at Troy.

            Book III.19:1-28. The city of Pelops and Agamemnon.



            Book IV.6:1-86. The Mygdones were a tribe in Phrygia. Hence Phrygian.



The Athenian sculptor, c 430BC.

            Book II.31:1-16. His statues of oxen, round the altar.



The daughter of Cinyras, mother of Adonis, incestuously, by her father. She conceived an incestuous passion for her father. She attempted suicide, and was rescued by her nurse who promised to help her. She sleept with her father, was impregnated by him, and when discovered fled to Sabaea, and was turned into the myrrh-tree, weeping resin. Adonis was born from the tree. See Ovid’s Metamophoses Book X:298-502.

            Book III.19:1-28. An example of female lust.



The Greek silversmith and engraver of the fifth century BC, who worked with Parrhasius, see Pausanias Book I Attica.

            Book III.9:1-60. Acanthus was a motif of his.


Mysus, Mysia

The country of Mysia in Asia Minor containing the city of Pergamum.

            Book I:20:1-52. Visited by the Argonauts.

            Book II.1:1-78.The country of Telephus King of Mysia, son of Hercules and the nymph Auge.He was wounded and healed by the touch of Achilles’s spear at Troy.


Nais The Naiades The Naiads

The river nymphs.

            Book II.32:1-62. Oenone.



Caphareus is a headland of Euboea on which Nauplius lit a false beacon causing the Greek fleet returning from Troy to be wrecked. He did this to avenge the death of his son Palamedes, falsely done to death by the Greeks.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Vengeance on the Greeks.



            Book IV.1:1-70. The temple of Phoebus Navalis, God of Shipping, was the famous temple of Apollo on the Palatine, erected by Augustus as a memorial of the victory at Actium.


Naxius, Naxos

The largest island of the Cyclades, and the home of Bacchus.

            Book III.17:1-42. The island of the god of the vine.


Nemorensis, Nemi

The grove at Aricia a town in Latium, (the modern La Riccia), at the foot of the Alban Mountain, three miles from Nemi. The lake and the sacred grove at Nemi were sometimes known as the lake and grove of Aricia, and were the sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis, Diana of the Wood. (See Turner’s etching and painting, The Golden Bough- British Museum and Tate Gallery). Worship there was instituted by Orestes, who fled to Italy, after killing Thoas, king of the Tauric Chersonese, taking with him the image of Tauric Diana. The rites practised there are the starting point for J.G.Frazer’s monumental study in magic and religion, ‘The Golden Bough’. (See Chapter I, et seq.)

            Book III.22:1-42. The sacred grove at Nemi.


Neptunus, Neptunius, Neptune

Neptune, Poseidon, God of the sea, brother of Pluto (Dis) and Jupiter. The trident is his emblem. He helped to initiate the Great Flood (see Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks for the influence of Book I on his descriptions of the deluge, and his drawing Neptune with four sea-horses, Royal Library, Windsor: See the Neptune Fountain by Bartolomeo Ammannati, Piazza della Signoria, Florence.)

He raped Medusa in the temple of Minerva, fathering Pegasus and Chrysaor, for which Minerva filled Medusa’s hair with snakes, and caused her to turn men to stone at a look. He and Apollo built the walls of Troy for Laomedon. He flooded the land when Laomedon refused to pay, and demanded the sacrifice of Hesione to a sea-monster.

            Book II.16:1-56. Book II.26:1-20. The God of the Sea.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Loved Amymone. He pays his love debts.

            Book III.7:1-72. Delights in storms and wrecks.

            Book III.9:1-60. Built the walls of Troy with Apollo.


Nereides, The Nereids

The fifty mermaids, attendants on Thetis. They were the daughters of Doris and Nereus.

            Book II.26:1-20. Nesaee and Cymothoe are two of their number.

            Book III.7:1-72. Propertius says a hundred daughters of Nereus.



A sea-god. The husband of Doris, and, by her, the father of the fifty Nereids, the mermaids attendant on Thetis.

            Book IV.6:1-86. God of the waters.



            Book II.26:1-20. A Nereid.



            King of Pylos, son of Neleus. A Greek chieftain at Troy.

            Book II.13A:1-58. He saw his son Antilochus killed there.

            Book II.25:1-48. Lived to extreme old age.


Nilus, The River Nile

The great river of Egypt. It is often described as seven-headed from the major mouths of its delta. It was also a royal title of the Pharaohs.

            Book II.1:1-78. It is mentioned as a royal title.

            Book II.28:1-46. Book II.33:1-22. Io reached the river and became a goddess, an incarnation of Isis.

            Book III.11:1-72. Opposes the Tiber by analogy.

            Book III.22:1-42. Seven-mouthed.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Cleopatra’s river.

            Book IV.8:1-88. A flute-player from Egypt.



The daughter of the Phrygian king Tantalus, and Dione one of the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas. The wife of Amphion, king of Thebes.

She rejected Latona and boasted of her children. Her seven sons were killed by Apollo and Diana, the children of Latona (Leto), and her husband commited suicide. Still unrepentant, her daughters were also killed, and she was turned to stone and set on top of a mountain in her native country of Lydia where she weeps eternally. (A natural stone feature exists above the valley of the Hermus, on Mount Sipylus, which weeps when the sun strikes its winter cap of snow – See Freya Stark ‘Rome on the Euphrates’ p9.)

            Book II.20:1-36. Weeping for her children.

            Book II.31:1-16. Depicted on the temple doors.

            Book III.10:1-32. Her rock an emblem of grief.



A Greek hero. Said in the Iliad to be the most handsome of the Greeks.

            Book III.18:1-34. Not saved from death by his beauty.



            Book III.19:1-28. The father of Scylla and King of Megara. She betrayed him and the city. See the entry for Scylla.



            Book IV.7:1-96. One of Cynthia’s slaves.



            Book IV.10:1-48. A town north-east of Rome.



The south-west wind.

            Book II.5:1-30. Book IV.6:1-86. A storm wind.

            Book II.9:1-52. Wintry winds.

            Book III.15:1-46. The wind.

            Book IV.5:1-78. A parching wind.

            Book IV.7:1-96. An uncaring wind.


Novi Agri

            Book IV.8:1-88. New Fields. The gardens laid out by Maecenas on the Esquiline to replace an old cemetery.



Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome.

            Book IV.2:1-64. Ancient times were before Numa.



            Book IV.11:1-102. Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. He was awarded the suffix Numantinus for his destruction of Numantia in Spain. An ancestor of Cornelia



Antiope, daughter of Nycteus.



The Theban father of Antiope.

            Book I.4:1-28.


Nymphae, The Nymphs

The nymphs are semi-divine maidens inhabiting rivers, springs, seas, hills, trees and woodlands, or attendants on greater deities.

            Book I:20:1-52. They seize Hylas. They are a metaphor for the licentious young girls of Rome.


Nysaeus, Mount Nysa

Heliconian or Indian Mount Nysa. The Nyseïds were the nymphs Macris, Erato, Bromie, Bacche and Nysa who hid Bacchus in their cave and nurtured him. They became the star cluster of the Hyades.

            Book III.17:1-42. Indian Mount Nysa.



The Ocean, personified as a sea-god, son of Earth and Air, and husband of Tethys his sister. Oceanus and Tethys are also the Titan and Titaness ruling the planet Venus. Some say from his waters all living things originated and Tethys produced all his children

            Book II.9:1-52. Book IV.4:1-94. The Western Seas.



            Book IV.3:1-72. A hard-working character whose earnings were spent by his wife. In Polygnotus’s painting of the Underworld he was depicted eternally twisting a rope of straw while an ass devoured the other end. ‘To twist the rope of Ocnus’ was therefore a proverbial expression.


Odysseus, Ulysses

            see Ithacus



Of Oeagrus an ancient king of Thrace. Supposedly the father of Orpheus and of Linus his brother. Their mother was the Muse Calliope.

            Book II.30:1-40. Apollo disguised as him, begot Orpheus on Calliope.


Oetaeus, Mount Oeta

            Book I.13:1-36. A mountain range between Aetolia and Thessaly. Hercules endures the torment of the shirt of Nessus there, and builds his own funeral pyre. He is deified from its summit.


Oiliades, Ajax

A hero of the Trojan War, son of Oileus, Aiax moderatior, not to be confused with the more famous Ajax son of Telamon. His rape of Cassandra brought the wrath of Minerva on the Greeks.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The rape of Cassandra.



A mountain in northern Thessaly supposed to be the home of the gods.

            Book II.1:1-78. The giants Otus and Ephialtes wanted to place Pelion on Ossa to storm the gods in heaven. Propertius adds Olympus to these.



The Queen of Lydia who enslaved Hercules, wearing his lionskin and carrying his club, while he dressed as a slave-girl.

            Book III.11:1-72. Her power over him.



The son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, brother of Iphigenia and Electra. He avenged Agamemnon’s death. (See Aeschylus, the Oresteia)

            Book II.14:1-32. Welcomed with joy by Electra.


Oricius, Oricos

            A seaport on the coast of Illyria.

            Book I.8:1-26. A safe harbour.

            Book III.7:1-72. A source of terebinth wood.



The mighty hunter, one of the giants, now a constellation with his two hunting dogs and his sword and glittering belt. The brightest constellation in the sky, it is an area of star formation in a nearby arm of the Galaxy centred on M42 the Orion Nebula, which marks Orion’s sword. He is depicted as brandishing a club and shield at Taurus the Bull. He was stung to death by a scorpion, and now rises when Scorpio sets and vice versa. His two dogs are Canis Major, which contains Sirius the brightest star in the sky after the sun, and Canis Minor, which contains the star Procyon, forming an equilateral triangle with Sirius and Betelgeuse the red giant in Orion.

            Book II.16:1-56. A harbinger of stormy autumn weather.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Good weather when seen clearly.



The daughter of the Athenian king Erectheus, and the sister of Procris, stolen away by Boreas, and married to him. She becomes the mother of Calais and Zetes. (See Evelyn de Morgan’s painting–Boreas and Orithyia– Cragside, Northumberland)

            Book I:20:1-52. Her winged sons, Calais and Zetes.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Willing to be taken by Boreas.

            Book III.7:1-72. Feared Boreas.



            The Syrian river. Its course lies near Antioch.

            Book I.2:1-32. Its region mentioned as a source of myrrh.

            Book II.23:1-24. Girls from Syria, dancers and prostitutes.



A Babylonian seer. Possibly fictitious.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Father of Horos.



The mythical musician of Thrace, son of Oeagrus and Calliope the Muse. His lyre, given to him by Apollo, and invented by Hermes-Mercury, is the constellation Lyra containing the star Vega.

(See John William Waterhouse’s painting – Nymphs finding the head of Orpheus – Private Collection, and Gustave Moreau’s painting – Orpheus – in the Gustave Moreau Museum, Paris: See Peter Vischer the Younger’s Bronze relief – Orpheus and Eurydice – Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg: and the bas-relief – Hermes, Eurydice and Orpheus – a copy of a votive stele attributed to Callimachus or the school of Phidias, Naples, National Archaeological Museum: Note also Rilke’s - Sonnets to Orpheus – and his Poem - Orpheus, Eurydice and Hermes.)

He summoned Hymen to his wedding with Eurydice. After she was stung by a snake and died, he travelled to Hades, to ask for her life to be renewed. Granted it, on condition he did not look back at her till she reached the upper world, he faltered, and she was lost. He mourned her, and turned from the love of women to that of young men. He was killed by the Maenads of Thrace and dismembered, his head and lyre floating down the river Hebrus to the sea, being washed to Lesbos. (This head had powers of prophetic utterance) His ghost sank to the fields of the Blessed where he was reunited with Eurydice. He taught Midas and Eumolpus the Bacchic rites.

            Book I.3:1-46. He is a patron of music, and the lyre is his emblem.

            Book III.2:1-26. The wild creatures and trees gathered to his music.

            See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book XI:1-66.



An ancient name for the island of Delos, originally of an islet nearby (Quail Island), and an epithet of Diana, the Delian goddess. Once a floating island.

            Book II.31:1-16. Phoebus’s birthplace.

            Book III.22:1-42. A mythical Aegean island.



The Oscans were a people of Italy.

            Book IV.2:1-64. =rough or wild.



A mountain in Thessaly in Northern Greece.

            Book II.1:1-78. The giants Otus and Ephialtes wanted to place Pelion on Ossa to storm the gods in heaven. Propertius adds Olympus to these.



A river in northern Lydia, a tributary of the River Hermus.

The site of the royal capital of Lydia was at Sardis nearby, and both are near Mount Tmolus. Its waters became a gold-bearing stream at the touch of Midas. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Bk XI:85

            Book I.6:1-36. It dyes the fields golden with its streams.

            Book I.14:1-24. Its golden waters.

            Book III.18:1-34. Croesus derived waelth from its streams.



A city of Lucania in Italy. The site is near modern Agropoli on the Bay of Salerno, a ruin in a wilderness, with Doric temples that surpassed those of Athens. Originally called Poseidonia, the city of Neptune, it was founded by Greeks from Sybaris in the 6th c. BC. It became Paestum when it passed into the hands of the Lucanians in the 4th century. It was taken by the Romans in 273BC. In antiquity it was famous for its roses, which flowered twice a year, and its violets. Malaria eventually drove away its population. Modern Pesto.

            Book IV.5:1-78. Famous for its climate favourable to rose-growing.



A friend of Propertius.

            Book III.7:1-72. His death by drowning.


Pagasa, Pagasae

Pagasae, a seaport of Thessaly, on the Pagasaean Gulf, where the Argo was built.

            Book I:20:1-52. The Argo sailed from there.


Palatium, Palatinus, Palatine Hill

One of the Seven Hills of Rome. The temple of Apollo there was dedicated in 28BC. The prestigious location where Augustus built his palace, the Palatia.

            Book III.9:1-60. Grazed by the sacred bulls.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Grazed by Evander’s herds.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Site of the Temple of Apollo.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Romulus’s hill of augury.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Hercules and the Sacred Grove there.


Pallas, Athene, Minerva

Minerva is the Roman name for Athene the goddess of the mind and women’s arts (also a goddess of war and the goddess of boundaries – see the Stele of Athena, bas-relief, Athens, Acropolis Museum). Her city is Athens. Ulysses was her special favourite.

            Book II.2:1-16. She wears a Gorgon breastplate.

            Book II.28:1-46. Athene described as grey-eyed in Homer’s Odyssey.

            Book III.9:1-60. Advised Ulysses on the making of the Wooden Horse.

            Book III.20:1-30. Goddess of the chaste arts of women.

            Book IV.4:1-94. Identified with Vesta?

            Book IV.9:1-74. She blinded Tiresias but gave him prophetic powers when he caught sight of her bathing.



The god of woods and shepherds. He wears a wreath of pine needles. He pursued the nymph Syrinx and she was changed into marsh reeds. He made the syrinx or pan-pipes from the reeds. He is represented by the constellation Capricorn, the sea-goat, a goat with a fish’s tail.

            Book I.18:1-32. The Arcadian god.

            Book III.3:1-52. His reed-pipes.

            Book III.13:1-66. The God of shepherds.

            Book III.17:1-42. Goat-footed satyrs.


Pandionius, see Orithyia



            A pseudonym for a lover of Cynthia.

            Book II.21:1-20. He has got married.



            Book IV.11:1-102. The Fates.



The ancient feast of Pales, goddess of the flocks and herds. It was observed on April 21st, the day of the founding of Rome. The herds were purified using blood from a docked horse, and men leapt over piles of burning hay, in a ritual dance.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Book IV.4:1-94. The festival. The horse known as the October equus was sacrificed to Mars on October 15th. Its tail was docked and the blood dropped onto the hearth of the regia, the ancient palace of Numa near the temple of Vesta. The blood was prserved and was part of a fumigatory powder, a suffimen, at the Parilia.



Prince of Troy, son of Priam and Hecuba, brother of Hector. His theft of Menelaüs’s wife Helen provoked the Trojan War.

            Book II.2:1-16. Asked to choose the most beautiful among the three naked goddesses, Juno, Minerva and Venus, he chose Venus and the gift of Love rather than wealth or wisdom.

            Book II.3:1-54. He delayed in replying to Menelaus’s demand for the return of Helen.

            Book II.15:1-54. His desire for Helen.

            Book II.32:1-62. He was loved by the Naiad, Oenone, daughter of the river Oeneus. He abandoned her for Helen, but she offered to heal him if he were ever wounded, having been taught medicine by Phoebus.

            Book II.34:1-94. Abused Menelaus’s hospitality.

            Book III.1:1-38. Fought in bed more than in battle! A famous name.

            Book III.8:1-34. Helen’s lover.

            Book III.13:1-66. Identified by Cassandra as the cause of Troy’s doom.



A mountain in Phocis sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Delphi is at its foot where the oracle of Apollo and his temple were situated. Themis held the oracle in ancient times. Site of the oracle of Themis. Haunt of the Muses. (See Raphael’s fresco ‘Parnassus’ in the Vatican, Stanza della Segnatura.)

            Book II.31:1-16. The mountain is mentioned.

            Book III.13:1-66. An earthquake occurred there when Brennus attacked Delphi.



The painter of Ephesus who flourished at the end of the fifth century BC. He worked with the engraver Mys. See Pausanias Book I Attica.

            Book III.9:1-60. A miniaturist.



            Book IV.7:1-96. Cynthia’s nurse, a slave.


Parthenius, Parthenium

A mountain near Calydon, or in Arcadia depending on variants of the Atalanta myth.

Book I.1:1-38. It is mentioned.


Parthus, Parthia

The Parthian Empire to the south-west of the Caspian Sea was Rome’s enemy in the East. Its mounted archers were particularly effective.

            Book II.10:1-26. Its army defeated Crassus.

            Book II.14:1-32. Book III.12:1-38. Its conquest a desired objective in Augustus’s reign.

            Book II.27:1-16. The enemy in the East.

            Book III.4:1-22. Parthian trophies of war (by innuendo Persian catamites).

            Book III.9:1-60. Parthian shafts.

            Book IV.3:1-72. The Pathians fought mainly from horseback.

            Book IV.5:1-78. Parthian murra cups. Murra was an unknown material out of which prized cups were made, possibly Chinese porcelain. Pliny says it was a natural product, others say it may have been fluorspar.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Agreed to a truce.



The daughter of the Sun and the nymph Crete (Perseis). She was the wife of King Minos of Crete and mother of Phaedra and Ariadne.

She was inspired, by Neptune-Poseidon, with a mad passion for a white bull from the sea, and Daedalus built for her a wooden frame in the form of a cow, to entice it. From the union she produced the Minotaur, Asterion, with a bull’s head and a man’s body.

            Book II.28A:47-62. Beautiful though sinful.

            Book II.32:1-62. Book III.19:1-28. Mounted by the bull.



Achilles’s beloved friend whose death causes him to re-enter the fight against the Trojans.  He was the son of Menoetius. He pushed the Trojans back from the Greek ships, dressed in Achilles’s armour.

            Book II.1:1-78.His friendship with Achilles is mentioned.

            Book II.8A:1-40. His death at the hands of Hector.


Paullus (L. Aemilius)

Lucius Aemilius Paullus Lepidus, consul in 34BC and censor in 22BC. His late wife is Cornelia.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Cornelia’s speech to him from beyond the grave.


Paullus (son of L. Aemilius Paullus)

            Book IV.11:1-102. The son of Lucius Paullus.


Pegae, Pege

A Mysian sacred spring.

            Book I:20:1-52. Hylas was seized by the Nymphs there.


Pegasides, The Muses

Pegasus was the winged horse, sprung from the head of Medusa when Perseus decapitated her. At the same time his brother Chrysaor the warrior was created. He is represented in the sky by the constellation Pegasus. The sacred fountain of Hippocrene on Mount Helicon, haunt of the Muses, springs from under his hoof. The Muses are therefore called Pegasides. Pegasus was equally created by Neptune’s union with Medusa.

            Book II.30:1-40. The winged horse.



An ancient Greek people (Pelasgi) and their king Pelasgus, son of Phoroneus the brother of Io. He is the brother of Agenor and Iasus. Used of Greece as a whole.

            Book II.28:1-46. Juno is Pelasgian.



The son of Aeacus, king of Aegina, brother of Telamon and Phocus He comes to meet Minos. As the son of Aeacus, called Aeacides. The husband of Thetis and father by her of Achilles. ( See Joachim Wttewael’s – The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis - Alte Pinakothek, Munich: see W.B Yeats poem ‘News for the Delphic Oracle, verse III)

            Book II.9:1-52. The father of Achilles.



A mountain in Thessaly in Northern Greece.

            Book II.1:1-78. The giants Otus and Ephialtes wanted to place Pelion on Ossa to storm the gods in heaven. Propertius adds Olympus to these.

            Book III.22:1-42. The timbers of the Argo were cut there.



            Book IV.6:1-86.Agamemnon, son of Pelops.



The son of Tantalus, king of Paphlagonia. He ruled the Lydians and Phrygians from Enete on the Black Sea, but retired to Lydian Mount Sipylus his ancestral seat. Displaced by Ilus king of Troy he crossed the Aegean to found the Peloponnesioan dynasty.

            Hippodamia was the daughter of Oenomaus, the Arcadian ruler of Elis and Pisa. He prevented her marriage by challenging suitors to a chariot race, on a course from Pisa near the river Alpheus at Olympia to the altar of Neptune on the Isthmus of Corinth. The losers forfeited their life. Pelops raced for her. In love with him, she bribed Myrtilus, Oenomaus’s charioteer to remove the lymch-pins from the axles, and the king was killed in the race. Myrtilus was later killed by Pelops but was set in the heavens by Mercury as the constellation of the Charioteer, Auriga. (The constellation is equally linked with Erichthonius, legendary king of Athens). Auriga contains the star Capella the sixth brightest in the sky.

            Book I.2:1-32. He is mentioned.

            Book III.19:1-28. Mycenae his citadel.



A fortress on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile captured by Augustus.

            Book III.9:1-60. Mentioned.



The wife of Ulysses, and daughter of Icarius and the Naiad Periboa.

(See  J R Spencer Stanhope’s painting-  Penelope – The De Morgan Foundation). She was pestered by many suitors (a hundred and eight, in Homer), while she waited faithfully for Ulysses to return from Troy.

            Book II.6:1-42. Book III.12:1-38. Book IV.5:1-78. Her loyalty.

            Book II.9:1-52. She wove and unwove her tapestry to delay the suitors.

            Book III.13:1-66. Disdainful of the suitors’ gifts. A type of loyalty.



The Queen of the Amazons, who aided the Trojans at Troy. She was killed by Achilles who fell in love with her, when her helmet was removed and he saw her face as she lay dead.

            Book III.11:1-72. The power of her beauty.



The son of Echion and Agave, the grandson of Cadmus through his mother. King of Thebes, Tiresias foretold his fate at the hands of the Maenads. He rejected the worship of Bacchus-Dionysus and ordered the capture of the god. He was torn to pieces by the Bacchantes. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book III 528 et seq.

            Book III.17:1-42. Book III.22:1-42. Torn apart by the Maenads.


Pergama, see Troy

            Book II.3:1-54. Book III.9:1-60. The citadel of Troy.



            Book III.13:1-66. Book IV.1:1-70. Of Troy.



He made the bronze bull, in which men could be roasted alive, and offered it to Phalaris Tyrant of Agrigentum, who made Perillus its first victim.

            Book II.25:1-48. A savage fate.


Perimedeus, Perimede

            A legendary sorceress.

            Book II.4:1-22. Her magic herbs mentioned.



            Book II.10:1-26. A river in Boeotia sacred to Apollo and the Muses.


Pero, see Melampus

Melampus the son of Amythaon, undertook to steal the cattle of Iphiclus for Neleus, so that Bias his brother or he himself could win Pero, Neleus’s daughter. He was captured and chained but escaped and succeeded in marrying her.

            Book II.3:1-54. She is mentioned.


Perrhaebus. The Perrhaebi

A people of Epirus living on the slopes of Mount Pindus.

            Book III.5:1-48. Pindus.


Persa, Persia

The Persian Empire.

            Book III.11:1-72. Babylon a city of Persia.



Proserpina, Proserpine, the daughter of Jupiter and Ceres-Demeter.

Ceres searched for her after she was abducted and raped by Dis the god of the underworld while she picked flowers on the plain of Enna in Sicily.

            Book II.13A:1-58. The co-ruler of the Underworld with Dis.

            Book II.28A:47-62. Her aid sought in illness.



            Book IV.11:1-102. King of Macedonia, defeated by Aemilius Paullus, ancestor of Cornelia’s husband at Pydna in 168BC. He claimed descent from Achilles and Hercules.



The son of Jupiter and Danaë, grandson of Acrisius, King of Argos. He was conceived as a result of Jupiter’s rape of Danaë, in the form of a shower of gold. He is represented by the constellation Perseus near Cassiopeia. He is depicted holding the head of the Medusa, whose evil eye is the winking star Algol. It contains the radiant of the Perseid meteor shower. His epithets are Abantiades, Acrisioniades. Agenorides, Danaëius, Inachides, Lyncides.

(See Burne-Jones’s oil paintings and gouaches in the Perseus series particularly The Arming of Perseus, The Escape of Perseus, The Rock of Doom, Perseus slaying the Sea Serpent, and The Baleful Head.)(See Benvenuto Cellini’s bronze Perseus - the Loggia, Florence)

            Book II.28:1-46. He rescued and married Andromeda.

            Book II.30:1-40. He wore winged sandals.

            Book III.22:1-42. He severed Medusa’s head.


Perusinus, Perusia (Perugia)

Perusia (modern Perugia) was in Etruria, where Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) defeated Lucius Antonius in the Civil Wars in 41BC with much bloodshed.

            Book I.21:1-10. Gallus dies there.

            Book I.22:1-10. Propertius came from nearby.



            Book IV.7:1-96. One of Cynthia’s slaves.


Phaeacus, Phaeacia

            The realm of king Alcinous (Corfu?) who gave gifts to Ulysses.

            Book III.2:1-26. Alcinous’s orchard described in Homer’s Odyssey.



The daughter of King Minos of Crete and Pasiphaë, and the sister of Ariadne. She loved Hippolytus her stepson, and brought him to his death. (See Racine’s play – Phaedra). She was wife to Theseus.

            Book II.1:1-78. Propertius suggests she tried to poison Hippolytus.


Pharius, The Pharos

            Book II.1:1-78. The lighthouse at Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

            Book III.7:1-72.The scene of Paetus’s death.



A river and region in Colchis, in Asia, east of the Black Sea, reached by the Argonauts.

            Book I:20:1-52. Book III.22:1-42. Mentioned.


Phidiacus, Phidias

The Greek sculptor, a pupil of Ageladas of Argos. Most influential of all Athenian sculptors, whose work defines the classical mode. He made the great chryselephantine staue of Zeus-Jupiter in the temple at Olympia, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. There are numerous mentions of his works in Pausanias.

            Book III.9:1-60. The statue of Jupiter.



The most famous poet of Cos after Callimachus. One of the Greek poets of the Alexandrian School. Propertius modelled his poetry on theirs.

            Book II.34:1-94. A poet to imitate when in love.

            Book III.1:1-38. An invocation to his spirit. Calliope anoints Propertius with Philetas’s waters (!) in his dream.

            Book III.9:1-60. Propertius is glad to have imitated his style.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Crowned with ivy.


Philippeus, Philip of Macedonia

Philip II of Macedonia was the ancestor of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, of which Cleopatra was a member.

            Book III.11:1-72. Cleopatra descended from him.



A city in Macedonia where, during the Triumvirate in 42 BC, Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) and Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius after the assassination of Julius Caesar.

            Book II.1:1-78. Mentioned as an example of an episode of Civil War.



Chiron as the son of Phillyra, the daughter of Oceanus, who lay with Saturn disguised as a horse. She became a lime tree. Her island was Philyra, in the Black Sea.

            Book II.1:1-78. Mother of Chiron the Centaur.



The son of Poeas. He lights Hercules’s funeral pyre and receives from him the bow, quiver and arrows that will enable the Greeks to finally win at Troy, and that had been with Hercules when he rescued Hesione there. Bitten by a snake on Lemnos, he is abandoned there on Ulysses advice. Ulysses accepts that Philoctetes and his weapons are essential for the defeat of Troy. Ulysses brings Philoctetes and the weapons to Troy. See Book XIII of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

            Book II.1:1-78. He is healed by the physician Machaon.



King of Bithynia. He blinded his children, was blinded himself in punishment and tormented by the Harpies, birds with women’s faces who constantly fouled his food making it inedible.

            Book III.5:1-48. Tortured by hunger.


Phlegraeus, The Phlegrean Plain

A volcanic district north of Naples where the Giants fought the Gods in their mythical war, and were defeated by Jupiter.      

            Book II.1:1-78. Book III.9:1-60. It is mentioned.

            Book III.11:1-72. Pompey fell ill at Naples nearby.



Phoebe, a priestess of Athene-Minerva, and Hilaira a priestess of Diana-Artemis, daughters of Leucippus, the Messenian co-king were abducted and raped by Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces) known as the Dioscuri, the sons of Jupiter by Leda. The two sisters had been betrothed to Lynceus and Idas the sons of Aphareus king in Messene. Idas later married Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus by Alcippe, after winning her in a chariot race using a winged chariot lent by his true father Neptune-Poseidon.

            Book I.2:1-32. She is mentioned as a woman who relied on her natural charms.


Phoebus, Apollo

The son of Jupiter and Latona (Leto), brother of Diana (Artemis), born on Delos. (See the Apollo Belvedere, sculpted by Leochares?, Vatican: the Piombino Apollo, Paris Louvre: the Tiber Apollo, Rome, National Museum of the Terme: the fountain sculpture by Tuby at Versailles – The Chariot of Apollo: and the sculpture by Girardon and Regnaudin at Versailles – Apollo Tended by the Nymphs – derived from the Apollo Belvedere, and once part of the now demolished Grotto of Thetis )

            Book I.2:1-32. He fought with Idas over Marpessa. He is the god of the Arts, and grants the gift of song.

            Book I.8A:27-46. His arts help lovers.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book III.2:1-26. God of song.

            Book II.10:1-26. The River Permessus sacred to him.

            Book II.28A:47-62. His country conquered, and humbled.

            Book II.31:1-16. The new temple to him.

            Book II.32:1-62. God of medicine and drugs.

            Book II.34:1-94. Book III.11:1-72. His shrine overlooked Actium’s bay.

            Book III.1:1-38. God of epic and lyric song. Accepts poet’s prayers.

            Book III.3:1-52. His sacred grove, Castalian, from the spring Castalia, is on Mount Parnassus. Propertius moves it in dream to Helicon.

            Book III.9:1-60. He built the walls of Troy with Neptune for Priam’s father Laomedon.

            Book III.12:1-38. His daughter Lampetie guarded his cattle.

            Book III.13:1-66. His curling locks of hair never cut, hence his epithet is the Unshorn.

            Book III.15:1-46. Paean was a name for Apollo the Healer.

The Paean was a religious hymn in his honour, of praise or joy in victory. Sung by Amphion over the dead Dirce.

            Book III.20:1-30. The Sun.

            Book III.22:1-42. Fled an Ausonian banquet.

            Book IV.1:1-70. His temple on the Palatine Hill, as God of Ships.

            Book IV.2:1-64. The lyre his attribute.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Born on Delos, once a floating island, now fixed. His help for Augustus at Actium.



The tutor of Achilles, blinded by his father, but healed by Chiron who also taught Achilles. He became King of the Dolopes

            Book II.1:1-78. Healed by Chiron.


Phoenician, Phoenices

The Phoenician sea-peoples of the Lebanon who traded through the Mediterranean and founded Carthage and Cadiz (Gades).

            Book II.27:1-16. Their astrological arts.



            Book III.22:1-42. The father of Medusa, the Gorgon.



A region in Asia Minor, containing Dardania and Troy (Ilium), and Mysia and Pergamum (note the name Pergamum is also used for the citadel of Troy). Ovid uses the term for the whole of Asia Minor bordering the Aegean.

            Book I.2:1-32. Pelops comes from there.

            Book II.1:1-78. The Romans traced their lineage back through Aeneas to Phrygian ancestors.

            Book II.22:1-42. The Phrygian followers of Cybele mutilated and castrated themselves with knives in frenzied rituals.

            Book II.22:1-42. Book III.13:1-66. Trojan.

            Book II.30:1-40. Cynthia off to the Caspian Sea.

            Book II.34:1-94. The Maeander river flows there.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Trojan, used of Aeneas.


Phrygius, See Phrygia



A famous courtesan.

            Book II.6:1-42. Her wealth.


Phthius, Phthia

Achilles birthplace in Thessaly.

            Book II.13A:1-58. His tomb.


Phylacides, Protesilaus

The son of Phylacus and husband of Laodamia (Polydora). He joined the expedition against Troy, and was the first Greek to be killed there. She prayed to have his shade restored to her for three hours. This was granted and he called on her not to delay in following him: she then killed herself and joined him in Hades.

            Book I.19:1-26. His loyalty is mentioned.


Phyllis (1)

            Book II.24A:17-52. Demophoon, son of Theseus who loved Phyllis, daughter of Sithon king of Thrace, deserted her. She killed herself but was turned into an almond tree, which flowered when he returned, remorsefully, to find her. (See Burne-Jones’s marvellous painting: The Tree of Forgiveness, Lady Lever Art Gallery: Merseyside, England)


Phyllis (2)

            Book IV.8:1-88. A courtesan.



Pierus was King of Emathia. His nine daughters were the Emathides, or the Pierides, in fact the Muses, from the earliest place of their worship, in Pieria, in northern Greece (Macedonia)

            Book II.10:1-26. The Muses.



            Book II.13:1-16. Of Mount Pierus in Thessaly, sacred to the Muses.


Pindaricus, Pindar

The Greek lyric poet (518-438BC) famous for his odes celebrating Olympic victors. His birth was associated with the Dircean spring at Thebes.

            Book III.17:1-42. A master of the elevated poetic style.



A mountain in Thessaly. The Centaurs took refuge there after their battle with the Lapiths.

            Book III.5:1-48. Subject to earthquake.



            Book III.21:1-34. The port of Athens.



King of the Lapithae, an ancient people of south western Thessaly. The marriage of Pirithoüs and Hippodamia (Ischomache) was disrupted by Eurytus one of the centaurs invited to the feast, leading to the battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs. (See the sculpture from the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia – e.g. the detail, Lapith Woman and Centaur)

            Book II.1:1-78. He is mentioned as a friend of Theseus.

            Book II.6:1-42. He fought with the Centaurs.



The constellation of the Fishes, the twelfth sign of the Zodiac. An ancient constellation depicting two fishes with their tails tied together. It represents Venus and Cupid escaping from the monster Typhon. It contains the spring equinox, formerly in Aries. The vernal equinox has moved into Pisces since ancient times due to the effects of precession (the ‘wobble’ of the earth on its polar axis). The last sign of the solar year, preceding the spring equinox in ancient times. A water sign.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The zodiacal sign of the Fishes.



The Greek Philosopher (c429-347BC). A pupil of Socrates, he expounded and extended his philosophy in his twenty-five

dialogues. His School was called the Academy.

            Book III.21:1-34. A source of profound knowledge.


Pleias, Pleiades

The Seven Sisters, the daughters, with the Hyades and the Hesperides, of Atlas the Titan. Their mother was Pleione the naiad. They were chased by Orion rousing the anger of Artemis to whom they were dedicated and changed to stars by the gods. The Pleiades are the star cluster M45 in the constellation Taurus. Their names were Maia, the mother of Mercury by Jupiter, Taÿgeta, Electra, Merope, Asterope, Alcyone (the brightest star of the cluster), and Celaeno. They are autumn stars associated with storms and rain.

            Book II.16:1-56. Storm bringers.

            Book III.5:1-48. A notable star cluster.



Phoebe, a priestess of Athene-Minerva, and Hilaira a priestess of Diana-Artemis, daughters of Leucippus, the Messenian co-king were abducted and raped by Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces) known as the Dioscuri, the sons of Jupiter by Leda. The two sisters had been betrothed to Lynceus and Idas the sons of Aphareus king in Messene. Idas later married Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus by Alcippe, after winning her in a chariot race using a winged chariot lent by his true father Neptune-Poseidon.

            Book I.2:1-32. He is mentioned.

            Book III.14:1-34. Famous for his horsemanship.

            Book III.22:1-42. His Thessalian charger was a gift from Mercury. Propertius suggests it drank from a healing spring in Italy.



The son of Priam and Hecuba, sent by his father to the court of Polymestor king of Thrace who had married Priam’s sister Ilione, and murdered there by Polymestor for the sake of the treasure sent with him. His body was thrown up on the beach where Hecuba was mourning Polyxena, and the event precipitated her madness.

            Book III.13:1-66. Murdered through greed.



King of Thrace, husband of Ilione daughter of Priam. He murdered his young foster child Polydorus, sent to him by Priam, for the sake of his wealth. Hecuba in turn murdered him, and tore out his eyes.

            Book III.13:1-66. Ruined by greed.



One of the Cyclopes, sons of Neptune, one-eyed giants living in Sicily. Made drunk by Ulysses, and blinded.

            Book II.33A:23-44. Drunk on wine from Ciconian Ismarus.

            Book III.2:1-26. Tried to woo Galatea with his singing.

            Book III.12:1-38. Blinded by Ulysses.


Pompeia Porticus

A colonnade built in 55BC near Pompey’s Theatre on the Campus Martius.

            Book II.32:1-62. A harmless place to go.

            Book IV.8:1-88. A place to be seen, possibly for dubious purposes.


Pompeius, Pompey

Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106-48BC) put down a slave rebellion, cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, and conquered Mithridates. He married Julia, the daughter of Julius Caesar, but quarrelled with the father and was defeated at Pharsalus in 48BC. He fled to Egypt and was murdered there.

            Book III.11:1-72. He fell ill at Naples in 50BC. Propertius suggests it would have been better if he had died there.

            Book III.11:1-72. He defeated Mithridates.



A friend of Propertius. A minor epic poet.

            Book I.7:1-26. Author of verses about the War of the Seven against Thebes.

            Book I.9:1-34. In love.



A friend or relative of Propertius, perhaps Gaius Propertius Postumus, a senator and proconsul.

            Book III.12:1-38. He is addressed.



Twenty miles east of Rome, the modern Palestrina famous for its oracle of Fortuna Primigenia.

            Book II.32:1-62. Cynthia visiting the oracle.



The great Athenian sculptor of the mid-fourth century BC. He carved a famous statue of Hermes-Mercury at Olympia carrying the baby –Bacchus-Dionysus. See Pausanias Book V for the statue.

            Book III.9:1-60. He used marble from Cnidos.


Priamus, Priam

The King of Troy at the time of the Trojan War, the son of Laomedon, husband of Hecuba, by whom he had many children. In the Metamorphoses Ovid mentions Hector, Helenus, Paris, Polydorus, Deïphobus, Cassandra and Polyxena. Aesacus was his son by Alexiroë.

            Book II.3:1-54. He accepted the Greek cause as valid.

            Book II.28A:47-62. Book IV.1:1-70. Last king of Troy.



The son of Iapetus by the nymph Cleomene, and father of Deucalion. Sometimes included among the seven Titans, he was the wisest of his race and gave human beings the useful arts and sciences. Jupiter first withheld fire and Prometheus stole it from the chariot of the Sun. Jupiter had Prometheus chained to the frozen rock in the Caucasus where a vulture tore at his liver night and day for eternity. (See Aeschylus’s ‘Prometheus Bound’, and Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’)

            Book I.12:1-20. The Caucasian Mountains.

            Book II.1:1-78. He is mentioned.

            Book III.5:1-48. Created the human race out of clay. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book I:82.



Sextus Propertius, the author of the Elegies, born in Assisi between 54 and 43BC (Ovid: Tristia IV x 51-54, where the order of the poets is Gallus, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid by date of birth). He was of equestrian rank and destined for the law but left it for poetry. Book IV was not published before 16BC as it refers to events of that year. He died before 2AD. (Ovid, Remedium Amoris 764-5, speaks of him as if dead). He is referred to by Horace and Quintilian. He was one of the school of Moderns, neoterici, or new poets, novi poetae, who took Greek Alexandrianism as a model. He is the greatest love poet of Classical Rome, exploiting the Greek elegiac couplet to express a deep sexuality, emotional sensitivity, irony and wit which John Donne in Elizabethan England mirrors. His poetic allegiance, his anti-war stance, his subversive attitude to Empire, all indicate a complexity of character not visible in the poets who ‘served’ the Imperial regime. He is the first great love poet of ‘the City’, and Baudelaire provides a later point of reference.

            Book II.8A:1-40. He addresses himself.

            Book II.24A:17-52. His ashes are addressed.

            Book II.34:1-94. He anticipates his own fame.

            Book III.3:1-52. Destined to be a lyric poet.

            Book III.10:1-32. Charmed by Cynthia.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. He is adressed by the fictitious Horos.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Addressed by the dead Cynthia


Propontiacus, Propontus

            Book III.22:1-42. The gateway to the Black Sea. The modern Sea of Marmara.


Ptolemaeeus, Ptolemy

The dynastic name of the Macedonian kings of Egypt. Ptolemy II (308-246BC) built the lighthouse, the Pharos, at Alexandria, and its museum and great library.

            Book II.1:1-78. Alexandria’s capture is mentioned.


Pudicitia, Chastity

There were two temples to the Goddess Chastity at Rome, those of Pudicitia patricia and plebeia.

            Book II.6:1-42. Her temples.



A Trojan warrior who fought against the Greeks.

            Book III.1:1-38. A famous name.


Pyramidis, The Pyramids

The Egyptian tombs at Gizeh in Egypt near the Nile, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

            Book III.2:1-26. Subject to time.



King of Epirus, invaded Italy. His army was decimated at Asculum in 279BC, though the victory was nominally his, hence the expression a ‘pyrrhic’ victory.

            Book III.11:1-72. The spoils from his ultimate defeat.



Python was the huge serpent created by earth after the Flood, destroyed by Apollo, giving its name to the Pythian games.

            Book II.31:1-16. Book III.13:1-66. An epithet of Phoebus-Apollo.



The huge serpent created by earth after the Flood, destroyed by Apollo, giving its name to the Pythian games.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Killed by Apollo.



            Book II.34:1-94. The mistress of Calvus the poet.



            Book IV.10:1-48. The name for the deified Romulus.



The inhabitants of Cures: citizens of Rome.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The first citizens of Rome.



The followers of Romulus who united with the Titienses, the people of Titus Tatius,  and the Luceres, the followers of Lygmon. (Lucumo).

            Book IV.1:1-70. Early Romans.



The twin brother of Romulus, first king of Rome, who killed Remus in a quarrel over seniority. Remus is often used to indicate Romulus’s reign, for metrical purposes.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book III.9:1-60. The first kingdom of Rome.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The casa Romuli preserved on the Palatine was meant to be Romulus’s house at the top of the stairway, the Scala Cacia, leading from the Circus Maximus to the Palatine Hill.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Told to purify the fields by the Sybil.

            Book IV.6:1-86. =Roman.



Rhenus, The River Rhine

            The River Rhine that flows through Germany.

            Book III.3:1-52. Crossed by the Suevi in 29BC.

            Book IV.10:1-48. Crossed by the Belgians in 222BC.



A mythical range of mountains on the northern border of Scythia, north of the Black Sea region.

            Book I.6:1-36. They are mentioned.


Roma, Rome

            The capital of the Empire, on the Tiber in west-central Italy.

            Book I.7:1-26. The centre of Latin poetry.

            Book I.8A:27-46. Cynthia remains there.

            Book I.12:1-20. He addresses his circle there.

            Book I.22:1-10. Tormented by Civil War.

            Book II.10:1-26. Roman.

            Book II.15:1-54. Racked by civil disputes.

            Book II.16:1-56. Conspicuous wealth is present.

            Book II.18B:23-38. Roman women painted their faces.

            Book II.19:1-32. Cynthia leaves the city.

            Book II.32:1-62. Immoral place for single girls.

            Book II.33:1-22. Imported to the cult of Isis.

            Book III.1:1-38. Poets will sing of Rome. Rome will praise Propertius when he’s dead.

            Book III.3:1-52. Hannibal reached the gates of Rome in 211BC (‘Hannibal ante portas’)

            Book III.3:1-52. Rome fought the Germans on the northern frontier.

            Book III.11:1-72. Came under Cleopatra’s sway.

            Book III.11:1-72. Should celebrate a triumph for the death of Cleopatra.

            Book III.12:1-38. An immoral city.

            Book III.13:1-66. A city being corrupted and destroyed by wealth.

            Book III.14:1-34. Might follow Spartan rules.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Derives from Aeneas’s landing in Italy.

            Book IV.9:1-74. The Roman Forum.



            Of Rome.

            Book II.3:1-54. Book II.28A:47-62. Book II.32:1-62. Roman girls.

            Book II.34:1-94. Roman authors.

            Book III.4:1-22. Roman history.

            Book III.9:1-60. Roman office, bulls and swords.

            Book III.11:1-72. Roman trumpets.

            Book III.21:1-34. The towers of Rome.

            Book III.22:1-42. Roman heartlands.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Modern Romans. Propertius the Roman Callimachus.

            Book IV.3:1-72. The Roman camps not open to virtuous women.

            Book IV.4:1-94. The Roman Forum.

            Book IV.6:1-86. Roman triumphal and wreaths.



The son of Mars and Ilia, hence Iliades, the father of the Roman people (genitor). The first King of Rome. He reinstated Numitor, and made peace with the Sabines, sharing the rule of Rome with Tatius the Sabine king. He was deified, as Quirinus.

            Book II.6:1-42. Nurtured with his brother Remus by a she-wolf.

            Book III.11:1-72. Roman power derived from him.

            Book IV.4:1-94. His battles with Tatius.

            Book IV.6:1-86. He founded the walls of Rome.

            Book IV.10:1-48. His defeat of Acron.


Rubrum mare

            The Red Sea between Africa and Arabia.

            Book I.14:1-24. A source of corals.

            Book III.13:1-66. A source of nautilus shells.


Sabinus, Sabines

The Sabines, a people of Central Italy who merged with the people of Romulus. ( See Giambologna’s sculpture – The Rape of the Sabines – Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence)

            Book II.6:1-42. The rape of the Sabine women mentioned.

            Book II.32:1-62.Morally strict.

            Book IV.2:1-64. Ruled by Tatius.

            Book IV.3:1-72. The ‘Sabine herb’ used as incense, possibly marjoram.

            Book IV.4:1-94. Attacked early Rome. Their women raped by the Romans.


Sacra Via

The Sacred Way, the street in the Roman Forum leading to the Capitol. Triumphal processions took its route.

            Book II.1:1-78. Scene of the triumph after Actium.

            Book II.23:1-24. The haunt of prostitutes (and a source of double entendre!)

            Book II.24:1-16. Source of cheap gifts from the shops there.

            Book III.4:1-22. Scene of Imperial triumphs.


Salmonis, Tyro

The daughter of Salmoneus King of Elis, and his wife Alcidice.

Neptune disguised himself as the river-god Enipeus, and raped Tyro in a dark wave of the river at its confluence with the Alpheius.

            Book I.13:1-36. She is mentioned.

            Book III.19:1-28. Salmoneus her father.


Sanctus, see Hercules


Saturnus, Saturn

Son of Earth and Heaven (Uranus) and ruler of the universe in the Golden Age. He castrated and usurped his father and was in turn deposed by his three sons Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto (Dis) who ruled Heaven, Ocean and the Underworld respectively. He was banished to Tartarus. He was the father also of Juno, Ceres and Vesta by Ops.

            Book II.32:1-62. Associated with the Golden Age. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book I.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The planet Saturn associated astrologically with duty, sobriety, gravity.


Scaeae, The Scaean Gate

            The Gate of Troy in front of which Achilles was killed.

            Book III.9:1-60. The Wooden Horse entered the city through it.



The Xanthus, with the Simois one of the great rivers of the Trojan plain.

            Book III.1:1-38. Achilles fought the river-god.


Scipiades, Scipiones, Scipio

A famous Roman family. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major (236-184BC) was the hero of the Second Punic War defeating Hannibal at Zama in 202BC. Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus (184-129BC) defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War and went on to destroy Numantia in Spain.

            Book III.11:1-72. Naval power.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Publius Cornelius Scipio brother of Cornelia, consul in 16BC.



A famous robber on the coast between Megaris and Attica who threw his victims into the sea. Theseus did the same to him, and his bones eventually became the sea cliffs near the Molurian Rocks.

            Book III.16:1-30. A threat to travellers, but not lovers.



            Book IV.11:1-102. The mother of Cornelia. Scribonia Libo later married Augustus.



(1). The daughter of Phorcys and the nymph Crataeis, remarkable for her beauty. Circe or Amphitrite, jealous of Neptune’s love for her changed her into a dog-like sea monster, ‘the Render’, with six heads and twelve feet. Each head had three rows of close-set teeth. Her cry was a muted yelping. She seized sailors and cracked their bones before slowly swallowing them.

(Her rock projects from the Calabrian coast near the village of Scilla, opposite Cape Peloro on Sicily. See Ernle Bradford ‘Ulysses Found’ Ch.20)

            Book II.26A:21-58. Book III.12:1-38. The sea monster.


(2). The daughter of Nisus of Megara, who loved Minos. She decided to betray the city to him. She cut off the purple lock of Nisus’s hair that guaranteed the safety of his kingdom and his life. Minos rejected her and she was changed into the rock dove, columba livia, with its purple breast and red legs, while her father was changed into the sea eagle, haliaeetus albicilla. Her name Ciris, from κείρω, ‘I cut’, reflects her shearing of Nisus’s hair, as does the purple breast of the bird. But she is also an embodiment of the Cretan Great Goddess, Car, Ker or Q’re, to whom doves were sacred. Pausanias I xxxix says that Kar founded Megara, Nisus’s city and was king there. The acropolis was named Karia, and Kar built a great hall to Demeter (Ceres) there, Pausanias I xxxx. His tumulus was decorated with shell-stone sacred to the goddess at the command of an oracle, Pausanias I xxxxiii.  The rock dove no doubt nested on the rocks of the citadel and coastline. Pausanias II xxxiv says that Cape Skyllaion (Skyli) was named after Scylla. Hair cutting reflects ancient ritual and the Curetes were the ‘young men with shaved hair’ the devotees of the moon-goddess Cer, whose weapon clashing drove off evil spirits at eclipses and during the rites.

            Book III.19:1-28. An example of female passion and betrayal.

            Book IV.4:1-94. Propertius identifies the two Scylla’s with one another.


Scyrius, Scyros

            Book II.9:1-52. Of Deidamia, daughter of Lycomedes, king of Scyros.



The country of the Scythians of northern Europe and Asia, to the north of the Black Sea. Noted for the Sarmatian people, their warrior princesses, and burial mounds in the steppe (kurgans). They were initially horse-riding nomads. See (Herodotus, The Histories).

            Book III.16:1-30. Hostile territory.

            Book IV.3:1-72. The icy regions of the North.


Semela, Semele

The daughter of Cadmus, loved by Jupiter. The mother of Bacchus (Dionysus). (See the painting by Gustave Moreau – Jupiter and Semele – in the Gustave Moreau Museum, Paris) She was struck by Jupiter’s fire having been deceived by Juno. Her unborn child Bacchus was rescued.

            Book II.28:1-46. Changes of fortune.

            Book II.30:1-40. Loved by Jupiter.

            Book III.17:1-42. Struck by Jupiter’s lightning bolt. Bacchus was rescued from her body.



The daughter of Dercetis or Atargatis, the Syrian goddess. She was said to have been cast out at birth and tended by doves. Doves were sacred to her, as they were to Dercetis. Historically she is Sammuramat, Queen of Babylon, and wife of Shamshi-Adad V (Ninus). She reigned after him as regent from 810-805 BC.

            Book III.11:1-72. In myth she founded Babylon.


Sibylla, The Sibyl

The priestess of Apollo in the temple at Cumae built by Daedalus. She prophesied perched on or over a tripod. She was offered immortality by Phoebus, but forgot to ask also for lasting youth, dooming her to wither away until she was merely a voice.

            Book II.24A:17-52. Her extended lifetime.

            Book IV.1:1-70. She prophesied to Remus on the Aventine Hill.


Sicanus, Sicily

The Mediterranean island, west of Italy.

            Book I.16:1-48. Noted for its hard stone.

            Book II.1:1-78. The second son of Pompey the Great was conquered in the sea battles, off Sicily, between Mylae and Naulochus, by Agrippa, Augustus’s admiral, in 36BC.



Siculus, See Sicily


Sidonius, Sidon

The city of the Phoenicians in the Lebanon. Home of Europa.

            Book II.16:1-56. Book II.29:1-22. Book IV.9:1-74. Source of dyed cloths.



Silenus and his sons the Satyrs were originally primitive mountaineers of northern Greece who became stock comic characters in Attic drama. He was called an autochthon, or son of Pan by one of the nymphs. He was Bacchus’s tutor, portrayed usually as a drunken old man with an old pack-ass, who is unable to tell truth from lies.( See the copy of the sculpture attributed to Lysippus, ‘Silenus holding the infant Bacchus’ in the Vatican)

            Book II.32:1-62. Saw Paris and Oenone.

            Book III.3:1-52. His statue.



            Book IV.4:1-94. The woodland god.



            With the Scamander (Xanthus) one of the two great rivers of Troy.

            Book II.9:1-52. Achilles body washed there.

            Book III.1:1-38. Achilles fought the river-god.



An Isthmian robber, the son of Polypemon, who killed his victims by tying them to pine trees bent with ropes, and releasing the ropes. Theseus served him in the same way.

            Book III.22:1-42. Mentioned as living on the Isthmus.


Sipylus, Mount Sipylus

A mountain in Lydia, overlooking the valley of the Hermus, where Niobe weeps as a stone feature. See the entry for Niobe for more detail.

            Book II.20:1-36. Niobe’s statue weeps there.


Sirenes, The Sirens

The daughters of Acheloüs, the Acheloïdes, companions of Proserpina, turned to woman-headed birds, or women with the legs of birds, and luring the sailors of passing ships with their sweet song. They searched for Proserpine on land, and were turned to birds so that they could search for her by sea. (There are various lists of their names, but Ernle Bradford suggests two triplets: Thelxinoë, the Enchantress; Aglaope, She of the Beautiful Face, and Peisinoë, the Seductress: and his preferred triplet Parthenope, the Virgin Face; Ligeia, the Bright Voice; and Leucosia, the White One – see ‘Ulysses Found’ Ch.17. Robert Graves in the index to the ‘The Greek Myths’ adds Aglaophonos, Molpe, Raidne, Teles, and Thelxepeia.)

(See Draper’s painting – Ulysses and the Sirens – Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, England, and Gustave Moreau’s watercolour in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard)

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book XIV, Aeneas passes their island, between the Aeolian Islands and Cumae. (This was traditionally Capri, or more likely one of the five Galli islets, the Sirenusae, at the entrance to the Gulf of Salerno)

            Book III.12:1-38. Ulysses encounters them.


Sisyphius, Sisyphus

King of Corinth. He was condemned to continually roll a huge stone up a hill in Hades, from which it rolled to the bottom again,

            Book II.20:1-36. Book IV.11:1-102. An unpleasant punishment.



Socraticus, Socratic

Of Socrates, the Greek philosopher (469-399BC), made immortal by Plato’s works.

            Book II.34:1-94. Wisdom no help in love.



Lygmon’s town near Lanuvium.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Town of the Luceres.


Spartanus, Sparte, Sparta

The chief city of Laconia on the River Eurotas, and also called Lacadaemon.

            Book I.4:1-28. The city of Hermione.

            Book II.15:1-54. Of Sparta.

            Book III.14:1-34. Men and women exercised naked.



            Book IV.4:1-94. Thracian. The River Strymon in Thrace. Here an Amazon, a woman of Thrace.


Stygius, Styx

A river of the underworld, with its lakes and pools, used to mean the underworld or the state of death itself.

            Book II.9:1-52. Cynthia at risk of dying.

            Book II.27:1-16. A marshy, reeded region.

            Book II.34:1-94. Book III.18:1-34.The gate of death.

            Book IV.3:1-72. Symbolically to be ‘sprinkled with its waters’ is to anticipate misfortune.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Hercules crossed the Styx to bring back Cerberus in the twelfth and final labour.



            Book IV.7:1-96. A Rome street of ill-repute.


Suevus, Suevi

The Suevi, a Germanic tribe, crossed the Rhine in 29BC and were defeated by Gaius Carinas.

            Book III.3:1-52. A subject for others’ poetry.



            Book IV.6:1-86. The Germanic tribe. They defeated Marcus Lollius in 16BC but negotitated a peace at the threat of Augustus’s arrival.



King of Libya. He aligned himself with Carthage in the Second Punic war and was defeated by Scipio Africanus Major. He was brought to Rome as a prisoner in 201BC.

            Book III.11:1-72. The trophies won from him.


Syrius, Syrian, Syria

            The country in Asia Minor.

            Book II.13A:1-58. A source of nard (aromatic balsam).



The Gulfs of Cabes and Sidra off the North African coast, notorious for shoals and shifting undercurrents. Also the inland desert.

            Book II.9:1-52. Book III.19:1-28. Book III.24:1-20.Dangerous waters.


Taenarius, Neptune

Poseidon, God of the sea, brother of Pluto (Dis) and Jupiter. The trident is his emblem. He raped Tyro daughter of Salmoneus.

            Book I.13:1-36. Taenarius an epithet for him.

            Book III.2:1-26. A reference to black marble quarried at Taenarum in the south of the Peloponnese.


Tanais, Don

            The River Don.

            Book II.30:1-40. Cynthia’s possible destination.



Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus.

            Book II.31:1-16. Depicted on the temple doors.


Tantaleus, Tantalus

            The king of Phrygia, son of Jupiter, father of Pelops and Niobe.

He served his son Pelops to the gods at a banquet and was punished by eternal hunger and thirst in Hades.

            Book II.1:1-78. Book IV.11:1-102. He is mentioned.


Tarpeius, Tarpeia

Tarpeia was a Roman girl who treacherously opened the citadel to the Sabines, and was killed beneath the weight of the weapons, which were thrown on her. The Tarpeian citadel was the Capitoline Hill with its temple of Jupiter.

            Book I.16:1-48. Her fatal treachery and reverse alluded to.

            Book III.11:1-72. Cleopatra spread her mosquito nets there i.e. over Jupiter-Caesar’s bed.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Tarpeian Jupiter.

            Book IV.4:1-94. The story of her fate.

            Book IV.8:1-88. Teia lives on the Capitoline.


Tarquinius, Tarquin

Tarquinius Superbus (‘The Proud’) the last king of Rome. His death in 510BC preceded the Republic.

            Book III.11:1-72. The Proud.


Tatius, The Tatii

Titus Tatius king of the Sabines fought with Romulus but afterwards made peace and ruled jointly with him. His people were the Titienses.

            Book II.32:1-62. His race was honourable and strict.

            Book IV.1:1-70’ His wealth was in sheep.

            Book IV.2:1-64. King of the Sabines.

            Book IV.4:1-94. His assault on the Capitoline Hill.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Of Tatius, Sabine.



            A range of mountains near Sparta, in Laconica.

            Book III.14:1-34. A hunting region.


Tegeaeus, Tegea

            The ancient town in Arcadia where Pan was worshipped.

            Book III.3:1-52. Pan’s homeland.



            Book IV.8:1-88. A courtesan.



The legendary founder of Tusculum in Latium. He was the son of Ulysses and Circe.

            Book II.32:1-62. Cynthia goes to Tusculum.



A location near Baiae.

            Book I.11:1-30. Cynthia stays nearby.


Teutonicus, Teutones, Teutons

Northern Germanic tribes.

            Book III.3:1-52. Defeated by Marius.



A famous Greek courtesan. She appeared in Menander’s plays and is a character in Terence’s Eunuchus.

            Book II.6:1-42. Her popularity.

            Book IV.5:1-78. Her intelligence.


Thamyras, Thamyris

A mythical Thracian bard, the first man to love another of his own sex. Phoebus heard him boast that he could surpass the Muses, and reported it to them so that they robbed Thamyris of his sight, his voice, and his memory

            Book II.22:1-42. Blinded.


Thebae, Thebanus, Thebes

The city in Boeotia founded by Cadmus. Phoebus instructs him how to find the site by following a heifer.

            Book I.7:1-26. Scene of the War of the Seven against Thebes, where Polyneices and his brother Eteocles, the sons of Oedipus, mortally wounded each other. See Aeschylus The Seven Against Thebes.

            Book I.9:1-34. The citadel mentioned.

            Book II.1:1-78. The city mentioned.

            Book II.6:1-42. Its ruins.

            Book II.8:1-12. Past greatness.

            Book II.8A:1-40. Antigone’s city.

            Book III.2:1-26. Its walls magically built. See Antiope.

            Book III.17:1-42. Book III.18:1-34. Bacchus was worshipped there.

            Book IV.5:1-78. Thebes, the city in Egypt, hence palmy.


Theiodamanteus, Theiodamas

            King of the Dryopians, killed by Hercules.

Book I:20:1-52. The father of Hylas.



            A river of Cappadocia, frequented by the Amazon women.

            Book III.14:1-34. They bathed bare-breasted there.

            Book IV.4:1-94. The river.



King of Athens, son of Aegeus, hence Aegides. His mother was Aethra, daughter of Pittheus king of Troezen. Aegeus had lain with her in the temple. His father had hidden a sword, and a pair of sandals, under a stone (The Rock of Theseus) as a trial, which he lifted, and he made his way to Athens, cleansing the Isthmus of robbers along the way. Medea attempted to poison Theseus but Aegeus recognised his sword, and his son, and prevented her.

Escaping the attempt by Medea to poison him, his deeds were celebrated by the Athenians: the killing of the Minotaur, and the wild sow of Cromyon, the defeat of Periphetes, Procrustes, Cercyon, Sinis, and Sciron. He killed the Minotaur in the Cretan labyrinth, and abandoned Ariadne on Dia (Naxos). (See Canova’s sculpture – Theseus and the Dead Minotaur – Victoria and Albert Museum, London).

            Book I.3:1-46. He is mentioned.

            Book II.1:1-78. His friendship with Pirithous is mentioned.

            Book II.14:1-32. Aided by Ariadne in threading the Labyrinth.

            Book II.24A:17-52. He quickly abandoned Ariadne.

            Book III.21:1-34. His road from Piraeus to the Acropolis of Athens.



King of Epirus, but also associated with the Italian coast near Cumae and Baiae.

            Book I.11:1-30. Cynthia stays nearby.


Thessalia, Thessaly

The region in northern Greece. Its old name was Haemonia, hence Haemonius, meaning Thessalian. It contains the Vale of Tempe, the river valley of the Peneus between Olympus and Ossa.

            Book I.5:1-32. Noted for its poisons and magic herbs. Medea obtained herbs from a valley there.

            Book I.19:1-26. Protesilaus came from there.

            Book II.22:1-42. The Greeks at Troy.

            Book III.19:1-28. Enipeus a river and river-god there.

            Book III.24:1-20. Thessalian witches.



A sea goddess, daughter of Nereus and Doris. The wife of Peleus and mother by him of Achilles.

            Book II.9:1-52. The mother of Achilles.

            Book III.7:1-72. She begged armour for Achilles from the gods, incensed by his ill-treatment.



Thrace, the country bordering on the entrance to the Black Sea and its northern shores.

            Book III.13:1-66. Polymestor was its king.




            Book III.2:1-26. Orpheus the poet was born there.


Thynias, Bythinia

The Thyni were a Thracian people who emigrated to Bythinia at the gates of the Hellespont.

            Book I:20:1-52. The area and Nymphs of Thynia.



A Virgilian shepherd.

            Book II.34:1-94. See Virgil’s Georgics.



            Book I.14:1-24. Of the Tiber.

            Book IV.2:1-64. The Tiber once ran where the Vicus Tuscus stood.           


Tiberis, The Tiber

The River of Rome, named after King Tiberinus who drowned there, in mythology.

            Book I.14:1-24. Mentioned.

            Book II.33:1-22. The river of Rome.

            Book III.4:1-22. Book IV.1:1-70.The river of Rome.

            Book III.11:1-72. Opposed by the Nile, in analogy.

            Book IV.10:1-48. A natural boundary of the first Rome.



A small town on the Anio, in the Sabine hills, twenty miles northeast of Rome, the modern Tivoli.

            Book II.32:1-62. Cynthia goes there.

            Book III.16:1-30. Cynthia is there.

            Book III.22:1-42. On the river Anio.

            Book IV.7:1-96. Cynthia buried there.



The Theban sage.

            Book IV.9:1-74. Callimachus has him blinded by Pallas-Minerva for seeing her bathing, and given prophetic powers in recompense.



One of the Furies.

            Book III.5:1-48. In the underworld.


Titanes, the Titans

Uranus fathered the Titans on Gaea (Mother Earth). They wree god or demi-gods.

            Book II.1:1-78. They are mentioned.



            The son of Laomedon, husband of Aurora, and father of Memnon.

Aurora, having obtained eternal life for him wished she could obtain eternal youth for him also.

            Book II.18A:5-22. Loved by Aurora, though old.

            Book II.25:1-48. Lived to extreme old age.



The Titienses, the people of Titus Tatius, who united with the Ramnes and Luceres, the followers of Romulus and Lygmon (Lucumo).

            Book IV.1:1-70. Early Romans.



            A Virgilian shepherd.

            Book II.34:1-94. See Virgil’s Eclogue I.



One of the Giants, condemned to be eaten by vultures in the Underworld.

            Book II.20:1-36. An unpleasant punishment.

            Book III.5:1-48. Stretched out in the underworld.



            Book IV.10:1-48. Lars Tolumnius, an Etruscan king of Veii. Livy says he was killed at Fidenae, not Veii.



The founder of Cnidos in Caria.

            Book III.9:1-60. Cnidos was famous for its marble.



The sea and river god, son of Neptune and Amphitrite the Nereid. He is depicted as half man and half fish and the sound of his conch-shell calms the waves. (See Wordsworth’s sonnet ‘The world is too much with us; late and soon,’)

            Book II.32:1-62. The sink of the stream from Maro’s statue in Rome.

            Book IV.6:1-86. A sea-god, trumpeting Augustus’s victory.



Diana, as goddess of crossroads. Goddess of chastity.

            Book II.32:1-62. Cynthia carries out her rituals. Irony here concerning both crossroads and the chastity.



Troy in Dardania, the famous city of the Troad in Asia Minor near the northern Aegean Sea and the entrance to the Hellespont. Scene of the War between the Greeks and Trojans described in Homer’s Iliad.

            Book II.1:1-78. Pergama the citadel of Troy is mentioned.

            Book II.3:1-54. Perished because of Helen’s beauty.

            Book II.6:1-42. Destroyed because of jealousy.

            Book II.8:1-12. Past greatness.

            Book II.14:1-32. Conquered by the Greeks under Agamemnon.

            Book II.28A:47-62. City with beautiful women.

            Book II.30:1-40. Founded by King Tros. Jupiter snatched his son Ganymede.

            Book II.34:1-94. Aeneas the Trojan.

            Book III.1:1-38. The city breached by the Wooden Horse in which the Greeks concealed themselves.

            Book III.18:1-34. Misenus the Trojan.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The city addressed.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. The city destroyed, but fated to rise again in Rome.



A friend of Propertius. He was the nephew of Lucius Volcacius Tullus consul in 33BC and pro-consul of Asia 30-29BC.

            Book I.1:1-38.He is addressed.

            Book I.6:1-36. He was a military man.

            Book I.14:1-24. He is addressed.

            Book I.22:1-10. He asks after Propertius’s origins.

            Book III.22:1-42. He is encouraged to return from the Black Sea region.



            From Tuscany, Tuscan.

            Book IV.2:1-64. Vertumnus, a Tuscan god.



The twins, Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri, the sons of Leda by the Spartan king Tyndareus (or by Jupiter). They became immortals. They are represented by the zodiacal constellation Gemini, the Twins, and protected seafarers.

            Book I.17:1-28. Navigational stars in summer.

            Book III.8:1-34. Tyndaridi, Helen the daughter of Tyndareus.


Tyndaris, see Clytemnestra



The daughter of Salmoneus King of Elis, and his wife Alcidice.

Neptune disguised himself as the river-god Enipeus and raped Tyro in a dark wave of the river at its confluence with the Alpheius.

            Book I.13:1-36. She is mentioned.

            Book II.28A:47-62. A beauty.

            Book III.19:1-28. Lusted for Enipeus.



The city of the Phoenicians in the Lebanon. Famed for its purple dyes used on clothing, obtained from the murex shell-fish.

            Book II.16:1-56. A source of dyes and other imported goods.

            Book III.13:1-66. Book IV.5:1-78. A source of purple murex dyes.

            Book III.14:1-34. Book IV.3:1-72. A source of dyed cloths.


Tyrrhenus, Tyrrhenia

The eastern seabord of central Italy. The Tyrrhenians were the inhabitants of Maeonia in Lydia. The Tyrrhenians migrated into Italy from Lydia (Tyrrha on the River Cayster) to form the rootstock of the Etrurians (Etruscans).

            Book I.8:1-26. The Italian coast.

            Book III.17:1-42. The Tuscans sailors involved with Bacchus, whom he turned into dolphins. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book III.



Publius Terentius Varro Atacinus (b. 82BC) an Alexandrian School poet who wrote works now lost including a translation of Apollonius Rhodius’s Argonautica, and elegies to his mistress Leucadia. (Not the more famous scholar Marcus Terrentius Varro)

            Book II.34:1-94. Well-known love poet.



            Book IV.10:1-48. An Etruscan city nine miles from Rome captured by Camillus in 396BC.



            Book IV.9:1-74. The marshy land between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills of Rome, between the Vicus Tuscus and the Forum Boarium beneath the Aventine. Flooding in early times it rendered the Aventine an island approached only by boat.



            Book I.12:1-20. The Venetian mouth of the River Po.



The Goddess of Love. The daughter of Jupiter and Dione. She is Aphrodite, born from the waves, an incarnation of Astarte, Goddess of the Phoenicians. The mother of Cupid by Mars.

(See Botticelli’s painting – Venus and Mars – National Gallery, London)

            Book I.1:1-38. She torments lovers.

            Book I.2:1-32. She loves the arts, and brings grace and charm.

            Book I.14:1-24. Lovers depend on her kindness.

            Book II.13A:1-58. Mourned for Adonis.

            Book II.15:1-54. Book IV.8:1-88. The act of sexual intercourse.

            Book II.16:1-56. Book II.21:1-20. She helps lovers.

            Book II.19:1-32. The recipient of lovers’ vows.

            Book II.22:1-42. Book III.5:1-48. Sexual intercourse.

            Book II.28:1-46. Resented girls who boasted of their beauty.

            Book II.32:1-62. Made love with Mars.

            Book III.3:1-52. Book IV.5:1-78. Doves sacred to her.

            Book III.4:1-22. Propertius asks her to protect the soldiers’ (illegitimate!) offspring.

            Book III.6:1-42. Lovers’ performance affected if the goddess sleeps.

            Book III.16:1-30. A friend to Propertius.

            Book III.8:1-34. Women in love are subject to her.

            Book III.9:1-60. Painted by Apelles.

            Book III.10:1-32. Goddess of nocturnal love.

            Book III.13:1-66. Paid sex.

            Book III.17:1-42. The anger of the goddess of love.

            Book III.20:1-30. The goddess who urges lovers to make love.

            Book III.24:1-20. Love is cruel.

            Book IV.1:1-70. Mother of Aeneas, gave the Caesar’s their arms.

            Book IV.1A:71-150. Love’s struggles are her wars.

            Book IV.6:1-86. She asked for and obtained Julius Caesar’s deification, and created the comet of his godhead in the heavens.

            Book IV.8:1-88. The highest throw at dice, the lowest being the Dogs (canes).


Vergiliae. The Pleiades

The Seven Sisters, the daughters, with the Hyades and the Hesperides, of Atlas the Titan. Their mother was Pleione the naiad. They were chased by Orion rousing the anger of Diana-Artemis to whom they were dedicated and changed to stars by the gods. The Pleiades are the star cluster M45 in the constellation Taurus. Their names were Maia, the mother of Mercury by Jupiter, Taÿgeta, Electra, Merope, Asterope, Alcyone (the brightest star of the cluster), and Celaeno.

            Book I.8:1-26. They are directional stars for sailors in winter.


Vergilius, Virgil

The Roman poet (70-19BC) who wrote the Aeneid, the stroy of Aeneas’s wanderings and battles.

            Book II.34:1-94. His Aeneid.



An ancient Italian god, of the seasons and their produce. His image stood in the Vicus Tuscus, leading from the Velabrum to the Forum Romanum. He was a god of cyclical change.

            Book IV.2:1-64. His origins and the reason for his name.



The daughter of Saturn. The goddess of fire. The ‘shining one’. Every hearth had its Vesta, and she presided over the preparation of meals and was offered first food and drink. Her priestesses were the Vestal Virgins. Her chief festival was the Vestalia in June. The Virgins took a strict vow of chastity and served for thirty years. They enjoyed enormous prestige, and were preceded by a lictor when in public. Breaking of their vow resulted in whipping and death. There were twenty recorded instances in eleven centuries. Vesta was a name for the Tauric Diana at Nemi. She ‘married’ her high priest the ‘king of Rome’, e.g. Julius Caesar. See Fraser’s ‘The Golden Bough’ Ch.1 et seq. She was worshipped with her brother Phoebus, and set among Caesar’s ancestral gods. Virbius was the name for the deified Hippolytus in Italy. He was the King of the Wood (Rex Nemorensis) at Nemi, near Aricia, and was Diana’s consort, and a minor deity with Egeria.

            Book III.4:1-22. Her sacred fires were those of Roman destiny.

            Book IV.1:1-70. The feast of Vesta, the Vestalia, took place on June 9th. There was a procession with donkeys garlanded with loaves of bread.

            Book IV.4:1-94. Tarpeia dedicated to her, and her sacred fire, the embers from Troy. Attended by virgin priestesses. The Vestal Virgins.

            Book IV.11:1-102. Aemilia, a Vestal Virgin.


Vicus Tuscus, see Vertumnus

            Book IV.2:1-64. The street ran from the Velabrum to the Forum.



            Book IV.10:1-48. King of the Belgic Insubres, killed by Marcus Claudius Marcellus in 222BC after crossing the Rhine.


Vlixes, Ulysses, Odysseus

            The Greek hero, son of Laërtes. See Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

(See Francesco Primaticcio’s painting – Ulysses and Penelope – The Toledo Museum of Art). He fought at Troy, is the hero of teh Odyssey. His wife was Penelope.

            Book II.6:1-42. Her loyalty.

            Book II.9:1-52. She waited for his return.

            Book II.14:1-32. His return home to Ithaca (Dulichium).

            Book II.21:1-20. He escaped from Calypso.

            Book II.26A:21-58. Driven by adverse winds.

            Book III.7:1-72. Wept for his comrades lost at sea.

            Book III.12:1-38. His adventures recounted briefly. His faithful wife Penelope.


Vmbria, Umbria

            Central Italy.

            Book I:20:1-52. The local region.

            Book I.22:1-10. Book IV.1:1-70. Book IV.1A:71-150. Propertius born there at Assisi.

            Book III.22:1-42. The Clitumnus rises there.



            A Tuscan town, in Etruria, the modern Bolsena.

            Book IV.2:1-64. Vertumnus originated there.


Vulcan, Mulciber

Son of Juno. The blacksmith of the gods, father of Erichthonius. His home is on Lemnos. He catches his adulterous wife Venus in a net, woven of bronze. She and Mars are trapped and incur the laughter of the gods. Creator of the bronze-footed bulls of King Aeetes. Periphetes the cripple was his son by Anticleia. He owned a huge bronze club with which he killed passers by. Theseus defeated him.

He is also the god of fire. Hercules on his funeral pyre is subject to it only in his mortal part, owed to his mother Alcmene. He made for Thetis, the armour of Achilles, and his fire is the flame of Achilles’s funeral pyre.

            Book III.8A:34-40. Vulcan is not given in the text but I have added it to avoid the point of the reference being lost.



The King of Persia (485-465BC), son of Darius. He crossed the Hellespont on a bridge of boats to invade Greece and avenge Darius’s defeat at Marathon. Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea saw the defeat of the Spartan contingent under Leonidas (‘Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie’), the defeat of the Persian fleet and the final turning back of the Persian army respectively. Xerxes retreated.

            Book II.1:1-78. The bridge of boats mentioned.



The West Wind. Eurus is the East Wind, Auster is the South Wind, and Boreas is the North Wind.

            Book I.18:1-32. Mentioned.



One of the winged sons of Boreas and Orithyia. One of the Argonauts.

            Book I:20:1-52. He pursues Hylas.



Antiope was the daughter of Nycteus of Thebes, famed for her beauty and loved by Jupiter in satyr form. She bore twin sons Amphion and Zethus. Her father exposed them on Mt Cithaeron, but they were found and raised by a shepherd. Later they built the walls of Thebes, Amphion, the husband of Niobe, using the magical music of his lyre (See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 176, XV 427). Antiope fled her father but was imprisoned by Lycus and his wife Dirce who tormented her. Her sons avenged her by killing Dirce.

            Book III.15:1-46. Avenged his mother.