The Immortality of Verse

Discover The Secret Of Immotality

Discover The Secret Of Immortality

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Ovid Amoves 1.15 (with omissions)

Why, biting Envy, do you reproach me with idle years and call poetry the work of a lazy mind, [saying] that, while vigorous age supports me, I do not, according to the custom of [our] fathers, pursue the dusty rewards of military service, and that I do not memorize wordy laws, and that I have not put [my] voice to unworthy use in the thankless forum?

The work you ask [of me] is mortal. I seek everlasting fame (lit., everlasting fame is sought by me) so that I may be sung forever in the whole world. Mae-onides (i.e., Homer) will live while Tenedos and Ida stand [and] while Simois rolls [its] swift waters to the sea (lit., will stand, will roll). Ennius, [though] lacking in art, and Accius of spirited mouth have a name that will at no time die. The poems of majestic Lucretius will then perish when one day will give the earth to destruction. Ticyrus and crops and the arms of Aeneas will be read while Rome is (lit, will be) the head of the conquered world. While fires and a bow are (lit., will be) the weapons of Cupid, your verses, elegant Tibullus, will be learned.

So, although flints, although the tooth of the long-lasting plow may perish through age, poetry is exempt from death (lit., poems lack death). Let kings and the triumphs of kings yield to poetry, and let the generous bank of gold-bearing Tagus yield [as well]! Let the common herd marvel at worthless [things]. May fair-haired Apollo serve me cups full of Castalian water. And may I wear on my head (lit., support with my hair) [a chaplet of] myrtle, which fears the cold, and may I be read often by an anxious lover! Envy feeds on the living; it grows quiet after death, when according to [his] worth, each person is protected by his renown. So, even when the last fire has consumed me, I will live on, and a large part of me will survive (lit., will be surviving).

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