Another Day, another Word on Helen: Paris Plays Andrew Marvell (Ovid, Heroides XVI.283-290)

The past two days we heard from Homer and Herodotus on Helen. Today Ovid gives voice to Paris’ words of seduction before the war ever happened:

“Many things surely need to be said, but, for us to say more in person
Take me to your room this quiet night.
Do you feel shame or fear breaking your wedding vow,
That you make false the chaste rites of a legitimate bed?
Oh my simple, dare I say naive, Helen
Do you imagine that your body lacks all fault?
You must change your beauty or instead be less withholding,
what is right has only the appearance of modesty.”

multa quidem subeunt; sed coram ut plura loquamur,
excipe me lecto nocte silente tuo.
an pudet et metuis Venerem temerare maritam
castaque legitimi fallere iura tori?
a, nimium simplex Helene, ne rustica dicam,
hanc faciem culpa posse carere putas?
aut faciem mutes aut sis non dura, necesse est;
lis est cum forma magna pudicitiae.

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