That Sickness Which Has No Cure

Propertius, Elegies 2.1.57–66

“Medicine may help all human pains—
Love alone responds to no doctor in its sickness.
Machaon healed Philoktetes’ twisted limbs;
Chiron the son of Phillyra saved Phoenix’ eyes
And the Epidaurian god with herbs from Crete
Returned dead Androgeon to his father’s home.
Even the Mysian who felt the wound from the Haemonian spear
Also found restoration from the same blade.
Anyone who is able to relieve me of this
Will be the only person to place fruit in Tantalus’ hand.”

omnis humanos sanat medicina dolores:
solus amor morbi non amat artificem.
tarda Philoctetae sanavit crura Machaon,
Phoenicis Chiron lumina Phillyrides,
et deus exstinctum Cressis Epidaurius herbis
restituit patriis Androgeona focis,
Mysus et Haemonia iuvenis qua cuspide vulnus
senserat, hac ipsa cuspide sensit opem.
hoc si quis vitium poterit mihi demere, solus
Tantaleae poterit tradere poma manu

Image result for medieval manuscript love
1st quarter of the 14th century, Royal MS 19 C 1, f. 33r

 

Everyone Should Read Sulpicia

Martial, 10.35

“All girls who desire to please one man
Should read Sulpicia.
All husbands who desire to please one wife
Should read Sulpicia.
She doesn’t write the rage of the Colchian woman
Or repeat the dinners of dire Thyestes.
She doesn’t believe there ever was a Scylla, or Byblis
But she teaches chaste and honest love,
And games, both sweet and a little naughty.
Anyone who judges her poems well
Will say that there never was a cleverer girl,
There never was a girl more reverent!
I think that the jokes of Egeria
In Numa’s dark cave were something like this.
You would have been more humble and learned
With Sulpicia as a teacher or a peer, Sappho:
But if he had seen her by your side,
Harsh Phaon would have loved Sulpicia.
Uselessly: for she would not be wife of the Thunderer
Nor girlfriend to Bacchus or Apollo
Should she live after her Calenus was taken away.”

Omnes Sulpiciam legant puellae,
Uni quae cupiunt viro placere;
Omnes Sulpiciam legant mariti,
Uni qui cupiunt placere nuptae.
Non haec Colchidos adserit furorem 5
Diri prandia nec refert Thyestae;
Scyllam, Byblida nec fuisse credit:
Sed castos docet et probos amores,
Lusus, delicias facetiasque.
Cuius carmina qui bene aestimarit, 10
Nullam dixerit esse nequiorem,
Nullam dixerit esse sanctiorem.
Tales Egeriae iocos fuisse
Udo crediderim Numae sub antro.
Hac condiscipula vel hac magistra 15
Esses doctior et pudica, Sappho:
Sed tecum pariter simulque visam
Durus Sulpiciam Phaon amaret.
Frustra: namque ea nec Tonantis uxor
Nec Bacchi nec Apollinis puella 20
Erepto sibi viveret Caleno.

(there is no way to get Latin hendecasyllables easily into English. I bet Sulpicia could have done it.)

Martial is not referring to the first Sulpicia (whose poetry is recorded with that of Tibullus, book 3) but a second Sulpicia from the time of Domitian. Hmmm. Ten plus books, only one Martial?