"Lay aside fear, Cerinthus: the god does not harm lovers."


Tibullus. Poems. Book III: 10 [or in older editions, Book IV: 4]


Huc ades et tenerae morbos expelle puellae, 

huc ades, intonsa Phoebe superbe coma; 

crede mihi, propera, nec te iam, Phoebe, pigebit 

formosae medicas applicuisse manus. 

5 Effice ne macies pallentes occupet artus, 

neu notet informis candida membra color, 

et quodcumque mali est et quidquid triste timemus, 

in pelagus rapidis euehat amnis aquis. 

Sancte, ueni, tecumque feras, quicumque sapores, 

10 quicumque et cantus corpora fessa leuant; 

neu iuuenem torque, metuit qui fata puellae 

uotaque pro domina uix numeranda facit; 

interdum uouet, interdum, quod langueat illa, 

dicit in aeternos aspera uerba deos. 

15 Pone metum, Cerinthe: deus non laedit amantes

tu modo semper ama: salua puella tibi est; 

nil opus est fletu: lacrimis erit aptius uti, 

si quando fuerit tristior illa tibi. 

At nunc tota tua est, te solum candida secum 

cogitat, et frustra credula turba sedet. 

Phoebe, faue: laus magna tibi tribuetur in uno 

20 corpore seruato restituisse duos. 

Iam celeber, iam laetus eris, cum debita reddet 

certatim sanctis laetus uterque focis; 

25 tunc te felicem dicet pia turba deorum, 

optabunt artes et sibi quisque tuas.


Phoebus, come, drive away the gentle girl’s illness,

come, proud, with your unshorn curls.

Trust me, and hurry: Phoebus, you won’t regret

having laid healing hands on her beauty.

See that no wasting disease grips her pale body,

no unpleasant marks stain her weak limbs,

and whatever ills exist, whatever sadness we fear,

let the swift river-waters carry them to the sea.

Come, sacred one, bring delicacies with you,

and whatever songs ease the weary body:

Don’t torment the youth, who fears for the girl’s fate,

and offers countless prayers for his mistress.

Sometimes he prays, sometimes, because she’s ill,

he speaks bitter words to the eternal gods.

Don’t be afraid, Cerinthus: the god doesn’t hurt lovers.

Only love always: and your girl is well.

No need to weep: tears will be more fitting,

if she’s ever more severe towards you.

But now she’s all yours: the lovely girl

only thinks of you, and a hopeful crowd wait in vain.

Phoebus, be gracious. Great praise will be due to you

in saving one life you’ll have restored two.

Soon you’ll be honoured, delighted, when both, safe,

compete to repay the debt at your sacred altar.

Then the holy company of gods will call you happy,

and each desire your own art for themselves.




Tibullus. Poems. Book III: 11 [in older editions Book IV: 5]


Qui mihi te, Cerinthe, dies dedit, hic mihi sanctus 

atque inter festos semper habendus erit: 

te nascente nouum Parcae cecinere puellis 

seruitium et dederunt regna superba tibi. 

5Vror ego ante alias: iuuat hoc, Cerinthe, quod uror, 

si tibi de nobis mutuus ignis adest; 

mutuus adsit amor, per te dulcissima furta 

perque tuos oculos per Geniumque rogo. 

Mane Geni, cape tura libens uotisque faueto, 

10si modo, cum de me cogitat, ille calet. 

Quod si forte alios iam nunc suspiret amores, 

tunc precor infidos, sancte, relinque focos. 

Nec tu sis iniusta, Venus: uel seruiat aeque 

uinctus uterque tibi uel mea uincla leua; 

15sed potius ualida teneamur uterque catena, 

nulla queat posthac quam soluisse dies. 

Optat idem iuuenis quod nos, sed tectius optat: 

nam pudet haec illum dicere uerba palam. 

At tu, Natalis, quoniam deus omnia sentis, 

20adnue: quid refert, clamne palamne roget?

The day that gave you to me, Cerinthus, will be sacred

to me, and will always be among the days of joy.

When you were born the Fates sang out new slavery

for girls, and gave you proud sovereignty.

I burn more fiercely than the others. It’s joy to burn,

Cerinthus, if from my fire shared fire enters you.

Let love be shared, I ask it, by your sweetest theft,

by your eyes, by your guardian spirit.

Stay spirit, take this glad incense, and favour my prayers:

if only he’s inflamed when he thinks of me.

But if even now he sighs deeply for another,

then leave your faithless altar, sacred one.

And don’t you be unjust, Venus, let both serve you,

equally as slaves, or lighten my chains.

Rather let us both be held by heavy shackles,

that no day after this might ever loosen.

The boy wants the same as me, but hides his longing:

he’s ashamed now to say the words aloud.

But you, birth spirit, since you’re an all-seeing god,

assent: what matter if he asks it silently or aloud?



According to Tim Redman’s catalog of Pound’s library, the poet owned the following editions of Tibullus:

Catullus, and Tibullus and Propertius. Works. Venice: Dus, 1562. In Latin. Bl.

Catullus, and Tibullus and Propertius. Veronensis. Amsteredami: lsbrandum Haring, 1686. Bl.

Catullus, and Tibullus and Propertius. Opera. Landini: S. Hamilton, 1816. Bm.

Tibullus. Equitis Romani. Amsterdami: Isbrandum Haring, 1686. Bl.




  1. Tibullus. Elegies. Book III: poem no.10. [Latin text]. Aliorumque carminum libri tres. Tibullus. Ed. J. P. Postgate. Scriptorum classicorum bibliotheca Oxoniensis. 1915. Perseus.
  2. Tibullus. “A Prayer for Sulpicia in Her Illness” and "Cenrinthus's Birthday." Trans. A. S. Kline. 2001. “Tibullus and Sulpicia (55 BC–19 BC) - The Poems.” Poetry in Translation.org. Free online.
  3. Redman, Tim. “Pound’s Library. A Preliminary Catalog.” Paideuma 15.2-3 (Fall-winter 1986): 213-37.


The Fifth Decad

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Cantos LII - LXXI

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