Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Just Say Yes: A Woman's Passion vs. an Asexual Man, Propertius, IV.5.1-10

Trigger Warning: inappropriate sexual behavior, shaming a woman for her sexual behavior, inappropriate sexual behavior with an asexual person

In this poem, Propertius insults an unnamed woman for her manipulative and lusty behavior. Note that her asexual and unwilling target [coded with the mythological name Hippolytus] is seen as a conquest:

terra tuum spinis obducat, lena, sepulcrum,
    et tua, quod non uis, sentiat umbra sitim;
nec sedeant cineri Manes, et Cerberus ultor
    turpia ieiuno terreat ossa sono!
docta uel Hippolytum Veneri mollire negantem,
    concordique toro pessima semper auis,
Penelopen quoque neglecto rumore mariti
    nubere lasciuo cogeret Antinoo.
illa uelit, poterit magnes non ducere ferrum,
    et uolucris nidis esse nouerca suis.

--Propertius, Eleg.IV.5.1-10

May thorns cover your grave, you little hussy,

And may your ghost still feel insatiable lust:

May your spirit never be at rest, and

May Cerberus rattle your wicked bones with his unending barking!

You who knew how to seduce a chaste Hippolytus,

You who loom ominously over consenting lovers,

Who would even force Penelope to abandon hopes of her husband’s return

And marry the lusty Antinoos.

If she wanted to, this woman could make a magnet not attract iron,

And make a winged mother bird abandon her nest.

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