Saturday, April 20, 2024

Find Me Somebody to Love: A 12th century Love Poem

Tela, Cupido, tene, quoniam non ille nec illa

sustinet esse meus, vel mea. Tele tene,

tela tene! Quid amo? Quod amat? Non absit. At huius

quod fugit, huius ero? Non ero. Tele tene,

tela tene! Quia non teneo quod amo tenuisse.

An dixi quod amo? Non amo! Tela tene,

tela tene, vel tange parem. Nec feceris imo,

dico tibi, sine! Vel tange, Cupido, parem.

--Ellis, R. Epigrammata Codicis Bodleiani Rawl. BN 109 #2. Published in Anecdota Oxoniensia Vol 1, Part 5.  (1885) p. 17.



Cupid, hold your fire!

For neither my boyfriend

Nor my girlfriend

stays true to me.

Hold your fire, hold your fire!

What’s my type? A person who loves!

May I find one soon.

But should I date someone

Who ghosts me? NOPE!

Hold your fire, hold your fire!

For I will not cherish a person

who I’d “love that I had dated once.”

Did I just say “a person I love”?

Nope! I’m not in love.

Hold your fire,  hold your fire,

Or find me an equal.

Please don’t do this—I’m telling you—please stop!

Or, Cupid,

 find me an equal.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Friends Till The End: Martial 1.93

Roman men often had deep, loving and affectionate friendships with their peers. There was no shame or stigma in expressing love and support to one another.

Fabricio iunctus fido requiescit Aquinus,

qui prior Elysias gaudet adisse domos.

Ara duplex primi testatur munera pili:

plus tamen est, titulo quod breviore legis:

"iunctus uterque sacro laudatae foedere vitae,

famaque quod raro novit: amicus erat." 

--Martial, Epigrams 1.93 

Aquinus is buried next to his faithful Fabricius,

Who happily entered Heaven before him.

A double tombstone attests that both attained primus pilus [head centurion]

But, what’s more, is the inscription:

“Both are joined in a sacred relationship of a blessed life,

And something even more blessed: they were friends.”




Name: Marcus Valerius Martialis

Date:  40 CE – 104 CE

Works:  Epigrammaton Libri XV*

               De Spectaculis


REGION  2 (Hispania)

Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Northern Africa, including Carthage; Region 4: Egypt and the Middle East; Region 5: Peninsular Greece and the coast of Turkey




Originally from Bilbilis, Hispania, the poet Martial moved to Rome in the 60s CE to advance his career. His two extant works include de Spectaculis, a collection of poems written to commemorate the opening of the Colosseum, and a fifteen volume collection of epigrams. These epigrams provide valuable insight into the mores and private lives of men and women from all of the city’s social classes.     


Silver Age: 18 - 150 CE


Sunday, April 7, 2024

W/W: Remember Me, Delicate Rose: A Medieval Love Poem

G unicae suae rosae

A vinculum dilectionis preciosae.

Quae est fortitudo mea, ut sustineam,

ut in tuo discessu pacientiam habeam?

Numqud fortitudo mea fortitudo est lapidum,

ut tuum esspectem reditum?

Quae nocte et die non cesso dolere,

velut qui caret manu et pede.

Omne quod iocundum est et delectabile

absque te habetur ut lutum pedum calcabile,

pro gaudere duco fletus

numquam animus meus apparet laetus.

Dum recordor quae dedisti oscula,

et quam iocundis verbis refrigerasti pectuscula,

mori libet

quod te videre non licet.

quid faciam miserrima?

quo me vertam paurperrima?

o si corpus meum terrae fuisset creditum

usque ad optatum tuum reditum,

aut si translatio mihi occederet Abaccuc

ut semel venissem illluc,

ut vultum amantis inspexissem,

et tunc non curarem si ipsa hora mortua fuissem!

nam in mundo non est nata

quae tam amabilis sit et grata,

et quae sine simulatione

tam intima me diligat dilectione.

unde sine fine non cesso dolere

donec te merear videre.

revera iuxta quendam sapientem magna miseria est hominis,

cum illo non esse

sine quo non potest esse.

dum constat orbis

numquam deleberis de medio mei cordis.

quid multis moror?

redi, dulcis amor!

noli iter tuum longius differe,

scias me absentiam tuam diutius non posse suffere.


meique memorare. 

--[quoted in] Dronke, Peter. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love Lyric, Vol  2.479; and Piechl,Helmut and Bergmann, Werner. Die Tegernseer Briefsammlung des 12. Jahrhunderts, p. 356

To her unique rose G,

From A, the bond of precious love.

How can I be strong enough

To endure your leaving?

Isn’t my strength the strength of stone

To wait for your return?

Night and day, I can’t stop grieving

When you’re gone, it feels like I’ve lost a hand and a foot.

When you’re gone, everything that is pleasant and delightful

Is like mud trod upon by my foot.

I turn to weeping instead of joy,

My heart is never happy.

When I recall the kisses you’ve given me,

And how you restored my heart with your happy words,

I’d rather die

Than not see you again.

What will wretched ol’ me do?

Where will poor li’l ol’ me turn?

If only my body were laid to earth

Until your longed-for return occurs,

Or if I could make a trip like Habakkuk

To go where you are,

To see the face of my lover—just once!--

I’d be content to die right then and there.

For no other woman was born in the universe

Who is so lovely and pleasant

Without any fake or pretend aspects

Who loves me with such deep intimacy.

 So I’ll never stop grieving

Until I’m worthy of seeing you again.

According to a certain Wise One,

Mankind’s great Sorrow is to be kept from

The one person you cannot live without.

As long as the world still stands

You will never be taken from the bottom of my heart.

Why do I delay any further?

Return,  sweet love!

Don’t put off your travels any longer,

Remember that I cannot endure your absence any longer,


Remember me.



Thursday, April 4, 2024

W/W: Sweeter Than Honey: A Medieval Love Letter

C super mel et favum dulciori

B. quidquid amor amori.

O unica et specialis,

cur tamdiu in longinquo moraris?

Cur unicam tuam perire vis,

quae anima et corpore te diligit, ut ipsa scis?

et quea more aviculi esurientis

te suspirat omnibus horis atque momentis.

ex quo enim dulcissima tua presentia contigit me carere

nolui hominem ulterius audire nec videre

sed quasi tutur, perdito masculo

semper in arido residet ramusculo

ita lamentor sine fine

donec iterum fruar tua fide.

circumpspicio et non invenio amantem

ne in uno verbo me consolantem

dum enim iocundissime

allocutionis ac visionis tuae

dulcedinem revolvo in animo

dolore comprimor nimio

nam nil invenio tale.

Quid velim tuae dilectioni comparare,

Quae super mel at favum dulcescit

Et in cuius comparatione auri et argenti nitor vilescit?

quid ultra? in te omnis suavitas et virtus:

idcirco de absentia tua meus semper languet sipirtus.

omnis perfide cares felle

dulcior es lacte et melle

electa es ex milibus

te diligo prae omnibus

tu sola amor et desiderium

tu dulce animi mei refrigerium

nil mihi absque te iocundi.

omne quod tecum erat mihi suave

sine te laboriosum est et grave.

unde dicere volo veraciter

si fieri posset quod vitae pretio te emerem--non segniter.

quia sola es quam elegi secundum cor meum.

idcirco semper obsecro Deum

ne prius me mors preveniat amara

quam visione tua fruar optata et care.


quae sunt omnia fidei et dilectionis de me habe.

quem transmitto accipe stilum

et adhuc animum meum fidum.

--[quoted in] Dronke, Peter. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love Lyric, Vol  2.478; and Piechl,Helmut and Bergmann, Werner. Die Tegernseer Briefsammlung des 12. Jahrhunderts, p. 354.

To C, beyond sweeter than honey and honeycomb

From B, whatever love means to a lover.

O unique and special girl,

Why do you stay so far away, and for so long?

Why do you wish for your one & only love to perish,

Who loves you (as you already know) body & soul?

Who longs for you, like a parched little bird

Hopes for you at all hours?

From the moment when I was apart from your sweetest presence

I didn’t want to see or hear another person,

But instead, like a turtledove, when its mate was dead,

Remains perched forever upon a barren branch.

Like this sad little bird, I’ll lament without end

Until once more I can enjoy your company.

I look around, and cannot find my lover

Or any word of consolation.

Instead, I happily run through my mind

The sweetness of your words and beauty,

Undone by my grief,

For I cannot find any such relief.

What can I compare to your love?

It is sweeter than honey and honeycomb,

Even gold and silver is dull in comparison!

Why go on?

In you, is every sweetness and kindness,

And so my spirit wanes in your absence.

You lack even an ounce of the bitterness of infidelity,

You are sweeter than milk and honey.

You are the one I’ve chosen out of thousands of others—

I love you more than everyone!

You alone are my love and my desire

You are the sweet refuge of my soul,

I find no enjoyment in anything else without you.

Everything that is sweet for me by your side

Is tedious and terrible without you here.

And so I want to tell you candidly,

If it were possible for me to afford a life by your side, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

Because you alone are the woman I chose in my heart.

And so, I pray to God,

May bitter death not take me away

Before I may enjoy looking at you,

My beloved and dearest one.


Hold dear the faith and love I bear you,

And accept these words which I write to you,

As well as my still-loyal heart.