The four books of elegies by Propertius are mainly dedicated to his mistress Cynthia. In this poem Propertius sees the true character of Cynthia and he compares the period with his love for her with a dangerous voyage over sea. The real existence of Cynthia is not beyond doubt, but if she was a woman of flesh and blood, she was probably the upper class prostitute Hostia. In that case this poem was also a warning to her other lovers. But love makes blind, isn’t it?
Falsast ista tuae, mulier, fiducia formae,
olim oculis nimium facta superba meis.
noster amor tales tribuit tibi, Cynthia, laudes:
versibus insignem te pudet esse meis.
mixtam te varia laudavi saepe figura,
ut, quod non esses, esse putaret amor;
et color est totiens roseo collatus Eoo,
cum tibi quaesitus candor in ore foret:
quod mihi non patrii poterant avertere amici,
eluere aut vasto Thessala saga mari,
hoc ego--non ferro, non igne coactus, at ipsa
naufragus Aegaea (vera fatebor) aqua.
correptus saevo Veneris torrebar aeno;
vinctus eram versas in mea terga manus.
ecce coronatae portum tetigere carinae,
traiectae Syrtes, ancora iacta mihist.
nunc demum vasto fessi resipiscimus aestu,
vulneraque ad sanum nunc coiere mea.
Mens Bona, si qua dea's, tua me in sacraria dono!
exciderunt surdo tot mea vota Iovi.
Falsast = falsa est
mulier: derogatively used
fiducia formae: trust in your beauty
superbus: this word has often negative connotations, but here positive: splendid
insignis: distinguished, remarkable
mixtam te varia laudavi saepe figura: often I praised you as a mixture of various beauties
confero: to compare
Eoos: the Morningstar
cum tibi quaesitus candor in ore foret: though the colour on your face was selected by you (i.e.: she used make up.)
foret: verb 3rd sg imperf subj act early
quod: the confidence in your true feelings
Thessala saga: Thessalian witch (Thessaly was believed to be the country of sorcery. The enchantment of Cynthia was even greater.)
eluo: wash off
hoc ego (avertere potui)
ipsa Aegaea aqua: abl! (Propertius compared his situation during his affair with Cynthia as being shipwrecked in the dangerous Aegean Sea.)
torreo: to roast
corripio –repi –reptum: to snatch, seize
aënus: bronze vessel
versas in mea terga manus: with my hands bound on my back
coronatae carinae: after a save voyage a ship was furnished with garlands (carina: keel and pars pro toto for ship.)
traiectae Syrtes: the Syrtes (two dangerous rocks off the African coast) being passed
resipisco: to recover the senses, revive
vulnera coiere mea: my wounds have closed/healed
Mens Bona: indeed, Mens Bona was a goddess and her temple was close to that of Venus…
dea’s = dea es
exciderunt surdo tot mea vota Iovi: my prayers fell on a deaf Juppiter