Phocian Xanthis, don’t be ashamed of love
for your serving-girl. Once before, Briseis
the Trojan slave with her snow-white skin stirred
and captive Tecmessa’s loveliness troubled
her master Ajax, the son of Telamon:
and Agamemnon, in his mid-triumph, burned
for a stolen girl,
while the barbarian armies, defeated
in Greek victory, and the loss of Hector,
handed Troy to the weary Thessalians,
an easier prey.
You don’t know your blond Phyllis hasn’t parents
who are wealthy, and might grace their son-in-law.
Surely she’s royally born, and grieves at her
cruel household gods.
Believe that the girl you love’s not one who comes
from the wicked masses, that one so faithful
so averse to gain, couldn’t be the child of
a shameful mother.
I’m unbiased in praising her arms and face,
and shapely ankles: reject all suspicion
of one whose swiftly vanishing life has known
its fortieth year.