(43 BCE - 17 CE / Rome / Italy)

Love And War

Poem by Ovid

Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:
I tell you, Atticus, lovers all are soldiers.
Youth is fit for war, and also fit for Venus.
Imagine an aged soldier, an elderly lover!
A general looks for spirit in his brave soldiery;
a pretty girl wants spirit in her companions.
Both stay up all night long, and each sleeps on the ground;
one guards his mistress's doorway, one his general's.
The soldier's lot requires far journeys; send his girl,
the zealous lover will follow her anywhere.
He'll cross the glowering mountains, the rivers swollen with storm;
he'll tread a pathway through the heaped-up snows;
and never whine of raging Eurus when he sets sail
or wait for stars propitious for his voyage.
Who but lovers and soldiers endure the chill of night,
and blizzards interspersed with driving rain?
The soldier reconnoiters among the dangerous foe;
the lover spies to learn his rival's plans.
Soldiers besiege strong cities; lovers, a harsh girl's home;
one storms town gates, the other storms house doors.
It's clever strategy to raid a sleeping foe
and slay an unarmed host by force of arms.
(That's how the troops of Thracian Rhesus met their doom,
and you, O captive steeds, forsook your master.)
Well, lovers take advantage of husbands when they sleep,
launching surprise attacks while the enemy snores.
To slip through bands of guards and watchful sentinels
is always the soldier's mission - and the lover's.
Mars wavers; Venus flutters: the conquered rise again,
and those you'd think could never fall, lie low.
So those who like to say that love is indolent
should stop: Love is the soul of enterprise.
Sad Achilles burns for Briseis, his lost darling:
Trojans, smash the Greeks' power while you may!
From Andromache's embrace Hector went to war;
his own wife set the helmet on his head;
and High King Agamemnon, looking on Priam's child,
was stunned (they say) by the Maenad's flowing hair.
And Mars himself was trapped in The Artificer's bonds:
no tale was more notorious in heaven.
I too was once an idler, born for careless ease;
my shady couch had made my spirit soft.
But care for a lovely girl aroused me from my sloth
and bid me to enlist in her campaign.
So now you see me forceful, in combat all night long.
If you want a life of action, fall in love.

- translated from the Latin by Jon Corelis

Comments about Love And War by Ovid

  • Felix otiende (5/20/2020 1:41:00 PM)

    Nice article..(Report)Reply

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  • Britte NinadBritte Ninad (3/4/2020 3:21:00 AM)

    Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:

    beautiful poem(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Chinedu DikeChinedu Dike (11/7/2019 6:39:00 AM)

    Well conceived and nicely brought forth with clarity of thought and mind. An insightful work of art.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Adeeb AlfatehAdeeb Alfateh (6/9/2019 12:52:00 AM)

    great and great poem
    great 10+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Konab GhummanKonab Ghumman (4/10/2019 7:45:00 AM)

    wonderful message
    love and war
    thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Konab GhummanKonab Ghumman (4/10/2019 7:42:00 AM)

    Each and every line is so beautiful and expressive in its essence
    that I'm unable to choose a line or even lines
    he most enchanting story told that will always be unforgettable.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • mr scirocco (12/4/2018 11:15:00 AM)

    poem huntahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • UR MUM GAY (6/25/2018 6:18:00 PM)


    6 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • martha cain (5/11/2018 6:50:00 AM)

    I was a soldier and in love and all is true of those perfect passions and their ferocity! Death in battle would be preferable to lost love's honor!(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Joshua AdeyemiJoshua Adeyemi (2/27/2018 11:11:00 AM)

    If you want a life of action, fall in love.....

    Perhaps, i disagree with this.yet agree firmly. Though on the fence...(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Joel Drown (6/12/2017 9:07:00 AM)

    dear ovid, my name is joel drown your poem is very powerful its amazing how close together the topics of lave and war an become and how you descrided the numbness that can come from a war and a deep love thank you for your time and your service(Report)Reply

    9 person liked.
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  • Amar AgarwalaAmar Agarwala (3/21/2017 7:39:00 PM)

    A powerful poem on love and war and of a lovers' mirth and passion!(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • John SJohn S (3/21/2017 9:45:00 AM)

    All is fair in love and war
    win the battle, settle the score
    Cupid carries out his clever campaign
    fight with chocolate hearts and aged champagne
    Melodious music, the best poetry I know
    will capture your heart, and vanquish my foe
    without you my love, my life is incomplete
    fighting a beautiful battle, I'll know not defeat
    with armaments, I'll fight tooth and nail
    Over swollen seas, my fleets set sail
    Through torrential rain, blizzards of gale
    for your affectionate heart, my love will prevail!(Report)Reply

    John SJohn S(3/21/2017 5:40:00 PM)

    Yes, there is nothing more inspiring than other poet's poetic themes...

    Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black(3/21/2017 10:35:00 AM)

    Is this your poem?

    5 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (3/21/2017 9:45:00 AM)

    This is the eternal truth. The tale of love and war told in a captivating poem. Thanks for the translation.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Payal PriyaPayal Priya (3/21/2017 5:17:00 AM)

    The intertwining of the images of a lover and a soldier, deftly done to reveal how the two are same in their passion and unswerving loyalty.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Tom Allport (3/21/2017 4:59:00 AM)

    a poem of truths that is just as relevant to day as when it was first written? nothing changes in love and war!(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Lantz PierreLantz Pierre (3/21/2017 4:16:00 AM)

    I almost didn't make to the end. Ovid works so hard to make more of romantic love than what is real or true. And yet he's mostly right, even if the analogy gets a little tedious and overly drawn-out for me. The last line here wraps it up so profoundly. There is no reason to act unless one feels a reason to act. The heart is the ultimate motivator for sacrifice and for selflessness. Not to care is equivalent to passivity and ultimately defeat because one does value anything to champion, to fight for, to defend and follow. And adore. Patriotism too is an act of love.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (3/21/2017 2:01:00 AM)

    Born for careless ease. Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Rajnish MangaRajnish Manga (3/21/2017 1:02:00 AM)

    This classical poem tells us quite beautifully the strategies employed by the soldiers and the lovers to win over their respective territories. Loved reading it. Thanks PH.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (3/21/2017 12:54:00 AM)

    Made my spirit soft.... thanks for sharing.....(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
Read all 24 comments »

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Read poems about / on: soldier, girl, war, sad, night, power, house, child, hair, rain, sleep, lost, heaven, home, husband, children, city, river, rose, star

Poem Submitted: Sunday, December 7, 2003

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