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Poets of old in chorus cried out against those two serpents,
Making them horrible names, hated in all of the world:
Python the one, the other the Hydra of Lerna. These monsters
Both have now been destroyed, thanks to the deeds of the gods.
Fire-breathing, venomous once, they no longer now depredate our
Flocks and meadows and woods, fields of golden grain.
How is it then that some spiteful god in his wrath has
Raised from the poisonous slime offspring so monstrous again?
There's an insidious viper creeps into the loveliest gardens,
Lying in wait to attack all who seek pleasure therein.
Noble Hesperian dragon, I call you courageous and forthright.
Boldly defending your own beautiful apples of gold.
As for this worm, why he is not guarding at all, for his presence
Sullies both garden and fruit, till they deserve no defense.
Secretly coiled beneath bushes, where he befouls the sweet wellsprings,
Turning to poisonous drool Cupid's lifegiving dew.
Happy Lucretius knew how in his day to forego love completely,
Fearing not to enjoy pleasure in anyone's arms.
Fortunate Ancient, Propertius, for you a slave fetched the girls down
From the Aventine Hill, from Tarpeia's grove.
Cynthia then, when driving you out of such unchaste embraces,
Found you unfaithful, it's true, but she did find you whole.
Who would today dare attempt to escape from fidelity's ennui?
Love does not hold one back—only concern for one's health.
Even the woman we love may afford us uncertain enjoyment;
Nowhere can feminine lap safely encouch a man's head.
Matrimonial bed's insecure and so's fornication;
Husband, lover and wife pass to each other the hurt.
Think of those ages of gold when Jupiter followed his urges,
Chose Callisto one day, turned to Semel the next.
It was important to him to find thresholds of temples so sacred
Pure when, enamoured, he sought powerful entry to them.
Can you imagine the ragings of Juno if in love's skirmish
Poisonous weapons on her by her own spouse had been turned?
But we neo-pagans may not after all be abandoned entirely:
Yet there is speeding a god mercifully over the earth,
Quick and assiduous. Everyone knows him and ought to adore him,
Herald of Zeus: Hermes, the healing god.
Although his father's temple be fallen, and though of its pillars
Scarcely a pair yet records ancient glory adored,
Nevertheless the son's place of worship still stands, and forever
Will there the ardent requests alternate with the thanks.
Only one favor I beg of you, Graces (I ask it in secret—
Fervent my prayer and deep, out of a passionate breast):
My little garden, my sweet one, protect it and do not let any
Evil come near it nor me. Cupid will hold out his hand:
O, and entrusting myself to the rascal, I beg you please may I
Do so in pleasure with no danger or worry or fear.