Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jeuvenal, in Satire 6, on Messalina

Then consider the God's rivals, hear what Claudius
had to put up with. The minute she heard him snoring
his wife - that whore-empress - who­ dared to prefer the mattress
of a stews to her couch in the Palace, called for her hooded
night-cloak and hastened forth, with a single attendant.
Then, her black hair hidden under an ash-blonde wig,
she'd make straight for her brothel, with its stale, warm coverlets,
and her empty reserved cell. Here, naked, with gilded
nipples, she plied her trade, under the name of 'The Wolf-Girl',
parading the belly that once housed a prince of the blood.
She would greet each client sweetly, demand cash payment,
and absorb all their battering - without ever getting up.
Too soon the brothel-keeper dismissed his girls:
she stayed right till the end, always last to go,
then trailed away sadly, still | with burning, rigid vulva,
exhausted by men, yet a long way from satisfied,
cheeks grimed with lamp-smoke, filthy, carrying home
to her Imperial couch the stink of the whorehouse.

Then look at those who rival the Gods, and hear what Claudius
endured. As soon as his wife perceived that her husband was asleep,
this august harlot was shameless enough to prefer a common mat
to the imperial couch. Assuming night-cowl, and attended by a single maid,
she issued forth; then, having concealed her raven locks under a light-coloured peruque,
she took her place in a brothel reeking with long-used coverlets.
Entering an empty cell reserved for herself, she there took her stand, under the feigned name of Lycisca,
her nipples bare and gilded, and exposed to view the womb that bore thee, O nobly-born Britannicus!
Here she graciously received all comers, asking from each his fee;
and when at length the keeper dismissed his girls,
she remained to the very last before closing her cell,
and with passion still raging hot within her went sorrowfully away.
Then exhausted by men but unsatisfied,
with soiled cheeks, and begrimed with the smoke of lamps,
she took back to the imperial pillow all the odours of the stews.

1st ranslation by Peter Green. 2nd translation from wikisource.

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