literary work

The Heroides ('Heroines'), or Epistulae Heroidum ('Letters of Heroines'), is a collection of fifteen epistolary poems composed by Ovid in Latin elegiac couplets and presented as though written by a selection of aggrieved heroines of Greek and Roman mythology in address to their heroic lovers who have in some way mistreated, neglected, or abandoned them. A further set of six poems, widely known as the Double Heroides and numbered 16 to 21 in modern scholarly editions, follows these individual letters and presents three separate exchanges of paired epistles: one each from a heroic lover to his absent beloved and from the heroine in return.

Nil mihi rescribas, tu tamen ipse veni!

Write nothing back to me—yourself come!

Quotes edit

Grant Showerman, ed. Ovid: Heroides and Amores, LCL 41 (1914); revised by G. P. Goold (1989)
  • Nil mihi rescribas, tu tamen ipse veni!
  • Write nothing back to me—yourself come!
    • I, 2 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Res est solliciti plena timoris amor.
  • Love is a thing ever filled with anxious fear.
    • I, 12 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Iam seges est ubi Troia fuit, resecandaque falce
    Luxuriat Phrygio sanguine pinguis humus.
  • Now are fields of corn where Troy once was, and soil made fertile with Phrygian blood waves rich with harvest ready for the sickle.
    • I, 53 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Tarde quae credita laedunt credimus.
  • We are tardy in believing, when belief brings hurt.
    • II, 9–10 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Dicere quae puduit, scribere iussit amor.
  • What modesty forbade me to say, love has commanded me to write.
    • IV, 10 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Si fuit errandum, causas habet error honestas.
  • If 'twas my fate to err, my error had honourable cause.
    • VII, 109 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Abeunt studia in mores.
  • Tastes change into character.
    • XV, 83 (tr. Grant Showerman)

  • Non veniunt in idem pudor atque amor.
  • Modesty and love are not at one.
    • XV, 121 (tr. Grant Showerman)

Classical and Foreign Quotations edit


Arbiter es formæ.

Judge of beauty.
Variants: W. Francis H. King, ed. Classical and Foreign Quotations, 3rd ed. (1904), nos. 4, 12, 127, 149, 334, 504, 695, 732, 1169, 1815, 2527, 2567, 2700
  • Abeunt studia in mores.
  • Pursuits grow into habits.
    • XV, 83

  • Exitus acta probat.
  • The event justifies the deed.
    • II, 85

  • Dicere que puduit, scribere jussit amor.
  • What shame forbade me speak, Love made me write.
    • IV, 10

  • Nulla reparabilis arte
    Læsa pudicitia est: deperit illa semel.
  • When once a woman’s virtue’s gone,
    No art the damage can atone:
      'Tis ruined once for all.

  • Si fuit errandum, causas habet error honestas.
  • If I sinned, the sin has fair excuse.
    • VII, 109
    • Dido to Æneas. If she did go astray, she might plead excuse, seeing that the gods had thrown such a lover in her way.

  • Cœpisti melius quam desinis: ultima primis
    Cedunt: dissimiles hic vir, et ille puer.
  • You began better than you end: your last attempts must yield the palm to your previous achievements. How little does the man correspond to the promise of the boy!

  • Si qua voles apte nubere, nube pari.
  • If you wish to marry suitably, marry your equal.
    • IX, 32

  • Jam seges est ubi Troja fuit, resecandaque falce
    Luxuriat Phrygio sanguine pinguis humus.
  • The scythe now reaps the corn where Ilion stood,
    And fields that fatten on the Trojans’ blood.
    • I, 53
    • The Site of Troy.

  • Acceptissima semper Munera sunt, auctor quæ pretiosa facit.
  • Those presents which derive their value from the donor are always the most acceptable.
    • XVII, 71
    • Cf. Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3, 1, 98:
      You gave—with words of so sweet breath composed,
      As made the things more rich.

  • Est virtus placitis abstinuisse bonis.
  • 'Tis virtue to abstain from things that please.
    • XVII, 98

  • Tarda solet magnis rebus inesse fides.
  • Confidence is slow in reposing itself in undertakings of any magnitude.
    • XVII, 130

  • An nescis longas regibus esse manus?
  • Don’t you know that kings have long arms?
    • XVII, 166
    • The ramifications of the machinery of State are so widely extended as to be able to track an offender on a distant shore.

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