Ovid Amores 3.5
‘It was night and sleep veiled my weary eyes; the following vision terrified my mind:
at the foot of a sunny hill a grove very thickly set with an oak tree was standing, and
in its branches many a bird was lying hidden. Close by was a very green open space
with a grassy meadow, moist with the drops of a gently murmuring stream. Beneath
the foliage of the tree I myself was avoiding the heat, but it was still hot (even)
beneath the tree’s foliage. Look! In search of grass intermingled with flowers of all
sorts a shining white cow came to a halt before my eyes (10), whiter than snow at
the time when it has only recently fallen, which the passage of time has not yet
turned into slushy water, and whiter than the milk which is white as the froth still
bubbles when it has left the sheep which has been milked dry only a moment ago.
She had a bull as her companion, he happily her mate, and with his partner he
sprawled on the soft ground. While he was lying down and slowly chewing the
regurgitated grasses (the cud), and feeding once again on the food which he had fed
upon before, he had seemed to have laid down his horned head on the ground as
sleep took away his ability to bear its weight. (20) Hereupon a crow came swooping
down on light wings through the breezes and sat chattering on the green earth and
with its aggressive beak jabbed the breast of the snow-white cow three times and
carried off white tufts of hair in its mouth. Having lingered for a long time she left the
place and the bull, but there was a dark bruise on the cow’s breast. And when she
saw, far off, the bulls grazing on their fodder (the bulls were grazing on their lush
fodder far off), she hastened there and intermingled with those herds and sought a
place of richer fertile grass. (30) Come, tell me, interpreter of my night vision,
whoever you are, what such visions mean, if they have any truth in them.’
I spoke thus; thus spoke the interpreter of my night vision, weighing up each and
every word in his mind: ‘the heat, which you wanted to avoid in the fluttering leaves,
but were unsuccessfully avoiding, was the heat of love. The cow is your girl friend.
That colour is appropriate for a girl. You were the man and the bull, the cow’s mate.
As for the fact that the crow was jabbing the cow’s breast with its sharp beak, an old
woman, a brothel-keeper, will work on your mistress’ disposition. (40) As for the fact
that his own cow left the bull after lingering for a long time, you will be abandoned,
cold in an empty bed. The bruise and the dark marks under the front of her
breast/heart mean that her heart is not innocent of the stain of adultery.’
The interpreter had spoken. The blood fled/drained from my icy face and deep night
stood in front of my eyes.