You seem a youth to look upon.
You dyed your hair — and lo,
The locks once whiter than a swan
Are blacker than a crow.
Not everyone can you deceive
And, though you hide the grey,
Yet Proserpine will not believe
But snatch the mask away.

[Mentiris iuvenem tinctis, Laetine, capillis,
Tam subito corvus, qui modo sygnus eras.
Non omnes fallis; scit te Proserpina canum
Personam capiti detrahet illa tuo.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 43 [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

Proserpina (the Roman version of Persephone) was the goddess / Queen of the Underworld. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

With tinctur'd locks the dotard youth puts on:
Behold a raven, from but now a swan!
Though cheat'st not all; not her, who rules the dead:
She soon shall pull the mask from off thy head.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Part 2, ep. 21]

You simulate youth, Lentinus, with your dyed hairs; so suddenly a crow, who were so lately a swan. You do not deceive everyone: Proserpina knows you for a greybeard, she will tear off the masque from your head.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, ep. 140]

Letinus, fain to cheat men's eyes,
You smear your head with umber dyes;
And, late a swan as white as snow,
You've suddenly become a crow.
Is everyone deceived by you?
No, one can tell the genuine hue.
Proserpine knows your hair is grey,
And she will tear that mask away.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ape youth, Laetinus, with your dyed hair; and you, who were but now a swan, are suddenly become a crow! You will not deceive everyone: Proserpine knows that you are hoary, and will snatch the mask from your head.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

You pretend you're still youthful by dyeing your hair --
Now a crow, though a swan just of late --
But you don't fool us all, for Proserpina knows,
She'll show up the sham of your pate.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

You falsely ape youth, Laetinus, with dyed hair, so suddenly a raven who were but now a swan. You don't deceive all; Proserpine knows you are hoary: she shall pluck the mask from off your head.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You wish, Lætinus, to be thought a youth,
And so you dye your hair.
You're suddenly a crow, forsooth:
Of late a swan you were!
You can't cheat all: there is a Lady dread
Who knows your hair is grey:
Proserpina will pounce upon your head,
And tear the mask away.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You counterfeit youth with hair-dye, Laetinus: all of a sudden you're a raven, when just now you were a swan. You don't fool everyone: Proserpina knows you are grey; she will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Thou, that not a month ago
Wast white as swan or driven snow,
Now blacker far than Aesop's crow,
Thanks to thy wig, sett'st up for beau:
Faith, Harry, thou'rt i' the wrong box;
Old age these vain endeavours mocks,
And time, that knows thou 'st hoary locks,
Will pluck thy mask off with a pox.
[tr. Browne]

Lentinus counterfeits his youth
With periwigs, I trow,
But art thou changed so soon, in truth,
From a swan to a crow?
Though canst not all the world deceive:
Proserpine knows thee gray;
And she'll make bold, without your leave,
To take your cap away.
[tr. Fletcher]

Before a swan, behind a crow,
Such self-deceit I ne'er did know.
Ah, cease your arts! Death knows you're grey,
And, spite of all, will have his way.
[tr. Hoadley]

Laetinus, why deceive us so,
With borrowed plumage trying?
The Queen of Shades will surely know
When she slips off your mask below,
In Death there's no more dyeing.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley]

Added on 23-Jul-21 | Last updated 23-Jul-21
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