How Tears, Kisses, and Taking the Lead Help in the Art of Love, Part 17

The “Ars Amatoria” advised men on how tears, kisses, and taking the lead can aid in love affairs. These actions were important in the art of love to win a woman.

The Roman poet Ovid, who lived in the second century A.D., composed three volumes of poetry titled “Ars Amatoria.” His works depict the luxurious, elegant, and hedonistic lifestyles of the Roman Empire’s upper classes. People in that ancient culture enjoyed engaging in sensual and adventurous love affairs. To pass the time, they pursued sexual relationships and relished the pleasure of Cupid’s arrows. In that era of ancient Roman culture, the art of making love was held in the highest regard.

The books of Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria,” which were originally written in Latin, have been translated into other languages over the following centuries. Therefore, the educated upper classes of other societies were able to read them. In English, it was translated as “The Art of Love.” Nowadays, these Ovid’s books are essential reading for love scholars and other people interested in learning the art of love. The texts of the two versions of “The Art of Love” are currently accessible online. One text from an 1885 publication is a literal English translation in prose. Another text from 2001 was written in English verse.

Henry Riley (1816–1878), an English antiquarian and renowned interpreter of ancient literature of the 19th century, translated Ovid’s Latin poems into literal English prose. The text of the books was first published in 1885 and was reprinted in 2014.

Anthony Kline, a modern poet and translator of classical Roman poetry into English, translated the poetic forms of Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria” into English at the end of the 20th century and published it in 2001. The texts are accessible on the Internet.

Even though modern people live in a different era and society than the ancient Romans, I think they can still enjoy these books. I’ve published excerpts from these books on this website for people interested in cross-cultural love wisdom.

The poetry of “Ars Amatoria” offers men and women advice on finding and keeping a partner. Ovid’s first two books of poems detail how to meet, flirt with, and make love to a woman.

I believe Ovid’s advice on how to love is still applicable today. Ovid’s wise advice can be helpful for both modern men and women and scholars who study modern love. I’ve offered a few portions of Ovid’s remarkable verses, translated by Anthony Kline, in the articles published on this website. They’re talking about “What Is His Task” (Part 1), “How to Find Her” (Part 2), “Search for Love While Walking” (Part 3), “Search for Love while at the Theatre” (Part 4), “Search for Love at the Races or Circus” (Part 5), “Triumphs that Are Good to Attract a Woman” (Part 6), “Search for Love around the Dinner-Table and on the Beach” (Parts 7 and 8), “How to Win Her” (Part 9), “How to Know the Maid” (Part 10), “How to Be Attentive to Her” (Part 11), “How to Make Promises of Love to Her” (Part 12), “How to Woo and Seduce a Woman” (Parts 13 and 14), “How to Captivate a Woman at Dinner” (Part 15), and “How to Make Promises and Deceive” (Part 16).

Here is Part 17, Teaching How Tears, Kisses, and Taking the Lead Can Be the Art of Love  Here are the Ovid’s lessons on how tears, kisses, and taking the lead can aid in love affairs.

“And tears help: tears will move a stone:

let her see your damp cheeks if you can.

If tears (they don’t always come at the right time)

fail you, touch your eyes with a wet hand.

What wise man doesn’t mingle tears with kisses?

Though she might not give, take what isn’t given.

Perhaps she’ll struggle, and then say ‘you’re wicked’:

struggling she still wants, herself, to be conquered.

Only, take care her lips aren’t bruised by snatching,

and that she can’t complain that you were harsh.

Who takes a kiss, and doesn’t take the rest,

deserves to lose all that were granted too.

How much short of your wish are you after that kiss?

Ah me, that was boorishness stopped you not modesty.

Though you call it force: it’s force that pleases girls: what delights

is often to have given what they wanted, against their will.

She who is taken in love’s sudden onslaught

is pleased, and finds wickedness is a tribute.

And she who might have been forced, and escapes unscathed,

will be saddened, though her face pretends delight.

Phoebe was taken by force: force was offered her sister:

and both, when raped, were pleased with those who raped them.

Though the tale’s known, it’s still worth repeating,

how the girl of Scyros mated Achilles the hero.

Now the lovely goddess had given her fatal bribe

to defeat the other two beneath Ida’s slopes:

now a daughter-in-law had come to Priam

from an enemy land: a Greek wife in Trojan walls:

all swore the prescribed oath to the injured husband:

now one man’s grief became a nation’s cause.

Shamefully, though he gave way to a mother’s prayer,

Achilles hid his manhood in women’s clothes.

What’s this, Aeacides? Spinning’s not your work:

your search for fame’s through Pallas’s other arts.

Why the basket? Your arm’s meant to bear a shield:

why does the hand that will slay Hector hold the yarn?

Throw away the spindle wound laboriously with thread!

The spear from Pelion’s to be brandished by this hand.

By chance a royal virgin shared the room:

through her rape she learned he was a man.

That she was truly won by force, we must think:

but she still wanted to be won by force.

She often cried: ‘Stop!’ afterwards, when Achilles hurried on:

now he’d taken up stronger weapons than the distaff.

Where’s that force now? Why do you restrain

the perpetrator of your rape, Deidamia?

No doubt as there’s a sort of shame in having started first,

so it’s pleasant to have what someone else has started.

Ah! The youth has too much faith in his own beauty,

if he waits until she asks him first.

The man must approach first: speak the words of entreaty:

she courteously receives his flattering prayers.

To win her, ask her: she only wants to be asked:

give her the cause and the beginning of your longing.

Jupiter went as a suppliant to the heroines of old:

no woman ever seduced great Jupiter.

If you find she disdains the advent of your prayerful sighs,

leave off what you’ve begun, retrace your steps.

What shuns them, they desire the more: they hate what’s there:

remove her loathing by pursuing less.

The hoped-for love should not always be declared:

introduce desire hidden in the name of friendship.

I’ve seen the most severe of women fooled this way: he who once was a worshipper, became a lover.”

Kline, A. S. (2001). Translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria: The Art of Love.