It Is Wise for a Woman Hiding Her Defects

Ovid was a renowned Roman poet who lived between 43 BCE and 17 CE. His poetry trilogy “Ars Amatoria” (The Art of Love) has been popular among educated and noble individuals for centuries. Numerous modern humanities scholars are familiar with Ovid’s “The Art of Love.” In his poems, Ovid instructs Roman men and women on how to attract and maintain a partner’s affection as well as how to make love.

The Romans lived in a different time and had a different way of life than people do now. But I think that educated men and women today can still learn something from Ovid’s poetry collections about love. This is why I’ve put excerpts from these books on this website for people who want to learn more about how ancient Romans thought about love.

“Ars Amatoria” is a book of poetry with helpful advice for modern men and women on how to find and keep a partner. Ovid’s first two books of poetry give advice on how to talk to, court, and seduce women. The poetic wisdom in the third book shows women how to entice and love men.

The Roman Art of Love Published in my Earlier Blog Posts

In earlier blog posts, I shared some of Ovid’s advice to men in the form of poetry. Some of the things these beautiful verses talk about are, “What Is His Task“, “Search for Love while at the Theatre“, “Triumphs that Are Good to Attract a Woman“, “Search for Love around the Dinner-Table and on the Beach“, “How to Know the Maid“, “How to Make Promises of Love to Her“, “How to Woo and Seduce a Woman”, “How to Captivate a Woman at Dinner”, andHow Tears, Kisses, Taking the Lead Can Help in Love Affairs”.

Here are some poetic quotes from Book III of Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria,” addressed to girls and women. Ovid teaches them about love and how prudent it is for a woman to conceal her defects.

Idealization of the beloved is the core feature of romantic love (Karandashev, 2017; 2019; 2022). So, what Ovid suggested is really worthwhile.

Here Is How Ovid Advises Women to Be Prudent in Concealing Their Defects

“I’ve not come to teach Semele or Leda, or Sidon’s Europa,

carried through the waves by that deceptive bull,

or Helen, whom Menelaus, being no fool, reclaimed,

and you, Paris, her Trojan captor, also no fool, withheld.

The crowd come to be taught, girls pretty and plain:

and always the greater part are not-so-good.

The beautiful ones don’t seek art and instruction:

they have their dowry, beauty potent without art:

the sailor rests secure when the sea’s calm:

when it’s swollen, he uses every aid.

Still, faultless forms are rare: conceal your faults,

and hide your body’s defects as best you may.

If you’re short sit down, lest, standing, you seem to sit:

and commit your smallness to your couch:

there also, so your measure can’t be taken,

let a shawl drop over your feet to hide them.

If you’re very slender, wear a full dress, and walk about

in clothes that hang loosely from your shoulders.

A pale girl scatters bright stripes across her body,

the darker then have recourse to linen from Alexandria.

Let an ugly foot be hidden in snow-white leather:

and don’t loose the bands from skinny legs.

Thin padding suits those with high shoulder blades:

a good brassiere goes with a meagre chest.

Those with thick fingers and bitten nails,

make sparing use of gestures whenever you speak.

Those with strong breath don’t talk when you’re fasting. and always keep your mouth a distance from your lover.”

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