Ovid’s three poetic books of “Ars Amatoria” taught Roman men and women how to master the art of love. In the centuries since, his astute love advice has been passed down through generations and across cultures. Ovid’s poetry taught both men and women how to seduce and love.
The first two books instruct men on how to approach, engage, and seduce women. Ovid’s love poems give sage and entertaining guidance on how to find and keep a lover.
I believe that modern readers will still find these books fascinating and interesting to read, despite the fact that they live in a different time and location than the ancient Romans did. Many ancient ideas about love can still be beneficial and useful for those who want to learn how to love in the modern world. Therefore, I quoted several pieces from Anthony Kline’s magnificent translations of Ovid’s works and posted them in the articles on this blog (Kline, 2001).
The wonderful poems of Book 1 teach us 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),
“How to Make Promises and Deceive” (Part 16),
“How Tears, Kisses, Taking the Lead Can Help in Love Affairs” (Part 17), “Psychology Love Tricks in the Art of Love” (Parts 18-19).
Let Her Miss You, but Not for Long, Part X of Book II:
Here is Part X of Ovid’s Book II, advising men “to let her miss you, but not for a long time.”
“But the winds that filled your sails and blew offshore,
are no use when you’re in the open sea.
While young love’s wandering, it gathers strength by use:
if you nourish it well, it will be strong in time.
The bull you fear’s the calf you used to stroke:
the tree you lie beneath was a sapling:
the river’s tiny when born, but gathers riches in its flow,
and collects the many waters that come to it.
Make her accustomed to you: nothing’s greater than habit:
while you’re captivating her, avoid no boredom.
Let her always be seeing you: always giving you ear:
show your face, at night and in the day.
When you’ve more confidence that you’ll be missed,
when your absence far away will cause her worry,
give her a rest: the fields when rested repay the loan,
and parched earth drinks the heavenly rain.
Phyllis burnt less for Demophoon in his presence:
she blazed more fiercely when he sailed away.
Penelope was tormented by the loss of cunning Ulysses:
you, Laodamia, by absent Protesilaus.
But brief delays are best: fondness fades with time,
love vanishes with absence, and new love appears.
When Menelaus left, Helen did not lie alone,
Paris, the guest, at night, was taken to her warm breast.
What craziness was that, Menelaus? You left
wife and guest alone under the same roof.
Madman, would you trust timid doves to a hawk?
Would you trust the full fold to a mountain wolf?
Helen did not sin: her lover committed none:
what you, what anyone would do, he did.
You forced adultery by giving time and place:
What did the girl employ but your counsel?
What should she do? Her man away, a cultivated guest,
and she afraid to sleep alone in an empty bed.
Let Atrides appear: I acquit Helen of crime: she took advantage of her husband’s courtesy.”
Kline, A. S. (2001). Translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria: The Art of Love.