The three books of “Ars Amatoria” by Roman poet Ovid taught men and women the art of love. His clever love suggestions have been passed down through generations and across cultures over the centuries. The poetry of Ovid taught Roman people of affluent social class how to entertain love and seduce a prospective lover.

The first two books advise men how to approach, interact with, and make love with women. Ovid’s love poems offer wise and entertaining guidance on how to find, seduce, and keep a lover.

Despite the fact that modern readers live in a different time and place than the ancient Romans, I believe they will find these books fascinating and interesting to read. Many ancient love ideas can still be useful for those learning how to love in the modern world. So, I quoted several passages from Anthony Kline’s magnificent translations of Ovid’s works in the articles on this blog (Kline, 2001).

The amazing verses of Book 1 teach men 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).

Have Other Friends, but Be Careful, Part XI of Book II:

Here is Part XI of Ovid’s Book II, advising men to “have other friends, but be careful.”

“But the red-haired boar is not so fierce in mid-anger.

when he turns and threatens the rabid pack,

or the lioness giving suck to un-weaned cubs,

or the tiny viper crushed by a careless foot,

as a woman when a rival’s caught in her lover’s bed:

she blazes, her face the colour of her heart.

She storms with fire and flame, all restraint forgot,

as if struck, as they say, by the horns of the Boeotian god.

Wronged by her husband, her marriage violated,

savage Medea avenged herself through her children.

Another fatal mother was that swallow, you see there:

look, her breast carries the stain of blood.

Well-founded and firm loves have been dissolved so:

these are crimes to make cautious men afraid.

Not that my censure condemns you to only one girl:

the gods forbid! A wife could hardly expect that.

Indulge, but secretly veil your sins, with restraint:

it’s no glory to you to be seeking out wrongdoing.

Don’t give gifts another girl could spot,

or have set times for your assignations.

And lest a girl catch you out in your favourite haunts

don’t meet all of them in one place.

And always look closely at your wax tablets, whenever you write:

lest much more is read there than you sent.

Wounded, Venus takes up just arms, and hurls her dart,

and makes you lament, as she is lamenting.

While Agamemnon was satisfied with one woman, Clytemnestra

was chaste: evil was done through the man’s fault.

She had heard how Chryses, with sacred head-bands,

and laurel in his hand, failed to win back his daughter:

she had heard of your sorrows, captive Briseis,

and how scandalous delays had prolonged the war.

She heard all this: She saw Cassandra for herself:

the victor the shameful prize of his own prize.

Then she took Thyestes to her heart and bed,

and wrongfully avenged the Atrides’s crime.

Even if the acts, you’ve well hidden, become known,

though they’re known, still always deny them.

Don’t be subdued, or more fond than usual:

those are the signs of many guilty thoughts.

But don’t forgo sex: all peace is in that one thing. The act it is that disproves a prior union.”

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


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