The excerpts from Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria” suggest that in love affairs, women should be mindful of what and how they eat and drink.
Many scholars are familiar with the writings of Ovid, the ancient Roman poet. He rose to prominence as the author of three books titled “Ars Amatoria” (The Art of Love). The poems in these books offered men and women advice on what love is and how to make it.
Ars Amatoria was a fascinating depiction of the hedonistic and sophisticated lives of the Roman aristocracy at the time. The books taught men the art of love, including how to find, win, and seduce women, as well as how to maintain sexual relationships with them. The books also taught women how to attract, be lovable to, and keep men in love affairs.
Translations of Ars Amatoria into The Art of Love
Over the centuries, Ovid’s poems have been translated and published several times.
For instance, Henry T. Riley translated and published Ovid’s works in English in 1885 (reprinted on December 16, 2014).
In 2001, Anthony Kline translated and published Ovid’s poems, Ars Amatoria, in their poetic forms (Kline, 2001, Translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria: The Art of Love).
Do We Still Need Poetic Advice on “The Art of Love” Today?
I think that today’s people can still benefit from Ovid’s counsel. We certainly must acknowledge that the ancient Romans had a different culture and way of life than our own. However, there are some historically and cross-culturally enduring things in the art of love. Therefore, Ovid’s poetry can provide interesting and useful lessons about love to educated modern men and women.
Therefore, I have provided samples from his books here for those interested in reading about the daily lives, love, and relationships of ancient Romans. Some of Ovid’s recommendations and advice on love may come across as cynical, ironic, and manipulative, yet others reveal useful kernels of the naked truth about love.
His poetry collection “Ars Amatoria” has good advice for modern men and women on how to find, attract, and keep a love partner. On the one hand, Ovid’s first two books of poetry teach men how to meet, date, and seduce women in a relationship. The third book, on the other hand, tells women how to be attractive and tempting so that men will fall in love with them and stay with them.
Here are some previously published blog posts regarding the art of Roman love:
I’ve written on this blog before about how Ovid’s poetry can aid men in their art of love. His lovely poems cover a variety of topics, including “how to find her,“ how to search for love “around the dinner-table and on the beach,” “while at the theatre,” “at the races or circus,” and “what is his task.“ Ovid also teaches the Roman men that “triumphs are good to attract a woman.” He gives men advice “how to captivate a woman,” “how to win her“, “how to seduce her,” “how to know her,” “how to be attentive to her,”“how to make promises and deceive,” and Ovid shows “how tears, kisses, and taking the lead help in love affairs.”
Also, the blog posts on this site include advice from Ovid about how women should act with men they love. In particular, Ovid tells women “how to appear,” “how to use makeup,” “how to keep taste and elegance in hair and dress,” “How to be modestly expressive,” “how to hide defects in appearance,” “how to beware of false lovers, how to ”avoid vices and favor poets,” how “try young and older lovers,” “how to use jealousy and fear in love affairs”, ”how to play the game of love with “cloak and dagger,” and to “make him believe he is loved.”
Here is another poem for girls and women from Book III of Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria.” Ovid says that women should be careful about what and how they eat and drink and how this affects their love affairs.
As I mentioned in my first blog post about Ovid’s “The Art of Love,” his instructional poetry books discuss what love is and how to make love through seduction, manipulation, and intrigue.
The verse line on how to “Watch How You Eat and Drink,” which I quote here, may appear manipulative and cynical, but it contains kernels of truth.
Here Is What Ovid Advises Women to “Watch How They Eat and Drink
“But to resume the work: bare facts for me
so that my weary vessel can reach harbour.
You’re anxiously expecting, while I lead you to dinner,
that you can even ask for my advice there too.
Come late, and come upon us charmingly in the lamplight:
you’ll come with pleasing delay: delay’s a grand seductress.
Even if you’re plain, with drink you’ll seem beautiful,
and night itself grants concealment to your failings.
Take the food daintily: how you eat does matter:
don’t smear your face all over with a greasy hand.
Don’t eat before at home, but stop before you’re full:
be a little less eager than you can be:
if Paris, Priam’s son, saw Helen eating greedily,
he’d detest it, and say: ‘Mine’s a foolish prize.’
It’s more fitting, and it suits girls more, to drink:
Bacchus you don’t go badly with Venus’s boy.
So long as the head holds out, and the mind and feet
stand firm: and you don’t see two of what’s only one.
Shameful a woman lying there, drenched with too much wine:
she’s worthy of sleeping with anyone who’ll have her.
And it’s not safe to fall asleep at table: many shameful things usually happen in sleep.”Kline, A. S. (2001). Translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria: The Art of Love.