Way before Mystery, Style and Tyler Durden, even millenia before Don Juan and Casanova, there was Ovid and his “Ars Amatoria”, which could be translated into English as “The Art of Love”. This was the premier textbook of Ancient Rome on how to pick up women.
It’s jam packed with such golden nuggets of wisdom as: “take care that your breath is sweet, and don’t go about reeking like a billy-goat” and “Don’t judge a woman by candle-light, it’s deceptive.”
The manual consists of 3 books, the first dealing with how to pick up a chick, the second deals with how to keep a chick, while the third one reverses the tables a bit and gives tips to women on how to seduce guys. Even though the third book is meant as a guide for chicks, it can also give guys a pretty good idea on the different tricks that women use to play with guys.
The 3 book manual proved so popular that Ovid even wrote a sequel to it, titled “Remedia Amoris” or in English translation “The Cure for Love”. The sequel gives strategies and advice on how to fall out of love and avoid being hurt by a broken heart, which can be applied in different types of situations, whether in a divorce or in trying to forget a oneitis.
It turns out that Roman guys were quite horny and Roman women were huge promiscuous teases, so the books addressed a huge hole on the market and proved to be a bestseller. Guys have been hungry for the latest, greatest tools in the arsenal since time immemorial and handwritten copies of “Ars Amatoria” were being snapped up faster than hot cakes.
Finally, guys who didn’t have the muscles and fame of Hercules, the sex appeal of a gladiator, or the riches and power of the Roman Emperors could get their share of the fun. The manual was meant for the average guy on the street and the tips were practical and to the point. 🙂
On a more serious note, the books also caused quite a controversy in Roman circles. While they were popular, they also precipitated a bit of an outrage in the more conservative parts of society. Emperor Augustus was in the midst of a campaign to try to uphold the morals of Roman society and a few years before the publishing of the “Ars Amatoria”, he had promulgated a set of laws meant to strengthen families, outlaw polygamy and punish adultery.
While written in a fun, light-hearted way, Ovid’s books also had an underlying political message and were also meant as a protest against this official uptightedness in the matters of love and family.
This slight poking fun of society can exemplify the internal character of Ovid himself. He came from the upper segments of Roman society and was originally destined for the path of a public official, but instead rebelled a bit and became a poet. He was also quite the ladies man and was married and divorced three times by the time he was thirty.
Written in a poetic style (elegiac couplets), the “Ars Amatoria” (completed by 2 AD) was just one of his works. Ovid was a prolific writer and poet, with the most famous work being called “Metamorphoses”. This is a huge book also written in poetic style and describes the most important stories of Greek and Roman mythology, spanning a long timeline from the creation of the Earth by the Gods to the times of Gaius Julius Caesar.
In 8 AD, Ovid was exiled to Tomis, a city on the Black Sea, which is now the modern city of Constanta in Romania. This was done on the direct orders of Emperor Augustus. According to Ovid, it was due to “a poem and a mistake”. It has been speculated that this poem could have been the “Ars Amatoria”, however the most likely explanation was that he was involved in some political intrigue against the Emperor and that was the main reason why he was exiled.
So let’s examine the timeless wisdom ( 🙂 ) of Ovid (the ultimate Roman PUA) in the matters of picking up chicks. Maybe you too can learn something. 🙂
Ovid compared the art of seducing a woman as being akin to war and listed the different steps that need to be taken: “You, who for the first time are taking up arms beneath the standard of Venus, find out, in the first place, the woman you are fain to love. Your next task will be to bend her to your will; your third to safeguard that your love shall endure. This is my plan, my syllabus. This is the course my chariot will pursue; such is the goal that it will endeavour to attain.”
Here are the different phases of seducing a woman (taken from various parts of the manual):
1)Preparation and mindset
On intent and the need to act
“First of all, be quite sure that there isn’t a woman who cannot be won, and make up your mind that you will win her.“
Ovid reminds men that they need to act. A woman is not going to fall out of the sky for them and so they need to be active in their search.
“She’s not going to be wafted down to you from heaven on the wings of the wind. You must use your own-eyes to discover the girl that suits you.“
You must be well groomed, but don’t overdo it
“Don’t let your hair stick up in tufts on your head; see that your hair and your beard are decently trimmed. See also that your nails are clean and nicely filed; don’t have any hair growing out of your nostrils; take care that your breath is sweet, and don’t go about reeking like a billy-goat.“
Don’t overdo it:
“And don’t, for heaven’s sake, have your hair waved, or use powder on your skin. Leave such foppishness as that to the effeminate priests who wail their Phrygian chants in honour of Cybele. Simplicity in dress is what best befits a man. Theseus conquered Ariadne without troubling about the way his hair was done. Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, who certainly was not a dandy. Adonis, a simple woodlander, was the idol of a goddess. Study to be clean, let your skin be tanned in the open air, wear well-cut clothes, and see there are no spots on them. Have a clean tongue, and let your teeth be free from tartar; and don’t slop about in boots that are two or three sizes too big for you.“
Don’t be too metrosexual:
“All other toilet refinements leave to the women or to perverts.“
Be tan or pale?
“A pale complexion ill becomes a sailor. The rays of the sun and the salt spray should have tanned his features; nor does it suit the husbandman who, with plough or heavy rakes, is for ever turning up the soil in the open air; and ye who strive for the athlete’s crown of olive, it would ill beseem you to have too white a skin. But every lover should be pale; pallor is the symptom of Love, it is the hue appropriate to Love. So, deceived by your paleness, let your mistress be tenderly solicitous for your health. Orion was pale with love when he wandered after Lyrice in the woods of Dirce. Pale, too, was Daphnis for the Naiad that disdained him.“
Go for different types of chicks
“If your tastes incline to a young beauty, in the very flower of girlhood, a really inexperienced girl will offer herself to your gaze; if you prefer one rather more mature, there are hundreds of young women who will take your fancy: ’twill be a veritable embarras de richesses. But perhaps you would rather have someone still older, still more experienced. In that case you’ve got a yet larger number to choose from.“
Although I do have to warn you that when he means “young”, he means a chick that is 12 or 13 years old. That might be a bit too young when the law is concerned these days. However for most of history, a chick was considered an adult when she started menstruating and was able to have kids. Even you, if you go back in your own family tree for example even just 200 years ago, will find that your great-great-great-great-grandmothers were mostly 13 or 14 years old when they got married and had kids. And if you take what was happening at around the time that Ovid wrote his book, the Virgin Mary had baby Jesus when she herself was 12 years old (or at least certainly in her very early teens – it was very common for Jewish girls of that era to marry right after they turned 12)! The man who would later be known as St. Augustine (at that time a sex-addict), in his late 30s was betrothed to a 10-year old and was waiting until she turned 12 in order to marry her. Quite shocking for modern ears, but quite normal for most of history. So read some of this stuff with the historical context in mind.
Should you go pick up chicks abroad or at home?
Ovid says that while picking up chicks abroad has its merits, there are plenty of chicks at home. Ancient Rome was filled with girls from different corners of the Empire and beyond. 🙂
“You won’t have to put to sea in order to do that, or to undertake any distant journeys. Perseus may bring home his Andromeda from sun-scorched India, and the Phrygian swain may go to Greece to bear away his bride; Rome alone will give you a choice of such lovely women, and so many of them, that you will be forced to confess that she gathers within her own bosom all the treasures that the world can show. As numerous as the ears of corn on Gargarus, grapes in Methymna, fish in the ocean, birds in the thickets, stars in the heavens, so numerous are the beautiful girls you’ll find in Rome: Venus has made her seat of empire the city of her beloved Aeneas.“
What are good places to find chicks?
There are plenty of places where girls hang out and Ovid lists a number of them. For him, the number one place was the theater.
“But it is especially at the theatre you should lay your snares; that is where you may hope to have your desires fulfilled. Here you will find women to your taste: one for a moment’s dalliance, another to fondle and caress, another to have all for your own.“
Also dinners and banquets are good (and alcohol helps 🙂 ).
“Dinners and banquets offer easy access to women’s favour, and the pleasures of the grape are not the only entertainment you may find there; Love, with rosy cheeks, often presses in her frail hands the amphora of Bacchus. As soon as his wings are drenched with wine, Cupid grows drowsy and stirs not from his place. But anon he’ll be up and shaking the moisture from his wings, and woe betide the man or woman who receives a sprinkling of this burning dew. Wine fills the heart with thoughts of love and makes it prompt to catch on fire.“
At what times should you find them?
“Some people think that time and the seasons only concern farmers and seafaring men. They’re wrong. just as there’s a time to sow, and a time to sail, so there’s a time to begin on a pretty girl. Success often depends on your seizing the right moment to open the attack. Keep clear of her birthday, for example, and shun the Kalends of March. Don’t begin when there’s a big show on at the circus. That would prove the winter of your discontent, when the stormy winds would blow, and you’d do well to hold off. If you launch the ship then, you’ll be lucky if you’re washed ashore clinging to a spar.“
Be a hardass or a seducer?
There were apparently two types of guys in Ancient Rome. The traditional Roman guy had to be a hardass warrior and that reflected his way of picking up chicks. He would simply kidnap them. 🙂 You could call that the warrior caveman style.
This is reflected in a story about the founding of Rome, which Ovid discusses. This episode is known as the Rape of the Sabine Women. Don’t get put off by the word rape, since the ancient sources differ on whether this was an actual physical rape or just a kidnapping. So this incident might in reality be just a misnomer and refer to a kidnapping. Still despicable, but not as bad as rape.
After the founding of the city of Rome, the city had more men than women. Romulus decided to rectify the situation by raiding neighboring tribes for women. They came up with one sneaky way to do that. They organized a celebration and invited members of the Sabines to attend.
When these were in attendance, the Roman men picked the Sabine women they wanted and kidnapped them. Whether physical rape was part of the equation is up to debate, however according to legend these women then married the men and these families were the founding families of Rome. So many of Rome’s prominent citizens descended from this episode.
Ovid playfully mocks this hardass attitude and prefers instead the role of a playful seducer. “O Romulus, you are the only one who has ever known how to reward his soldiers; for such pay, I would willingly enrol myself beneath your banners. ” 🙂
On the dangers of drinking and picking up chicks (especially at night)
Even the Ancient Romans knew the dangers of beer goggles, especially at night. 🙂
“Don’t judge a woman by candle-light, it’s deceptive. If you really want to know what she’s like, look at her by daylight, and when you’re sober. It was broad daylight, and under the open sky, that Paris looked upon the three goddesses and said to Venus, “You are lovelier than your two rivals.” Night covers a multitude of blemishes and imperfections. At night there is no such thing as an ugly woman! If you want to look at precious stones, or coloured cloth, you take them out into the light of day; and it’s by daylight you should judge a woman’s face and figure.“
2) The interaction
You have to act first
“True, if modesty does not permit a woman to make the first advance, it nevertheless delights her to yield when her lover takes the initiative. In truth a lover reposes too much confidence in his good looks if he thinks that a woman will be the first to ask. ’Tis for him to begin, for him to entreat her; and to his supplications she will incline her ear. Ask and thou shalt receive; she only waits to be implored. Tell her the cause and origin of your desire.“
How to approach women and what to say
First you have to position yourself in order to be able to approach a woman. For example at the races in a circus:
“This circus, where an immense concourse of people is gathered, is very favourable to Love. There, if you would express the secret promptings of your heart, there is no need for you to talk upon your fingers, or to watch for signs to tell you what is in your fair one’s mind. Sit close beside her, as close as you are able; there’s nothing to prevent. The narrowness of the space compels you to press against her and, fortunately for you, compels her to acquiesce.”
How do you approach the woman? What do you say first?
“Then, of course, you must think of some means of starting the conversation. Begin by saying the sort of thing people generally do say on such occasions. Some horses are seen entering the stadium; ask her the name of their owner; and whoever she favours, you should follow suit. And when the solemn procession of the country’s gods and goddesses passes along, be sure and give a rousing cheer for Venus, your protectress. If, as not infrequently befalls, a speck of dust lights on your fair one’s breast, flick it off with an airy finger; and if there’s nothing there, flick it off just the same; anything is good enough to serve as a pretext for paying her attention. Is her dress dragging on the ground? Gather it up, and take special care that nothing soils it. Perchance, to reward you for your kindness, she’ll grant you the favour of letting you see her leg. And then again, you must keep an eye on the people seated in the row behind and see that no one thrusts his knee into her soft shoulders. The merest trifle is enough to win these butterfly ladies. Why, hosts of men have succeeded with a woman merely by the attentive manner in which they have arranged a cushion for her, or fanned her with a fan, or put a stool beneath her dainty feet.“
Well, not sure how effective would some of these techniques be with the modern women, but apparently Roman women liked courtesy. 🙂 That said, it seems that Ovid was a big fan of going indirect.
Be persistent and have your eye on the prize
“So my advice to you is, push your attack well home, and don’t be in a hurry to withdraw your forces when the victory’s won.“
Don’t give up:
“If she refuses your letter and sends it back unread, don’t give up; hope for the best and try again. The unruly bull bows to the yoke in time, and, in time, the most obstreperous colt gets broken in. You can wear through an iron ring by continuous friction; the ploughshare wears away every day against the soil it cleaves. What could you have harder than a rock, or less hard than water? Nevertheless, water will wear away the hardest rock. So keep pegging away, and, given time, you’ll get your way with Penelope herself. Troy held out a long time, but it fell at last.“
Promise, promise and promise
“And promise, promise, promise. Promises will cost you nothing. Everyone’s a millionaire where promises are concerned.“
“Always make her think you’re just about to give, but never really do so.“
Be an eloquent storyteller (and study)
“Take my advice, my youthful fellow-citizens, and study the fine arts, not only that you may champion the cause of some trembling dependent. The common herd, the austere judge, and those superior people, the senators, are not the only people who are moved by eloquence. But don’t show your hand, and don’t be in too much of a hurry to display your powers of speech. And don’t put on the professorial style. Who but an idiot would write to his mistress as though he were addressing a meeting. A show-off letter will often turn a woman against you. Be quite natural, quite simple, but engaging.“
Use double meanings and be playful
“’Tis then thou mayest easily hold converse with thy mistress in hidden words whereof she will easily divine the meaning.“
Entertain and show off your talents
“If you have a voice, sing; and if your limbs are supple, dance; in short, do everything you can to make a good impression.“
Stalking is good 🙂
This could probably land you in jail nowdays, but the Ancient Romans were good stalkers. 🙂
“If you see your mistress being borne along on her litter, go up to her as if by accident, and say what you’ve got to say in vague ambiguous language, for fear some busybody should be listening. If you see her hanging about under some portico, as if she didn’t know what to do with herself, go and walk there too. Sometimes get in front of her, and sometimes drop behind. Don’t be bashful about getting clear of the crowd and crossing over to her side. Don’t, on any account, let her go to the theatre, looking her loveliest, without your being there to see. Her bare shoulders will give you something charming to contemplate. And you can look at her and admire her at your leisure; and speak to her with eyes and gestures.“
I guess today we have Facebook stalking. 🙂
Get her drunk
“A drop of wine will enable you to draw sweet emblems on the table wherein she will read the proof of the love you have for her. Fix well thine eyes on her and so confirm the message of thy love. Ofttimes, without a word being spoken, the eyes can tell a wondrous tale. When she has drunk, be thou the first to seize the cup, and where her lips have touched, there press thine own and drink. Choose thou the dainties that her fingers have lightly touched, and as thou reachest for them, let thy hand softly encounter hers.“
Find a place where there is alcohol, drink a bit to loosen up, but don’t get too drunk.
“When, then, you find yourself at a feast where the wine is flowing freely, and where a woman shares the same couch with you, pray to that god whose mysteries are celebrated during the night, that the wine may not overcloud thy brain.“
“Now I will lay down the limits thou shouldst observe in drinking: never drink enough to cloud your brain or make your gait unsteady; avoid the quarrels that are born of wine and be not prompt to take offence. Follow not the example of Eurytion, who, like a fool, gave up the ghost because he had drunk too much. The food and the wine should inspire a gentle gaiety.“
You need to touch her
“When the guests rise up to go, you’ll have a good chance to get very close to your lady. Mingle in the crowd, contrive to get near her, press her side with your fingers and rub your foot against hers. And now, we’ll say, you’ve got her to yourself.“
Be unavailable; women like what they can’t have
“Many women long for what eludes them, and like not what is offered them. Cool off; don’t let her think you too importunate. Do not betray the hope of too swift a victory.“
Pour your heart out (can use lies here)
“Avaunt then, rustic modesty! Fortune and Venus favour the brave. Don’t ask me to tell you what to say. just take and begin, the words will come fast enough without your having to search for them. You must play the lover for all you’re worth. Tell her how you are pining for her; do everything you know to win her over. She will believe you fast enough. Every woman thinks herself attractive; even the plainest is satisfied with the charms she deems that she possesses. And, then, how often it has happened that the man who begins by feigning love ends by falling in love in real earnest. Ali, my fair ones, look with indulgent eye on those that give themselves a lover’s airs; the love, now feigned, will soon be love indeed.“
“By subtle flatteries you may be able to steal into her heart, even as the river insensibly o’erflows the banks which fringe it. Never cease to sing the praises of her face, her hair, her taper fingers and her dainty foot. The coldest beauty is moved by praises of her charms, and even the innocent and greenest girl takes pride and pleasure in the care of her good looks. If it were not so, wherefore should Juno and Minerva blush even now to have failed to carry off the prize for loveliness, in the woods of Ida? See that peacock there; if you belaud his plumage, he’ll spread his tail with pride; but if in silence you look at him, he’ll never show his treasures.“
“Tears, too, are a mighty useful resource in the matter of love. They would melt a diamond. Make a point, therefore, of letting your mistress see your face all wet with tears. Howbeit, if you cannot manage to squeeze out any tears–and they won’t always flow just when you want them to–put your finger in your eyes.“
When going for the goal, be a bit risky
Try to push the envelope a bit and be a bit cheeky. When that doesn’t go well, blame it on the alcohol. 🙂
“Downright drunkenness is a loathsome thing; simulated inebriety may serve a useful purpose. Let your tongue falter with a cunning stammer; pretend it’s difficult for you to pronounce your words, so that whatever you do or say a little on the risky side may be put down to the fact that you’ve had too much liquor.“
Go for the kiss
“What lover of experience does not know how greatly kisses add cogency to tender speeches? If she refuse to be kissed, kiss her all the same. She may struggle to begin with. “Horrid man!” she’ll say; but if she fights, ’twill be a losing battle. Nevertheless, don’t be too rough with her and hurt her dainty mouth. Don’t give her cause to say that you’re a brute. And if, after you’ve kissed her, you fail to take the rest, you don’t deserve even what you’ve won. What more did you want to come to the fulfilment of your desires? Oh, shame on you! It was not your modesty, it was your stupid clownishness.“
What to do in bed
“But already the bed, the minister of their pleasures, has received our two lovers. Stay thy steps, my Muse, at the closed door. They will know well enough, without thy aid, what words to say to one another, and their hands within the bed will not be idle. Their fingers will find the way to those secret places in which Love is wont to proclaim his presence. ’Twas even thus that the valiant Hector, whose skill was not confined to battle, bore himself with Andromache. Thus too the great Achilles fondled his fair captive when, weary of fighting, he lay beside her on the downy couch. Thou didst not fear, Briseis, to yield thyself to the caresses of those hands that bore upon them still the stains of Trojan blood. Was there aught to compare, voluptuous girl, with the pleasure of feeling the pressure of those victorious hands?“
Play with her, give her pleasure, then take it away, have her longing for more
“If you listen to my advice, you will not be in too great a hurry to attain the limits of your pleasure. Learn, by skilful dallying, to reach the goal by gentle, pleasant stages. When you have found the sanctuary of bliss, let no foolish modesty arrest your hand. Then will you see the love-light trembling in her eyes, even as the rays of the sun sparkle on the dancing waves. Then will follow gentle moanings mingled with murmurings of love, soft groans and sighs and whispered words that sting and lash desire.“
Attain pleasure simultaneously
“Take heed lest, cramming on too much sail, you speed too swiftly for your mistress. Nor should you suffer her to outstrip you. Speed on together towards the promised haven. The height of bliss is reached when, unable any longer to withstand the wave of pleasure, lover and mistress at one and the same moment are overcome. Such should be thy rule when time is yours and fear does not compel you to hasten your stolen pleasures. Nevertheless, if there be danger in delay, lean well forward, and drive your spur deep into your courser’s side.“
3) How to keep a woman
Compliment, compliment and lie your ass off complimenting
If you want to keep a woman, you need to keep on complimenting her, even if you think the opposite. If you have seen modern Italians (aka sleazeball game) in action, that is the biggest part of their game.
“If you want to keep your mistress’s love, you must make her think you’re dazzled with her charms. If she wears a dress of Tyrian purple, tell her there’s nothing like Tyrian purple. If she’s wearing a gown of Coan stuff, tell her that there’s nothing becomes her so enchantingly. If she’s ablaze with gold, tell her that you think gold’s less brilliant than her charms. If she’s clad in winter furs, tell her they’re lovely; if she appears in a flimsy tunic, tell her she sets you on fire, and say you hope she won’t catch cold. If she wears her hair parted on her forehead, say you like that style. If she has it frizzed and fuzzy, say, “How I love it frizzed!” Praise her arms when she dances, her voice when she sings, and when she ceases, say how sorry you are it came to an end so soon. If she admits you to her bed, adore the seat of all your bliss, and in tones trembling with delight tell her what a heaven she makes for you. Why, even if she were grimmer than the terrible Medusa, she would grow soft and docile for her love. Be a good dissembler and never let your face belie your words. Artifice is a fine thing when it’s not perceived; once it’s discovered, discomfiture follows. Confidence is gone for ever.“
Don’t tell her the truth and instead always lie to her about being faithful
“Be not backward in your promises; women are drawn on by promises; and swear by all the gods that you’ll be as good as your word. Jove, from his high abode, looks down and laughs on lovers’ perfidies, and gives them to Aeolus for the winds to sport with. Often he swore to Juno by the Styx that he’d be faithful, and he broke his vows. His example should lend us courage.“
No point in using magic or potions
“If anyone deems there is any virtue in magic or in potions, he sadly errs. Neither the herbs of Medea nor the incantations of the Marsi will make love endure.“
You need something beyond just good looks and body to hold onto a woman
“If you’d be loved, be worthy to be loved. Good looks and a good figure are not enough for that.“
Beauty changes to oldness:
“Beauty is a fleeting boon; it fades with the passing years, and the longer it lives, the more surely it dies. The violets and wide-cupped lilies bloom not for ever, and, once the rose has blown, its naked stem shows only thorns. Thus, my fair youth, thy hair will soon grow white, and wrinkles soon will line thy face with furrows; so set thy beauty off with talents that shall mock at time; ’tis they alone will last unto the grave.“
Self-improvement is the way to go if you want to keep a woman
“Study the refinements of life, and enrich yourself with the treasures of the Greek and Latin tongues. Ulysses was not handsome, but he was eloquent, and two goddesses were tortured with love for him. How often Calypso groaned when she beheld him preparing to depart, and how she kept telling him that the waves would not suffer him to set sail. Times without number she asked him to tell her o’er again the story of the fall of Troy, times without number he would retell it in a new form.“
Have an ingratiating manner and don’t be bitter
“Well then, whoever you may be, put not too great a trust in the deceptive charm of beauty. Take care to possess something more than mere physical comeliness. What works wonders with the women is an ingratiating manner. Brusqueness and harsh words only promote dislike. We hate the hawk because it spends its life in fighting; and we hate the wolf that falls upon the timid flocks. But man snares not the swallow because it is gentle, and he suffers the dove to make its home in towers that he has built. Away with all strife and bitterness of speech. Pleasant words are the food of love. It is by quarrels that a woman estranges her husband, and a husband his wife. They imagine that in acting so they are paying each other out in their own coin. Leave them to it. Quarrels are the dowry which married folk bring one another. But a mistress should only hear agreeable things. It is not the law that has landed you in bed together. Your law, the law for you and her, is Love. Never approach her but with soft caresses and words that soothe her ear, so that she may always rejoice at your coming.“
Act like a gentleman
Being a gentleman doesn’t always work in the modern world, but it’s the manly thing to do.
“Be sure and hold her parasol over her; and clear a way for her if she’s hemmed in by the crowd; fetch a stool to help her on to the couch; and unlace or lace up the sandals on her dainty feet. And then, though you perish with cold yourself, you will often have to warm your mistress’s icy hands in your bosom.“
Agree with her in everything 🙂
“Blame what she blames; like what she likes; say what she says; deny what she denies. If she smiles, smile too; if she sheds tears, shed them too. In a word, model your mood on hers. If she wants to play draughts, play badly on purpose and let her win the game. If you’re playing dice, don’t let her be piqued at losing, but make it look as though your luck was always out. If your battle-field’s the chessboard, see to it that your men of glass are mown down by the foe.“
Don’t speak about her imperfections
“Never speak to a woman about her defects; many a lover has had occasion to congratulate himself on having observed this very profitable reticence. The wingèd-footed hero, Perseus, never found fault with Andromeda for her swarthy skin. Andromache was, in everyone’s opinion, far too tall; Hector was the only one who considered her of the average height. Accustom yourself to the things you don’t like; you’ll learn to put up with them; habit makes a lot of things acceptable.“
You must be on good terms with her servants and friends
“Nor must you think it beneath your dignity to ingratiate yourself with her servants, even the humblest of them; greet each of them by name, and take their servile hands in yours. Give them (it will not cost you much) such presents as you can afford; and when the festival of Juno Caprotina comes round, make a handsome present to the lady’s-maid. Get on good terms with the occupants of the servants’ hall, and don’t forget the porter or the slave that sleeps beside your lady’s door.“
Buy her inexpensive gifts
“I don’t advise you to make costly presents to your mistress; offer her a few trifles, but let them be well chosen and appropriate to the occasion.“
Be attentive and loving in times of need
“May your mistress then retain her health. But if some indisposition should compel her to keep her bed, if she falls a victim to the evil effects of the season, then is the time for you to show her how attentive and loving you can be; then is the time to sow the seeds of the harvest you may gather later on. Be not deterred by the attentions her malady demands. Render her whatever services she will deign to accept; let her behold you shedding tears of compassion; never let her see you do not want to kiss her, and let her parched lips be moistened with your tears; say how you hope she’ll soon be well again, and be sure to let her hear you saying it, and always be prepared to tell her you have had a dream of happy augury. Let some old grandam, with trembling hands, come and sweeten her bed and purify her room with sulphur and the expiatory eggs. She will store up the memory of these kindnesses in her heart. Many a time have people had legacies bequeathed them for such trifling things as that.”
Don’t be too anxious
“But be careful not to display too much anxiety. Do not be over-busy. Your affection and solicitude should have their limits. Don’t make it your business to restrict her diet, or tell her she mustn’t eat this or that. Don’t bring her nasty medicine to drink; leave all that to your rival.“
Habit is good
Habit is good, so the way to win the heart of a woman is to be constantly present in her sights. She will get accustomed to you. However when some feelings for you start developing in her, then you need to make yourself scarce from time to time. This way she will miss you.
“See to it that thy mistress grows accustomed to thee: nothing is so potent as habit. To win her heart, let no trouble be too great. Let her see you continually; let her hear none but you. Day and night be present to her sight. But when you are sure that she will long for you, then leave her alone, so that your absence may give her some anxiety.“
Don’t be out of sight for too long
“But be on the safe side; don’t stay away too long; time softens the pangs of longing. Out of sight, out of mind. The absent lover is soon forgotten, and another takes his place. When Menelaus had departed, Helen grew weary of her lonely couch and sought warmth and consolation in the arms of her guest. Ah! Menelaus, what a fool wast thou! Alone didst thou depart, leaving thy wife beneath the same roof with a stranger.“
4) On promiscuity
Ovid is all about keeping a harem of multiple women. It’s the best way to have some fun, but also paradoxically helps in keeping the women drawn to you. Women love preselected bad boys who can have any woman they want. Ovid plays the role of a charming, playful bad boy perfectly. He has observed women’s nature and knows when to hide his promiscuity from them and when in turn show his preselection. This is one of the key lessons that any playboy needs to learn.
Be promiscuous, but be careful
“Do not imagine that I am going to act the rigid moralist and condemn you to love but one mistress. The gods forbid. Even a married woman finds it difficult to keep such a vow as that. Take your fill of amusement, but cast the veil of modesty over your peccadilloes. Never make a parade of your good fortune, and never give a woman a present that another woman will recognise. Vary the time and place of your assignations, lest one of them catch you in some familiar place of rendezvous.“
If she gets suspicious:
“Yet if, how well soever you may hide them, your secret amours come to light, never hesitate to deny your guilt. Be neither sheepish nor gushing, for these are sure signs of a guilty conscience. But spare no effort and employ all your vigour in the battle of love. It’s the only way to win peace; the only way to convince her of the unreality of her suspicions.“
However you still need to stir up some jealousy from time to time (and show preselection)
“But add a little sulphur, and lo, fresh flames will leap and sparkle with new splendour! Thus when the heart grows dull and torpid, apply, if you would wake it into life, the spur of jealousy. Give your mistress something to torment her, and bring new heat into her chilly heart. Let her grow pale at the evidence of your inconstancy. What happiness, what untold happiness is his, whose mistress’s heart is wrung at the thought of her lover’s infidelity.“
Ovid counsels this, even though he counselled to try to hide your escapades with other women before. You need to know when to hide it and when to show that there are some potential rivals to her. Jealousy is a powerful thing and can draw the woman closer to you. Actually this is also something that should be applied when you are being faithful to your woman. Women can grow bored of you and so you always need to subtly show that you have other options in order to keep the woman in your life hooked on you. It’s a bit of a counter-intuitive logic for most guys, but works in practice.
“Awhile ago I was counselling you to hide your infidelities: well, turn about, blazon abroad the conquests you have made. The curved ship is not always obedient to the same wind; she fleets o’er the waves, driven now by the North wind, now by the East. Turn by turn, the West wind and the South will fill her sails. Look at that driver on his chariot there. Sometimes he lets his reins hang loose, sometimes, with skilful hand, he restrains the ardour of his fiery steeds.”
This is because women are emotional (as noted below in the section on the nature of women) and love drama. Women like to shoot themselves in the foot sometimes as the modern saying goes and when things are perfect, they get complacent and don’t value too much of a good thing. You need to be aware of this and act accordingly. After all, women love a bad boy who is sought after by other women.
“There are lovers whom a hesitant indulgence ill-befriends. Their mistresses begin to languish if the apprehension of a rival comes not to stimulate their affections. Happiness will sometimes make us drunk and render difficult the way of constancy. A little fire will languish if it be not fed, and disappear beneath the grey ashes that accumulate upon it.”
5) Other important things
How to AMOG the husband
“Be courteous to her husband too. Nothing could better serve your plans than to be in his good graces. If, when the dice are thrown, chance crowns thee king of the feast, yield him the honour; take off thy wreath and place it on his brow. Whether he be thy equal or inferior matters not. Let him be served the first, and flatter him in everything you say. The surest and most common means to success is to deceive him under the cloak of friendship.“
Should you try to seduce her servants and friends? How do you do that?
You should first try to seduce your primary target. Once you have achieved that, you can go for her maids.
“”What about the maid herself?” you ask. “Is it well to win her favours first?” Now that’s a ticklish business. Sometimes it stimulates their zeal; sometimes the opposite’s the case. One girl will do her utmost for her mistress, another will want to keep you for herself. The only thing is just to try, and see how it turns out. On the whole, my advice to you is “Don’t.” I shouldn’t risk these steep and dangerous by-ways myself. If you keep with me, you’ll be on the right road. If, however, you are taken with the servant’s charms, if you find her as pretty as she’s zealous, win the mistress first, and afterwards turn your attention to the maid; but don’t begin with her. Only I warn you, if you have any faith in my teaching, if my words are not dispersed by the winds over the seas, don’t make the attempt at all unless you carry it right through. Once she herself is well involved, she won’t give you away.“
6) The nature of women
Women want sex just as much as men, if not more; they are just better at hiding it
“Perhaps you think she doesn’t want to yield. You’re wrong. She wants to in her heart of hearts. Stolen love is just as sweet to women as it is to us. Man is a poor dissembler; woman is much more skilful in concealing her desire. If all the men agreed that they would never more make the first advance, the women would soon be fawning at our feet.“
Women are way more emotional than men
“Such are the consequences of woman’s unbridled passion. Fiercer it is than ours, with more of frenzy in it.“
Women read too much into things
For women, 1+1 sometimes equals 3.
“When you write, be sure and read over what you have written; many women read into a letter much more than it is intended to convey.“
Women are promiscuous and hypergamous
Ovid lists numerous legends of women cheating on their husbands and sleeping around. Hypergamy and promiscuity has been a part of the female nature since the beginning. So he was quite red pill. Many of these adulterous affairs were behind the conflicts of the ancient world.
“Had that other Cretan girl been able to forego her passion for Thyestes (but how hard it is for a woman to love one man alone), Phœbus would not have been compelled to stay his steeds in mid-career, and to have driven his chariot back again towards the Dawn.“
Although he does mention that not all women are like that and that there are some faithful ones. In Book 3, he gives tips to women on how to seduce men. He starts off by saying common complaints that men would give him for this, that he is in fact arming the serpent. He does agree with this and does say that many women are hypergamous, but also states that throughout history there have been many who were faithful.
“But perchance one among you will say to me, “Wherefore give fresh poison to the snake, wherefore surrender the lamb to the raging wolf?” Now forbear to condemn the whole sex for the crimes of a few of its members; let every woman be judged on her own merits. If the young Alcides had reason to complain of Helen, if his elder brother could with justice accuse Clytemnestra, Helen’s sister; if, through the crime of Eriphyle, the daughter of Talaos, Amphiaraus went riding to the under-world on his living steeds, is it not also true that Penelope remained chaste when sundered from her husband who was kept for ten years fighting before Troy and who, when Troy had fallen, wandered over the seas for ten years more? Look at Laodamia, who, in order to join her husband in the grave, died long before her tale of years was told. And Alcestis, who, by sacrificing her own life, redeemed her husband, Admetus, from the tomb. “Take me in thine arms, Capaneus, and let our ashes at least be mingled,” exclaimed the daughter of Iphis, and forthwith leapt into the midst of the pyre.“
Beware of false rape accussations
In Book 1, Ovid writes the stories of three women who were rebuffed by men and when they couldn’t get what they wanted, they falsely accused the men of rape. This is for example what Phaedra did to Hippolytus.
There are different types of women and their moods change often and so you need to be able to adapt to each type and mood
“Let me add that women are things of many moods. You must adapt your treatment to the special case. The same soil is not equally good for everything. This land is good for the vine, and this for olives; and here’s the place for corn. You’ll find as many dispositions in the world as you meet with different figures and faces. A clever man will know how to adapt himself to this diversity of temper and disposition, and suit his conversation to the needs of the hour.“
Women love acting hurt
“You would have hurt her in the struggle, you say? But women like being hurt. What they like to give, they love to be robbed of. Every woman taken by force in a hurricane of passion is transported with delight; nothing you could give her pleases her like that. But when she comes forth scathless from a combat in which she might have been taken by assault, however pleased she may try to look, she is sorry in her heart.“
Women will always try to get you to buy them gifts
This has to do with the advice not to go out with a chick around the time of her birthday or anytime when you could be expected to buy a gift. The woman will always try to use that occassion to get you to buy her something. And it’s true, whenever you are out, there is some pedlar fellow trying to sell you stuff. 🙂
“However much you try to wriggle out of it, she’ll make you buy her something. A woman always knows how to exploit an ardent lover. Some pedlar fellow will be sure to turn up, and since buying’s a mania with them all, she’ll be sure to find the very things she wants. She’ll ask you to look at ’em; then she’ll kiss you, and say, ” Oh, do buy me that. It’ll last for years; it’s just the very thing I want, and you couldn’t buy me anything I should like more.” It’s no good saying you haven’t got the money on you; she’ll ask you to draw a cheque, and then you’ll curse the day you learned to write. And how many times you’ll have to give her something for her birthday! Every time she wants anything very special, she’ll have a birthday. And then she’ll come grieving some pretended loss; she’ll come to you with eyes all red with weeping and tell you she’s lost one of her precious ear-rings. That’s the little game they play. Then they’ll keep on asking you to lend them money; and once they’ve got it, I wouldn’t give much for your chances of getting it back. You can look on that as gone, and they won’t give you so much as a “thank you.” Why, if I’d got ten mouths and ten tongues, I couldn’t tell you all the tricks our ladies of the demi-monde get up to.“
Most women are golddiggers
Don’t bother being cultured or romantic for most women. All they want is money.
“Even a barbarian, if only he is rich, is sure to find favour. This is the golden age in this very truth. Gold will buy the highest honours; and gold will purchase love. Homer himself, even if he came attended by the nine Muses, would promptly be shown the door if he brought no money to recommend him.“
However there are exceptions to the point above and there are some cultured women as well
When you find them, writing poetry is a good way to go.
“Nevertheless, there are some cultured women, but they are rare. There are others who are not cultured but who wish to appear so. You must praise them both in your poetry.“
7) How to fall out of love
The original three books of “Ars Amatoria” or the “Art of Love” proved very popular, and Ovid realizing that he still did not cover the entire lifecycle of love, decided to write a sequel called “Remedia Amoris” or “The Cure for Love”. This was meant for “any man who suffers badly from the power of a worthless girl“, but the same lessons could also be applied by women for their own purposes. He gives tips on how to get over love and not have the feelings of a broken heart.
“That Boy’s accustomed to following idleness: he hates the busy: give your vacant mind work to occupy it.“
The Boy he references here is Cupid, who according to the Ancient Romans was the one who caused love by shooting arrows into people’s hearts. In order to get over love, you need to keep yourself busy with other things. Ovid recommend law or war as good ways to keep your mind away from a broken heart, but hunting, farming or traveling are also good substitutes.
Don’t resort to witchcraft 🙂
“If anyone thinks he can be helped by harmful herbs, and magic arts, from Thessalian lands, that’s his affair. That’s the old way of witchcraft: my Apollo offers innocent aid with sacred song. With me in charge no spirits will be ordered from their graves, no witch, with wicked spells, will split the ground: no crops will skip from one field to another,nor Phoebus’s orb suddenly grow pale.“
Contemplate her defects
The chick you love probably has a lot of faults and if you focus on them, it will help you to fall out of love with her.
“Tell yourself often what your wicked girl has done, and before your eyes place every hurt you’ve had. ‘She’s had this and that, but she’s not satisfied with plunder: the greedy girl’s given the household gods notice to quit. She swore to me, and, having sworn so, deceived me, lying stretched out so often at her door! She prizes others, despises my love: ah, a pedlar has nights with her, she won’t give me!’ Let all this embitter your every feeling: recall it, look here for the seeds of your dislike.“
“As much as you can, disparage your girl’s attractions, and let your judgement fall a little short. Let her be called ‘plump’ if she’s full-figured, ‘black’ if she’s dark: in slenderness there’s the charge of being ‘lean’. And she can be called ‘pert’, who’s not naive, and she can be called ‘naive’, if she’s too honest. Then too, whatever talents your woman lacks, promote those, with flattering words and prayers.“
Have more than one lover
If you have more than one lover, then oneitis won’t hit you that hard.
“When the heart’s divided it goes in both directions, and one love saps the power of the other. Vast rivers are thinned out through many channels: fierce flames die down when the fuel’s removed. One anchor’s not enough to hold a well-waxed hull, a single hook’s not enough in clear water.“
Finding a new love will help you forget about the old
“Every love’s defeated by a fresh successor.“
Act cool with her
“Make it seem to your girl that you’re chillier than ice: and if you’re grieving deeply, look happy, lest she see it, and laugh, when tears come to you.“
If you act like it’s over, then it will soon be over in your mind as well
“Pretend to what is not, and that the passion’s over, so you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be.“
Break the habit and create new habits
“Love penetrates the heart by habit, through habit it’s forgotten: he who can imagine he’s well, will be well.“
Forget her and don’t be alone
“If you’re alone, you’ll be sad, and the form of the girl you’ve left will be there before your eyes, so like herself.“
You especially need to start going out more. Meeting and talking to new people will be very important in getting over your broken heart.
“Don’t shun conversation, or let your door be closed, don’t hide your tearful face in the shadows.“
Keep away from her
“If you love, but don’t wish to, avoid making contact.“
“But I’ll tell you what specially obstructs our efforts, and everyone can learn by his own example. We give way slowly, because we hope to be loved: since each is pleased with himself, we’re a credulous crowd.“
“Favor yourself, so that your own cause is better than hers.“
Don’t start fights with her
“Who’s silent is strong: who pours abuse on his girl, is only accusing himself, for his own satisfaction.“
I picked and chose different things from different parts of the books and arranged them in a logical order in order to get all the main points lined up. The points above can be found at different parts of Ovid’s manual and are not always arranged conveniently. The falling out of love part was a bit easier to arrange, as that book is a list of tips that Ovid gives.
I actually invite you to read the entire work for yourself. It is quite funny, but also enlightening. While written more than 2000 years ago, apart from a few passages which reflect the times they were written it, a lot of the commentary seems like it could have been written today. 🙂
In the analysis above I use elements of the M3 Model from the book “The Mystery Method” by Eric Markovic.
However, don’t take things too seriously. Remember that Ovid was a cheeky fellow and what he wrote was half-serious, half-fun. One of the things that he tried to do is to poke fun at the uptight morals of some people in his own society.
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