Ancient Self Help: The Art of Love

People may believe that self help is a new phenomenon or business model. But this is not true,  especially regarding matters of the heart.

The Art of Love

Ars Amatoria is a book by one of Ancient Rome’s most famous poets Ovid. Written around the second century A.D. This book may actually give some very familiar advice just based in an ancient contexThe Art of Lovet.

The book is in three parts, the first two parts target the male suitor and the last part is for females. I found it to be a very entertaining and informative read to say the least.

It has more advice for men than women. This may be because of gender roles, which have stayed mostly the same through the millennia, where romantic relationships are concerned. The male is the pursuer. The  first part is on getting the girl. The second part is on keeping the girl and the last part; mainly is to teach girls how to make themselves desirable.

Ovid’s Art of Love really shows how advanced socially the Ancient Romans were. Or on the other hand, shows how much people have not changed in over two thousand years.

For men; the book not only shows how to show interest towards the fairer sex, such as finding excuses to brush away “imaginary dust,” but also on grooming and hygiene and what places you can find her.

Places like the theater, the races or the circus were where single people went to find romantic partners. Also the beach and at the dinner table at feasts and triumphs in war( basically parades.) As you can see some of the places we meet today are different locations but fundamentally the same in principle. They were social gatherings to celebrate events. The same can be said of present day. People gather at sporting events or the theater as well as public celebrations such as parades or New Years celebrations. People also still gather at the beach.

The Art of Love also shows men and women how to behave in a relationship and how to act towards each other. It promotes lying  and deception on both sides. Men and women, telling men to fake cry and women to “make him believe he is loved.” I guess all is fair in love and war, right?

It teaches how to keep a relationship fresh. Telling men to “Let her miss you (but not for too long.)” And women to “Use jealousy and fear” to control your lover.

Ars Amatoria has good advice for men on remembering birthdays, complimenting her, using aphrodisiacs, not asking her about her age and not mentioning her faults.

This book advises having older and younger lovers for women. I believe that it makes the same assumption for men. To beware of “false lovers” or men with bad intentions(basically players.)  It teaches different sexual positions in a creative way in part three for both men and women and about generosity in making love for men in part two.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I did not get all of the references and had to look some of them up because of my unfamiliarity with some Greek and Roman gods and history. But the advice is sound in some parts and can really be applied to present day romantic relationships.

Even though The Art of Love was written more than two thousand years ago, it seems that not much has changed socially since then. Human society tends to go in a cycle on the way it publicly views sex and love; from a liberal view to conservative and back to liberal. But deep down, all the while, we never change…

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