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The Art of Love
Should anyone here in Rome lack finesse at love-making,
let him Try me—read my book; and results are guaranteed!
Technique is the secret. Charioteer, sailor, oarsman,
All need it. Technique can control Love himself. As Automedon was charioteer to Achilles,
And Tiphys Jason's steersman, so I,
By Venus' appointment, am made Love's artificer, shall be Known as The Tiphys, the very Automedon of Love.
He's a wild handful, will often rebel against me,
But still just a child—
Malleable, easily disciplined. Chiron made young Achilles A fine musician, hammered that fierce heart On the anvil of peaceful artistry. So this future terror To friend and foe alike went in awe, it's said,
Of his elderly teacher, at whose bidding the hand that in after-
Time bore down Hector was held out for the tawse.
As Chiron taught Achilles, so I am Love's preceptor:
Wild boys both, both goddess-born—and yet Even bulls can be broken to plough, or spirited horses Subdued with bridle and bit.
So love shall likewise own my mastery, though his bowshots Skewer my breast, though his torch Flicker and sear me. The worse the wounds, the deeper the branding,
That much keener I to avenge Such outrage. Nor shall I falsely ascribe my arts to Apollo:
No airy bird comes twittering advice Into my eat, I never had a vision of the Muses Herding sheep in Ascra's valleys. This work is based On experience: what I write, believe me, I have practiced.
My poem will deal in truth.
Aid my enterprise, Venus! Respectable ladies, the kind who Wear hairbands and ankle-length skirts,
Are hereby warned off. Safe love, legitimate liaisons Will be my theme. This poem breaks no taboos.
First, then, you fledging troopers in passion's service,
Comes the task of finding an object for your love.
Next, you must labour to woo and win your lady;
Thirdly, ensure that the affair will last.
Such are my limitations, such the ground I will cover,
The race I propose to run.
While you are fancy-free still, and can drive at leisure,
Pick a girl, tell her, "you're the one I love.
And only you.' But this search means using your eyes: a mistress Won't drop out of the sky at your fee.
A hunter's skilled where to spread his nets for the stag, senses In which glen the wild boar lurks.
A fowler's familiar with copses, an expert angler Knows the richest shoaling-grounds for fish.
You too, so keen to establish some long term relationship,
Must learn, first, where girl is to be found.
Your search need not take you—belueve me—on an overseas voyage:
A short enough trek will bring you to your goal.
True, Perseus fetched home Andromeda from the coloured Indies,
While Phrygian Paris abducted Helen in Greece,
But Rome can boast of so many and such dazzling beauties You'd swear the whole world's talent was gathered here.
The girls of your city outnumber Gargara's wheatsheaves,
Birds on the bough, stars in the sky, fish in the ocean:
Venus indeed still haunts Her son Aeneas' foundation. If you like budding adolescents Any number of (guaranteed) maidens are here to delight Your roving eye. Your prefer young women? They'll charm you By the thousand, you won't know which to choose.
And if you happen to fancy a more mature, experienced Age-group, believe me, they show up in droves.
Here's what to do. When the sun's on the back of Hercules'
Lion, stroll down some shady colonnade,
Pompey's, say, or Octavia's (for her dead son Marcellus:
Extravagant marble facings, R.I.P.),
Or Livia's, with its gallery of genuine Old Masters,
Or the Danaids' Portico (note The artwork: Danaus' daughters plotting mischief for their cousins,
Father attitudinizing with drawn sword).
Don't miss the shrine of Adonis, mourned by Venus,
Or the synagogue—Syrian Jews Worship there each Sabbath—or the linen-clad heifer-goddess's Memphian temple: Io makes many a maid what she
Was to Jove. The very courts are hunting-grounds for passion;
Amid lawyers' rebuttals love will often be found.
Here, where under Venus' marble temple the Appian Fountain pulses its jets high in the air,
Your jurisconsult's entrapped by love's beguilements—
Counsel to others, he cannot advise himself.
Here, all too often, words fail the most eloquent pleader,
And a new sort of case comes on—his own. He must Defend himself for a change, while Venus in her nearby Temple snickers at this reversal of roles.
The Erotic Poems List of Abbreviations Preface and Acknowledgments Introduction
The Amores The Art of Love Cures for Love On Facial Treatment for Ladies
Notes and References Select Reading List
Posted September 1, 2007
Ovid's writings are hillarious and unbelievable! And the translation of these poems is fist-rate. The stories Ovid tells are outrageously amusing. In one poem, he wishes he was the ring on his lover's finger...'how far can he take that?' you might ask, well...pretty far. In another poem, he tells of how he waits outside his lover's house all night for her. And another story is a how-to tale of how one can sneek into their intrest's house without the husband seeing... scandalous! But each poem is told with enough mirth and cockiness that you cannot help but finish the tale with a smile on your face - no matter how brazen Ovid gets in the telling! And as I mentioned before, the translation of these 1st century poems has been done in the most excellent way, making it an easy read, as well as an accurate one. Altogether, this is a superb purchase!
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Posted November 11, 2009
It is highly recommended that this book is read with an open mind. Very eye opening in terms of how people of a certain time frame viewed matters of the heart.
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Posted March 17, 2010
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Posted July 11, 2009
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