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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, XXXV

August 14, 2009

Ah, the fine art of love. Everyone enjoys it, right? Why are only the women answering?

Did you know that the fine art of love stretches back through Roman history? Yep. While one might assume that the Romans would simply go out and conquer their lovers, there were some who opted for a more subtle approach. Not only would the Romans go forth and take what they wanted from both the land and from between the thighs of their conquests, they also would have wives and concubines and "servants"--insert knowing wink here--around the house. But how to get all these fine women? Well, Roman men did exactly what we douchebags fellaz do today to woo women: lie.

Remember in Dead Poets' Society when John Keating (Robin Williams' character) was describing the Dead Poets' Society, and how the members would get together to read poems? But they wouldn't simply read the poems? No, the words would drip from their tongues like honey! And the reason for all this? Why, to woo women, of course!

Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with all of this. The Roman poet Ovid offered some advice for his readers on just this topic: how to woo women. Some of his advice? Lie. I'm not kidding. In the second volume of his work, Amores, line 296, "Make sure she thinks you thunderstruck by her beauty." And in volume 1, lines 661-662, Ovid advises "If tears fail (and they don't always come on cue), dampen your eyes with a wet hand."

Right there you have: precedence set for 2000 years worth of asshole nature and general douchebaggery.

It wasn't just how to woo women, however; no, this work--Amores--pretty well described exactly what to do and how to do it to a woman. It's what's known as an "erotic epic", which was a common type of storytelling of the time (around 16 BC). Don't believe me? Here's a slice of translation that I snatched from a free online version:

I pulled her slip away –not harming its thinness much;
yet she still struggled to be covered by that slip.
While she would struggle so, it was as if she could not win,
yielding, she was effortlessly conquered.
When she stood before my eyes, the clothing set aside,
there was never a flaw in all her body.
What shoulders, what arms, I saw and touched!
Breasts formed as if they were made for pressing!
How flat the belly beneath the slender waist!
What flanks, what form! What young thighs!
Why recall each aspect? I saw nothing lacking praise
and I hugged her naked body against mine.

Damn. I think I need a cigarette.

It goes on like this for three volumes. Apparently, according to the author, it was five at one point, but was pared down to three. And who says that no one reads these things for the articles?

Anyway, one particularly poignant line coming from Amores has a relevance for today. A couple of weeks ago, I told you about how the Romans loved them some wine and some drunken debauchery! I'm sure this phrase was uttered a couple of times in the baths during a raucous Saturnalia celebration. And now, you too can use it, should your hands "accidentally" end up somewhere they shouldn't while at the bar:

Vix a te videor posse tenere manus!

Pronounced: "Weeks ah tay wee-day-ore poe-say tay-nay-ray mah-noose!"

Translation in the hovertext!

I guess that, should your weekend plans involve some heavy petting--you know, the kind that doesn't necessarily require alcohol to initiate--this could also be something to sigh lustily into your lover's ear during the height of passion when their slip has just fallen off.

Dammit. Now I need a second cigarette.


otherworldlyone said...

Those manly.

Cigarettes. Gum. Suckers. Sex.

How does one choose?

One doesn't. I'm a glutton.

Cora said...

I need a cigarette too. Oh wait-- I don't smoke. Pass me the ice cream!!

By the way, there's an award for you on my blog. Enjoy!!

red said...

Ugh. I hate love and all you people who are in it. Die in a fire.

(Kidding! Sorta!)

Rita said...

Shouldn't we (women) be upset that you just admitted to lying? I'm strangely not surprised. This is a very entertaining post, I feel like you just shared a secret with me and I FINALLY 'get it'. hmm.

corticoWhat said...

Lying to women to have your way with them....mmmmm....what a concept!

Eliminates so much excess baggage.

Sass said...

Lie to me.

I'm totally cool with that.


*going to take a cold shower now.

The Peach Tart said...

Woman already know men do that. We just let you pretend you're in control.

Eric said...

Haha, I didn't know about 'Amores'. I'll have to pick up a copy of that at Barnes and Noble.

snowelf said...


The next time I'm playing with someone's "Little Professor" I'm gonna use that.

who also once owned a little professor

coolred38 said...

Some of us just do not require even the smallest of lies to get the slip slipping...Im just saying.

Scope said...

Swing by my place for some light reading. And if you want to finish off the whole pack. ;-)

Gwen said...

I remember heavy petting. Sigh.

Sassy Britches said...

Huh. Who knew this is one of my favorite ones in awhile? Good post, mjenks. For real.

Soda and Candy said...

I might need to catch up on my Ovid. And then my smoking, apparently.

PS - You've been memed, at my blog today.
: )

words...words...words... said...

I'm not currently in love, but I'm definitely up for getting drunk and hoping an ass backs up into my hand like in the picture.