The Art of Love
“The first taste I had for books came to me from my pleasure in the fables of the Metamorphoses of Ovid. For at about seven or eight years of age I would steal away from any other pleasure to read them, inasmuch as this language was my mother tongue, and it was the easiest book I knew and the best suited by its content to my tender age.” –Michel de MontaigneArs Amatoria; or, The Art of Love (2 AD) is an instructional poem by Ovid. Divided into three books, Ars Amatoria; or, The Art of Love was immensely popular—if a little controversial—in its time, and has survived numerous charges of indecency over the centuries. For the modern reader, it should prove a surprisingly relatable work on intimacy from an author of the ancient world. Although it has been argued that the publication of this work led to Ovid’s exile in 8 AD, it remains unlikely that the poet was banished for anything other than political reasons having to do with succession.
At times serious, at others humorous, Ars Amatoria; or, The Art of Love uses a mix of down-to-earth examples and relatable references to mythology in order to offer salient advice for the reader longing for love. Far from a valuable artifact of classical literature—which it is, in part—Ovid’s work is a wonderfully straightforward textbook on all aspects of human relationships. Topics include etiquette, remembering birthdays, avoiding unhealthy jealousy, being open to older and younger lovers, and nurturing honesty. On sex, Ovid suggests a careful selection of positions according to comfort and physique, ultimately recommending that love-making be done in a way that pleasures all parties involved. Ars Amatoria; or, The Art of Love, although frequently tongue-in-cheek, is an earnest and effective attempt to enlighten and encourage its readers to partake—responsibly—in one of life’s greatest pleasures.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria; or, The Art of Love is a classic work of Roman literature reimagined for modern readers.