Register Tuesday | September 22 | 2020

Dear Ovid

Timeless advice on the art of love

Timeless advice on the art of love...

Dear Ovid,

I'm a good-looking guy and I like to keep it that way. I get decent haircuts, shop at Holt's and even pop into the tanning salon now and then. But my girlfriend of three years started making fun of me last week after I went for a manicure. How can she call me "Princess" when she's the one who fell for my look in the first place?

Metrosexual Laughing Stock

Dear MLS,

Don't be crimping your locks with the use of the curling iron,
Don't scrape the hair off your legs, using the coarse pumice stone;
Leave such matters as those to the members of Cybele's chorus,
Howling their bacchanal strains under the dark of the moon.
Men should not care too much for good looks; neglect is becoming. Theseus, wearing no clasp, took Ariadne away,
Phaedra burned for his son, who was never exactly a dandy,
Adonis, dressed for the woods, troubled a goddess with love.
Let your person be clean, your body tanned by the sunshine,
Let your toga fit well, never a spot on its white,
Don't let your sandals be scuffed, nor your feet flap around in them loosely,
See that your teeth are clean, brush them at least twice a day,
Keep your nails cut short, and don't ever let them be dirty,
Keep the little hairs out of your nose and your ears,
Let your breath be sweet, and your body free from rank odours,
Don't overdo it; a man isn't a fairy or tart.


Dear Ovid,

There's this girl I know who is a real class act. I want to get with her badly, but she keeps saying she thinks of me as "a brother" and doing shit like tousling my hair. I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not her brother, but the potential man of her life. Where should I take her if I want to make a move?

In It for Love

Dear In It,

In the crowds at the track opportunity waits.
There is no need for a code of finger-signals or nodding.
Sit as close as you like; no one will stop you at all.
In fact, you will have to sit close-that's one of the rules, at a racetrack.
Whether she likes it or not, contact is part of the game.
Try to find something in common, to open the conversation;
Don't care too much what you say, just so that everyone hears.
Ask her, "Whose colours are those?"-that's good for an opening gambit.
Put your own bet down, fast, on whatever she plays.
Often it happens that dust may fall on the blouse of the lady.
If such dust should fall, carefully brush it away.
Even if there's no dust, brush off whatever there isn't.
Any excuse will do: why do you think you have hands?


Dear Ovid,

I am frickin' seething!! I went away on a university exchange and my girlfriend cheated on me with my best friend!! I'm sure they were planning it for MONTHS!! I can't trust anyone!! I totally trashed my apartment last night and now, if I don't calm down, I'm going to beat the crap out of my best friend. I think I might have a serious problem with anger. I need help. Why is the world out to get me?! How can I get some peace of mind?!?

Extreme Cuckold

Dear E. Cuckold,

Still, a short absence is best: be away too long, she'll forget you:
Hearts are inclined to grow fond, then, of available men.
When Menelaus was gone, and the bed of Helen was lonesome,
Paris and warmth were found in the embrace of the night.
Menelaus, I think, was a fool to go off on a journey,
Leaving his wife and his guest housed in identical walls.
Only a madman would think that the dove was safe with the falcon,
Only a madman leaves sheep to the mercy of wolves.
Helen was not to blame, and neither, so help me, was Paris;
Given the chance that he had, who would do anything else?
You were to blame, Menelaus: you gave him the time, the occasion;
Why in the world should they not follow the counsel you gave?
What did you think she would do? Her husband was gone, she was lonely,
Paris was far from a boor-why should she sleep all alone?
I acquit Helen outright, and put the blame on the husband.
What did she do but make use of the occasion he gave?

The Art of Love translated by Rolfe Humphries
(Indiana University Press, 1957).