Latin lovers you say? Antonio Banderas? Salma Hayek? Penelope Cruz? Three incredibly sexy people, who are not going to be mentioned again. Here, it’s going to get a bit old school. Put on your thinking caps, board the magic school bus etc., we’re going to skip back in time and ponder the likes of Propertius, Ovid and Catullus – or C-dog, as I’ve always liked to call him (added punnage for anyone out there who reads Latin).
If you were to read the university applications of anyone wanting to study Latin and/or Ancient Greek, you’ll find it littered with lines like: ‘Oh yah, I like, totally want to study this subject because it’s so, like… relevant. Yah, absolutely. I’m always, like… STRUCK by the similarities between our time and, like, their eraahhhh.’ Yes. Because we too walk around wearing sheets to work and sacrifice a cow
whenever it thunders.
But there are some lessons to be learnt from Latin Lovers, which could be exceptionally valuable to any would-be Lotharios. First things first – identify your target. These days this research phase is commonly known as ‘sharking’. As women can’t just strut around the forum, or rather, Library Place, without lurking male minders, the best places for doing this are funerals and chariot races (Bouley Bay,
anyone?). Having spotted your lover-to-be, ask her slave or less attractive best friend where she lives. This is a foolproof method as the slave/BFF is guaranteed to relish the opportunity to interfere. It is also at this point a Latin Lover may well decide have an affair with slave/BFF. Then, in the dead of night, hang around outside your intended’s house and declare your love for a couple of hours. You should also claim that you will spend the night there and, for a nice touch, you might want to leave a garland around the door handle. Around this time you should also drop a couple of pounds as lovers are always off their food.
One thing Latin Lovers also knew was that love is a two-way street. Romance is not the sole responsibility of the woo-er. If your Casanova has persuaded you of his dishonourable attentions and you are pretty sure that sexytime is on the agenda, read your Ovid. In the final section of his Ars Amatoria, so racy that it was banned and got Ovid exiled, he gives some top tips on how to look your best. It seems that Roman women were all qualified yoga teachers. Alas, most of it is too rude to print here, but here is an edited snippet so you can get the gist:
‘If you have a nice face and good hips, lie on your back. Good legs? Do as Melanion and Atalanta did. If you are short, ***….*** . Andromache never needed to do this – tall women should ***** with their **** sideways. If you have a great **** and good thighs, lie aslant. If Lucina (goddess of childbirth) has made her marks upon you, be like the swift Parthian. There are a thousand ways of love…’
True, there are some Ancient methods which might not be so effective in a modern setting. Hurling apples at the object of your desire will probably not go down particularly well. Wrestling with a lion to get someone’s attention isn’t advised. As for having threesomes with slavegirls behind your beloved’s back? We really can’t condone that here. But a Google search will show you that when it came to writing about love, the Latin poets managed to articulate those things which sound lame when attempted by lesser mortals. But no worries if your Latin’s a little rusty, there’s always time for a last minute dash to Hallmark. And everybody loves a dozen red roses.