09.28.2007  BY EM & LO
marc_anthony.jpgPhoto via Splash

No, not that kind of south-of-the-border Latin lover--we just couldn't find a decent photo of Ovid. A new book out in the U.K., Latin Love Lessons: Put a Little Ovid in Your Life by Charlotte Higgins, demonstrates how little self-help has changed in the last, oh, two millennia. In addition to inventing straight roads and sewage systems, the Romans--the original Latin lovers--also invented romantic love. And almost immediately thereafter, they invented the genre of love and sex advice. Who knew we were part of such a long-standing, esteemed tradition?

It turns out that Ovid's poem "Ars Amatoria," or "The Art of Love," is totally applicable today--and about a million times more helpful than anything those evil Rules girls might have to say. Men are told to keep their nails trimmed and free of dirt, their nostrils free of hair, and their breath fresh. Excellent hook-up advice, if you ask us. Women, meanwhile, are advised to keep their makeup discreet so that it doesn't advertise how long they took to get ready; it's all about preserving some mystique, according to wise Ovid. But our favorite advice is this:
Arrive late, when the lamps are lit; make a graceful entrance-- 
Delay enhances charm, delay's a great bawd.
Plain you may be, but at night you'll look fine to the tipsy:
Soft lights and shadows will mask your faults.
In other words, if you're having a bad hair day, just show up late after everyone's had a few drinks and chances are, you'll still get lucky. Better yet, Ovid warns against the corollary of this advice: beer goggles!
Don't trust the lamplight too much,
It's deceptive. When Paris examined those goddesses,
when he said, "You Beat them both, Venus,"
he did it in broad daylight.
But darkness hides faults, each blemish is forgiven:
Any woman you name will pass
As a beauty at night.
The only thing we can think of that's changed in the last 2000 years is that women are just as likely--if not more so--as men to be wearing beer goggles.


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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City.

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