All I knew about Ovid was that in a crossword puzzle if the clue was Metamorphoses then the answer was O-V-I-D.
One of the reasons I love being in plays is learning about people, history, science, philosophy – all the things I should have been learning about in college instead of going to theme parties like “Sluts and Hoes” at the drama department party house. When we started working on this play, one of the themes that kept creeping off the page was love. People would ask what is the play about and I would say “Oh, myths and change and love!” Who wants to watch a play that isn’t about love anyway? Not me! The search for, the loss of, how to keep love stay…We’ve all been there. Sure, I knew Ovid was into stories about love but man, I had no idea.
Ovid was a pretty scandalous guy. He was actually banished from Rome, apparently for the erotic things that he wrote, which included (my favorite) Ars Amatoria THE ART OF LOVE. This work contains three books. The first was addressed to men and teaches them how to seduce women. The second was also to men and teaches them how to keep a lover. The third was addressed to women and teaches them seduction techniques. That guy must have been some kind of lover. My goodness! I can’t think of any man whose three books on how to be a good lover I would readily read. He’s like a Roman Dan Savage with all that advice. I’ve included some excerpts for you. Enjoy!
Book I Part IVX: Look Presentable (Advice to the men. Timeless!!!)
“Don’t mar your neat hair with an evil haircut:
let an expert hand trim your head and beard.
And no long nails, and make sure they’re dirt-free:
and no hairs please, sprouting from your nostrils.
No bad breath exhaled from unwholesome mouth:”
“Don’t ask how old she is, or who was Consul when
she was born, that’s strictly the Censor’s duty:
Especially if she’s past bloom, and the good times gone,
and now she plucks the odd grey hair.”
Book III Part XVIII: And So To Bed (Advice to the ladies- HA!)
“Don’t leave out seductive coos and delightful murmurings,
don’t let wild words be silent in the middle of your games.
You too whom nature denies sexual feeling,
pretend to sweet delight with artful sounds.
Don’t let light into the room through all the windows:
it’s fitting for much of your body to be concealed.”
So to tie it all up Ovid was a pretty sexy cool guy. Needless to say, our production of Metamorphoses will try not to stray too far from its roots. Rome was a happening place to be in 8 AD and armed with “The Art of Love”- you were doing pre..tt..y well.