Early-modern suggestions for chatting up a woman include blatant flattery, offering beer and cheesecake, suggesting you might relieve her of the ‘burden’ of virginity and comparing her belly to Salisbury Plain.
Perhaps the oldest guide to romance is Ovid’s tongue-in-cheek The Art of Love (c2 AD), and much of it seems familiar.
Men of Ancient Rome are advised to hang out at the theatre or the chariot race, and start conversation with a lady about the spectacle or who she supports.
They are encouraged to declare a passion while drunk (so it can be retracted later) but, if all else fails, simply to go for melodrama – women long to hear a man is “dying of a frantic passion” or the simple words: “You’re the only girl for me.”
This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Emily Brand