What makes you think you need to go to Russia?

“You who seek out the object of a lasting love, learn the places which the fair ones most haunt,” writes the poet Ovid in his 2,000-year-old poem, The Art of Love.

I have given a few tips about where to find your soulmate before.

If spam emails are anything to go by, there must be a fair number of men out there who fall for Russian woman who are very romantic and are looking for an honest man in the West for love and marriage. Now there is of course nothing at all wrong with Russian women. But if you can’t attract a woman in your own home town, why do you imagine you’ll have more luck with a woman from hundreds or thousands of miles away?

If the relationship is based on money (which it may be) then is that what you really want? Wouldn’t you rather learn the arts of attraction and find a woman much nearer home and who wants you because of what you really are? (Ok, you really like Russian women. There are probably thousands in London. You still don’t need to find the air fare.)

Ovid says, “You won’t have to put to sea or undertake any distant journeys … Rome alone will give you a choice of such lovely women, and so many of them, that you will be forced to confess that she gathers within her own bosom all the treasures that the world can show. As numerous as the ears of corn on Gargarus, grapes in Methymna, fish in the ocean, birds in the thickets, stars in the heavens, so numerous are the beautiful girls you’ll find in Rome. Venus has made her seat of empire the city of her beloved Aeneas.”

And for the benefit of us in England, note that our own Henry Purcell made a song called ‘Fairest Isle’ from John Dryden’s words, in which the poet explains that Venus has made her dwelling here, too.

Here are the words:
Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav’rite nation
Care and envy will remove;
Jealousy, that poisons passion,
And despair, that dies for love.

Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love
Soft repulses, kind disdaining,
Shall be all the pains you prove.
Ev’ry swain shall pay his duty,
Grateful ev’ry nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in beauty,
Those shall be renown’d for love.

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