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CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)

11 Tips From Ovid for How to Get Over a Breakup

CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)
CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)

If you’ve had a rough time dating recently and are nursing a broken heart, look no further.

Around 2 CE, the ancient Roman poet Ovid wrote Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), instructing men and women on how to find and keep a romantic partner. But not long afterward Ovid also wrote Remedia Amoris (The Cure for Love), a Latin poetry manual for how to navigate a breakup. If you feel betrayed by love, as Ovid writes in Remedia Amoris, he can help: “Learn how to be cured, from him who taught you how to love: the one hand brings the wound and the relief.”

1. STAY BUSY—DON’T BE IDLE. 

Ovid’s first piece of advice to handle a breakup is to stay busy. So how should you keep yourself occupied? Ovid suggests that you hang out at court (you can defend any friends who might be on trial), engage in war, or study agriculture in the countryside. As he writes in Remedia Amoris:

“Give your vacant mind work to occupy it. There are the courts, the laws, the friends you might defend: make your way through the splendid camp of city togas. Or admire the youthful service of blood-drenched Mars … Country matters too delight the spirit, and the study of agriculture.” 

2. TIRE YOURSELF OUT BY HUNTING AND TRAVELING.

If you’ve already spent time at court, fought, and studied farming, you should also learn to hunt. Hunting hares, deer, and boars will tire you out, so you’ll sleep better at night without thinking of your ex. Travel, too, can help, since the change of scenery will give you solace and heal your heartbreak.

“Or you can cultivate the art of hunting … Sleep at night, not desire for girls, welcomes the weary man, and the limbs will be restored by calm rest … You only need to journey far, though strong chains hold you back, and start to travel distant ways: you’ll cry, and your lost girl’s name will oppose it, and your feet will often stop you on the road: but the less you wish to go, the more you should go … the long road, give you a hundred solaces for your cares.” 

3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

When you’re nursing a breakup, you may want to stay inside, cry, and not talk to anyone. It’s more important than ever, though, to surround yourself with other people. According to Ovid, if you spend time alone you’ll be sad as you reminisce about your ex—and nights will be the hardest to get through:

“You who love, beware lonely places, lonely places are harmful! Why flee? You can be safer in a crowd. You don’t need secrecy (secrecy nurtures passion): in future it’s the crowd that will assist you. If you’re alone, you’ll be sad, and the form of the girl you’ve left will be there before your eyes, so like herself. Because of that, night’s sadder than the daylight: your crowd of friends missing, who might ease the gloom. Don’t shun conversation, or let your door be closed, don’t hide your tearful face in the shadows.” 

4. DON’T EAT ONIONS.

Because onions are an aphrodisiac, according to Ovid, don’t eat them! All types of onions will do you harm, whether they’re from Italy, North Africa, or Greece. You should also avoid another aphrodisiac, arugula (a.k.a. “that lustful garden rocket”). From Remedia Amoris:

“Behold, there’s still your diet, to complete all the doctor’s duties, I’ll give you what to swallow and avoid. Italian onions, or the ones they send you, from the shores of Libya, or the ones that come from Megara, every one will do you harm. It’s no less fitting to avoid that lustful garden rocket, and whatever readies these bodies of ours for making love.” 

5. THINK ABOUT ALL THE BAD QUALITIES OF YOUR EX.

If you’re feeling down about not having your ex in your life anymore, don’t get stuck idealizing your former partner. Instead, think of all the things you didn’t like about him or her. Perhaps she was greedy, she liked other people, or she rejected your love. Even if your ex’s legs were beautiful, think about them as if they were ugly. If that doesn’t work, sneak over to her house to see her when she’s not wearing any makeup or jewelry (maybe don’t actually do this one). As Ovid explains: 

“Tell yourself often what your wicked girl has done, and before your eyes place every hurt you’ve had … Let all this embitter your every feeling: recall it, look here for the seeds of your dislike ... It helped to continually dwell on my friend’s faults, and it often was the thing that made me better. ‘How ugly,’ I’d say ‘my girl’s legs are!’ and yet they weren’t, if the truth be told … And appear suddenly, when she’s applied no make-up to herself, having hastened your steps to your lady in the dawn. We’re carried away by adornment: in gold and gems all’s hidden: the least part of it’s the girl herself.” 

6. AVOID CONTACT WITH YOUR EX.

According to Ovid, recent heartbreak is like a fragile wound. Even if your scar has scabbed over, spending time with your ex will rip the scab right off and open the wound. To avoid running into your ex, don’t go for walks near where she lives, don’t stay friends with her family, and definitely don’t talk to her maid to fish for information about how she’s doing.

“If you love, but don’t wish to, avoid making contact … Another man was already cured: being near harmed him: he couldn’t bear any meeting with his mistress. The wound, poorly healed, reopened at the old scar … Don’t take your walks in the colonnade where she’s accustomed to: and don’t adorn the same functions … Say goodbye to mother, sister, and the nurse who’s in the know, and whoever plays any part in your girl’s life. Don’t let her slave come by, or her maid, with lying tears, humbly saying: ‘Greetings!’ in their mistress’s name. And if you want to know what she’s doing, still, don’t ask: endure! It will profit you to hold your tongue.”

7. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH WITCHCRAFT AND SPELLS.

Ovid doesn’t put much stock in herbs, magic arts, wicked spells, and charms. He strongly advises against using witchcraft to make your ex fall back in love with you. From Remedia Amoris

“Harmful herbs, and magic arts … With me in charge no spirits will be ordered from their graves, no witch, with wicked spells, will split the ground … No pains will be charmed away to ease the heart, conquering love won’t be put to flight by burning sulphur … So whoever you are who call for help from my art, put no faith in witchcraft and incantations.”

8. LET YOUR EX KEEP THE GIFTS YOU GAVE HER.

Although you should think about your ex’s negative qualities and avoid seeing her, don’t let yourself hate her. After all, as Ovid points out, you shouldn’t hate someone that you once loved. Instead, be indifferent towards her, and let her keep any gifts you gave her during your relationship. 

“But it’s wrong to hate the girl you loved, in any way: that conclusion suits uncivilized natures. It’s enough not to care: who ends his love by hating, is either still in love, or finds it hard to leave off being sorry. Shame for a man and woman, once joined, now to be enemies … Tell her to keep the gifts you gave her, without any ruling: small losses are usually a major gain.”

9. IF YOU SEE YOUR EX, PRETEND THAT YOU’RE HAPPY. 

It’s bound to happen sooner or later—the inevitable run-in with your ex. Even if you’re deeply grieving and heartbroken, put on a happy face so your ex thinks that you’re doing fine. And definitely don’t cry in front of her. If you act as if you’re not hurting, eventually you’ll feel better for real.

“Make it seem to your girl that you’re chillier than ice: and if you’re grieving deeply, look happy, lest she see it, and laugh, when tears come to you … Pretend to what is not, and that the passion’s over, so you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be … he who can imagine he’s well, will be well … The new day will dawn: lose your words of grievance, and show no signs of suffering in your face.” 

10. THROW OUT ALL REMINDERS OF HIM OR HER. 

If you reminisce about the good times you had with your ex, your heart will hurt even more because your passion will be reignited. Even though you won’t want to, Ovid suggests that you burn all the love letters from your ex. You also should avoid visiting places that will evoke strong memories of the times you spent together.

“Don’t re-read the letters you’ve kept from your sweet girl: re-reading letters shakes the steadfast heart. Put them all in the fierce flames (you’ll hate to do it), and say: ‘Let this be the funeral pyre for my passion.’… And often places hurt you: flee the places where you slept guiltily together: they’re a cause of grief … Remembering reopens love, the wound’s newly re-opened: trifling errors damage the weak-minded.”

11. DON’T GO TO THE THEATRE OR READ POETRY.

Ovid reluctantly—he is a poet, after all—urges heartbroken people to temporarily avoid the arts. Theatre and poetry will soften your heart and remind you of your lost love. In short, the arts will do nothing for your recovery. As he writes in Remedia Amoris:

“But there’s value in not indulging in the theatre, till love’s truly vanished from your empty heart, The zithers, and lutes and lyres unman you, and the sound and waving limbs of the troupe. There lovers’ parts are danced, continually: the actor, with art shows, what delights: and what you must avoid. I speak unwillingly now: don’t touch the tender poets! Disloyally I banish even my own gifts.”

All photos provided by iStock.

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Penn Vet Working Dog Center
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
New Program Trains Dogs to Sniff Out Art Smugglers
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Soon, the dogs you see sniffing out contraband at airports may not be searching for drugs or smuggled Spanish ham. They might be looking for stolen treasures.

K-9 Artifact Finders, a new collaboration between New Hampshire-based cultural heritage law firm Red Arch and the University of Pennsylvania, is training dogs to root out stolen antiquities looted from archaeological sites and museums. The dogs would be stopping them at borders before the items can be sold elsewhere on the black market.

The illegal antiquities trade nets more than $3 billion per year around the world, and trafficking hits countries dealing with ongoing conflict, like Syria and Iraq today, particularly hard. By one estimate, around half a million artifacts were stolen from museums and archaeological sites throughout Iraq between 2003 and 2005 alone. (Famously, the craft-supply chain Hobby Lobby was fined $3 million in 2017 for buying thousands of ancient artifacts looted from Iraq.) In Syria, the Islamic State has been known to loot and sell ancient artifacts including statues, jewelry, and art to fund its operations.

But the problem spans across the world. Between 2007 and 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Control discovered more than 7800 cultural artifacts in the U.S. looted from 30 different countries.

A yellow Lab sniffs a metal cage designed to train dogs on scent detection.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

K-9 Artifact Finders is the brainchild of Rick St. Hilaire, the executive director of Red Arch. His non-profit firm researches cultural heritage property law and preservation policy, including studying archaeological site looting and antiquities trafficking. Back in 2015, St. Hilaire was reading an article about a working dog trained to sniff out electronics that was able to find USB drives, SD cards, and other data storage devices. He wondered, if dogs could be trained to identify the scents of inorganic materials that make up electronics, could they be trained to sniff out ancient pottery?

To find out, St. Hilaire tells Mental Floss, he contacted the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, a research and training center for detection dogs. In December 2017, Red Arch, the Working Dog Center, and the Penn Museum (which is providing the artifacts to train the dogs) launched K-9 Artifact Finders, and in late January 2018, the five dogs selected for the project began their training, starting with learning the distinct smell of ancient pottery.

“Our theory is, it is a porous material that’s going to have a lot more odor than, say, a metal,” says Cindy Otto, the executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center and the project’s principal investigator.

As you might imagine, museum curators may not be keen on exposing fragile ancient materials to four Labrador retrievers and a German shepherd, and the Working Dog Center didn’t want to take any risks with the Penn Museum’s priceless artifacts. So instead of letting the dogs have free rein to sniff the materials themselves, the project is using cotton balls. The researchers seal the artifacts (broken shards of Syrian pottery) in airtight bags with a cotton ball for 72 hours, then ask the dogs to find the cotton balls in the lab. They’re being trained to disregard the smell of the cotton ball itself, the smell of the bag it was stored in, and ideally, the smell of modern-day pottery, eventually being able to zero in on the smell that distinguishes ancient pottery specifically.

A dog looks out over the metal "pinhweel" training mechanism.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

“The dogs are responding well,” Otto tells Mental Floss, explaining that the training program is at the stage of "exposing them to the odor and having them recognize it.”

The dogs involved in the project were chosen for their calm-but-curious demeanors and sensitive noses (one also works as a drug-detection dog when she’s not training on pottery). They had to be motivated enough to want to hunt down the cotton balls, but not aggressive or easily distracted.

Right now, the dogs train three days a week, and will continue to work on their pottery-detection skills for the first stage of the project, which the researchers expect will last for the next nine months. Depending on how the first phase of the training goes, the researchers hope to be able to then take the dogs out into the field to see if they can find the odor of ancient pottery in real-life situations, like in suitcases, rather than in a laboratory setting. Eventually, they also hope to train the dogs on other types of objects, and perhaps even pinpoint the chemical signatures that make artifacts smell distinct.

Pottery-sniffing dogs won’t be showing up at airport customs or on shipping docks soon, but one day, they could be as common as drug-sniffing canines. If dogs can detect low blood sugar or find a tiny USB drive hidden in a house, surely they can figure out if you’re smuggling a sculpture made thousands of years ago in your suitcase.

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olympics
9 Scandals that Rocked the Figure Skating World
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images

Don't let the ornate costumes and beautiful choreography fool you, figure skaters are no strangers to scandal. Here are nine notable ones.

1. TONYA AND NANCY.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
Pascal Rondeau, ALLSPORT/Getty Images

In 1994, a little club-and-run thrust the sport of figure skating into the spotlight. The assault on reigning national champion Nancy Kerrigan (and her subsequent anguished cries) at the 1994 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Detroit was heard round the world, as were the allegations that her main rival, Tonya Harding, may have been behind it all.

The story goes a little something like this: As America's sweetheart (Kerrigan) is preparing to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team bound for Lillehammer, Norway, she gets clubbed in the knee outside the locker room after practice. Kerrigan is forced to withdraw from competition and Harding gets the gold. Details soon emerge that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was behind the attack (he hired a hitman). Harding denies any knowledge or involvement, but tanks at the Olympics the following month. She then pleads guilty to hindering prosecution of Gillooly and his co-conspirators, bodyguard Shawn Eckhart and hitman Shane Stant. And then she's banned from figure skating for life.

Questions about Harding's guilt remain two decades later, and the event is still a topic of conversation today. Recently, both an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary and the Oscar-nominated film I, Tonya revisited the saga, proving we can't get enough of a little figure skating scandal.

2. HAND-PICKED FOR GOLD.

Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner at the podium
Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

Usually it's the top three medalists at the U.S. Nationals that compete for America at the Winter Olympics every four years. But in 2014, gold medalist Gracie Gold (no pun intended), silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and ... "pewter" medalist Ashley Wagner were destined for Sochi.

What about the bronze medalist, you ask? Mirai Nagasu, despite out-skating Wagner by a landslide in Boston and despite being the only skater with prior Olympic experience (she placed fourth at Vancouver in 2010) had to watch it all on television. The decision by the country's governing body of figure skating (United States Figure Skating Association, or USFS) deeply divided the skating community as to whether it was the right choice to pass over Nagasu in favor of Wagner, who hadn't skated so great, and it put a global spotlight on the selection process.

In reality, the athletes that we send to the Olympics are not chosen solely on their performance at Nationals—it's one of many criteria taken into consideration, including performance in international competition over the previous year, difficulty of each skater's technical elements, and, to some degree, their marketability to a world audience. This has happened before to other skaters—most notably Michelle Kwan was relegated to being an alternate in 1994 after Nancy Kerrigan was granted a medical bye after the leg-clubbing heard round the world. Nagasu had the right to appeal the decision, and was encouraged to do so by mobs of angry skating fans, but she elected not to.

3. SALT LAKE CITY, 2002.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia perform in the figure skating exhibition during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Brian Bahr, Getty Images

Objectively, this scandal rocked the skating world the hardest, because the end result was a shattering of the competitive sport's very structure. When Canadian pairs team Jamie Sale and David Pelletier found themselves in second place after a flawless freeskate at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, something wasn't right. The Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze placed first, despite a technically flawed performance.

An investigation into the result revealed that judges had conspired to fix the results of the pairs and dance events—a French judge admitted to being pressured to vote for the Russian pair in exchange for a boost for the French dance team (who won that event). In the end, both pairs teams were awarded a gold medal, and the entire system of judging figure skating competition was thrown out and rebuilt.

4. AGENT OF STYLE.

Jackson Haines was an American figure skater in the mid-1800s who had some crazy ideas about the sport. He had this absolutely ludicrous notion of skating to music (music!), waltzing on ice, as well as incorporating balletic movements, athletic jumps, and spins into competition. His brand new style of skating was in complete contrast to the rigid, traditional, and formal (read: awkward) standard of tracing figure-eights into the ice. Needless to say, it was not well received by the skating world in America, so he was forced to take his talents to the Old World.

His new “international style” did eventually catch on around the globe, and Haines is now hailed as the father of modern figure skating. He also invented the sit spin, a technical element now required in almost every level and discipline of the sport.

5. LADIES LAST.

In 1902, competitive figure skating was a gentlemen's pursuit. Ladies simply didn't compete by themselves on the world stage (though they did compete in pairs events). But a British skater named Madge Syers flouted that standard, entering the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902. She ruffled a lot of feathers, but was ultimately allowed to compete and beat the pants off every man save one, earning the silver medal.

Her actions sparked a controversy that spurred the International Skating Union to create a separate competitive world event for women in 1906. Madge went on to win that twice, and became Olympic champion at the 1908 summer games [PDF] in London—the first “winter” Olympics weren't held until 1924 in France, several years after Madge died in 1917.

6. AGENT OF STYLE, PART 2.

A picture of Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie
Keystone/Getty Images

Norwegian skater Sonja Henie was the darling of the figure skating world in the first half of the 20th century. The flirtatious blonde was a three-time Olympic champion, a movie star, and the role model of countless aspiring skaters. She brought sexy back to skating—or rather, introduced it. She was the first skater to wear scandalously short skirts and white skates. Prior to her bold fashion choices, ladies wore black skates and long, conservative skirts. During WWII, a fabric shortage hiked up the skirts even further than Henie's typical length, and the ladies of figure skating have never looked back.

7. TOO SEXY FOR HER SKATES.

Katarina Witt displaying her gold medal
DANIEL JANIN, AFP/Getty Images

A buxom young beauty from the former Democratic German Republic dominated ladies figure skating in the mid- to late 1980s. A two-time Olympic champion, and one of the most decorated female skaters in history, Katarina Witt was just too sexy for her shirt—she tended to wear scandalously revealing costumes (one of which resulted in a wardrobe malfunction during a show), and was criticized for attempting to flirt with the judges to earn higher scores.

The ISU put the kibosh on the controversial outfits soon afterward, inserting a rule that all competitive female skaters “must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for an athletic sport.” The outrage forced Witt to add some fabric to her competitive outfits in the late '80s. But 10 years later she took it all off, posing naked for a 1998 issue of Playboy.

8. MORE COSTUME CONTROVERSY.

For the 2010 competitive year, the ISU's annual theme for the original dance segment (since defunct and replaced by the “short dance”) was “country/folk.” That meant competitors had to create a routine that explored some aspect of it, in both music and costume as well as in maneuvers. The top Russian pair chose to emulate Aboriginal tribal dancing in their program, decked in full bodysuits adorned with their interpretation of Aboriginal body paint (and a loincloth).

Their debut performance at the European Championships drew heavy criticism from Aboriginal groups in both Australia and Canada, who were greatly offended by the inaccuracy of the costumes and the routine. The Russian pair, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, were quick to dial down the costumes and dial up the accuracy in time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the judges were not impressed. They ended up with the bronze, ending decades of Russian dominance in the discipline. (With the glaring exception of 2002, of course.)

9. IN MEMORIAM.

While not a scandal, this event bears mentioning because it has rocked the figure skating world arguably more than anything else. In February of 1961, the American figure skating team boarded a flight to Belgium from New York, en route to the World Championships in Prague. The plane went down mysteriously (cause still questioned today) as it tried to land in Brussels, killing all 72 passengers. America's top skaters and coaches had been aboard, including nine-time U.S. Champion and Olympic bronze medalist-turned-coach Maribel Vinson-Owen and her daughter Laurence Owen, a 16-year-old who had been heavily favored to win the ladies event that year.

The ISU canceled the competition upon the news of the crash and the United States lost its long-held dominance in the sport for almost a decade. The United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) soon after established a memorial fund that helped support the skating careers of competitors in need of financial assistance, including future Olympic champions like Scott Hamilton and Peggy Fleming.

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