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Thousands of years ago, power was mostly gained through physical violence and maintained with brute strength. There was little need for subtlety – a king or emperor had to be merciless. Only a select few had power, but no one suffered under this scheme of things more than women. They had no way to compete, no weapon at their disposal that could make a man do what they wanted – politically, socially or even in the home.

Of course men had one weakness: their insatiable desire for sex. A woman could always toy with this desire, but once she gave in to the sex the man was back in control; and if she withheld sex, he could simply look elsewhere – or exert force. What good was a power that was so temporary and frail? Yet women had no choice but to submit to this condition. There were some, though, whose hunger for power was too great, and who, over the years, through much cleverness and creativity, invented a way of turning the dynamic around, creating a more lasting and effective form of power.

These women – among them Bathsheba, from the Old Testament; Helen of Troy; the Chinese siren Hsi Shi; and the greatest of them all, Cleopatra – invented seduction. First they would draw a man in with an alluring appearance, designing their makeup and adornment to fashion the image of a goddess come to life. By showing only glimpses of flesh, they would tease a man's imagination, stimulate the desire not just for sex but for something greater: the chance to possess a fantasy figure. Once they had their victim's interest, these women would lure them away from the masculine world of war and politics and get them to spend time in the feminine world - a world of luxury, spectacle, pleasure. They might also lead them astray literally, taking them on a journey, as Cleopatra lured Julius Caesar on a trip down the Nile. Men would grow hooked on these refined, sesual pleasures - they would fall in love. But then, invariably, the women would turn cold and indifferent, confusing their victims. Just when the men wanted more, they found their pleasures withdrawn. They would be forced into pursuit, trying anything to win back the favors they once had tasted and growing weak and emotional in the process. Men who had physical force and all the social power - men like King David, the Trojan Paris, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, King Fu Chai - would find themselves becoming the slave of the woman.



-Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction



This important side-track, by which woman succeeded in evading man's strength and establishing herself in power, has not been given due consideration by historians. From the moment when the woman detached herself from the crowd, an individual finished product, offering delights which could not be obtained by force, but only by flattery..., the reign of love's priestesses was inaugurated. It was a development of far-reaching importance in the history of civilization.... Only by the circuitous route of the art of love could woman again assert authority, and this she did by asserting herself at the very point at which she would normally be a slave at the man's mercy. She had discovered the might of lust, the secret of the art of love, the daemonic power of a passion artifically aroused and never satiated. The force thus unchained was thenceforth to count among the most remendous of the world's forces and at moments to have power even over life and death...

The deliberate spellbinding of man's senses was to have a magical effect upon him, opening up an infinitely wider range of sensation and spurring him on as if impelled by an inspired dream.


-Akexander Von Gleichen-Russwurm, The World's Lure, translated by Hannah Waller

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