This post is also available in: Deutsch
The Book of the Courtier, published in 1528 by Castiglione, dispenses courtship advice that will sound very familiar to modern practitioners of the crimson arts.
[T]he book, whose subject is the proper behavior of men and women at the courts of Renaissance princes, was written by Baldassare Castiglione, an aristocrat, soldier and diplomat who died, at age 50, less than a year after publication of his magnum opus. […]
For Castiglione the courtier should be acquainted with great literature, know music to the point of being able to play an instrument, be skilled at the arts of oratory, and in conversation employ exquisite tact and apply the art, in his memorable phrase, of “cheating expectations.”
VI. Keep her guessing
True to their inscrutable natures, women ask questions they don’t really want direct answers to. Woe be the man who plays it straight — his fate is the suffering of the beta. Evade, tease, obfuscate. She thrives when she has to imagine what you’re thinking about her, and withers when she knows exactly how you feel. A woman may want financial and family security, but she does not want passion security. In the same manner, when she has displeased you, punish swiftly, but when she has done you right, reward slowly. Reward her good behavior intermittently and unpredictably and she will never tire of working hard to please you.
AKA, cheat her expectations.
Not only must the courtier acquire all these skills, he must display them with a casual air of easy mastery. The ideal courtier, Castiglione writes, “must put every effort and diligence into outstripping others a little, so that he may be always recognized as better than the rest.” But he must do so without showing the least strain or hint of affectation. He is to accomplish this through sprezzatura, the art of artlessness, or the art that hides art.
Amused mastery. Demonstrate higher value. Don’t be try-hard. All concepts of modern pickup artist seduction technology that were once Renaissance era wisdom.
The point of the courtier making himself so charming, and of his elegant display of mastery of the arts, is that through them he will raise himself in the prince’s esteem, thereby seducing him into heeding his advice. If the excellence of the courtier’s cultural attainments is “the flower” of his training, “the fruit” lies in helping his prince “toward what is right and to warn him against what is wrong.”
People will hear you better if they are first charmed to fondness.
Game denialists who deploy, among their many ineffectual fusillades against Chateau Heartiste, the argument that game is an aping of the primitive cultures lack all historical perspective. European philosopher-kings knew game, and knew it so well they elevated it from the savannah and refined its practice to suit the demands of their world-beating civilization.
Seduce your fair women to ecstatic surrender. Anything less would be… uncivilized.