Book Summaries Psychology

Part 2: Create Temptation (The Art of Seduction)

For these two crimes Tantalus was punished with the ruin of his kingdom and, after his death by Zeus’s own hand, with eternal torment in the company of Ixion, Sisyphus, Tityus, the Danaids, and others. Now he hangs, perennially consumed by thirst and hunger, from the bough of a fruit tree which leans over a marshy lake. Its waves lap against his waist, and sometimes reach his chin, yet whenever he bends down to drink, they slip away, and nothing remains but the black mud at his feet; or, if he ever succeeds in scooping up a handful of water, it slips through his fingers before he can do more than wet his cracked lips, leaving him thirstier than ever. The tree is laden with pears, shining apples, sweet figs, ripe olives and pomegranates, which dangle against his shoulders; but whenever he reaches for the luscious fruit, a gust of wind whirls them out of his reach.


Barriers are a key to seducing through temptation. It used to be the case that social obstacles such as class, race, marriage, or religion would keep people apart. Today, these barriers must be psychological.

Your heart is taken by someone else; you are really not interested in the target; some secret holds you back; the timing is bad; you are not good enough for the other person; the other person is not good enough for you; and so on.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Most of the time, people struggle to maintain balance and security in their lives. They can’t pursue every new person or fantasy that appears before them, they would be unable to survive. The world is full of temptations and resisting them is hard work. They learn about others who are richer or more adventurous or happy. The security they display is an illusion, they are always seeking something better.

Do not mistake their appearance for reality. Their fight to keep order in their lives is exhausting, and they have many doubts and regrets. Being good and virtuous is difficult enough – this makes seduction easier.

People don’t want temptation – they are tempted all the time. What they want is to give in, to yield. That is how they can get rid of the tension in their lives. It’s more costly to resist than to surrender.

You should create a temptation that is stronger than what they are used to every day. It has to be tailored to them – at their weakness.

Everyone has a principal weakness, from which others stem. Find that childhood insecurity, that lack in their life, and you hold the key to tempting them. Their weakness may be greed, vanity, boredom, some deeply repressed desire, a hunger for forbidden fruit. They signal it in little details that elude their conscious control: their style of clothing, an offhand comment. Their past, and particularly their past romances, will be littered with clues. Give them a potent temptation, tailored to their weakness, and you can make the hope of pleasure that you stir in them figure more prominently than the doubts and anxieties that accompany it.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

"A gilded No is more satisfactory than a dry yes" - Gracian

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