Alpha Is Not The Same Thing As Manly

One of the basic insights of game is that success with women does not require that a man be a true leader of men, or an admirable man from a man’s perspective. The modern condition has only increased the distance between men admirable to men and men admired by women.

We shouldn’t think that this is anything new. The difference between what is good and what women choose has been around since the beginning of western civilization, in the Iliad and the story of the Trojan War. In the story of the Trojan War, the Trojan prince Paris had to choose which of Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite was the most beautiful. Each of the goddesses offered him a bribe to choose her. Hera offered him the rule of many cities, Athena offered him mastery in battle, but Aphrodite offered him the hand of the most beautiful woman in the world. Since that woman is Helen of Troy and she’s already married, Paris’ choice of Aphrodite sets up the seduction/abduction of Helen and thereafter the Trojan war.

It’s essential to note that Paris was wrong to choose Aphrodite. He failed in everything expected of him as a man and a warrior. For the Greeks. a man’s worth lies in his accomplishments, and his first loyalties are to his family and his city. Paris passed up all of this for the sake of a woman, and his lack of self control – the essence of manliness to the Greeks – brought harsh war upon his people.

Look at Paris in this painting. As the goddesses display themselves, he sits there in fear and despair. This is a man who has lost his reason, who has given up on the good for the sake of his immediate desires. The artist (Lucas Cranach) has stamped this upon his features, but how many more are there who can cover this failure in a pleasant face in public. Of course we have to admit that Paris is facing goddesses here, so he has some justification for fear, but the final word is that he failed to do what he should have.

The Judgment of Paris by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Because of this failure of character, Paris is a figure of contempt in the Iliad. His brother, the great warrior and family man Hektor referred to him as

“Evil Paris, Beautiful, woman-crazy, cajoling,
better had you never been born, or killed unwedded.
Truly I could have wished it so; it would be far better
than to have you with us to our shame, for others to sneer at.
Surely now the flowing-haired Achaians laugh at us,
thinking you are our bravest champion, only because your
looks are handsome, but there is no strength in your heart, no courage.
Were you like this that time when in sea-wandering vessels
assembling oarsmen to help you you sailed over the waters
and mixed with the outlanders, and carried away a fair woman
from a remote land, whose lord’s kin were spearmen and fighters,
to your father a big sorrow, and your city, and all your people,
to yourself a thing shameful but bringing joy to the enemy?”

In his duel with Menelaus, Paris is saved from death by Aphrodite. He goes to see Helen, who by now has nothing but contempt for him.

Helen, daughter of Zeus of the aegis, took her place there,
turning her eyes away, and spoke to her lord in derision:
“So you came back from fighting. Oh, how I wish you had died there
beaten down by the stronger man, who was once my husband.”

Later, as Paris is trying to avoid battle, his brother Hektor, the family man in contrast to the Player Paris, finds him in hiding. Paris tells him he was just on his way, that his wife had persuaded him to go out and fight. Helen, who now regrets her choice and (mirabile dictu!) even feels guilty about her conduct, wants to talk to Hektor.

by marriage to me, who am a nasty bitch evil-intriguing,
how I wish that on that day when my mother first bore me
the foul whirlwind of the storm had caught me away and swept me
to the mountain, or into the wash of the sea deep-thundering
where the waves would have swept me away before all these things had happened.
Yet since the gods had brought it about that these vile things must be,
I wish I had been the wife of a better man than this is,
one who knew modesty and all the things of shame that men say.
But this man’s heart is no steadfast thing, nor yet will it be so
ever hereafter.

Hektor, ever the dutiful family man, declines Helen’s pleas to stay and keep her company, but goes to see his family, then off to the battlefield.

There’s a certain feminine character to the player Paris. He fights with the bow – a dishonorable weapon in the heroic age. In so doing, he not only shows a certain personal cowardice, but also a practical focus on tangible results, in contrast with the idealistic honor centric behavior of the strong Greeks, who fight to be remembered for all time. This practical focus on results – like that of the player who only targets his notch count – and on attaining results by whatever works – is feminine in character. As Schopenhauer wrote of women, “Nature has not destined them, as the weaker sex, to be dependent on strength but on cunning.” The womanly alpha cunning of Paris should be contrasted to the cunning of the manly (Homeric) Odysseus, but that’s a matter for another time, perhaps.


About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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