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“An objective and unprejudiced look at the real world shows that only a limited category of men have gorgeous women: religious leaders, billionaires, film and television stars, famous actors, famous directors and gangsters.” —Francesco Alberoni in L’Erotismo (translation mine) .
Alberoni arrives at this argument by positing that able, attractive and even fascinating men have been known to choose to be with less attractive or even ugly women. This is because they know the price that comes with beautiful women.
The price – still according to Alberoni (I agree) – is battle. Splendid beauty is indissolubly connected to power, and power is connected to danger, much like that other category in aesthetics, the sublime. Alberoni goes on to invoke Helena as the archetypical beautiful woman in Goethe’s Faust.
Before the prize of beauty, lo I stand,
But who assures the prize to me?
Because Faust knows, as was the case with Helen of Troy that for a beautiful woman, the battle never ends.