Part Four, “Duties and Privileges of the Wife”, is the shortest part. There are two chapters: “Conduct of the Only Wife” and “Conduct of the Chief Wife and Other Wives”.
The first chapter basically says that the wife should not do anything without her husband’s approval, and strive to please him in everything. Yes, that’s damned sexist. But it’s also from a cultural milieu over 1,500 years old. We’ve got no business condemning the Past for the sins of the Present.
The second chapter is a catch-all for other situations. Does the guy already have a wife? How about widows and divorced women? Or the harem of a king? It’s all on the order of “If there’s another wife or concubine, be nice and don’t make a fuss”, and “Don’t get married a lot, because then people will think you’re a whore.”
Good thing it’s the shortest section.
Part Five is titled “Other Men’s Wives”. Of course, the author says you should never go about seducing another man’s wife. But if you’re going to do it, this is how it’s done.
Also typical is the obsession with lists:
4. The stages of development of passion number ten.
The first chapter is “Behavior of Man and Woman”, and it goes over why a woman might be dissatisfied with her husband, the sort of signs by which she indicates her “availability”, and the reasons why, even though she is out there flirting, she’s Just Not Into You.
The next three chapters, “Encounters to Get Acquainted”, “Examination of Sentiments”, and “The Task of the Go-Between”, are about all the arrangements for conducting an affair. If Part Three was about marriage, this is all about just getting to the point where you can have sex. As with earlier chapters, it is NOT a “How to Pick Up Girls” instructional. It’s clear that things take place discreetly, over several days. It’s also worth noting that “wingmen” have been around a long time.
Chapter Five is “The King’s Pleasures”, and it basically looks at the situations where there is a power imbalance between the lovers. Master and servant, landowner and tenant, the ruler and whoever he wants to sleep with… Or how to use sexual favors to gain an advantage. The tone is generally one of “you should not act like this”, but the author undermines that by giving far too many examples.
Chapter six is “Behavior in the Gynoecium” – also known as the harem. After some notes on the difficulties of sexually satisfying so many women on a regular basis, there are a whole bunch of tips for sneaking in to the ladies’ private quarters. Dress up as a woman. Pretend to be a family member, worker, or even a delivery person. Make friends with or even bribe the guards and staff.
The chapter – and indeed the entire part – ends with some general thoughts on the morality of having a fling with another man’s wife. He notes that although some women are easily seduced, they should not be blamed. The fault should be with the men, who have no respect for their virtue. Also, if their husband won’t properly take care of them (he’s an abusive jerk, is away from home too often, etc.) which leads to their seeking out of a lover, it’s his fault – not theirs.
And if there’s a reason for his giving all these examples? When you know how it’s done, you can keep an eye out for someone making a move on your own wife. Because honest people wouldn’t ever do any of these things that have been so extensively described.
47. The ways to success in this field have been described, but those who seek virtue and prosperity do not attempt to possess other men’s wives.