Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Especially if she has access to media-assisted humiliation.

Published February 1, 2007 12:29AM (EST)

Unfortunately for Italy's former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, that so-often giddily cited idiom about scorned women doesn't warn that their fury may very well beget public humiliation. After reports surfaced of his flirtations with other women, his wife, Veronica Lario, skipped verbally reaming him out, choosing instead to air her domestic complaints in a daily newspaper, the Associated Press reports.

Last week at a TV awards ceremony, the notoriously inappropriate Berlusconi reportedly told a woman, "If I weren't married, I would marry you immediately." To another he pronounced: "With you, I'd go anywhere." His comments were picked up by the Italian press and Lario decided to speak up. "I see these statements as damaging my dignity," she wrote in a letter published today by La Repubblica, a newspaper that has been highly critical of Berlusconi. "To both my husband and the public man, I therefore demand a public apology since I haven't received any privately."

Berlusconi quickly relented, responding with the romantic equivalent of a prepackaged, drugstore box of chocolates: "Dear Veronica, here's my apology. Forgive me, I beg you. And take this public show of my private pride giving in to your fury as an act of love. One of many," he wrote in a public statement. Berlusconi then blamed his busy career -- "public exams that never end, a life under constant pressure" -- for his inappropriateness. "But your dignity has nothing to do with it," he continued. "I treasure it as a precious good in my heart, even when I make carefree jokes, a gallant remark." (You see, the 70-year-old's flirtations are merely a gentlemanly gesture toward womankind.)

Though the whole exchange is sick -- on both sides -- it's also fairly entertaining. But I feel a bit dirty, perhaps used -- like an unwitting participant in the couple's very public game of foreplay.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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Broadsheet Coupling Love And Sex Silvio Berlusconi