Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 42255
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Zymla , Herbert Gonzalez,
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Aristóteles y la cortesana: iconografía del filósofo metafísico dominado por el deseo entre los siglos XIII y XIV
  • Source: Revista Digital de Iconografia Medieval 9, 17 ( 2017): Pages 7 - 44. Available open access on the Revista Digital de Iconografía Medieval site: https://www.ucm.es/data/cont/docs/621-2017-06-23-Arist%C3%B3teles%20y%20la%20cortesana39.pdf.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Aristotle, Ancient Philosopher Phyllis, Lover of Aristotle Seduction Sexuality
  • Geographic Area: General
  • Century: 13- 14
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations:
  • Table:
  • Abstract: The story of Aristotle and the courtesan, called in some accounts Phyllis, Filis or Campaspe, narrates a story totally invented, conceived to ridicule the philosopher so admired in the scholastic thought of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. According to this account, Aristotle would have reprimanded Alexander the Great for getting too distracted with the courtesans and concubines who lived in the Palace, disregarding his true responsibilities as a statesman. Phyllis then decides to mock the Emperor’s preceptor by making the father of Metaphysics the victim of irrepressible physical desires. She seduces him by offering to keep full sexual intercourse with him if he consents on being saddled and ridden as a horse (a powerful symbol of passions) to walk her round a garden at noon. She has previously informed Alexander about the place where he has to hide in order to realise how his master does exactly the opposite as he preaches. Alexander, on seeing Aristotle ridden, asks him: How have you reached this situation? And his master, ashamed, answers: Distrust love for, if it can turn an old philosopher into a madman, to what extreme will it be able to take a young prince. During the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance the story and its iconography were understood as a warning against lust and the false philosophies that did not prepare man for death and the salvation of his soul. They collect, the same as a large part of the medieval sapiential literature, a misogynistic view of the woman, frequent within the clergy in the Lower Middle Ages. According to this assumption, females utilize their beauty to submit men and convert them into animals dominated by uncontainable passions. The legend of Aristotle and the Courtesan symbolises power and lust, aiming at ridiculing what deserves the maximum respect: Metaphysics and his master, Aristotle.
  • Author's Affiliation: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2017.
  • Language: Spanish
  • ISSN/ISBN: 2254853X
  • Material/Technique :
  • Rights: