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Phyllis or Le Lai d' Aristote

Related: fabliaux - female domination - Aristotle

Aristotle and Phyllis (c. 1485)


Aristotle, supposed tutor and counselor to Alexander the Great, fell for the scheme of the youthful monarch's paramour. One of the best loved medieval tales, the so-called "Lai d' Aristote," presented a scandalous image of the great philosopher. The story of Aristotle's fall remained popular for more than 500 years. --http://education.umn.edu/EdPA/iconics/aristotle/default.htm [Jul 2004]

The Power of Women

Part of a series known as the Power of Women, found in literature as well as other visual arts, this image recounts the late medieval legend that Aristotle tried to teach his protege Alexander about the dangers of love, only to fall prey to this humiliation himself. Consistent with both the courtly audience and the moralizing tone of prints by this multitalented, multimedia Rhenish artist.

Scholars were children of Jupiter, and Aristotle was one of the foremost scholars of antiquity. According to medieval legend he had urgently warned Alexander the Great to abstain from worldly pleasures, but this provoked Alexander's mistress Phyllis, who was determined to humiliate Aristotle and demonstrate the power of the flesh over the intellect. She accomplished this by seducing the great philosopher and then asking him to let her ride on his back. He consented, not realizing that Alexander had been invited to secretly witness this victory.

Phyllis and Aristotle (1513) - Hans Baldung Grien

Phyllis and Aristotle (1513) - Hans Baldung Grien

Lai d'Aristote
Henri d'Andeli, a thirteenth-century Norman poet, amused and scandalized French readers of his narrative the Lai is this: Aristotle, tutor and counselor to Alexander the Great, sought to separate the youthful monarch from his paramour--now usually known as Phyllis--who was absorbing all his time and energy, and causing him to neglect his political duties. Reluctantly, Alexander agreed to the separation, but soon revealed the fact to Phyllis. She thereupon contrived a scheme to nullify Aristotle's influence, aiming to regain her lover's attentions. --http://education.umn.edu/EdPA/iconics/lecture_hall/aristotle.htm [Jun 2006]

Les Dits d'Henri d'Anadeli, ed. Alain Corbellari, Classiques francais du Moyen Age

This timely and most welcome publication at last supersedes that of Heron (i88i) by offering excellent new editions of the four works commonly attributed to Henri d'Andeli: the riotous allegories of the Bataille des vins and the Bataille des sept arts, the moving Dit du Chancelier Philippe, and the best known of Henri's works, the Lai d'Aristote. The introductory material strikes an impressive balance between detail ...

See also: fabliaux - Phyllis - Aristotle - 1500s - Hans Baldung Grien

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