Sage and Seductress: Aristotle and Campaspe as Thirteenth-Century Archetypes

  • Sharyn Udall University of New Mexico


This article argues that the ancient struggle in Western history between nature and culture can be seen in visual representations of the thirteenth-century poem, Le lai d'Aristote by Henri d'Andely. like other medieval fabliaux, the Lai d'Aristote reflects a double image, echoing conflicting medieval views of women (here represented by Campaspe) as daughters of both Eve the temptress and the Virgin Mary. The tale illustrates the influence of rediscovered Aristotelian texts on medieval intellectual society in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Visual representations more virulently misogynistic than the Lai itself reveal the still-unresolved male/female, nature/culture conflicts of the era, as Christian theology confronts a new view of nature in the Aristotelian texts.
Original Research