Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mistress of Arts

This is me right now. 
Fair rustlers of petticoats! It has been too long... And partly because I am cooking up some really great posts... but also because, in three short weeks, I will take my comprehensive exams for my Master's degree. That means I've been boning up on a couple of books... namely everything significant that was written from the year 1100 till the year 2000 in either the Iberian peninsula or Latin America. If I pass these exams, I will move on to take an oral exam, where I will face the firing committee of professors that will ask me questions on pretty much anything they fancy. Finally, if I pass all of those tests, I will become a Mistress of Arts.

In the meantime, I will be absent from the blog but have you, my band of wild petticoats, ever in my mind. The things I'm reading are oh-so-wonderful and there are many posts in the wings...

Medieval marginalia
I will leave you with a taste of something I read this weekend... it is from an incredibly naughty, raucous poem written by a picaresque little priest from Medieval Spain. Juan Ruiz, the Archpriest of Hita, in El libro de buen amor (The Book of Good Love) offers most inventive and wild advise--in lyric form--for how to be successful when seducing shepherd girls, married women, nuns, and go-betweens. The text is full of bizarre fables in which anthropomorphic woodland creatures provide the reader (or listener, as they were traditionally sung in court or homes) with a strange and often less-than-obvious moral.

Here is a little morsel of one of his rhymes, taken from the "Parable of Two Lazy Men Who Would Marry One Woman" (translation by Elisha Kent Kane), in which a woman being courted by two ugly old men, slyly asks them who is more lazy. They fight over which of the two of them is more lazy- at which point the clever girl declares they've tied and, because she can't marry two men, will have neither. This parable (and several others before and after it) are used by the Archpriest to show how the 7 deadly sins not only kill your soul, but also your ability to have an active amorous life...

The moral to this tale, Messire, I beg you to remember
Because it shows how hateful sloth is to the female gender,
Since sloth can never passion fan into a glowing ember,
Hence, be not slothful anywhere--above all in your member.

Ahem. Right, then. 

Until next time, fair petticoat rustlers! (Wish me luck!)


  1. I love this! That hilarious illustration at the bottom reminds me of the Uncle Tompa stories -- do you remember? I think of you every day, doing this hard (and wonderful work) and wish you all success on these exams.

  2. Good luck with exams, and ty for posting this gem.

  3. Just found you - want to join your band, fair leader. Do hope it all went very very well.

    1. Thank you so much for the well wishes! Glad to have you in the band!