Aristotle? Pony play? Femdom? Wazzupwitdat?
Aristotle and Phyllis, Jan Sadeler I, After Bartholomaeus Spranger; Engraving, about 1587-1593; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
We looked in this post at a collection of images with lots nude females and males in suits – which sex shrinks say represents male dominance and female submission. So here’s a reversal, a clothed male being dominated and ridden by nude female. With a crop.
And that isn’t just any clothed male – its Aristotle, possibly the smartest man that ever lived, and certainly one of the top ten geniuses of the human race. And it’s not just any nude female – its Phyllis, according to some versions of the fable, below, the spouse of Alexander the Great, and in other versions, the hottest courtesan in Greece.
From Femdom Style Counsel (with an image above I substituted that I liked better because it seems to me to more clearly reflect the artist’s taste for burlesque mockery which is what I find amusing about the fable and the images depicting it):
This image illustrates the medieval story of Phyllis and Aristotle. The philosopher Aristotle warns the young king Alexander (who would become the Great) that he should not spent so much time with his wife (or lover, in other versions) Phyllis. He should rather concentrate on the affairs of state. The beautiful Phyllis of course dislikes this interference. She decides to seduce the old man, in which she quickly succeeds. When he is completely besotted, she promises the philosopher her favours on one condition. He should, as a proof of his true love, come crawling to her apartments and carry her like a pony.
And so it happens. But Alexander, informed by Phyllis, secretly observes the scene. In his anger he threatens to kill the old man. Aristotle however points out that the fact that he, as an experienced man, was so easily seduced and deceived by a woman only proves how right he was to warn for her influence. Thus the meaning of the story is clear. It wants to show us what happens when passion reigns over reason – and that woman is the source of that fateful passion.
But it also shows that we – men – are all fools. Besides that, the legend and its visual representation was for a long time the archetype of female erotic dominance. And it may be my imagination, but some old illustrations seem not so much driven by the intention to denounce female perfidy, as well as by a certain delight in the scene.
Does that strike you as medieval misogyny? Some think so, some don’t…Beginning in the thirteenth century, Aristotle appears everywhere in texts and in visual representations as a slave of love, a reincarnation of the ancient folkloric motif of the wise man tricked and humiliated by a beautiful woman.
And as mentioned above, Aristotle wasn’t just a wise man – one recent academic text has asserted that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time. Think about that for a minute…
The story has its origins in the writings of the thirteenth-century scholar Jacques de Vitry. Popular throughout the Rhineland, the fable was the subject of the fifteenth-century comedy Ain Spil van Maister Aristotiles. In the sixteenth century it was popular as an illustration of the triumph of female seduction over masculine intellect.
That all set me off on a brief riff through the modern day images of pony play with a few vintage pics to boot, so after the jump break some more naughty and freaky images….
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