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Readers in late medieval and early modern Europe had access to a lively and extensive literature on the nature of women. Philosophers, theologians, poets, physicians, and antiquarians of all kinds and degrees sought to describe and classify, analyze and dissect, justify or vilify the "second sex." As with other intense debates in those times, writers called upon the ancient sources of scientia and sapientia—factual knowledge and moral truth—to witness and buttress their arguments. The range of authorities was immense, both in time and substance, offering the diverse views of Aristotle and Augustine, of Ovid and Jerome, of Genesis and the Song of Solomon.
In any discussion of Marguerite de Navarre's Heptaméron, the first printing of her stories, a volume prepared by Pierre Boaistuau and entitled Histoires des amans fortunez (Paris, 1558), tends to receive slight as well as negative treatment. Mention of the Boaistuau text figures in only ten of the 866 notes appended by Michel François to his edition of the Heptaméron in the Classiques Gamier series. Of the 1558 volume Jourda wrote, "L'édition Gruget remplaça . . . l'édition Boaistuau. Elle reste la seule qui, malgré les critiques que Ton peut lui faire, mérite d'être consultée."
For Theatre audiences the central moment in The Tempest is more likely to be Prospero's revels than the "revels" speech long anthologized for readers as one of the beauties of Shakespeare. In performance die nuptial masque for Ferdinand and Miranda, suddenly resplendent and suddenly dissolved, displays Shakespeare's most elaborate stage spectacle, and it is on the force of that moment that the more famous speech reflects.