Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-pjpqr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-24T11:06:46.297Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chapter 8 - Arts of Love and Justice

Property, Women and Golden Age Politics in Le Roman de la Rose

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2023

Ardis Butterfield
Affiliation:
Yale University
Ian Johnson
Affiliation:
St Andrews University
Andrew Kraebel
Affiliation:
Trinity University
Get access

Summary

This essay reads the Roman de la Rose as taking up Ovid’s playful association of sex with the origins of human society. Jean de Meun’s Rose returns repeatedly to the narration of political origins – the fall from a Golden Age – imagining an idyllic communal past before it was shattered by conflict over wealth and women. These stories frame erotic desire as inevitably linked to the law and to possession, associating eros with desire for private property. I argue that Aristotle’s Politics functions as an unacknowledged literal referent that troubles the poem’s allegorical treatment of justice and social origins. Whereas Golden Age fables typically speak in unmarked terms about human comity and common possessions, Aristotle and medieval Aristotelian commentaries speak in terms of gendered power dynamics, masculine ownership and the fate of women as property. The Rose reveals the literal truths of scholastic philosophy to be in conflict with mythic truth, while anatomising the necessarily gendered dynamics of human sociality. In a political sphere in which women are considered in the same category as property, the heterosexual desire for possession will always be political. The Rose also leads us to consider whether the political, in turn, is always erotic.

Type
Chapter
Information
Literary Theory and Criticism in the Later Middle Ages
Interpretation, Invention, Imagination
, pp. 159 - 179
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×