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Bestiaries of Love

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Bestiaries of Love

Postby Sonic# » Wed Feb 15, 13:54 2012

So, in commemoration of Valentine's Day, a medievalist blogger decided to put together some images and commentary from a medieval bestiary about love. Basically, there are lots of images and exempla used to illustrate how love works.

And hilarity ensues: http://www.gotmedieval.com/2012/02/the- ... eline.html

Mostly I wanted to share the page, but reading it made me think of a couple of things.

1. How would you draw something that you never saw? That's a tough question for us, because we have access to photographic images that can tell us fairly well how things appear. Where people didn't have photographs, there were still lithographs (19th c.) and woodcuts (prior to that), technologies designed to widely disseminate images. I find the images delightful and fantastic, because the depictions show so much of what the author imagined, how they made sense of the world, which connects right back to culture. Unreturned love as a form of consumption, the lady as a crocodile insensitive to her lover's pleas - wow.

2. Animal metaphors. Despite how silly and outlandish some of these are (imagining that monkeys will put on clothes a hunter leaves out, or a weasel that vomits the fire of love to cure those who ail from love), some persist, and others have since arisen. We have the expression "crocodile tears" for shows of hypocritical remorse. The monkey remains sartorial - chimp movies are fascinated with monkeys who put clothes on and (sometimes) talk. They've also become a joke: "stop monkeying around." And of course there's the "cougar," a recent appellation that has always rubbed me the wrong way.
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