Abstract

Medieval literature often used stock descriptions of beautiful women following a well-established rhetorical canon which included expressions such as "golden hair," "sparkling eyes," or "skin whiter than snow." But were these terms mere rhetorical conventions derived from Latin poetry, as generally accepted by medieval scholars? And what happens if we examine these descriptions at the "literal" level of interpretation? This survey of works in the languages of medieval Iberia shows that the medieval rhetorical portrait synthesized a widely shared ideal of female beauty which coincides with today's male perceptions of female attractiveness, and is consistent with evolved psychological preferences.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 95-111
Launched on MUSE
2010-04-10
Open Access
No
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