The legendary Amazons of antiquity threatened social institutions that relied on communal adherence to the assumption of inherent female limitations, and confrontation between these viragoes and classical heroes provided a fruitful arena for exploring gender politics. Giovanni Boccaccio contributed to this tradition with a unique restaging of Amazonomachy and its consequences in his Teseida delle nozze d’Emilia (1339-1341?). While modern critical consensus holds that Teseo’s subjugation of the Amazons redounds both to his heroism in particular and the wellbeing of society in general, I argue that his unyielding repudiation of their desires and objectives is problematized throughout the text. These extraordinary women, consistently portrayed as personally and politically rational and just, defy entrenched assumptions of female alterity and inadequacy by demonstrating virtues intrinsic to the exemplarity of the duke’s own leadership. Teseo’s inability or refusal to acknowledge value in Amazon voices raises provocative questions associated with silencing the reasoning of reasonable women.
Copyright © 2016 Margaret Franklin
Franklin, Margaret "Silencing Female Reason in Boccaccio’s Teseida delle nozze d’Emilia." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 52, No. 1 (2016) : 42-59.