Saturday, February 05, 2011

Women of the Knight . . .

Geisha Girls
(Image from Wikipedia)

. . . the Lord, the Earl, the Duke, and the King. The world's oldest profession also has its higher ranks the world over, e.g., Geishas in Japan, Gisaeng in Korea, and the Cortigiane Oneste in the Venice of Galileo's time, all of whom were expected to entertain men in more than the most basic sense. I've just learned from yesterday's reading in Heilbron's biography of Galileo about those highly skilled "honest courtesans":
An honest courtesan could sing and play the lute, read and write, and, in some well-studied cases, recite and compose poetry. (John Heilbron, Galileo, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 83)
Galileo in fact had three children with a woman named Marina Gamba to whom he never proposed marriage, though he did help her compose poems, and who may have been one of these 'honest' ladies just noted, despite never having quite made an honest man of Galileo (page 84).

I'm learning a great deal about Galileo from Heilbron's book, which is a fascinating synthesis of art and science and a thought-provoking text on the nature of scientific discovery. I begin to see why Heilbron doubts that there is just one scientific method.

More another time . . .

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At 6:46 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

The Cortigiane were the 'top models' for basically all the great artists of the Renaissance.
The most famous, and sexy, example being the

Venus of Urbino

by Tiziano. Whereas


depicted 'common' prostitutes. And THAT was a scandal.

At 11:31 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Dario, for adding to my knowledge of good and evil . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:04 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

Evil?? Matthew 21.31

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Okay, of evil and good . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:08 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

What is the Venus of Urbino holding in her right hand, clover? And what have critics made of the woman in the background with her head in the chest?

At 5:57 AM, Anonymous dhr said...


roses, I would say. But the issue is, what she holds in her left hand.

The kneeling woman in the background is probably a servant (not her own, but the lord's).

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What the Venus of Urbino is holding in her left hand, Dario, is 'Rosebud'.

Jeffery Hodges

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