This paper’s objective is to discuss medieval rhetoric through the work of Alfonso X, the Wise King, taking Aristotle as a model and analyzing the circulation of texts and sciences in this context. This kingdom was strongly marked by the use of rhetoric in the construction of identity and as an instrument of royal legitimacy, being linked directly to the universe of knowledge and the exercise of power. Alfonso X greatly boosted written culture across Castilian lands, established a single language and created a single rhetoric, acting as cultural broker between Classical Antiquity, Latin Christianity, and the Arab-Islamic world.
This paper examines the transformation of Procne, Philomela, and Tereus from Ovid’s Metamorphoses into exemplary figures in the General estoria, an extensive universal history compiled under the direction of King Alfonso X of Castile in the 1270s. As a vernacular universal history, the General estoria combines a wide range of textual and exegetical traditions to form a narrative of the rulers of the world from the Creation in Genesis until ending unfinished a generation before Christ. By far the largest non-biblical source of the General estoria is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which is also the most difficult to adapt to the needs of historical narrative because of the presence of magical transformations and pagan gods. In order to bring material from the Metamorphoses in line with Christianity, the compilers employ a wide range of narrative and exegetical techniques. However, while Ovid’s text is to a large degree a meditation on absolute power, often wielded capriciously on the innocent or unknowing, Alfonso’s text, as is common for medieval histories, serves as a model of conduct for nobles and other members of the court.
This paper analyzes the prescriptive discourse of gastronomic norms of specific social groups (i.e. clerics and knights) based on Afonso X’s Partidas. In this legal text, the prescription of norms of conduct appears in connection with an argumentative discourse. While the text provides explicit norms regulating the food code of these groups, it simultaneously justifies the stated rules based not only on different ethical and moral arguments, but also on the common or scientific knowledge available at the time. The analysis will discuss norms regarding food and abstinence at different times of the day / on different days of the year, referring both to the history of attitudes to eating in medieval Iberia and to the strategies of justification.