OLD AGE RIDICULED, OR PHYLLIS RIDING ARISTOTLE (Starosc osmieszona, czyli Filis na Arystotelesie)
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In the rich ornamentation of Gothic and Renaissance tiles it is difficult to find motifs which depict old age in a simple and direct way, illustrating features such as wisdom or experience, for which mature people should be valued. The same concerns arts. It is easier to find pictures which ridicule the weaknesses of old age. A good example is the mediaeval tale of Phyllis and Aristotle, a story of the old philosopher courting the young mistress of Alexander the Great. To achieve his aim, Aristotle had to allow Phyllis to ride him like a horse. This comic scene, which ridicules the aged philosopher, was often explored by artists and craftsmen; it was depicted in sculptures and pictures, as well as on tapestries and tiles. Tiles with this motif were found in the castles in Inowlódz (1st half of 16th c.) and Spytkowice (1st quarter of 16th c.), in Banska Stiavnica in Slovakia (15th c.), and in Bern in Switzerland (2nd half of 15th c.). With time the tale became an exemplum used by preachers to warn against the sin of debauchery, personified by the woman.
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