Philosophical Studies:1-13 (forthcoming)
In the treatise called La nobiltà et l’eccellenza delle donne co’ diffetti et mancamenti de gli uomini Lucrezia Marinella claims that women are superior to men. She argues that men are excessively hot, and that heat in a high degree is detrimental to the intellectual and moral capacities of a person. The aim of this paper is to set out Marinella’s views on temperature differences in the bodies of men and women and the effects of bodily constitution on the capacities necessary for political deliberation and rule. I situate Marinella’s argument in the context of an ongoing debate about physiological differences between the sexes, begun in antiquity and extending into the Renaissance. That debate is important for several reasons: as part of a broader discussion of the nature and worth of women, as determining influential interpretations of ancient authorities on matters of physiology, and as anticipating later discussions of the relation between the sexed body and political roles. This paper considers Marinella in dialogue with a number of interlocutors, elements of whose work can be found in her own: Aristotle, Mario Equicola, Galeazzo Flavio Capra, Ludovico Domenichi and Torquato Tasso.