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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

The serpent and the rose, archetypal representations of corruption and beauty, provide an approach for examining aspects of how good and evil were represented in religious writing in the medieval period in the Iberian Peninsula. The serpent, the creature which tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, has been represented in many forms through Christian history. The serpent, evil, and the rose, perfection, take up opposing positions in a struggle between sinful nature and good, which marks out Christian belief. Hispanic literature is infused with interpretations of how Mary opposes the Evil One, saving her devotees from certain death and eternal damnation. Praise of Mary is still a central ingredient of religious poetry in the late medieval period. Praise of the Virgin is a rich theme in each of the different generation's ofcancioneroliterature from the late fourteenth to the fifteenth century. This chapter shows how the other chapters are organized.

Keywords: Christian history; Garden of Eden; Hispanic literature; Iberian Peninsula; late medieval period; Mary; serpent

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