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Rhetorical Play in Cornelius Agrippa: The Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter the author argues that an awareness of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s use of rhetoric, occult knowledge and the Bible explains what he was doing without thereby resolving any of the enigma of a figure who divided his attention between conjuration and Christian piety. Agrippa's arguments for women's superiority open with the creation of male and female in Genesis 1:26. Men and women have identical souls and ‘Woman has been allotted the same intelligence, reason, and power of speech as man. ‘Thus’, he concludes, that there is no preeminence of nobility of one sex over the other by reason of the nature of the soul'. Female preeminence is a function of superior embodiment manifested generally in feminine beauty and individually in particular virtuous heroines.

Keywords:Christian piety; conjuration; female preeminence; Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa; rhetorical play



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