The Book of the City of Ladies | Study Guide

Christine de Pizan

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The Book of the City of Ladies | Key Figures

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Key Figure Description
Christine Christine is the main character of the story and stands for the author Christine de Pizan herself, a well-educated Christian woman of the French court in the early 1400s. It is her task to build the city of ladies by recording the lives and deeds of the many different virtuous ladies in the past and present. Read More
Lady Reason Lady Reason is the first of the three "daughters of God" sent to aid Christine in the building of the city of ladies. She holds a mirror by which both evil and virtuous people (men and women alike) may view the truth of themselves. It is the task of Lady Reason to help Christine lay the foundations and walls of the city in Part 1. Read More
Lady Rectitude Lady Rectitude is the second of the "daughters of God" sent to guide Christine in constructing all the buildings of the city and find virtuous women to live in them in Part 2. She holds in her hand a ruler by which devotional acts are measured. Read More
Lady Justice Lady Justice is the third of the "daughters of God" sent to help Christine finish the high towers of the city and bring the Virgin Mary to dwell there as the Queen of the City in Part 3. She holds in her hand the cup of the waters of Justice, "to share out to each person exactly what he or she deserves." Read More
Achilles Achilles is a Greek legendary hero of the Trojan war who fought against the Amazons. He is featured in Part 1 Section 19 and Part 2 Sections 28 and 61.
Saint Afra Saint Afra (d. early 4th century) is a reformed prostitute whose firm repentance and conversion to Christianity earned her sainthood. She is cited as one of the martyrs accompanying the Virgin Mary in Part 3, Sections 1–19.
Arachne Arachne is reputed to have been a girl of Asia Minor in ancient times credited with having invented spinning and weaving. She is cited in Part 1, Section 39.
Saint Augustine Saint Augustine (354–430) is one of the "Doctors of the Church" cited in Part 1 Sections 2 and 10. He is the author of The City of God, which inspired de Pizan's book.
Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75) is a Tuscan writer of the early Italian Renaissance whose book Concerning Famous Women is a main reference for de Pizan's examples of notable women. He is cited in Part 1, Sections 28, 29, 30, 34, 37, 39 and 41. Part 2, Sections 2, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 36, 43, 52, 59, 60 and 63 also cite Boccaccio's book.
Ceres Ceres is the Greco-Roman goddess of harvest credited with having taught the art of agriculture to ancient peoples. She is credited with this innovation in Part 1, Sections 35 and 38, and with inventing bread in Section 39.
Claudine Claudine (2nd century BCE) is a Roman vestal virgin who saved her father from attack by a rival. She is cited in Part 2, Section 10.
Queen Clotilde Queen Clotilde, later Saint Clotilde (c. 474–545), is the Christian queen of the Franks who converted her husband and his court to establish the first Christian kingdom of France. She is cited as an exemplary missionary wife in Part 2, Section 35.
Drypetina, Queen of Laodicea Drypetina (2nd century BCE) is a devoted daughter who followed her father into battle. She is mentioned in Part 2, Section 8.
Esther Esther (5th century BCE) is the biblical Old Testament Jewish heroine cited for her ability to negotiate the liberation of her people. She is cited in Part 2, Section 32.
Queen Fredegund Fredegund (d. 597) is characterized as a fierce queen of early France who is an example of a widow who preserved her husband's legacy until their son was of age. She is featured in Part 1, Sections 13 and 23.
Griselda Griselda is a folk character represented as a historical marchioness of Saluzzo by Boccaccio in The Decameron. De Pizan adopted Boccaccio's version of this character as a young and beautiful woman of humble birth, whose noble-born husband puts her through cruel trials to test her fidelity and silence the objections of his vassals. She is cited in Part 2, Sections 11 and 50-1.
Hercules Hercules is a legendary hero in Greco-Roman mythology famed for his physical strength. He is featured in Part 1, Sections 18, 41, and 46, and Part 2, Section 60 for his battles against the Amazons.
Hippolyta The Amazon Queen Hippolyta marries the Greek Theseus after battling with him as told in The Book of the City of Ladies in Part 1, Sections 14–26. William Shakespeare also portrays the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta in his play A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595–96).
Hypsicratea, Queen of Pontus Hypsicratea (2nd century BCE) is a loyal and faithful wife who followed her husband into battle and exile. She is discussed in Part 2, Sections 13, 14, and 15.
Hypsipyle Hypsipyle is a faithful daughter who hid her father from his enemies at the risk of her life. She is mentioned in Part 2, Section 9.
Saint Irene Saint Irene (d. early 4th century) is an exemplary Christian virgin martyr whose death with her sisters showed miracles. She is featured in Part 3, Section 14 as one of the virgin martyrs accompanying the Virgin Mary.
Jason Jason is a prince of Thessaly helped by Medea to gain the Golden Fleece. He is featured in Part 1, Section 32 and Part 2, Sections 24 and 56.
Judith Judith is a Jewish Old Testament heroine who is cited as a woman possessing the cunning and bravery necessary to free her people from tyranny. Her story is featured in Part 2, Sections 31 and 32.
Lucretia Lucretia (6th century BCE) is a noble-born Roman wife who was (by legend) raped and then committed suicide. She is cited in Part 2, Section 44.
Mary Mary is the Blessed Virgin and Queen of Heaven hailed by Christine and Lady Justice as Queen of the City of Ladies. She is featured in Part 1, Section 9, Part 2, Sections 2, 4, 30, and 51. She also appears in Part 3, Sections 1 and 19.
Matheolus Matheolus, (Mathieu of Boulogne) (13th century), is a cleric writer and critic of women. He is cited in Part 1, Sections 1, 2, and 8, and Part 2, Section 19.
Medea Medea is a legendary princess and sorceress who loved and aided the Greek hero Jason. She is discussed in Part 1, Section 32, and Part 2, Section 56.
Minerva Minerva (also Pallas Athena) is a Roman goddess merged with the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena. She is cited in Part 1, Sections 4, 34, 38, and 39 as an innovative young woman immortalized by the Athenians as a goddess.
Emperor Nero Emperor Claudius Caesar Nero (37–68) is an emperor of Rome known for his cruelty. He is mentioned in Part 2, Sections 22, 27, 43, 48, 49, and in Part 3, Section 18.
Nicostrata Nicostrata (Carmentis) is a legendary pagan prophetess credited with the invention of the Latin alphabet. She is cited in Part 1, Sections 33, 37, 38, and in Part 2, Section 5.
Saint Paul Saint Paul is a Greek-speaking Jewish man originally named Saul, who was born in an eastern province, Tarsus, under Roman rule sometime around 4 BCE. Originally a persecutor of Christians, Paul became a converted supporter of Gentile Christians. He is discussed in Part 2, Sections 35 and 48, and Part 3, Section 18.
Penelope Penelope is the fabled Greek example of wifely fidelity. She is cited in Part 2, Section 41.
Queen of Sheba The Queen of Sheba, a personage of the Old Testament of the Bible, ruled a kingdom of Arabia. She is cited as supporting the coming martyrdom of Christ in Part 2, Section 4.
Susanna Susanna is a personage of the Old Testament falsely accused of adultery. She is presented in Part 2, Section 37.
Theophrastus Theophrastus (c. 370–288 BCE) is a Greek philosopher whose "Book on Marriage" was liberally quoted by writers of the Middle Ages as against women. He is cited in Part 1, Section 30, and Part 2, Sections 13, 14, and 19.
Tertia Aemilia Tertia Aemilia (c. 219 BCE) is the faithful wife of an older husband. She is mentioned in Part 2, Section 20.
Theseus Theseus and Hercules are shown in Part 1, Sections 14–26 to preemptively attack the Amazonian women because they were so fierce the Greek nation feared they would take over Greece one day. Although Hercules and Theseus capture Hippolyta, Theseus and Hippolyta fall in love and marry.
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyria Mentioned in Part 1, Sections 14–26, Zenobia, Queen of Palmyria, is an example of a "perfectly endowed" prince. Although Zenobia is a woman, and therefore not literally a "prince," she has all of the intellectual and physical attributes of a respected male warrior and leader.
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