Emma evidently knew Virgil’s epic, to which the text she commissioned makes explicit reference, and commissioned a Latin work modelled on it as a political tool to influence the actions of men.
The blatant portrayal of male genitalia is reminiscent of fourteenth-century marginalia, but here is located front and centre. Unlike marginalia, which was either allegorically related or not related at all to the text, these images are a direct portrayal of events recounted in the tales which they accompany. How can we explain where the inspiration for these images came from and how they fit into the ideas and conventions of the context in which they were created?
While the reliance of the fantasy market on medieval motifs – its reliance on medievalism, to be more precise – is not news, there remain a few thoughts to be articulated about the means by which so many popular female protagonists continue to have staying power and high market value within particular systems of power, systems familiar to the medievalist even when decontextualized, displaced and relocated elsewhere in the space–time continuum of the imagination.