Horses and Asses: Don Quixote and Company
Anthony J. Cárdenas
University of New Mexico
For Father Ed
The first chapter of Francis Klingender’s magnificent Animals in Art and Thought to the End of the Middle Ages begins: “A history of animal art must begin with the beginning of all art, for animals were the first subject to challenge the artistic faculties of men” (3). That animals have long captured man’s imagination and have long played a symbolic role in his thought is a commonplace. As symbols, however, animals are so polysemic that often what they signify is contradictory. Beryl Rowland, for example, in Animals with Human Faces begins the section on the horse as follows:
Until recently, Norwegian peasants would preserve a horse’s penis as a specially treasured heirloom. Surprising as it may seem, they were simply paying tribute to the aspect of the horse which has captivated human imagination in all ages, and it is this aspect which accounts for the horse’s dominant role in myth, legend, superstition, and in anxiety dreams. For the horse is a symbol of virility. In ancient times, with its glistening body, swift movement, and tossing mane, it was a god or the fiery steed of the god of sun or sea or wind. Today it retains its significance as a phallic symbol. (103)
As if in response to this, Anne Clark, in Beasts and Bawdy, states that although “The most lustful of all female animals . . . was the mare” (81) and “though mares were positively indecent in their sexuality, offering themselves shamelessly to any stallion who happened to be handy, horses were thought by contrast to possess a very strong sense of moral propriety and to be filled with delicate sensibility” (81; emphasis added). According to Pliny, she adds, this sense of propriety caused one horse to commit suicide by hurling himself over a cliff upon learning that an older mare with whom he had coupled was none other than his own dam (82). Noteworthy is that, according to this account, the alleged cause of his consternation does not appear to have been the actual act of coupling, but rather that this act had constituted incest.
With these two examples in mind, any misreader of the Quijote would be hard pressed to view Rocinante as a phallic symbol or symbol of virility but, perhaps, less hard pressed to acknowledge Rocinante’s interest in coupling, given his attempted romp with the Yanguesian mares of I.15. Although, when in II.16, Don Quixote and Sancho meet Diego de Miranda, the Caballero del Verde Gabán who asks whether “con la compañía de mi yegua no se alborotara ese caballo” (689), Sancho assures him that “nuestro caballo es el más honesto y bien mirado del mundo” and “aunque se la den entre dos platos, a buen seguro que el caballo no la arrostre” (689). Arrostrar, according to Covarrubias, means not only “hazer rostro a alguna cosa” but also, and more appropriately in this context, “dar muestras de apetecella” (153). Whether Sancho may simply have forgotten the misguided foray of I.15, or whether he is attesting to a changed Rocinante will not be pursued here, for Rocinante alone does not constitute the focus of this study. Rather, the focus is Don Quixote with Rocinante, intertwined, juxtaposed, combined as they are in equine imagery. An examination of their relationship as presented in the terms caballo, caballero, rocín, asno, and bestia will point out two characteristics pertinent to Don Quixote: essentially stupidity through lust as a manifestation of irrationality.
The study begins with a portion of the text largely ignored by Cervantine critics, the introductory verses, most specifically the last sonnet, or the “Diálogo entre Babieca and Rocinante,” which reads in its entirety:
B. ¿Cómo estáis, Rocinante, tan delgado?
R. Porque nunca se come, y se trabaja.
B. Pues, ¿qué es de la cebada y de la paja?
R. No me deja mi amo ni un bocado.
B. Andá, señor, que estáis muy mal criado,
pues vuestra lengua de asno al amo ultraja.
R. Asno se es de la cuna a la mortaja.
¿Queréislo ver? Miraldo enamorado.
B. ¿Es necedad amar? R. No es gran prudencia.
B. Metafísico estáis. R. Es que no como.
B. Quejaos del escudero. R. No es bastante.
¿Cómo me he de quejar en mi dolencia,
si el amo y escudero o mayordomo
son tan rocines como Rocinante? (29)
The irony of the name of the Cid’s great war horse, Babieca, and its meaning, “necio” (Menéndez Pidal 501), should not be lost at this point. Nevertheless, more germane to our purpose is that the first possible interpretation of equine behavior attributed to Don Quixote can be said to occur at the end of the first quartet in Rocinante’s response: “No me deja mi amo ni un bocado.” Ormsby offers an expected and logical translation “My master gives me none; . . .” (20). Another understanding, hinging on dejar, which means not only “to allow, permit,” but also “to leave,” can suggest that Rocinante’s master leaves him none, i.e., the master himself eats the barley and hay (“cebada y paja”). But a man eating barley and hay as would a horse? Recall briefly line 2022 of Ian Michael’s edition of the Poema de mio Cid when the Cid “las yerbas del campo a dientes las tomó” (212). Of the various readings for this behavior that Michael offers in his footnote, the most suggestive for our purposes is the biblical echo of the exile of Nabuchadnezzar: “‘. . . et foenum ut bos comedes’ Daniel, IV, 22” (as cited in Michael 212). Don Quixote’s sojourn, his departure from his home, is an exile of sorts. His physical exile represents a figurative exile from his rational faculties. In II.18, Diego de Miranda’s son Lorenzo summarizes this when he states that “él es un entreverado loco, lleno de lúcidos intervalos” (712). The shift from cuerdo to loco occurs precisely when Don Quixote broaches the topic of knight errantry, for knight errantry is precisely the tema of this particular loco. Thus, more important than a literal understanding of such behavior is a figurative one. Hence, when Babieca charges Rocinante with brutish behavior for speaking with an ass’s tongue, Rocinante responds by characterizing his master: “Asno se es de la cuna a la mortaja.” The Don is an ass in Rocinante’s estimation and, with Sancho, is as much of a hack as Rocinante himself: “el amo y escudero o mayordomo son tan rocines como Rocinante.” Covarrubias provides a graphic image of rocín in his Tesoro de la lengua: “Es el potro que, o por no tener edad o estar maltratado o no ser de buena raza, no llegó a merecer el nombre de cavallo, y assí llamamos arrocinados a los caballos desbaratados y de mala traça” (912). Lest one suggest that Don Quixote might be more appropriately labeled a rocinero andante, Covarrubias makes clear in his section under cavallo that “en la lengua latina cavallus sinifica lo que en la nuestra rocín o cavallo viejo y cansado, quales suelen ser los de los molineros y los demás de servicio, que no son para cavallería” (323). So, even from an etymological standpoint, a cavallo or rocín, is tantamount to a beast of burden much like his cousin the ass, which Covarrubias defines in more than five delightful columns of ass lore, beginning “Animal conocido, doméstico y familiar al hombre, de mucho provecho y poco gasto, de grande servicio . . .” (156). Both horse and ass imagery serve Cervantes well. In order to show how, we must first establish a nexus between the terms caballo/rocín and asno, then establish the same between Don Quixote and his nag. Sufficient evidence for a direct correspondence will obviate the necessity of establishing a nexus between Don Quixote and asno via the syllogism: All rocines are asnos; Don Quixote is a rocín; therefore, Don Quixote is an asno.
Caballo/Rocín and asno
Evidence for semantic correspondence between caballo and rocín has already been established in the Covarrubias etymology of caballo. Passages revealing the semantic proximity of caballo/rocín and asno occur throughout the text. In I.21, for example, Don Quixote identifies the barber as the knight-bearer of Mambrino’s gold helmet and claims that he is riding “un caballo rucio rodado” (208). Sancho sees “un hombre sobre un asno, pardo como el mío” (208), only to refer to it later as a “caballo rucio rodado, que parece asno pardo” (211). Quixote subsequently tells Sancho to leave “ese caballo, o asno, o lo que tu quisieres que sea” (212). Horse or ass, it makes little difference. Subsequently, the ass’s packsaddle, “albarda” becomes a harness, “jaez” (I.45.492); horse or ass trappings, again it makes little difference. Later, in I.31, Quixote remarks on the swiftness with which Sancho completed his errand to Dulcinea and his round trip from Sierra Morena to Toboso “habiendo de aquí allá más de treinta leguas” (339). This is, of course, attributed to the machination of some sabio encantador. To this Sancho agrees, stating that Rocinante sped along as if an “asno gitano con azogue en los oídos” (339). In II.13, Sancho and the squire of the Caballero del Bosque converse and the former asks rhetorically, “¿qué escudero hay tan pobre en el mundo, a quien le falte un rocín . . . ?” (668). Sancho’s response is that, although he has none, he has an ass “que vale dos veces más que el caballo de mi amo” (668). References to Rocinante’s state as a caballo desbaratado are frequent, but suffice it to present Don Quixote’s encounter in II.19 with four individuals along the road. He offers them his companionship, since they are all bound in the same direction, but “les pidió que detuviesen el paso, porque caminaban más sus pollinas que su caballo” (718). The young asses easily outpace Rocinante. Also demanding attention is that the narrator introduces the four as two clerics or students (“clérigos/estudiantes”) and two peasants (“labradores”), “que sobre cuatro bestias asnales venían caballeros” (717). Similarly, in II.4 and 5, when the characters discuss the unexplained disappearance of Sancho’s ass in Part I we find further reference to a “horse/ass” synonymy. Sansón Carrasco states that one must infer that Sancho’s ass was stolen only to see him “a caballo sobre el mesmo jumento” (604) and again “antes de haber parecido el jumento, dice el autor que iba a caballo Sancho en el mesmo rucio” (606). Terms such as a caballo and caballero apparently refer to the state of being mounted, regardless of the type of equine beast mounted since Covarrubias, too, offers the same usage in his description of asno: “Sólo parece ser inepto para la guerra, pero con todo esso fingen los poetas que en la batalla tan celebrada que los dioses tuvieron con los gigantes, yvan cavalleros en asnos, . . . (156; emphasis added). These examples do not equate horse and ass. Nevertheless they do reveal the semantic proximity between the two concepts in this work, especially between rocín and asno. One final example in which Cervantes humorously juxtaposes these terms occurs in I.7, when Sancho informs Don Quixote that he intends to bring his ass, since he himself is not much for traversing afoot: “reparó un poco don Quijote, imaginando si se le acordaba si algún caballero andante había traído escudero caballero asnalmente; . . .” (86). Asnalmente, I propose, refers not only to Sancho’s being mounted on an ass, but also to the manner in which Don Quixote himself brings Sancho, especially given the physical proximity of the terms caballero and asnalmente.
Don Quixote and Rocinante
The link between horse and horseman is not uncommon and the two are often considered one unit with the controlling horseman constituting the head, and the horse the body. Recall from La vida es sueño Rosaura’s dramatic entrance on the “Hipogrifo violento” (l. 1), her “bruto sin instinto” (l. 5). Ciriaco Morón clarifies in a note referring to this animal that “El caballo desbocado es el cuerpo humano, vehículo de la pasión frente al alma racional . . .” (75). Pedro R. León refers to it as “la pasión amorosa de Rosaura por Astolfo” (30). Rowland adds further that “the importance of the horse’s head as a symbol of virility is also evident in innumerable folktales having to do with the headless rider. In such tales the horse and horseman are one unit and are interchangeable. The headless horseman has been castrated” (104-05). In a sense, Don Quixote might be considered a brainless (rationally castrated), if not a headless, rider, as the goatherd in I.52 remarks: “—Eso me semeja . . . que este gentilhombre debe de tener vacíos los aposentos de la cabeza” (550). That Don Quixote names his horse before he names himself may be more than artistic serendipity. Another bond between man and animal is seen after Don Quixote is knighted; he is so happy that “el gozo se le reventaba por las cinchas del caballo” (I.4.55). In his abortive encounter with the Toledan merchants early in the story (I.4), Rocinante stumbles and falls and Quixote makes clear his relationship to and his dependence on his horse, as he begs the merchants not to flee, “que no por culpa mía, sino de mi caballo, estoy aquí tendido” (62). Later, as the peasant leads him home on his own burro, Don Quixote insists: “vengo malferido por la culpa de mi caballo” (I.5.68). Such insistances elucidate the interdependence of rider and horse and, indeed, make the reader wonder which is in charge, Don Quixote or his mount? In his next adventure, as he charges the windmills, the vane catches his lance “llevando tras sí al caballo y al caballero” (I.8.89); first the horse, then the rider. Sancho soon perceives the connection and, in the adventure of the fulling mills controls Don Quixote by hobbling Rocinante, in effect hobbling his master with the reins of his ass (I.20.196).
Don Quixote and asno/bestia
Even more important than the association of horse and horseman, Rocinante and Don Quixote, is the question of who is in charge. Psalm 32.9 advises: “Nolite sicut equus et mulus in quibus non est intellectus.” Don Quixote cannot let his steed control events, nor can he turn the reins of his steed over to another if he is to be the caballero. Yet he does both on several occasions. If he cedes his rationality and lets his mount, his lower nature, take charge, he becomes as a beast. In I.1 the narrator has stated, “del poco dormir y del mucho leer se le secó el celebro, de manera que vino a perder el juicio” (35). He is, in fact, like the equus aut mulus sine intellecto; hence, Rocinante’s summary: “asno se es de la cuna a la mortaja” and “el amo y escudero o mayordomo son tan rocines como Rocinante.” He is, indeed, a caballero andante who brings along his “escudero caballero asnalmente.” And Sancho, who admits to being an asno at least twice (I.25.268; II.28.799), is additionally vituperated as such by Don Quixote when Sancho asks for his pay: “Asno eres, y asno has de ser, y en asno has de parar cuando se te acabe el curso de la vida; que para mí tengo que antes llegará ella a su último término que tú caigas y des en la cuenta de que eres bestia” (II.28.799). As regards such use of asno, Covarrubias expounds: “comúnmente con este nombre de asno afrentamos a los que son estólidos, rudos y de mal ingenio, a los bestiales y carnales” (157). Bestia is another self-inflicted epithet employed by Sancho in his conversation with the squire of the Caballero del Bosque in 2:13. Here he explains that he would prefer governing an island to receiving a Church benefice from Don Quixote for his services, “porque le hago saber a vuesa merced que, aunque parezco hombre, soy una bestia para ser de la Iglesia” (668). Covarrubias defines bestia as “nombre genérico que comprehende todos los animales irracionales” (211). The goatherder of I.50 who talks to his spotted goat as if to a woman declares he is not such a rustic as not to understand “cómo se ha de tratar con los hombres y con las bestias” (542). The case of the chaplain who wishes to liberate from the asylum in Seville the madman whom he now believes to be sane, given “la merced que Nuestro Señor le había hecho en devolverle de bestia en hombre” (583-84), manifests the usage as defined by Covarrubias. The same usage underlies the closing semantic play of II.29, “Volvieron a sus bestias y a ser bestias” (807), and Sancho’s own words of encouragement to Don Quixote: “—Señor, las tristezas no se hicieron para las bestias, sino para los hombres; pero si los hombres las sienten demasiado, se vuelven bestias: vuestra merced se reporte, y vuelva en sí, y coja las riendas a Rocinante, . . .” (II.11.653). In brief: take charge of your beast. Altisidora essentially presents the same message to Don Quixote when she accuses him of stealing intimate apparel, her kerchiefs (“tocadores”) and her garters (“ligas”):
—Escucha, mal caballero;
detén un poco las riendas;
no fatigues las ijadas
de tu mal regida bestia. (II.57.1012)
Rocinante is, on occasion, “a poorly controlled beast,” sometimes because Don Quixote gives him free rein—as when he comes to a crossroad—“soltó la rienda a Rocinante, dejando a la voluntad del rocín la suya” (I.4.60), or later when “se pusieron a caminar por donde la voluntad de Rocinante quiso” (I.21.212). If his beast, however, represents his “bruto sin instinto,” and if “instinto” is “en el bruto una indagación y movimiento natural para apetecer lo que le es bueno y saludable y huir lo que le es dañoso” (Covarrubias 739), to hand over the reins to his beast is an act of total irrationality. Carroll Johnson has brilliantly addressed the sexual tension felt by Don Quixote for Altisidora in his fascinating study, Madness and Lust (especially, 173-77 and 181-89). Although the episodes with Altisidora relate to Quixote’s being an ass because of his being in love (“Miraldo enamorado” as Rocinante has stated), they shall not be treated here, partly because of Johnson’s treatment, and particularly because Rocinante does not appear to be involved in these episodes as he is in the two bestial episodes with Maritornes in Part I.
The tie between master and beast is nowhere better seen than in the two Maritornes episodes. The beginning of the first episode appears as early as the end of the Marcela episode in I.14. When Marcela first appears, the narrator refers to her as a “maravillosa visión,” provoking the following responses: “Los que hasta entonces no la habían visto la miraban con admiración y silencio; y los que ya estaban acostumbrados a verla no quedaron menos suspensos que los que nunca la habían visto” (I.14.141). Among these viewers is Don Quixote, who reacts toward her as do the others. Again, Johnson reveals the manner in which Marcela and Don Quixote might be considered “soul mates” (94-101). When she leaves and some make motions to pursue her, Don Quixote—“puesta la mano en el puño de la espada”—forbids it. The general paucity of mention of Don Quixote’s sword has been noted by Johnson who clearly demonstrates its phallic symbolism in the Altisidora episode (175). Its mention here also seems to stress its function as “the obvious symbol of precisely those impulses he is attempting to deny” (Johnson 175), for no sooner do the shepherds take their leave after Grisóstomo’s burial, than “El qual [Don Quixote] determinó de ir a buscar a la pastora Marcela y ofrecerle todo lo que él podía en su servicio” (I.14.145). Of course, the episode of Rocinante and the Yanguesian mares follows. After more than two hours of futilely searching for Marcela, Don Quixote and Sancho come across a locus amoenus, the “dignus amore locus” (Curtius 196)—”un prado lleno de fresca yerba, junto del cual corría un arroyo apacible y fresco” (I.15.146), at which point they let “al jumento y a Rocinante a sus anchuras” (I.15.146-47). They let their beasts go uncontrolled, especially Rocinante, who this time was not hobbled, the same Rocinante to whom “le vino en deseo de refocilarse con las señoras facas” (147). The outcome is well known: horse, master, squire, but not ass, are severely beaten. As they lie on the ground, Quixote suggests they examine Rocinante, who has not suffered less. “No hay de que maravillarse deso—respondió Sancho—, siendo él tan buen caballero andante” (I.15.152). After all, as Don Quixote has assured a fellow traveler and interlocutor in I.13: “no puede ser que haya caballero andante sin dama . . . y a buen seguro no se haya visto historia donde se halle caballero andante sin amores” (130). Ironically, despite Rocinante’s remonstrations in the dialogue with Babieca—“Asno se es . . .” and “Miraldo enamorado”—the only one who escapes without harm is the ass itself. Notwithstanding this lesson, after Sancho takes Quixote draped over his ass to Juan Palomeque’s inn, Palomeque’s daughter so captivates the elderly knight’s fancy that, when Maritornes comes to the starlit stable, because “había el arriero concertado con ella que aquella noche se refocilarían juntos” (I.16.157), Don Quixote mistakes her for the innkeeper’s daughter. Refocilar—“dícese particularmente de las cosas que calientan ù dán vigór” (Autoridades 5: 536)—is the same verb used to describe Rocinante’s desire to cavort with the mares. The arriero, a muledriver, is the same as an acemilero, a class of worker hardly above the animals they drive, according to Sempronio when he speaks to Calisto in Celestina: “desesperas de alcanzar una mujer, muchas de las cuales en grandes estados constituidas se sometieron a los pechos y resollos de viles acemileros y otras a brutos animales” (1.51). Granted that Maritornes is not “en grande estado constituida,” nevertheless, pertinent is the association of the entire episode with bestiality, specifically the mules of the driver who awaits her on the packsaddles of his two best mules (“el [lecho] del arriero, fabricado, como se ha dicho, de las enjalmas y de todo el adorno de los dos mejores mulos que traía” [I.16.158]). Rowland makes clear that “token symbols are often substituted for the whole animal. . . . In such instances the man is the rider, and in every language riding is a commonplace for coitus” (105). In this erotically charged atmosphere, the bed nearest the door is the Don Quixote’s, in which he lies fantasizing that the daughter of the innkeeper (now the “señor del castillo”) “se había enamorado dél y prometido que aquella noche, a furto de sus padres, vendría a yacer con él una buena pieza” (I.16.159). Don Quixote, of course, fears for his chastity, but when Maritornes enters the room in search of the muledriver, Don Quixote “tendió los brazos para recibir a su fermosa doncella” (I.16.159). His actions are not limited to outstretched arms: “la asió fuertemente de una muñeca, y tiróla hacia sí, . . . la hizo sentar sobre la cama. Tentóle la camisa . . .” (I.16.159). When the muledriver sees that Maritornes is struggling to escape from Don Quixote’s grip, “pareciéndole mal la burla, enarboló el brazo en alto y descargó tan terrible puñada sobre las estrechas quijadas del enamorado caballero, que le bañó toda la boca en sangre” (I.16.159). Just as with Rocinante’s attempted dalliance with the mares, when Don Quixote himself attempts to dally with Maritornes (Why else would he have grabbed her tightly by one wrist, made her sit on his bed, then felt her underwear?), he winds up thoroughly thrashed. Quixote has behaved like his beast.
The other episode which contains both an erotic and bestial element occurs in I.43 and also concerns Maritornes and the innkeeper’s daughter. It continues and, in a sense, reverses the episode of I.16 in that this time Don Quixote is held fast. Johnson clearly charts the events from I.16 to I.43 (125-29), and, just as the events in I.16 are preceded by somewhat amorous, if not erotic, events (for Don Quixote the appearance of Marcela and for Rocinante the appearance of the Yanguesian mares), so are the events of I.43. Johnson notes that “the atmosphere at Juan Palomeque’s inn, . . . is physically populated by a veritable army of loving couples and psychically charged with eroticism” and adds that it “fairly drips with love, . . .” (125). Johnson also accurately observes that Don Quixote is not impervious to the goings-on; thus, when the two semi doncellas call him from a hole in the wall as he mounts guard, “volvió las riendas a Rocinante y se llegó al agujero” (I.43.479), i.e., he directed his beast toward the hole. Although the verb arrostrar does not occur here, that Don Quixote makes his beast face the hole, recalls the two meanings of arrostrar discussed above. He then obligingly offers his hand as requested placing it in the aperture. It is not necessary to stress J. E. Cirlot’s claim that “In Jung’s opinion, the hand is endowed with a generative significance” (137). It is noteworthy, however, that Don Quixote must stand on his horse to reach the hole, and that he is then tied fast with the halter belonging to Sancho’s ass, which recalls Rocinante’s hobbling in the fulling mill episode. He is now forced to stand there until Rocinante, having been sniffed by another horse, “aunque parecía de leño, no pudo dejar de resentirse y tornar a oler a quien le llegaba a hacer caricias” (I.43.483). Rocinante’s affective behavior leaves Don Quixote painfully suspended by the wrist, and, like Tantalus, doomed to be aware of his relief, which seems so close, but yet is impossible to attain. Another, perhaps more appropriate, intertext, however, is the widely-circulated, medieval anecdote concerning Virgil, who, tricked by a woman, was left hanging in a basket alongside her tower exposed to public gazing and opprobium as told in stanza 261 of the Libro de buen amor. The Corbacho, chapter 17, “Como los letrados pierden el saber por amar” (76), offers the same vignette. This chapter also includes a noteworthy anecdote regarding Aristotle’s actually being girded and mounted by a woman (76-77). When Don Quixote behaves like a beast, he pays a price. The specific beast he emulates is, I contend, his hack.
Cervantes is not alone in using the potential eroticism of equine imagery. In another study, as yet unpublished, I demonstrate that in Celestina equine imagery, specifically that of ass, is rampant and largely significant of Calisto’s and Pármeno’s lust for Melibea and Areúsa, respectively. As in the Quijote, the two characteristics of the ass that are emphasized are its irrationality, often tantamount to stupidity, and its sexuality.
In the Coloquio de los perros Cañizares tells Berganza that Camacha de Montilla had the reputation of turning men into animals,
y que se había servido de un sacristán seis años en forma de asno, real y verdaderamente lo que yo nunca he podido alcanzar como se haga, porque lo que se dice de aquellas antiguas magas, que convertían los hombres en bestias, dicen los que más saben que no era otra cosa sino que ellas, con su mucha hermosura y con sus halagos, atraían los hombres de manera a que las quisiesen bien, y los sujetaban de suerte, sirviéndose de ellos en todo cuanto querían, que parecían bestias. (292)
Much to his reader’s delight, Cervantes, like Camacha, albeit through the magic of his pen, also turns his characters into beasts, indeed “sirviéndose de ellos en todo cuanto quería, que parecían bestias.”
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My gratitude to Edward H. Friedman and Kathleen L. Kirk who have helped improve the style of this paper. Remaining infelicities are mine alone.
All passages from the Quijote are taken from the Martín de Riquer edition.
To refer to Quixote in such terms is not to deny his moments of awe-inspiring brilliance nor any of the other positive qualities he manifests. As a character of the novel, his personality is multifaceted; this study concentrates essen-tially on some of its irrational aspects.
The juxtaposition in these lines of caballo and rucio, the standard way of referring to Sancho’s mount, deserves notice.
Although ijadas in the above-cited poem by Altisidora certainly refers to the flanks of an animal, Covarrubias states “latine ilia, ilium” (731) which denotes the part of the body from the lowest ribs to the pubes (Lewis and Short 882) (the very place where Pitas Payas paints the lamb on his newlywed wife before his departure [st. 477a]), and in the singular can mean the private parts (Lewis and Short, definition C of ile, 882). The sexually-charged nature of Altisidora’s lines cannot be overlooked especially since “fatigar las ijadas” refers to riding and “riding is commonplace for coitus” (Rowland 105).
Sexual connotations of grabbing someone by the wrist or wrists can be seen in lines 971ef; the pseudo-autobiographical narrator of the Libro de buen amor says that the Serrana “Por la moñeca me priso; /ove de fer quanto quiso,” and this after she tells him “‘Luchemos un rato’” (971b) and tells him to undress.
Among the editions consulted only Clemencín’s refers to the works by the two Archpriests as potential intertexts for the outcome of this episode.