Notion of Perfetto Cortegiano in Castiliogne's the Book of the Courtier

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  • Topic: The Book of the Courtier, Baldassare Castiglione, Sprezzatura
  • Pages : 4 (1293 words )
  • Download(s) : 59
  • Published : May 17, 2013
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The notion of ‘Perfetto Cortegiano’ in the fourth book of Baldesar Castiglione’s THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER Baldesar Castiglione’s The Book of The Courtier (1528), one of the most celebrated renaissance courtesy books, serves as a guide to perfect social manners and wit. Politically it seeks to define the position of a courtier in relation to the Prince he serves. In an attempt to offer a pragmatic understanding of courtly life and manners and the binary of power relation between the Prince and his courtiers, Castiglione lays down the qualities that must characterise his “Perfetto Cortegiano” (perfect courtier). Divided into four books, it describes a series of conversations held among the courtiers and the ladies of the Court of Urbino in the presence of the Duchess, Eleanora Gonzaga. The game, proposed by Federico Fregoso whereby “one of this company be chosen and given the task of forming in words a perfect Courtier, setting forth all the conditions and particular qualities that are required of anyone who deserves this name” when consented by the Duchess in Book I, provided the perfect opportunity for all the notable courtiers to speculate on the qualities that a courtier must possess. However, Castiglione’s dedicatory letter to Signor Don Michel de Silva, Bishop of Viseu reveals that “the greater part of those persons who are introduced in the conversations were already dead”. The text, as a “record of the vanished world” as David Rosand says, employs historical characters to improve a period of political decadence into a more fruitful one by outlining the qualities that a perfect Courtier must possess. Castiglione modelled his book on Cicero’s De Oratore, but he is more concerned with literary and stylistic imitation than following the political lessons of Cicero. The first three books articulates three central concepts; namely, “grazia”, “mediocrita” and “sprezzatura”; which are proposed as central to...
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