Learn how and when to remove this template message Castiglione was born in Casatico , near Mantua Lombardy into a family of the minor nobility, connected through his mother, Luigia Gonzaga, to the ruling Gonzagas of Mantua. The court of Urbino at that time was one of the most refined and elegant in Italy, a cultural center ably directed and managed by the Duchess Elizabetta and her sister-in-law Emilia Pia , whose portraits, along with those of many of their guests, were painted by Raphael , himself a native of Urbino. The hosts and guests organized intellectual contests, pageants, dances, concerts, recitations, plays, and other cultural activities, producing brilliant literary works. She was devoted to her husband though his invalid state meant they could never have children. In Castiglione wrote and acted in a pastoral play, his eclogue Tirsi, in which he depicted the court of Urbino allegorically through the figures of three shepherds. The work contains echoes of both ancient and contemporary poetry, recalling Poliziano and Sannazzaro as well as Virgil.
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Although Italian humanism was being torn apart by the natural development of its own basic motives, it did not thereby lose its native attractions.
He returned to Mantua in to enter the service of the marquis, Francesco Gonzaga, transferring to the service of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino , in Among his duties was a mission to England to receive the Order of the Garter as a proxy for Guidobaldo.
It was at Urbino that Castiglione collaborated with his cousin on a pastoral drama, Tirsi, in which the speeches of nymphs and shepherds conceal references to the court. Castiglione was sent to Rome in as ambassador of the new duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria della Rovere, and later entered papal service. Castiglione was posted to Spain as papal nuncio ambassador in and apparently impressed Emperor Charles V as a perfect gentleman. Written in —18, Il libro del cortegiano was published in Venice in It is a discussion of the qualities of the ideal courtier , put into the mouths of such friends as Pietro Bembo , Ludovico da Canossa , Bernardo da Bibbiena, and Gasparo Pallavicino.
As was common in the Renaissance , Il cortegiano freely imitates the work of ancient writers such as Plato on the ideal republic and Cicero on the ideal orator as well as discussing the problem of creative imitation. It also has its place in a late medieval tradition of courtesy books, manuals of noble behaviour.
Further, Castiglione invests Il cortegiano with an unusual lightness that both describes sprezzatura and exemplifies it, and a lively dialogue that brings his leading characters to life. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today Il cortegiano was a great publishing success by the standards of the time. The book remains a classic of Italian literature.
Is his primary occupation warfare? However, his 16th-century readers, responding to the cues given by editors who furnished the book with marginal notes and summaries as well as indexes, appear to have read the book as a treatise on the art of shining in society.
It was studied by lawyers and merchants who wished to appear well-bred whether the author would have approved of this use of his dialogue is doubtful. The underlining in surviving copies suggests that some readers paid closer attention to the jokes and instructions on how to ride or dance with elegance than the more philosophical debates. The text survived the Counter-Reformation with minor expurgations, such as the deletion of anticlerical jokes and references to the pagan goddess Fortune.
Eclipsed by rival and more up-to-date treatises on behaviour in the 17th and 18th centuries despite interest in the book on the part of Lord Chesterfield , Samuel Johnson , and the actor David Garrick , Il cortegiano was rediscovered in the late 19th century as a representative text of the Renaissance.
Il Libro del Cortegiano
In the book, the courtier is described as having a cool mind, a good voice with beautiful, elegant and brave words along with proper bearing and gestures. At the same time though, the courtier is expected to have a warrior spirit, to be athletic, and have good knowledge of the humanities, Classics and fine arts. Over the course of four evenings, members of the court try to describe the perfect gentleman of the court. In the process they debate the nature of nobility, humor, women, and love. Reception[ edit ] The Book of the Courtier was one of the most widely distributed books of the 16th century, with editions printed in six languages and in twenty European centers.
Baldassarre Castiglione: Il Cortegiano