Castigliones Prosperity Makes a Gentleman

Castigliones - 13.3 Castiglione’s"Courtier" Prosperity Makes a Gentleman The increase in mercantile contact from Asia and Africa with

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Unformatted text preview: 13.3 Castiglione’s "Courtier": Prosperity Makes a Gentleman The increase in mercantile contact from Asia and Africa with Europe revitalized the latter‘s moribund markets, and helped generate the Renaissance, wherein Europe broke the bond of manorialism in favor of a capitalist economy. A rising standard of living, most pronounced among the noble and upper— middle classes, and increasing literacyIr levels and intellectual sophistication had, as one byproduct, the conceptualization of the courth.Ir "gentleman." The new breed of noble, the courtier, was not expected to be one—dimensional as his predecessor, the feudal knight While the courtlyr Ftenaissance noble still had a militaryr function, be was expected to be versatile and as much at home with the arts of peace lmusic, art, letters, politics, etc.l as those of war. This new type of aristocrat is depicted in "The Book of the Courtier” by Baldassaro |IZastiglione [HTS—1529i, which was meant to serve as a handbook for genteel conduct Source: Friench Simpson, ed.r Bafd'assare Casrigfi'one: The Book of the Courtier lN.‘r'.: Frederick Ungar, 1959], pp. sa—ac, 45—41 41. The Crmrtier must he a man of virtue and integrity. 1fou etm appreciate how contntry and fatal affectation is to the grace ofevery function not only of the body. but likewise of the mind. concerning which we have as yet said little. though we should not therefore pass it over. For as the mind is uutch more noble than the body. so also it deserves to be more cultivated and enriched. And as to how this should be accomplished in our Courtier. let us leave aside the precepts of so many wise philosophers who write on this subject and define the powers of the mind and so subtly dispute about their worth. and let us. keeping to our subject. say in few words that it is enough he should be. as they say. a man of virtue and integrity; for in this are com— prehended the practical wisdom. justice. fortitude. and temperance of mind and all the other qualifies which attend upon so honored a name. And I feel that he alone is the true moral philosopher who wishes to be good. and for that purtvssc he needs few precepts other than that wish. 42-44. Next in importance to virtue comes knowledge of hrunane letters. “But with the exception of goodness. the true and chief ornament of the mind in each of us is. I think. letters. .. I desire that in letters [our Fourtier] should be more than passany learned. at least in these studies which men call humanities. and that he be acquainted not only with Latin but also with Greek. for the sake of the numerous and varied works which have been slaverny written in that language. Let him be versed in the miners. and no less in the orators and his- torians. Let him also be trained in the writing of verse and prose. estvseially in our vernacular tongue. For in addition to the private enjoyment which he will derive. he will. thanks to this. never find himself at a loss for pleasing pastime with women. who for the most part love such things. “And if. either because of other employment or because of lack of study he does not arrive at such perfection that his compositions are worthy of much praise. let him take the precaution of concealing them in order not to make others laugh at him and let him show them only to a friend whom he can trust. because they will benefit him to this extent at least that through that training he will know how to judge the works of others. for indeed it rarely happens that a person not accustomed to writing. however learned he be. can ever fully appreciate the labor and ingenuity of writers or enjoy the sweetness and excellence of styles and those latent nicctics which are oltcn found in the ancients. And besides that. these studies make him fluent and. as .fiiristippus replied to that tyrant. bold enough to speak with confidence to everyone. 1 greatly desire furthermore that our Courtier hold fitted in his mind one precept. namely. that in this and in every other thing he always be attentive and camious rather than daring. and that he guard against persuading himself mistakenly that he knows what he does not know: for we are all by nature much more eager for praise than we should be. and our ears love the melody of the words which sing our praises more titan any other song or sound. however sweet: and yet often. like the Siren's voices. these words bring shipwreck to any man who does not stop his ears against music so deceiving. Recognizing this danger. some among the sages of antiquity have written books telling us how we may distinguish the true friend from the flatterer. Hut what benefit has come of this if many. nay innumerable. are those who clearly realize that they are being flattered and yet love the flatterer and loathe the man who tells them the truth‘? And often it appears to them that the man who praises is too niggard ly in what he says: so they themselves come to his aid and say such things about themselves as make the most shameless tlatterer blush. “Let us lea ve these blind men in their error and see to it that our Cotutier is so sotmd of judgment that he cannot be made to take black for white or think highly of himself except in such measure as he clearly know s to be just. . . .On the contrary. in order not to err. even if he knows very well that the praises that are given him are just. let him not concur in them too openly or cenfinn them without some show of opposition. but rather let him modestly come near to dertying them. always claiming and actually considering arms as his chief calling and all the other good attributes as ernaments efthem. Let him observe this cautien especially among seldiers. in order net to behave like these who in their studies wish to apprar men of war and among men of war wish to appear men of letters. In this fashion and for the reasons which we have given. he will avoid atthatien. and even the cmnmmtplace things that he does will appear very impressive.” 45. Bembo objects that letters rather than arms ought. to be the |Cotrrtier’s chief glory. At this point Messer Pierre Bembe said in reply: "'I de net knew. Count. why you should desire that this Cerutier. accom— plished in letters and possessed of so many ether qualities. should consider everything an emament ef anus and net anus and the test an ornament of letters. which in and for themselves are as much superior to arms in worth as the mind is to the body. since the pursuit of letters belongs properly to the mind. as that of arms does to the body." The Count then replied: “Rather. the pursuit of arms belongs to the mind and to the body. Hut ] am net desirous of having you. Messer Pietro. as judge of this dispute. bemme you would be too suspsct of bias in the eyes of one of the parties. and since this debate has long been carried on by the most learned men. there is no need to renew it. However. I consider it settled in favor of arms and I stipulate that our Courtier. since I ctm shape him armrding to my will. shall also consider the matter so. And if you are of contrary epinien. wait mail you hear of a dispute ever it in which these who defend the case fisr anus may as law fully use arms as these who defend letters use these same letters in their defence. Fer if each can avail himself efhis ewn instruments. you will see that the men of letters will lose... 4?. The Cmrtier should be an accomplished musician. “My lords. .. you must know that 1 am not satisfied with the {‘eurtier if he is not also a musician and if besides under- standing music and read ing notes readin he does not know a variety of instruments; for if we con sider the matter carefully. we ctm tind no repose from toil or medicine for ailing minds more wholesome and commendable for leisure time than this: and especially at courts. where much is done net only to provide the relief from vexatiens that music offers all of us but also to please the women. whose delicate and impressionable spirits are easily penetrated by hanueny and filled with sweetness. Therefore it is no wonder if in ancient and in modern times women have always been favorably dispesed teward musicians and have feund music a mest welcome feed fer the spirit." ']'hereupi:m Lord Gaspar said: “Music. along with many ether follies. ] emtsider suitable indeed for women and perhaps also for settle whe pes- sess the appearance of men. but not for those who truly are men and who ought net to unman their minds with pleasures and thus incline them to be atmid ofdeath." “De net say such a thing." answered the Count: “for I will here set forth on a vast sea of praise of nutsic. and I will recall to what a degree among the ancients it was always extolled and regarded as something 11er and how widely the wisest philesephers held that the world is fashioned ef music and that the heavens preduce harmeny as they move and. moreover. that eur soul was fermed according to the same principles and therefore awakens and. as it were. quickens its pewers through music. Fer this reasen it is recorded that Alexander was so warmly aroused by it on a certain eccasien that almost against his will he was obliged to rise from the banquet and rush to arms. then. as the musician altered the quality of the tone. to grow mild and return from arms to banqueting... “Have you net read that music was one of the first disciplines that the good old Chiron taught Achilles. when Achilles. whom he reared Item the time of milk and cradle. was at a tender age; and the wise master desired that the hands which were to spill so umch Trojan bleed should he often busied with the music of the cithara‘? ‘t‘i-hat seldier. pray. will there be who is ashamed to imitate Achilles. not to mention many ether fameus com manders whom I could name? Therefere de net be dispesed to deprive eur {“eurtier of music. which net enly softens the minds of men but often makes the fierce beceme gentle. and one can be certain that ifa man does net enjoy music his spirits are all out eftune." 4B. Giuliano de’ Medici wishes to know how the Courtier is to apply his attributes in acmal practice. Since the Count was silent fora little while at this point. the Magnifico (.iiuliano said: “I am not at all of Lord (.iaspat's opinion; on the contrary I believe. for the reasons that you state and for many others. that music is not only an ornament but a necessity ibr the Comtier. I should greatly like you to declare in what way this and the other attributes which you assign to him are to be put into practice. both at what time and after what fishien. For many things which in themselves deserve praise frequently become highly unsuitable when done at the wrong time. And by way efcentrast. some things which appear of small weight are much valued when they are properly managed. " 49. Before answering Ginliano the CmJnt recommends that the lConrtier he taught to draw and to understand painting. Then the Count said: “Betbte we enter into this subject I want to talk of another matter which. since I consider it of great importance. should. I think. by no means be left out by our Courtier. And this is knowing how to draw and possessing an understand- ing of the true art of painting. De net marvel if I desire this skill which today perhaps is judged to be a craft and little fit— ting for a gentlentan: for I recall having read that the ancients. especially through the whole of Greece. used to require that children of neblemen give attention to painting in school. as something wholesome and requisite; and that this subject was admitted into the first rank of the liberal arts and subsequently by public edict was forbidden to be taught to slaves. Among the Romans also it was held in the highest honor. “And te tell the truth I thin|-; that anyene w he dees net value this art is very much a stranger te reasen; fer the uni- verse in its structure. with the wide heaven efbtight stats surrounding it and in the middle the earth gird led by the seas. figured with mountains. valleys. and rivers. and embellished by trees of many different kinds and by lovely flowers and plants. one can call a noble and ntagn'tificent pictLue executed by the hand of nature and efGed: and the man who can inti- tate it I consider worthy of great praise: nor can one succeed in this without the knew ledge ef ntany things. as anyone who tries it well knows. BOOK THREE The Attrihltes of the Court Lady and the Character of Women in General The Court Lady as described by the Magnit" ice is to possess the same virtues as the {burner and undergo the same train- ing in letters. music. painting. dancing and ether graces; also she should avoid aftematien and cultivate sprezzatara. She is to avoid manly exercises and manners and preserve a feminine sweetness and delicacy. For example. she should net play on drtuns er trtunpets. or take part in tennis or Inu'tting. Above all she should acquire a pleasant affability in entertaining men. being neither tee bashful nor too held in company. Gaspar Pallavicine declares such a woman impossible; women are imperfect creatures. The h—Iagnifice answers this with the proposition that since two members of the same species have the sante essential substance. one cannot be essen— tially less perfect than the ether. Pallavieine counters with the claim that man is to weman as fenn is to matter. weman is imperfect witheut man. The argument fellews these metaphysical lines tbra w hile; then the Magnif ice undertakes to shew that for every great man there are equally admirable women to be cited. both in ancient and in modern times. Letd {jaspat Pallavicine continues to insist that women are chaste only through tetttefpunishment. Cesare (jen- zaga then takes up the defense of wenten. citing cases of women w he defended their chastity to the death and describing the wiles which men use to evercente fentale chastity; then. passing en to the Cetutly Leve traditien. he asserts that all the refinements of life are cultivated in order to please wemen. Finally the discussion turns to the way the Feutt Lady sheuld resprmd to talk of love. The h-Iagnitiee's opinion is that only unmarried women should allow themselves to fall in leve. and then only when love is likely to end in marriage. all physical gratificatitni eutside marriage is forbidden. Federico Fregese suggests that where there is no possibility of divorce a woman whose husband hates her should be permitted to bestow her love elsewhere. The Magnified replies that she may bestow only spiritual leve. Pallavicino denounces women because they love to drive a lover mad by tefusin g their favors for a very long while and then. when the lover's appetite is dulled by esaspenttien. at last bestowing favors that can no longer be fully enjoyed by him. lDuestio ns: 1. Fer what reasons should a courtly man possess knowledge of the "humane letters" and what should he do if he has not had the time to acquire this knowledge? 2. In what light should the ceurtier consider the noble ladies? 3. Why should the ceurtier be versed in music and painting? 4. What virnJes. in and of herself. is the court lady expected to possess that differs from the expectations of a courtly gentleman? ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/28/2008 for the course CULTURAL S 300 taught by Professor Mcquinn during the Spring '08 term at Pratt.

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Castigliones - 13.3 Castiglione’s"Courtier" Prosperity Makes a Gentleman The increase in mercantile contact from Asia and Africa with

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