The Book of the Courtierby Baldassare Castiglione
Pub. Date: 05/02/2003
Publisher: Dover Publications
Discretion and decorum, nonchalance and gracefulness
These are the qualities of the complete and perfect courtier, described by Castiglione in a series of imaginary conversations between the principal members of the court of Urbino in 1507. Castiglione's book is of enormous historical value as a deeply felt account of the ideals of the Italian Renaissance at/b>… See more details below
Discretion and decorum, nonchalance and gracefulness
These are the qualities of the complete and perfect courtier, described by Castiglione in a series of imaginary conversations between the principal members of the court of Urbino in 1507. Castiglione's book is of enormous historical value as a deeply felt account of the ideals of the Italian Renaissance at the moment of its greatest splendour. But the enduring topicality of some of the issues raised in The Book of the Courtier, together with the author's sensitivity to atmosphere, his powers of narrative and delicate psychological perception, make it, in addition, a highly skillful and entertaining comedy of manners.
Table of ContentsINTERLOCUTORS
THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATORY LETTER
THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER
1: "The book written at the instance of Alfonso Ariosto and in dialogue form, in order to record certain discussions held at the court of Urbino."
2-3: Description and praise of Urbino and its lords; Duke Federico and his son Guidobaldo.
4-5: The Urbino court and the persons taking part in the discussions.
6: Circumstances that led to the discussions; visit of Pope Julius II.
7-11: Various games proposed.
12: Game finally chosen: to describe a perfect Courtier.
13-6: "Canossa begins the discussion by enumerating some of the conditions essential to the Courtier,?especially gentle birth."
17-8: "Arms the true profession of the Courtier, who must, however, avoid arrogance and boasting."
19-22: Physical qualities and martial exercises.
23: Short bantering digression.
29-39: Literary and conversational style.
40: Women's affectations.
41: Moral qualities.
42-6: Literary accomplishments; arms vs. letters.
50-3: Painting vs. sculpture.
54-6: Arrival of the youthful Francesco Maria della Rovere; the evening's entertainment ends with dancing.
THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER
1-4: Reasons why the aged are wont to laud the past and to decry the present; defence of the present against such aspersions; praise of the court of Urbino.
5-6: Federico Fregoso begins the discussion on the way and time of employing the qualities and accomplishments described by Canossa: utility of such discussion.
7-8: "General rules: to avoid affection, to speak and act discreetly and opportunely, to aim at honour and praise in martial exercises, war, and public contests."
9-10: Other physical exercises.
11: Dancing and masquerading.
12-3: "Music of various kinds, when to be practised."
14: Aged Courtiers not to engage publicly in music and dancing.
15-6: Duty of aged and youthful Courtiers to moderate the faults peculiar to their years.
17-25: "Conversation, especially with superiors; how to win favours worthily."
26-8: Dress and ornament; lamentable lack of fashions peculiarly Italian.
29-30: Choice and treatment of friends.
31: Games of cards and chess.
32-5: Influence of preconceived opinions and first impressions; advantage of being preceded by good reputation.
36: Danger of going beyond bounds in the effort to be amusing.
37: French and Spanish manners.
38: "Tact, modesty, kindness, readiness; taking advantage of opportunities; confession of ignorance."
39-41: "Self-depreciation, deceit, moderation."
42-83: Pleasantries and witticisms expounded by Bibbiena.
84-97: "Practical jokes; to be used discreetly, particularly where women are concerned; use of trickery and artifice in love; dignity and nobility of women."
98-100: Giuliano de' Medici chosen to describe the perfect Court Lady.
THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER
1: Excellence of the court of Urbino to be estimated in much the same way in which Pythagoras calculated the stature of Hercules.
2-3: Bantering preliminaries to the discussion on the Court Lady.
4: Qualities common to the Courtier and to the Court Lady.
5-6: "The Court Lady to be affable, modest and decorous; to follow a middle course between prudishness and over-freedom; to avoid scandal-mongering; her conversation to have variety."
7-9: Physical and mental exercises of the Court Lady; her dress.
10-8: Women's importance; certain aspersions refuted.
19-20: Examples of saintly women contrasted with hypocritical friars.
21-7: "Examples of women famous for virtue, manly courage, constancy in love, pudicity."
28-33: "Examples of women who in ancient times did good service to the world in letters, in the sciences, in public life, in war."
34-6: More recent examples of women noted for their virtue.
37-49: Chastity and continence.
50: Dangers to which womanly virtue is exposed.
51-2: Further praise of women.
53-5: The Court Lady's demeanour in love talk.
56-9: Her conduct in love.
60-73: The way to win and keep a woman's love; its effects and signs; secrecy in love.
74-5: Pallavicino's aspersions against women.
76-7: Ottaviano Fregoso is deputed to expound the other qualities that add to the Courtier's perfections.
THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER
1-2: Eulogy of several other interlocutors whose death had recently occurred.
3-6: "Ottaviano Fregoso resumes the interrupted discussion, considers the Courtier's relations with his prince, and urges the duty of employing his qualities and accomplishments so that his prince may be led to seek good and shun evil."
7-10: "Princes' need to know the truth, their difficulty in finding it, and the Courtier's duty to encourage them in the path of virtue."
11-2: "Virtue not wholly innate, but susceptible of cultivation."
13-6: Ignorance the source of nearly all human error.
17-8: "Temperance the perfect virtue, because it is the fountain of virtues."
19-24: Monarchy vs. commonwealth.
25-6: Whether a contemplative or an active life is more befitting a prince.
27-8: Peace the aim of war; the virtues befitting each.
29: Right training of princes to begin in habit and to be confirmed by reason.
30: Humorous digression.
31: Governo misto.
32-5: "Attributes of a good prince: justice, devoutness, love of his subjects, and mild sway."
36-9: Grand public works; the Crusades; eulogy of several young princes.
40: Princes must avoid certain extremes.
41: Princes must attend to details personally.
42: Eulogy of the youthful Federico Gonzaga.
43-8: Arguments supporting the theory that the Courtier's highest aim is the instruction of his prince.
49-52: Whether the Courtier ought to be in love; Bembo appointed to discourse on love and beauty.
53-4: Evils and perils of sensual love.
55-6: Digression concerning the love of old men.
57-60: "True beauty, the reflection of goodness."
61-4: In what manner the unyouthful Courtier ought to love; rational love contrasted with sensual love.
65-7: Contemplation of abstract beauty.
68-9: Contemplation of divine beauty.
70-1: Bembo's invocation to the Holy Spirit.
72: Instances in which a vision of divine beauty had been granted to mortals.
73: Termination of the discussion at dawn.
"PRELIMINARY NOTES,?Life of the Author, etc."
NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER
NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER
NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER
NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER
NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER
LIST OF EDITIONS OF THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER
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