Connecting Castiglione's Renaissance Human Ideal With Modern Views on the Subject: A Questionnaire
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Castiglione's The Courtier is a Renaissance manual for achieving the human etiquette ideal, presented in four books which deal with male and female requirements for being accomplished, well-rounded persons.
Books I, II, and IV focus on man's desirable qualities, and how they should be employed. In short, he ought to be good soldier - courageous, physically strong, loyal - sufficiently educated in all humanities domains such as literature, music or arts, groomed but not effeminate, witty, agreeable in social encounters, modest, honest, morally righteous, discreet, lacking in envy, jealousy or malicious intent, dutiful, respectful of authority and kind to people of lower social status (Northrop, 1998). Additionally, he is advised to shun trivial gossip or outright displays of curiosity and emotion, not to associate with people of dubious character, to refrain from following a superior's order if it is evil (Castiglione, 1528).
The portrayal of all these attributes was proposed to be accompanied by the appearance of effortless distinction (Hitchings, 2013), in an attitude called "sprezzatura . . .[and] use in every thyng a certaine Reckelesness, to cover art withall, and seeme whatsoever he doth and sayeth, to do it wythout pain, and (as it were) not myndyng it" (Castiglione, 1528). While in the company of a woman, the man was instructed to be joyful, gentle, humble, courteous, and avoid any form of jesting. Furthermore, a man's love for a woman is ideally portrayed as a