“Practise in everything a certain nonchalance that shall conceal design and show that what is done and said is done without effort and almost without thought.”
Some of my favorite animals on earth are Italian. Food for thought…
From New Advent: Baldassare Castiglione, an Italian prose-writer, born at Casatico, near Mantua, 6 December, 1478; died at Toledo, Spain, 7 February, 1529. After receiving a classical education at Milan, he went to the court of Ludovico il Moro. Soon, however, owing to his father’s death in 1499, he left the Sforza and became a retainer of Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. In September, 1504, Urbino became his new residence, and here, in the service of Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, where he spent the best years of his life. The splendour of the Montefeltro court was such as to attract thither the most distinguished writers and artists of the time, and in their midst Castiglione, though engrossed in momentous affairs of state, drank at the fountain-head of art and literature. In 1513 Francesco Maria della Rovere, Guidobaldo’s successor, made him a count and later his ambassador to the Holy See. In 1524 Pope Clement VII sent him as a special envoy to Charles V, but, in spite of his good offices on behalf of the pontiff Rome was sacked on the 6th of May, 1527, and Clement made a captive. This melancholy event broke Castiglione in health and spirits and hastened his death. Great honours were paid to his memory, and Charles the Fifth was said to have called him “one of the best knights in the world”. His fame, however, mainly rests on his “Cortegiano” (Courtier), a work in four books, describing the accomplishments and moral character of the ideal courtier, Considered the definitive account of Renaissance court life, involving drama, ritual and conversational expertise. Wayne Rebhorn, a Castiglione scholar, states that the courtier’s speech and behavior in general is “designed to make people marvel at him, to transform himself into a beautiful spectacle for others to contemplate.” He began writing it in 1514 and finished it four years later. He polished its style so elaborately as to delay its publication until 1528 by by the Aldine Press in Venice, sadly one year before his death. A truly representative son of the Renaissance, he exhibited in his “Courtier” brilliant classical scholarship and exquisite taste, combined with a keen spirit of observation and noble conceptions Sprezzatura was a vital quality for a courtier to have. Courtiers essentially had to put on a performance for their peers and those who employed sprezzatura created the impression that they completely mastered the roles they played. In a way, sprezzatura was “the art of acting deviously” Raphael’s painting (as seen above) can be found to differ primarily from its model by its unique awareness of the importance of sprezzatura. As a result, “Il Cortegiano” gradually acquired a world-wide reputation, and was translated into a dozen languages, including Japanese. The latest edition is that of Opdyke (New York, 1902). His many letters, in part unpublished, are of considerable importance.
“Outward beauty is a true sign of inner goodness. This loveliness, indeed, is impressed upon the body in varying degrees as a token by which the soul can be recognized for what it is, just as with trees the beauty of the blossom testifies to the goodness of the fruit.”
“Who does not know that without women we can feel no content or satisfaction throughout this life of ours, which but for them would be rude and devoid of all sweetness and more savage than that of wild beasts? Who does not know that women alone banish from our hearts all vile and base thoughts, vexations, miseries, and those turbid melancholies that so often are their fellows?”
“Men demonstrate their courage far more often in little things than in great.”
Il Libro del Cortegiano, del Conte Baldesar Castiglione: