The Book of the Courtier

by Baldassare Castiglione

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What are some differences in opinion of what a perfect courtier would be?

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In The Book of the Courtier, the perfect courtier himself is an elusive ideal. Perfection, naturally, should be hard to attain. However, Castiglione certainly makes it more than challenging for most individuals. The courtier has a lot to learn if he is to command respect from the Count.

First and foremost, the perfect courtier must speak well. His language should be impeccable and should have a clear, melodious voice when speaking. In addition, he must present himself well, with beautiful clothes and gracious aspect. He should be a "marvel" to others; a "beautiful spectacle" that they cannot help but admire. All of this must be accomplished with a sense of nonchalance, so that it seems effortless to others.

The courtier should have a good overall knowledge of the humanities, such as history, art, and literature. In this way, he can converse smoothly on any topic. In everything he says, the courtier must demonstrate a sense of confidence, knowledge, and style. In addition to this, the perfect courtier should be physically impressive. He should understand the art of war and show interest in manly and warrior-like pursuits. He should be athletic and do well in tests of strength and skill. The courtier's body and mind must both be perfected.

The perfect courtier is an elusive creature, indeed.

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