The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione

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What characteristics of the courtier (from The Book of the Courtier) are still present in today's society?

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Other answers here offer excellent ideas regarding the specific qualities a courtier ought to possess. A central concept of the Renaissance courtier is sprezzatura: an Italian word roughly meaning a studied nonchalance. This ideal of effortless-seeming excellence in multiple areas (politics, arts, society, etc.) insists on the courtier turning himself into a rhetorical object. By that, Castiglione suggests that the duty of the courtier is to "speak" eloquently and persuasively through multiple, non-linguistic as well as linguistic means. By turning oneself into a work of art, the courtier becomes indispensable in his domain. The emphasis here falls on turning oneself into a symbol of a certain type of person and lifestyle.

Today's highly self-aware world of social media seems to demand a comparable transformation of self into artifact of cultural values. The preening and staging that many people engage in on social media (that court of popular opinion, favor, or "likes") is designed to...

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