Saturday, July 20, 2019
Bembos Discourse on Love :: Italian Renaissance History Europe Essays
Bembo's Discourse on Love The idea of the Renaissance Gentleman. Just as it is false to see the Renaissance as a simple and sharp contrast with the Middle Ages, as did Michelet and Burckhardt, neither should it be seen as all of one piece. After the age of civic humanism came the dominance of the Medici in Florence, and in those contacts made with eastern scholars when the Council of Florence was attempting the reconciliation of the Eastern and Western Churches (a last effort to stave off the menace of the Turk) Cosimo de'Medici had been attracted to the figure of Plato. So there came his patronage of Marsilio Ficino and the birth of the Platonic Academy. Ficino became the disciple of Plato, and an advocate of neo-Platonism. Perhaps coincidentally, but as befits a court, the contemplative ideal began once more to gain over the active one. It was transmitted potently to Europe by a book that mirrored one of the noblest of Italian courts, that of Urbino. This was Baldassar Castiglione's Il cortegiano/The Book o f the Courtier). Published in 1528 (that is, after the Sack of Rome, 1527) it has a nostalgic vision of the civilisation nurtured in Urbino from the time of Federigo da Montefeltro, in one of the most beautiful of princely palaces. Apart from offering in its close the neoplatonic idea to Europe, it recommended not so much the status of the courtier, as the ideal of the gentleman. There is no other comparable book that encapsulated the ideals of the Italian Renaissance, and its European success ensured the diffusion of the message. (Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library Copyright (c) 1996 Helicon Publishing and Penguin Books Ltd) Renaissance Humanism became increasingly concerned with the self and the fashioning of the self. In Il Cortegiano (The Courtier), published in 1528, Conte Baldassare Castiglione's ideal courtier is an exponent of the latter. The education or the self-fashioning of the courtier involves almost everything under the sun. Therefore, as the courtier must learn the proper skills of war, he must also learn how to love. Love, the deportment of the courtier towards court-ladies, keeps recurring in the conversation in the court at Urbino during the discourses of all four nights and the many controversies generated by Gaspar Pallavicino, Lord Julian, and Bernard Bibiena all involve love and culminate ultimately in Pietro Bembo's inspired Platonic exposition. Here, however, are a few problems.