Set in the court of Urbino in 1507, Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier presents an invaluable look at court life and culture during the Renaissance. Over four nights of dialogue, the book explores the key question, 'What should a courtier be like?'; it presents a deep and timeless discussion that is reminiscent of Plato's Symposium and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and invites comparisons with Machiavelli's The Prince. It is absorbing and enlightening, and encompasses a wide range of topics that include dancing, fencing, war, religion, culture, courtly and corporeal love and gender relations, with a surprisingly modern defence of women and equal rights.
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