For centuries, Castiglione's perfect courtier provided a model for the educated classes of Europe. But although The Book of the Courtier has sometimes been read as a self-help guide for young men and women, it consists of vivid and colourful dialogues exploring key ethical issues. Should the courtier consciously use "image-management" or rely on his natural talents to attract attention? Should he obey the orders of an immoral prince or try and persuade him to behave better? Is courtliness just a passport to social success or an inspiring spiritual idea?
Sexual equality, wit and humour are among the many issues debated in this deliciously fresh picture of Renaissance court society in Italy.