[N.B. I have changed the contest deadline to midnight on August 15, 2013.]
Regular readers know that this blog first appeared on August 16, 2008. Of course this means we are coming up on the 5th year anniversary of its founding. So as a special thanks to all of you who drop in to read and share your thoughts, I am inviting you to participate in a contest for a Courtier-related prize.
The Blog of the Courtier takes its name from the “Book of the Courtier” by the Italian author and diplomat Baldassare Castiglione, Count of Novellata, who was born in Mantua in 1478 and died in Madrid in 1529. In it, the Count uses the literary device of an imaginary after-dinner discussion between several famous Italian nobles and thinkers of his day, to discuss principles which ought to matter to anyone who cares about creating a good society, establishing a just government, and encouraging men and women to better themselves through education and polite behavior. For centuries it was required reading for any educated person who sought to understand his place in the world, and how to contribute positively to the times in which he lived.
Sadly, in more recent years this book has become something of a historical footnote, as people have moved away from aspiring to be improve themselves and instead have reverted to the kind of slovenly selfishness which Castiglione saw around him and deplored. In an effort to encourage us to think about the principles which Castiglione saw as forming the foundation for Western society, and to encourage others to rediscover this wonderful work, I will once again be giving away a brand-new, annotated English translation of Castiglione’s masterpiece to the winning entry in this year’s birthday contest. Past winners have included subscribers to this blog, my followers on Twitter, and people who just happen to have come across the contest through social media.
To enter, simply write in 500 words or less about a person, living or dead, whom you believe embodies the ideals that Count Castiglione was writing about when he noted the following aspects of the character of a good courtier, i.e. the man or woman trying to live a virtuous and good life and do their duty, seeking to improve themselves while at the same time doing the best they can to behave well toward others:
Then the soul, freed from vice, purged by studies of true philosophy, versed in spiritual life, and practiced in matters of the intellect, devoted to the contemplation of her own substance, as if awakened from deepest sleep, opens those eyes which all possess but few use, and sees in herself a ray of that light which is the true image of the angelic beauty communicated to her, and of which she then communicates a faint shadow to the body.
Contest entries will be accepted from today through midnight on August 15, 2013. I will announce the winner, either by full name or initials, as they choose, on the blog’s birthday.
To submit an entry, simply use the “Contact” tab located above the “Blog of the Courtier” logo on the homepage of this site, and be sure to include an email address on the contact form so that I know how to get in touch with you. Due to the volume of entries I typically receive, I will not be able to acknowledge each entry individually, but you can be certain that I will read and consider all of them. I am always greatly impressed by the submissions, some of which show insight into historical figures and famous people, while others praise friends and family members who have always tried to do their best to be a lady or gentleman in whatever they do.
Best of luck with your entries, and thank you for your continued readership of these pages!
Detail from “The Feast in the House of Simon” by Tintoretto (1570-1572)
Palace of Versailles