Spesse volte mi viene un dubbio, s'é dato dal nascimento (come nell'altre cose ancora) ch'i Principi siano propitii & favorevoli verso questi, iniqui & crudeli verso quegli altri, o se pure è posto nella industria nostra…. (Francesco Sansovino, Propositioni in materia di cose di Stato, Vinegia, 1583, fol. 110)
Castiglione's Libro del cortegiano (1528) and Renaissance courtesy literature in general chart an uneven course between the description of an illustrious courtly ideal never fully incarnate and the establishment of a set of rules enabling courtly practice and prescription. These two intentions, one roughly Platonic and the other roughly Aristotelian, are in the end contradictory, for the more substantial the ideal becomes, the less can it accommodate varying experience and therefore practice. The impulse to set forth an ideal as something outside of variety through which experience is to be judged is incompatible with the production of that ideal through the experiential mean of varying extremes.
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