Elliott M. Simon, Department of English

Annibale Romei’s Discorsi: Visions and Revisions of the Courtier







Annibale Romei’s Discorsi (1585, second edition 1586) provides an important insight into the paradoxical idealization of the courtier in the Renaissance.  Influenced by Castiglione, Tasso, and Ariosto, and based on the court of Alfonso II in Ferrara, Romei’s conception of the courtier’s “Magnificence” combines Neo-platonic and Christian spirituality, Aristotelian ethics, and Machiavellian expedience within the mentality and moral values of the privileged aristocracy.  Magnificence appeals to intellectual erudition and eloquence, to an ambitious and extravagant style of living, and to the alleged inherent virtues of birth that can be developed to their ultimate realization in the perfection of human felicity.  Romei’s multi-voiced conceptions of “nobility,” “honor,” and “wealth” illuminate the problematic noble and ignoble nature of the courtier in the works of Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, and numerous other poets and social historians.


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