â€˜The courtier has to imbue with grace his movements, his gestures, his way of doing things and in short, his every actionâ€™ In The Book of the Courtier (1528), Baldesar Castiglione, a diplomat and Papal Nuncio to Rome, sets out to define the essential virtues for those at Court. In a lively series of imaginary conversations between the real-life courtiers to the Duke of Urbino, his speakers discuss qualities of noble behaviour â€“ chiefly discretion, decorum, nonchalance and gracefulness â€“ as well as wider questions such as the duties of a good government and the true nature of love. Castiglioneâ€™s narrative power and psychological perception make this guide both an entertaining comedy of manners and a revealing window onto the ideals and preoccupations of the Italian Renaissance at the moment of its greatest splendour. George Bullâ€™s elegant translation captures the variety of tone in Castiglioneâ€™s speakers, from comic interjections to elevated rhetoric. This edition includes an introduction examining Castiglioneâ€™s career in the courts of Urbino and Mantua, a list of the historical characters he portrays and further reading.