Giovanni della Casa

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Regulate your manner of behaviour towards others, not according to your own humour, but agreeably to the pleasure and inclination of those with whom you converse.
We ought to esteem him alone an agreeable and good-natured man, who, in his daily intercourse with others, behaves in such a manner as friends usually behave to each other. For ... a polite man, wherever he goes, seems as easy as if he were amongst his intimate friends.

Giovanni della Casa (28 July 150314 November 1556), was a Florentine poet, writer on etiquette and society, diplomat, and inquisitor.

Quotes[edit]

Galateo: Or, A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners[edit]

  • For tho' it is certainly more laudable, and a thing of greater moment, to be generous, constant, and magnanimous, than merely to be polite and well bred; yet we find, from daily experience, that sweetness of manners, a genteel carriage, and, polite address are frequently of more advantage to those who are so happy as to be possessed of them, than any greatness of soul or brightness of parts are to those who are adorned with those more shining talents. For those slighter accomplishments are of more frequent, or rather of constant and daily use on every occasion; as we are under a necessity of conversing daily with other people: Whereas justice, fortitude, and those other more exalted virtues, are of much less frequent occurrence. For neither is a generous or a brave man obliged to exhibit those virtues, every hour of the day (which indeed would be impossible,) neither has a wise man, or a man of great genius, an opportunity of displaying those extraordinary talents, but very rarely. As much therefore as those greater qualities exceed those more trifling accomplishments in weight and importance; so much the latter exceed the former in number and more frequent use.
    • p. 3
  • You ought to regulate your manner of behaviour towards others, not according to your own humour, but agreeably to the pleasure and inclination of those with whom you converse.
    • p. 6
  • As therefore, when we consult, not our own pleasures, but that of our friends, our behaviour will be pleasing and agreeable; our first enquiry must be, what those particulars are, with which the greatest part of mankind are universally delighted; and what those are which, in general, they detest, as troublesome and offensive: For thus we shall easily discover, what kind of conduct, in our intercourse with others, is to be avoided, and what to be adopted and pursued.
    • p. 7
  • Now, as in the Latin and other languages, a yawning fellow is synonymous or equivalent to a negligent and sluggish fellow; this idle custom ought certainly to be avoided; being (as was observed) disagreeable to the sight, offensive to the ear, and contrary also to that natural claim, which every one has to respect. For when we indulge ourselves in this listless behaviour, we not only intimate, that the company we are in, does not greatly please us; but also make a discovery, not very advantageous to ourselves; I mean, that we are of a drowsy, lethargic disposition: which must render us by no means amiable or pleasing, to those with whom we converse.
    • pp. 14-15
  • It is moreover extremely indecent to spit, cough, and expectorate (as it were) in company, as some hearty fellows are apt to do: and more so, when you have blown your nose, to draw aside and examine the contents of your handkerchief; as if you expected pearls or rubies to distil from your brain.
    • p. 15
  • These kinds of habits, in good company, are so very nauseous and disgusting, that if we indulge ourselves in them, no one can be very fond of our acquaintance. So far from it, that even those, who are inclined to wish us well, must, by these and the like disagreeable customs, be entirely alienated from us.— Those ill-bred people, who expect their acquaintance to love and caress them, with all their foibles, are as absurd as a poor ragged cinder-wench; who should roll about upon an heap of ashes, scrabbling and throwing dust in the face of every one that passed by; and yet flatter herself that she should allure some youth to her embraces, by these dirty endearments; which would infallibly keep him at a distance.
    • p. 15
  • There are many and various particulars, which, by a kind of natural instinct, every one judges to be right, and expects to meet with, from those with, whom he converses. Such as mutual benevolence and respect; a desire of pleasing and obliging each other; and the like. Nothing therefore ought to be said or done, which may by any means discover, that those, whose company we are in, are not much beloved, or, at least, much esteemed by us.
    • p. 27
  • When you go into public, let your dress be genteel, and suitable to your age and station of life. He that does otherwise, shows a contempt of the world, and too great an opinion of his own importance.
    • p. 31
  • We ought to esteem him alone an agreeable and good-natured man, who, in his daily intercourse with others, behaves in such a manner as friends usually behave to each other. For as a person of that rustic character appears, wherever he comes, like a mere stranger: so, on the contrary, a polite man, wherever he goes, seems as easy as if he were amongst his intimate friends and acquaintance.
    • p. 43

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