Alberti, Castiglione, and Machiavelli Study Questions (discussed in class)

Discussion Questions Regarding On Painting:

  1. According to Alberti in On Painting, what types of qualities and abilities should a good painter possess? Are painters craftsmen? Intellectuals? Artists? What roles in society should they ultimately play?
  2. Also according to Alberti, what should a good painting be able to do for or convey to a viewer? What are paintings to Alberti? Are they decorations, crafts, amusements...or something more?

Discussion Questions Regarding Book of the Courtier:

  1. In Book of the Courtier, Castiglione's fictional court personalities hash out their ideal male and female courtiers. What qualities do they believe each should possess? Which qualities seem typically medieval or antiquity-based to you, and which seem like more modern additions?
  2. What are the primary differences between their ideal male and female courtiers? Do you see any marked differences between their "ideal female courtier"/the Duchess character and the other female types we've seen in the primary sources from earlier eras?

Discussion Questions Regarding The Prince:

  1. Machiavelli believes that all efficient and long-lasting "princes" or rulers should pursue a very few simple policy goals. What should rulers seek to accomplish, and what should rulers seek to avoid?
  2. According to Machiavelli, how does traditional memory of "good Christian rulers" (and other great men) of the past compare to the reality of effective, long-lasting rule? Why do you think the mythology of "good Christian rulers" persisted despite Machiavelli's insistence that effective rulers are not always "good"?
  3. How do these three readings, both separately and as a group, seem to represent elements of the Renaissance movement discussed in the textbook? Is Machiavelli's The Prince from the same philosophical tradition as On Painting and Book of the Courtier?