Abstract: Historically, the Renaissance marks a transformation in wfiich the elite classes come to define themselves by their aesthetic refinement, taste, and good manners. Accompanying this change is a special vision of the human body which is distinguished from that of artisans and peasants. This opposition has been described by Bakhtin as one between the classical body and the grotesque one, and it appears in the most unportant book for the Renaissance redefinition of the upper classes, Castiglione's II libro del cortegiano. Castiglione's view of the body actually derives from the rhetorical tradition of antiquity, in particular from Quintilian and Cicero's De oratore. A similar view appears in the works of Renaissance rhetoricians and can usefully be illustrated by analysis of Thomas Wilson's The Arte of Rhetorique (1553), although the latter also retains a vision of the grotesque body as a result of the ambiguous social position of its author.
- Copyright 1993, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric