Monday, August 15, 2011

Courtiers R Us

(Francisco Goya, Portrait of the Marqués de Sofraga, ca. 1795)

If I want to use the word “metaphor” in a sentence, can I say “The courtier is a metaphor for our times,” or does a metaphor have to be a thing? Perhaps it would have to be the “court of France” is a metaphor for our times. Or maybe I have to use the word “figure” instead: “the courtier is a figure for our times.” In any case, it is.

Among the words associated with “courtier,” is “favorite;” people close to a ruler who are ambitious and climb the social and political ladder because of his or her connection to power.

“Courts” are worlds of hierarchy, intrigue, rules and backstabbing. Courtiers are sycophants with little regard for others. They can also be frustrated servants or middlemen. In historical painting, donned in fashionable clothing, they look as if they were caught in their times. As such and posing stiffly, they are often endearing, ever human.

Can’t we recognize ourselves playing the roles we find ourselves playing?

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