Words: cicisbeo, n.

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
IN OUR era of fluid liaison, the cicisbeo is scarce. First used by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in writing from Genoa on 28 August 1718 (the OED uses a bad text; in fact she spelt it "Tetis beys") that cicisbeo had much improved Italian women.

"These are Gentlemen that devote themselves to the service of a particular Lady (I mean a marry'd one, for the virgins are all invisible, confin'd to convents). . . In short, they are to spend all their time and Money in her service who rewards them according to her Inclination (for Oppertunity they want none), but the husband is not to have the Impudence to suppose 'tis any other than pure platonic Freindship."

From bel cece (beautiful chick pea), it was deemed vulgar by Byron, who preferred "Cavalier Servente".

Comments