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What Does It Mean To Be A Gentleman Today?


‘Gentleman’ is the literal translation from the French “gentilhomme”, meaning kind and gentle man. Was kindness really an attribute that was associated to gentlemen? It was so, initially. This trait was highlighted to distinguish oneself from other non-noble people who were portrayed as boorish and mean. A gentleman, unlike peasants, lived in the city. His ancestors were warriors but he no longer practiced the art of war, which mainly as became a hobby. At the end of the Middle Ages, some warriors became administrative aristocrats so they couldn’t express/display their bravery on the battlefield. This is was the reason why they had to educate themselves in other ways. However, they still needed to express honorability in their manner/behavior, which was why the concept of ‘gentleman’ appeared. People were not warriors, but they wanted to distinguish themselves from others. So a gentlemen needed to play music, read literature, practice fencing, use appropriate vocabulary, dress lavishly, and so forth in order to be seen as different – (that is,) superior – from the commoner.
From its origins, this ideology behind the concept of ‘gentleman’ is highly inequalitarian, however we can use its humanist aspect to promote it as today’s behavior. What does it mean really to be a gentle person (women shouldn’t be ousted from this concept nowadays)?

It simply means following beauty though the mastery of any particular art or practice*. ‘Nobility’ is not a social status, instead it is an emanation of the heart. By dedicating ourselves to the deliberate practice of art, we are able to develop the qualities of our character and so/thus our relationship with others. Art could be any discipline that seeks beauty and perfection.

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