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Losing Face
Receiving a brutta figura
In many societies there is nothing more humiliating than to receive a brutta figura - a loss of face in society.

The fear of public humiliation informs every choice, every argument, every decision - in 15th century Italy.

During the Medici's feud with the Albizzi in the 1430s, rumors were spread by a poet called Filelfo, a ‘friend’ of the Albizzi family. Filelfo claimed Cosimo was a traitor and a cheat. Filelfo's words were instrumental in turning the government against the leader of the Medici. When Cosimo returned to power, Filelfo was terrified, but unlike his friends he was allowed to escape with his life.

But one day, down a dark alley, a different kind of justice caught up with him. Filelfo was attacked by a group of men, armed with a blade. When they had finished with him, Filelfo had a fresh wound, stretching right across his face, from ear to ear - a loss of face indeed.

Che brutta figura! - humiliation as revenge.

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