The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).

How great is the fear of that man who knows he carries wealth about him, when walking abroad, when dwelling at home, when not only wakeful or watching, but when sleeping, not only the fear that he may lose his property, but fear for his life because he possesses these riches!  Well do the miserable merchants know, who travel through the World, that the leaves which the wind stirs on the trees cause them to tremble when they are bearing their wealth with them; and when they are without it, full of confidence they go singing and talking, and thus make their journey shorter!  Therefore the Wise Man says:  “If the traveller enters on his road empty, he can sing in the presence of thieves.”  And this Lucan desires to express in the fifth book, when he praises the safety of poverty:  “O, the safe and secure liberty of the poor Life!  O, narrow dwelling-places and thrift!  O, not again deem riches to be of the Gods!  In what temples and within what palace walls could this be, that is to have no fear, in some tumult or other, of striking the hand of Caesar?”

And Lucan says this when he depicts how Caesar came by night to the little house of the fisher Amyclas to cross the Adriatic Sea.  And how great is the hatred that each man bears to the possessor of riches, either through envy, or from the desire to take possession of his wealth!  So true it is, that often and often, contrary to due filial piety, the son meditates the death of the father; and most great and most evident experience of this the Italians can have, both on the banks of the Po and on the banks of the Tiber.  And therefore Boethius in the second chapter of his Consolations says:  “Certainly Avarice makes men hateful.”

Nay, their possession is privation of good, for, possessing those riches, a man does not give freely with generosity, which is a virtue, which is a perfect good, and which makes men magnificent and beloved; which does not lie in possession of those riches, but in ceasing to possess them.  Wherefore Boethius in the same book says:  “Then money is good when, bartered for other things, by the use of generosity one no longer possesses it.”  Wherefore the baseness of riches is sufficiently proved by all these remarks of his; and therefore the man with an upright desire and true knowledge never loves them; and, not loving them, he does not unite himself to them, but always desires them to be far from himself, except inasmuch as they are appointed to some necessary service; and it is a reasonable thing, since the perfect cannot be united with the imperfect.  So we see that the curved line never joins the straight line, and if there be any conjunction, it is not of line to line, but of point to point.  And thus it follows that the Mind which is upright in desire, and truthful in knowledge, is not disheartened at the loss of wealth:  as the text asserts at the end of that part.  And by this the text intends to prove that riches are as a river flowing in the distance past the upright tower of Reason, or rather of Nobility; and that these riches cannot take Nobility away from him who has it.  And in this manner in the present Song it is argued against riches.

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The Banquet (Il Convito) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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