Again, obedience is within bounds, and not excessive, when it goes to the limit of the command, and no further; as Individual Nature is obedient to Universal Nature when she makes thirty-two teeth in the man, and no more and no less; and when she makes five fingers on the hand, and no more and no less; and the man is obedient to Justice when he does that which the Law commands, and no more and no less.
Neither would the Latin have done this, but it would have sinned not only in the defect, and not only in the excess, but in each one; and thus its obedience would not have been within due limit, but intemperate, and consequently it would not have been obedient. That the Latin would not have been the executor of the commandment of his Lord, and that neither would he have been a usurper, one can easily prove. This Lord, namely, these Songs, to which this Commentary is ordained for their servant, commands and desires that they shall be explained to all those whose mind is so far intelligent that when they hear speech they can understand, and when they speak they can be understood. And no one doubts, that if the Songs should command by word of mouth, this would be their commandment. But the Latin would not have explained them, except to the learned men: and so that the rest could not have understood. Hence, forasmuch as the number of unlearned men who desire to understand those Songs may be far greater than the learned, it follows that it could not have fulfilled its commandment so well as the Native Tongue, which is understood both by the Learned and the Unlearned. Again, the Latin would have explained them to people of another language, as to the Germans, to the English, and to others; and here it would have exceeded their commandment. For against their will, speaking freely, I say, their meaning would be explained there where they could not convey it in all their beauty.
And, therefore, let each one know, that nothing which is harmonized by the bond of the Muse can be translated from its own language into another, without breaking all its sweetness and harmony. And this is the reason why Homer was not translated from Greek into Latin, like the other writings that we have of the Greeks. And this is the reason why the verses of the Psalms are without sweetness of music and harmony; for they were translated from Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek into Latin, and in the first translation all that sweetness vanished.
And, thus is concluded that which was proposed in the beginning of the chapter immediately before this.