The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).


Since it is proved by sufficient reasons that, in order to avoid unsuitable confusion, it would be right that the above-named Songs be opened and explained by a Commentary in our Native Tongue and not in the Latin, I intend to show again how a ready Liberality makes me select this way and leave the other.  It is possible, then, to perceive a ready Liberality in three things, which go with this Native Tongue, and which would not have gone with the Latin.  The first is to give to many; the second is to give useful things; the third is to give the gift without being asked for it.

For to give to and to assist one person is good; but to give to and to assist many is ready goodness, inasmuch as it has a similitude to the good gifts of God, who is the Benefactor of the Universe.  And again, to give to many is impossible without giving to one, forasmuch as one is included in many.  But to give to one may be good without giving to many, because he who assists many does good to one and to the other; he who assists one does good to one only:  hence, we see the imposers of the laws, especially if they are for the common good, hold the eyes fixed whilst compiling these laws.  Again, to give useless things to the receiver is also a good, inasmuch as he who gives, shows himself at least to be a friend; but it is not a perfect good, and therefore it is not ready:  as if a knight should give to a doctor a shield, and as if the doctor should give to a knight the written aphorisms of Hippocrates, or rather the technics of Galen; because the wise men say that “the face of the gift ought to be similar to that of the receiver,” that is, that it be suitable to him, and that it be useful; and therein it is called ready liberality in him who thus discriminates in giving.

But forasmuch as moral discourses usually create a desire to see their origin, in this chapter I intend briefly to demonstrate four reasons why of necessity the gift (in order that it be ready liberality) should be useful to him who receives.  Firstly, because virtue must be cheerful and not sad in every action:  hence, if the gift be not cheerful in the giving and in the receiving, in it there is not perfect nor ready virtue.  And this joy can spring only from the utility, which resides in the giver through the giving, and which comes to the receiver through the receiving.  In the giver, then, there must be the foresight, in doing this, that on his part there shall remain the benefit of an inherent virtue which is above all other advantages; and that to the receiver come the benefit of the use of the thing given.  Thus the one and the other will be cheerful, and consequently it will be a ready liberality, that is, a liberality both prompt and well considered.

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