The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

Secondly, because virtue ought always to move things forwards and upwards.  For even as it would be a blameable action to make a spade of a beautiful sword, or to make a fair basin of a lovely lute; so it is wrong to move anything from a place where it may be useful, and to carry it into a place where it may be less useful.  And since it is blameable to work in vain, it is wrong not merely to put the thing in a place where it may be less useful, but even in a place where it may be equally useful.  Hence, in order that the changing of the place of a thing may be laudable, it must always be for the better, because it ought to be especially praiseworthy; and this the gift cannot be, if by transformation it become not more precious.  Nor can it become more precious, if it be not more useful to the receiver than to the giver.  Wherefore, one concludes that the gift must be useful to him who receives it, in order that it may be in itself ready liberality.

Thirdly, because the exercise of the virtue of itself ought to be the acquirer of friends.  For our life has need of these, and the end of virtue is to make life happy.  But that the gift may make the receiver a friend, it must be useful to him, because utility stamps on the memory the image of the gift, which is the food of friendship, and the firmer the impression, so much the greater is the utility; hence, Martino was wont to say, “Never will fade from my mind the gift Giovanni made me.”  Wherefore, in order that in the gift there may be its virtue, which is Liberality, and that it may be ready, it must be useful to him who receives it.

Finally, since the act of virtue should be free, not forced, it is free action, when a person goes willingly to any place; which is shown by his keeping the face turned thitherward; it is forced action, when he goes against his will; which is shown by his not looking cheerfully towards the place whither he goes:  and thus the gift looks towards its appointed place when it addresses itself to the need of the receiver.  And since it cannot address itself to that need except it be useful, it follows, in order that it may be with free action, that the virtue be free, and that the gift go freely to its object, which is the receiver; and consequently the gift must be to the utility of the receiver, in order that there may be a prompt and reasonable Liberality therein.

The third respect in which one can observe a ready Liberality, is giving unasked; because, to give what is asked, is, on one side, not virtue, but traffic; for, the receiver buys, although the giver may not sell; and so Seneca says “that nothing is purchased more dearly than that whereon prayers are expended.”  Hence, in order that in the gift there be ready Liberality, and that one may perceive that to be in it, there must be freedom from each act of traffic, and the gift must be unasked.  Wherefore that which is besought costs us so dear, I do not mean to argue now, because it will be fully discussed in the last treatise of this book.

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