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

And that these two things are suitable to this age that great poet Lucan represents to us in the second book of his Pharsalia, when he says that Marcia returned to Cato, and entreated him that he would take her back in his fourth and Extreme Old Age, by which Marcia the Noble Soul is meant, and we can thus depict the symbol of it in all Truth.  Marcia was a virgin, and in that state typifies Adolescence; she then espoused Cato, and in that state typifies Youth; she then bore sons, by whom are typified the Virtues which are becoming to young men, as previously described; and she departed from Cato and espoused Hortensius, by which it is typified that she quitted Youth and came to Old Age.  She bore sons to this man also, by whom are typified the Virtues which befit Old Age, as previously said.  Hortensius died, by which is typified the end of Old Age, and Marcia, made a widow, by which widowhood is typified Extreme Old Age, returned in the early days of her widowhood to Cato, whereby is typified the Noble Soul turning to God in the beginning of Extreme Old Age.  And what earthly man was more worthy to typify God than Cato?  None, of a certainty.  And what does Marcia say to Cato?  “Whilst there was blood in me [that is to say, Youth], whilst the maternal power was in me [that is, Age, which is indeed the Mother of all other Virtues or Powers, as has been previously shown or proved], I,” says Marcia, “fulfilled all thy commandments [that is to say, that the Soul stood firm in obedience to the Civil Laws].”  She says:  “And I took two husbands,” that is to say, I have been in two fruitful periods of life.  “Now,” says Marcia, “that I am weary, and that I am void and empty, I return to thee, being no longer able to give happiness to the other husband;” that is to say, that the Noble Soul, knowing well that it has no longer the power to produce, that is, feeling all its members to have grown feeble, turns to God, that is, to Him who has no need of members of the body.  And Marcia says, “Give me the ancient covenanted privileges of the beds; give me the name alone of the Marriage Tie;” that is to say, the Noble Soul says to God, “O my Lord, give me now repose and rest;” the Soul says, “Give me at least whatsoever I may have called Thine in a life so long.”  And Marcia says, “Two reasons move or urge me to say this; the one is, that they may say of me, after I am dead, that I was the wife of Cato; the other is, that it may be said after me that thou didst not drive me away, but didst espouse me heartily.”  By these two causes the Noble Soul is stirred and desires to depart from this life as the spouse of God, and wishes to show that God was gracious to the creature that He made.  O unhappy and baseborn men! you who prefer to depart from this life under the name of Hortensius rather than of Cato!

From Cato’s name a grace comes into the close of the discourse which it was fit to make touching the signs of Nobility; because in him Nobility reveals them all, through all the ages of his life.

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