The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

CHAPTER XXIX.

Since the Song has demonstrated those signs which in each age or period of life appear in the Noble Man, and by which it is possible to know him, and without which he cannot be, even as the Sun cannot be without light or the fire without heat, the text cries aloud to the People in the concluding part of this treatise on Nobility, and it says:  “How many are deceived!” They are deceived who, because they are of ancient and famous lineage, and because they are descended of excellent and Noble fathers, believe themselves to be Noble, yet have in themselves no Nobility.  And here arise two questions, to which it is right to attend at the end of this treatise.  It would be possible for Manfredi da Vico, who but now is called Praetor and Prefect, to say:  “Whatever I may be, I recall to mind and I represent my elders, who deserved the Office of Prefecture because of their Nobility, and they merited the honour of investiture at the coronation of the Emperor, and they merited the honour of receiving the Rose of Gold from the Roman Pontiff:  I ought to receive from the People honour and reverence.”  And this is one question.  The other is, that it would be possible for the scions of the families of San Nazzaro di Pavia and of the Piscitelli of Naples to say:  “If Nobility is that which has been described, that is, that it is Divine seed graciously cast into the human Soul, and the progeny, or offshoots, have, as is evident, no Soul, it would not be possible to term any of its progeny or offshoots Noble; but this is opposed to the opinion of those who assert that our race is the most Noble in these cities.”

To the first question Juvenal replies in the eighth Satire, when he begins with exclaiming, as it were:  “What is the use of all these honours and of this glory which remain from the past, except that they serve as a mantle or cloak to him who may wish to cover himself with them, badly as he may live; except for him who talks of his ancestors, and points out their great and wonderful works, giving his own mind to miserable and vile actions?” And this satirical poet asks:  “Who will call that man Noble, because of his good race, who is not worthy of his race?  It is no other than to call the Dwarf a Giant.”  Then afterwards he says to such an one as this:  “Between thee and the statue erected in memory of thine ancestor there is no other dissimilarity except that its head is of marble and thine is alive.”  And in this (with reverence I say it) I disagree with the poet, for the statue of marble or of wood or of metal, which has remained in memory of some worthy brave man, differs much in effect from the wicked descendant:  because the statue always confirms a good opinion in those who have heard of the good renown or fame of him whose statue it is, and it begets good opinion in others.  But the wicked son or nephew does quite the contrary:  he weakens the good opinion of those who have heard

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