Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

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

CHAPTER IX.

A Latin Commentary would be wanting in all the three above-mentioned conditions, which must concur, in order that in the benefit conferred there may be ready Liberality; and our Mother Tongue possesses all, as it is possible to show thus manifestly.  The Latin would not have served many; for if we recall to memory that which is discoursed of above, the learned men, without the Italian tongue, could not have had this service.  And those who know Latin, if we wish to see clearly who they are, we shall find that, out of a thousand one only would have been reasonably served by it, because they would not have received it, so prompt are they to avarice, which removes them from each nobility of soul that especially desires this food.  And to the shame of them, I say that they ought not to be called learned men:  because they do not acquire knowledge for the use of it, but forasmuch as they gain money or dignity thereby; even as one ought not to call him a harper who keeps a harp in his house to be lent out for a price, and not to use it for its music.

Returning, then, to the principal proposition, I say that one can see clearly how the Latin would have given its good gift to few, but the Mother Tongue will serve many.  For the willingness of heart which awaits this service, is in those who, through misuse of the world, have left Literature to men who have made of her a harlot; and these nobles are princes, barons, knights, and many other noble people, not only men, but women, whose language is that of the people and unlearned.  Again, the Latin would not have been giver of a useful gift, as the Mother Tongue will be; forasmuch as nothing is useful except inasmuch as it is used; nor is there a perfect existence with inactive goodness.  Even so of gold, and pearls, and other treasures which are subterranean, those which are in the hand of the miser are in a lower place than is the earth wherein the treasure was concealed.  The gift truly of this Commentary is the explanation of the Songs, for whose service it is made.  It seeks especially to lead men to wisdom and to virtue, as will be seen by the process of this treatise.  This design those only could have in use in whom true nobility is sown, after the manner that will be described in the fourth treatise; and these are almost all men of the people, as those are noble which in this chapter are named above.  And there is no contradiction, though some learned man may be amongst them; for, as says my Master Aristotle in the first book of the Ethics, “One swallow does not make the Spring.”  It is, then, evident that the Mother Tongue will give the useful thing where Latin would not have given it.  Again, the Mother Tongue will give that gift unasked, which the Latin would not have given, because it will give itself in form of a Commentary which never was asked for by any person.  But this one cannot say of the Latin, which for Commentary and for Expositions to many writings has often been in request, as one can perceive clearly in the opening of many a book.

Follow Us on Facebook