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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).
of the goodness of his ancestors.  For some one says to himself in his thought:  “It cannot possibly be true, all this that has been said about this man’s ancestors, since from their seed one sees an offshoot such as that.”  Wherefore he ought to receive not honour, but dishonour, who bears false or evil witness against the good.  And therefore Tullius says that the son of the brave man ought to strive to bear good witness to the father.  Wherefore, in my judgment, even as he who defames an excellent man deserves to be shunned by all people and not listened to, even so the vile man descended from good ancestors deserves to be banned by all; and the good man ought to close his eyes in order not to see that infamous man casting infamy upon the goodness which remains in Memory alone.  And let this suffice at present to the first question that was moved.

To the second question it is possible to reply that a race of itself has no Soul; and indeed it is true that it is called Noble, but it is in a certain way.  Wherefore it is to be known that every whole is composed of its parts, and there is a certain whole which has a simple essence in its parts, as in one man there is one essence in all and in each individual part; and this which is said to be in the part is said in the same way to be in the whole.  There is another whole which has not a common essential form or essence with the parts, as a heap of corn; but there is a secondary essence which results from many grains, which possess in themselves a true and primary essence.  And in such a whole as this they are said to be the qualities of the parts in a secondary way; wherefore it is called a white heap, because the grains whereof the heap is made are white.  Truly this white appearance is more in the grains in the first place, and in the second place it results in the whole heap, and thus secondarily it is possible to call it white; and in such a way it is possible to call a race Noble.  Wherefore it is to be known, that as in order to make a white heap the white grains must be most numerous, so to make a Noble race the Noble Men must be more numerous than the others, so that their goodness, with its good fame or renown, may cover the opposite quality which is within.  And as from a white heap of corn it would be possible to pick up the wheat grain by grain, and substitute, grain by grain, red maize, till, finally, the whole heap or mass would change colour, so would it be possible for the good men of the Noble race to die out one by one, and the wicked ones to spring up therein, who would so change the name or fame thereof, that it would have to be called, not Noble, but vile, or base.

And let this be a sufficient answer to the second question.


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