The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).
of the “Ethics,” I endeavoured to employ it, trusting in myself more than in any other.  Again, I was moved to defend it from its numerous accusers, who depreciate it and commend others, especially the Langue d’Oc, saying, that the latter is more beautiful and better than this, therein deviating from the truth.  For by this Commentary the great excellence of our common Lingua di Si will appear, since through it, most lofty and most original ideas may be as fitly, sufficiently, and easily expressed as if it were by the Latin itself, which cannot show its virtue in things rhymed because of accidental ornaments which are connected therewith—­that is, the rhyme and the rhythm, or the regulated measure; as it is with the beauty of a lady when the splendour of the jewels and of the garments excite more admiration than she herself.  He, therefore, who wishes to judge well of a lady looks at her when she is alone and her natural beauty is with her, free from all accidental ornament.  So it will be with this Commentary, in which will be seen the facility of the syllables, the propriety of the conditions, and the sweet orations which are made in our Mother Tongue, which a good observer will perceive to be full of most sweet and most amiable beauty.  But, since it is most determined in its intention to show the error and the malice of the accuser, I will tell, to the confusion of those who accuse the Italian language, wherefore they are moved to do this; and this I shall do in a special chapter, in order that their shame may be more notable.


To the perpetual shame and abasement of the evil men of Italy who commend the Mother Tongue of other nations and depreciate their own, I say that their action proceeds from five abominable causes:  the first is blindness of discretion; the second, mischievous self-justification; the third, greed of vainglory; the fourth, an invention of envy; the fifth and last, vileness of mind, that is, cowardice.  And each one of these grave faults has a great following, for few are those who are free from them.

Of the first, one can reason thus.  As the sensitive part of the soul has its eyes, with which it learns the difference of things, inasmuch as they are coloured externally; so the rational part has its eye with which it learns the difference of things, inasmuch as each is ordained to some end; and this is discretion.  And as he who is blind with the eyes of sense goes always according to the guidance of others judging evil and good; so he who is blinded from the light of discretion, always goes in his judgment according to the cry, right or wrong as it may be.  Hence, whenever the guide is blind, it must follow that what blind man soever leans on him must come to a bad end.  Therefore it is written that, “If the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch.”  This cry has been long raised against our Mother Tongue, for the reasons which will be argued below.

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