The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).

The fourth springs from an invention of envy.  So that, as it is said above, envy is always where there is equality.  Amongst the men of one nation there is the equality of the native tongue; and because one knows not how to use it like the other, therefrom springs envy.  The envious man then argues, not blaming himself for not knowing how to speak like him who does speak as he should, but he blames that which is the material of his work, in order to rob, by depreciating the work on that side, him who does speak, of honour and fame; like him who should find fault with the blade of a sword, not in order to throw blame on the sword, but on the whole work of the master.

The fifth and last faction springs from vileness of mind.  The magnanimous man always praises himself in his heart; and so the pusillanimous man, on the contrary, always deems himself less than he is.  And because to magnify and to diminish always have respect to something, by comparison with which the large-minded man makes himself great and the small-minded man makes himself small, it results therefrom that the magnanimous man always makes others less than they are, and the pusillanimous makes others always greater.  And therefore with that measure wherewith a man measures himself, he measures his own things, which are as it were a part of himself.  It results that to the magnanimous man his own things always appear better than they are, and those of others less good; the pusillanimous man always believes his things to be of little value, and those of others of much worth.  Wherefore many, on account of this vileness of mind, depreciate their native tongue, and applaud that of others; and all such as these are the abominable wicked men of Italy who hold this precious Mother Tongue in vile contempt, which if it be vile in any case, is so only inasmuch as it sounds in the evil mouth of these adulterers, under whose guidance go those blind men of whom I spoke in the first argument.


If flames of fire should issue visibly through the windows of a house, and if any one should ask if there were fire within it, and if another should answer “Yes” to him, one would not well know how to judge which of those might be mocking the most.  Not otherwise would the question and the answer pass between me and that man who should ask me if love for my own language is in me, and if I should answer “Yes” to him, after the arguments propounded above.

But, nevertheless, it has to be proved that not only love, but the most perfect love for it exists in me, and again its adversaries must be blamed.  Whilst demonstrating this to him who will understand well, I will tell how I became the friend of it, and then how my friendship is confirmed.

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