The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

The Gentiles called them Gods and Goddesses, although they could not understand those so philosophically as Plato did; and they adored their images, and built large temples to them, as to Juno, whom they called the Goddess of Power; as to Vulcan, whom they called the God of Fire; as to Pallas, or rather Minerva, whom they called the Goddess of Wisdom; and to Ceres, whom they called the Goddess of Corn.  Opinions such as these the testimony of the Poets makes manifest, for they describe to a certain extent the mode of the Gentiles both in their sacrifices and in their faith; and it is testified also in many names, remains of antiquity, or in names of places and ancient buildings, as he who will can easily find.  And although these opinions above mentioned might be built upon a good foundation by human reason and by no slight knowledge, yet the Truth was not seen by them, either from defect of reason or from defect of instruction.  Yet even by reason it was possible to see that very numerous were the creatures above mentioned who are not such as men can understand.  And the one reason is this:  no one doubts, neither Philosopher, nor Gentile, nor Jew, nor Christian, nor any one of any sect, that they are either the whole or the greater part full of all Blessedness, and that those blessed ones are in a most perfect state.  Therefore, since that which is here Human Nature may have not only one Beatitude, but two Beatitudes, as that of the Civil Life and that of the Contemplative, it would be irrational if we should see these Celestial Beings to have the Beatitude of the Active Life, that is, the Civil, in the government of the World, and not to have that of the Contemplative, which is the most excellent and most Divine.

But since that which has the Beatitude of the Civil government cannot have the other, because their intellect is one and perpetual, there must be others beyond this ministry, who live only in contemplation.  And because this latter life is more Divine—­and in proportion as the thing is more Divine so much the more is it in the image of God—­it is evident that this life is more beloved of God:  and if it be more beloved, so much the more vast has its Beatitude been; and if it has been more vast, so much the more vivifying power has He given to it rather than to the other; therefore one concludes that there may De a much larger number of those creatures than the effects tend to show.  And this is not opposed to that which Aristotle seems to state in the tenth book of the Ethics, that to the separate substances the Contemplative Life must be requisite; as also the Active Life must be imperative to them.  Nevertheless, in the contemplation of certain truths the revolution of the Heaven follows, which is the government of the World; which is, as it were, a Civil government ordained and comprehended in the contemplation of the movers, that is, the ruling Intelligences.  The other reason is, that no effect is greater than the cause, because the cause cannot give that which

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