But if thou pass
perchance by those who bring
No skill to give thee the attention due,
Then pray I, dear last-born, let them rejoice
At least to find a music in my voice.
For in this I desire to say no other according to what is said above, except “Oh, men, you who cannot see the meaning of this Song, do not therefore refuse it; but pay attention to its beauty, which is great, both for construction, which belongs to the Grammarians; and for the order of the discourse, which belongs to the Rhetoricians; as well as for the rhythm of its parts, which belongs to the Musicians.” For which things he who looks well can see that there may be beauty in it. And this is the entire Literal meaning of the first Song which is prepared for the first dish in my Banquet.
Since the Literal meaning has been sufficiently explained, we must now proceed to the Allegorical and true exposition. And, therefore, beginning again from the first head, I say that when I had lost the chief delight of my Soul in former time, I was left so stung with sadness that no consolation whatever availed me. Nevertheless, after some time, my mind, reasoning with itself to heal itself, took heed, since neither my own nor that of another availed to comfort it, to turn to the method which a certain disconsolate one had adopted when he looked for Consolation. And I set myself to read that book of Boethius, not known to many, in which, when a captive exile, he had consoled himself. And, again, hearing that Tullius had written another book, in which, treating of Friendship, he had spoken words for the consolation of Laelius, a most excellent man, on the death of his friend Scipio, I set myself to read it. And although at first it was difficult to me to enter into their meaning, yet, finally, I entered into it so much as the knowledge of grammar that I possessed, together with some slight power of intellect, enabled me to do: by which power of intellect I formerly beheld many things almost like a person in a dream, as may be seen in the Vita Nuova. And as it is wont to be that a man goes seeking for silver, and beyond his purpose he finds gold, whose hidden cause appears not perhaps without the Divine Will; I, who sought to console myself, found not only a remedy for my tears, but words of authors and of sciences and of books; reflecting on which I judged well that Philosophy, who was the Lady of these authors, of these sciences, and of these books, might be a supreme thing. And I imagined her in the form of a gentle Lady; and I could imagine her in no other attitude than a compassionate one, because if willingly the sense of Truth beheld her, hardly could it turn away from her. And with this imagination I began to go where she is demonstrated truthfully, that is, to the Schools of the Religious, and to the disputations of the Philosophers; so that in a short time, perhaps