The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).
our good or evil dispositions are measured by the strength of will.  Wherefore he who blames himself proves that he knows his fault, while he reveals his want of goodness; if, therefore, he know his fault, let him no more speak evil of himself.  If a man praise himself it is to avoid evil, as it were; inasmuch as it cannot be done except such self-laudation become in excess dishonour; it is praise in appearance, it is infamy in substance.  For the words are spoken to prove that of which he has not inward assurance.  Hence, he who lauds himself proves his belief that he is not esteemed to be a good man, and this befalls him not unless he have an evil conscience, which he reveals by self-praise, and in so revealing it he blames himself.

And, again, self-praise and self-blame are to be shunned equally, for this reason, that it is false witnessing.  Because there is no man who can be a true and just judge of himself, so much will self-love deceive him.  Hence it happens that every man has in his own judgment the measures of the false merchant, who sells with the one, and buys with the other.  Every man weights the scales against his own wrong-doing, and adds weight to his good deeds; so that the number and the quantity and the weight of the good deeds appear to him to be greater than if they were tried in a just balance; and in like manner the evil appears less.  Wherefore speaking of himself with praise or with blame, either he speaks falsely with regard to the thing of which he speaks, or he speaks falsely by the fault of his judgment; and as the one is untruth, so is the other.  And therefore, since to acquiesce is to admit, he is wrong who praises or who blames before the face of any man; because the man thus appraised can neither acquiesce nor deny without falling into the error of either praising or blaming himself.  Reserve the way of due correction, which cannot be taken without reproof of error, and which corrects if understood.  Reserve also the way of due honour and glory, which cannot be taken without mention of virtuous works, or of dignities that have been worthily acquired.

And in truth, returning to the main argument, I say, as before, that it is permitted to a man for requisite reasons to speak of himself.  And amongst the several requisite reasons two are most evident:  the one is when a man cannot avoid great danger and infamy, unless he discourse of himself; and then it is conceded for the reason, that to take the less objectionable of the only two paths, is to take as it were a good one.  And this necessity moved Boethius to speak of himself, in order that under pretext of Consolation he might excuse the perpetual shame of his imprisonment, by showing that imprisonment to be unjust; since no other man arose to justify him.  And this reason moved St. Augustine to speak of himself in his Confessions; that, by the progress of his life, which was from bad to good, and from good to better, and from better to best, he might give example and instruction, which, from truer testimony, no one could receive.  Therefore, if either of these reasons excuse me, the bread of my moulding is sufficiently cleared from its first impurity.

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