The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

The most noble state of all, and that which is the crown of every good, is to be at peace within one’s self; and this is to be happy.  And this content is truly (although in another manner) in her aspect; so that, by looking at her, the people find peace, so sweetly does her Beauty feed the eyes of the beholders; but in another way, for the Peace that is perpetual in Paradise is not attainable by any man.

And since some one might ask where this wonderful content appears in this Lady, I distinguish in her person two parts, in which human pleasure and displeasure most appear.  Wherefore it is to be known that in whatever part the Soul most fulfils its office, it strives most earnestly to adorn that part, and there it does its work most subtly.  Wherefore we see that in the Face of Man, where it fulfils its office more than in any other outward part, it works so subtly that, by making itself subtle therein as much as its material permits, it causes that no face is like another, because its utmost power over matter, which is dissimilar in almost all, is there brought into action; and because in the face the Soul works especially in two places, as if in those two places all the three Natures of the Soul had jurisdiction, that is, in the Eyes and in the Mouth, these it chiefly adorns, and there it spends its care to make all beautiful if it can.  And in these two places I say that those pleasures of content appear, saying:  “Seen in her eyes and in her smiling face;” the which two places, by means of a beautiful comparison, may be designated the balconies of the woman who dwells in the house of the body, she being the Soul; because there, although veiled, as it were, the Soul often shows itself.  The Soul shows itself so evidently in the eyes that it is possible to know its present passion if you look attentively.

Six passions are proper to the human Soul of which the Philosopher makes mention in his Rhetoric, namely, Grace, Zeal, Mercy, Envy, Love, and Shame; and with whichever of these the Soul is impassioned, there comes into the window of the Eyes the semblance of it, unless it be repressed within, and shut from view by great power of will.  Wherefore some one formerly plucked out his eyes that an inward shame should not appear without, as Statius the Poet says of the Theban Oedipus when he says that with eternal night he loosed his damned shame.

It reveals itself in the Mouth, like colour behind glass as it were.  And what is a smile or a laugh except a coruscation of the Soul’s delight, a light shot outwardly from that which shines within?  And therefore it is right for a man to reveal his Soul by a well-tempered cheerfulness, smiling moderately with a due restraint, and with slight movement of the limbs; so that the Lady, that is, the Soul, which then, as has been said, shows herself, may appear modest, and not dissolute.  Therefore the book on the Four Cardinal Virtues commands us thus:  “Let thy smile be without loud laughter, that is, without cackling like a hen.”

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