The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

Also, I lay a command on this Song, that it ask permission of this Lady to speak of her; whereby one may infer that a man ought not to be presumptuous in praising another, ought not to take it for granted in his own mind that it is pleasing to the person praised, because often, when some one believes he is bestowing praise, it is taken as blame, either through defect of the speaker or through defect of him who hears.  Wherefore it is requisite to have much discretion in this matter; which discretion is tantamount to asking permission, in the way in which I say that this Song or Poem should ask for it.

And thus ends the whole Literal meaning of this treatise; wherefore the order of the work now requires the Allegorical exposition, following the Truth, to be proceeded with.


Returning now, as the order requires, to the beginning of the Song, I say that this Lady is that Lady of the Intellect who is called Philosophy.  But naturally praise excites a desire to know the person praised; and to know the thing may be to know what it is considered to be in itself, and in all that pertains to it, as the Philosopher says in the beginning of the book On Physics; and the name may reveal this when it bears some meaning, as he says in the fourth chapter of the Metaphysics, where it is said that the definition is that reason which the name signifies.  Here, therefore, it is necessary, before proceeding farther with her praises, to prove and to say what this is that is called Philosophy, what this name signifies; and when this has been demonstrated, the present Allegory will be more efficaciously discussed.  And first of all I will state who first gave this name; then I shall proceed to its signification.

I say, then, that anciently in Italy, almost from the beginning of the foundation of Rome, which was seven hundred and fifty years, a little more or less, before the advent of the Saviour, according as Paul Orosius writes, about the time of Numa Pompilius, second king of the Romans, there lived a most noble Philosopher, who was named Pythagoras.  And that he might be living about that time appears from something to which Titus Livius alludes incidentally in the first part of his History.  And before him they were called the followers of Science, not Philosophers but Wise Men such as were those Seven most ancient Wise Men, who still live in popular fame.  The first of them had the name of Solon, the second Chilon, the third Periander, the fourth Talus, the fifth Cleobulus, the sixth Bias, the seventh Pittacus.  Pythagoras, being asked if he were considered to be a Wise Man, rejected this name, and stated himself to be not a Wise Man, but a Lover of Wisdom.  And from this circumstance it subsequently arose that any man studious to acquire knowledge, was called a Lover of Wisdom, that is, a Philosopher; for inasmuch as “Philo” in Greek is equivalent to “Love” and “sophia” is equivalent to Wisdom, therefore, “Philo and sophia” mean the same as Love of Wisdom.  Wherefore it is possible to see that those two words make that name Philosopher, which is as much as to say Lover of Wisdom.  Therefore it may be observed that it is not a term of arrogance, but of humility.

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