The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

But since mention is here made of Light and Splendour, for the more perfect understanding thereof I will show the difference between those words, according to the opinion of Avicenna.  I say that it is the custom of Philosophers to speak of Heaven as Light, inasmuch as Light is there in its primeval Spring, or its first origin.  They speak of it as a ray of Light while it passes through the medium from its source into the first body in which it has its end; they call it Splendour where it is reflected back from some part that has received illumination.  I say, then, that the Divine Virtue or Power draws this Love into Its Own Similitude without any interposing medium.

And it is possible to make this evident, especially in this, that as the Divine Love is Eternal, so must its object of necessity be eternal, so that those things are eternal which He loves.  And thus it makes this Love to love, for the Wisdom into which this Love strikes is eternal.  Wherefore it is written of her:  “From the beginning, before Time was created, I am:  and in the Time to come I shall not fail.”  And in the Proverbs of Solomon this Wisdom says:  “I am established for ever.”  And in the beginning of the Gospel of John, her eternity is openly alluded to, as it is possible to observe.  And therefore it results that there, where this Love shines, all the other Loves become obscure and almost extinct, since its eternal object subdues and overpowers all other objects in a manner beyond all comparison; and therefore the most excellent Philosophers in their actions openly demonstrate it, whereby we know that they have treated all other things with indifference except Wisdom.  Wherefore Democritus, neglecting all care of his own person, trimmed neither his beard, nor the hair of his head, nor his nails.  Plato, indifferent to the riches of this world, despised the royal dignity, for he was the son of a king.  Aristotle, caring for no other friend, combated with his own best friend, even with the above-named Plato, his dearest friend after Philosophy.  And why do we speak of these, when we find others who, for these thoughts, held their life in contempt, such as Zeno, Socrates, Seneca, and many more?  It is evident, therefore, that in this Love the Divine Power, after the manner of an Angel, descends into men; and to give proof of this, the text presently exclaims:  “Fair one who doubt, go with her, mark the grace In all her acts.”  By “Fair one” is meant the noble soul of judgment, free in its own power, which is Reason; hence the other souls cannot be called Ladies, but handmaids, since they are not for themselves, but for others; and the Philosopher says, in the first book of Metaphysics, that that thing is free which is a cause of itself and not for others.  It says, “go with her, mark the grace In all her acts,” that is, make thyself the companion of this Love, and look at that which will be found within it; and in part it alludes to this, saying, “Downward from Heaven bends An Angel when she speaks,” meaning that where Philosophy is in action a celestial thought stoops down, in which this being reasons or discourses beyond the power of Human Nature.

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