And I subjoin: “hold false and vile The judgment;” where again it is promised to confute the judgment of the people full of error: false, that is, removed from the Truth; and vile, that is to say, affirmed and fortified by vileness of mind. And it is to be observed that in this Proem I promise, firstly, to treat of the Truth, and then to confute the False; and in the treatise the opposite is done, for, in the first place, I confute the False, and then treat of the Truth, which does not appear rightly according to the promise. And therefore it is to be known that, although the intention is to speak of both, the principal intention is to handle the Truth; and the intention is to reprove the False or Untrue, in so far as by so doing I make the Truth appear more excellent.
And here, in the first place, the promise is to speak of the Truth according to the chief intention, which creates in the minds of the hearers a desire to hear; for in the first treatise I reprove the False of Untrue in order that, the false opinions being chased away, the Truth may be received more freely. And this method was adopted by the master of human argument, Aristotle, who always in the first place fought with the adversaries of Truth, and then, having vanquished them, revealed or demonstrated Truth itself.
Finally, when I say, “First calling on that Lord,” I appeal to Truth to be with me, Truth being that Lord who dwells in the eyes of Philosophy, that is to say, in her demonstrations. And indeed Truth is that Lord; for the Soul espoused to Truth is the bride of Truth, and otherwise it is a slave or servant deprived of all liberty.
And it says, “my Lady learnt Herself to love and prize,” because this Philosophy, which has been said in the preceding treatise to be a loving use of Wisdom, beholds herself when the beauty of her eyes appears to her. And what else is there to be said, except that the Philosophic Soul not only contemplates this Truth, but again contemplates her own contemplation and the beauty of that, again revolving upon herself, and being enamoured with herself on account of the beauty of her first glance?
And thus ends this which, as a Proem or Preface in three divisions, heads the present treatise.
Having seen the meaning of the Proem, we must now follow the treatise, and, to demonstrate it clearly, it must be divided into its chief parts, which are three.
In the first, one treats of Nobility according to the opinion of other men; in the second, one treats of it according to the true opinion; in the third, one addresses speech to the Song by way of ornament to that which has been said. The second part begins: “I say that from one root Each Virtue firstly springs.” The third begins: “How many are deceived! My Song, Against the strayers.” And after these general parts, it will be right to make other divisions, in order to make the meaning of the demonstration clear. Therefore, let no one marvel if it proceed with many divisions, since a great and high work is now on my hands, and one that is but little entered upon by authors; the treatise must be long and subtle into which the reader now enters with me, if I am to unfold perfectly the text according to the meaning which it bears.