The Banquet (Il Convito) eBook

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

I say, then, that this first part is now divided into two:  for in the first, the opinions of others are placed; in the second, those opinions are confuted; and this second part begins:  “Whoever shall define The man a living tree.”  Again, the first part which remains has two clauses:  the first is the variation of the opinion of the Emperor; the second is the variation of the opinion of the Common People, which is naked or void of all reason; and this second clause or division begins:  “Another, lightly wise.”  I say then, “One raised to Empire,” that is to say, such an one made use of the Imperial Office.  Where it is to be known that Frederick of Suabia, the last Emperor of the Romans (I say last with respect to the present time, notwithstanding that Rudolf, and Adolphus, and Albert were elected after his death and from his descendants), being asked what Nobility might be, replied that “it was ancient wealth, and good manners.”

And I say that there was another of less wisdom, who, pondering and revolving this definition in every part, removed the last particle, that is, the good manners, and held to the first, that is, to the ancient riches.  And as he seems to have doubted the text, perhaps through not having good manners, and not wishing to lose the title of Nobility, he defined it according to that which made himself noble, namely, possession of ancient wealth.

And I say that this opinion is that of almost all, saying that after it go all the people who make those men noble who have a long pedigree, and who have been rich through many generations; since in this cry do almost all men bark.

These two opinions (although one, as has been said, is of no consequence whatever) seem to have two very grave arguments in support of them.  The first is, that the Philosopher says that whatever appears true to the greatest number cannot be entirely false.  The second is, the authority of the definition by an Emperor.  And that one may the better see the power of the Truth, which conquers all other authority, I intend to argue with the one reason as with the other, to which it is a strong helper and powerful aid.

And, firstly, one cannot understand Imperial authority until the roots of it are found.  It is our intention to treat or discourse of them in an especial chapter.


The radical foundation of Imperial Majesty, according to the Truth, is the necessity of Human Civilization, which is ordained to one end, that is, to a Happy Life.  Nothing is of itself sufficient to attain this without some external help, since man has need of many things which one person alone is unable to obtain.  And therefore the Philosopher says that man is naturally a companionable animal.  And as a man requires for his sufficient comfort the domestic companionship of a family, so a house requires for its sufficient comfort a neighbourhood; otherwise there would be many wants to endure which would be an obstacle to happiness.  And since a neighbourhood cannot satisfy all requirements, there must for the satisfaction of men be the City.  Again, the City requires for its Arts and Manufactures to have an environment, as also for its defence, and to have brotherly intercourse with the circumjacent or adjacent Cities, and thence the Kingdom.

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