Since it is seen how much the Imperial Authority and the Philosophic are to be revered, which must support the opinions propounded, it is now for us to return into the straight path to the intended goal. I say, then, that this last opinion of the Common People has continued so long that without other cause, without inquiry into any reason, every man is termed Noble who may be the son or nephew of any brave man, although he himself is nothing. And this is what the Song says:
And so long among us
This falsehood has had sway,
That men call him a Nobleman,
Though worthless, who can say,
I nephew am, or son,
Of one worth such a sum.
Wherefore it is to be observed that it is most dangerous negligence to allow this evil opinion to take root; for even as weeds multiply in the uncultivated field, and surmount and cover the ear of the corn, so that, looking at it from a distance, the wheat appears not, and finally the corn is lost; so the evil opinion in the mind, neither chastised nor corrected, increases and multiplies, so that the ear of Reason, that is, the true opinion, is concealed and buried as it were, and so it is lost. O, how great is my undertaking in this Song, for I wish now to weed the field so full of wild and woody plants as is this field of the common opinion so long bereft of tillage! Certainly I do not intend to cleanse all, but only those parts where the ears of Reason are not entirely overcome; that is, I intend to lift up again those in whom some little light of Reason still lives through the goodness of their nature; the others need only as much care as the brute beasts: wherefore it seems to me that it would not be a less miracle to lead back to Reason him in whom it is entirely extinct than to bring back to Life him who has been four days in the grave.
Then the evil quality of this popular opinion is narrated suddenly, as if it were a horrible thing; it strikes at that, springing forth from the order of the confutation, saying, “But he who sees the Truth will know How vile he has become,” in order to make people understand its intolerable wickedness, saying, that those men lie especially, for not only is the man vile, that is, not Noble, who, although descended from good people, is himself wicked, but also he is most vile; and I quote the example of the right path being indicated, where, to prove this, it is fit for me to propound a question, and to reply to that question in this way.
There is a plain with certain paths, a field with hedges, with ditches, with rocks, with tanglewood, with all kinds of obstacles; with the exception of its two straight paths. And it has snowed so much that the snow covers everything, and presents one smooth appearance on every side, so that no trace of any path is to be seen. Here comes a man from one part of the country, and he wishes to go to a