|Dante Alighieri - Opera Omnia >> Convito|
il dante testo integrale brano completo citazione delle fonti commedie opere storiche in prosa e versi, dante alighieri, dnte, alighiri
THE BANQUET OF DANTE ALIGHIERI
Translated by Elizabeth Price SayerTHE FIRST TREATISE
The two first of these causes -- the first of the hindrance from within, and the first of the hindrance from without -- are not deserving of blame, but of excuse and pardon; the two others, although the one more than the other, deserve blame and are to be detested. Hence, he who reflects well, can manifestly see that they are few who can attain to the enjoyment of Knowledge, though it is desired by all, and almost innumerable are the fettered ones who live for ever famished of this food. Oh, blessed are those few who sit at that table where the Bread of Angels is eaten, and wretched those who can feed only as the Sheep. But because each man is naturally friendly to each man, and each friend grieves for the fault of him whom he loves; they who are fed at that high table are full of mercy towards those whom they see straying in one pasture with the creatures who eat grass and acorns. And forasmuch as Mercy is the Mother of Benevolence, those who know how, do always liberally offer their good wealth to the true poor, and are like a living stream, whose water cools the before-named natural thirst. I, then, who sit not at the blessed table, but having fled from the pasture of the common herd, lie at the feet of those who sit there and gather up what falls from them, by the sweetness which I find in that which I collect little by little, I know the wretched life of those whom I have left behind me; and moved mercifully for the unhappy ones, not forgetting myself, I have reserved something which I have shown to their eyes long ago, and for this I have made them greatly desirous. Wherefore, now wishing to prepare for them, I mean to make a common Banquet of this which I have shown to them, and of that needed bread without which food such as this could not be eaten by them at their feast; bread fit for such meat, which I know, without it, would be furnished forth in vain. And therefore I desire that no one should sit at this Banquet whose members are so unfitly disposed that he has neither teeth, nor tongue, nor palate: nor any follower of vice; inasmuch as his stomach is full of venomous and hurtful humours, so that it will retain no food whatever. But let those come to us, whosoever they be, who, pressed by the management of civil and domestic life, have felt this human hunger, and at one table with others who have been in like bondage, let them sit. But at their feet let us place all those who have been the slaves of sloth, and who are not worthy to sit higher: and then let these and those eat of my dish, with the bread which I will cause them to taste and to digest. The meat at this repast will be prepared in fourteen different ways, that is, in fourteen Songs, some of whose themes will be of Love and some of Virtue: which, without the present bread, might have some shadow of obscurity, so that to many they might be acceptable more on account of their form than because of their spirit. But this bread is the present Exposition. It will be the Light whereby each colour of their design will be made visible.
And if in the present work, which is named "Convito" -- the Banquet, the glad Life Together -- I desire that the subject should be discussed more maturely than in the Vita Nuova -- the New Life -- I do not therefore mean in any degree to undervalue that Fresh Life, but greatly to enhance it; seeing how reasonable it is for that age to be fervid and passionate, and for this to be mature and temperate. At one age it is fit to speak and work in one way, and at another age in another way; because certain manners are fit and praiseworthy at one age which are improper and blameable at another, as will be demonstrated with suitable argument in the fourth treatise of this Book. In that first Book (Vita Nuova) at the entrance into my youth I spoke; and in this latter I speak after my youth has already passed away. And since my true meaning may be other than that which the aforesaid songs show forth, I mean by an allegoric exposition to explain these after the literal argument shall have been reasoned out: so that the one argument with the other shall give a relish to those who are the guests invited to this Banquet. And of them all I pray that if the feast be not so splendid as befits the proclamation thereof, let them impute each defect, not to my will but to my means, since my will here is to a full and loving Liberality.
And, again, self-praise and self-blame are to be shunned equally, for this reason, that it is false witnessing. Because there is no man who can be a true and just judge of himself, so much will self-love deceive him. Hence it happens that every man has in his own judgment the measures of the false merchant, who sells with the one, and buys with the other. Every man weights the scales against his own wrong-doing, and adds weight to his good deeds; so that the number and the quantity and the weight of the good deeds appear to him to be greater than if they were tried in a just balance; and in like manner the evil appears less. Wherefore speaking of himself with praise or with blame, either he speaks falsely with regard to the thing of which he speaks, or he speaks falsely by the fault of his judgment; and as the one is untruth, so is the other. And therefore, since to acquiesce is to admit, he is wrong who praises or who blames before the face of any man; because the man thus appraised can neither acquiesce nor deny without falling into the error of either praising or blaming himself. Reserve the way of due correction, which cannot be taken without reproof of error, and which corrects if understood. Reserve also the way of due honour and glory, which cannot be taken without mention of virtuous works, or of dignities that have been worthily acquired.
And in truth, returning to the main argument, I say, as before, that it is permitted to a man for requisite reasons to speak of himself. And amongst the several requisite reasons two are most evident: the one is when a man cannot avoid great danger and infamy, unless he discourse of himself; and then it is conceded for the reason, that to take the less objectionable of the only two paths, is to take as it were a good one. And this necessity moved Boethius to speak of himself, in order that under pretext of Consolation he might excuse the perpetual shame of his imprisonment, by showing that imprisonment to be unjust; since no other man arose to justify him. And this reason moved St. Augustine to speak of himself in his Confessions; that, by the progress of his life, which was from bad to good, and from good to better, and from better to best, he might give example and instruction, which, from truer testimony, no one could receive. Therefore, if either of these reasons excuse me, the bread of my moulding is sufficiently cleared from its first impurity. The fear of shame moves me; and I am moved by the desire to give instruction which others truly are unable to give. I fear shame for having followed passion so ardently, as he may conceive who reads the afore-named Songs, and sees how greatly I was ruled by it; which shame ceases entirely by the present speech of myself, which proves that not passion but virtue may have been the moving cause. I intend also to demonstrate the true meaning of those Poems, which some could not perceive unless I relate it, because it is concealed under the veil of Allegory; and this it not only will give pleasure to hear, but subtle instruction, both as to the diction and as to the intention of the other writings.
I say, then, that for three causes his Presence makes a person of less value than he is. The first is childishness, I do not say of age, but of mind; the second is envy; and these are in the judge: the third is human impurity; and this is in the person judged. The first, one can briefly reason thus: the greater part of men live according to sense and not according to reason, after the manner of children, and the like of these judge things simply from without; and the goodness which is ordained to a fit end they perceive not, because the eyes of Reason, which they need in order to perceive it, are closed. Hence, they soon see all that they can, and judge according to their sight. And forasmuch as any opinion they form on the good fame of others, from hearsay, with which, in the presence of the person judged, their imperfect judgment may dissent, they amend not according to reason, because they judge merely according to sense, they will deem that which they have first heard to be a lie as it were, and dispraise the person who was previously praised. Hence, in such men, and such are almost all, Presence restricts the one fame and the other. Such men as these are inconstant and are soon cloyed; they are often gay and often sad from brief joys and sorrows; speedy friends and speedy foes; each thing they do like children, without the use of reason. The second observation from these reasons is, that due comparison is cause for envy to the vicious; and envy is a cause of evil judgment, because it does not permit Reason to argue for that which is envied, and the judicial power is then like the judge who hears only one side. Hence, when such men as these perceive a person to be famous, they are immediately jealous, because they compare members and powers; and they fear, on account of the excellence of such an one, to be themselves accounted of less worth; and these passionate men, not only judge evilly, but, by defamation, they cause others to judge evilly. Wherefore with such men their apprehension restricts the acknowledgment of good and evil in each person represented; and I say this also of evil, because many who delight in evil deeds have envy towards evil-doers. The third observation is of human frailty, which one accepts on the part of him who is judged, and from which familiar conversation is not altogether free. In evidence of this, it is to be known that man is stained in many parts; and, as says St. Augustine, "none is without spot." Now, the man is stained with some passion, which he cannot always resist; now, he is blemished by some fault of limb; now, he is bruised by some blow from Fortune; now, he is soiled by the ill-fame of his parents, or of some near relation: things which Fame does not bear with her, but which hang to the man, so that he reveals them by his conversation; and these spots cast some shadow upon the brightness of goodness, so that they cause it to appear less bright and less excellent. And this is the reason why each prophet is less honoured in his own country; and this is why the good man ought to give his presence to few, and his familiarity to still fewer, in order that his name may be received and not despised. And this third observation may be the same for the evil as for the good, if we reverse the conditions of the argument. Wherefore it is clearly evident that by imperfections, from which no one is free, the seen Presence restricts right perception of the good and of the evil in every one, more than truth desires.
Hence, since, as has been said above, I myself have been, as it were, visibly present to all the Italians, by which I perhaps am made more vile than truth desires, not only to those to whom my repute had already run, but also to others, whereby I am made the lighter; it behoves me that with a more lofty style I may give to the present work a little gravity, through which it may show greater authority. Let this suffice to excuse the difficulty of my commentary.
That which most adorns and commends human actions, and which most directly leads them to a good result, is the use of dispositions best adapted to the end in view; as the end aimed at in knighthood is courage of mind and strength of body. And thus he who is ordained to the service of others, ought to have those dispositions which are suited to that end; as submission, knowledge and obedience, without which any one is unfit to serve well. Because if he is not subject to each of these conditions, he proceeds in his service always with fatigue and trouble, and but seldom continues in it. If he is not obedient, he never serves except as in his wisdom he thinks fit, and when he wills; which is rather the service of a friend than of a servant. Hence, to escape this disorder, this commentary is fit, which is made as a servant to the under-written Songs, in order to be subject to these, and to each separate command of theirs. It must be conscious of the wants of its lord, and obedient to him, which dispositions would be all wanting to it if it were a Latin servant, not a native, since the songs are all in the language of our people. For, in the first place, if it had been a Latin servant he would be not a subject but a sovereign, in nobility, in virtue, and in beauty; in nobility, because the Latin is perpetual and incorruptible; the language of the vulgar is unstable and corruptible. Hence we see in the ancient writings of the Latin Comedies and Tragedies that they cannot change, being the same Latin that we now have; this happens not with our native tongue, which, being home-made, changes at pleasure. Hence we see in the cities of Italy, if we will look carefully back fifty years from the present time, many words to have become extinct, and to have been born, and to have been altered. But if a little time transforms them thus, a longer time changes them more. So that I say that, if those who departed from this life a thousand years ago should come back to their cities, they would believe those cities to be inhabited by a strange people, who speak a tongue discordant from their own. On this subject I will speak elsewhere more completely in a book which I intend to write, God willing, on the "Language of the People."
Again, the Latin was not subject, but sovereign, through virtue. Each thing has virtue in its nature, which does that to which it is ordained; and the better it does it so much the more virtue it has: hence we call that man virtuous who lives a life contemplative or active, doing that for which he is best fitted; we ascribe his virtue to the horse that runs swiftly and much, to which end he is ordained: we see virtue of a sword that cuts through hard things well, since it has been made to do so. Thus speech, which is ordained to express human thought, has virtue when it does that; and most virtue is in the speech which does it most. Hence, forasmuch as the Latin reveals many things conceived in the mind which the vulgar tongue cannot express, even as those know who have the use of either language, its virtue is far greater than that of the vulgar tongue.
Again, it was not subject, but sovereign, because of its beauty. That thing man calls beautiful whose parts are duly proportionate, because beauty results from their harmony; hence, man appears to be beautiful when his limbs are duly proportioned; and we call a song beautiful when the voices in it, according to the rule of art, are in harmony with each other. Hence, that language is most beautiful in which the words most fitly correspond, and this they do more in the Latin than in the present Language of the People, since the beautiful vulgar tongue follows use, and the Latin, Art. Hence, one concedes it to be more beautiful, more virtuous and more noble. And so one concludes, as first proposed; that is, that the Latin Commentary would have been the Sovereign, not the Subject, of the Songs.
Neither would the Latin Commentary have had such knowledge of those things as the vulgar tongue itself has. That the Latin cannot be acquainted with the Vulgar Tongue and with its friends, is thus proved. He who knows anything in general knows not that thing perfectly; even as he who knows from afar off one animal, knows not that animal perfectly, because he knows not if it be a dog, a wolf, or a he-goat. The Latin knows the Vulgar tongue in general, but not separately; for if it should know it separately it would know all the Vulgar Tongues, because it is not right that it should know one more than the other; and thus, what man soever might possess the complete knowledge of the Latin tongue, the use of that knowledge would show him all distinctions of the Vulgar. But this is not so, for one used to the Latin does not distinguish, if he be a native of Italy, the vulgar tongue of Provence from the German, nor can the German distinguish the vulgar Italian tongue from that of Provence: hence, it is evident that the Latin is not cognizant of the Vulgar. Again, it is not cognizant of its friends, because it is impossible to know the friends without knowing the principal; hence, if the Latin does not know the Vulgar, as it is proved above, it is impossible for it to know its friends. Again, without conversation or familiarity, it is impossible to know men; and the Latin has no conversation with so many in any language as the Vulgar has, to which all are friends, and consequently cannot know the friends of the Vulgar. And this, that it would be possible to say, is no contradiction; that the Latin does converse with some friends of the Vulgar: but since it is not familiar with all, it is not perfectly acquainted with its friends, whereas perfect knowledge is required, and not defective.
Hence if the Latin is the sovereign of the Vulgar Tongue, as is shown above by many reasons, and the Songs, which are in place of commanders, are in the Vulgar Tongue, it is impossible for the argument to be sweet. Then is obedience entirely commanded, and in no way spontaneous, when that which the obedient man does, he would not have done of his own will, either in whole or in part, without commandment. And, therefore, if it might be commanded to me to carry two long robes upon my back, and if without commandment I should carry one, I say that my obedience is not entirely commanded, but is in part spontaneous; and such would have been that of the Latin Commentary, and consequently it would not have been obedience entirely commanded. What such might have been appears by this, that the Latin, without the command of this Lord, the Vernacular, would have expounded many parts of his argument (and it does expound, as he who searches well the books written in Latin may perceive), which the Vulgar Tongue does nowhere.
Again, obedience is within bounds, and not excessive, when it goes to the limit of the command, and no further; as Individual Nature is obedient to Universal Nature when she makes thirty-two teeth in the man, and no more and no less; and when she makes five fingers on the hand, and no more and no less; and the man is obedient to Justice when he does that which the Law commands, and no more and no less. Neither would the Latin have done this, but it would have sinned not only in the defect, and not only in the excess, but in each one; and thus its obedience would not have been within due limit, but intemperate, and consequently it would not have been obedient. That the Latin would not have been the executor of the commandment of his Lord, and that neither would he have been a usurper, one can easily prove. This Lord, namely, these Songs, to which this Commentary is ordained for their servant, commands and desires that they shall be explained to all those whose mind is so far intelligent that when they hear speech they can understand, and when they speak they can be understood. And no one doubts, that if the Songs should command by word of mouth, this would be their commandment. But the Latin would not have explained them, except to the learned men: and so that the rest could not have understood. Hence, forasmuch as the number of unlearned men who desire to understand those Songs may be far greater than the learned, it follows that it could not have fulfilled its commandment so well as the Native Tongue, which is understood both by the Learned and the Unlearned. Again, the Latin would have explained them to people of another language, as to the Germans, to the English, and to others; and here it would have exceeded their commandment. For against their will, speaking freely, I say, their meaning would be explained there where they could not convey it in all their beauty. And, therefore, let each one know, that nothing which is harmonized by the bond of the Muse can be translated from its own language into another, without breaking all its sweetness and harmony. And this is the reason why Homer was not translated from Greek into Latin, like the other writings that we have of the Greeks. And this is the reason why the verses of the Psalms are without sweetness of music and harmony; for they were translated from Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek into Latin, and in the first translation all that sweetness vanished. And, thus is concluded that which was proposed in the beginning of the chapter immediately before this.
Firstly, because virtue must be cheerful and not sad in every action: hence, if the gift be not cheerful in the giving and in the receiving, in it there is not perfect nor ready virtue. And this joy can spring only from the utility, which resides in the giver through the giving, and which comes to the receiver through the receiving. In the giver, then, there must be the foresight, in doing this, that on his part there shall remain the benefit of an inherent virtue which is above all other advantages; and that to the receiver come the benefit of the use of the thing given. Thus the one and the other will be cheerful, and consequently it will be a ready liberality, that is, a liberality both prompt and well considered. Secondly, because virtue ought always to move things forwards and upwards. For even as it would be a blameable action to make a spade of a beautiful sword, or to make a fair basin of a lovely lute; so it is wrong to move anything from a place where it may be useful, and to carry it into a place where it may be less useful. And since it is blameable to work in vain, it is wrong not merely to put the thing in a place where it may be less useful, but even in a place where it may be equally useful. Hence, in order that the changing of the place of a thing may be laudable, it must always be for the better, because it ought to be especially praiseworthy; and this the gift cannot be, if by transformation it become not more precious. Nor can it become more precious, if it be not more useful to the receiver than to the giver. Wherefore, one concludes that the gift must be useful to him who receives it, in order that it may be in itself ready liberality. Thirdly, because the exercise of the virtue of itself ought to be the acquirer of friends. For our life has need of these, and the end of virtue is to make life happy. But that the gift may make the receiver a friend, it must be useful to him, because utility stamps on the memory the image of the gift, which is the food of friendship, and the firmer the impression, so much the greater is the utility; hence, Martino was wont to say, "Never will fade from my mind the gift Giovanni made me." Wherefore, in order that in the gift there may be its virtue, which is Liberality, and that it may be ready, it must be useful to him who receives it. Finally, since the act of virtue should be free, not forced, it is free action, when a person goes willingly to any place; which is shown by his keeping the face turned thitherward; it is forced action, when he goes against his will; which is shown by his not looking cheerfully towards the place whither he goes: and thus the gift looks towards its appointed place when it addresses itself to the need of the receiver. And since it cannot address itself to that need except it be useful, it follows, in order that it may be with free action, that the virtue be free, and that the gift go freely to its object, which is the receiver; and consequently the gift must be to the utility of the receiver, in order that there may be a prompt and reasonable Liberality therein.
The third respect in which one can observe a ready Liberality, is giving unasked; because, to give what is asked, is, on one side, not virtue, but traffic; for, the receiver buys, although the giver may not sell; and so Seneca says "that nothing is purchased more dearly than that whereon prayers are expended." Hence, in order that in the gift there be ready Liberality, and that one may perceive that to be in it, there must be freedom from each act of traffic, and the gift must be unasked. Wherefore that which is besought costs us so dear, I do not mean to argue now, because it will be fully discussed in the last treatise of this book.
Again, the Latin would not have been giver of a useful gift, as the Mother Tongue will be; forasmuch as nothing is useful except inasmuch as it is used; nor is there a perfect existence with inactive goodness. Even so of gold, and pearls, and other treasures which are subterranean, those which are in the hand of the miser are in a lower place than is the earth wherein the treasure was concealed. The gift truly of this Commentary is the explanation of the Songs, for whose service it is made. It seeks especially to lead men to wisdom and to virtue, as will be seen by the process of this treatise. This design those only could have in use in whom true nobility is sown, after the manner that will be described in the fourth treatise; and these are almost all men of the people, as those are noble which in this chapter are named above. And there is no contradiction, though some learned man may be amongst them; for, as says my Master Aristotle in the first book of the Ethics, "One swallow does not make the Spring." It is, then, evident that the Mother Tongue will give the useful thing where Latin would not have given it.
Again, the Mother Tongue will give that gift unasked, which the Latin would not have given, because it will give itself in form of a Commentary which never was asked for by any person. But this one cannot say of the Latin, which for Commentary and for Expositions to many writings has often been in request, as one can perceive clearly in the opening of many a book. And thus it is evident that a ready Liberality moved me to use the Mother Tongue rather than Latin.
Again, I was moved to defend it from its numerous accusers, who depreciate it and commend others, especially the Langue d'Oc, saying, that the latter is more beautiful and better than this, therein deviating from the truth. For by this Commentary the great excellence of our common Lingua di Si will appear, since through it, most lofty and most original ideas may be as fitly, sufficiently, and easily expressed as if it were by the Latin itself, which cannot show its virtue in things rhymed because of accidental ornaments which are connected therewith -- that is, the rhyme and the rhythm, or the regulated measure; as it is with the beauty of a lady when the splendour of the jewels and of the garments excite more admiration than she herself. He, therefore, who wishes to judge well of a lady looks at her when she is alone and her natural beauty is with her, free from all accidental ornament. So it will be with this Commentary, in which will be seen the facility of the syllables, the propriety of the conditions, and the sweet orations which are made in our Mother Tongue, which a good observer will perceive to be full of most sweet and most amiable beauty. But, since it is most determined in its intention to show the error and the malice of the accuser, I will tell, to the confusion of those who accuse the Italian language, wherefore they are moved to do this; and this I shall do in a special chapter, in order that their shame may be more notable.
Of the first, one can reason thus. As the sensitive part of the soul has its eyes, with which it learns the difference of things, inasmuch as they are coloured externally; so the rational part has its eye with which it learns the difference of things, inasmuch as each is ordained to some end; and this is discretion. And as he who is blind with the eyes of sense goes always according to the guidance of others judging evil and good; so he who is blinded from the light of discretion, always goes in his judgment according to the cry, right or wrong as it may be. Hence, whenever the guide is blind, it must follow that what blind man soever leans on him must come to a bad end. Therefore it is written that, "If the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch." This cry has been long raised against our Mother Tongue, for the reasons which will be argued below. After this cry the blind men above mentioned, who are infinite, as it were with one hand on the shoulder of these false witnesses, have fallen into the ditch of false opinion, from which they know not how to escape. From the use of the sight of discretion the mass of the people are debarred, because each being occupied from the early years of his life with some trade, he so directs his mind to that, by force of necessity, that he understands nought else. And forasmuch as the habit of virtue, moral as well as intellectual, cannot possibly be had all on a sudden, but it must be acquired through long custom, and as these people place their custom in some art, and care not to discern other things, it is impossible to them to have discretion. Wherefore it happens that often they cry aloud: "Long live Death!" and "Let Life die!" because some one begins the cry. And this is the most dangerous defect in their blindness. For this reason Boethius judges glory of the people vain, because he sees it to be without discernment. These persons are to be termed sheep and not men; for if a sheep should leap over a precipice of a thousand feet, all the others would follow after it; and if one sheep, for some cause or other, in crossing a road, leaps, all the others leap, even when they see nothing to leap over. And I once saw many leap into a well, because one had leapt into it, believing perhaps that it was leaping a wall; notwithstanding that the shepherd, weeping and shouting, with arms and breast set himself against them.
The second faction against our Mother Tongue springs from a malicious self-justification. There are many who would rather be thought masters than be such; and to avoid the opposite -- that is, to be held not to be such -- they always cast blame on the material they work on, or upon the instrument; as the clumsy smith blames the iron given to him, and the bad harpist blames the harp, thinking to cast the blame of the bad blade and of the bad music upon the iron and upon the harp, and to lift it from themselves. Thus there are some, and not a few, who desire that a man may hold them to be orators; and to excuse themselves for not speaking, or for speaking badly, they accuse or throw blame on the material, that is, their own Mother Tongue, and praise that of other lands, which they are not required to employ. And he who wishes to see wherefore this iron is to be blamed, let him look at the work which good artificers make of it, and he will understand the malice of those who, in casting blame upon it, think thereby to excuse themselves. Against such as these, Tullius exclaims in the beginning of his book, which he names the book "De Finibus," because in his time they blamed the Roman Latin and praised the Greek grammar. And thus I say, for like reasons, that these men vilify the Italian tongue, and glorify that of Provence.
The third faction against our Mother Tongue springs from greed of vainglory. There are many who, by describing certain things in some other language, and by praising that language, deem themselves to be more worthy of admiration than if they described them in their own. And undoubtedly to learn well a foreign tongue is deserving of some praise for intellect; but it is a blameable thing to applaud that language beyond truth, to glorify one's self for such an acquisition.
The fourth springs from an invention of envy. So that, as it is said above, envy is always where there is equality. Amongst the men of one nation there is the equality of the native tongue; and because one knows not how to use it like the other, therefrom springs envy. The envious man then argues, not blaming himself for not knowing how to speak like him who does speak as he should, but he blames that which is the material of his work, in order to rob, by depreciating the work on that side, him who does speak, of honour and fame; like him who should find fault with the blade of a sword, not in order to throw blame on the sword, but on the whole work of the master.
The fifth and last faction springs from vileness of mind. The magnanimous man always praises himself in his heart; and so the pusillanimous man, on the contrary, always deems himself less than he is. And because to magnify and to diminish always have respect to something, by comparison with which the large-minded man makes himself great and the small-minded man makes himself small, it results therefrom that the magnanimous man always makes others less than they are, and the pusillanimous makes others always greater. And therefore with that measure wherewith a man measures himself, he measures his own things, which are as it were a part of himself. It results that to the magnanimous man his own things always appear better than they are, and those of others less good; the pusillanimous man always believes his things to be of little value, and those of others of much worth. Wherefore many, on account of this vileness of mind, depreciate their native tongue, and applaud that of others; and all such as these are the abominable wicked men of Italy who hold this precious Mother Tongue in vile contempt, which if it be vile in any case, is so only inasmuch as it sounds in the evil mouth of these adulterers, under whose guidance go those blind men of whom I spoke in the first argument.
A thing is so much the nearer in proportion as it is most nearly allied to all the other things of its own kind; wherefore, of all men the son is nearest to the father, and of all the Arts, Medicine is nearest to the Doctor, and Music to the Musician, because they are more allied to them than the others. Of all parts of the earth the nearest is that whereon a man lives, because he is most united to it. And thus his own Native Language is nearest to him, inasmuch as he is most united to it; for it, and it alone, is first in the mind before any other. And not only of itself is it united, but by accident, inasmuch as it is united with the persons nearest to him, as his parents, and his fellow-citizens, and his own people. And this is his own Mother Tongue, which is not only nearest, but especially the nearest to each man. Therefore, if near neighbourhood be the seed of friendship, as is said above, it is manifest that it has been one of the causes of the love which I bear to my Native Language, which is nearer to me than the others. The above-mentioned cause, whereby that alone which stands first in each mind is most bound to it, gave rise to the custom of the people, that the first-born sons should succeed to the inheritance solely as being the nearest relatives; and because the nearest relatives, therefore the most beloved.
Again, Goodness made me a friend to it. And here it is to be known that all goodness inherent in anything is loveable in that thing; as in manhood to be well bearded, and in womanhood to be all over the face quite free from hair; as in the setter to have good scent, and as in the greyhound to be swift. And in proportion as it is native, so much the more is it delightful. Hence, although each virtue is loveable in man, that is the most loveable in him which is most human: and this is Justice, which alone is in the rational part, or rather in the intellectual, that is, in the Will. This is so loveable that as says the Philosopher in the fifth book of the Ethics, its enemies love it, such as thieves and robbers; and, therefore, we see that its opposite, that is, Injustice, is especially hated; such as treachery, ingratitude, falsehood, theft, rapine, deceit, and their like; the which are such inhuman sins, that, in order to excuse himself from the infamy of such, it is granted through long custom that a man may speak of himself, as has been said above, and may say if he be faithful and loyal. Of this virtue I shall speak hereafter more fully in the fourteenth treatise; and here quitting it, I return to the proposition. Having proved, then, that the goodness of a thing is loved the more the more it is innate, the more it is to be loved and commended for itself, it remains to see what that goodness is. And we see that, in all speech, to express a thought well and clearly is the thing most to be admired and commended. This, then, is its first goodness. And forasmuch as this is in our Mother Tongue, as is made evident in another chapter, it is manifest that it has been the cause of the love which I bear to it; since, as has been said, "Goodness is the producer of Love."
Firstly, I say that I for myself have received from it the greatest benefits. And, therefore, it is to be known that, amongst all benefits, that is the greatest which is most precious to him who receives it; and nothing is so precious as that through which all other things are wished; and all the other things are wished for the perfection of him who wishes. Wherefore, inasmuch as a man may have two perfections, one first and one second (the first causes him to be, the second causes him to be good), if the Native Language has been to me the cause of the one and of the other, I have received from it the greatest benefit. And that it may have been the cause of this condition in me can be shown briefly.
The efficient cause for the existence of things is not one only, but among many efficient causes one is the chief of the others, hence the fire and the hammer are the efficient causes of the sword-blade, although the workman is especially so. This my Mother Tongue was the bond of union between my forefathers, who spoke with it, even as the fire is the link between the iron and the smith who makes the knife; therefore it is evident that it co-operated in my birth, and so it was in some way the cause of my being. Again, this my Mother Tongue was my introducer into the path of knowledge, which is the ultimate perfection, inasmuch as with it I entered into the Latin Language, and with it I was taught; the which Latin was then the way of further advancement for me. And so it is evident and known by me that this my language has been my great benefactor.
Also it has been engaged with me in one self-same study, and this I can thus prove. Each thing naturally studies its self-preservation; hence, if the Mother Tongue could seek anything of itself, it would seek that; and that would be to secure for itself a position of the greatest stability: but greater stability it could not secure than by uniting itself with number and with rhyme. And this self-same study has been mine, as is so evident that it requires no testimony; therefore its study and mine have been one and the same, whereby the harmony of friendship is confirmed and increased. Also between us there has been the benevolence of long use: for from the beginning of my life I have had with it kind fellowship and conversation, and have used it, when deliberating, interpreting, and questioning; wherefore, if friendship increases through long use, as in all reason appears, it is manifest that in me it has increased especially, for with this my Mother Tongue I have spent all my time. And thus one sees that to the shaping of this friendship there have co-operated all causes of birth and growth. Therefore, let it be concluded that not only Love, but the most Perfect Love, is that which I have for it. So it is, and ought to be.
Thus, casting the eyes backwards and gathering up the afore-stated reasons, one can see that this Bread, with which the Meat of the under-written Poems ought to be eaten, is made clear enough of blemishes, and of fault in the nature of its grain. Wherefore, it is time to attend to and serve up the viands. This will be that barley-bread with which a thousand will satisfy themselves; and my full baskets shall overflow with it. This will be that new Light, that new Sun, which shall rise when the sun of this our day shall set, and shall give light to those who are in darkness and in gloom because the sun of this our day gives light to them no more.
THE SECOND TREATISE
[ CANZONE PRIMA ]
Ye who the third Heaven move, intent of thought,
I say then, as is narrated in the first chapter, that this exposition must be Literal and Allegorical; and to make this explicit one should know that it is possible to understand a book in four different ways, and that it ought to be explained chiefly in this manner. The one is termed Literal, and this is that which does not extend beyond the text itself, such as is the fit narration of that thing whereof you are discoursing, an appropriate example of which is the third Song, which discourses of Nobility. Another is termed Allegorical, and it is that which is concealed under the veil of fables, and is a Truth concealed under a beautiful Untruth; as when Ovid says that Orpheus with his lute made the wild beasts tame, and made the trees and the stones to follow him, which signifies that the wise man with the instrument of his voice makes cruel hearts gentle and humble, and makes those follow his will who have not the living force of knowledge and of art; who, having not the reasoning life of any knowledge whatever, are as the stones. And in order that this hidden thing should be discovered by the wise, it will be demonstrated in the last Treatise. Verily the theologians take this meaning otherwise than do the poets: but, because my intention here is to follow the way of the poets, I shall take the Allegorical sense according as it is used by the poets.
The third sense is termed Moral; and this is that which the readers ought intently to search for in books, for their own advantage and for that of their descendants; as one can espy in the Gospel, when Christ ascended the Mount for the Transfiguration, that, of the twelve Apostles, He took with Him only three. From which one can understand in the Moral sense that in the most secret things we ought to have but little company.
The fourth sense is termed Mystical, that is, above sense, supernatural; and this it is, when spiritually one expounds a writing which even in the Literal sense by the things signified bears express reference to the Divine things of Eternal Glory; as one can see in that Song of the Prophet which says that by the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt Judaea is made holy and free. That this happens to be true according to the letter is evident. Not less true is that which it means spiritually, that in the Soul's liberation from Sin (or in the exodus of the Soul from Sin) it is made holy and free in its powers. But in demonstrating these, the Literal must always go first, as that in whose sense the others are included, and without which it would be impossible and irrational to understand the others. Especially is it impossible in the Allegorical, because, in each thing which has a within and a without, it is impossible to come to the within if you do not first come to the without. Wherefore, since in books the Literal meaning is always external, it is impossible to reach the others, especially the Allegorical, without first coming to the Literal. Again, it is impossible, because in each thing, natural and artificial, it is impossible to proceed to the form without having first laid down the matter upon which the form should be. Thus, it is impossible for the form of the gold to come, if the matter, that is, its subject, is not first laid down and prepared; or for the form of the ark to come, if the material, that is, the wood, be not first laid down and prepared. Therefore, since the Literal meaning is always the subject and the matter of the others, especially of the Allegorical, it is impossible to come first to the meaning of the others before coming to it.
Again, it is impossible, because in each thing, natural and artificial, it is impossible to proceed unless the foundation be first laid, as in the house, so also in the mind. Therefore, since demonstration must be the building up of Knowledge, and Literal demonstration must be the foundation of the other methods of interpreting, especially of the Allegorical, it is impossible to come first to the others before coming to that. Again, if it were possible that it could be so ordered, it would be irrational, that is, out of order; and, therefore, one would proceed with, much fatigue and with much error. Hence, as the Philosopher says in the first book of the Physics, Nature desires that we proceed in due order in our search for knowledge, that is, by proceeding from that which we know well to that which we know not so well; so I say that Nature desires it, inasmuch as this way to knowledge is innate in us; and therefore, if the other meanings, apart from the Literal, are less understood -- which they are, as evidently appears -- it would be irrational to demonstrate them if the Literal had not first been demonstrated. I, then, for these reasons will discourse in due order of each Song, firstly upon its Literal meaning, and after that I will discourse of its Allegory, that is, the hidden Truth, and sometimes I will touch incidentally on the other meanings as may be convenient to place and time.
For the intelligent understanding of which Song, one must first know its divisions well, so that it will then be easy to perceive its meaning. In order that it may no longer be necessary to preface the explanations of the others, I say that the order which will be taken in this Treatise I intend to keep through all the others.
I say, then, that the proposed Song is contained within three principal parts. The first is the first verse of that, in which certain Intelligences are induced to listen to what I intend to say, or rather by a more usual form of speech we should call them Angels, who are in the revolution of the Heaven of Venus, as the movers thereof. The second is in the lines which follow after the first, in which is made manifest that which I felt spiritually amidst various thoughts. The third is in the last lines, wherein the man begins to speak to the work itself, as if to comfort it, as it were, and all these three parts are in due order to be demonstrated, as has been said above.
I say, then, that concerning the number of the Heavens and their site, different opinions are held by many, although the truth at last may be found. Aristotle believed, following merely the ancient foolishness of the Astrologers, that there might be only eight Heavens, of which the last one, and which contained all, might be that where the fixed stars are, that is, the eighth sphere, and that beyond it there could be no other. Again, he believed that the Heaven of the Sun might be immediate with that of the Moon, that is, second to us. And this opinion of his, so erroneous, he who wishes can see in the second book on Heaven and the World, which is in the second of the Books on Natural History. In fact, he excuses himself for this in the twelfth book of the Metaphysics, where he clearly proves himself to have followed also another opinion where he was obliged to speak of Astrology.
Ptolemy, then, perceiving that the eighth sphere is moved by many movements, seeing its circle to depart from the right circle, which turns from East to West, constrained by the principles of Philosophy, which of necessity desires a Primum Mobile, a most simple one, supposed another Heaven to be outside the Heaven of the fixed stars, which might make that revolution from East to West which I say is completed in twenty-four hours nearly, that is, in twenty-three hours, fourteen parts of the fifteen of another, counting roughly. Therefore, according to him, and according to that which is held in Astrology and in Philosophy since those movements were seen, there are nine moveable Heavens; the site of which is evident and determined, according to an Art which is termed Perspective, Arithmetical and Geometrical, by which and by other sensible experiences it is visibly and reasonably seen, as in the eclipses of the Sun it appears sensibly, that the Moon is below the Sun; and as by the testimony of Aristotle, who saw with his own eyes, according to what he says in the second book on Heaven and the World, the Moon, being new, to enter below Mars, on the side not shining, and Mars to remain concealed so long that he re-appeared on the other bright side of the Moon, which was towards the West.
[IV] And the order of the houses is this, that the first that they enumerate is that where the Moon is; the second is that where Mercury is; the third is that where Venus is; the fourth is that where the Sun is; the fifth is that where Mars is; the sixth is that where Jupiter is; the seventh is that where Saturn is; the eighth is that of the Stars; the ninth is that which is not visible except by that movement which is mentioned above, which they designate the great Crystalline sphere, diaphanous, or rather all transparent. Truly, beyond all these, the Catholics place the Empyrean Heaven, which is as much as to say, the Heaven of Flame, or rather the Luminous Heaven; and they assign it to be immoveable, in order to have in itself, according to each part, that which its material desires. And this is why that first moved -- the Primum Mobile -- has such extremely rapid motion. For, because of the most fervent appetite which each part of it has to be united with each part of that most Divine Heaven of Peace, in which it revolves with so much desire, its velocity is almost incomprehensible. And this quiet and peaceful Heaven is the place of that Supreme Deity who from above beholds the whole. This is the place of the blessed Spirits, according as Holy Church teaches, which cannot speak falsely; and even Aristotle seems to feel this, to him who understands him well, in the first book of Heaven and the World. This is the highest bound of the World, within which the whole World is included, and beyond which there is nothing. And it is in no place, but was formed alone in the First Mind, which the Greeks term Protonoe. This is that magnificence of which the Psalmist spoke when he sang to God: "Thy glory is raised above the Heavens." So, then, gathering together this which is discussed, it seems that there may be ten Heavens, of which the Heaven of Venus may be the third; whereof mention is made in that part which I intend to demonstrate.
And it is to be known that each Heaven below the Crystalline has two firm poles as to itself; and the ninth has them firm and fixed, and not mutable in any respect. And each one, the ninth even as the others, has a circle, which one may term the equator of its own Heaven; which equally, in each part of its revolution, is remote from one pole and from the other, as he who rolls an apple or any other round thing can sensibly perceive. And this circle has more swiftness in its movement than any other part of its Heaven, in each Heaven, as he may perceive who considers well. And each part, in proportion as it is nearer to it, moves so much the more swiftly; so much the slower in proportion as it is more remote and nearer to the pole; since its revolution is less, and it must of necessity be in one self-same time with the greater. I say again, that in proportion as the Heaven is nearer to the equatorial circle, so much the more noble is it in comparison to its poles; since it has more motion and more actuality and more life and more form and more touch from that which is above itself, and consequently has more virtue. Hence the stars in the Heaven of the fixed stars are more full of power amongst themselves in proportion as they are nearer to that circle.
And upon the back of this circle in the Heaven of Venus, of which I now speak, is a little sphere, which revolves by itself in this Heaven, the circle of which Astrologers call Epicycle; and as the great sphere revolves about two poles, so does this little sphere: and so has this little sphere the equatorial circle; and so much the more noble it is in proportion as it is nearer to those: and in the arc, or rather back, of this circle is fixed the most brilliant star of Venus. And, although it may be said that there are ten Heavens according to strict Truth, this number does not comprehend them all: for that of which mention is made, the Epicycle, in which the star is fixed, is a Heaven by itself, or rather sphere; and it has not one essence with that which bears it, although it may be more like to it than to the others, and with it is called one Heaven, and they name the one and the other from the star. How the other Heavens and the other stars may be is not for present discussion; let it suffice that the nature of the third Heaven, with which I am at present concerned, has been told, and concerning which all that is at present needful has been shown.
CHAPTER IV [ V ]
And although these opinions above mentioned might be built upon a good foundation by human reason and by no slight knowledge, yet the Truth was not seen by them, either from defect of reason or from defect of instruction. Yet even by reason it was possible to see that very numerous were the creatures above mentioned who are not such as men can understand. And the one reason is this: no one doubts, neither Philosopher, nor Gentile, nor Jew, nor Christian, nor any one of any sect, that they are either the whole or the greater part full of all Blessedness, and that those blessed ones are in a most perfect state. Therefore, since that which is here Human Nature may have not only one Beatitude, but two Beatitudes, as that of the Civil Life and that of the Contemplative, it would be irrational if we should see these Celestial Beings to have the Beatitude of the Active Life, that is, the Civil, in the government of the World, and not to have that of the Contemplative, which is the most excellent and most Divine. But since that which has the Beatitude of the Civil government cannot have the other, because their intellect is one and perpetual, there must be others beyond this ministry, who live only in contemplation. And because this latter life is more Divine -- and in proportion as the thing is more Divine so much the more is it in the image of God -- it is evident that this life is more beloved of God: and if it be more beloved, so much the more vast has its Beatitude been; and if it has been more vast, so much the more vivifying power has He given to it rather than to the other; therefore one concludes that there may De a much larger number of those creatures than the effects tend to show. And this is not opposed to that which Aristotle seems to state in the tenth book of the Ethics, that to the separate substances the Contemplative Life must be requisite; as also the Active Life must be imperative to them. Nevertheless, in the contemplation of certain truths the revolution of the Heaven follows, which is the government of the World; which is, as it were, a Civil government ordained and comprehended in the contemplation of the movers, that is, the ruling Intelligences.
The other reason is, that no effect is greater than the cause, because the cause cannot give that which it has not; wherefore, since the Divine Intellect is the cause of all, especially of the Human Intellect, it follows that the Human Intellect does not dominate the Divine, but is dominated by it in proportion to the superior power of the Divine. Hence, if we, by the reason above stated, and by many others, understand God to have been able to create Spiritual Creatures almost innumerable, it is quite evident that He has made them in this great number. Many other reasons it were possible to see: but let these suffice for the present.
Nor let any one marvel if these and other reasons which we could adduce concerning this are not fully demonstrated; since likewise we ought to wonder at their excellence, which overpowers the eyes of the Human Mind, as the Philosopher says in the second book of the Metaphysics, and he affirms their existence. Though we have not any perception of them from which our knowledge can begin, yet some light from their most vivacious essence shines upon our intellect, inasmuch as we perceive the above-mentioned reasons and many others, even as he who has the eyes closed affirms the air to be luminous, because of some little brightness or ray of light which passes through the pupils; as it is with the bat, for not otherwise are the eyes of the intellect closed, so long as the soul is bound and prisoned by the organs of our body.
CHAPTER V [ VI ]
The first thing and the first secret which He showed us was one of the before-mentioned Beings or creatures. This was that one, His great Legate, the Angel Gabriel, who came to Mary, a young damsel of thirteen years, on the part of the Heavenly Saviour. This our Saviour, with His own mouth, said, that the Father could give Him many Legions of Angels. This He denied not, when it was said to Him that the Father had commanded His Angels that they should minister unto Him and should serve Him. Wherefore, it is evident to us that these creatures are in a very great number; since His Spouse and Secretary, Holy Church, of whom Solomon says: "Who is this that cometh forth from the Desert, full of those things which give delight, leaning upon her friend?" says, believes, and preaches these most noble creatures to be almost innumerable; and She divides them into three Hierarchies, that is to say, three holy, or rather Divine, Principalities: and each Hierarchy has three orders, so that nine orders of spiritual creatures the Church holds and affirms. The first is that of the Angels, the second of the Archangels, the third of the Thrones; and these three orders make the first Hierarchy -- not first as to nobility, nor as to creation, for the others are more noble, and all were created together, but first in degree, according to our perception of their exaltation. Then there are the Dominations; after them the Virtues; then the Principalities; and these make the second Hierarchy. Above these are the Powers and the Cherubim, and above all are the Seraphim; and these make the third Hierarchy. And the most potent reason for their contemplation is the number in which the Hierarchies are, and that in which the orders are. For, since the Divine Majesty is in Three Persons, which have one substance, it is possible to contemplate them triply. For it is possible to contemplate the Supreme Power of the Father, which the first Hierarchy gazes upon, namely, that which is first by nobility, and which we enumerate last. And it is possible to contemplate the Supreme Wisdom of the Son; and upon this the second Hierarchy gazes. And it is possible to contemplate the Supreme and most fervent Charity of the Holy Spirit; and upon this the third Hierarchy gazes, which, being nearest to us, gives of the gifts which it receives. And, since it is possible to regard each person in the Divine Trinity triply, so in each Hierarchy there are three orders which contemplate diversely. It is possible to consider the Father having regard to none but Him; and this is the contemplation of the Seraphim, who see more of the First Cause than any other Angelic Nature. It is possible to consider the Father according as He has relation to the Son, that is, how He is apart from Him, and how united with Him; and this is the contemplation of the Cherubim. It is possible again to consider the Father according as from Him proceeds the Holy Spirit, and how it is apart from Him and how united with Him; and this is the contemplation of the Powers. And in like way it is possible to contemplate the Son and the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, there must be nine orders of contemplative Spirits to gaze into the Light, which alone beholds itself completely.
And this is not the place to be silent so much as one word. I say, that of all these orders some were lost as soon as they were created, perhaps in number of the tenth part, to restore which Human Nature was created. The numbers, the orders, the Hierarchies, declare the glory of the movable Heavens, which are nine; and the tenth announces this Unity and stability of God. And therefore the Psalmist says: "The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the Firmament showeth His handiwork." Wherefore it is reasonable to believe that the movers of the Heaven of the Moon are of the order of the Angels, and those of Mercury may be the Archangels, and those of Venus may be the Thrones, in whom the Love of the Holy Spirit being innate, they do their work conformably to it, which means that the revolution of that Heaven is full of Love. The form of the said Heaven takes from this a virtue by whose glow souls here below are kindled to love according to their disposition. And because the ancients perceived that Heaven to be here below the cause of Love, they said that Love was the son of Venus, as Virgil testifies in the first book of the AEneid, where Venus says to Love: "Oh! son, my virtue, son of the great Father, who takest no heed of the darts of Typhoeus." And Ovid so testifies in the fifth book of his Metamorphoses, when he says that Venus said to Love: "Son, my arms, my power." And there are Thrones which are ordered to the government of this Heaven in number not great, concerning which the Philosophers and the Astrologers have thought differently, according as they held different opinions concerning its revolutions. But all may be agreed, as many are, in this, as to how many movements it makes. Of this, as abbreviated in the book of the Aggregation of the Stars, you may find in the better demonstration of the Astrologers that there are three: one, according as the star moves towards its Epicycle; the other, according as the Epicycle moves with its whole Heaven equally with that of the Sun; the third, according as the whole of that Heaven moves, following the movement of the starry sphere from West to East in one hundred years one degree. So that to these Three Movements there are Three Movers. Again, if the whole of this Heaven moves and turns with the Epicycle from East to West once in each natural day, that movement, whether it be caused by some Intelligence or whether it be through the rapid movement of the Primum Mobile, God knows, for to me it seems presumptuous to judge. These Movers produce, caring for that alone, the revolution proper to that sphere which each one moves. The most noble form of the Heaven, which has in itself the principle of this passive Nature, revolves, touched by the Moving Power, which cares for this; and I say touched, not by a bodily touch, but by a Power which directs itself to that operation. And these Movers are those to whom I begin to speak and to whom I put my inquiry.
CHAPTER VI [ VII ]
When I have called them to hear that which I wish to say, I assign two reasons why I ought fitly to speak to them. One is the novelty of my condition, which, from not having been experienced by other men, would not be so understood by them as by those who superintend such effects in their operation. And this reason I touch upon when I say: "To you alone its new thoughts I impart." The other reason is: when a man receives a benefit or injury, he ought first to relate it to him who bestows or inflicts it, if he can, rather than to others; in order that, if it be a benefit, he who receives it may show himself grateful towards the benefactor, and, if it be an injury, let him lead the doer thereof to gentle mercy with sweet words. And this reason I touch upon when I say: "Heaven, that is moved by you, my life has brought To where it stands;" that is to say, your operation, namely, your revolution, is that which has drawn me into the present condition; therefore I conclude and say that my speech ought to be to them, such as is said; and I say here: "Therefore to you 'tis need That I should speak about the life I lead." And after these reasons assigned, I beseech them to listen when I speak. But, because in each manner of speech the speaker especially ought to look to persuasion, that is, to the pleasing of the audience, as that which is the beginning of all other persuasions, as do the Rhetoricians, and the most powerful persuasion to render the audience attentive is to promise to say new and wonderful things, I add to the prayer made for attention, this persuasion, or embellishment, announcing to them my intention to speak of new things, that is, the division which is in my mind; and great things, namely, the power of their star; and I say this in those last words of this first part: To you I'll tell the heart's new cares: always The sad Soul weeps within it, and there hears Voice of a Spirit that condemns her tears, A Spirit that descends through your star's rays.
And to the full understanding of these words, I say that this Spirit is no other than a frequent thought how to commend and beautify this new Lady. And this Soul is no other than another thought, accompanied with acquiescence, which, repudiating that Spirit, commends and beautifies the memory of that glorious Beatrice. But, again, because the last sentiment of the mind, acquiescence, is held by that thought which memory assisted, I call it the Soul, and the other the Spirit; as we are accustomed to call the City those who hold it, and not those who fight it, although the one and the other may be citizens. I say also, that this Spirit comes on the rays of the star, because one desires to know that the rays of each Heaven are the way by which their virtue descends into things here below. And since the rays are no other than a light which comes from the source of Light through the air even to the thing illuminated, and the light has no source except the star, because the other Heaven is transparent, I say not that this Spirit, this thought, comes from their Heaven entirely, but from their star. And their star, through the nobility of its Movers, is of such virtue that in our souls, and in other things, it has very great power, notwithstanding that it is so far from us, about one hundred and sixty-seven times farther than it is to the centre of the Earth, which is three thousand two hundred and fifty miles. And this is the Literal exposition of the first part of the Song.
CHAPTER VII [ VIII ]
In evidence, then, of the meaning of the first division, it is to be known that things must be named by that part of their form which is the noblest and best, as Man by Reason, and not by Sense, nor by aught else which is less noble; therefore, when one speaks of the living man, one should understand the man using Reason, which is his especial Life, and is the action of his noblest part. And, therefore, whoso departs from Reason and uses only the Senses is not a living man, but a living beast, as says that most excellent Boethius, "Let the Ass live." Rightly I speak, because thought is the right act of reason, wherefore the beasts who have it not do not think; and I speak not only of the lesser beasts, but of those who have a human appearance with the spirit of a sheep or of some other abominable beast. I say then: "Thought that once fed my grieving heart" -- thought, that is, of the inner life -- "was sweet" (sweet, insomuch as it is persuasive, that is, pleasing, or beautiful, gentle, delightful); this thought often sped away to the feet of the Father of those Spirits to whom I speak, that is, God; that is to say, that I in thought contemplated the realm of the Blessed. "Thought that once fled up to the Father's feet." And I name the final cause immediately, because I ascended there above in thought when I say, "There I beheld a Lady glorified," to let you understand that I was certain, and am certain by its gracious revelation, that she was in Heaven; wherefore I, thinking many times how this was possible for me, went thither, rapt, as it were.
Then subsequently I speak of the effect of this thought, in order to let you understand its sweetness, which was such that it made me desirous of Death, that I also might go where she was gone. And of this I speak there: "Of whom so sweetly it discoursed to me That the Soul said, 'With her would I might be!'" And this is the root of one of the struggles which was in me. And it is to be known that here one terms Thought, and not Soul, that which ascended to see that Blessed Spirit, because it was an especial thought sent on that mission; the Soul is understood, as is stated in the preceding chapter, as thought in general, with acquiescence.
Then, when I say, "Now One appears that drives the thought aside," I touch the root of the other struggle, saying how that previous thought was wont to be the life of me, even as another appears, which makes that one cease to be. I say, "drives the thought aside," in order to show that one to be antagonistic, for naturally the opposing one drives aside the other, and that which is driven appears to yield through want of power. And I say that this thought, which newly appears, is powerful in taking hold of me and in subduing my Soul, saying that it "masters me with such effectual might" that the heart, that is, my inner life, trembles so much that my countenance shows it in some new appearance.
Subsequently I show the power of this new thought by its effect, saying that it makes me "fix my regard" on a Lady, and speaks to me words of allurement, that is to say, it reasons before the eyes of my intelligent affection, in order the better to induce me, promising me that the sight of her eyes is its salvation. And in order to make this credible to the Soul experienced in love, it says that it is for no one to gaze into the eyes of this woman who fears the anguish of laboured sighs. And it is a beautiful mode of rhetoric when externally it appears that you disembellish a thing, and yet really embellish it within. This new thought of love could not induce my mind to consent, except by discoursing of the virtue of the eyes of this fair Lady so profoundly.
CHAPTER VIII [ IX ]
But here arises a doubt, which is not to be passed over without explanation. It would be possible for any one to say: Since Love is the effect of these Intelligences, to whom I speak, and that of the first Love might be the same as that of the new Love, why should their virtue destroy the one, and produce the other? since it ought to preserve the first, for the reason that each cause loves its effect, and ought to protect what it loves. To this question one can easily reply, that the effect of those Spirits, as has been said, is Love: and since they could not save it except in those who are subject to their revolution, they transfer it from that part which is beyond their power to that which is within reach, from the soul departed out of this life, into that which is yet living; as human nature transfers in the human form its preservation of the father to the son, because it cannot in this father preserve perpetually its effect: I say effect in as far as soul and body are united, and not effect in as far as that soul, which is divided from the body, lasts for ever, in a nature more than human. And thus is the question solved.
But since the immortality of the Soul is here touched upon, I will make a digression upon that; because to discourse of that will make a fit conclusion to the mention I have made of that living and blessed Beatrice, of whom I do not intend to speak further in this book. For proposition I say that, amongst all the bestialities, that is the most foolish, the most vile, and most damnable which believes no other life to be after this life; wherefore, if we turn over all books, whether of philosophers or of the other wise writers, all agree in this, that in us there is some everlasting principle. And this especially Aristotle seems to desire in that book on the Soul; this especially each stoic seems to desire; this Tullius seems to desire, especially in that book on Old Age. This each of the Poets who have spoken according to the faith of the Gentiles seems to desire; this the law seems to desire, among Jews, Saracens, and Tartars, and all other people who live according to some civil law. And if all these could be deceived, there would result an impossibility which even to describe would be horrible. Each man is certain that human nature is the most perfect of all natures here below. This no one denies: and Aristotle affirms it when he says, in the twelfth book On Animals, that man is the most perfect of all the animals. Therefore, since many who live are entirely mortal, as are the brute animals, and all may be, whilst they live, without that hope of the other life; if our hope should be in vain, our want would be greater than that of any other animal. There have been many who have given this life for that: and thus it would follow that the most perfect animal, man, would be the most imperfect, which is impossible; and that that part, namely, reason, which is his chief perfection, would be in him the cause of the chief defect: which seems strange to say of the whole.
And again it would follow that Nature, in contradiction to herself, could have put this hope in the human mind; since it is said that many have hastened to death of the body that they might live in the other life; and this also is impossible. Again, we have continual experience of our immortality in the divination of our dreams, which could not be if there were no immortal part in us, since immortal must be the revelation. This part may be either corporeal or incorporeal if one think well and closely. I say corporeal or incorporeal, because of the different opinions which I find concerning this. That which is moved, or rather informed, by an immediate informer, ought to have proportion to the informer; and between the mortal and the immortal there is no proportion. Again, we are assured of it by the most truthful doctrine of Christ, which is the Way, the Truth, and the Light: the Way, because by it without impediment we go to the happiness of that immortality; the Truth, because it endures no error; the Light, because it enlightens us in the darkness of worldly ignorance. This doctrine, I say, which above all other reasons makes us certain of it; for it has been given to us by Him who sees and measures our immortality, which we cannot perfectly see whilst our immortal is mingled with the mortal. But we see it by faith perfectly; and by reason we see it with the cloud of obscurity which grows from the mixture of the mortal with the immortal. This ought to be the most powerful argument that both are in us: and I thus believe, thus affirm; and I am equally certain, after this life, to pass to that other and better life -- there where that glorious Lady lives, with whom my soul was enamoured when it was struggling, as will be set forth in the next chapter.
CHAPTER IX [ X ]
The second point is in that which reproves their disobedience, when it says, "Of her, why doubted they my words?" Then it proceeds to the third thing and says that it is not right to reprove them for precaution, but for their disobedience; for it says that, sometimes, when speaking of this woman, it might be said, "Her eyes bear death to such as I," if she could have opened the way of approach. And indeed one ought to believe that my Soul knew of its own inclination ready to receive the operation of this power, and therefore dreaded it; for the act of the agent takes full effect in the patient who has the inclination to receive it, as the Philosopher says in the second book on the Soul. And, therefore, if wax could have the spirit of fear, it would fear most to come into the rays of the Sun, which would not turn it into stone, since its disposition is to yield to that strong operation.
Lastly, the Soul reveals in its speech that their presumption had been dangerous when it says, "Yet vainly warned, I gazed on her and die." And thus it closes its speech, to which the new thought replies, as will be declared in the following chapter.
CHAPTER X [ XI ]
and therefore it says to her: "See, she is lowly, Pitiful, courteous, though so wise and holy." These are two things which are a fit remedy for the fear with which the Soul appeared impassioned; for, firmly united, they cause the individual to hope well, and especially Pity, which causes all other goodness to shine forth by its light. Wherefore Virgil, speaking of AEneas, in his greater praise calls him compassionate, pitiful; and that is not pity such as the common people understand it, which is to lament over the misfortunes of others; nay, this is an especial effect which is called Mercy, Pity, Compassion; and it is a passion. But compassion is not a passion; rather a noble disposition of mind, prepared to receive Love, Mercy, and other charitable passions. Then it says: "See also how courteous, though so wise and holy." Here it says three things which, according as they can be acquired by us, make the person especially pleasing. It says Wise. Now, what is more beautiful in a woman than knowledge? It says Courteous. Nothing in a woman can be more excellent than courtesy. And neither are the wretched common people deceived even in this word, for they believe that courtesy is no other than liberality; for liberality is an especial, and not a general courtesy. Courtesy is all one with honesty, modesty, decency; and because the virtues and good manners were the custom in Courts anciently, as now the opposite is the custom, this word was taken from the Courts; which word, if it should now be taken from the Courts, especially of Italy, would and could express no other than baseness. It says Holy. The greatness which is here meant is especially well accompanied with the two afore-mentioned virtues; because it is that light which reveals the good and the evil of the person clearly. And how much knowledge and how much virtuous custom does there not seem to be wanting by this light! How much madness and how much vice are seen to be by this light! Better would it be for the wretched madmen high in station, stupid and vicious, to be of low estate, that neither in the world nor after this life they should be so infamous. Truly for such Solomon says in Ecclesiastes: "There is a sore evil that I have seen under the Sun; namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt." Then subsequently it lays a command on it, that is, on my Soul, that it should now call this one its Lady: "Think thou to call her Mistress evermore," promising my Soul that it will be quite content with her when it shall have clear perception of all her wonderful accomplishments; and then this one says: "Save thou delude thyself, then shall there shine High miracles before thee;" neither does it speak otherwise even to the end of that stanza. And here ends the Literal meaning of all that which I say in this Song, speaking to these Celestial Intelligences.
CHAPTER XI [ XII ]
But, because it often happens that to admonish seems presumptuous in certain conditions, it is usual for the Rhetorician to speak indirectly to others, directing his words, not to him for whom he speaks, but towards another. And truly this method is maintained here; for to the Song the words go, and to the men the meaning of them. I say then: "My Song, I do believe there will be few Who toil to understand thy reasoning." And I state the cause, which is double. First, because thou speakest with fatigue -- with fatigue, I say, for the reason which is stated; and then because thou speakest with difficulty -- with difficulty, I say, as to the novelty of the meaning. Now afterwards I admonish it, and say: But if thou pass perchance by those who bring No skill to give thee the attention due, Then pray I, dear last-born, let them rejoice At least to find a music in my voice. For in this I desire to say no other according to what is said above, except "Oh, men, you who cannot see the meaning of this Song, do not therefore refuse it; but pay attention to its beauty, which is great, both for construction, which belongs to the Grammarians; and for the order of the discourse, which belongs to the Rhetoricians; as well as for the rhythm of its parts, which belongs to the Musicians." For which things he who looks well can see that there may be beauty in it. And this is the entire Literal meaning of the first Song which is prepared for the first dish in my Banquet.
CHAPTER XII [ XIII ]
CHAPTER XIII [ XIV ]
The first similitude is the revolution of the one and the other round one fixed centre. For each movable Heaven revolves round its centre, which, on account of its movement, moves not; and thus each Science moves round its subject, which itself moves not; for no Science demonstrates its own foundation, but presupposes that. The second similitude is the illumination of the one and the other. For each Heaven illuminates visible things; and thus each Science illuminates the things intelligible. And the third similitude is the inducing of perfection in the things so inclined. Of which induction, as to the first perfection, that is, of the substantial generation, all the philosophers agree that the Heavens are the cause, although they attribute this in different ways: some from the Movers, as Plato, Avicenna, and Algazel; some from the stars themselves, especially the human souls, as Socrates, and also Plato and Dionysius the Academician; and some from celestial virtue which is in the natural heat of the seed, as Aristotle and the other Peripatetics. Thus the Sciences are the cause in us of the induction of the second perfection; by the use of which we can speculate concerning the Truth, which is our ultimate perfection, as the Philosopher says in the sixth book of the Ethics, when he says that Truth is the good of the intellect. Because of these and many other resemblances, it is possible to call Science, Heaven. Now it remains to see why it is called the third Heaven. Here it is requisite to reflect somewhat with regard to a comparison which exists between the order of the Heavens and that of the Sciences Wherefore, as has been previously described, the Seven Heavens next to us are those of the Planets; then there are two Heavens above these, the Mobile, and one above all, Quiet. To the Seven first correspond the Seven Sciences of the _Trivium_ and of the _Quadrivium_, namely, Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and Astrology. To the eighth Sphere, i.e., to the starry, correspond Natural Science, which is termed Physics, and the first Science, which is termed Metaphysics. To the ninth Sphere corresponds Moral Science; and to the Quiet Heaven corresponds Divine Science, which is designated Theology. And the reason why this is, remains briefly to be seen.
I say that the Heaven of the Moon is likened unto Grammar because it is possible to find a comparison to it. For if you look at the Moon well, two things are seen to be proper to it which are not seen in the other stars: the one is the shadow which is in it, which is no other than the rarity of its body, in which the rays of the Sun can find no end wherefrom to strike back again as in the other parts; the other is the variation of its brightness, which now shines on one side, and now on the other, according as the Sun sees it. And these two properties Grammar has: for, because of its infinity, the rays of reason can find no end in it in parts, especially of the words; and it shines now on this side, now on that, inasmuch as certain words, certain declensions, certain constructions, are in use which were not formerly, and many formerly were which again will be; as Horace says in the beginning of his book on the art of Poetry, when he says: "Many words will spring up again which have now fallen out of use."
And the Heaven of Mercury may be compared to Logic because of two properties: that Mercury is the smallest star in Heaven, that the amount of its diameter is no more than two hundred and thirty-two miles, according as Alfergano puts it, who says that it is one twenty-eighth part of the diameter of the Earth, which is six thousand five hundred miles; the other property is, that it is more concealed by the rays of the Sun than any other star. And these two properties are in Logic: for Logic is less in substance than any other Science, for it is perfectly compiled and terminated in so much text as is found in the old Art and the new; and it is more concealed than any other Science, inasmuch as it proceeds with more sophistical and probable arguments than any other.
And the Heaven of Venus may be compared to Rhetoric because of two properties: the one is the brightness of its aspect, which is most sweet to behold, far more than any other star; the other is its appearance, now in the morning, now in the evening. And these two properties are in Rhetoric: for Rhetoric is the sweetest of all Sciences, since it principally aims at sweetness. It appears in the morning, when the Rhetorician speaks before the face of the hearer; it appears in the evening, that is, afterwards, when it speaks by Letters in distant parts.
And the Heaven of the Sun may be compared to Arithmetic because of two properties: the one is, that with his light all the other stars are informed; the other is that the eye cannot gaze at it. And these two properties are in Arithmetic, which with its light illuminates all its Sciences: for their subjects are all considered under some Number, and with Number one always proceeds in the consideration of these; as in Natural Science the movable body is the subject, which movable body has in itself three reasons of continuity, and this has in itself reason of infinite number. And of Natural Science its first and chiefest consideration is to consider the principles of natural objects, which are three, that is, matter, privation, and form; in which this Number is seen, and not only in all together, but again in each one, as he who considers subtly may perceive. Wherefore, Pythagoras, according to what Aristotle says in the first book of the Physics, established as the principles of natural things, the equal and the unequal; considering all things to be Number. The other property of the Sun is again seen in Number, of which Number is the Science of Arithmetic, that the eye of the intellect cannot gaze at it. For Number, inasmuch as it is considered in itself, is infinite; and this we cannot, understand.
And the Heaven of Mars may be compared to Music because of two properties. One is its most beautiful relative position; for, when enumerating the movable Heavens, from which one soever you may begin, either from the lowest or from the highest, this Heaven of Mars is the fifth; it is the central one of all, that is, of the first, of the second, of the third, and of the fourth. The other is, that this Mars dries up and burns things, because his heat is like to that of fire; and this is why it appears flaming in colour, sometimes more and sometimes less, according to the density and rarity of the vapours which follow it, which of themselves are often kindled, as is determined in the first book on Meteors. And, therefore, Albumassar says that the kindling of these vapours signifies the death of Kings and the change of Kingdoms; for they are the effects of the dominion of Mars. And, therefore, Seneca says that, on the death of Augustus, he beheld on high a ball of fire. And in Florence, at the beginning of its destruction, there was seen in the air, in the form of a cross, a great quantity of these vapours following the planet Mars. And these two properties are in Music, which is all relative, as is seen in harmonized words and in songs, from which the sweeter harmony results in proportion as the relation is more beautiful, which in this Science is especially beautiful, because there is in it a special harmony. Again, Music attracts to itself human spirits, which are as it were chiefly vapours from the heart, so that they almost cease from all labour; so is the whole soul when it hears it, and the power of all those spirits flies as it were to the spirit of sense, which receives the sound.
And the Heaven of Jupiter can be compared to Geometry because of two properties. The one is, that it moves between two Heavens, repugnant to its good tempering, namely, that of Mars and that of Saturn. Hence Ptolemy says, in the book alluded to, that Jupiter is a star of a temperate complexion, midway between the cold of Saturn and the heat of Mars. The other is, that amongst all the stars it appears white, as if silvered. And these things are in the Science of Geometry. Geometry moves between two things antagonistic to it; as between the point and the circle, and I term circle freely anything that is round, either a body or superfices; for, as Euclid says, the point is the beginning of Geometry, and, according to what he says, the circle is the most perfect figure in it, which must therefore have reason for its end; so that between the point and the circle, as between the beginning and the end, Geometry moves. And these two are antagonistic to its certainty; for the point by its indivisibility is immeasurable, and the circle, on account of its arc, it is impossible to square perfectly, and therefore it is impossible to measure precisely. And again, Geometry is most white, inasmuch as it is without spot of error, and it is most certain in itself, and by its handmaid, called Perspective. And the Heaven of Saturn has two properties because of which it can be compared to Astrology. One is the slowness of its movement through the twelve signs; for twenty-nine years and more, according to the writings of the Astrologers, is the time that it requires in its orbit. The other is, that above all the other planets it is highest. And these two properties are in Astrology, for in completing its circle, as in the acquirement of this Science, the greatest space of time is revolved, because its demonstrations are more than any other of the aforementioned Sciences, and long experience is requisite to those who would acquire good judgment in it. And again, it is the highest of all the others, because, as Aristotle says in the commencement of his book on the Soul, the Science is high, because of its nobility, and because of the nobleness of its subject and its certainty. And this Science more than any other of those mentioned above is noble and high, for noble and high is its subject, which is the movement of the Heavens; and high and noble, because of its certainty, which is without any defect, even as that which springs from the most perfect and most regular principle. And if any one believe that there is defect in it, it is not on the part of the Science, but, as Ptolemy says, it is through our negligence, and to that it must be imputed.
CHAPTER XIV [ XV ]
I say that the Starry Heaven shows us many stars; for, according to what the wise men of Egypt have seen, even to the last star which appeared to them in the Meridian, they place there twenty-two thousand bodies of stars, of which I speak. And in this it has the greatest similitude with Physics, if these three numbers, namely, Two, and Twenty, and Thousand, are regarded well and subtly. For by the two is meant the local movement, which is of necessity from one point to another; and by the twenty is signified the movement of the alteration, for, since from the ten upwards one advances not except by altering this ten with the other nine and with itself; and the most beautiful alteration which it receives is its own with itself, and the first which it receives is the twenty; reasonably by this number the said movement is signified. And by the thousand is signified the movement of increase, which in name, that is, this thousand, is the greater number, and to increase still more is not possible except by multiplying this. And these three movements alone are observed in Physics, as it is demonstrated in the fifth chapter of his first book.
And because of the Milky Way, this Heaven has a great similitude with Metaphysics. Wherefore, it is to be known that concerning this Galaxy the Philosophers have had different opinions. For the followers of Pythagoras said that the Sun at some time or other went astray from his path, and, passing through other parts not suitable to his fervent heat, he burnt the place through which he passed, and there remained that appearance of the conflagration. And I believe that they were moved by the fable of Phaeton, which Ovid relates in the beginning of the second part of his Metamorphoses. Others said, such as Anaxagoras and Democritus, that it was the light of the Sun reflected into that part. And these opinions, with demonstrative reasons, they proved over and over again. What Aristotle may have said of this is not so easy to learn, because his opinion is not found to be the same in one translation as in the other; and I believe that it might be due to the error of the translators, for in the new one he seems to say that the Galaxy is a collection of vapours under the stars of that part which always attract them; and this does not seem to be the true reason. In the old translation he says that the Galaxy is no other than a multitude of fixed stars in that part, so small that we cannot distinguish them from here below, but that they cause the whiteness which we call the Milky Way. And it may be that the Heaven in that part is more dense, and therefore retains and represents that light; and this opinion Avicenna and Ptolemy seem to share with Aristotle. Therefore, since the Galaxy is an effect of those stars which we cannot see, if we understand those things by their effect alone, and Metaphysics treats of the first substances, which we cannot similarly understand except by their effects, it is evident that the Starry Heaven has a great similitude to Metaphysics.
Again, by the pole which we see is signified the things known to our senses, concerning which, taking them universally, the Science of Physics treats; and by the pole which we do not see is signified the things which are without matter, which are not sensible, concerning which Metaphysics treats; and therefore the said Heaven has a great similitude with the one Science and with the other. Again, by the two movements it signifies these two Sciences: for by the movement in which every day revolves, and makes a new revolution from point to point, it signifies things natural and corruptible which daily complete their path, and their material is changed from form to form; and of this the Science of Physics treats. And by the almost insensible movement which it makes from West to East by one degree in a hundred years, it signifies things incorruptible, which received from God the beginning of their creation, and will have no end; but of these Metaphysics treats. Therefore I say that this movement signifies those things, for it began this revolution which will have no end; the end of the revolution being to return to one self-same point, to which this Heaven will not return by this movement, which has revolved a little more than the sixth part from the commencement of the world; and we are now in the last age of the world, and verily we wait the consummation of the celestial movement. Thus it is evident that the Starry Heaven, on account of many properties, may be compared to the Science of Physics and Metaphysics.
The Crystalline Heaven, which, as the Primum Mobile, has been previously counted, has a sufficiently evident comparison to Moral Philosophy; for Moral Philosophy, according to what Tommaso says upon the second book of the Ethics, teaches us method in the other Sciences. For as the Philosopher says in the fifth book of the Ethics, legal Justice requires the Sciences to be learnt, and commands, in order that they may not be abandoned, that they be learnt and taught: thus, the said Heaven rules with its movement the daily revolution of all the others; from which revolution every day all those receive and send below the virtues of their several parts. For, if the revolution of this Heaven could not rule over that, but little of their power would descend below, and little of their aspect. Wherefore we hold that, if it could be possible for this ninth Heaven not to move, the third part of the Heaven would not again be seen in any part from the Earth: Saturn would be for fourteen years and a half concealed from any place on the Earth, Jupiter would be hidden for six years, and Mars for almost a whole year, and the Sun for one hundred and eighty-two days and fourteen hours (I say days, meaning so much time as so many days measure); and Venus and Mercury, almost like the Sun, would be hidden and would reappear, and the Moon for the space of fourteen days and a half would be hidden from all people. Verily, here below there would be neither generation, nor the life of animals, nor of plants; there would be no night, nor day, nor week, nor month, nor year; but the whole Universe would be disordered, and the movement of the stars would be in vain. Not otherwise, should Moral Philosophy cease to be, would the other Sciences be hidden for some time, and there would be no generation nor life of happiness, and all books would be in vain, and all discoveries of old. Therefore it is sufficiently evident that there is a comparison between this Heaven and Moral Philosophy.
Again, the Empyrean Heaven, because of its Peace, bears a similitude to the Divine Science, which is full of all Peace; which endures no conflict of opinion or of sophistical arguments, on account of the most excellent certainty of its subject, which is God. And of this He Himself speaks to His disciples: "My peace I give to you: My peace I leave unto you," giving and leaving to them His doctrine, which is this Science whereof I speak. Solomon says of this Science: "Sixty are the queens, and eighty the friendly concubines; and youthful virgins without number; but one is my dove and my perfect one." All the Sciences he terms queens, and friends, and virgins; and he calls this one dove, because it is without blemish of strife; and he calls this one perfect, because it causes us to see perfectly the Truth in which our Soul finds Peace. And therefore the comparison of the Heavens to the Sciences having been thus reasoned out, it is easy to see that by the Third Heaven I mean Rhetoric, which has been likened unto the Third Heaven, as appears above.
CHAPTER XV [ XVI ]
The third passage again is explained by the Literal exposition as far as to where it says, "Still therefore the Soul weeps." Here it is desirable to attend to a certain moral sense which may be observed in these words: that a man ought not for the sake of the greater friend to forget the service received from the lesser; but if one must follow the one and leave the other, the greater is to be followed, with honest lamentation for desertion of the other, whereby he gives occasion to the one whom he follows to bestow more love on him. Then there where it says, "Of my eyes," has no other meaning except that bitter was the hour when the first demonstration of this Lady entered into the eyes of my intellect, which was the cause of this most close attachment. And there where it says, "My peers," it means the Souls set free from miserable and vile pleasures, and from vulgar habits, endowed with understanding and memory. And then it says, "Her eyes bear death," and then it says, "I gazed on her and die," which appears contrary to that which is said above of Salvation by this Lady. And therefore it is to be known that one Spirit speaks here on one side and the other speaks there on the other; which two dispute contrariwise, according to that which is made evident above. Wherefore it is no wonder if here the one Spirit says Yes, and there the other Spirit says No.
Then in the stanza where it says, "A sweet voice of tenderness," a thought is meant which was born of my deep contemplation; wherefore it is to be known that by Love, in this Allegory, is always meant that deep contemplation which is the earnest application of the enamoured mind to that object wherewith it is enamoured. Then when it says, "There shall shine High miracles before thee," it announces that through her the adornments of the miracles will be seen; and it speaks truly, that the adornment of the miracles is to see the cause of the same, which she demonstrates; as in the beginning of the book on Metaphysics the Philosopher seems to feel, saying that, through the contemplation of these adornments, men began to be enamoured with this Lady. And concerning this word, i.e., miracle, in the following treatise I shall speak more fully. What then follows of this Song is sufficiently explained by the other exposition. And thus at the end of this Second Treatise, I say and affirm that the Lady with whom I became enamoured after the first Love was the most beautiful and most excellent daughter of the Ruler of the Universe, to which daughter Pythagoras gave the name of Philosophy. And here ends the Second Treatise, which is brought in for the first dish at my Banquet.
THE THIRD TREATISE
[ CANZONE SECONDA ]
Love, reasoning of my Lady in my mind
And in this deliberation three reasons assisted me. One of them was self-love, which is the source of all the rest, as every one sees. For there is no more lawful nor more courteous way of doing honour to one's self than by doing honour to one's friend; and, since friendship cannot exist between the unlike, wherever one sees friendship, likeness is understood; and wherever likeness is understood, thither runs public praise or blame. And from this reason two great lessons may be learnt: the one is, never to wish that any vicious man should seem your friend, for in that case a bad opinion is formed of him who has made the evil man his friend; the other is, that no one ought to blame his friend publicly, because, if you consider well the aforesaid reason, he but points to himself with his finger in his eye. The second reason was the desire for the duration of this friendship; wherefore it is to be known, as the Philosopher says in the ninth book of the Ethics, in the friendship of persons of unequal position it is requisite, for the preservation of that friendship, for a certain proportion to exist between them, which may reduce the dissimilarity to a similarity, as between the master and the servant. For, although the servant cannot render the same benefit to the master that is conferred on him, yet he ought to render the best that he can, with so much solicitude and freewill that that which is dissimilar in itself may become similar through the evidence of good-will, which proves the friendship, confirms and preserves it. Wherefore I, considering myself lower than that Lady, and perceiving myself benefited by her, endeavoured to praise her according to my ability. And, if it be not similar of itself, my prompt freewill proves at least that if I could I would do more, and thus it makes its friendship similar to that of this gentle Lady. The third reason was an argument of prudence; for, as Boethius says, "It is not sufficient to look only at that which is before the eyes, that is, at the Present; and, therefore, Prudence, Foresight, is given to us, which looks beyond to that which may happen." I say that I thought that for a long time I might be reproached by many with levity of mind, on hearing that I had turned from my first Love. Wherefore, to remove this reproach, there was no better argument than to state who the Lady was who had thus changed me; that, by her manifest excellence, they might gain some perception of her virtue; and that, by the comprehension of her most exalted virtue, they might be able to see that all stability of mind could be in that mutability: and, therefore, they should not judge me light and unstable. I then began to praise this Lady, and if not in the most suitable manner, at least as well as I could at first; and I began to say: "Love, reasoning of my Lady in my mind."
This Song chiefly has three parts. The first is the whole of the first two stanzas, in which I speak in a preliminary manner. The second is the whole of the six following stanzas, in which is described that which is intended, i.e., the praise of that gentle Lady; the first of which begins: "The Sun sees not in travel round the earth." The third part is in the last two stanzas, in which, addressing myself to the Song, I purify it from all doubtful interpretation. And these three parts remain to be discussed now in due order.
I begin, then: "Love, reasoning of my Lady in my mind," where in the first place it is to be seen who this speaker is, and what this place is in which I say that he is speaking. Love, taking him in his true sense, and considering him subtly, is no other than the spiritual union of the Soul with the beloved object; into which union, of its own nature, the Soul hastens sooner or later, according as it is free or impeded. And the reason for that natural disposition may be this: each substantial form proceeds from its First Cause, which is God, as is written in the book of Causes; and they receive not diversity from that First Cause, which is the most simple, but from the secondary causes, and from the material into which it descends. Wherefore, in the same book it is written, when treating of the infusion of the Divine Goodness: "The bounties and good gifts make diverse things, through the concurrence of that which receives them." Wherefore, since each effect retains somewhat of the nature of its cause, as Alfarabio says when he affirms that that which has been the first cause of a round body has in some way an essentially round form, so each form in some way has the essence of the Divine Nature in itself; not that the Divine Nature can be divided and communicated to these, but participated in by these, almost in the same way that the other stars participate in the nature of the Sun. And the nobler the form, the more does it retain of that Divine Nature. Wherefore the human Soul, which is the noblest form of all those which are generated under Heaven, receives more from the Divine Nature than any other. And since it is most natural to wish to be in God, for as in the book quoted above one reads, the first thing is to exist, and before that there is nothing, the human Soul desires to exist naturally with all possible desire. And since its existence depends upon God, and is preserved by Him, it naturally desires and longs to be united to God, and so add strength to its own being. And since, in the goodness of Human Nature, Reason gives us proof of the Divine, it follows that, naturally, the Human Soul is united therewith by the path of the spirit so much the sooner, and so much the more firmly, in proportion as those good qualities appear more perfect; which appearance of perfection is achieved according as the power of the Soul to produce a good impression is strong and clear, or is trammelled and obscure. And this union is that which we call Love, whereby it is possible to know that which is within the Soul, by looking at those whom it loves in the world without. This Love, which is the union of my Soul with that gentle Lady in whom so much of the Divine Light was revealed to me, is that speaker of whom I speak; since from him continuous thoughts were born, whilst gazing at and considering the wondrous power of this Lady who was spiritually made one with my Soul.
The place in which I say that he thus speaks is the Mind. But in saying that it is the Mind, one does not attach more meaning to this than before; and therefore it is to be seen what this Mind properly signifies. I say, then, that the Philosopher, in the second book on the Soul, when speaking of its powers, says that the Soul principally has three powers, which are, to Live, to Feel, and to Reason: and he says also to Move, but it is possible to make this one with feeling, since every Soul moves that feels, either with all the senses or with one alone; for the power to move is conjoined with feeling. And according to that which he says, it is most evident that these powers are so entwined that the one is a foundation of the other; and that which is the foundation can of itself be divided; but the other, which is built upon it, cannot be apart from its foundation. Therefore, the Vegetative power, whereby one lives, is the foundation upon which one feels, that is, sees, hears, tastes, smells, and touches; and this vegetative power of itself can be the Soul, vegetative, as we see in all the plants. The Sensitive cannot exist without that. We find nothing that feels, and does not live. And this Sensitive power is the foundation of the Intellectual, that is, of the Reason; so that, in animate mortals, the Reasoning power is not found without the Sensitive. But the Sensitive is found without Reason, as in the beasts, and in the birds, and in the fishes, and in any brute animal, as we see. And that Soul which contains all these powers is the most perfect of all. And the Human Soul possessing the nobility of the highest power, which is Reason, participates in the Divine Nature, after the manner of an eternal Intelligence: for the Soul is ennobled and denuded of matter by that Sovereign Power in proportion as the Divine Light of Truth shines into it, as into an Angel; and Man is therefore called by the Philosophers the Divine Animal. In this most noble part of the Soul are many virtues, as the Philosopher says, especially in the third chapter of the Soul, where he says that there is in it a virtue which is called Scientific, and one which is called Ratiocinative, or rather deliberative; and with this there are certain virtues, as Aristotle says in that same place, such as the Inventive and the Judging. And all these most noble virtues, and the others which are in that excellent power, are designated by that one word, which we sought to understand, that is, Mind. Wherefore it is evident that by Mind is meant the highest, noblest part of a man's Soul.
And it is seen to be so, for only of man and of the Divine substances is this Mind predicated, as can plainly be seen in Boethius, who first predicates it of men, where he says to Philosophy: "Thou, and God who placed thee in the mind of men;" then he predicates it of God, when he says: "Thou dost produce everything from the Divine Model, Thou most beautiful One, bearing the beautiful World in Thy mind." Neither was it ever predicated of brute animals; nay, of many men who appear defective in the most perfect part, it does not seem that it ought to be, or that it could be, predicated; and therefore such as these are termed in the Latin Tongue _amenti_ and _dementi_, that is, without mind. Hence one can now perceive that it is Mind which is the perfect and most precious part of the Soul in which is God. And that is the place where I say that Love discourses to me of my Lady.
By his part in the nature of the simple body, as earth, naturally it tends downwards; therefore, when he moves his body upwards, he becomes more weary. Because of the second nature, of the mixed body, it loves the place of its generation, and even the time; and therefore each one naturally is of more power in his own place and in his own time than in any other. Wherefore, one reads in the History of Hercules, and in the greater Ovid, and in Lucan, and in other Poets, that when fighting with the Giant who was named Antaeus, every time that the Giant was weary, and laid his body down on the earth at full length, either by the will or strength of Hercules, new strength and vigour then surged up in him, drawn wholly from the Earth, in which and from which he was produced; Hercules, perceiving this, at last seized him, and having compressed and raised him above the Earth, he held him so tightly, without allowing him to touch the Earth again, that he conquered Antaeus by excess of strength, and killed him. According to the testimony of the books, this battle took place in Africa.
And because of the third nature, that is, of the plants, Man has a love for a certain food, not inasmuch as it affects the senses, but in so much as it is nutritious; and that particular food does the work of that most perfect Nature, while certain other food, dissimilar, acts but imperfectly. And therefore we see that certain food will make men handsome, and strong-limbed, and very brightly coloured, and certain other food will do the opposite of this. And by the fourth nature, of the animals, that is, the sensitive, Man has the other love, by which he loves according to the sensible appearance, like the beasts; and this love in Man especially has need of control, because of its excessive operation in the delights given, especially through sight and touch. And because of the fifth and last nature, which is the true Human Nature, and, to use a better phrase, the Angelic, namely, the Rational, Man has by it the Love of Truth and Virtue; and from this Love is born true and perfect friendship from the honest intercourse of which the Philosopher speaks in the eighth book of the Ethics, when he treats of Friendship.
Wherefore, since this nature is termed Mind, as is proved above, I spoke of Love as discoursing in my Mind in order to explain that this Love was the Friendship which is born of that most noble nature, that is, of Truth and Virtue, and to exclude each false opinion, by which my Love might be suspected to spring from pleasure of the Senses. I then say, "With constant pleasure," to make people understand its continuance and its fervour. And I say that it often whispers "Things over which the intellect may stray." And I speak truth, because my thoughts, when reasoning of her, often sought to draw conclusions of her, which I could not comprehend, and I was alarmed, so that I seemed almost like one dazed, even as he who, looking with the eye along a direct line, sees first the nearest things clearly; then, proceeding, it sees them less clearly; then, further on, doubtfully; then, proceeding an immense way, the sight is divided from the object, and sees nothing.
And this is one unspeakable thing of that which I have taken for a theme; and consequently I relate the other when I say: His words make music of so sweet a kind That the Soul hears and feels, and cries, Ah, me, That I want power to tell what thus I see! And because I know not how to tell it, I say that my soul laments, saying, "Ah, me, that I want power." And this is the other unspeakable thing, that the tongue is not a complete and perfect follower of all that the intellect sees. And I say, "That the Soul hears and feels;" hearing, as to the words, and feeling, as to the sweetness of the sound.
It would be quite possible for any one to say: Thou dost excuse and accuse thyself all in one breath, which is a reason for blame, not for escape from blame, inasmuch as the blame, which is mine, is cast on the intellect and on the speech; for, if it be good, I ought to be praised for it in so much as it is so; and if it be defective, I ought to be blamed. To this it is possible to reply, briefly, that I do not accuse myself, but that I excuse myself in truth. And therefore it is to be known, according to the opinion of the Philosopher in the third book of the Ethics, that man is worthy of praise or of blame only in those things which it is in his power to do or not to do; but in those things over which he has no power he deserves neither blame nor praise, since either the praise or blame is to be attributed to some other, although the things may be parts of the man himself. Therefore, we ought not to blame the man because his body, from his birth, may be ugly, since it was not in his power to make it beautiful; but our blame should fall on the evil disposition of the matter whereof he is made, whose source was a defect of Nature. And even so we ought not to praise the man for the beauty of form which he may have from his birth, for he was not the maker of it; but we ought to praise the artificer, that is, Human Nature, who shapes her material into so much beauty when she is not impeded. And therefore the priest said well to the Emperor who laughed and scoffed at the ugliness of his body: "The Lord, He is God: It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves;" and these are the words of the Prophet in a verse of the Psalms, written neither more nor less than according to the reply of the Priest. And therefore let the wicked evil-born ones perceive that, if they put their chief care in the adornment of their persons, it must be with all modesty; for to do that is no other than to adorn the work of another, that is, Nature, and to abandon their own proper work.
Returning, then, to the proposition, I say that our intellect, through defect of the power through which it sees organic power, that is, the imagination, is not able to ascend to certain things, because the imagination cannot help it and has not the wherewithal, such as are the substances apart from matter, which (if we can have any knowledge of them) we cannot fully comprehend. And the man is not to blame for this, because he was not the maker of this defect; nay, Universal Nature did this, which is God, who wills that in this life we be without this light. And because He was the cause, it would be presumptuous to argue concerning it. So that if my earnest thought transported me into a place where my imagination failed my intellect, I was not to blame if I could not possibly understand. Again, a bound is set to our understanding in each operation thereof; but not by us, but by Universal Nature; and therefore it is to be known that the bounds of the understanding are wider in thought than in speech, and wider in speech than in signs. Hence, if our thought, not only that which fails in a perfect intellect, but also that which in a perfect intellect attains its end, is the conqueror of speech, we are not to blame, because we are not the makers of it. And therefore I prove that I do truthfully excuse myself when I say: "Blame wit and words, whose force Fails to tell all that I hear Love discourse;" for, sufficiently clear ought to appear the good-will, which alone we should regard in respect to merits that are human. And thus is now explained the first principal part of this Song which flows from my hand.
I say then: "The Sun sees not in travel round the earth;" where it is to be known, in order to have perfect understanding thereof, how the Earth is circled round by the Sun. In the first place, I say that by the Earth I do not here mean the whole body of the Universe, but only that part of the sea and land, following the common speech, which is thus wont to designate it, whereupon some one exclaims, "This man has seen all the World," meaning "this part of the sea and land." This World Pythagoras and his followers asserted to be one of the stars, and they also said that there was another opposite to it, similar to it: and they called that one Antictona; and he said that both were in one sphere which revolved from East to West, and by this revolution the Sun was circled round us, and now he was seen, and now he was not seen. And he said that the fire was in the centre of these, considering the fire to be a more noble body than the water and than the Earth, and giving the noblest centre to the four simple bodies; he said that the fire, when it appeared to ascend, according to strict truth descended to the centre. Then Plato was of another opinion, and he wrote in a book of his, which he called Timaeus, that the Earth with the sea was indeed the centre of all, but that its whole sphere revolved round its centre, following the first movement of the Heavens, but much slower on account of its gross material, and because of the immense distance from that first moved. These opinions are confuted in the second chapter, Of Heaven and the World, by that glorious Philosopher, to whom Nature opened her secrets most freely; and by him it is therein proved that this World, the Earth, is of itself stable and fixed to all eternity. And his reasons, which Aristotle states in order to break those other opinions and to affirm the truth, it is not my intention here to narrate; therefore, let it be enough for those to whom I speak, to know, upon his great authority, that this Earth is fixed, and does not revolve, and that it, with the sea, is the centre of the Heavens.
These Heavens revolve round this centre continuously, even as we see; in which revolution there must of necessity be two fixed Poles, and a circle equally distant from these round which all especially revolves. Of these two Poles, the one is visible to almost all the discovered Earth, that is, the Northern Pole; the other is hidden from almost all the discovered Earth, that is, the Southern Pole. The circle spread from them is that part of Heaven under which the Sun revolves when it is in Aries and Libra. Wherefore, it is to be known that if a stone could fall from this Pole of ours, it would fall there beyond into the sea precisely upon that surface of the sea, where, if a man could be, he would always have the Sun above the middle of his head; and I believe that from Rome to that place, going in a straight line to the North, the distance may be almost two thousand seven hundred miles, or a little more or less. Imagining, then, in order to understand better what I say, that there is in that place a city, and that its name may be Maria, I say again that if from the other Pole, that is, the Southern, a stone could fall, that it would fall upon that part of the ocean which is precisely on this ball opposite to Maria; and I believe that from Rome to where this second stone would fall, going in a direct line to the South, the distance may be seven thousand five hundred miles, a little more or less. And here let us imagine another city, which may have the name of Lucia; and the distance, from whatever part one draws the line, is ten thousand two hundred miles between the one and the other, that is, half the circumference of this ball, so that the citizens of Maria hold the soles of the feet opposite the soles of the feet of the citizens of Lucia. Let us imagine also a circle upon this ball which is in every part equi-distant from Maria as from Lucia. I believe that this circle, according to what I understand by the assertions of the Astrologers, and by that of Albertus Magnus in his book On the Nature of Places and on the Properties of the Elements, and also by the testimony of Lucan in his ninth book, would divide this Earth uncovered by the sea in the Meridian, almost through all the extreme end of the first climate, where there are amongst the other people the Garamanti, who are almost always naked; to whom came Cato with the people of Rome when flying from the dominion of Caesar.
Having marked out these three places upon this ball, one can easily see how the Sun circles round it. I say, then, that the Heaven of the Sun revolves from West to East, not directly against the diurnal movement, that is, of the day and night, but obliquely against that, so that its mid-circle, which is equally between its Poles, in which is the body of the Sun, cuts into two opposite parts the circle of the two first Poles, in the beginning of Aries and in the beginning of Libra; and it is divided by two arcs from it, one towards the North and one towards the South; the points of these two said arcs are equi-distant from the first circle in every part by twenty-three degrees and one point more, and the one point is the tropic of Cancer, and the other is the tropic of Capricorn; therefore it must be that Maria in the sign of Aries can see, when the Sun sinks below the mid-circle of the first Poles, this Sun to revolve round the Earth below, or rather the sea, like a millstone, of which only one half of its body appears, and can see this come rising up after the manner of the screw of a vine-press, so much so that it completes ninety-one rotations, or a little more. When these rotations are completed, its ascension is to Maria almost as much in proportion as it ascends to us in the half-third, that is, of the equal day and night; and if a man could stand in Maria, with his face always turned to the Sun, he would see that Sun pass by on the right. Then by the same way it seems to descend another ninety-one rotations, or a little more, so much so that it circles round below the Earth, or rather sea, not showing the whole of itself; and then it is hidden, and Lucia begins to see it, which, the same as Maria, then sees it to ascend and to descend around itself with the same number of rotations. And if a man could stand in Lucia, with his face always turned towards the Sun, he would see it pass to the left. Therefore, it is possible to see that these places have in the year one day of six months' duration, and one night of the same length of time; and when one has the day the other has the night. It must be also that the circle where the Garamanti are, as has been said above, upon this ball, can see the Sun revolve precisely above them, not after the fashion of a mill-stone, but of a wheel, which cannot in any part be seen except the centre, when it goes under Aries. And then it is seen to depart from its place immediately above and go towards Maria ninety-one days, or a little more, and by so many to return to its position; and then, when it has turned back, it goes before Libra, and even so departs and goes towards Lucia ninety-one days, or a little more, and in so many returns to its position. And this place always has the day equal with the night, either on this side or on that, as the Sun goes, and twice a year it has the summer of intense heat, and two little winters.
It must also be that the two distances, which are midway from the two imaginary Cities and the mid-circle, see the Sun variously, according as they are remote from, and near to, these places. Now, by what has been said, this can be seen by him who has good understanding, to which it is well to give a little fatigue. He can now perceive that, by the Divine Providence, the World is so ordained that the sphere of the Sun, being revolved and turned round to one point, this ball whereon we are in every part receives an equal share of light and darkness. Oh, ineffable Wisdom, Thou which didst thus ordain! Oh, how poor and feeble is our mind when seeking to comprehend Thee! And you, O men, for whose benefit and pleasure I write, in what fearful blindness do you live if you never raise your eyes upwards to these things, but keep them fixed in the mud of your foolishness.
Then when I say, "All Minds of Heaven wonder at her worth," I praise her, not having respect to any other thing. And I say that the Intelligences of Heaven behold her, and that the people here below think of that gentle Lady when they have more of that peace which delights them. And here it is to be known that each Mind or Intellect in Heaven above, according to that which is written in the book Of Causes, knows that which is above itself and that which is below itself; therefore it knows God as its Cause; therefore it knows that which is below itself as its effect. And since God is the most universal cause of everything, to know Him is to know all, according to the degree of the Intelligence; wherefore all the Intelligences know the human form in as far as it is by intention fixed or determined in the Divine Mind. The moving Intelligences especially know it; since they are the most especial causes of it, and of every kind of form; and they know the most perfect, as far as they can know it, as their rule and pattern. And if this human form, copied and individualized, is not perfect, it is not the fault of the said copy or image, but of the matter from which the individual is formed. Therefore when I say, "All Minds in Heaven wonder at her worth," I wish to express no other than that she is thus made, even as the express image of the human form in the Divine Mind. And each Mind there above beholds her by virtue of that quality which exists especially in those angelic Minds which build up and shape, with Heaven, things that exist below.
And to confirm this, I subjoin when I say, "Mortals, enamoured, find her in their thought When Love his peace into their minds has brought," where it is to be known that each thing especially desires its perfection, and in that its every desire finds peace and calm, and for that peace each thing is desired. And this is that desire which always makes every pleasure appear incomplete, for there is no joy or pleasure so great in this life that it can quench the thirst in our Soul, for always the desire for that perfection remains in the Mind. And since this Lady is truly that perfection, I say that people here below receive great delight when they have most peace; for she abides then in their thoughts. For this Lady, I say, is perfect in as high a degree as it is possible for Human Nature to be. Then when I say, "Her Maker saw that she was good," I prove that not only this Lady is the most perfect in the human race, but more than the most perfect, inasmuch as she receives from the Divine Goodness more than human dues. Wherefore one can reasonably believe that as each Master loves most his best work far more than the other work, so God loves the good human being far above the rest. And forasmuch as His Bounty is of necessity not restricted by any limit, His love has no regard to the amount due to him who receives, but it overflows in gifts, and in the blessings of power and grace. Wherefore I say here, that this God, who gave life or being to this Lady, through love or charity for her perfection pours into her of His Bounty beyond the limits of the amount due to our nature.
Then when I say, "On her pure soul," I prove this that has been said with reasonable testimony, which gives us to know that, as the Philosopher says in the second chapter, On the Soul, the Soul is the act of the Body; and if it be its act, it is its Cause; and as it is written in the book before, quoted, On Causes, each Cause infuses into its effect some of the goodness which it receives from its own Cause, which is "God." Wherefore, since in her are seen wonderful things, so much so on the part of the body that they make each beholder desirous to see those things, it is evident that her form, which is her Soul, guides it as its proper Cause and receives miraculously the gracious goodness of God. And thus is proved, by that appearance, which exceeds the due appointment of our nature, which in her is most perfect, as has been said above, that this Lady is by God endowed with good gifts and made a noble thing. And this is the whole Literal meaning of the first section of the second principal part.
And although here below there may be placed general degrees of excellence, nevertheless, singular degrees of excellence may also be placed; that is to say, that amongst human Souls one Soul may receive more bountifully than another. And since in the intellectual order of the Universe one ascends and descends by degrees almost continuous from the lowest form to the highest, and from the highest to the lowest, as we see in the visible order of things; and between the Angelic Nature, which is intellectual, and the Human Soul there may be no step, but the one rise to the other as it were continuously through the height of the degrees; and from the Human Soul and the most perfect soul of the brute animals, again, there may not be any break in the descent. For as we see many men so vile and of such low condition that it seems almost that it can be no other than bestial, so it is to be asserted and firmly believed that there may be some men so noble and of a condition so exalted that it can be no other than that of the Angel. Otherwise the human species could not be continued on every side, which cannot be. Such as these Aristotle calls, in the seventh book of the Ethics, Divine; and such a one I say that this Lady is, so that the Divine Virtue, after the manner that it descends into the Angel, descends into her.
Then when I say, "Fair one who doubt," I prove this by the experience that it is possible to have of it in those operations which are proper to the rational Soul, wherein the Divine Light shines forth more quickly, that is, in the speech and in the actions, which are wont to be termed conduct and deportment. Wherefore it is to be known that only man amongst the animals speaks, and has conduct and acts which are called rational, because he alone has Reason in himself. And if any one might wish to say, in contradiction, that a certain bird can speak, as appears true, especially of the magpie and of the parrot; and that some beast performs acts, or rather things, by rule, as appears in the ape and in some other; I reply that it is not true that they speak, nor that they have rules, because they have not Reason, from which these things must proceed; neither is there in them the principle of these operations; neither do they know what that is; neither do they understand that by those acts something is intended; but that only which they see and hear they represent, even as the image of somebody may be reflected in a glass. Wherefore, as in the mirror the corporal image which the mirror shows is not true, so the image of Reason, in the acts and the speech which the brute soul represents, or rather shows, is not true.
I say that what gentle Lady soever doubts should "go with her, mark the grace In all her acts." I do not say man, because one can derive experience more modestly from the woman than from the man; and I say she will find that "Downward from Heaven bends An angel when she speaks." For her speech, because of its exalted character and because of its sweetness, kindles in the mind of him who hears it a thought of Love, which I call a celestial Spirit; since from Heaven is the source and from Heaven the intention thereof, as has been already narrated. From which thought I pass to a firm opinion that this Lady is of miraculous power, that there is "A power in her by none of us possessed." Her actions, by their suavity and by their moderation, "Rival in calls to Love that Love must hear." They cause Love to awaken and again to hear whenever he is sown by the power of bountiful Nature. Which natural seed acts as in the next treatise is shown.
Then when I say, "Fair in all like her, fairest she'll appear Who is most like her," I intend to narrate how the goodness and the power of her soul are good and useful to others; and, firstly, how useful it is to other women, saying that she is "Fair in all like her," where I present a clear or bright example to the women, from gazing at which they can make their beauty seem gentle in following the same. Secondly, I relate how useful she is to all people, saying that her aspect assists our faith, which is more useful to the whole Human Race than all other things beside; for it is that by which we escape from Eternal Death and acquire Eternal Life; and she assists our Faith, for the first foundation of our Faith is on the miracles performed by Him who was crucified, who created our Reason, and willed that it should be less than His power. He performed these miracles, then, in His own name for His saints; and many men are so obstinate that they are in doubt of those miracles if there be the least mist or cloud around them; and they cannot believe any miracle unless they have visible experience of the same; and this Lady is a thing visibly miraculous, of which the eyes of men daily can have experience, and which can make the other miracles appear possible to us. Wherefore it is manifest that this Lady, with her marvellous aspect, assists our Faith. And, therefore, finally I say: We, content to call Her face a Miracle, have Faith made sure: For that God made her ever to endure. And thus ends the second section of the second principal part of the Song according to its Literal meaning.
And since some one might ask where this wonderful content appears in this Lady, I distinguish in her person two parts, in which human pleasure and displeasure most appear. Wherefore it is to be known that in whatever part the Soul most fulfils its office, it strives most earnestly to adorn that part, and there it does its work most subtly. Wherefore we see that in the Face of Man, where it fulfils its office more than in any other outward part, it works so subtly that, by making itself subtle therein as much as its material permits, it causes that no face is like another, because its utmost power over matter, which is dissimilar in almost all, is there brought into action; and because in the face the Soul works especially in two places, as if in those two places all the three Natures of the Soul had jurisdiction, that is, in the Eyes and in the Mouth, these it chiefly adorns, and there it spends its care to make all beautiful if it can. And in these two places I say that those pleasures of content appear, saying: "Seen in her eyes and in her smiling face;" the which two places, by means of a beautiful comparison, may be designated the balconies of the woman who dwells in the house of the body, she being the Soul; because there, although veiled, as it were, the Soul often shows itself. The Soul shows itself so evidently in the eyes that it is possible to know its present passion if you look attentively. Six passions are proper to the human Soul of which the Philosopher makes mention in his Rhetoric, namely, Grace, Zeal, Mercy, Envy, Love, and Shame; and with whichever of these the Soul is impassioned, there comes into the window of the Eyes the semblance of it, unless it be repressed within, and shut from view by great power of will. Wherefore some one formerly plucked out his eyes that an inward shame should not appear without, as Statius the Poet says of the Theban Oedipus when he says that with eternal night he loosed his damned shame. It reveals itself in the Mouth, like colour behind glass as it were. And what is a smile or a laugh except a coruscation of the Soul's delight, a light shot outwardly from that which shines within? And therefore it is right for a man to reveal his Soul by a well-tempered cheerfulness, smiling moderately with a due restraint, and with slight movement of the limbs; so that the Lady, that is, the Soul, which then, as has been said, shows herself, may appear modest, and not dissolute. Therefore the book on the Four Cardinal Virtues commands us thus: "Let thy smile be without loud laughter, that is, without cackling like a hen." Ah, the sweet wonder of my Lady's smile, which is never seen but in the eyes!
And I say of these delights seen in her eyes and smile: "Love brought them there as to his dwelling place;" where it is possible to consider Love in a twofold form. First, the Love of the Soul, peculiar or proper to these places; secondly, universal Love, which inclines things to love and to be loved, which ordains the Soul to rule these parts. Then, when I say, "They dazzle Reason," I excuse myself for this, that it appears of such exceeding beauty that I can tell but little, owing to its overpowering force; and I say that I can say but little concerning it for two reasons. The one is, that those things which appear in her aspect overpower our intellect; and I tell how this conquest is made: that "They dazzle Reason, as sunbeams our eyes," when the Sun overpowers our feeble sight, if not also the healthy and the strong. The other is, that the man cannot look fixedly at it, because the Soul becomes inebriate therein; so that incontinently, after gazing thereat, it fails in all its operations.
Then, when I say, "Rain from her beauty little flames of fire," I recur to discourse of its effect, since to discourse entirely of it is not possible. Wherefore it is to be known that all those things which subdue our intellect, so that it is unable to see what they are, are most suitably to be discussed in their effects; wherefore of God, and of His separate substances, and of the first matter we can thus have some knowledge. And therefore I say that the beauty of that Lady rains little flames of fire, meaning the ardour of Love and of Charity, "Made living with a spirit," that is, Love informed by a gentle spirit, which is direct desire, through which and from which "to create Good thoughts;" and it not only does this, but it crushes and destroys its opposite, the innate vices which are especially the foes of all good thoughts. And here it is to be known that there are certain vices in the Man to which he is naturally disposed; as certain men of a choleric complexion are disposed to anger: and such vices as these are innate, that is, natural. Others are the vices of habit, for which not the complexion, but habit, or custom, is to blame; such as intemperance, and especially intemperance in wine. But these vices are subdued and put to flight by good habits, and the man is made virtuous thereby without finding fatigue in his moderation, as the Philosopher says in the second book of the Ethics. Truly there is this difference between the natural passions and the habitual, that through use of good morals the habitual entirely vanish, because their origin, the evil habit, is destroyed by its opposite; but the natural, the source of which is in the complexion of the passionate man, although they may be made much lighter by good morals, yet they do not entirely disappear as far as regards the first cause, but they almost wholly disappear in act, because custom is not equal to nature, which is the source of such a passion. And therefore the man is more praiseworthy who guides himself and rules himself when he is of an evil disposition by nature, in opposition to natural impulse, than he who, being gifted with a good disposition by nature, carries himself naturally well; as it is more praiseworthy to control a bad horse than one that is not troublesome. I say, then, that those little flames which rain down from her beauty destroy the innate, or the natural, vices, to make men understand that her beauty has power to renew Nature in those who behold it, which is a miraculous thing. And this confirms that which is observed above in the other chapter when I say that she is the helper of our Faith.
Finally, when I say, "Lady, who may desire Escape from blame," I infer, under pretext of admonishing another, the end for which so much beauty was made. And I say that what lady believes her beauty to be open to blame through some defect, let her look on this most perfect example; where it is understood that it is designed not only to improve and raise the good, but also to convert evil to good. And, finally, it is subjoined that she is "God's thought," that is, from the Mind of God. And this to make men understand that, by design of the Creator, Nature is made to produce such an effect. And thus ends the whole of the second chief part of the Song.
I say, then, in the first place: "My Song, it seems you speak this to oppose The saying of a sister Song of mine." For the sake of similitude, I say sister; for as that woman is called a sister who is born of the same father, so may a man call that work a sister which is wrought by the same worker; for our work is in some degree a thing begotten. And I say why it seems opposed or contrary to that sister Song, saying: "This lovely Lady whom you count divine, Your sister called disdainful and morose." This accusation being affirmed, I proceed to the excuse, by quoting an example, wherein the Truth is quite opposite to the appearance of Truth, and it is quite possible to take the false semblance of Truth for Truth itself, regarding Truth itself as Falsehood. I say: "Though Heaven, you know, is ever high and pure, Men's eyes may fail, and find a star obscure;" where it is shown that it is the property of colour and light to be visible, as Aristotle affirms in the second book Of the Soul and in the book on Sense and Sensation. Other things, indeed, are visible, but it is not their property to be so, nor to be tangible, as in form, height, number, motion, and rest, which are said to be subject to the Common Sense, and which we comprehend by union of many senses; but of colour and light it is the property to be visible, because with the sight only we comprehend them. These visible things, both those of which it is the property and those subject to the Common Sense, inasmuch as they are visible, come within the eye; I do not say the things, but their form; through the transparent medium, not really, but by intention, as it were through transparent glass. And in the humour which is in the pupil of the eye this current which makes the form visible is completed, because that humour is closed behind like a mirror which has its glass backed with lead; so that it cannot pass farther on, but strikes there, after the manner of a ball, and stops; so that the form which does not appear in the transparent medium, having reached the disc behind, shines brightly thereon; and this is the reason why the image appears only in the glass which has lead at the back. From this pupil the visual spirit, which is continued from it to the part of the Brain, the anterior, where the sensitive power is, suddenly, without loss of time, depicts it as in the clear spring of a fountain; and thus we see. Wherefore, in order that its vision be truthful, that is, such as the visible thing is in itself, the medium through which the form comes to the eye must be without any colour, and so also the humour of the pupil; otherwise the visible form would be stained of the colour of the medium and of that of the pupil. And this is the reason why they who wish to make things appear of a certain colour in a mirror interpose that colour between the glass and the lead, the glass being pressed over it. Plato and other Philosophers said, indeed, that our sight was not because the visible came into the eye, but because the visual virtue went out to the visible form. And this opinion is confuted by the Philosopher in that book of his on Sense and Sensation.
Having thus considered this law of vision, one can easily perceive how, although the star is always in one way bright, clear, and resplendent, and receives no change whatever except that of local movement, as is proved in that book on Heaven and the World, yet from many causes it may appear dim and obscure; since it may appear thus on account of the medium, the atmosphere, that changes continually. This medium changes from light to darkness, according to the presence or absence of the Sun; and during the presence of the Sun the medium, which is transparent, is so full of light that it overpowers the star, and therefore it no longer appears brilliant. This medium also changes from rare to dense, from dry to moist, because of the vapours of the Earth which rise continually. The medium, thus changed, changes by its density the image of the star, which passes through it, makes it appear dim, and by its moisture or dryness changes it in colour. In like manner it may thus appear through the visual organ, that is, the eye, which on account of some infirmity, or because of fatigue, is changed into some degree of dimness or into some degree of weakness. So it happens very often, owing to the membrane of the pupil becoming suffused with blood, on account of some corruption produced by weakness, that things all appear of a red colour; and therefore the star appears so coloured. And owing to the sight being weakened, there results in it some dispersion of the spirit, so that things do not appear united, but scattered, almost in the same way as our writing does on a wet piece of paper. And this is the reason why many persons, when they wish to read, remove the paper to some distance from the eyes, in order that the image thereof may come within the eye more easily and more subtly, and thereby the lettering is left impressed on the sight more distinctly and connectedly. For like reason the star also may appear blurred; and I had experience of this in the same year in which this Song was born, for, by trying the eyes very much in the labour of reading, the visual spirits were so weakened that the stars all appeared to me to be blurred by some white mist: and by means of long repose in shady and cool places, and by cooling the ball of the eye with spring water, I re-united the scattered powers, which I restored to their former good condition. And thus, for the reasons mentioned above, there are many visible causes why the star can appear to us different to what it really is.
Then when I say, "Be such excuse allowed," I impose on the Song instruction how, by the assigned reasons, it may excuse itself there where that is needful, namely, where there may be any suspicion of this opposition; for there is no more to say, except that whoever may feel doubtful as to the matter wherein this Song differs from the other, let him look at the reason which has been here stated. And such a figure as this is quite laudable in Rhetoric, and even necessary when the words are to one person and the intention is to another; because it is always praiseworthy to admonish and necessary also; but it is not always suitable in the mouth of every one. Wherefore, when the son is aware of the vice of the father, and when the subject is aware of the vice of the lord, and when the friend knows that the shame of his friend would be increased to him by admonition from him, when he knows that it would detract from his honour, or when he knows that his friend would not be patient, but enraged at the admonition, this figure is most beautiful and most useful. You may term it dissimulation; it is similar to the work of that wise warrior who attacked the castle on one side in order to draw off the defence from the other, for the attack and the design of the commander are not aimed at one and the same part.
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.
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. From this sprang naturally the word philosophy, as from the word friend springs naturally the word friendship. Wherefore it is possible to see, considering the signification of the first and second word, that philosophy is no other than friendship to wisdom, or rather to knowledge; wherefore to a certain degree it is possible to call every man a philosopher, according to the natural love which generates a desire for knowledge in each individual.
But since the natural passions are common to all men, we do not specify those passions by some distinctive word, applied to some individual who shares our common nature, as when we say, John is the friend of Martin, we do not mean to signify merely the natural love which all men bear to all men, but we mean the friendship founded upon the natural love which is distinct and peculiar to certain individuals. Thus we do not term any one a philosopher because of the love common to us all. It is the intention or meaning of Aristotle, in the eighth book of the Ethics, that that man may be called a friend whose friendship is not concealed from the person beloved, and to whom also the beloved person is a friend, so that the attachment is mutual; and this must be so either for mutual benefit, or for pleasure, or for credit's sake. And thus, in order that a man may be a philosopher, it must be love to Wisdom which makes one of the sides friendly; it must be study and care which make the other side also friendly, so that familiarity and manifestation of benevolence may spring up between them; because without love and without study one cannot be called a philosopher, but there must be both the one and the other. And as friendship for the sake of pleasure given or for profit is not true friendship, but accidental, as the Ethics demonstrate, so philosophy for delight or profit is not true philosophy, but accidental. Wherefore one ought not to call him a true philosopher who for some pleasure or other may be a friend of Wisdom in some degree; even as there are many who take delight in repeating songs and in studying the same, and who delight in studying Rhetoric and Music, and who avoid and abandon the other Sciences, which are all members of Wisdom's body. One ought not to call him a true philosopher who is the friend of Wisdom for the sake of profit; such as are the Lawyers, Doctors, and almost all the Religious Men, who do not study for the sake of knowledge, but to acquire money or dignity; and if any one would give them that which they seek to acquire, they would not continue to study. And as amongst the various kinds of friendship, that which is for profit may be called the meanest friendship, so such men as these have less share in the name of Philosopher than any other people. Wherefore as the friendship conceived through honest affection is true and perfect and perpetual, so is that philosophy true and perfect which is generated by upright desire for knowledge, without regard to aught else, and by the goodness of the friendly soul; which is as much as to say, by right appetite and right reason. And it is possible to say here that as true friendship amongst men is, that each love each entirely, so the true Philosopher loves each part of Wisdom, and Wisdom each part of the Philosopher, so as to draw him wholly to herself, and to allow no thought of his to stray away to other things. Wherefore Wisdom herself says in the Proverbs of Solomon, "I love those who love me." And as true friendship of the mind, considered in itself alone, has for its subject the knowledge of good effects, and for its form the desire for the same, even so Philosophy considered in itself alone, apart from the Soul, has understanding for its subject, and for its form an almost divine love to intellect. And as the efficient cause of true friendship is Virtue, so the efficient cause of Philosophy is Truth. And as the end of true friendship is true affection, which proceeds from the intercourse proper to Humanity, that is, according to the dictates of Reason, as Aristotle seems to think in the ninth book of the Ethics, so the end of Philosophy is that most excellent affection which suffers no intermission or defect, that is, the true happiness which is acquired by the contemplation of Truth. And thus it is now possible to see who this my Lady is, in all her causes and in her whole reason, and why she is called Philosophy; and who is a true Philosopher, and who is one by accident.
But in some fervour or heat of mind the one and the other end of the acts and of the passions are called by the word for the act itself or the passion; as Virgil does in the second book of the AEneid, where he calls Hector, "Oh, light" (which was the act) "and hope" (which is the passion) "of the Trojans:" for he was neither the light nor the hope, but he was the end whence came to them their light in council, and he was the end in which was reposed their hope of safety; as Statius writes in the fifth book of the Thebaid, when Hypsipyle says to Archemorus, "Oh, consolation of things and of the lost country! oh, honour of my servitude!" even as we say daily, showing the friend, "See my friendship;" and the father says to the son, "My love;" and so it is that, through long custom, the Sciences, in which most fervently Philosophy finds the end to which she looks, are called by her name, such as the Natural Science, the Moral Science, and the Metaphysical Science, which last, because most necessarily she looks to her end in that chiefly and most fervently, is called the First Philosophy.
Now, therefore, since it has been seen what the true Philosophy is in its essence; which is that Lady of whom I speak; how her noble name through custom is communicated to the Sciences, and the first science is called the First Philosophy, I may proceed further with her praise.
I say, "Love, reasoning of my Lady in my mind." By Love I mean the labour and pains I took to acquire the love of this Lady. If one wishes to know what labour, it can be here considered in two ways. There is one study which leads the man to the daily use of Art and Science; there is another study which he will employ in the acquired use. The first is that which I call Love, which fills my mind continually with new and most exalted ideas of this Lady: even as the anxious pains which one takes to acquire a friendship are wont to do; for, when desiring that friendship, a man is wont to take anxious thought concerning it. This is that study and that affection which usually precedes in men the begetting of the friendship, when already on one side Love is born, and desires and strives that it may be on the other; for, as is said above, Philosophy is born when the Soul and Wisdom have become friends, so that the one is loved by the other. Neither is it again needful to discuss that first stanza in the present explanation, which was reasoned out as the Proem in the Literal exposition; since, from the first argument thereof, it is easy enough to make out the meaning in this the second one.
We may proceed, then, to the second part, which begins the treatise, and to that place where I say, "The Sun sees not in travel round the Earth." Here it is to be known that as, when discoursing of a sensible thing, one handles it suitably by means of an insensible thing, so of an intelligible thing, one fitly argues by means of an unintelligible. In the Literal sense one speaks of the Sun as a substantial and sensible body; so now it is fit, by image of the Sun, to discourse of the Spiritual and Unintelligible, that is, God. There is no visible thing in all the world more worthy to serve as a type of God than the Sun, which illuminates with visible light itself first, and then all the celestial and elemental bodies. Thus, God illuminates Himself first with intellectual light, and then the celestial and other intelligible beings. The Sun vivifies all things with his heat, and if anything is destroyed thereby, it is not by the intention of the cause, but it is an accidental effect: thus God vivifies all things in His Goodness, and, if any suffer evil, it is not by the Divine intention, but the effect is accidental. For, if God made the Angels good and evil, He did not make both by intention, but He made the good only; there followed afterwards, beyond His intention, the wickedness of the evil ones; but not so far beyond His intention that God could not foreknow in Himself their wickedness; but so great was the loving desire to produce the Spiritual creature that the foreknowledge that some would come to a bad end neither could nor should prevent God from continuing the production; as it would not be to the praise of Nature if, knowing of herself that the flowers of a tree in a certain part must perish, she should refuse to produce flowers on that tree, and should abandon the production of fruit-bearing trees as vain and useless. I say, then, that God, who encircles and understands all, in His encircling and His understanding sees nothing so gentle, so noble, as He sees when He shines on this Philosophy. For, although God Himself, beholding, may see all things together, inasmuch as the distinction of things is in Him in the same way as the effect is in the cause, yet He sees those things also apart and distinct. He sees, then, this Lady the most noble of all absolutely, inasmuch as most perfectly He sees her in Himself and in her essence. If what has been said above be recalled to mind, Philosophy is a loving use of Wisdom; which especially is in God, because in Him is Supreme Wisdom, and Supreme Love, and Supreme Action; which cannot be elsewhere except inasmuch as it proceeds from Him. It is, then, the Divine Philosophy of the Divine Being, since in Him nothing can be that is not part of His Essence; and it is most noble, because the Divine Essence is most noble, and it is in Him in a manner perfect and true, as if by eternal wedlock; it is in the other Intelligences in a less degree, as if platonic, as if a virgin love from whom no lover receives full and complete joy, but contents himself by gazing on the beauty of her countenance. Wherefore it is possible to say that God sees not, that He does not intently regard, anything so noble as this Lady; I say anything, inasmuch as He sees and distinguishes the other things, as has been said, seeing Himself to be the cause of all. Oh, most noble and most excellent heart, which is at peace in the bride of the Ruler of Heaven; and not bride only, but sister, and the daughter beloved above all others.
Then, when I say, "Mortals, enamoured, find her in their thought," I descend to show how she also may come into the Human Intelligence in a secondary degree; with which Human Philosophy I then proceed through the treatise, praising it. I say, then, that the mortals who "find her in their thought" in this life do not always find her there, but only "When Love his peace into their hearts has brought;" wherein there are to be seen three points which are alluded to in this text. The first is when one says, "Mortals, enamoured," because it seems to make a distinction in the human race, and of necessity it must be made; for, according to what manifestly appears, and which in the following treatise will be specially reasoned out, the greatest part of men live more according to the Sense than according to Reason; and those who live according to the Sense can never be enamoured of this Lady, since of her they can have no apprehension whatever. The second point is when it says, "When Love his peace into their minds has brought," where it appears to make a distinction of time. And that is necessary; for, although the separate Intelligences gaze at this Lady continually, the Human Intelligence cannot do so; since Human Nature, besides that which gives delight to the Intellect and the Reason, has need of many things requisite for its support which contemplation cannot furnish forth. Therefore our Wisdom is sometimes habitual only, and not actual; and this does not happen to the other Intelligences, which alone are perfect in their intellectual nature. And so, when our soul is not in the act of contemplation, one cannot truly say that it is in Philosophy, except inasmuch as it has the habit of it, and the power of being able to arouse it; sometimes, therefore, she is with the people who are enamoured of her here below, and sometimes not. The third point is, when it speaks of the time when those people are with her, namely, when Love has brought into their minds his peace; which means no other than when the man is in the act of contemplation, since he does not strive to feel the peace of that Lady except in the act of contemplation. And thus one sees how this Lady is firstly in the Mind of God, secondly in the other separate Intelligences through continual contemplation, and afterwards in the human intellect through interpreted contemplation. But the man who has her for his Lady is ever to be termed a Philosopher, notwithstanding that he may not be always in the final act of Philosophy, for it is usual to name other men after their habits. Wherefore we call any man virtuous, not merely when performing virtuous actions, but from having the habit or custom of virtue. And we call a man eloquent, even when he is not speaking, from his habit of eloquence, that is, of speaking well. And of this Philosophy, in which Human Intelligence has part, there will now be the following encomiums to prove how great a part of her good gifts is bestowed on Human Nature.
I say, then, afterwards: Her Maker saw that she was good, and poured, Beyond our Nature, fulness of His Power On her pure Soul, whence shone this holy dower Through all her frame. For the capacity of our Nature is subdued by it, which it makes beautiful and virtuous. Wherefore, although into the habit of that Lady one may somewhat come, it is not possible to say that any one who enters thereinto properly has that habit; since the first study, that whereby the habit is begotten, cannot perfectly acquire that philosophy. And here one sees her lowly praise; for, perfect or imperfect, she never loses the name of perfection. And because of this her surpassing excellence, it says that the Soul of Philosophy "shone Through all her frame," that is, that God ever imparts to her of His Light. Here we may recall to mind what is said above, that Love is a form of Philosophy, and therefore here is called her Soul; which Love is manifest in the use of Wisdom, and such use brings with it a wonderful beauty, that is to say, contentment under any condition of the time, and contempt for those things which other men make their masters. Wherefore it happens that those other unhappy ones who gaze thereon, and think over their own defects from the desire for perfection, fall into the weariness of sighs; and this is meant where it says: "That from the eyes she touches heralds fly Heartward with longings, heavenward with a sigh."
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. The Song says "from Heaven," to give people to understand that not only Philosophy, but the thoughts friendly to it, are abstracted from all low and earthly things. Then afterwards it says how she strengthens and kindles love wherever she appears with the sweet persuasions of her actions, which are in all her aspects modest, gentle, and without any domineering assumption. And subsequently, by still greater persuasion to induce a desire for her company, it says: "Fair in all like her, fairest she'll appear Who is most like her." Again it adds: "We, content to call Her face a Miracle," find help in it, where it is to be known that the regard of this Lady was freely ordained to arouse a desire in us for its acquisition, not only in her countenance, which she reveals to sight, but also in the things which she keeps hidden. Wherefore as, through her, much of that which is hidden is seen by means of Reason (and consequently to see by Reason without her seems a miracle), so, through her, one believes each miracle in the action of a higher intellectual Power to have reason, and therefore to be possible. From whence true Faith has its origin, from which comes the Hope to desire the Future, and from that are born the works of Charity, by which three Virtues we mount to become Philosophers in that celestial Athens where Stoics, Peripatetics, and Epicureans, by the practice of Eternal Truth, concur harmoniously in one desire.
Then when it says, "Things over which the intellect may stray," I excuse myself, saying that I can say but little concerning these, on account of their overpowering influence. Where it is to be known that in any way these things dazzle our intellect, inasmuch as they affirm certain things to be, which our intellect is unable to comprehend, that is, God and Eternity, and the first Matter which most certainly they do not see, and with all faith they believe to be. And even what they are we cannot understand; and so, by not denying things, it is possible to draw near to some knowledge of them, but not otherwise. Truly here it is possible to have some very strong doubt how it is that Wisdom can make the man completely happy without being able to show him certain things perfectly; since the natural desire for knowledge is in the man, and without fulfilment of the desire he cannot be fully happy. To this it is possible to reply clearly, that the natural desire in each thing is in proportion to the possibility of reaching to the thing desired; otherwise it would pass into opposition to itself, which is impossible; and Nature would have worked in vain, which also is impossible. It would pass into opposition, for, desiring its perfection, it would desire its imperfection, since he would desire always to desire, and never fulfil his desire. And into this error the cursed miser falls, and does not perceive that he desires always to desire, going backwards to reach to an impossible amount. Nature also would have worked in vain, since it would not be ordained to any end; and, in fact, human desire is proportioned in this life to that knowledge which it is possible to have here. One cannot pass that point except through error, which is outside the natural intention. And thus it is proportioned in the Angelic, and it is limited in Human Nature, and it finds its end in that Wisdom in proportion as the nature of each can apprehend it. And this is the reason why the Saints have no envy amongst themselves, since each one attains the end of his desire, and the desire of each is in due proportion to the nature of his goodness. Wherefore, since to know God and certain other things, as Eternity and the first Matter, is not possible to our Nature, naturally we have no desire for that knowledge, and hereby is this doubtful question solved.
Then when I say, "Rain from her beauty little flames of fire," I proceed to another joy of Paradise, that is, from the secondary felicity, happiness, to this first one, which proceeds from her beauty, where it is to be known that Morality is the beauty of Philosophy. For as the beauty of the body is the result of its members in proportion as they are fitly ordered, so the beauty of Wisdom, which is the body of Philosophy, as has been said, results from the order of the Moral Virtues which visibly make that joy. And therefore I say that her beauty, which is Morality, rains down little flames of fire, meaning direct desire, which is begotten in the pleasure of the Moral Doctrine; which desire removes it again from the natural vices, and not only from the others. And thence springs that happiness which Aristotle defined in the first book of Ethics, saying, that it is Work according to Virtue in the Perfect Life. And when it says, "Fair one, who may desire Escape from blame," it proceeds in praise of Philosophy. I cry aloud to the people that they should follow her, telling them of her good gifts, that is to say, that by following her each one may become good. Therefore it says to each Soul, that feels its beauty is to blame because it does not appear what it ought to appear, let her look at this example.
Where it is to be known that the Morals are the beauty of the Soul, that is to say, the most excellent virtues, which sometimes through vanity or through pride are made less beautiful or less agreeable, as in the last treatise it was possible to perceive. And therefore I say that, in order to shun this, one looks at that Lady, Philosophy, there where she is the example of Humility, namely, in that part of herself which is called Moral Philosophy. And I subjoin that by gazing at her (I say, at Wisdom) in that part, every vicious man will become upright and good. And therefore I say she has "a spirit to create Good thoughts, and crush the vices." She turns gently back him who has gone astray from the right course. Finally, in highest praise of Wisdom, I say of her that she is the Mother of every good Principle, saying that she is "God's thought," who began the World, and especially the movement of the Heaven by which all things are generated, and wherein each movement has its origin, that is to say, that the Divine Thought is Wisdom. She was, when God made the World; whence it follows that she could make it, and therefore Solomon said in the Book of Proverbs, in the person of Wisdom: "When He prepared the Heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth; when He established the clouds above; when He strengthened the fountains of the deep; when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment; when He appointed the foundations of the Earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him."
O, ye Men, worse than dead, who fly from the friendship of Wisdom, open your eyes, and see that before you were she was the Lover of you, preparing and ordaining the process of your being! Since you were made she came that she might guide you, came to you in your own likeness; and, if all of you cannot come into her presence, honour her in her friends, and follow their counsels, as of them who announce to you the will of this eternal Empress! Close not your ears to Solomon, who tells you "the path of the Just is as a shining Light, which goeth forth and increaseth even to the day of salvation." Follow after them, behold their works, which ought to be to you as a beacon of light for guidance in the path of this most brief life.
And here we may close the Commentary on the true meaning of the present Song. The last stanza, which is intended for a refrain, can be explained easily enough by the Literal exposition, except inasmuch as it says that I there called this Lady "disdainful and morose." Where it is to be known that at the beginning this Philosophy appeared to me on the part of her body, which is Wisdom, morose, for she smiled not on me, insomuch that as yet I did not understand her persuasions; and she seemed to me disdainful, for she turned not her glance to me, that is to say, I could not see her demonstrations. But the defect was altogether on my side. From this, and from that which is given in the explanation of the Literal meaning of the Song, the Allegory of the refrain is evident. It is time, therefore, that we proceed farther, and this treatise end.
THE FOURTH TREATISE
[ CANZONE TERZA ]
Soft rhymes of love I used to find
It will not, then, be requisite in the exposition of this Song to unveil any allegory, but simply to discuss its meaning according to the letter. By my Lady I always mean her who is spoken of in the preceding Song, that is to say, that Light of supreme virtue, Philosophy, whose rays cause the flowers of true Nobility to blossom forth in mankind and to bear fruit in the sons of men; concerning which true Nobility the proposed Song fully intends to treat.
I say then that I was compelled to abandon the soft rhymes of Love which I was accustomed to search for in my thoughts, and I assign the reason or cause; wherefore I say that it is not because I have given up all intention of making rhymes of Love, but because new aspects have appeared in my Lady which have deprived me of material for present speech of Love. Where it is to be known that it does not here say that the gestures of this Lady are disdainful and angry according to appearance only, as may be seen in the tenth chapter of the preceding treatise; for at another time I say that the appearance is contrary to the Truth; and how this can be, how one self-same thing can be sweet and appear bitter, or rather be clear and appear obscure, may there be seen clearly enough.
Afterwards when I say, "And since time suits," I say, even as has been said, what that is whereof I intend to discourse. And that which it says in the words "time suits" is not here to be passed over with a dry foot, because there is a most powerful reason for my action; but it is to be seen how reasonably time must wait on all our acts, and especially on speech. Time, according to what Aristotle says in the fourth chapter of Physics, is the number of movement, first, second, and onwards; and the number of the celestial movement, which prepares the things here below to receive in various ways any informing power. For the Earth is prepared in one way in the beginning of Spring to receive into itself the informing power of the herbs and flowers, and the Winter otherwise; and in one manner is one season prepared to receive the seed, differing from another. And even so our Mind, inasmuch as it is founded upon the temper of the body, which has to follow the revolution of the Heaven, at one time is disposed in one way, at another time in another way; wherefore words, which are, as it were, the seeds of actions, ought very discreetly to be withheld or uttered; they should be spoken with such sound judgment that they may be well received, and good fruit follow from them; not withheld or spent so sparingly that barrenness is the result of their defective utterance. And therefore a suitable time should be chosen, both for him who speaks and for him who must hear: for if the speaker is badly prepared, very often his words are injurious or hurtful; and if the hearer is ill-disposed, those words which are good are ill received. And therefore Solomon says in Ecclesiastes: "There is a time to speak, and a time to be silent." Wherefore I, feeling within myself that my disposition to speak of Love was disturbed, for the cause which has been mentioned in the preceding chapter, it seemed to me that the time might suit me now, time which bears with it the fulfilment of every desire, and appears in the guise of a generous giver to those who grudge not to await him patiently. Wherefore St. James says in his Epistle, in the fifth chapter: "Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the Earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain." For all our sorrows, or cares, or vexations, if we inquire diligently into their origin, proceed, as it were, from not knowing the use of time.
I say, "since the time suits," I will leave my pen alone, that is to say, the sweet or gentle style I used when I sang of Love; and I say that I will speak of that worth whereby a man is truly noble. And as it is possible to understand worth in many ways, here I intend to assume worth to be a power of Nature, or rather a goodness bestowed by her, as will be seen in what follows; and I promise to discourse on this subject with a "rhyme subtle and severe." Wherefore it is requisite to know that rhyme may be considered in a double sense, that is to say, in a wide and in a narrow sense. In the narrow sense, it is understood as that concordance which in the last and in the penultimate syllable it is usual to make. In the wide sense, it is understood for all that language which, with numbers and regulated time, falls into rhymed consonance; and thus it is desired that it should be taken and understood in this Proem. And therefore it says "severe," with reference to the sound of the style, which to such a subject must not be sweet and pleasing; and it says "subtle," with regard to the meaning of the words, which proceed with subtle argument and disputation. 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.
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.
No doubt it would be possible for some one to cavil, saying, that although the office of Empire may be required in the World, that does not make the authority of the Roman Prince rationally supreme, which it is the intention of the treatise to prove; since the Roman Power was acquired, not by Reason nor by decree of Universal Election, but by Force, which seems to be opposed to Reason. To this one can easily reply, that the election of this Supreme Official must primarily proceed from that Council which foresees all things, that is, God; otherwise the election would not have been of equal benefit for all the people, since, before the pre-ordained Official, there was none who had the good of all at heart. And since a gentler nature in ruling, and a stronger in maintaining, and a more subtle in acquiring never was and never will be than that of the Latin People, as one can see by experience, and especially that of the Holy People, in whom was blended the noble Trojan blood; to that office it was elected by God. Wherefore, since, to obtain it, not without very great power could it be approached, and to employ it a most exalted and most humane benignity was required, this was the people which was most fitly prepared for it. Hence not by Force was it assumed in the first place by the Roman People but by Divine Ordinance, which is above all Reason. And Virgil is in harmony with this in the first book of the AEneid, when he says, speaking in the person of God: "On these [that is, on the Romans] I impose no limits to their possessions, nor to their duration; to them I have given boundless Empire." Force, then, was not the moving cause, as he believed who was cavilling; but there was an instrumental cause even as the blows of the hammer are the cause of the knife, and the soul of the workman is the moving and the efficient cause; and thus, not force, but a cause, even a Divine Cause, has been the origin of the Roman Empire. And that this is so it is possible to see by two most evident reasons, which prove that City to be the Empress, and to have from God an especial birth, and to have from God an especial success. But since in this chapter without too great length it would not be possible to discuss this subject, and long chapters are the enemies of Memory, I will again make a digression in another chapter in order to prove the reasons here alluded to, which are not without and may give great pleasure.
The Divine Goodness unmeasureable, desiring to conform again to Itself the Human Creature, which, through the sin of the prevarication of the first Man, was separated from God and deformed thereby, it was decided, in that most exalted and most united Divine Consistory of the Trinity, that the Son of God should descend to the Earth to accomplish this union. And since at His advent into the world, not only Heaven, but Earth, must be in the best disposition; and the best disposition of the Earth is when it is a Monarchy, that is to say, all subject to one Prince, as has been said above, by Divine Providence it was ordained what people and what city should fulfil this, and that people was the Roman nation, and that city was glorious Rome. And since the Inn also wherein the Heavenly King must enter must of necessity be most cleanly and most pure, there was ordained a most Holy Race, from which, after many excellent or just ancestors, there should be born a Woman more perfect than all others, who should be the abode of the Son of God. And this race was the Race of David, from which was born the glory and honour of the Human Race, that is to say, Mary. And therefore it is written in Isaiah: "A virgin shall be born of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." And Jesse was the father of the aforesaid David. And it happened at one period of time that when David was born, Rome was born, that is to say, AEneas then came from Troy to Italy, which was the origin of the most noble Roman City, even as the written word bears witness. Evident enough, therefore, is the Divine election of the Roman Empire by the birth of the Holy City, which was contemporaneous with the root of the race from which Mary sprang. And incidentally it is to be mentioned that, since this Heaven began to revolve, it never was in a better disposition than when He descended from on high, He who had made it and who is its Ruler, even as again by virtue of their arts the Mathematicians may be able to discover. The World never was nor ever will be so perfectly prepared as then, when it was governed by the voice of one man alone, Prince and Commander of the Roman people, even as Luke the Evangelist bears witness. And therefore there was Universal Peace, which never was again nor ever will be, for the Ship of the Human Family rightly by a sweet pathway was hastening to its rightful haven. Oh, ineffable and incomprehensible Wisdom of God, which in Heaven above didst prepare, so long beforehand, for Thy advent into Syria and here in Italy at the same time! And oh, most foolish and vile beasts who pasture in the guise of men -- you who presume to speak against our Faith, and profess to know, as ye spin and dig, what God has ordained with so much forethought -- curses be on you and your presumption, and on him who believes in you!
And, as has been said above, at the end of the preceding chapter, the Roman People had from God not only an especial birth, but an especial success; for, briefly, from Romulus, who was the first father of Rome, even to its most perfect era, that is, to the time of its predicted Emperor, its success was achieved not only by human, but by Divine means. For if we consider the Seven Kings who first governed it -- Romulus, Numa, Tullus, Ancus Martius, Servius Tullius, and the Tarquins, who were, as it were, the nurses and tutors of its Childhood -- we shall be able to find, by the written word of Roman History, especially by Titus Livius, those to have been of different natures, according to the opportunity of the advancing tract of time. If we consider, then, its Adolescence, when it was emancipated from the regal tutorship by Brutus, the first Consul, even to Caesar, its first supreme Prince, we shall find it exalted, not with human, but with Divine citizens, into whom, not human, but Divine love was inspired in loving Rome; and this neither could be nor ought to be, except for an especial end intended by God through such infusion of a heavenly spirit. And who will say that there was no Divine inspiration in Fabricius when he rejected an almost infinite amount of gold because he was unwilling to abandon his country? or in Curius, whom the Samnites attempted to corrupt, who said, when refusing a very large quantity of gold for love of his country, that the Roman citizens did not desire to possess gold, but the possessors of the gold? Who will say there was no Divine inspiration in Mutius burning his own hand because it had failed in the blow wherewith he had thought to deliver Rome? Who will say of Torquatus, who sentenced his own son to death from love to the Public Good, that he could have endured this without a Divine Helper? Who will say this of the Brutus before mentioned? Who will say it of the Decii and of the Drusi, who laid down their lives for their country? Who will say of the captive Regulus of Carthage, sent to Rome to exchange the Carthaginian prisoners for Roman prisoners of war, who, after having explained the object of his embassy, gave counsel against himself; through pure love to Rome, that he was moved to do this by the impulse of Human Nature alone? Who will say it of Quinctius Cincinnatus, who, taken from the plough and made dictator, after the time of office had expired, spontaneously refusing its continuance, followed his plough again? Who will say of Camillus, banished and chased into exile, who, having come to deliver Rome from her enemies, and having accomplished her liberation, spontaneously returned into exile in order not to offend against the authority of the Senate, that he was without Divine inspiration? O, most sacred heart of Cato, who shall presume to speak of thee? Truly, to speak freely of thee is not possible; it were better to be silent and to follow Jerome, when, in the Preface of the Bible where he alludes to Paul, he says that it were better to be silent than say little. Certainly it must be evident, remembering the lives of these men and of the other Divine citizens, that such wonders could not have been without some light of the Divine Goodness, added to their own goodness of nature. And it must be evident that these most excellent men were instruments with which Divine Providence worked in the building up of the Roman Empire, wherein many times the arm of God appeared to be present. And did not God put His own hand to the battle wherein the Albans fought with the Romans in the beginning for the chief dominion, when one Roman alone held in his hands the liberty of Rome? And did not God interfere with His own hands when the Franks, having taken all Rome, attacked by stealth the Capitol by night, and the voice alone of a goose caused this to be known? And did not God interfere with His own hands when, in the war with Hannibal, having lost so many citizens that three bushels of rings were carried into Africa, the Romans wished to abandon the land, if the blessed Scipio the younger had not undertaken his expedition into Africa for the recovery of freedom? And did not God interfere with His own hands when a new citizen of humble station, Tullius, defended, against such a citizen as Catiline, the Roman liberty? Yes, surely. Wherefore one should not need to inquire further to see that an especial birth and an especial success were in the Mind of God decreed to that holy City. And certainly I am of a firm opinion that the stones which remain in her walls are worthy of reverence; and it is asserted and proved that the ground whereon she stands is worthy beyond all other that is occupied by man.
[Here is a small break in the original, containing some such words as -- Worthy, nay, most worthy, of obedience and of faith is Aristotle:] hence it is evident that his words are a supreme and chief Authority. That Aristotle is most worthy of faith and obedience, one can thus prove. Amongst workmen and artificers of different Arts and Manufactures, which are all directed to one final work of Art, or to one building, the Artificer or Designer of that work must be completely believed in, and implicitly obeyed by all, as the man who alone beholds the ultimate end of all the other ends. Hence the sword-cutler must believe in the knight, so must the bridle-maker and saddle-maker and the shield-maker, and all those trades which are appointed to the profession of knighthood. And since all human actions require an aim, which is that of human life, to which man is appointed inasmuch as he is man, the master and artificer who considers that aim and demonstrates it ought especially to be believed in and obeyed; and he is Aristotle; wherefore he is most worthy of faith and obedience. And in order to see how Aristotle is the master and leader of Human Reason in so far as it aims at its final operation, it is requisite to know that this our aim of life, which each one naturally desires, in most ancient times was searched for by the Wise Men; and since those who desire this end are so numerous, and their desires are as it were all singularly different, although they exist in us universally, it was nevertheless very difficult to discern that end whereon rightly each human appetite or desire might repose. There were then many ancient philosophers, the first and the chief of whom was Zeno, who saw and believed this end of human life to be solely a rigid honesty, that is to say, rigid without regard to any one in following Truth and Justice, to show no sorrow, to show no joy, to have no sense of any passion whatever. And they defined thus this honest uprightness, as that which, without bearing fruit, is to be praised for reason of itself. And these men and their sect were called Stoics; and that glorious Cato was one of them, of whom in the previous chapter I had not courage enough to speak. Other philosophers there were who saw and believed otherwise; and of these the first and chief was a philosopher, who was named Epicurus, who, seeing that each animal as soon as it is born is as it were directed by Nature to its right end, which shuns pain and seeks for pleasure, said that this end or aim of ours was enjoyment. I do not say greedy enjoyment, voluntade, but I write it with a _p_, voluptate, that is, delight or pleasure free from pain; and therefore between pleasure and pain no mean was placed. He said that pleasure was no other than no pain; as Tullius seems to say in the first chapter De Finibus. And of these, who from Epicurus are named Epicureans, was Torquatus, a noble Roman, descended from the blood of the glorious Torquatus mention of whom I made above. There were others, and they had their rise from Socrates, and then from his successor, Plato, who, looking more subtly, and seeing that in our actions it was possible to sin, and that one sinned in too much and in too little, said that our action, without excess and without defect, measured to the due mean of our own choice, is virtue, and virtue is the aim of man; and they called it action with virtue. And these were called Academicians, as was Plato and Speusippus, his nephew; they were thus called from the place where Plato taught, that is, the Academy; neither from Socrates did they take or assume any word, because in his Philosophy nothing was affirmed. Truly Aristotle, who had his surname from Stagira, and Xenocrates of Chalcedon, his companion, through the genius, almost Divine, which Nature had put into Aristotle, knowing this end by means of the Socratic method, with the Academic file, as it were, reduced Moral Philosophy to perfection, and especially Aristotle. And since Aristotle began to reason while walking hither and thither, they were called, he, I say, and his companions, Peripatetics, which means the same as walkers about. And since the perfection of this Morality by Aristotle was attained, the name of Academician became extinct, and all those who attached themselves to this sect are called Peripatetics, and these people hold the doctrine of the government of the World through all its parts: and it may be termed a catholic opinion, as it were. Wherefore it is possible to see that Aristotle was the Indicator and the Leader of the people to this mark. And this is what I wished to prove.
Wherefore, collecting all together, the principal intention is manifest, that is to say, that the authority of him whom we understand to be the supreme Philosopher is full of complete vigour, and in no way repugnant to Imperial Authority. But the Imperial without the Philosopher is dangerous; and this without that is weak, not of itself, but through the disorder of the people: but when one is united with the other they are together most useful and full of all vigour; and therefore it is written in that Book of Wisdom: "Love the Light of Wisdom, all you who are before the people," that is to say, unite Philosophic Authority with the Imperial, in order to rule well and perfectly. O, you miserable ones, who rule at the present time! and O, most miserable ones, you who are ruled! For no Philosophic Authority is united with your governments, neither through suitable study nor by counsel; so that to all it is possible to repeat those words from Ecclesiastes: "Woe to thee, O land, when thy King is a child, and thy Princes eat in the morning;" and to no land is it possible to say that which follows: "Blessed art thou, O land, when thy King is the son of nobles, and thy Princes eat in due season, for strength and not for drunkenness." Ye enemies of God, look to your flanks, ye who have seized the sceptres of the kingdoms of Italy. And I say to you, Charles, and to you, Frederick, Kings, and to you, ye other Princes and Tyrants, see who sits by the side of you in council, and count how many times a day this aim of human life is indicated to you by your councillors. Better would it be for you, like swallows, to fly low down than, like kites, to make lofty circles over carrion.
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 house which is on the other side; and by his industry, that is, through prudent foresight and through the goodness of genius, guided solely by himself, he goes through the right path whither he meant to go, leaving the prints of his footsteps behind him. Another comes after this man, and he wishes to go to that mansion, and to him it is only needful to follow the footprints left there; but through his own fault this man strays from the path, which the first man without a guide has known how to keep; this man, though it is pointed out to him, loses his way through the brambles and the rocks, and he goes not to the place whither he is bound. Which of these men ought to be termed excellent, brave, or worthy? I reply: He who went first. How would you designate that other man? I reply: "As most vile." Why is he not called unworthy or cowardly, that is to say, vile? I reply: Because unworthy, that is, vile, he should be called who, having no guide, might have failed to walk straightforward; but since this man had a guide, his error and his fault can rise higher; and therefore he is to be called, not vile, but most vile. And likewise he who, by his father or by some elder of his race is ennobled, and does not continue in a noble course, not only is he vile, but he is most vile, and deserving of as much contempt and infamy as any other villain, if not of more. And because a man may preserve himself from this vile baseness, Solomon lays this command on him who has had a brave and excellent ancestor, in the twenty-second chapter of Proverbs: "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set," And previously he says, in the fourth chapter of the said book: "The path of the Just," that is, of the worthy men, "is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; the way of the wicked is as darkness, and they know not at what they stumble." Finally, when it says, "And though he walks upon the earth Is counted with the dead," to his greater disgrace I say that this most worthless man is dead, seeming still alive. Where it is to be known that the wicked man may be truly said to be dead, and especially he who goes astray from the path trodden by his good ancestor. And this it is possible to prove thus: as Aristotle says in the second book On the Soul, to live is to be with the living; and since there are many ways of living -- as in the plants to vegetate; in the animals to vegetate and to feel and to move; in men to vegetate, to feel, to move, and to reason, or rather to understand; and since things ought to be denominated by the noblest part, it is evident that in animals to live is to feel -- in the brute animals, I say; in man, to live is to use reason. Wherefore, if to live is the life or existence of man, and if thus to depart from the use of Reason, which is his life, is to depart from life or existence, even thus is that man dead. And does he not depart from the use of Reason who does not reason or think concerning the aim of his life? And does he not depart from the use of Reason who does not reason or think concerning the path which he ought to take? Certainly he does so depart; and this is evident especially in him who has the footprints before him, and looks not at them; and therefore Solomon says in the fifth chapter of Proverbs: "He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray," that is to say, he is dead who becomes a disciple, and who does not follow his master; and such an one is most vile. And of him it would be possible for some one to say: How is he dead and yet he walks? I reply, that as a man he is dead, but as a beast he has remained alive; for as the Philosopher says in the second book On the Soul, the powers of the Soul stand upon itself, as the figure of the quadrangle stands upon the triangle, and the pentagon stands upon the quadrangle; so the sensitive stands upon the vegetative, and the intellectual stands upon the sensitive. Wherefore, as, by removing the last side of the pentagon, the quadrangle remains, so by removing the last power of the Soul, that is, Reason, the man no longer remains, but a thing with a sensitive soul only, that is, the brute animal. And this is the meaning or intention of the second part of the devised Song, in which are placed the opinions of others.
I say, then, that when the Philosopher says, "that which appears to the most is impossible to be entirely false," I do not mean to speak of the external appearance, that is, the sensual, but of that which appears within, the rational; since the sensual appearance, according to most people, is many times most false, especially in the common things appreciable by the senses, wherein the sense is often deceived. Thus we know that to most people the Sun appears of the width of a foot in diameter; and this is most false, for, according to the inquiry and the discovery which human reason has made with its skill, the diameter of the body of the Sun is five times as much as that of the Earth and also one-half time more, since the Earth in its diameter is six thousand five hundred miles, the diameter of the Sun, which to the sense of sight presents the appearance of the width of one foot, is thirty-five thousand seven hundred and fifty miles. Wherefore it is evident that Aristotle did not understand or judge it by the appearance which it presents to the sense of sight. And therefore, if I intend only to oppose false trust in appearance according to the senses, that is not done against the intention of the Philosopher, and therefore I do not offend against the reverence which is due to him. And that I intend to confute the appearance according to the sense is manifest; for those people who judge thus, judge only by what they feel or think of those things which fortune can give and take away. For, because they see great alliances made and high marriages to take place, and the wonderful palaces, the large possessions, great lordships, they believe that all those things are the causes of Nobility -- nay, they believe them to be Nobility itself. For if they could judge with any appearance of reason, they would say the contrary, that is, that Nobility is the cause of these things, as will be seen in the sequel of this treatise.
And even as it may be seen that I speak not against the reverence due to the Philosopher whilst confuting this error, so I speak not against the reverence due to the Empire; and the reason I intend to show. But when he reasons or argues before the adversary, the Rhetorician ought to use much caution in his speech, in order that the adversary may not derive thence material wherewith to disturb the Truth. I, who speak in this treatise in the presence of so many adversaries, cannot speak briefly; wherefore, if my digressions should be long, let no one marvel. I say, then, that, in order to prove that I am not irreverent to the Majesty of the Empire, it is requisite, in the first place, to see what reverence is. I say that reverence is no other than a confession of due submission by an evident sign; and, having seen this, it remains to distinguish between them. Irreverent expresses privation, not reverent expresses negation; and, therefore, irreverence is to disavow the due submission by a manifest sign. The want of reverence is to refuse submission as not due. A man can deny or refuse a thing in a double sense. In one way, the man can deny offending against the Truth when he abstains from the due confession, and this properly is to disavow. In another way, the man can deny offending against the Truth when he does not confess that which is not, and this is proper negation; even as for the man to deny that he is entirely mortal is to deny properly speaking. Wherefore, if I deny or refuse reverence due to the Imperial Authority, I am not irreverent, but I am not reverent; which is not against reverence, forasmuch as it offends not that Imperial Authority; even as not to live does not offend Life, but Death, which is privation of that Life, offends; wherefore, to die is one thing and not to live is another thing, for not to live is in the stones. And since Death expresses privation, which cannot be except in decease of the subject, and the stones are not the subject of Life, they should not be called dead, but not living. In like manner, I, who in this case ought not to have reverence to the Imperial Authority, am not irreverent if I deny or refuse it, but I am not reverent, which is neither boldness, nor presumption, nor a thing to be blamed. But it would be presumption to be reverent, if it could be called reverence, since it would fall into greater and more true irreverence, that is, into irreverence of Nature and of Truth, as will be seen in the sequel. Against this error that Master of Philosophers, Aristotle, guards, in the beginning of the book of Ethics, when he says: "If the friends are two, and one is the Truth, their one mind is the Truth's." If I have said that I am not reverent, that is, to deny reverence, or by a manifest sign to deny or refuse a submission not due. It is to be seen how this is to deny and not to disavow, that is to say, it remains to be seen how, in this case, I am not rightfully subject to the Imperial Majesty. It must be a long argument wherewith I intend to prove this in the chapter next following.
And, that we may see the limits of our operations, it is to be known that those alone are our operations which are subject to Reason and to Will; for, if in us there is the digestive operation, that is not human, but natural. And it is to be known that our Reason is ordained to four operations, separately to be considered; for those are operations which Reason only considers and does not produce, neither can produce, any one of them, such as are the Natural facts and the Supernatural and the Mathematics. And those are operations which it considers and does in its own proper act which are called rational, such as are the arts of speech. And those are operations which it considers and does in material beyond itself, such as are the Mechanical Arts. And all these operations, although the considering them is subject to our will, they in their essential form are not subject to our will; for although we might will that heavy things should mount upwards naturally, they would not be able to ascend; and although we might will that the syllogism with false premisses should conclude with demonstration of the Truth, it could not so conclude; and although we might will that the house should stand as firmly when leaning forward as when upright, it could not be; since of those operations we are not properly the factors, we are their discoverers; Another ordained them and made them, the great Maker, who alone can Will and Do All -- God. There also are operations which our Reason considers and which lie in the act of the Will, such as to offend and to rejoice; such as to stand firm in the battle and to fly from it; such as to be chaste and to be lewd; these are entirely subject to our will, and therefore we are called from them good and evil, because such acts are entirely our own; for so far as our will can obtain power, so far do our operations extend. And since in all these voluntary operations there is some equity to preserve and some iniquity to shun -- which equity may be lost through two causes, either through not knowing what it is, or through not wishing to follow it -- the written Reason, the Law, was invented, both to point it out to us and to command its observance. Wherefore Augustine says: "If men could know this, that is, Equity, and knowing it would obey it, the written Reason, the Law, would not be needful." And therefore it is written in the beginning of the old Digests or Books of the Civil Law: "The written Reason is the Art of Goodness and of Equity." To write this, to show forth and to enforce this, is the business of that Official Post of which one speaks, that of the Emperor, to whom, as has been said, in so far as our own operations extend, we are subject, and no farther. For this reason in each Art and in each trade the artificers and the scholars are and ought to be subject to the chief and to the master of their trades and Art: beyond their callings the subjection ceases, because the superiority ceases. So that it is possible to speak of the Emperor in this manner, if we will represent his office figuratively, and say that he may be the rider of the Human Will, of which horse how it goes without its rider through the field is evident enough, and especially in miserable Italy, left without any means for its right government.
And it is to be considered that in proportion as a thing is more fit for the Master's art, so much the greater is the subjection; for the cause being multiplied, so is the effect multiplied. Wherefore it is to be known that there are things which are such pure or simple Arts that Nature is their instrument; even as rowing with an oar, where the Art makes its instrument by impulsion, which is a natural movement; as in the threshing of the corn, where the Art makes its instrument, which is a natural quality. And in this especially a man ought to be subject to the chief and master of the Art. And there are things in which Art is the instrument of Nature, and these are lesser Arts; and in these the artificers are less subject to their chief, as in giving the seed to the Earth, where one must await the will of Nature; as to sail out of the harbour or port, where one must await the natural disposition of the weather; and therefore we often see in these things contention amongst the artificers, and the greater to ask counsel of the lesser. And there are other things which are not Arts, but appear to have some relationship with them; and therefore men are often deceived; and in these the scholars are not subject to a master, neither are they bound to believe in him so far as regards the Art. Thus, to fish seems to have some relationship with navigation; and to know the virtue of the herb or grass seems to have some relationship with agriculture; for these Arts have no general rule, since fishing may be below the Art of hunting, and beneath its command; to know the virtue of the herb may be below the science of medicine, or rather below its most noble teaching.
Those things which have been argued concerning the other Arts in like manner may be seen in the Imperial Art, for there are rules in those Arts which are pure or simple Arts, as are the laws of marriage, of servants, of armies, of successors in offices of dignity; and in all these we may be entirely subject to the Emperor without doubt and without any suspicion whatever. There are other laws which are the followers of Nature, such as to constitute a man of sufficient age to fill some office in the administration; and to such a law as this we are entirely subject; there are many others which appear to have some relationship with the Imperial Art; and here he was and is deceived who believes that the Imperial judgment in this part may be authentic, as of youth, whose nature is laid down by no Imperial judgment, as it were, of the Emperor. Render, therefore, unto God that which is God's. Wherefore it is not to be believed, nor to be allowed, because it was said by Nero the Emperor that youth is beauty and strength of body; but credit would be given to the philosopher who should say that youth is the crown or summit of the natural life. And therefore it is evident that to define Nobility is not the function of the Art Imperial; and if it is not in the nature of the Art, when we are treating of Nobility we are not subject to it; and if we are not subject, we are not bound to yield reverence therein; and this is the conclusion we have sought. Now, therefore, with all freedom, with all liberty of mind, it remains to strike to the heart the vicious opinions, thereby causing them to fall to earth, in order that the Truth by means of this my victory may hold the field in the mind of him for whom it is good that this Light should shine clear.
I say, then, "Whoever shall define The man a living tree," that, firstly, he will speak untruth, inasmuch as he says "tree," and "less than truth," inasmuch as he says "living," and does not say rational, which is the difference whereby Man is distinguished from the Beast. Then I say that in this way he was erroneous in his definition, he who held Imperial Office, not saying Emperor, but "one raised to Empire," to indicate, as has been said above, that this question is beyond the bounds of the Imperial Office. In like manner I say that he errs who places a false subject under Nobility, that is, "descent of wealth," and then proceeds to a defective form, or rather difference, that is, "generous ways," which do not contain any essential part of Nobility, but only a small part, as will appear below. And it is not to be omitted, although the text may be silent, that my Lord the Emperor in this part did not err in the parts of the definition, but only in the mode of the definition, although, according to what fame reports of him, he was a logician and a great scholar; that is to say, the definition of Nobility can be made more sufficiently by the effects than by the principles or premisses, since it appears to have the place of a first principle or premiss, which it is not possible to notify by first things, but by subsequent things. Then, when I say, "For riches make not worth," I show how they cannot possibly be the cause of Nobility, because they are vile. And I prove that they have not the power to take it away, because they are disjoined so much from Nobility. And I prove these to be vile by an especial and most evident defect; and I do this when I say, "How vile and incomplete." Finally, I conclude, by virtue of that which is said above: And hence the upright mind, To its own purpose true, Stands firm although the flood of wealth Sweep onward out of view; which proves that which is said above, that those riches are disunited from Nobility by not following the effect of union with it. Where it is to be known that, as the Philosopher expresses it, all the things which make anything must first exist perfectly within the being of the thing out of which that other thing is made. Wherefore he says in the seventh chapter of the Metaphysics: "When one thing is generated from another, it is generated of that thing by being in that Being." Again, it is to be known that each thing which becomes corrupt is thus corrupted by some change or alteration, and each thing which is changed or altered must be conjoined with the cause of the change, even as the Philosopher expresses it in the seventh chapter of the book on Physics and in the first chapter on Generation. These things being propounded, I proceed thus, and I say that riches, as another man believed, cannot possibly bestow Nobility, and to prove how great is the difference between them I say that they are unable to take Nobility away from him who possesses it. To bestow it they have not the power, since by nature they are vile, and because of their vileness they are opposed to Nobility. And here by vileness one means baseness, through degeneracy, which is directly opposite to Nobility: for the one opposite thing cannot be the maker of the other, neither is it possible to be, for the reason given above, which is briefly added to the text, saying, "No painter gives a form That is not of his knowing." Wherefore no painter would be able to depict any figure or form if he could not first design what such figure or form ought to be. Again, riches cannot take it away, because they are so far from Nobility; and, for the reason previously narrated, that which alters or corrupts anything must be conjoined with that thing, and therefore it is subjoined: "No tower leans above a stream That far away is flowing," which means nothing more than to accord with that which has been previously said, that riches cannot take Nobility away, saying that Nobility is, as it were, an upright tower and riches a river flowing swiftly in the distance.
It is possible briefly to see their imperfection in three things quite clearly: firstly, in the indiscriminate manner in which they fall to a person's lot; secondly, in their dangerous increase; thirdly, in their hurtful possession. And, firstly, that which I demonstrate concerning this is to clear up a doubt which seems to arise, for, since gold, pearls, and lands, may have in their essential being perfect form and act, it does not seem true to say that they are imperfect. And therefore one must distinguish that inasmuch as by themselves, of them it is considered, they are perfect things, and they are not riches, but gold and pearls; but inasmuch as they are appointed to the possession of man they are riches, and in this way they are full of imperfection; which is not an unbecoming or impossible thing, considered from different points of view, to be perfect and imperfect. I say that their imperfection firstly may be observed in the indiscretion, or unwisdom, or folly, of their arrival, in which no distributive Justice shines forth, but complete iniquity almost always; which iniquity is the proper effect of imperfection. For if the methods or ways by which they come are considered, all may be gathered together in three methods, or kinds of ways: for, either they come by simple chance, as when without intention or hope they come upon some discovery not thought of; or they come by fortune which is aided by law or right, as by will, or testament, or succession; or they come by fortune, the helper of the Law, as by lawful or unlawful provision; lawful, I say, when by art, or skill, or by trade, or deserved kindness; unlawful, I say, when either by theft or rapine. And in each one of these three ways, one sees that inequitable character of which I speak, for more often to the wicked than to the good the hidden treasures which are discovered present themselves; and this is so evident, that it has no need of proof. I saw the place in the side of a hill, or mountain, in Tuscany, which is called Falterona, where the most vile peasant of all the country, whilst digging, found more than a bushel of the finest Santelena silver, which had awaited him perhaps for more than a thousand years. And in order to see this iniquity, Aristotle said that in proportion as the Man is subject to the Intellect, so much the less is he the slave of Fortune. And I say that oftener to the wicked than to the good befall legal inheritance and property by succession; and concerning this I do not wish to bring forward any proof, but let each one turn his eyes round his own immediate neighbourhood, and he will see that concerning which I am silent that I may not offend or bring shame to some one. Would to God that might be which was demanded by the Man of Provence, namely, that the man who is not the heir of goodness should lose the inheritance of wealth. And I say that many times to the wicked more than to the good comes rich provision, for the unlawful never comes to the good, because they refuse it; and what good man ever would endeavour to enrich himself by force or fraud? That would be impossible, for by the mere choice of the enterprise he would no more be good. And the lawful gains of wealth but rarely fall to the lot of the good, because, since much anxiety or anxious care is required therein, and the solicitude of the good is directed to greater things, the good man is rarely solicitous enough to seek them. Wherefore it is evident that in each way these riches fall unjustly or inequitably; and therefore our Lord called them wicked or unrighteous when He said, "Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness," inviting and encouraging men to be liberal with good gifts, which are the begetters of friends. And what a beautiful exchange he makes who gives freely of these most imperfect things in order to have and to acquire perfect things, such as are the hearts of good and worthy men! This exchange it is possible to make every day. Certainly this is a new commerce, different from the others, which, thinking to win one man by generosity, has won thereby thousands and thousands. Who lives not again in the heart of Alexander because of his royal beneficence? Who lives not again in the good King of Castile, or Saladin, or the good Marquis of Monferrat, or the good Count of Toulouse, or Beltramo dal Bornio, or Galasso da Montefeltro, when mention is made of their noble acts of courtesy and liberality? Certainly not only those who would do the same willingly, had they the power, but those even who would die before they would do it, bear love to the memory of these good men.
To this question one has to reply briefly; but in the first place it is to be seen whether in the acquisition of Knowledge the desire for it is enlarged in the way suggested by the question, and whether the argument be rational. Wherefore I say that not only in the acquisition of knowledge and riches, but in each and every acquisition, human desire expands, although in different ways; and the reason is this: that the supreme desire of each thing bestowed by Nature in the first place is to return to its first source. And since God is the First Cause of our Souls, and the Maker of them after His Own Image, as it is written, "Let us make Man in Our Image, after Our likeness," the Soul especially desires to return to that First Cause. As a pilgrim, who goes along a path where he never journeyed before, may believe every house that he sees in the distance to be his inn, and, not finding it to be so, may direct his belief to the next, and so travel on from house to house until he reach the inn, even so our Soul, as soon as it enters the untrodden path of this life, directs its eyes to its supreme good, the sum of its day's travel to good; and therefore whatever thing it sees which seems to have in itself some goodness, it thinks to be the supreme good. And because its knowledge at first is imperfect, owing to want of experience and want of instruction, good things that are but little appear great to it; and therefore in the first place it begins to desire those. So we see little children desire above all things an apple; and then, growing older, they desire a little bird; and then, being older, desire a beautiful garment; and then a horse, and then a wife, and then moderate wealth, and then greater wealth, and then still more. And this happens because in none of these things that is found for which search is made, and as we live on we seek further. Wherefore it is possible to see that one desirable thing stands under the other in the eyes of our Soul in a way almost pyramidal, for the least first covers the whole, and is as it were the point of the desirable good, which is God, at the basis of all; so that the farther it proceeds from the point towards the basis, so much the greater do the desirable good things appear; and this is the reason why, by acquisition, human desires become broader the one after the other. But, thus this pathway is lost through error, even as in the roads of the earth; for as from one city to another there is of necessity an excellent direct road, and often another which branches from that, the branch road goes into another part, and of many others some do not go all the way, and some go farther round; so in Human Life there are different roads, of which one is the truest, and another the most misleading, and some are less right, and some less wrong. And as we see that the straightest road to the city satisfies desire and gives rest after toil, and that which goes in the opposite direction never satisfies and never can give rest, so it happens in our Life. The man who follows the right path attains his end, and gains his rest. The man who follows the wrong path never attains it, but with much fatigue of mind and greedy eyes looks always before him. Wherefore, although this argument does not entirely reply to the question asked above, at least it opens the way to the reply, which causes us to see that each desire of ours does not proceed in its expansion in one way alone. But because this chapter is somewhat prolonged, we will reply in a new chapter to the question, wherein may be ended the whole disputation which it is our intention to make against riches.
Again, the adversary may calumniate, saying that, although many desires are fulfilled in the acquisition of knowledge, the last is never attained, which is the imperfection of that one desire, which does not gain its end; and that will be both one and imperfect. Again one here replies that it is not a truth which is brought forward in opposition, that is, that the last desire is never attained; for our natural desires, as is proved in the third treatise of this book, are all tending to a certain end; and the desire for knowledge is natural, so that this desire compasses a certain end, although but few, since they walk in the wrong path, accomplish the day's journey. And he who understands the Commentator in the third chapter, On the Soul, learns this of him; and therefore Aristotle says, in the tenth chapter of the Ethics, against Simonides the Poet, that man ought to draw near to Divine things as much as is possible; wherein he shows that our power tends towards a certain end. And in the first book of the Ethics he says that the disciplined Mind demands certainty in its knowledge of things in proportion as their nature received certainty, in which he proves that not only on the side of the man desiring knowledge, but on the side of the desired object of knowledge, attention ought to be given; and therefore St. Paul says: "Not much knowledge, but right knowledge in moderation." So that in whatever way the desire for knowledge is considered, either generally or particularly, it comes to perfection. And since knowledge is a noble perfection, and through the desire for it its perfection is not lost, as is the case with the accursed riches, we must note briefly how injurious they are when possessed, and this is the third notice of their imperfection. It is possible to see that the possession of them is injurious for two reasons: one, that it is the cause of evil; the other, that it is the privation of good. It is the cause of evil, which makes the timid possessor wakeful, watchful, and suspicious or hateful. How great is the fear of that man who knows he carries wealth about him, when walking abroad, when dwelling at home, when not only wakeful or watching, but when sleeping, not only the fear that he may lose his property, but fear for his life because he possesses these riches! Well do the miserable merchants know, who travel through the World, that the leaves which the wind stirs on the trees cause them to tremble when they are bearing their wealth with them; and when they are without it, full of confidence they go singing and talking, and thus make their journey shorter! Therefore the Wise Man says: "If the traveller enters on his road empty, he can sing in the presence of thieves." And this Lucan desires to express in the fifth book, when he praises the safety of poverty: "O, the safe and secure liberty of the poor Life! O, narrow dwelling-places and thrift! O, not again deem riches to be of the Gods! In what temples and within what palace walls could this be, that is to have no fear, in some tumult or other, of striking the hand of Caesar?" And Lucan says this when he depicts how Caesar came by night to the little house of the fisher Amyclas to cross the Adriatic Sea. And how great is the hatred that each man bears to the possessor of riches, either through envy, or from the desire to take possession of his wealth! So true it is, that often and often, contrary to due filial piety, the son meditates the death of the father; and most great and most evident experience of this the Italians can have, both on the banks of the Po and on the banks of the Tiber. And therefore Boethius in the second chapter of his Consolations says: "Certainly Avarice makes men hateful."
Nay, their possession is privation of good, for, possessing those riches, a man does not give freely with generosity, which is a virtue, which is a perfect good, and which makes men magnificent and beloved; which does not lie in possession of those riches, but in ceasing to possess them. Wherefore Boethius in the same book says: "Then money is good when, bartered for other things, by the use of generosity one no longer possesses it." Wherefore the baseness of riches is sufficiently proved by all these remarks of his; and therefore the man with an upright desire and true knowledge never loves them; and, not loving them, he does not unite himself to them, but always desires them to be far from himself, except inasmuch as they are appointed to some necessary service; and it is a reasonable thing, since the perfect cannot be united with the imperfect. So we see that the curved line never joins the straight line, and if there be any conjunction, it is not of line to line, but of point to point. And thus it follows that the Mind which is upright in desire, and truthful in knowledge, is not disheartened at the loss of wealth: as the text asserts at the end of that part. And by this the text intends to prove that riches are as a river flowing in the distance past the upright tower of Reason, or rather of Nobility; and that these riches cannot take Nobility away from him who has it. And in this manner in the present Song it is argued against riches.
I say, then, "They will not have the vile Turn noble." Where it is to be known that the opinion of these erroneous persons is, that a man who is a peasant in the first place can never possibly be called a Nobleman; and the man who is the son of a peasant in like manner can never be Noble; and this breaks or destroys their own argument when they say that Time is requisite to Nobility, adding that word "descent." For it is impossible by process of Time to come to the generation of Nobility in this way of theirs, which declares it to be impossible for the humble peasant to become Noble by any work that he may do, or through any accident; and declares the mutation of a peasant father into a Noble son to be impossible. For if the son of the peasant is also a peasant, and his son again is also a peasant, and so always, it will never be possible to discover the place where Nobility can begin to be established by process of Time. And if the adversary, wishing to defend himself, should say that Nobility will begin at that period of Time when the low estate of the ancestors will be forgotten, I reply that this goes against themselves, for even of necessity there will be a transmutation of peasant into Noble, from one man into another, or from father to son, which is against that which they propound.
And if the adversary should defend himself pertinaciously, saying that indeed they do desire that it should be possible for this transmutation to take place when the low estate of the ancestors passes into oblivion, although the text takes no notice of this, it is right that the Commentary should reply to it. And therefore I reply thus: that from this which they say there follow four very great difficulties, so that it cannot possibly be a good argument. One is, that in proportion as Human Nature might become better, the slower would be the generation of Nobility, which is a very great inconvenience; since in proportion as a thing is honoured for its excellence, so much the more is it the cause of goodness; and Nobility is reckoned amongst the good. What this means is shown thus: If Nobility, which I understand as a good thing, should be generated by oblivion, Nobility would be generated in proportion to the speediness with which men might be forgotten, for so much the sooner would oblivion descend upon all. Hence, in proportion as men might be forgotten, so much the sooner would they be Noble; and, on the contrary, in proportion to the length of time during which they were held in remembrance, so much the longer it would be before they could be ennobled.
The second difficulty is, that in nothing apart from men would it be possible to make this distinction, that is to say, Noble or Vile, which is very inconvenient; since, in each species of things we see the image of Nobility or of Baseness, wherefore we often call one horse noble and one vile; and one falcon noble and one vile; and one pearl noble and one vile. And that it would not be possible to make this distinction is thus proved; if the oblivion of the humble ancestors is the cause of Nobility, or rather the baseness of the ancestors never was, it is not possible for oblivion of them to be, since oblivion is a destruction of remembrance, and in those other animals, and in plants, and in minerals, lowness and loftiness are not observed, since in one they are natural or innate and in an equal state, and Nobility cannot possibly be in their generation, and likewise neither can vileness nor baseness; since one regards the one and the other as habit and privation, which are possible to occur in the same subject; and therefore in them it would not be possible for a distinction to exist between the one and the other. And if the adversary should wish to say, that in other things Nobility is represented by the goodness of the thing, but in a man it is understood because there is no remembrance of his humble or base condition, one would wish to reply not with words, but with the sword, to such bestiality as it would be to give to other things goodness as a cause for Nobility, and to found the Nobility of men upon forgetfulness or oblivion as a first cause.
The third difficulty is, that often the person or thing generated would come before the generator, which is quite impossible; and it is possible to prove this thus: Let us suppose that Gherardo da Cammino might have been the grandson of the most vile peasant who ever drank of the Sile or of the Cagnano, and that oblivion had not yet overtaken his grandfather; who will be bold enough to say that Gherardo da Cammino was a vile man? and who will not agree with me in saying that he was Noble? Certainly no one, however presumptuous he may wish to be, for he was so, and his memory will always be treasured. If oblivion had not yet overtaken his ancestor, as is proposed in opposition, so that he might be great through Nobility, and the Nobility in him might be seen so clearly, even as one does see it, then it would have been first in him before the founder of his Nobility could have existed; and this is impossible in the extreme.
The fourth difficulty is, that such a man, the supposed grandfather, would have been held Noble after he was dead who was not Noble whilst alive; and a more inconvenient thing could not be. One proves it thus: Let us suppose that in the age of Dardanus there might be a remembrance of his low ancestors, and let us suppose that in the age of Laomedon this memory might have passed away, and that oblivion had overtaken it. According to the adverse opinion, Laomedon was Noble and Dardanus was vile, each in his lifetime. We, to whom the remembrance of the ancestors of Dardanus has not come, shall we say that Dardanus living was vile, and dead a Noble? And is not this contrary to the legend which says that Dardanus was the son of Jupiter (for such is the fable, which one ought not to regard whilst disputing philosophically); and yet if the adversary might wish to find support in the fable, certainly that which the fable veils destroys his arguments. And thus it is proved that the argument, which asserted that oblivion is the cause of Nobility, is false.
Then when I say, "Sound intellect reproves their words As false, and turns away," I conclude this error to be confuted, and I say that it is time to open the eyes to the Truth; and this is expressed when I say, "And now I seek to tell, As it appears to me." It is now evident to sound minds that the words of those men are vain, that is, without a crumb or particle of Truth; and I say sound not without cause. Our intellect may be said to be sound or unsound. And I say intellect for the noble part of our Soul, which it is possible to designate by the common word "Mind." It may be called sound or healthy, when it is not obstructed in its action by sickness of mind or body, which is to know what things are, as Aristotle expresses it in the third chapter on the Soul. For, owing to the sickness of the Soul, I have seen three horrible infirmities in the minds of men. One is caused by natural vanity, for many men are so presumptuous that they believe they know everything, and, owing to this, they assert things to be facts which are not facts. Tullius especially execrates this vice in the first chapter of the Offices, and St. Thomas in his book against the Gentiles, saying: "There are many men, so presumptuous in their conceit, who believe that they can compass all things with their intellect, deeming all that appears to them to be true, and count as false that which does not appear to them." Hence it arises that they never attain to any knowledge; believing themselves to be sufficiently learned, they never inquire, they never listen; they desire to be inquired of, and when a question is put, bad enough is their reply. Of those men Solomon speaks in Proverbs: "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him." Another infirmity of mind is caused by natural weakness or smallness, for many men are so vilely obstinate or stubborn that they cannot believe that it is possible either for them or for others to know things; and such men as these never of themselves seek knowledge, nor ever reason; for what other men say, they care not at all. And against these men Aristotle speaks in the first book of the Ethics, declaring those men to be insufficient or unsatisfactory hearers of Moral Philosophy. Those men always live, like beasts, a life of grossness, the despair of all learning. The third infirmity of mind is caused by the levity of nature; for many men are of such light fancy that in all their arguments they go astray, and even when they make a syllogism and have concluded, from that conclusion they fly off into another, and it seems to them most subtle argument. They start not from any true beginning, and truly they see nothing true in their imagination. Of those men the Philosopher says that it is not right to trouble about them, or to have business with them, saying, in the first book of Physics, that against him who denies the first postulate it is not right to dispute. And of such men as these are many idiots, who may not know their A B C, and who would wish to dispute in Geometry, in Astrology, and in the Science of Physics.
Also through sickness or defect of body, it is possible for the Mind to be unsound or sick; even as through some primal defect at birth, as with those who are born fools, or through alteration in the brain, as with the madmen. And of this mental infirmity the Law speaks when it says: "In him who makes a Will or Testament, at the time when he makes the Will or Testament, health of mind, not health of body, is required." But to those intellects which from sickness of mind or body are not infirm, but are free, diligent, and whole in the light of Truth, I say it must be evident that the opinion of the people, which has been stated above, is vain, that is, without any value whatever, worthless.
Afterwards the Song subjoins that I thus judge them to be false and vain; and this it does when it says, "Sound intellect reproves their words As false, and turns away." And afterwards I say that it is time to demonstrate or prove the Truth; and I say that it is now right to state what kind of thing true Nobility is, and how it is possible to know the man in whom it exists; and I speak of this where I say: And now I seek to tell As it appears to me, What is, whence comes, what signs attest A true Nobility.
It is now requisite to proceed to the discussion of the Truth according to the division made above, in the third chapter of the present treatise. This second part, then, which begins, "I say that from one root Each Virtue firstly springs," intends to describe this Nobility according to the Truth, and this part is divided into two: for in the first the intention is to prove what this Nobility is; and in the second how it is possible to recognize him in whom it dwells, and this second part begins, "Such virtue shows its good." The first part, again, has two parts; for in the first certain things are sought for which are needful in order to perceive the definition of Nobility; in the second, one looks for its definition, and this second part begins, "Where virtue is, there is A Nobleman."
That we may enter perfectly into the treatise, two things are to be considered in the first place. The one is, what is meant by this word Nobility, taken alone, in its simple meaning; the other is, in what path it is needful to walk in order to search out the before-named definition. I say, then, that, if we will pay attention to the common use of speech, by this word Nobility is understood the perfection of its own nature in each thing; wherefore it is predicated not only of the man, but also of all things; for the man calls a stone noble, a plant or tree noble, a horse noble, a falcon noble, whatever is seen to be perfect in its nature. And therefore Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, "Blessed is the land whose King is Noble;" which is no other than saying, whose King is perfect according to the perfection of the mind and body; and he thus makes this evident by that which he says previously, when he writes, "Woe unto the land whose King is a child." For that is not a perfect man, and a man is a child, if not by age, yet by his disordered manners and by the evil or defect of his life, as the Philosopher teaches in the first book of the Ethics. There are some foolish people who believe that by this word Noble is meant that which is to be named and known by many men; and they say that it comes from a verb which stands for _to know_, that is, _nosco_. But this is most false, for, if this could be, those things which were most named and best known in their species would in their species be the most noble. Thus the obelisk of St. Peter would be the most noble stone in the world; and Asdente, the shoemaker of Parma, would be more Noble than any one of his fellow-citizens; and Albuino della Scala would be more Noble than Guido da Castello di Reggio. Each one of those things is most false, and therefore it is most false that _nobile_ (noble) can come from _cognoscere_, to know. It comes from _non vile_ (not vile); wherefore _nobile_ (noble) is as it were _non vile_ (not vile). This perfection the Philosopher means in the seventh chapter of Physics, when he says: "Each thing is especially perfect when it touches and joins its own proper or relative virtue; and then it is especially perfect according to its nature. It is, then, possible to call the circle perfect when it is truly a circle, that is, when it is joined with its own proper or relative virtue, it is then complete in its nature, and it may then be called a noble circle." This is when there is a point in it which is equally distant from the circumference. That circle which has the figure of an egg loses its virtue and it is not Noble, nor that circle which has the form of an almost full moon, because in that its nature is not perfect. And thus evidently it is possible to see that commonly, or in a general sense, this word Nobility, expresses in all things perfection of their nature, and this is that for which one seeks primarily in order to enter more clearly into the discussion of that part which it is intended to explain.
Secondly, it remains to be seen how one must proceed in order to find the definition of Human Nobility to which the present argument leads. I say, then, that since in those things which are of one species, as are all men, it is not possible by essential first principles to define their highest perfection, it is necessary to know and to define that by their effects. Therefore one reads in the Gospel of St. Matthew, when Christ speaks, "Beware of false prophets: by their fruits ye shall know them." And in a direct way the definition we seek is to be seen by the fruits, which are the moral and intellectual virtues of which this Nobility is the seed, as in its definition will be fully evident. And these are those two things we must see before one can proceed to the others, as is said in the previous part of this chapter.
There are eleven Virtues named by the said Philosopher. The first is called Courage, which is sword and bridle to moderate our boldness and timidity in things which are the ruin of our life. The second is Temperance, which is the law and bridle of our gluttony and of our undue abstinence in those things requisite for the preservation of our life. The third is Liberality, which is the moderator of our giving and of our receiving things temporal. The fourth is Magnificence, which is the moderator of great expenditures, making and supporting those within certain limits. The fifth is Magnanimity, which is the moderator and acquirer of great honours and fame. The sixth is the Love of Honour, which is the moderator and regulator to us of the honours of this World. The seventh is Mildness, which moderates our anger and our excessive or undue patience against our external misfortunes. The eighth is Affability, which makes us live on good terms with other men. The ninth is called Truth, which makes us moderate in boasting ourselves over and above what we are, and in depreciating ourselves below what we are in our speech. The tenth is called Eutrapelia, pleasantness of intercourse, which makes us moderate in joys or pleasures, causing us to use them in due measure. The eleventh is Justice, which teaches us to love and to act with uprightness in all things. And each of these Virtues has two collateral enemies, that is to say, vices; one in excess and one in defect. And these Moral Virtues are the centres or middle stations between them, and those Virtues all spring from one root or principle, that is to say, from the habit of our own good choice. Wherefore, in a general sense, it is possible to say of all, that they are a habit of choice standing firm in due moderation; and these are those which make a man happy in their active operation, as the Philosopher says in the first book of the Ethics when he defines Happiness, saying that Happiness is virtuous action in a perfect life. By many, Prudence, that is, good, judgment or wisdom, is well asserted to be a Moral Virtue. But Aristotle numbers that amongst the Intellectual Virtues, although it is the guide of the moral, and points out the way by which they are formed, and without it they could not be.
Verily, it is to be known that we can have in this life two happinesses or felicities by following two different roads, both good and excellent, which lead us to them: the one is the Active Life and the other is the Contemplative Life, which (although by the Active Life one may attain, as has been said, to a good state of Happiness) leads us to supreme Happiness, even as the Philosopher proves in the tenth book of the Ethics; and Christ affirms it with His own Lips in the Gospel of Luke, speaking to Martha, when replying to her: "Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: verily, one thing alone is needful," meaning, that which thou hast in hand; and He adds: "Mary has chosen the better part, which shall not be taken away from her." And Mary, according to that which is previously written in the Gospel, sitting at the feet of Christ, showed no care for the service of the house, but listened only to the words of the Saviour. For if we will explain this in the moral sense, our Lord wished to show thereby that the Contemplative Life was supremely good, although the Active Life might be good; this is evident to him who will give his mind to the words of the Gospel. It would be possible, however, for any one to say, in argument against me: Since the happiness of the Contemplative Life is more excellent than that of the Active Life, and both may be, and are, the fruit and end of Nobility, why not rather have proceeded in the argument along the line of the Intellectual Virtues than of the Moral? To this it is possible to reply briefly, that in all instruction it is desirable to have regard to the capability of the learner, and to lead him by that path which is easiest to him. Wherefore, since the Moral Virtues appear to be, and are, more general and more required than the others, and are more seen in outward appearances, it was more convenient and more useful to proceed along that path than by the other; for thus indeed we shall attain to the knowledge of the bees by arguing of profit from the wax, as well as by arguing of profit from the honey, for both the one and the other proceed from them.
Finally it says that the position taken (namely, that each Moral Virtue comes from one root, and that such Virtue and Nobility unite in one thing, as is stated above, and that therefore it is requisite to reduce the one to the other, or both to a third; and that if the one contains the value of the other and more, from that it proceeds rather than from the other third) may be considered as a rule established and set forth, as was before intended. And thus ends this passage and this present part.
In evidence of the first part, it is to be recalled to mind that it says previously that, if Nobility is worth more and extends farther than Virtue, Virtue rather will proceed from it, which this part now proves, namely, that Nobility extends farther, and produces a copy of Heaven, saying that wherever there is Virtue there is Nobility. And here it is to be known that (as it is written in the Books of the Law, and is held as a Rule of the Law) in those things which of themselves are evident there is no need of proof; and nothing is more evident than that Nobility exists wherever there is Virtue, and each thing, commonly speaking, that we see perfect according to its nature is worthy to be called Noble. It says then: "So likewise that is Heaven Wherein a star is hung, But Heaven may be starless." So there is Nobility wherever there is Virtue, and not Virtue wherever there is Nobility. And with a beautiful and suitable example; for truly it is a Heaven in which many and various stars shine. In this Nobility there shine the Moral and the Intellectual Virtues: there shine in it the good dispositions bestowed by nature, piety, and religion; the praiseworthy passions, as Modesty and Mercy and many others; there shine in it the good gifts of the body, that is to say, beauty, strength, and almost perpetual health; and so many are the stars which stud its Heaven that certainly it is not to be wondered at if they produce many and divers effects in Human Nobility; such are the natures and the powers of those stars, assembled and contained within one simple substance, through the medium of which stars, as through different branches, it bears fruit in various ways. Certainly, with all earnestness, I make bold to say that Human Nobility, so far as many of its fruits are considered, excels that of the Angel, although the Angelic may be more Divine in its unity. Of this Nobility of ours, which fructifies into such fruits and so numerous, the Psalmist had perception when he composed that Psalm which begins: "O Lord our God, how admirable is Thy Name through all the Earth!" where he praises man, as if wondering at the Divine affection for this Human Creature, saying: "What is man, that Thou, God, dost visit him? Thou hast made him a little lower than the Angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and placed him over the works of Thy hands." Then, truly, it was a beautiful and suitable comparison to compare Heaven with Human Nobility.
Then, when the Song says, "In women and the young A modesty is seen, Not virtue, noble yet," it proves that Nobility extends into parts where Virtue is not; and it says, "noble yet," alluding to Nobility as indeed a true safeguard, being where there is shame or modesty, that is to say, fear of dishonour, as it is in maidens and youths, where shame or modesty is good and praiseworthy; which shame or modesty is not virtue, but a certain good passion. And it says, "In women and the young," that is to say, in youths; because, as the Philosopher expresses it in the fourth book of the Ethics, shame, bashfulness, modesty, is not praiseworthy nor good in the old nor in men of studious habits, because to them it is fit that they beware of those things which would lead them to shame. In youths and maidens such caution is not so much required, and therefore in them the fear of receiving dishonour through some fault is praiseworthy. It springs from Nobility, and it is possible to account their timid bashfulness to be Nobility. Baseness and ignoble ways produce impudence: wherefore it is a good and excellent sign of Nobility in children and persons of tender years when, after some fault, their shame is painted in their face, which blush of shame is then the fruit of true Nobility.
Then when it says, "God only gives it to the Soul," the argument is of the susceptive, that is, of the subject whereon this Divine gift descends, which is indeed a Divine gift, according to the word of the Apostle: "Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, proceeding from the Father of Light." It says then that God alone imparts this Grace to the Soul that He sees pure, within the Soul of that man whom He sees to be perfectly prepared and fit to receive in his own proper person this Divine action; for, according as the Philosopher says in the second chapter Of the Soul, things must be prepared for their agents and qualified to receive their acts; wherefore if the Soul is imperfectly prepared, it is not qualified to receive this blessed and Divine infusion, even as a precious stone, if it is badly cut or prepared, wherever it is imperfect, cannot receive the celestial virtue; even as that noble Guido Guinizzelli said, in a Song of his which begins: "To gentle hearts Love ever will repair." It is possible for the Soul to be unqualified through some defect of temper, or perhaps through some sinister circumstances of the time in which the person lives, and into a Soul so unhappy as this the Divine radiance never shines. And it may be said of such men as these, whose Souls are deprived of this Light, that they are as deep valleys turned towards the North, or rather subterranean caves wherein the light of the Sun never enters unless it be reflected from another part which has caught its rays.
Finally, it deduces, from that which has been previously said, that the Virtues are the fruit of Nobility, and that God places that Nobility in the Soul which has a good foundation. For to some, that is, to those who have intellect, who are but few, it is evident that human Nobility is no other than the seed of Happiness That seed of Happiness Falls in the hearts of few, Planted by God within the Souls Spread to receive His dew; that is to say, whose body is in every part perfectly prepared, ordered, or qualified. For if the Virtues are the fruit of Nobility, and Happiness is pleasure or sweetness acquired through or by them, it is evident that this Nobility is the seed of Happiness, as has been said. And if one considers well, this definition comprehends all the four arguments, that is to say, the material, the formal, the efficient, and the final: material, inasmuch as it says, "to the Soul spread to receive," which is the material and subject of Nobility; formal, inasmuch as it says, "That seed;" efficient, inasmuch as it says, "Planted by God within the Soul;" final, inasmuch as it says, "of Happiness," Heaven's blessing. And thus is defined this our good gift, which descends into us in like manner from the Supreme and Spiritual Power, as virtue into a precious stone from a most noble celestial body.
Let no one marvel if I speak what seems difficult to understand; for to myself it seems a miracle how it is possible even to arrive at a conclusion concerning it, and to perceive it with the intellect. It is not a thing to reveal in language, especially the language of the Vulgar Tongue; wherefore I will say, even as did the Apostle: "Oh, great is the depth of the riches of Wisdom of God: how incomprehensible are Thy judgments, and Thy ways past finding out!" And since the complex nature of the seed may be better and less good, and the disposition of the receiver of the seed may be better and less good, and the disposition of the dominant Heaven to this effect may be good and better and best, which varies in the constellations, which are continually transformed; it befalls that from the human seed and from these virtues or powers the Soul is produced more or less pure; and according to its purity there descends into it the virtue or power of the possible or passive intellect, as it is called, and as it has been spoken of. And if it happen that through the purity of the receptive Soul the intellectual power is indeed separate and absolute, free from all corporeal shadow, the Divine Goodness multiplies in it, as in a thing sufficient to receive that good gift; and then it multiplies in the Soul of this intelligent being, according as it can receive it; and this is that seed of Happiness of which we speak at present. And this is in harmony with the opinion of Tullius in that book on Old Age when, speaking personally of Cato, he says: "For this reason a celestial spirit descended into us from the highest habitation, having come into a place which is adverse to the Divine Nature and to Eternity." And in such a Soul as this there is its own individual power, and the intellectual power, and the Divine power; that is to say, that influence which has been mentioned. Therefore it is written in the book On Causes: "Each Noble Soul has three operations, that is to say, the animal, the intellectual, and the Divine." And there are some men who hold such opinions that they say, if all the preceding powers were to unite in the production of a Soul in their best disposition, arrangement, order, that into that Soul would descend so much of the Deity that it would be as it were another God Incarnate; and this is almost all that it is possible to say concerning the Natural way.
By the Theological way it is possible to say that, when the Supreme Deity, that is, God, sees His creature prepared to receive His good gift, so freely He imparts it to His creature in proportion as it is prepared or qualified to receive it. And because these gifts proceed from ineffable Love, and the Divine Love is appropriate to the Holy Spirit, therefore it is that they are called the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which, even as the Prophet Isaiah distinguishes them, are seven, namely, Wisdom, Intelligence, Counsel, Courage, Knowledge, Pity, and the Fear of God. O, good green blades, and good and wonderful the seed! And O, admirable and benign Sower of the seed, who dost only wait for human nature to prepare the ground for Thee wherein to sow! O, blessed are those who till the land to fit it to receive such seed! Here it is to be known that the first noble shoot which germinates from this seed that it may be fruitful, is the desire or appetite of the mind, which in Greek is called "hormen;" and if this is not well cultivated and held upright by good habits, the seed is of little worth, and it would be better if it had not been sown. And therefore St. Augustine urges, and Aristotle also in the second book of Ethics, that man should accustom himself to do good, and to bridle in his passions, in order that this shoot which has been mentioned may grow strong through good habits, and be confirmed in its uprightness, so that it may fructify, and from its fruit may issue the sweetness of Human Happiness.
Leaving alone, then, the opinion which Epicurus the philosopher had concerning it, and that which Zeno likewise had, I intend to come summarily to the true opinion of Aristotle and of the other Peripatetics. As it is said above, of the Divine Goodness sown and infused in us, from the original cause of our production, there springs up a shoot, which the Greeks term "hormen," that is to say, the natural appetite of the soul. And as it is with the blades of corn which, when they first shoot forth, have in the beginning one similar appearance, being in the grass-like stage, and then, by process of time, they become unlike, so this Natural appetite, which springs from the Divine Grace, in the beginning appears as it were not unlike that which comes nakedly from Nature; but with it, even as the herbage born of various grains of corn, it has the same appearance, as it were: and not only in the blades of corn, but in men and in beasts there is the same similitude. And it appears that every animal, as soon as it is born, both rational and brute beast, loves itself, and fears and flies from those things which are adverse to it, and hates them, then proceeding as has been said. And there begins a difference between them in the progress of this Natural appetite, for the one keeps to one road, and the other to another; even as the Apostle says: "Many run to the goal, but there is but one who reaches it." Even thus these Human appetites from the beginning run through different paths, and there is one path alone which leads us to our peace; and therefore, leaving all the others alone, it is for the treatise to follow the course of that one who begins well.
I say, then, that from the beginning a man loves himself, although indistinctly; then comes the distinguishing of those things which to him are more or less; to be more or less loved or hated; and he follows after and flies from either more or less according as the right habit distinguishes, not only in the other things which he loves in a secondary manner, for he even distinguishes in himself which thing he loves principally; and perceiving in himself divers parts, those which are the noblest in him he loves most. But, since the noblest part of man is the Mind, he loves that more than the Body; and thus, loving himself principally, and through himself other things, and of himself loving the better part most, it is evident that he loves the Mind more than the Body or any other thing; and the Mind it is that, naturally, more than any other thing he ought to love. Then, if the Mind always delights in the use of the beloved thing, which is the fruit of love, the use of that thing which is especially beloved is especially delightful: the use of our Mind is especially delightful to us, and that which is especially delightful to us becomes our Happiness and our Beatitude, beyond which there is no greater delight or pleasure, nor any equal to it, as may be seen by him who looks well at the preceding argument.
And no one ought to say that every appetite is Mind; for here one understands Mind solely as that which belongs to the Rational part, that is, the Will and the Intellect; so that if any one should wish to call Mind the appetite of the Senses, here it has no place, nor can it have any abiding; for no one doubts that the Rational appetite is more noble than the Sensual, and therefore more to be loved; and so is this of which we are now speaking. The use of our Mind is double, that is to say, Practical and Speculative (it is Practical insomuch as it has the power of acting); both the one and the other are delightful in their use, but that of Contemplation is the most pleasing, as has been said above. The use of the Practical is to act in or through us virtuously, that is to say, honestly or uprightly, with Prudence, with Temperance, with Courage, and with Justice. The use of the Speculative is not to work or act through us, but to consider the works of God and of Nature. This and the other form our Beatitude and Supreme Happiness, which is the sweetness of the before-mentioned seed, as now clearly appears. To this often such seed does not attain, through being ill cultivated, or through its tender growing shoots being perverted. In like manner it is quite possible, by much correction and cultivation of him into whom this seed does not fall primarily, to induce it by the process of steady endeavour after goodness, so that it may attain to the power of bearing this fruit. And it is, as it were, a method of grafting the nature of another upon a different stock. No man, therefore, can hold himself excused; for if from his natural root the man does not produce sweet fruit, it is possible for him to have it by the process of grafting; and in fact there would be as many who should be grafted as those are who, sprung from a good root, allow themselves to grow degenerate.
Of the two ways of goodness, one is more full of bliss than the other, as is the Speculative, which is the use of our noblest part without any alloy, and which, for the root, Love, as has been said, is especially to be loved as the intellect. And in this life it is not possible to have the use of this part perfectly, which is to see God, who is the Supreme Being to be comprehended by the Mind, except inasmuch as the intellect considers Him and beholds Him through His effects, His Works. And that we may seek this Beatitude as the supreme, and not the other, that is, that of the Active Life, the Gospel of St. Mark teaches us, if we will look at it well. Mark says that Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Mary Salome went to find the Saviour in the Tomb, and they found Him not, but they found a youth clothed in white, who said to them: "You seek the Saviour, and I tell you that He is not here; and therefore be not affrighted, but go and tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee; and there ye shall see Him, as He said unto you." By these three women may be understood the three sects of the Active Life, that is to say, the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Peripatetics, who go to the Tomb, that is to say, to the present World, which is the receptacle of corruptible things, and seek for the Saviour, that is, Beatitude, and they find it not; but they find a youth in white garments, who, according to the testimony of Matthew, and also of the other Evangelists, was an Angel of God. And therefore Matthew said: "The Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow."
The Angel is this Nobility of ours which comes from God, as it has been said, of which our argument speaks, and says to each one of these sects, that is, to whoever seeks perfect Happiness in the Active Life, that it is not here; but go and tell the disciples and Peter, that is, tell those who seek for it and those who are gone astray like Peter, who had denied Him, that He will go before them into Galilee; meaning that the Beatitude or Happiness will go before us into Galilee, that is, into Contemplation; Galilee is as much as to say, Whiteness. Whiteness is a colour full of material light, more so than any other; and thus, Contemplation is more full of Spiritual light than any other thing which is below. And it says, "He will go before you," but it does not say, "He will be with you," to make us understand that in our contemplation God always goes before. Nor is it ever possible to us to attain to Him here, to Him, our Supreme Bliss. And it says, "There shall ye see Him, as He said unto you;" that is to say, there you will receive of His Sweetness, that is, of the Happiness as it is promised to you here, as it is established that you may receive it. And thus it appears that our Beatitude, this Happiness of which we speak, first we are able to find imperfect in the Active Life, that is, in the operations of the Moral Virtues, and then almost perfect in the operations of the Intellectual Virtues; which two operations are speedy and most direct ways to lead to the Supreme Bliss, which it is not possible to have here below, even as appears by that which has been said.
With regard to the first part, it is to be known that this Divine seed, which has been previously spoken of, germinates immediately in our Soul, combining with and changing its form with each form of the Soul, according to the exigency of that power. It germinates, then, as the Vegetative, as the Sensitive, and as the Rational, and it branches out through the virtues or powers of all of them, guiding all those to their perfection, and sustaining itself in them always, even to the point when, with that part of our Soul which never dies, it returns to the highest and the most glorious Sower of the seed in Heaven; and it expresses this in that first part which has been mentioned. Then when it says, "In Childhood they obey, Are gentle, modest," it shows how we can recognize the Noble Man by the apparent signs, which are the Divine operation of this goodness. And this part is divided into four, as it is made to represent four different ages, such as Adolescence, Youth, Old Age, and Extreme Old Age. The second part begins, "Are temperate in Youth;" the third begins, "Are prudent in their Age;" the fourth begins, "The fourth part of their life." Herein is contained the purpose of this part in general, with regard to which it is desirable to know that each effect, inasmuch as it is an effect, receives the likeness of its cause in proportion as it is capable of retaining it. Wherefore, since our life, as has been said, and also the life of every living creature here below, is caused by Heaven, Heaven is revealed in all such effects as these, not, indeed, with the complete circle, but with part of it, in them. Thus its movement must be not only with them, but beyond them, and as one arch of life retains (and I say retains, not only of men, but also of other living creatures) almost all the lives, ascending and descending, they must be, as it were, similar in appearance to the form of the arch. Returning, then, to our course of life which at present we are seeking to understand, I say that it proceeds after the manner of this arch, ascending and descending.
And it is to be known that the ascent of this arch should be equal to its descent, if the material of the seed from which we spring, so complex in its nature, did not impede the law of Human Nature. But since the humid root is of better quality more or less, and stronger to endure in one effect more than in another, being subject to the nutriment of the heat, which is our life, it happens that the arch of the life of one man is of less or of greater extent than that of another, life being shortened by a violent death or by some accidental injury; but that which is called natural by the people is that span of which it is said by the Psalmist, "Thou settest up a boundary which it is not possible to pass." And since the Master among those here living, Aristotle, had perception of this arch of which we now speak, and seems to be of opinion that our life should be no other than one ascent and one descent, therefore he says, in that chapter where he treats of Youth and of Old Age, that Youth is no other than an increase of life. Where the top of this arch may be, it is difficult to know, on account of the inequality which has been spoken of above, but for the most part I believe between the thirtieth and the fortieth year, and I believe that in the perfectly natural man it is at the thirty-fifth year. And this reason has weight with me: that our Saviour Jesus Christ was a perfect natural man, who chose to die in the thirty-fourth year of His age; for it was not suitable for the Deity to have place in the descending segment; neither is it to be believed that He would not wish to dwell in this life of ours even to the summit of it, since He had been in the lower part even from childhood. And the hour of the day of His death makes this evident, for He willed that to conform with His life; wherefore Luke says that it was about the sixth hour when He died, that is to say, the height or supreme point of the day; wherefore it is possible to comprehend by that, as it were, that at the thirty-fifth year of Christ was the height or supreme point of His age.
Truly this arch is not half distinguished in the Scriptures, but if we follow the four connecting links of the differing qualities which are in our composition, to each one of which appears to be appropriated one part of our age, it is divided into four parts, and they are called the four ages. The first is Adolescence, which is appropriated to the hot and moist; the second is Youth, which is appropriated to the hot and dry; the third is Old Age, which is appropriated to the cold and dry; the fourth is Extreme Old Age, which is appropriated to the cold and moist, as Albertus Magnus writes in the fourth chapter of the Metaura. And these parts or divisions are made in a similar manner in the year -- in Spring, in Summer, in Autumn, and in Winter. And it is the same in the day even to the third hour, and then even to the ninth, leaving the sixth in the middle of this part, or division, for the reason which is understood, and then even to vespers, and from vespers onwards. And therefore the Gentiles said that the chariot of the Sun had four horses; they called the first Eoo, the second Piroi, the third Eton, the fourth Phlegon, even as Ovid writes in the second book of the Metamorphoses concerning the parts or divisions of the day. And, briefly, it is to be known that, as it has been said above in the sixth chapter of the third treatise, the Church makes use of the hours temporal in the division of the day, which hours are twelve in each day, long or short according to the amount of sunlight; and because the sixth hour, that is, the midday, is the most noble of the whole day, and has in it the most virtue, the Offices of the Church are approximated thereto in each side, that is, from the prime, and thence onwards as much as possible; and therefore the Office of prime, that is, the tertius, is said at the end of that part, and that of the third part and of the fourth is said at the beginning; and therefore, before the clock strikes in a division of the day, it is termed half-third or mid-tertius; or mid-nones, when in that division the clock has struck, and thus mid-vespers. And, therefore, let each one know that the right and lawful nones ought always to strike or sound at the beginning of the seventh hour of the day, and let this suffice to the present digression.
Of the first no one doubts, but each wise man agrees that it lasts even to the twenty-fifth year; and up to that time our Soul waits for the increase and the embellishment of the body. While there are many and very great changes in the person, the rational part cannot possess perfectly the power of discretion; wherefore, the Civil Law wills that, previous to that age, a man cannot do certain things without a guardian of perfect age.
Of the second, which is the height of our life, the time is variously taken by many. But leaving that which philosophers and medical men write concerning it, and returning to the proper argument, we may say that, in most men in whom one can and ought to be guided by natural judgment, that age lasts for twenty years. And the reason which leads me to this conclusion is, that the height or supreme point of our arc or bow is in the thirty-fifth year; just so much as this age has of ascent, so much it ought to have of descent; and this ascent passes into descent, as it were, at the point, the centre, where one would hold the bow in the hand, at which place a slight flexion may be discerned. We are of opinion, then, that Youth is completed in the forty-fifth year. And as Adolescence is in the twenty-five years which proceed mounting upwards to Youth: so the descent, that is, Old Age, is an equal amount of time which succeeds to Youth; and thus Old Age terminates in the seventieth year. But because Adolescence does not begin at the beginning of life -- taking it in the way which has been said -- but about eight months from birth; and because our life strives to ascend, and curbs itself in the descent; because the natural heat is lessened and can do little, and the moist humour is increased, not in quantity, but in quality, so that it is less able to evaporate and be consumed; it happens that beyond Old Age there remains of our life an amount, perhaps, of about ten years, a little more or a little less; and this time of life is termed Extreme Old Age, or Senility. Wherefore we know of Plato (of whom one may well say that he was a son of Nature, both because of his perfection and because of his countenance, which caused Socrates to love him when first he saw him), that he lived eighty and one years, according to the testimony of Tullius in that book On Old Age. And I believe that if Christ had not been crucified, and if He might have lived the length of time which His life according to nature could have passed over, at eighty and one years He would have been transformed from the mortal body into the eternal.
Truly, as has been said above, these ages may be longer or shorter according to our complexion or temper and our constitution or composition; but, as they are, it seems to me that I observe this proportion in all men, as has been said, that is to say, that in such men the ages may be made longer or shorter according to the integrity of the whole term of the natural life. Throughout all these ages this Nobility of which we speak manifests its effects in different ways in the ennobled Soul; and it is that which this part of the Song, concerning which we write at present, intends to demonstrate. Where it is to be known that our good and upright nature makes forward progress in us in the reasoning powers, as we see the nature of the plants make forward progress; and therefore it is that different manners and different deportment are to be held reasonable at one age rather than at another. The ennobled Soul proceeds in due order along a single path, employing each of its powers in its time and season, or even as they are all ordained to the final production of the perfect fruit. And Tullius is in harmony with this in his book On Old Age. And putting aside the figurative sense which Virgil holds in the AEneid concerning this different progress of the ages, and letting that be which Egidius the hermit mentions in the first part On the Government of Princes, and letting that be to which Tullius alludes in his book Of Offices, and following that alone which Reason can see of herself, I say that this first age is the door and the path through which and along which we enter into our good life, And this entrance must of necessity have certain things which the good Nature, which fails not in things necessary, gives to us; as we see that she gives to the vine the leaves for the protection of the fruit, and the little tendrils which enable it to twine round its supports, and thus bind up its weakness, so that it can sustain the weight of its fruit.
Beneficent Nature gives, then, to this age four things necessary to the entrance into the City of the Good Life. The first is Obedience, the second Suavity, the third Modesty, the fourth Beauty of the Body, even as the Song says in the first section of this part. It is, then, to be known that like one who has never been in a city, who would not know how to find his way about the streets without instruction from one who is accustomed to them, even so the adolescent who enters into the Wood of Error of this life would not know how to keep to the good path if it were not pointed out to him by his elders. Neither would the instruction avail if he were not obedient to their commands, and therefore at this age obedience is necessary. Here it might be possible for some one to speak thus: Then, is that man to be called obedient who shall follow evil guidance as well as he who shall believe the good? I reply that this would not be obedience, but transgression. For if the King should issue a command in one way and the servant give forth the command in another, it would not be right to obey the servant, for that would be to disobey the King; and thus it would be transgression. And therefore Solomon says, when he intends to correct his son, and this is his first commandment: "Listen, my son, to the instruction of thy father." And then he seeks to remove him immediately from the counsel and teaching of the wicked man, saying, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Wherefore, as soon as he is born, the son clings to the breast of the mother; even so soon as some light of the Mind appears in him, he ought to turn to the correction of the father, and the father to instruction. And let the father take heed that he himself does not set him an example in work or action that is contrary to the words of the correction; for naturally we see each son look more to the footprints of the paternal feet than to those of other men. And therefore the Law, which provides for this, says and commands that the life of the father should appear to his sons always honourable and upright. Thus it appears that obedience was necessary in this age; and therefore Solomon writes in the Book of Proverbs, that he who humbly and obediently sustains his just reproofs from the corrector shall be glorious. And he says "shall be," to cause men to understand that he speaks to the adolescent, who cannot be so in his present age. And if any one should reflect on me because I have said obedience is due to the father and not to other men, I say that to the father all other obedience ought to be referred; wherefore the Apostle says to the Colossians: "Sons, obey your fathers in all things, for such is the will of God." And if the father be not in this life, the son ought to refer to that which is said by the father in his last Will as a father; and if the father die intestate, the son ought to refer to him to whom the Law commits his authority; and then ought the masters and elders to be obeyed, for this appears to be a reasonable charge laid upon the son by the father, or by him who stands in the father's place. But because this present chapter has been long, on account of the useful digressions which it contains, in another chapter other things shall be discussed.
Likewise to this age the passion of modesty is necessary; and therefore the nature which is good and noble shows it in this age, even as the Song says. And since modesty is the clearest sign, in Adolescence, of Nobility, because there it is especially necessary to the good foundation of our life, at which the noble nature aims, it is right to speak of it somewhat. By modesty I mean three passions or strong feelings necessary to the foundation of our good life: the one is wonder, the next is modesty, the third is shame, although the common people do not discern this distinction. And all three of these are necessary to this life, for this reason: at this age it is requisite to be reverent and desirous for knowledge; at this age it is necessary or requisite to be self-controlled, so as not to transgress or pass beyond due bounds; at this age it is necessary to be penitent for a fault, so as not to grow accustomed to doing wrong. And all these things the aforesaid passions or strong feelings do, which vulgarly are called shame; for wonder is an amazement of the mind at beholding great and wonderful things, at hearing them, or feeling them in some way or other; for, inasmuch as they appear great, they excite reverence in him who sees them; inasmuch as they appear wonderful, they make him who perceives them desirous of knowledge concerning them. And therefore the ancient Kings in their palaces or habitations set up magnificent works in gold and in marble and works of art, in order that those who should see them should become astonished, and therefore reverent inquirers into the honourable conditions of the King. Therefore Statius, the sweet Poet, in the first part of the Theban History, says that, when Adrastus, King of the Argives, saw Polynices covered with the skin of a lion, and saw Tydeus covered with the hide of a wild boar, and recalled to mind the reply that Apollo had given concerning his daughters, he became amazed, and therefore more reverent and more desirous for knowledge.
Modesty is a shrinking, a drawing-back of the mind from unseemly things, with the fear of falling into them; even as we see in virgins and in good women, and in adolescent or young men, who are so modest that not only when they are tempted to do wrong, and urged to do so, but even when some fancied joy flashes across the mind, the feeling is depicted in the face, which either grows pale with fear, or flushes rosy-red. Wherefore the before-mentioned poet, in the first book of the Thebaid already quoted, says that when Acesta the nurse of Argia and Deiphile, the daughters of King Adrastus, led them before the eyes of their holy father into the presence of the two pilgrims, that is to say, Polynices and Tydeus, the virgins grew pale and blushed rosy-red, and their eyes shunned the glance of any other person, and they kept them fixed on the paternal face alone, as if there were safety. This modesty -- how many errors does it bridle in, or repress? On how many immodest questions and impure things does it impose silence! How much dishonest greed does it repress! In the chaste woman, against how many evil temptations does it rouse mistrust, not only in her, but also in him who watches over her! How many unseemly words does it restrain! for, as Tullius says in the first chapter of the Offices: "No action is unseemly which is not unseemly in the naming." And furthermore, the Modest and Noble Man never could speak in such a manner that to a woman his words would not be decent and such as she could hear. Alas, how great is the evil in every man who seeks for honour, to mention things which would be deemed evil in the mouth of any woman!
Shame is a fear of dishonour through fault committed, and from this fear there springs up a penitence for the fault, which has in itself a bitter sorrow or grief, which is a chastisement and preservative against future wrong-doing. Wherefore this same poet says, in that same part, that when Polynices was questioned by King Adrastus concerning his life, he hesitated at first through shame to speak of the crime which he had committed against his father, and also for the sins of Oedipus, his father, which appeared to remain in the shame of the son; therefore he named not his father, but his ancestors, and his country, and his mother; and therefore it does indeed appear that shame is necessary to that age.
And the noble nature reveals in this age, not only obedience, gentleness, affability, and modesty, but it shows beauty and agility of body, even as the Song expresses: "To furnish Virtue's person with The graces it may need." Here it is to be known that this work of beneficent Nature is also necessary to our good life, for our Soul must work in the greater part of all its operations with a bodily organ; and then it works well when the body through all its parts is well proportioned and appointed. And when it is well proportioned and appointed, then it is beautiful throughout and in all its parts; for the due ordering or proportion of our limbs produces a pleasing impression of I know not what of wonderful harmony; and the good disposition, that is to say, the health of mind and body, throws over all a colouring sweet to behold. And thus to say that the noble nature takes heed for the graces of the body, and makes it fair and harmonious, is tantamount to saying that it prepares it and renders it fit to attain the perfection ordained for it: and those other things which have been discussed seem to be requisite to Adolescence, which the noble Mind, that is to say, the noble Nature, furnishes forth to it in the first years of life, as growth of the seed sown therein by the Divine Providence.
Here, then, it is needful to recall to mind that which was argued in the twenty-second chapter of this treatise concerning the appetite or impulse which is born in us. This appetite or impulse never does aught else but to pursue and to flee, and whenever it pursues that which is to be pursued, and as far as is right, and flies from that which is to be fled from, and as much as is right, then is the man within the limits of his perfection. Truly, this appetite or natural impulse must have Reason for its rider; for as a horse at liberty, however noble it may be by nature, by itself without the good rider does not conduct itself well, even thus this appetite, however noble it may be, must obey Reason, which guides it with the bridle and spur, as the good knight uses the bridle when he hunts. And that bridle is termed Temperance, which marks the limit up to which it is lawful to pursue; he uses the spur in flight to turn the horse away from the place from which he would flee away; and this spur is called Courage, or rather Magnanimity, a Virtue that points out the place at which it is right to stop, and to resist evil even to mortal combat. And thus Virgil, our greatest Poet, represents AEneas as under the influence of powerful self control in that part of the AEneid wherein this age is typified, which part comprehends the fourth and the fifth and the sixth books of the AEneid. And what self-restraint was that when, having received from Dido so much pleasure, as will be spoken of in the seventh treatise, and enjoying so much delectation with her, he departed, in order to follow the upright and praiseworthy path fruitful of good works, even as it is written in the fourth book of the AEneid! What impetus was that when AEneas had the fortitude alone with Sybilla to enter into Hades, to search for the Soul of his father Anchises, in the face of so many dangers, as it is shown in the sixth book of the AEneid. Wherefore it appears that in our Youth, in order to be in our perfection, we must be Temperate and Brave. The good disposition secures this for us, even as the Song expressly states.
Again, at this age it is necessary to its perfection to be Loving; because at this age it is requisite to look behind and before, as being midway over the arch. The youth ought to love his elders, from whom he has received his being, and his nutriment, and his instruction, so that he may not appear ungrateful. He ought to love his juniors, since, in loving them, he gives them of his good gifts, for which in after-years, when the younger friends are prospering, he may be supported and honoured by them. And the poet named above, in the fifth book before-mentioned, makes it evident that AEneas possessed this loving disposition, when he left the aged Trojans in Sicily, recommended to Acestes, and set them free from the fatigues of the voyage; and when he instructed, in the same place, Ascanius his son, with the other young men, in jousting or in feats of arms; wherefore it appears that to this age Love is necessary, even as the Song says.
Again, to this age Courtesy is necessary, for, although to every age it is right or beautiful to be possessed of courteous manners, to this age it is especially necessary, because, on the contrary, Old Age, with its gravity and its severity, cannot possess courtesy, if it has been wanting in this youthful period of life; and with Extreme Old Age it is the same in a greater degree. And that most noble poet, in the sixth book before-mentioned, proves that AEneas possessed this courtesy, when he says that AEneas, then King, in order to pay honour to the dead body of Misenus, who had been the trumpeter of Hector, and afterwards accompanied AEneas, made himself ready and took the axe to assist in cutting the logs for the fire which must burn the dead body, as was their custom. Wherefore this courtesy does indeed appear to be necessary to Youth; and therefore the noble Soul reveals it in that age, as has been said.
Again, it is necessary to this age to be Loyal. Loyalty is to follow and to put in operation that which the Laws command, and this especially is necessary in the young man; because the adolescent, as it has been said, on account of his minority, merits ready pardon; the old man, on account of greater experience, ought to be just, but not a follower of the Law except inasmuch as his upright judgment and the Law are at one as it were; and almost without any Law he ought to be able to follow the dictates of his own just mind. The young man is not able to do this, and it is sufficient that he should obey the Law, and take delight in that obedience; even as the before-said poet says, in the fifth book previously mentioned, that AEneas did when he instituted the games in Sicily on the anniversary of his father's death, for what he promised for the victories he loyally gave to each victor, according to their ancient custom, which was their Law. Wherefore, it is evident that, to this age, Loyalty, Courtesy, Love, Courage, and Temperance are necessary, even as the Song says, which at present I have reasoned out; and therefore the noble Soul reveals them all.
If we consider well, good counsel springs from Prudence, which leads or guides a man, and other men, to a good end in human affairs. And this is that gift which Solomon, perceiving himself to be placed as ruler over the people, asked of God, even as it is written in the Third Book of Kings; nor does the prudent man wait for counsel to be asked of him; but of himself, foreseeing the need for it, unasked he gives counsel or advice; like the rose, which not only to him who goes to her for her sweet odour freely gives it, but also to any one who passes near. Here it would be possible for any doctor or lawyer to say: Then shall I carry my counsel or advice, and shall I give it even before it be asked of me, and shall I not reap fruit from my art or skill? I reply in the words of our Saviour: "Freely ye have received, freely give." I say, then, Master Lawyer, that those counsels which have no respect to thine art, and which proceed alone from that good sense or wisdom which God gave thee (which is the prudence of which we speak), thou oughtest not to sell to the sons or children of Him who has given it to thee. But those counsels which belong to the art which thou hast purchased, thou mayst sell; but not in such a way but that at any time the tenth part of them may be fitly set apart and given unto God, that is, to those unhappy ones to whom the Divine protection is all that is left.
Likewise at this age it is right to be Just, in order that the judgments and the authority of the man may be a light and a law to other men. And because this particular Virtue, that is to say, Justice, was seen by the ancient philosophers to appear perfect in men of this age, they entrusted the government of the cities to those men who had attained that age; and therefore the college of Rectors was called the Senate. Oh, my unhappy, unhappy country! how my heart is wrung with pity for thee whenever I read, whenever I write, anything which may have reference to Civil Government! But since in the last treatise of this book Justice will be discussed, to the present let this slight notice of it suffice. Also at this age a man ought to be liberal, because a thing is then most suitable when it gives most satisfaction to the due requirements of its nature: nor to the due requirements of Liberality is it ever possible to give more satisfaction than at this age. For if we will look well at the argument of Aristotle in the fourth book of Ethics, and at that of Tullius in his book Of Offices, Liberality desires to be seasonable in place and time; so that the liberal man may not injure himself nor other men; which thing it is not possible to have without Prudence and without Justice, Virtues that previous to this age it is impossible to have or possess in perfection in the Natural way. Alas! ye base-born ones, born under evil stars, ye who rob the widows and orphans, who ravish or despoil those who possess least, who steal from and occupy or usurp the homes of other men, and with that spoil you furnish forth feasts, women, horses, arms, robes, money; you wear wonderful garments, you build marvellous palaces; and you believe that you do deeds of great liberality: and this is no other than to take the cloth from the altar and to cover therewith the thief and his table! Not otherwise one ought to laugh, O tyrants, at your bounteous liberality than at the thief who should lead the invited guests into his house to his feast, and place upon his table the cloth stolen from the altar, with the ecclesiastical signs inwoven, and should not believe that other men might perceive the sacrilege. Hear, O ye obstinate men, what Tullius says against you in the book Of Offices: "Certainly there are many, desirous of being great and glorious, who rob some that they may give to others, believing themselves to be esteemed good men if they enrich their friends with what the Law allows. But this is so opposite or contrary to that which ought to be done, that nothing is more wrong." At this age also a man ought to be Affable, to speak for the good of others, and to listen to such speech willingly, since it is good for a man to discourse kindly at an age when he is listened to. And this age also has with it a shadow of authority, for which reason it appears that the aged man is more likely to be listened to than a person in a younger period of life. And of most good and beautiful Truths it seems that a man ought to have knowledge after the long experience of life. Wherefore Tullius says, in that book On Old Age, in the person of Cato the elder: "To me is increased the desire and the delight to remain in conversation longer than I am wont."
And that all four of these things are right and proper to this age, Ovid teaches, in the seventh chapter of Metamorphoses, in that fable where he writes how Cephalus of Athens came to AEacus the King for help in the war which Athens had with the Cretans. He shows that AEacus, an old man, was prudent when, having, through pestilence caused by corruption of the air, lost almost all his people, he wisely had recourse to God, and besought of Him the restoration of the dead; and for his wisdom, which in patience possessed him and caused him to turn to God, his people were restored to him in greater number than before. He shows that he was just, when he says that AEacus was the divider and the distributor of his deserted land to his new people. He shows that AEacus was generous or liberal when he said to Cephalus, after his request for aid: "O Athens! ask me not to render assistance, but take it yourself; doubt not the strength of the forces which this island possesses, nor the power of my state and realm; troops are not wanting to us, nay, we have them in excess for offence and defence; it is indeed a happy time to give you aid, and without excuse." Alas, how many things are to be observed in this reply! but to a good, intelligent man it is sufficient for it to be placed here, even as Ovid puts it. He shows that AEacus was affable when he described, in a long speech to Cephalus, the history of the pestilence which destroyed his people, and the restoration of the same, which he tells readily. It is clear enough, then, that to this age four things are suitable, because the noble Nature reveals them in it, even as the Song says. And that the example given may be the more memorable, AEacus says that he was the father of Telamon and Peleus and of Phocus, from which Telamon sprang Ajax and from Peleus Achilles.
And the Noble Soul in this age blesses likewise the time that is past, and it may well bless it; because when Memory turns back to them, the Noble Soul remembers her upright deeds, without which it were not possible for her to come to the port whither she is hastening with such wealth nor with such gain. And the Noble Soul does like the good merchant, who, when he draws near to his port, examines his cargo, and says: "If I had not passed along such a highway as that, I should not possess this treasure, and I should not have wherewith to rejoice in my city, to which I am approaching;" and therefore he blesses the voyage he has made. And that these two things are suitable to this age that great poet Lucan represents to us in the second book of his Pharsalia, when he says that Marcia returned to Cato, and entreated him that he would take her back in his fourth and Extreme Old Age, by which Marcia the Noble Soul is meant, and we can thus depict the symbol of it in all Truth. Marcia was a virgin, and in that state typifies Adolescence; she then espoused Cato, and in that state typifies Youth; she then bore sons, by whom are typified the Virtues which are becoming to young men, as previously described; and she departed from Cato and espoused Hortensius, by which it is typified that she quitted Youth and came to Old Age. She bore sons to this man also, by whom are typified the Virtues which befit Old Age, as previously said. Hortensius died, by which is typified the end of Old Age, and Marcia, made a widow, by which widowhood is typified Extreme Old Age, returned in the early days of her widowhood to Cato, whereby is typified the Noble Soul turning to God in the beginning of Extreme Old Age. And what earthly man was more worthy to typify God than Cato? None, of a certainty.
And what does Marcia say to Cato? "Whilst there was blood in me [that is to say, Youth], whilst the maternal power was in me [that is, Age, which is indeed the Mother of all other Virtues or Powers, as has been previously shown or proved], I," says Marcia, "fulfilled all thy commandments [that is to say, that the Soul stood firm in obedience to the Civil Laws]." She says: "And I took two husbands," that is to say, I have been in two fruitful periods of life. "Now," says Marcia, "that I am weary, and that I am void and empty, I return to thee, being no longer able to give happiness to the other husband;" that is to say, that the Noble Soul, knowing well that it has no longer the power to produce, that is, feeling all its members to have grown feeble, turns to God, that is, to Him who has no need of members of the body. And Marcia says, "Give me the ancient covenanted privileges of the beds; give me the name alone of the Marriage Tie;" that is to say, the Noble Soul says to God, "O my Lord, give me now repose and rest;" the Soul says, "Give me at least whatsoever I may have called Thine in a life so long." And Marcia says, "Two reasons move or urge me to say this; the one is, that they may say of me, after I am dead, that I was the wife of Cato; the other is, that it may be said after me that thou didst not drive me away, but didst espouse me heartily." By these two causes the Noble Soul is stirred and desires to depart from this life as the spouse of God, and wishes to show that God was gracious to the creature that He made. O unhappy and baseborn men! you who prefer to depart from this life under the name of Hortensius rather than of Cato! From Cato's name a grace comes into the close of the discourse which it was fit to make touching the signs of Nobility; because in him Nobility reveals them all, through all the ages of his life.
To the second question it is possible to reply that a race of itself has no Soul; and indeed it is true that it is called Noble, but it is in a certain way. Wherefore it is to be known that every whole is composed of its parts, and there is a certain whole which has a simple essence in its parts, as in one man there is one essence in all and in each individual part; and this which is said to be in the part is said in the same way to be in the whole. There is another whole which has not a common essential form or essence with the parts, as a heap of corn; but there is a secondary essence which results from many grains, which possess in themselves a true and primary essence. And in such a whole as this they are said to be the qualities of the parts in a secondary way; wherefore it is called a white heap, because the grains whereof the heap is made are white. Truly this white appearance is more in the grains in the first place, and in the second place it results in the whole heap, and thus secondarily it is possible to call it white; and in such a way it is possible to call a race Noble. Wherefore it is to be known, that as in order to make a white heap the white grains must be most numerous, so to make a Noble race the Noble Men must be more numerous than the others, so that their goodness, with its good fame or renown, may cover the opposite quality which is within. And as from a white heap of corn it would be possible to pick up the wheat grain by grain, and substitute, grain by grain, red maize, till, finally, the whole heap or mass would change colour, so would it be possible for the good men of the Noble race to die out one by one, and the wicked ones to spring up therein, who would so change the name or fame thereof, that it would have to be called, not Noble, but vile, or base. And let this be a sufficient answer to the second question.
I say, then, "My Song, Against the strayers." "Against the strayers" is a phrase, as, for example, from the good friar, Thomas of Aquinas, who, to a book of his, which he wrote to the confusion of all those who go astray from our Faith, gave the title "Contra Gentili," Against the Heathen. I say, then, that thou shalt go, which is as much as to say: "Thou art now perfect, and it is now time, not to stand still, but to go forward, for thy enterprise is great. And 'when you reach Our Lady, hide not from her that your end Is labour that would lessen wrong.'" Where it is to be observed that, as our Lord says, "We ought not to cast pearls before swine," because it is not to their advantage, and it is injury to the pearls; and, as Aesop the poet says in the first fable, a little grain of corn is of far more worth to a cock than a pearl, and therefore he leaves the pearl and picks up the grain of corn: reflecting on this, as a caution, I speak and give command to the Song that it reveal its high office where this Lady, that is, where Philosophy, will be found. And that most noble Lady will be found when her dwelling-place is found, that is, the Soul in which she finds her Inn. And this Philosophy dwells not in wise men alone, but likewise, as is proved above in another treatise, wherever the love for her inhabits, she is there. "And to such as these," I say to the Song, "thou mayst reveal thine office, because to them the purpose thereof will be useful, and by them its thoughts will be gathered in."
And I bid it say to this Lady, "I travel ever talking of your Friend." Nobility is her Friend. For so much does the one love the other, that Nobility always seeks her, and Philosophy does not turn aside her most sweet glance to any other. O, what a great and beautiful ornament is this which is given to her in the last part of this Song, by giving to her the title of Friend, the Friend of her whose own abode is in the most secret depths of the Divine Mind.