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Published by aravindpunna

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Published by: aravindpunna on Mar 28, 2013
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Dante Alighieri
 The Banquet (Il Convito)The First Treatise
CHAPTER I. As the Philosopher says in the beginning of the first Philosophy,"Allmen naturally desire Knowledge." The reason of which may be,that eachthing, impelled by the intuition of its own nature, tends towards itsperfection, hence, forasmuch as Knowledge is the final perfectionof our Soul, in which our ultimate happiness consists, we are allnaturally subject to the desire for it.Verily, many are deprived of this most noble perfection, by diverscauses within the man and without him, which remove him fromthe useof Knowledge.Within the man there may be two defects or impediments, the oneon thepart of the Body, the other on the part of the Soul. On the part of the Body it is, when the parts are unfitly disposed, so that it canreceive nothing as with the deaf and dumb, and their like. On thepartof the Soul it is, when evil triumphs in it, so that it becomes thefollower of vicious pleasures, through which it is so muchdeceived,that on account of them it holds everything in contempt.Without the man, two causes may in like manner be understood,of whichone comes of necessity, the other of stagnation. The first is the
management of the family and conduct of civil affairs, which fitlydraws to itself the greater number of men, so that they cannot liveinthe quietness of speculation. The other is the fault of the placewhere a person is born and reared, which will ofttimes be not onlywithout any School whatever, but may be far distant from studiouspeople. The two first of these causes--the first of the hindrancefromwithin, and the first of the hindrance from without--are notdeservingof blame, but of excuse and pardon; the two others, although theonemore than the other, deserve blame and are to be detested.Hence, he who reflects well, can manifestly see that they are fewwhocan attain to the enjoyment of Knowledge, though it is desired byall,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 theSheep.But because each man is naturally friendly to each man, and eachfriend grieves for the fault of him whom he loves; they who are fedatthat high table are full of mercy towards those whom they seestrayingin one pasture with the creatures who eat grass and acorns. And forasmuch as Mercy is the Mother of Benevolence, thosewho knowhow, do always liberally offer their good wealth to the true poor,and
are like a living stream, whose water cools the before-namednaturalthirst. I, then, who sit not at the blessed table, but having fledfrom the pasture of the common herd, lie at the feet of those whositthere and gather up what falls from them, by the sweetness whichIfind in that which I collect little by little, I know the wretchedlife of those whom I have left behind me; and moved mercifully for theunhappy ones, not forgetting myself, I have reserved somethingwhich Ihave shown to their eyes long ago, and for this I have made themgreatly desirous. Wherefore, now wishing to prepare for them, Imeanto 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 beeatenby them at their feast; bread fit for such meat, which I know,withoutit, would be furnished forth in vain. And therefore I desire that noone should sit at this Banquet whose members are so unfitlydisposedthat he has neither teeth, nor tongue, nor palate: nor any follower of vice; inasmuch as his stomach is full of venomous and hurtfulhumours,so that it will retain no food whatever. But let those come to us,whosoever they be, who, pressed by the management of civil anddomestic life, have felt this human hunger, and at one table withothers who have been in like bondage, let them sit. But at their feetlet us place all those who have been the slaves of sloth, and whoare

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