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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Banquet (il Convito) - The Third Treatise - Chapter II
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The Banquet (il Convito) - The Third Treatise - Chapter II Post by :iknowstuff Category :Nonfictions Author :Dante Alighieri Date :July 2011 Read :2380

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The Banquet (il Convito) - The Third Treatise - Chapter II

The Third Treatise - CHAPTER II

Turning, then, to the First Part, which was composed as a Proem or
Preface to the Song or Poem, I say that it is fitly divided into three
parts. In the first place, it alludes to the ineffable condition of
this theme; secondly, it describes my insufficiency to speak of it in
a perfect manner; and this second part begins: "If I would tell of her
what thus I hear." Finally, I excuse myself for my insufficiency, for
which they ought not to lay blame to my charge; and I commence this
part when I say: "If my Song fail."

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.

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The Third Treatise - CHAPTER IIINot without cause do I say that this Love was at work in my mind; butit is said reasonably, in order to explain what this Love is, by theplace in which it works. Wherefore, it is to be known that each thing,as is said above, for the reason shown above, has its especial Love,as the simple bodies have Love, innate, each in its proper place.Therefore the Earth always descends to the centre, the fire to thecircumference above near the Heaven of the Moon, and always ascendstowards that. The bodies first composed, such as are the minerals,have
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The Third Treatise - CHAPTER ILove, reasoning of my Lady in my mind With constant pleasure, oft of her will say Things over which the intellect may stray; 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! If I would tell of her what thus I hear, First, all that Reason cannot make its own I needs must leave; and of what may be known Leave part, for want of words to make it clear. If my Song fail,
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