MARICONDO. Here you see a flaming yoke enveloped in knots round which is written: Levius aura; which means that Divine love does not weigh down, nor carry his servant captive and enslaved to the lowest depths, but raises him, supports him and magnifies him above all liberty whatsoever.
CES. Prithee, let us read the sonnet, so that we may consider the sense of it in due order with propriety and brevity.
MAR. It says thus:--
She who my mind to other love did move,
To whom all others vile and vain appear,
In whom alone is sovereign beauty seen,
And excellence Divine is manifest.
She from the forest coming, I beheld,
Huntress of myself, beloved Artemis,
'Midst beauteous nymphs, with air of nascent bells.
Then said I unto Love: See, I am hers.
And he to me: Oh, happy lover thou!
Delectable companion of thy fate!
That she alone of all the numberless,
That hold within their bosom life and death,
Who most with virtues high the world adorns, p. 52
Thou didst obtain, through will and destiny,
Within the Court of Love.
So happy thou in thy captivity
Thou enviest not the liberty of man or God.
See how contented he is under that yoke, that marriage which has joined him to her whom be saw issuing from the forest, from the desert, from the woods, that is, from parts removed from the crowd, and from the conversation of the vulgar who have but small enlightenment. Diana, the splendour of the intelligible species, and huntress; because with her beauty and grace she first wounded him, and then bound him and holds him in her power, more contented than otherwise he could possibly have been. He speaks of her "amidst beauteous nymphs," that is, the multitude of other species, forms and ideas, and "air of bells," that is the genius and the spirit which displayed itself at Nola, which lies on the plain of the Campanian horizon. 1 He acknowledges her, and she, more than any other, is praised by Love, who considers him so fortunate, because amongst all those present or absent to, mortal eyes, she does more highly adorn the world,
and makes man glorious and beautiful. Hence he says that his mind is raised towards the highest love, and that it learns to consider "every other goddess," that is, the care or observation of every other kind, as vile and vain. 1 Now, in saying that she has roused his mind to high love, he takes occasion to magnify the heart through the thoughts, desires and works, as much as possible, and (to say) that we ought not to be entertained with low things which are beneath our faculties, as happens to those who, through avarice or through negligence, or indolence, become in this brief life attached to unworthy things.
CES. There must be artisans, mechanics, agriculturists, servants, trotters, ignoble, low, poor, pedants and such like, for otherwise there could not be philosophers, meditators, cultivators of souls, masters, captains, nobles, illustrious ones, rich, wise, and the rest who may be heroes like to gods. Now why should we force ourselves to corrupt the state of mature which has separated the universe into things major and minor, superior and inferior, illustrious
and obscure, worthy and unworthy, not only outside ourselves but also inside in the substance of us, even to that part of us which is said to be immaterial?
So of the intelligences: some are low, others are pre-eminent, some serve and some obey, some command and govern. I believe, however, that this ought not to be brought forward as an example, so that subjects wishing to be superiors, and the ignoble to equal the noble, the order of things would become perverted and confounded, so that a sort of neutrality would supervene, and a brutal equality, such as is found in certain deserts and uncultured republics. Do you not see what damage has been done to science through this: i.e. pedants wishing. to be philosophers; to treat of natural things, and mix themselves with and decide about things Divine r Who does not see how much evil has happened, and does happen, through the mind having been moved through similar facts to exalted affections? Who. is there, of good sense, who cannot see what a fine. thing Aristotle made of it, when, being a master of belles lettres at Alexandria, he set him self to oppose. and make war against the Pythagorean doctrine, and that of natural philosophy; seeking by means of his logical ratiocination to propose definitions
and notions, certain fifth entities and other abortive portions of fantastical cogitations, as principles and substance of things, more anxious about the esteem of the vulgar stupid crowd, which is influenced and governed by sophisms and appearances which are found in the superficies of things rather than by the Truth, which is occult and hidden in the substance of them, and is the substance itself of them? He roused his mind, not to make himself a mediator, but judge and censor of things which he had never studied. nor well understood. Thus in our day, that little which Aristotle can bring, is peculiar for its inventive reasoning, its suggestiveness, its metaphysics, and is useful for other pedants, who work with the same "Sursum corda." who institute new dialectics and modes of forming the reason (judgment?) which are as much viler than those of Aristotle, as may be the philosophy of Aristotle is incomparably viler than that of the ancients. And it has been caused by this, that certain grammarians having grown old in the birching of children, and in anatomizing phrases and words, have sought to rouse the mind to the formation of new logic and metaphysics, judging and sentencing those which they had never studied nor understood: as also these by the approbation of the ignorant multitude,
with whose mind they have most affinity, can easily demolish the humanities and ratiocination of Aristotle, as the latter was the executioner of the Divine philosophies of others. See, then, what it comes to, if all should aspire to the sacred splendour, and yet are occupied about things low and vain.
Ride, si sapis, o puella, ride,
Pelignus, puto, dixerat poeta;
Sed non dixerat omnibus puellis;
Et si dixerat omnibus puellis,
Non dixit tibi. Ta puella, non es.
Thus the "Sursum corda" is not the measure for all; but for those that have wings. We see that pedantry has never been held in such esteem for the government of the world as in our times, and it offers as many paths of the true intelligible species and objects of infallible and sole truth as there are individual pedants. Therefore in this present time it is proper that noble spirits equipped with truth and enlightened with the Divine intelligence, should arm themselves against dense ignorance by climbing up to the high rock and tower of contemplation. 1
To them it is seemly that they hold every other object as vile and vain. Nor should these spend their time in light and vain things; for time flies with infinite velocity; the present rushes by with the same swiftness with which the future draws near. That which we have lived is nothing; that which we live is a point; that which we have to live is not yet a point, but may be a point which, together, shall be and shall have been. And with all this we crowd our memories with genealogies: this one is intent upon the deciphering of writings, that other is occupied in multiplying childish sophisms, and we shall see, for example, a volume full of: Cor est fons vitae. Nix est alba, ergo cornix est fons vitae alba, and one prattles about the noun; was it first, or the verb; the other, whether the sea was first or the springs; again, another tries to revive obsolete vocabularies which, because they were once used and approved by some old writer, must now be exalted to the stars. Yet another takes his stand upon the false or the true orthography, and so on, with various similar nonsense only worthy of contempt. They fast, they become thin and emaciated, they scourge the skin, and lengthen the beard, they rot, and in these things they place the anchor of their highest good. They despise fortune, and put
up these as shield and refuge against the strokes of fate. With such-like most vile thoughts they think to mount to the stars, to be equal to gods, and to understand the good and the beautiful which philosophy promises.
CES. A grand thing, indeed, that time, which does not suffice for necessary things, however carefully we use it, should come to be chiefly consumed about superfluous things, and things vile and shameful.
Is it not rather a thing to laugh at than to praise in Archimedes, that at the time when the city was in confusion, everything in ruins, fire broken out in his room, enemies there at his back who had it in their power to make him lose his brain, his life, his art; that he, meanwhile, having abandoned all desire or intention of saving his life, lost it while he was inquiring, perhaps, into the proportion of the curve to the straight line, of the diameter to the circle, or other similar mathesis, as suitable for youth, as it were unsuitable for one who, being old, should. be intent upon things more worthy of being put as the end of human desires?
MAR. In connection with this I like what you said just now, that there must be all sorts of persons in the world, and that the number of the imperfect,
the ugly, the poor, the unworthy and the villanous, should be the greater, and, in short, it ought not to be otherwise than as it is. The long life of Archimedes, of Euclid, of Priscian, of Donato, and others, who were found up to their death occupied with numbers, lines, diction, concordances, writings, dialectics, syllogisms, forms, methods, systems of science, organs, and other preambles, is ordained for the service of youth, so that they may learn to receive the fruits of the mature age of those (sages) and be full of the same, even in their green age, so that when they are older they may be fit and ready to arrive without hindrance to higher things.
CES. I am not wrong in the proposition I moved just now when I spoke of those who make it their study to appropriate to themselves the place and the fame of the ancients with new works which are neither better nor worse than those already existing, and spend their life in considering how to turn wheat into tares, 1 and find the work of their life in the elaboration of those studies which are suited for children and are generally profitable to no one, not even to themselves.
MAR. But enough has been said about those who neither can nor dare to have their mind roused to highest love. Let us now come to the consideration of the voluntary captivity and of the pleasant yoke under the dominion of the said Diana; that yoke, I say, without which, the soul is impotent to rise to that height from which it fell, and which renders it light and agile, while the noose renders it more active and disengaged.
CES. Speak on then!
MAR. To begin, to continue, and to conclude in order; I consider that all which lives must feed itself and nourish itself in a manner suitable to the way in which it lives. Therefore, nothing squares with the intellectual nature but the intellectual, as with the body nothing but the corporeal; seeing that nourishment is taken for no other reason, but that it should go to the substance of him who is to be nourished. As then the body does not transmute into spirit, nor the spirit into body,--for every transmutation takes place, when matter, which was in one form, comes to be in another, 1--so the spirit and the body are not the same matter; in that
that, which was subject to one should come to be subject to the other.
CES. Surely, if the soul should be nourished with body, it would carry itself better there, where the fecundity of the material is, (as Jamblichus argues); so that when a large fat body presents itself, we should imagine that it were the habitation of a strong soul, firm, ready and heroic, and we should say; Oh, fat soul, oh, fecund spirit, oh, fine nature, oh, divine intelligence, ob, clear mind, oh, blessed repast, fit to spread before lions, or verily for a banquet for dogs. On the other hand, an old man shrivelled, weak, of failing strength, would be held to be of little savour and of small account. But go on.
MAR. Now, it must be said that the outcome of the mind is that alone which is always by it desired, sought for, and embraced, and that which is more enjoyed than anything else, with which it is filled, comforted and becomes better,--that is Truth, towards which, in all times, in every state, and in whatsoever condition man finds himself, he always aspires, and for the which he despises every fatigue, attempt, every study, makes no account of the body, and hates this life. Therefore Truth is an incorporeal thing, and neither physics, metaphysics, nor mathematician be found in the body, because we see that the
eternal human essence is not in individuals, who are born and die. It (Truth) is specific unity, said Plato, not the numerical multitude that holds the substance of things. Therefore he called Idea one and many, movable and immovable because as incorruptible species it is intelligible and one, and as it communicates itself to matter and is subject to movement and generation, it is sensible and many. In this second mode it has more of non-entity than of entity; seeing that it is one and another and is ever running but never diminishes. 1 In the first mode it is an entity, and true. See now, the mathematicians take it for granted, that the true figures are not to be found in natural bodies, nor can they be there through the power either of nature or of art. Yon know, besides, that the truth (reality) of supernatural substances is above matter. We must therefore conclude that he who seeks the truth must rise above the reason of corporeal things. Besides which it must be considered, that he who feeds bas a certain natural memory of his food, especially when it is most required; it leaves in the mind the likeness and species of it, in an elevated manner, according to
the elevation and glory of him who aims, and of that which is aimed at. Hence it is that everything has, innate, the intelligence of those things which belong to the conservation of the individual and species, and furthermore its final perfection depends upon efforts to seek its food through some kind of hunting or chase. Therefore it is necessary that the human soul should have the light, the genius, and the instruments suitable for its pursuit. And here contemplation comes to aid, and logic, the fittest mode for the pursuit of truth, to find it, to distinguish it, and to judge of it. So that one goes rambling amongst the wild woods of natural things, where there are many objects under shadow and mantle, for it is in a thick, dense, and deserted solitude that Truth most often has its secret cavernous retreat, all entwined with thorns and covered with bosky, rough and umbrageous plants; it is hidden, for the most part, for the most excellent and worthy reasons, buried and veiled with utmost diligence, just as we hide with the greatest care the greatest treasures, so that, sought by a great variety of hunters, of whom some are more able and expert, some less, it cannot be discovered without great labour.
Pythagoras went seeking for it with his imprints and vestiges impressed upon natural objects, which
are numbers, the which display its progress, reasons, modes and operations in a certain manner, because in the number (of) multitude, the number (of) measures, and the number (of) moment or weight, the truth and Being are found in all things. 1
Anaxagoras and Empedocles considered that the omnipotent and all-producing divinity fills all things, and with them nothing was so small that it did not contain within it the occult in every respect, although they were always progressing onwards to where it was predominant, and where it found a more magnificent and elevated expression.
The Chaldeans sought for Truth by means of subtraction, not knowing how to affirm anything about it; and proceeded without these dogs of demonstrations and syllogisms, but solely forcing themselves to penetrate by removing and digging and clearing away by means of negations of every kind and discourses both open and secret.
Plato went twisting and turning and tearing to pieces and placing embankments so that the volatile
and fugacious species should be as it were caught in a net and held behind the hedges of definitions, and he considered that superior things were, by participation, and according to similitude, reflected in those inferior, and these in those according to their greater dignity and excellence, and that the truth was in both the one and the other, according to a certain analogy, order and scale, in which the lowest of the superior order agrees with the highest of the inferior order. So that progress was from the lowest of nature to the highest, as from evil to good, from darkness to light, from the simple power to the simple action.
Aristotle boasts of being able to arrive at the desired booty by means of the imprints of tracks and vestiges, while he believes the effects will lead to the cause, although he, above all others who have occupied themselves with this sort of chase, has most deviated from the path, so as to be able hardly to distinguish the footsteps. Theologians there are, who, nourished in certain sects, seek the truth of nature in all her specific natural forms in which they see the eternal essence, the specific substantial perpetuator of the eternal generation and mutation of things, which are called after their founders and
builders and above them all presides the form of forms, 1 the fountain of light, very truth of very truth, God of gods, through whom all is full of divinity, truth, entity, goodness. This truth is sought as a thing inaccessible, as an object not to be objectized, incomprehensible. But yet, to no one does it seem possible to see the sun, the universal Apollo, the absolute light through supreme and most excellent species; but only its shadow, its Diana, the world, the universe, nature, which is in things, light which is in the opacity of matter, that is to say, so far as it shines in darkness.
Many then wander amongst the aforesaid paths of this deserted wood, very few are those who find the fountain of Diana. Many are content to hunt for wild beasts and things less elevated, and the greater number do not understand why, having spread their nets to the wind, they find their hands full of flies. Rare, I say, are the Actæons to whom fate has granted the power of contemplating the nude Diana and who, entranced with the beautiful disposition of the body of nature, and led by those
two lights, the twin splendour of Divine goodness and beauty become transformed into stags; for they are no longer hunters, but that which is hunted. For the ultimate and final end of this sport, is to arrive at the acquisition of that fugitive and wild. body, so that the thief becomes the thing stolen, the hunter becomes the thing hunted; in all other kinds of sport, for special things, the hunter possesses himself of those things, absorbing them with the mouth of his own intelligence; but in that Divine and universal one, he comes to understand to such an, extent, that he becomes of necessity included, absorbed, united. Whence, from common, ordinary, civil, and popular, he becomes wild, like a stag, an inhabitant of the woods; he lives god-like under that grandeur of the forest; he lives in the simple chambers of the cavernous mountains, whence he beholds the great rivers; he vegetates intact and pure from ordinary greed, where the speech of the Divine converses more freely, to which so many men have aspired who longed to taste the Divine life while upon earth, and who with one voice have said: Ecce, elongavi fugiens, et mansi in solitudine. Thus the dogs--thoughts of Divine things---devour Actæon, making him dead to the vulgar and the crowd, loosened from the knots of perturbation of the
senses, free from the fleshly prison of matter, whence they no longer see their Diana as thro 1 So that he sees all as one; he sees no more by distinctions and numbers, which, according to the different senses, as through various cracks, cause to be seen and understood in confusion.
He sees Amphitrite, the source of all numbers, of all species, of all reasons, which is the monad, the real essence of the being of all, and if he does not see it in its essence, in absolute light, he sees it in its seed, which is like unto it, which is its image; for from the monad, which is the divinity, proceeds this monad which is nature, the universe, the world, where it is beheld and reflected, as the sun is in the moon by means of which it is illuminated; 2 he
finding himself in the hemisphere of intellectual substances. This is that Diana, that one who is the same entity, that entity which is comprehensible nature, in which burns the sun and the splendour of the higher nature, according to which, unity is both the generated and the generating, the producer and produced. Thus you can of yourself determine the mode, the dignity, and the success, which are most worthy of the hunter and the hunted. Therefore the enthusiast boasts of being the prey of Diana, to whom he rendered himself, and of whom he considers himself the accepted consort, and happy as a captive and a subject. Why, he envies no man (for there is none that can have more) or any other god that can have that species which is impossible to be obtained by an inferior nature, and therefore is not worthy to be desired, nor can one hunger after it.
CES. I have well understood all that you have said, and you have more than satisfied me. Now it is time to return home.
52:1 Does he allude to the fact that bells were first used in Christian Churches at Nola?--(Tr.)
53:1 The delights which are perceived in things corporeal are vile; for every delight is such that it becomes viler the more it proceeds to external things, and happier, the more it proceeds to things internal.--("Spiritual Torrents.")
If meditation be a nobler thing
Than action, wherefore, then, great Keśava
Dost thou impel me to this dreadful fight?
--(" Song Celestial.")
59:1 E spendono la vita au le considerazioni da mettere avanti lana di capra, o l'ombra de l'asino.
60:1 Carlyle says, "For matter, were it never so despicable, is spirit: were it never so honourable, can it be more?"--("Sartor Resartus.")
62:1 Atteso che sempre è altro ed altro, e corre eterno per la privazione.
64:1 Number is; as the great writer (Balzac) thought, an Entity, and at the same time, a Breath emanating from what he called God, and what we call the ALL, the breath which alone could organize the physical Kosmos.--("The Secret Doctrine.")
66:1 A discerning of the Infinite in the Finite.--("Sartor Resartus.")
68:1 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.--("St. Paul to the Corinthians.")
68:2 There is no potentiality for creation, or self-consciousness, in a pure Spirit on this our plane, unless its too homogeneous, perfect, because Divine, nature is, so to say, mixed with, au(j strengthened by, an essence already differentiated. It is only the lower line of the Triangle--representing the first triad that emanates from, the Universal Monad--that can furnish this needed consciousness on the plane of differentiated Nature.--("The Secret Doctrine.")