There are many species of frenzies and these may be all reduced to two sorts. The first accordingly displays only blindness, stupidity, and an irrational impulse which tends to bestial folly; the second consists in a certain divine rapture which makes some become superior to ordinary men. The frenzies of the last sort are divided into two species; for some of those who experience them, because they have become habitations of the gods or divine spirits, speak and do admirable things for which neither they themselves nor anyone else understand the reason; and these commonly have been raised to this state from having first been undisciplined and ignorant and void of any spirits and sense of their own; in them, as in a room which has been scoured, is introduced a divine sense and spirit which has less chance of revealing itself in those who are endowed with their own sense and reason, for sometimes it is necessary that the world devoutly believe that it is given to some men to speak and act under the influence of a superior intelligence, inasmuch as their speech does not arise from their own study and experience; consequently, the multitudes may justly show her greater admiration and faith in men so endowed. Others, because of a custom or habit of contemplation, and because they are naturally endowed with a lucid and intellectual spirit, when under the impact of an internal stimulus and spontaneous fervor spurred on by the love of divinity, justice, truth and glory, by the fire of desire and inspired purpose, they make keen their senses and in the sulphurous cognitive faculty enkindle a rational flame which raises their vision beyond the ordinary.

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Now is described the path taken by heroic love, as it tends toward its proper object, the supreme good, and the path taken by the heroic intellect as it strives to attain its proper object, the primary or absolute truth. All of the above is summarized in the first poem which expresses the purpose to be developed in the following five. Thus he says: The youthful Actaeon unleashes the mastiffs and the greyhounds to the forests, when destiny directs him to the dubious and perilous path, near the traces of the wild beasts.

Here among the waters he sees the most beautiful countenance and breast, that ever one mortal or divine may see, clothed in purple and alabaster and fine gold; and the great hunter becomes the prey that is hunted. The stag which to the densest places is wont to direct his lighter steps, is swiftly devoured by his great and numerous dogs. I stretch my thoughts to the sublime prey, and these springing back upon me, bring me death by their hard and cruel gnawing.

Actaeon represents the intellect intent upon the capture of divine wisdom and the comprehension of the divine beauty. He unleashes the mastiffs and the greyhounds; of these the greyhounds are swifter and the mastiffs more powerful, for the operation of the intellect precedes the operation of the will; but the latter in turn is the more vigorous and efficacious; since divine goodness and beauty are more lovable than comprehensible to the human intellect, and besides love moves and spurs the intellect to go before it, like a lantern, to the forests, uncultivated and lonely, very rarely visited and explored, with the result that few men have left the traces of their steps there.

The youth is of little experience and practice, as one whose life is brief and whose frenzy is unstable. In the dubious path refers to the uncertain and the ambiguous reason and passion which the letter Y of Pythagoras symbolized.

On the right this path shows him the more thorny, uncultivated and deserted arduous path upon which he unleashes the greyhounds and mastiffs near the traces of the wild beasts, which are the intelligible modes of ideal concepts. These are hidden, are pursued by few men, and visited most rarely, and do not offer themselves to everyone who seeks them. Here among the waters, that is to say, in the mirror of similitudes, in the works in which is resplendent the efficacy of the divine goodness and splendor -- these works are represented by the symbol of the superior and inferior waters over and beneath the firmament.

He sees the most beautiful countenance and breast, that is to say, he sees the power and external operation which can be seen in the state and act of diligent contemplation of a mortal or divine mind, by a man, or by some deity. If he compares divine and human comprehension and places them within the same class, I believe that he does so not with respect to the two modes of comprehension, which are very different, but with respect to the object of contemplation which is one and the same.

That is it exactly. He says in purple, alabaster and gold, meaning the purple of divine power, the gold of divine wisdom, the alabaste of divine beauty, in the contemplation of which the Pythagoreans, Chaldeans, Platonists, and others attempt to rise as best they can.

The great hunter sees: he as understood as much as he can, and he himself becomes the prey; that is to say, this hunter set out for prey and became himself the prey through the operation of his intellect whereby he converted the apprehended objects into himself. I see. For he gives shapes according to his mode to the intelligible species and proportions them to his capacity inasmuch as they are received according to a mode of him who receives them.

And he becomes the prey by the operation of the will whose act converts him into the object. I understand; for love converts and transforms into the thing loved. You know very well that the intellect understands things intelligently, that is, according to its own mode; and the will pursues things naturally, that is, according to the manner in which things exist in themselves.

Therefore, Actaeon, who with these thoughts, his dogs, searched for goodness, wisdom, beauty, and the wild beast outside himself, attained them in this way.

Once he was in their presence, ravished outside of himself by so much beauty, he became the prey of his thoughts and saw himself converted into the thing he was pursuing. Then he perceived that he himself had become the coveted prey of his own dogs, his thoughts, because having already tracked down the divinity within himself it was no longer necessary to hunt for it elsewhere. Then it is well said that the kingdom of God is within us, and that divinity lives within us by virtue of the regenerated intellect and will.

Actaeon becomes the prey of his own dogs, pursued by his own thoughts, turns his feet and directs his new steps; is renewed for a divine course -- that is, with greater facility and with a more efficatious inspiration -- toward the densest places, toward the deserts, toward the region of incomprehensible things: from the vulgar and common man he was, he becomes rare and heroic, rare in all he does, rare in his concepts, and he leads the extraordinary life.

It is there that his great and numerous dogs bring him death; thus he stops living according to the world of folly, of sensuality, of blindness, and of illusion, and begins to live by the intellect; he lives the life of the gods, he feeds upon ambrosia and is drunk with nectar. Now, in the form of other similitude, he describes the manner in which Actaeon arms himself for the attainment of the object, and he says: My solitary sparrow, no longer delay making your nest in that place which clouds and fills all my thought.

There, above, give the full measure of your labor, your industry, and art. Find new life there and raise your lovely offspring. Now that cruel destiny has run its full course, it no longer impedes you from your enterprise, as it used to do. Go, a more noble refuge I desire for you -- and you shall have as a guide a god who by those who see nothing is called blind. Go, and may every god of this immense creation be merciful to you; and return not to me, since you are no longer mine.

He gives the heart permission, then, to attain a more noble state for itself, and turns it to a more lofty design and purpose, now that those powers of the soul which the Platonists have already represented by the two wings are more firmly developed. And as a guide to the heart he designates that god whom the vulgar in their blindness call blind and mad; and that god is love who by the mercy and favor of heaven has the power to transform the heart into that other nature to which it aspires, or, after its voyage of exile, to restore it to that state from which it was banished.

That is why he said, and return not to me since you are no longer mine, so that not unworthily I may say with that other poet: You have left me, my heart, and light of my eyes, you are no longer with me.

My thoughts call it back at every hour; and in revolt, foolish falcon, it no longer knows that friendly hand, from which it has flown forth not to return. Wild beast, who satisfies while giving pains, you ensnare the heart, the spirit, and the soul by your spurs, your flames, and your chains, by your glances, accents, and lures; and the one who lanquishes and burns and does not return, who shall heal him, who shall cool his fire and unloose his chains?

Here the sorrowing soul, not in real discontent, but in the passion of a certain amorous martyrdom, speaks as though addressing its discourse to those who are similarly impassioned. It has dismissed its heart, as it were, against its will, for the heart directs its course toward an impossible goal, extends itself where it cannot reach and would embrace what it cannot grasp; and the more the heart is estranged from the soul, the more does it enkindle itself toward the infinite.

Tansillo, how does it happen that the soul in this stage of its development is happy in its own torment? Where does that spur come from which always stimulates it beyond what it possesses? From this which I shall tell you now. Although the intellect has arrived at the apprehension of a certain definite intelligible form, and the will to a desire in proportion to that apprehension, the intellect does not stop there; for its own light impels it to think of that which contains every genus of be intelligible and appetitive, until it is about to apprehend the eminence of the source of ideas, the ocean of all truth and good.

Thus it happens that whatever species is represented to the intellect and comprehended by the will, the intellect concludes there is another species above it, a greater and still greater one, and consequently it is always impelled toward new motion and abstraction in a certain fashion. For it ever realizes that everything it possesses is a limited thing which for that reason cannot be sufficient in itself, good in itself, or beautiful in itself, because the limited thing is not the universe and is not the absolute entity, but is contracted to this nature, this species or this form represented to the intellect and presented to the soul.

As a result, from that beautiful which is comprehended, and therefore limited, and consequently beautiful by participation, the intellect progresses toward that which is truly beautiful without limit or circumscription whatsoever.

This procedure seems vain to me. Not at all, in fact, because it is neither fitting nor natural that the infinite be understood, or that it present itself as finite, for then it would cease to be infinite; but it is perfectly in accord with nature that the infinite, because of its being infinite, be pursued without end, in that mode of pursuit which is not physical movement, but a certain metaphysical movement. And this movement is not from the imperfect to the perfect, but it goes circling through the degrees of perfection to reach that infinite center which is neither form nor formed.

I would like to know how by circling you can arrive at the center. This I cannot imagine. Then why do you say it? Because I can say it and leave it for you to consider. It is other than that. But tell me, if you will, what he means when he says that his heart is led away by a harsh and pitiless hand?

He uses here a similitude or metaphor borrowed from common usage, which calls cruel the object that gives no fruition, or, at best partial fruition, and is more an object of desire than of possession, so that he who has partial possession of it cannot rest in full happiness, because he still desires it with an ardor which brings him to the point of a swooning, and to the point of death.

What are those thoughts which call back the heart to retard it from so noble an enterprise? The sensitive and other natural affections which looks to the preservation of the body. What have these affections to do with the body which can in no way be of any aid or assistance to them?

They have nothing to do with the body, but with the soul which, too intent upon a single effort or goal, becomes remiss and shows little zeal for anything else. Why does he called his heart that foolish falcon? Because it knows of things above. Usually one calls foolish those who know less than others. As a matter of fact those are called foolish whose knowledge does not conform to the common rule, whether they tend to base things, having less sense, or to higher things, having more intellect.

I believe you are right. Now tell me further. What are the spurs, the flames, and the chains? The spurs are those new pricks which stimulate and re-awaken the affection in order to render it attentive; the flames are those rays of beauty which enkindle the man who is ready to contemplate it; the chains are the details and circumstances which fix the eyes of the attention and firmly unite the intellectual powers to their object.

What are the glances, accents, and lures? Glances are the persuasions whereby the object as though it gazed at us presents itself to us; the accents are the persuasions the object uses to inspire and inform us; if the lures are the circumstances which please and attract us.

So that the heart which sweetly languishes, gently burns, and constantly perserveres in its enterprise, fears that its wound may heal, that its fire will go out, and its knot be untied. Now recite what follows. Lofty, profound, and living thoughts of mine, ready to flee the maternal bonds of the afflicted soul, and disposed as archers to aim where the lofty idea is born; along these steep paths, heaven allows you to encountered the cruel beast.

Remember to return and recall the heart which lies concealed in the hand of a savage goddess. Arm yourselves with the love of the domestic fires, and curb your sight so forcefully, that these companions of my heart shall not make you stranger to it. At least bring tidings of its delight and joy. Here is described the natural solicitude of the soul made attentive to generation by the friendship it has contracted with matter.

The soul dispatches its armed thoughts which, stimulated and spurred on by the complaint of the inferior nature, are commanded to call back the heart. The soul instructs its thoughts how they are to behave, for charmed and attracted by the object as they are, they are not too easily seduced to remain captives and companions of a heart. Therefore the soul tells them they ought to arm themselves with the love which burns with domestic fires, that is, the love friendly to generation to which they have an obligation, and of which they are to be the messengers, ministers, and soldiers.

The soul, then, orders its thoughts to curb their sight, to close their eyes, in order not to gaze upon any other beauty or goodness than the one present to them, their friend and mother.

And the soul finally concludes that, should its thoughts not wish to be recalled for any other duty, they at least can return to give the soul some news of the condition and state of its heart. Before you proceed further, I should like you to explain what the soul means when it says to its thoughts, Curb your sight so forcefully?

I will tell you. All love proceeds from the sight, intellectual love from the eye of the mind; sensible love from the view of the senses.

Now the word sight has two meanings. If it can mean the visual potency, that is, the power of seeing of the intellect or of the eye; or it can also mean the visual act, the application which the eye or the intellect makes upon the material or intellectual object.

Thus when the thoughts are advised to curb the sight, it is not to be understood in the first way, but in the second, because it is the visual potency become act which begets the affection of the appetite, whether sensitive or intellectual.

This is what I desired to hear you say. Now if the visual act is the cause of the evil or of the good which proceeds from the sight, how is it that we love and desire the sight? And how does it happen that in the matter of divine things our love is greater than our understanding?

We desire the sight because in some way we know the good of seeing, and that the act of seeing offers us beautiful things. Therefore, we desire that act because we desire beautiful things. We desire the beautiful and the good, but the sight is neither beautiful nor good; in fact, it is rather an instrument of comparison or light whereby we see not only the beautiful and good, but also the wicked and the ugly.

It seems to me that the sight can be beautiful or good, as we can see either white or black. Therefore, if the sight which actively perceives is neither beautiful or good, how can it be desired?


On the Heroic Frenzies

In a single beauty he is delighted and pleased, and herioc said to remain fixed upon itbecause the work of the intelligence is not hheroic operation of motion, but one of rest. These are the discourses, then, which it seems to me cannot be conveniently addressed and recommended to anyone than to you, excellent Sir. Then will they be enlightened by the sight of the object in which concur the three perfections, beauty, wisdom, and truth, revealed through herokc sprinkling of the waters, called in the sacred books the waters of wisdom and the rivers of eternal life. The ninth, because he is mute and is unable to explain the cause of his blindness, is blind for the highest frenies, the secret frenzie of God, who has given man this zeal and solicitude to search, so that he may never be able to reach higher than frenzids the knowledge of his own blindness and ignorance, and no higher than to deem silence more worthy than speech. This occurs when both souls are vicious and as though spotted by the same ink, so that, because of their likeness love is aroused, enkinded, and confirmed. April Copyright year: Oh daughter so guilty of love and envy, that you turn the joys of your father into pain, the adroit Argus to disaster, and the blind idiot to well being, minister of torment, Jealousy, infernal Tisiphone, fetid harpy, who seizes and poisons the sweets of others; cruel Auster, through whom the loveliest flower of my hope must languish; wild beast odious to yourself, bird foreboding of nothing but mourning, pain which enters the heart through a thousand gates, if one could deny you entrance, the kingdom of love would be as sweet as a world without hate and without death. Therefore, through various talents which he displays in various meanings and purposes, this poet certainly will be able to adorn himself with branches of various plants, and be able to speak worthily with the muses, because near them he finds the air which comforts him, the anchor which sustained him, and the poet that welcomes him in time of fatigue, turmoil, and tempest.



Now is described the path taken by heroic love, as it tends toward its proper object, the supreme good, and the path taken by the heroic intellect as it strives to attain its proper object, the primary or absolute truth. All of the above is summarized in the first poem which expresses the purpose to be developed in the following five. Thus he says: The youthful Actaeon unleashes the mastiffs and the greyhounds to the forests, when destiny directs him to the dubious and perilous path, near the traces of the wild beasts. Here among the waters he sees the most beautiful countenance and breast, that ever one mortal or divine may see, clothed in purple and alabaster and fine gold; and the great hunter becomes the prey that is hunted. The stag which to the densest places is wont to direct his lighter steps, is swiftly devoured by his great and numerous dogs.

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