Between 1304 and 1307 Dante wrote Convivio, or "The Banquet," a philosophical essay which is part poetry and part prose. It is in four parts, or treatises, and is unfinished. It is the record of Dante's thirty months of study in the fields of philosophy, ethics, politics and metaphysics. Dante outlines the origin of his love of philosophy, tracing a love of knowledge to its manifestation as a love of God.
The "Banquet" in question here is Dante's offering: a banquet philosophical insight and wisdom. The guests are those who are hungry for knowledge but are too entrenched in politics to pursue it. Hence why Dante wrote "The Banquet" in Italian (as opposed to Latin), so that the average man could understand it. To extend the metaphor, Dante means for the poetry to represent the entree of a meal, while the prose serves as the bread. Buon appetito!
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Giuseppe De Francesco
May 12, 2012
An Italian classic in English? Seriously?