The philosophers banquet Newly furnished and decked forth with much variety of many severall dishes, that in the former service were neglected. Where now not only meats and drinks of all natures and kinds are served in, but the natures and kinds of all disputed of. As further, dilated by table-conference, alteration and changes of states, diminution of the stature of man, barrennesse of the earth, with the effects and causes thereof, phisically and philosophically. Newly corrected and inlarged, to almost as much more. By W.B. Esquire.
About this text
The Philosophers Banquet is an English version of the Mensa Philosophica, ascribed to both the medieval philosopher and alchemist Michael Scot (1175–c. 1232) and the Irish physician Theobald Anguilbert (fl. 1530). The book is nominally and (partly) on the proper use of diet, but is essentially a book of witty conversation, incorporating paradoxes, jokes and topics for debate. The English version was first printed in 1609; the third edition was printed in London for Nicholas Vavasour in 1633.
Furnished and decked forth
with much variety of many se-
verall Dishes, that in the former
Service were neglected.
Where now not only Meats and
Drinks of all Natures and Kinds are
served in, but the Natures and Kinds
of all disputed of.
Dilated by Table-conference, alteration
and Changes of States, Diminution of the
Stature of Man, Barrennesse of the Earth,
with the effects and causes thereof,
Phisically and Philosophically.
The third Edition.
Newly corrected and inlarged, to almost as
much more. By W. B. Esquire.
LONDON: Printed for Nicholas Vavasour, and are to bee sold at his shop in the Temple, neere the Church, 1633.
PUBLISHED FOR Nicholas Vavasour
Having now discoursed of the nature and vertue of those things, which are usually eaten and drunken at our Tables; Next it remaineth [Page 96] that we proceed with the manners and conditions of those that may accompany us at our Tables: Of which Macrobius saith, that there is nothing more conjunctive or proper to wisedome, then the fitting of our speech to Time, and Place, and Persons, as occasion may call us.
And therefore that the Pallat may bee the better seasoned with the variety and passages of our discourse from one thing to another.
Wee will beginne to discourse of Emperours, Kings, and Potentates, applying the wise sayings, and constant resolutions, ever to our selves; and that in a double use: The one for our discourse and pleasure, which also manifests our industry and Reading; the other for our imitation and practice, which likewise proclaimes our inclination and vertue, as well to prosecute, as know the steppes; the frugality of one, the parcimony [Page 97] of another, the Resolution of a third; (and as striving to eschew their vices,) so still making the best of every their good, the patterne of our levell and ayme; and because our mindes aspire, and our inclinations are to discourse, and admire the Acts and Atchievements of our Superiours: therefore we will first commence with Emperours.
A Ristotle, in his second booke of Politiques, saith; A City is a certaine unity of people, congregated and gathered together for a mutuall comfort and society of life: which City must be furnished with provision of Sunance, with Arts Liberall and Mechanicall; for the State thereof consists upon many Supporters. Thirdly, it must containe Rewarders of vertue, and punishers of vice. Fourthly, there must be a bundance of Riches. Fifthly, (Divinorumturba) a convenient number of Divines: And if any of these want, it is not a perfect City. Likewise there must bee Civility and Concord: because, as saith Osorius, The wise Citizens of Athens, made wise by [Page 142] their owne harmes, have found, that by Concord, small things have increased; as by Discord, great things have diminished to nothing.
A certaine Philosopher upbraided by some with his poverty, and fruitlesnesse of his study, to shew (though he despised) yet that hee could, if he sought them, obtaine riches, foresaw by his Astronomy, a great scarcity of grapes would ensue the winter following, wherof as yet there was plenty: wherefore hee bought of the Husbandman, unweeting hereof, at a rate exceeding smal, most of the grapes in Thyro and Myletus.
Now when the time came that a fruitfull Vintage was expected, to supply their store againe, which fill out otherwise; and many sought unto them for that which themselves were unfurnished of, he suddenly vented his [...] [Page 143] much money together, he shewed that it was easie for a Phylosopher to become rich if he would, but these are not the riches they study for.
In the like manner, wee read, how in the Siege of the Praenestines, that by reason of a Famine which there happened, a Mouse was sold for two hundred pence: For the punishment of whose Covetousnesse, it pleased the gods, that the Extortor thereof dyed by Famine, that would not preserve another, but at so deare a rate.
Valerius in his first Booke, and first Chapter, setteth downe an ancient custome amongst the Heathen, once a yeare to celebrate a feast, to which were invited, nor any suffered to come, but the Kindred and Alliance of one generation, or stocke: where (amongst themselves) all Controversies and wrongs whatsoever were decided and heard, to the perpetuall preservation of their amity and friendship.
In like manner, in his eighth booke, when Decius the Emperour would have resigned to his sonne his Empereall Diadem, he refused it, saying, I feare, being made Emperour, I shal forget to be a Sonne: ther let my Father still governe with that, and let it be my part to submit my [Page 163] selfe to his government.
A certaine woman condemned to death, was by the Praetor cast into Prison, by a murtherer there to be slaughtered: who touched (as it seemed) with some humanity, deferring her present execution, thinking it better shee dyed by Famine than by his hand; and to that end suffered none to come to her, but her owne onely daughter; at whose arrivall, he searched that she brought unto her no food, or other manner of sustenance, Now many dayes being passed, and he wondring shee lived so long, at last found out that by the sucking of her Daughters brests, at her comming unto her, her life was prolonged and lengthened: which newes and strangenesse of fact, and naturall unnaturall preservation, being certified to the Judges, was not onely admired, but pittied, and she pardoned of her life. Now what doth not zeale undertake? or what so unaccustomed, [Page 164] as the Mother to be nourished by the breasts of her Daughter? One would thinke this to be against the law of Nature: but that indeed it is nature it selfe, that binds us to the love of our Parents.