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  • Il Novellino

    XL
    Of a minstrel whose name was Saladin1

    Saladin was a minstrel who, being in Sicily one day at table with many knights, was washing his hands; and a knight said to him: wash your mouth and not your hands.

    And Saladin replied: Mcsser, I have not spoken of you to-day.

    Then as they were strolling about, to rest after eating, Saladin was questioned by another knight, who said: tell me, Saladin, if I wished to tell a story of mine, to whom must I tell it as being the wisest amongst us? Saladin answered: Messer, tell it to whoever appears to you to be the most foolish.

    The knights questioned this answer, and begged him to expatiate upon it.

    Saladin replied: to fools every fool appears wise because of his resemblance.

    Therefore whoever appears most foolish to a fool, will be the wisest, because wisdom is the contrary of folly. To every fool wise men seem fools. Therefore to wise men fools seem truly foolish and full of doltishness.

    1 Perhaps Saladin of Pavia is meant, a poet who lived about 1250.

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    Il Novellino : The Hundred Old Tales
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    Storer, Edward, trans. Il Novellino: The Hundred Old Tales. London: G. Routledge & Sons Ltd.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., [1925]. 108-109

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