It is a truism that you simply cannot put down certain books once you start reading. It is also a truism that some people will try to ‘put you down’ no matter what you do and achieve.
Man Books by Sabatini changed my life and thinking
Rafael Sabatini is one of the authors whose books kept me awake through many nights. One of his many ‘cannot put down’ books is The Banner of the Bull. Three short stories regale the reader with feats of the great and handsome Prince Cesare Borgia. A scholar, diplomat, soldier, horseman, swordsman, and lover. Of course, he was also the greatest villain in history. Ruthless, cruel, cunning and the friend of Machiavelli.
The third story in this trilogy is The Venetian, and tells of Paolo Capello, employed by an enemy of Borgia to “bring him down”. Needless to say, the Venetian failed.
Read this opening and I defy you to say that it isn’t exquisite.
THE VENETIAN – A story of enemies that changed my life
He who is great shall never lack for enemies. He has to reckon first with lesser great ones, whose ambitions he thwarts by his own success, outstripping and overshadowing them; and he has to reckon further with those insignificant parasites of humanity who, themselves utterly unproductive of aught that shall benefit their race, destitute alike of the wit to conceive for themselves or the energy and capacity to execute the conceptions of their betters, writhe in the secret consciousness of their utter worthlessness and spit the venom of their malice at him who has achieved renown. In this they no more than obey the impulses of their paltry natures, the dictates of their foolish narrow vanity.
The greatness of another wounds them in their own self-love. They readily become detractors and defamers, conceiving that if in the public mind they can pull down the object of their envy, they have lessened the gulf between themselves and him.
Fluent – if undeceiving liars – they go to work through the medium of that their sole and very questionable gift. They lie of their own prowess, importance and achievement, that thus they may puff themselves up to an apparently greater stature, and they lie maliciously and cruelly concerning the object of their envy, belittling his attainments, slandering him in his private and public life, and smothering his repute in the slime of his foul inventions.
By such signs shall you know them – for a fool is ever to be known by those two qualities: his inordinate vanity and his falsehood, which usually is no more than an expression of that vanity. But his falsehood, being naturally the measure of his poor intelligence, deceives none but his own kind. Such a thing was Messer Paolo Capello, Orator of the Most Serene…
We all have enemies.
They might not brandish medieval swords, but they criticise us and seek to destroy us. These things disturbed me greatly in the past. I was emotionally hurt and physically in pain when people sought unfairly and dishonestly to harm me. Until I read The Venetian. Everything changed.
The Venetian gave me solace. It is a survival tool. Whenever anyone makes me the target of “the venom of their malice” I simply expunge the poison from my mind and my heart with a “Bah! Venetian.” It triggers positive thoughts and releases serotonin. I smile and move onward and upward.
I refuse, as I trust you henceforth will, to let the “foul slime” of those with “paltry natures” affect my positive self-belief, my joie de vivre, and journey of growth and hope. I share this passion with you and trust this joy of living is contagious.
PS: I would like to hear your experiences
If there is a book or a Bit of a Book that changed your life, please tell me about it. I would love to share it with our readers.
Read the three stories in The Banner of the Bull here. The book is in the public domain.
NOTE: Rafael Sabatini wrote beautifully. His books are a joy to read, not only for the exciting adventures and great romances, but also for the magnificent prose and brilliant analysis of human behaviour. If you find a book in a second-hand bookshop, buy it. Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk and Scaramouche, to name but three. You will not regret it.
My thanks to Collette Vosloo whose brilliant editing added value to this article.