Prudence Advises Affability, Craftiness, and Delight
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
ECCL 1,2.15: THE MASK OF WORLDLY WISDOM IS UNCOVERED. Thereupon Solomon, who had been hitherto sitting quietly, observing everything, could contain himself no longer, and cried out with a loud voice: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity! Can that which is crooked be made straight? and can the deficiencies be numbered?” Then rising, and with a great tumult, followed by all his retinue, he went directly to the throne of the Queen (for neither was the fierce Warner nor the two guards able to prevent his approach; they were intimidated by his shouting and his brilliance, as was the Queen and her counsellors).
He stretched out his hand and tore the veil from her face; the veil, although at first it seemed costly and splendid, was found to be nothing but a spider’s web. And behold, her face appeared blanched and bloated, with painted rouge spots on her cheeks, as was apparent from the fact that they peeled off in places; her hands were scabby, her entire body loathsome and her breath mephitic. The entire company, myself included, was terrified at the sight and stood as if paralysed.
2 ALSO HER COUNSELLORS ARE UNMASKED. Solomon then turned toward the counsellors of the pretended Queen and tore their masks off as well: “I perceive that instead of Justice, Injustice reigns, ” he cried, “and in the place of Holiness, Abomination. Your Caution is Suspicion; your Prudence is Cunning; your Affability is Flattery; your Truth is a mere Appearance: your Zeal is Fury, your Valor is Foolhardiness; your Love is Lust; your Labor is Slavery; your Knowledge is Conjecture; your Religion is Hypocrisy. Are you worthy to rule the world on behalf of Almighty God? He will bring every act into judgement, with every hidden thing, whether it be good or evil. But I will go and proclaim to all the world that it no longer permit itself to be led astray and beguiled.”
3 SOLOMON PROCLAIMS THE VANITY OF THE WORLD THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE WORLD. And turning, he departed in anger, followed by his retinue; but when he began to cry out in the streets, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” nations and peoples of various languages, kings and queens from distant lands gathered about him from all directions; and pouring out his eloquence before them, he taught them. For his words were like goads and like firmly driven nails.
4 THE COUNSEL AGAINST SOLOMON IN ORDER TO OUTWIT HIM. I did not follow him, however, but remained standing with my horror-stricken guides at the palace to see what was to follow–thererupon, the Queen recovering her stupefaction, immediately consulted with her counsellors as to what should be done. Then Zeal, Earnestness, and Valor urged that the entire force should be mobilized and sent straightway in pursuit of Solomon that he might be seized.
But Prudence advised, on the contrary, that no good would come from the use of force, for not only was he himself powerful, but he had drawn almost the whole world after him (as couriers, returning one after another, reported).
She advised him that Affability and Craftiness, taking with them Delight from the Castle of Fortune, be dispatched after him, and whenever they found him, should by flattery win him by exhibiting and extolling the beauty, glory, and charms of this kingdom. It might be possible to ensnare him in some such way; otherwise she professed to know of no other way whatever. This advice was approved and the three were adorned to set out at once.
John Amos Comenius, Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart