Comparatio is forme of speech, which by apt similitude sheweth ye the example brought in, is either like, unlike or contrarie: like things are compared among themselves, unlike from the lesse to the greater in amplifying, and from the greater to the lesse in diminishing, and contaries by opposing one against another.
1. Comparison of like thinges, as Camillus by his vertue did drive away the Barbarians and set up againe the Romane Empire, being sore opprest, and almost brought to utter destructions: even so Laurentius Valla restored the Latine tongue to the former puritie, which through the ignorance of the Barbarians was corrupted, suppressed, and almost quite extinct: As James and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these resist the truth, men of corrupt mindes reprobate concerning the faith.
2 Comparison of unlike things: Brutus put his sons to death, for that they conspired treason: Manlius punished his sonne for his vertue. Contrarie thus: Marcellus resstored to the Syracusans his enemies their ornaments: Verres tooke away the same from his friends and companions. The whole is not only compared with the whole but also the parts be compared one with another. Cicero for Milo. Did that most noble man Scipio (being a private person) slay Tiberius Gracchus: not much corrupting the common wealth? and shal we being Consuls suffer Catiline, that would williingly destroy all the world with sword and fire?
Here Catiline is compared to Gracchus: the state of the common wealth to the whole world: a mean corrupting to slaughter, fire, and destruction, and a private person to the Consuls.
3 From the lesse to the greater: “Wherefore if God so clothe the grasse of the field which is to day, and to morrow is cast into the Oven: shall he not do much more for you, O ye of little faith?” Mat 6.
“If they have called the maister of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his houshold?” Mat.10.25.
“For if the blood of Bulles and of Goates, and the ashes of an Heifer sprinkling them that are uncleane, sanctifieth as touching the purifying of the flesh: how much more shal the blood of Christ which through the eternal spirit offered up himselfe without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead workes to serve the living God?” Heb 9.13.14.
4 From the greater to the lesse: “If God sapred not the Angels that had sinned but cast them downe into hell, and delivered them into chaines of darknesse to be kept unto damnation, neither spared the old world, & c. much lesse will he spare the wicked which walke after the flesh in the lusts of uncleannesse? & c.” 2.Pet.2.4.
If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodlie and sinner appeare? If the law of God doth not justifie, mush lesse man traditions.
If the shepheard be not able to resist the wolfe, much lesse are the sheepe able: If the mightie mountaines be not able to stand against the wrath of God, much lesse man, which is the image of weaknesse.
The use of this figure.
This forme of speech of mightie force and power both to move by example, & to persuade by reason, for the partes of the comparison being brought together, their likenesse or unlikenesse, their equalitie or inequalitie is as plainly discerned, as things
which are fixed and judged by the ballance. The use hereof is verie great and mightie in whatsoever cause it handleth, whether it be in praising or dispraising accusing, reprehending confirming, confuting, moving affection, perswading, or in anie other like: and no one forme of speech more apt and excellent to amplifie.
In desiring to make a like or equal comparison, we must take heed that the partes be not unlike or unequall. Secondly, in
making comparison from the greater to the lesse, we had need to forsee, that we put not a lesse for a greater: and so likewise in comparing from the lesse to the greater, which sometime falleth so out through ignorance and want of knowledge in the things compared. Lastly, it is behovefull to take heed that our comparisons be not so applied as they may move offence in the hearers, for there is an old saying and a true, that comparisons be odious, which is still verified either by the folly of the speaker, or pride of the hearer.