SiStan ChapLee

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Thieves and poets in the Temple

This rare 1995 edition (that looks even older than that) provides us a full insight into G. B. Marino's years in Paris, 1615-23. When he arrived there, it was the epoch after Henry IV's assassination (1610) and before the rise (1617) of his young son, Louis XIII, who had to fight for the throne against his own mother, Queen Maria De' Medici, quite unwilling to quit from her role as a Regent. Both the 'short long poem' Il Tempio and the pamphlet La Sferza were written in Italian, then a prestigious language across Europe.

Il Tempio, some 1,800 lines, describes a fantastic "Temple" built by Marino's verse in honor of the Queen -- something midway between the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and an experimental building based on Dante's three worlds. The poem obviously does not keep a low profile while exalting Maria De Medici's beauty, wisdom, and power; but it must also be stressed that she was a real ruler, unlike such heroines as Ariosto's Bradamante or Tasso's Clorinda. A real case of Renaissance women's liberation. The big mosaics in the temple are four, summarizing the main events in the Queen's life: her birth, the wedding, the death of her husband, the reign. Unfortunately, because of courtly rhetoric, the stanzas dealing with the killer of Henry IV, François Ravaillac, do not examine his actual psychological and social background, that would have been interesting. Noticeable are, under the temple's dome, the four statues representing female beauties from all over the world, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.

La Sferza, i.e. the "Scourge" (see John 2.15) against the Huguenot leaders, apparently calls King Louis to a crusade against the Protestants in France, now that the Thirty Years' War was looming. More in depth, however, the text is marked by some contradictions, in either its logic or its contents, that make its thesis more ambiguous. The climax is reached when Marino blames the Huguenots for mixing the blasphemous to the sacred, that was precisely the reason why he had fled to Paris, far from the Pope's 'claws,' and why he would be condemned by the Inquisition in 1623, as soon as he would go back to Italy. La Sferza implied a Machiavellian view on religion that was frowned upon in the Counter-Reformation era. It was also meant as a call for help to the powerful Jesuits as his future 'attorneys,' in case, but it did not suffice.

Even if Il Tempio, all in all, is less original than Marino's poem Il Ritratto -- the "Portrait of Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy" (1608; see) -- it is nonetheless a very rich and intriguing work thanks to its witty reinterpretations of classical sources, fresh references to contemporary history and culture, and refined analysis of the Queen's personality. Although less boldly than in his later masterpiece Adone, in this "Temple," too, Christian concepts are freely used to describe worldly or even erotic circumstances.

P.S. Louis XIII is the King who will be portrayed as an idiot by Dumas in his Musketeers saga. He was no idiot at all.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Lie is more beautiful than Truth

In spite of its very trivial title, Caravaggio segreto. I misteri nascosti nei suoi capolavori [The Secret Caravaggio: The Mysteries Hidden in His Masterpieces], Costantino D'Orazio's book is a precious source because the "mysteries" revealed here concern the links of the paintings with the artist's own biography and the surrounding society. This lets us discover some interesting sides of 17th century life, from the tough universe of prostitution (that did not, as does not, only involve sexual pleasure) to the decadence of Naples, even if it was thrice as big as Rome, to the cultural ambitions of the island of Malta as a then rising 'country.' A "secret" of Caravaggio that many, this book included, don't know about is that he also portrayed Giambattista Marino. Here's the lines the latter devoted to the former in his long poem Adone, canto 6, stanza 55. The pun on "Michael + Angel" had already been used by Ariosto, but referring to Buonarroti.

And you, Michael, honor of Caravaggio,    his hometown's name
through whom Lie is more beautiful than Truth
when, proving a creator rather than painter,
you shame her by means of your hand Angelical
. . .

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Friendly neighborhood spider woman

by ilTM + Nivalis70 (website) + Raphael

Friedrich Nietzsche's Umwertung aller Werte, the re- or trans-valuation of all values, started in the Renaissance, which in fact was the German philosopher's reference point. A champion of this attitude was G. B. Marino, who would be condemned by the Inquisition in 1623 as his friend Galileo Galilei also would, for a different but parallel reason, some years later. A meaningful example, by comparing Dante and Marino, can bee seen e.g. in the treatment of the mythological characters of Myrrha (Inferno 30.37-42 vis-a-vis scattered passages in the long poem Adone, link) and Arachne. For the latter, see here below: Purgatorio 12.43-45, Longfellow version, and Il Ritratto del Serenissimo Don Carlo Emanuello, stanza 76, describing Duke Charles Emmanuel's surcoat ripped up in battle.

O mad Arachne! so I thee beheld
E'en then half spider, sad upon the shreds
Of fabric wrought in evil hour for thee.


Not with chosen, precious gems or pearls did
Arachne's ingenious needle embroider it
. . .

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Adonis paradox

Myrrha by ilTM + Selkis

The most famous play based on the Greek myth of Myrrha is, in Italy at least, Vittorio Alfieri's Mirra, written in 1784-6. The tragedy is entirely set in the girl's mind, fighting against her sudden, crazy desire to make love to her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus, and resisting desperately until she kills herself. That makes a refined masterpiece in the history of Italian drama; but with a problem, in 'our' humble opinion, that is as readers of G. B. Marino's works: in that case, if things had happened as Alfieri describes them, no Adonis would be born.

Starting from the opposite viewpoint, one of the most interesting messages in Marino's Adone (published in 1623) is to restore Myrrha's honor, especially after Adonis, who was born in exile but has now come back to Cyprus, becomes the new king -- one of Marino's countless variations on the original theme. This intermingles, and strangely so, with the fact that Adonis' lover and mentor is Venus, precisely the one who caused Myrrha's incestuous feelings in order to punish her and her family because she had been praised as being more beautiful than the goddess.

In a sense, by acting on Myrrha, Venus paves the way to the existence of her perfect lover, who in his turn will redeem his mother.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Discovery of American flowers

The Discovery of America among the 17th century ceiling paintings in the Taffini family palace (Palazzo Taffini) in Savigliano, Italy. Since the main subject of the paintings in that hall is flower growing, here a Native American, on the right, gives Neptune a box full of seeds from the New World.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Death Becomes Him

Tu, Morazzon, che con colori vivi
moribondo il fingesti in vive carte,
e la sua dea rappresentasti, e i rivi
de l'acque amare da' begli occhi sparte,
spira agl'inchiostri mei, di vita privi,
l'aura vital de la tua nobil'arte,
et a ritrarlo, ancor morto ma bello,
insegni a la mia penna il tuo pennello.

You, Morazzone, who in vivid colors     a Baroque painter
did depict him dying on lively paper     him: Adonis
showing his goddess too, and the rivers     Venus
of bitter waters poured out by her eyes,
now please inspire into my lifeless ink
the living breath of your own noble art;     see Genesis 2.7
and to portray him, dead but beautiful,
let your paint brush teach my quill.     pennello/penna

__G. B. Marino, Adone, 18.99

(The picture above is a modern collage, not Morazzone's mentioned work.)

Sunday, June 3, 2018


The demi-goddess (as daughter to Pluto and Proserpina), and fairy, and shape-shifter (especially into a snake), and witch from G. B. Marino's Adone, cantos 12-14. Her name means "false/liar mermaid." Beautiful (or apparently so), billionaire (in gold) and powerful, she falls in love with Adonis, but, in spite of her 'talents,' she fails to get his heart because he is already, though secretly, married to no less than Venus, the Ruler of the universe in Marino's poem. It goes without saying that the episode did not appear in the original Adonis myth. Falsirena, furious for having been rejected, will then cause Adonis' death by telling Mars, Venus' violent lover, about the affair between the goddess and the young man.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Humor & the four humors

The classical theory of the four humors still has something to teach, after all. The diagram above is taken from a funny but documented book on "The True History of Hip Hop," precisely La vera storia dell'Hip Hop by Maurizio Piraccini aka Dr. Pira (website). The names of the humors, that correspond to the four classical elements, have been added by hand, but they are obvious from the psychological features belonging to each: Terra/Earth > black bile, Fuoco/Fire > yellow bile, Aria/Air > blood, Acqua/Water > phlegm.

As a consequence of what he gathered from his research, as well as of his own life experiences, the author suggests activities to be carried out as healthy practises according to one's temperament. And, yeah, they correspond to the four pillars of Hip Hop. As the Renaissance authors knew, joking is the main way of speaking seriously. So I will try his prescriptions, but won't tell with reference to which humor ;-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Indiana Jones factor

A wall painting showing a battle that took place during the Thirty Years' War; from Palazzo Taffini, Savigliano, Italy. Like in a famous scene from the first Indiana Jones movie, while some knights exhibit vintage weapons, others simply shoot them with pistols. It was the epoch of the transition from the Medieval war techniques to the modern ones.

Giovan Battista Marino described this in his long poem Adone (canto 10, stanza 250), in a section devoted precisely to the Savoys' war enterprises in the early 17th century:

Vedilo in dubbia e perigliosa mischia
passar tra mille picche e mille spade;
già dal volante fulmine che fischia
trafitto il corridor sotto gli cade. . .

See him, in an uncertain, perilous fight,     Thomas of Savoy
ride through a thousand pikes and swords;
now, pierced by a flying and hissing
thunderbolt, the steed under him falls. . .

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Savoys in the Thirty Years' War

Palazzo Taffini (website) in Savigliano, Piemonte, NW Italy, is a 17th-18th century building, originally belonging to Colonel Camillo Taffini (+ 1629), a military leader in the service of Vittorio Amedeo I (1587-1637) of Savoy. Vittorio Amedeo was the son of Duke Carlo Emanuele I, one of the main sponsors of 'our friend' G. B. Marino; and Carlo Emanuele, in his turn, was the son of Emanuele Filiberto, probably the most valiant personage in the history of the Savoy dynasty.

The walls of the great hall are painted with episodes of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and other battles of that era, more or less connected with the "great war." In the picture, center: Vittorio Amedeo, and right, with a blue band across the armor: Taffini. Marino in his 1608 poem called Il Ritratto, the "Portrait" of Carlo Emanuele I, had predicted Vittorio Amedeo's future heroism and success, that basically happened -- of course, it was obvious to make such prophecies with reference of one's friends, but they would not always prove true. For example, again in the Ritratto, Marino described Carlo Emanuele as destined to become the King of whole Italy, or even the World Emperor!!

The most famous subjects in the wall paintings are the strong, beautiful horses. The artists, some disciples of the Baroque school of Giovanni Antonio Molineri, had a classical take on the battles, exalting the physical prowess of the knights and their steeds while relegating the cannons in the background, even if their role started to be quite significant in the 17th century. Cannons as a symbol of power are overtly exhibited, on the contrary, in the paintings by Giorgio Vasari in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ethnography, to and fro

From the very beginning of the 'discovery' of Central America, the missionaries -- surely not the Conquistadores -- started to study the languages, societies, cultures of the native peoples, and produced illustrated books, dictionaries, encyclopedias. Now the "new Indian" peoples repay them with a wonderful book illustrated by the talented Claudio Romo: Monstruos mexicanos (Alas y Raíces, 2012, with essays by Carmen Leñero), also available in Italian as Bestiario mexicano, with different texts (Logos, 2018, essays by Ivan Cenzi).

Some legendary monsters of the Yucatan area are described. Although in that context the concept of "monsters" had a very different meaning than in European folklore, in this Bestiary, in the Italian version at least, the stories of sacred Maya critters are once again explained from the viewpoint of Western anthropology, that makes them quite reassuring. But C. Romo's own comments, and especially his powerful Surrealist pictures suggest that something a bit more dangerous might be lurking over there.

A book to be fully enjoyed while learning. Not to speak of the fact that a crazy, fascinating, dynamic mix between Christian and non-Christian religions is not only a feature of many current cults in Latin America, but had already surfaced in G. B. Marino's long poem Adonis (Greek mythology, in that case), published in 1623 while missionaries of the Old Continent were exporting/importing culture to/from the New World.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

4 Virtues + 4

Carlo Emanuele ("Emanuello") I di Savoia

Giovan Battista Marino, Il Ritratto del Serenissimo Don Carlo Emanuello Duca di Savoia, edizione critica e commentata a cura di Giuseppe Alonzo ["The Portrait of the Most Serene Don Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy," edited by G. A.; Don in its Spanish usage], Rome: Aracne, 2011, pages 200, with some photos of 16th-17th century coins.

If you want to learn more about a Renaissance leader's values, you gotta look up (a ceiling) or down (a book). In Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the "Older Palace" of the Medici family, there is a set of rooms, each of which is dedicated to one of their main leaders. The portrait of each leader painted on the ceiling is encircled by the symbols of eight virtues, that are not the same as the classical four "cardinal virtues" Prudence, Temperance, Courage, Justice, first because there are twice as much, and secondly, because not all four of them are anyway represented. Nor are they the same eight for each personage.

An interesting variation can be found in Marino's panegyric of Duke Charles Emmanuel (1562-1630), written in 1608; a poem made of 238 stanzas of six lines, i.e. 1,428 lines, one tenth of the Divine Comedy -- just by chance? The Savoy Duchy, in NW Italy, was then in its heyday, working on some of its most important attractions still nowadays: the Savoy Art Gallery and the sacred rites about the Sindone (the shroud that enveloped Jesus' body) in Turin, the capital city, as well as the futuristic Vicoforte shrine in Mondovì.

Charles Emmanuel's virtues were or should have been eight, too: the four cardinal ones, plus Kindness (quite needed in that fierce era), Study (personal culture), Largesse (patronage of the arts, social-oriented enterprises), Piety. And, Piety was not limited to building temples and fighting the "enemies of the Church." Much more than that. The Duke, some years before, had recovered from illness, actually less dramatic than its descriptions; but Marino pushes on, and says that he actually died, then immediately rose again, stronger than ever. As far as we know, though the remaining documents are not very clear, this all too happy ending of the Ritratto made the Inquisition guys raise a brow. But the poet had influential friends in Vatican, at that time.

The Portrait is formally addressed to Giovanni Ambrogio Figino, a painter then working in Turin. Here is his Saint Maurice on exhibition at the Savoy Art Gallery. Marino encouraged him to portray the Duke, but. . . Figino would die in that same year 1608, at the age of 55.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Renaissance additions to Noah's Ark

click to enlarge

From the Museo di Storia Naturale [Natural History Museum, English website] in Casalina, Umbria, Italy. The quetzal, top right, was actually discovered in the 20th century, but the Spanish Conquistadores already knew about its existence, though not precisely where.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Renaissance in 12 frames

Twelve paintings have been cleverly chosen to summarize the history and culture of the 16th century in Italy. Among them, there appear both overfamous masterpieces like Michelangelo's Creation of Adam and mostly ignored works like Dosso Dossi's Allegory of Hercules, or maybe Witchcraft, or whatever. The paintings in fact have been selected not on the basis of their fame or 'beauty' abstractly conceived, but according to their significance insofar as they concentrate elements of all kinds from the society for which they had been made. Sort of a 16th century visual encyclopedia, including riddles alongside facts & figures. More useful and witty than a standard history handbook. An Italian version of the Taschen book is also available, very well translated by Monica Valdettaro, and titled I segreti dei dipinti: Rinascimento italiano.

As for Dosso's painting (below), I also will launch a hypothesis: it might portray Odysseus among the Proci, Penelope's suitors, and the maids, who by night have sex with the Proci inside the very palace. Thanks to one of Athena's special effects, Odysseus (bottom left) looks like an old man, but still strong, and recalls his past glories as an athlete (shot, discus) while planning the suitors' slaughter. They consume his goods (the goat), and boast because they discovered Penelope's trick (the spindle). This of course would only provide the basic subject matter, but the painting would hint at many more, hidden references at the same time, as was the rule.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The 7 Days of CryAction 7: 1051 to the end

Not only master minds
(the angels, clearly)
exalted the Most High,
the sky itself praised Him
and the firmament waters
with synthetic sounds;
the sun and the stars
and satellites entered
and concomitant clouds;
[1060] snow, frost followed
together with thunderbolts
and light and night
set his Name to music,
sky shrines re-echoed
and shadows resounded.
The exhilarated Earth
praised Jehovah joyfully
accompanied by mountains
and viridescent hills
[1070] while seas whispered
with springs and rivers
the ascension of HaShem
and flying birds and fish
and lambs and wolves
applauded Ho Agathos.
Priests would praise Him
later in the temples in
synchrony with the souls
in this life and afterlife
[1080] so that a triple plane
glares with his glory. . . . . . . . .
but poor Tasso is tired
and the Globe grows old
after so many millenniums
and asks for apocalypse:
Déspota kai Pater mou
who made me from nihil
unbelievably beautiful
and safe after all floods
[1090] I am ephemeral
and will finally fall but
Negentropy meantime
supports me in my turns
round speculative points.
In spite of scores of Ages
I still feel like a lad
I did not lose my frills
not even one brilliant
but far away from You
[1100] I would wind up.
I love You sufficiently
and seek You inside me
and long for revelation.
Many times I mourn You
thick like rainmy fault!
and by singing I sanctify
myself lest You may
reject your cosmic icon
your sealed simulacrum.
[1110] I observe outside:
Where have You hidden?
Who stole my sole Lord?
Without You I am nothing
hope nothing tweet nothing
for everything is nothing
if devoid of your voice.
I bounce beyond myself
to meet You my mate
I languish for love
[1120] and if fire finishes
me, your love will make
me still more luminous
not consumed by circling.
Let this older and older
world rest in eternity, no
more a swiveling temple
but granitic Glory”
the universe says.
Let us listen to its Psalm
[1130] and worship and weep.

The End

Friday, May 11, 2018

Will they survive? Something did survive anyway

If the purpose of publishing this book is to save hundreds of endangered species, as the National Geographic project was meant to, it might unfortunately prove a Lost Ark -- all the more so as the foreword has been written by Harrison Ford. But, at least, the absolute beauty of these snapshots by Joel Sartore shows that something did succeed in surviving Man's stupidity: the Renaissance gorgeous art of portraying animals.

The 400-page book is also available in Italian, in both a larger and a smaller size.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ad Este fideles

Ferrara, not far from Venice, was and remains one of the main centers of Renaissance culture in Italy. Here Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso (link) wrote their masterpieces. Here a lot of palaces, monuments, museums, works of that time can still be admired. A gorgeous private collection of art is e.g. the Cavallini Sgarbi Collection, the name Sgarbi indicating the in/famous scholar and showman Vittorio, while Marchioness Cavallini was his mother. In the photos, clockwise:

- A scale model of Ferrara as was in the Renaissance. In the foreground, the fortress, no longer existing. Top right, the Este Castle.
- Inside the Castle.
- Father Girolamo Savonarola, who was born in Ferrara in 1452, but his rise and fall are connected with Florence.
- A cannon of the early 17th century.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Renaissance at "the world's center"

The inhabitants of Foligno, Italy (from Latin Fulginium), jokingly call their own town lu centru de lu munnu, "the world's center." The place has many interesting things to tell. For example, in the 18th century an architect from Foligno, Giuseppe Piermarini, designed the Teatro alla Scala in Milan; a fine wood model of it can be admired in the museum inside Palazzo Trinci, the Trinci family palace. But the most famous must-see is a 'Medieval' joust, the Giostra della Quintana, that actually started in 1613, and became a yearly event from 1946. Here above: some customs kept in the museum. Below: a detail from a painting that shows how much Baroque celebrations looked like the current Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. In the third photo, the very first printed edition of the Divine Comedy, made in Foligno in 1472. A very bad one, though, from a philological viewpoint; e.g. line 2 reads Mi trovai p'una selva oscura.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The 7 Days of CryAction 7: 984-1050

from the DantEsq. series (see all)

It was supposedly sex
to stifle his scruples
and tasting the test-fruit
he cursed the covenant.
Sin then opened the doors
to the raids of Death who
[990] occupied our orb
turning the whole world
into a gloomy graveyard
imposing himself on
not solely the first parents’
genealogy of losers
but all biological beings
until Life defeated him
and took back his booty.
As the sick ask for
[1000] their favorite food
though totally unhealthy
so that fu**ed by fever
they cause their decease
by neglecting the cure
decided by the doctor,
that sensual delusion
did daze Adam who
incurred the Reaper.
Not God gave us death
[1010] our idiocy did;
He foresaw our fall
and blessed it because
no sin, no conscience.
In order that our hearts
in a Shakespearean tempest
might not sadly sink
He gave us a government
that is his true Torah
to reach Redemption.
[1020] He saw that solitude
would mar man’s life
who was “not of wood”
therefore He decided to
have him meet a mate
and sent him to sleep
then a profound peace
permeated man’s mind.
Out of a rib a revered
body with boobs came
[1030] his higher half
and Adam affirmed,
Well done this bone
and flesh, my preciousss.
Man will leave his clan
to be one with his wife.”
Naked like natives they
weren’t subject to shame
as in their frail frames
no law was latent yet
[1040] ready to sap reason;
not a simple loincloth
hid their genitalia
unlike later eras that
demanded designer clothes
and prickly piercings.
So God the Father framed
the uncanny universe
and Man the microcosm
and Eve in the end
[1050] then quit creating.

(to be continued on May 13)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Turin-Paris: Let the music begin!

by Artefatotattoo (website)

The second of G. B. Marino's Dicerie sacre is the second in both senses, both chronologically and in the final structure of the text, that includes three "sermons." A quite long essay, some 150 pages in the version published in Italy in the BIT&S in 2014, this Diceria is divided in four parts, and seems to have passed through a complex editorial work, possibly before, during, and after the mysterious 14-month imprisonment (April 1611 to June 1612) of Marino in Turin for some still unclear reason.

The subject is quite experimental even according to Baroque standards, when exceptions were the rule. There is one subject being dealt with under one umbrella-metaphor; what strikes is the matching of the two elements. In fact, Marino expounds the seven sentences uttered by Jesus on the cross, and likens them to music, the most sublime music ever heard on earth. While doing so, he also provides a lot of data on the 17th century theory of music.

Jesus' last seven parole ("words," as they are often referred to; actually, sentences) are a frequent theme in Catholic books of devotion, though it is a debatable procedure from the viewpoint of Biblical exegesis insofar as it mixes passages from the four Gospels, that were originally set in different contexts and with different purposes. Not even the order of the seven sentences remains the same from one author to another. Anyway, it will prove exciting to have a look at the theology of this Baroque 'preacher' who was not a priest, was admired throughout Europe, and in trouble with the Vatican.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

[GBM] Ba Ba Baciami Bambina

René Magritte, The Lovers II (1928)

And finally Venus, as in a fairy tale, decides to awake Adonis with a kiss. The "three times" recall the -- melancholy, failed -- embraces in afterlife, Homer to Virgil to Dante (Purgatorio 2.79-81). In the last line, the "heavenly wetness" on Adonis' lips translates celeste licor, that sounds quite like celeste icor, "heavenly ichor." So, paradoxically, while Venus has plain red, 'human' blood in her veins (stanzas 66, etc.), Adonis sort of has the gods' 'biological' liquid.


Three times near his light, sweet breath she
places her lips, her kisses; then stops,
and as the spur and rein of herself
she will and won't, withdraws and goes.
Love, who does not cease stimulating,
finally forces her toward that prey,
until she dares to savor those dewy
purple roses of a heavenly wetness.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The 7 Days of CryAction 7: 926-983

Hamlet and the Ghost. Collage with elements
from J. H. Fuseli and Salvador Dali

Since nothing is steady
in human institutions
the more so where power
makes people ambitious,
[930] most fittingly the first
man who had in himself
the icon of the cosmos
and of the cosmic King
the Maker of his mind
that man most fittingly
became the big example
of mistake and misery.
Eve did suggest his sin
whence evils and death
[940] she blandished him
against Elohim’s “halt!”
After transferring Adam
to Prehistoric Park
for his apprenticeship
before getting a promotion,
Adonai—not thru angels
or dreams, nor in ecstasy
nor in bushes or nimbuses—
He himself spoke to him
[950] as to his seraphim
in theological tongue
moving Adam’s mind
in ways beyond words:
Feel free to feed on
all plants of paradise
for all are allowed except
the venomous wood
of sainthood and sin.
If you ever eat of it
[960] you’ll die.” A direful
promise and punishment.
Man still unmindful
innocuously innocent
lacked experience proper
on hidden desires and
discernment, according
to which souls don’t survive
a divorce from Divinity.
Two deaths indeed had
[970] been threatened then.
A candid dove when
a chick unaccustomed
to dangers does feel
a confused fear inside
of indistinct death
and aware of a hawk
vanishes in the leaves;
instead of this instinct
Adam had God’s advice
[980] against Death’s ambush,
it was his personal sin
to snatch at Science
though science is positive.

(to be continued on May 6)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Turin-Paris: Age of massacres

E. Delacroix, The Massacre at Chios, 1824.
It had happened in 1822

G. B. Marino's third (but chronologically first) 'lay sermon' ends with a description of the consequences of the Turks' attacks against the Christian lands. The situation remained tense, now that the rather symbolical victory of Lepanto, 1571, was a memory of almost four decades before. Actually, however, the Ottoman Empire was slowly getting weaker and weaker, a "giant with clay feet"; and precisely in the 17th century, it was often defeated in its battles against the Western countries, though of course a lot of time would pass before its final collapse because of WWI. Marino's words, while echoing the European propaganda, surely mirror many tragic facts. At the same time, Christian conquerors were giving the same treatment to native American peoples, or even to one another during the Thirty Years' War.

Dicerie sacre, III. Il cielo, 127
What might be worthier of our compassion than seeing the little, innocent virgins kidnapped from our bosoms and led to brothels, and the children torn off from our breasts, stolen away from the sacred water of Baptism, and carried to a profane residence in evil mosques? How many priests have been sneered at? How many temples [churches] desecrated? How many holy pictures ruined? How many venerable relics trodden on? Who will be able to count the crops set on fire, the stolen herds, the ransacked farms, the people taken prisoners? O plague all the more distressing as unavenged!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

[GC] Dangerous rocks

Jaffa in the background of Giorgio Vasari's
1570 painting Perseus and Andromeda

The Muslim chief Argantes, hurt by a stone hurled by a Christian knight, Robert, is taken to the Muslim camp by his soldiers. A scene coming, in part, from the Iliad (Agamemnon in canto 11) and again readapted by John Milton in Paradise Lost to Satan during the battle between the rebellious angels and God's army. According to a legend, that has been kept till nowadays, the rock on which Andromeda was exposed to the sea Orc is situated along the coast of Jaffa: Torquato Tasso had read some 'handbooks' on the history and places of the Holy Land. Psychology, sleep, dream, darkness were among his favorite themes.

[18: 54.5 - 55.8]

He was thence carried to the sunlit coast
where they had raised a great tent, next
to the rock on which Andromeda had
appeared so beautiful, tied at the seaside.
On many-colored blankets and feathers
the knight was set, still weak; on his
face they poured water from a river
that dug its own way not far away.
And rising to sitting, he then opened
his eyes to the sun's sweet rays,
but fell back, and with black horror
a dark night again occupied them.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The 7 Days of CryAction 7: 876-925

Man lived an absolutely
tranquil life as the son
and heir of the Most High
full of his powerful Spirit
[880] his faithful follower
his ecstatic student
in the paths of pure virtue
which can only be covered
by his chosen children.
Since Adam was appointed
the king of clay cosmos
over biological beings
and a king confers names
that implies personalized
[890] jobs on his subjects
as they deserve them,
LORD led all animals
before their big boss
and Adam indicated
the denominations of all.
He did it as a teacher
of Montessori method
maximizing maieutics:
none of so many names
[900] missed its mark
they guessed the essence
of biology & behavior
so that straightaway
our Sire’s spelling hit
the theological target
and the beasts obeyed
his influential language.
So many marine species
and in pools and ponds
[910] so many mammals
were well-known to him
and driven by his voice
came amicably to him
forgetting their fierceness
and saying, “Aye-Aye* Sir”
so nothing unusual if
his sons also succeeded.
Themistocles they say,
Cyrus and The Carthaginian
[920] could recall camels
and elephants and other
animals of any measures
besides their combatants
but these were exceptions
in our degenerate nature.

* Daubentonia madagascariensis

(to be continued on Apr. 29)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Turin-Paris: This cosmos is a mess

The universe described in G. B. Marino's third Sacred Oration, dating back to 1609, is -- as already mentioned -- the 'old,' precopernican one. Or, only apparently so. In the following passage, in fact, the complex movements of the planets and stars are ascribed to two sources that, as such, come from the astronomical pattern of Aristotle and his commentators. So, there is nothing actually new in this, but it is worth to highlight some details. Dante, for one, had basically the same pattern in his mind, but he drew a much plainer cosmos out of it. Marino here lists (1) a "simple," "uniform," "rational" motion, on the one hand; while (2) . . .

Dicerie sacre, III. Il cielo, 115
The second one—opposite to the former though not contrary in an absolute sense, just insofar as it runs against the former along the diameter with an opposite course—is termed "second" because it is assigned to the lower spheres. It is not wholly simple because it never accomplishes itself unless it mixes with the first, main motion. It is somehow common, i.e. to the seven errant planets only, not however to that prime sphere that turns above all others. It is unequal and varied [or even "deformed" (difforme)] because, before it can be accomplished, it passes through many variations since every planet has its own motion, either lazy and slow or swift and fast, anyway different from all others. It is irrational because, according to the natures of the planets that wander here and there in their epicycles, it becomes errant, and sways.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

[GBM] Besieged inside and without

Adonis' action and Venus' reaction while Morpheus appears in Adonis' dreams disguised as Venus. Intellectual subtlety, criss-crossed paradoxes, and refined morbidness, and a pinch of horror. A little masterpiece of the typically Baroque multi-level approach.


Shocked with high amazement, Adonis
thinks he can hear the beautiful mask,
who stretching her ivory-white hand
suddenly says, "Adonis, gimme your heart"
and almost instantly, she opens his side
and tears off the heart, and vanishes.
Dreaming, the handsome boy moans,
so the true goddess languishes at once
. . .

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The 7 Days of CryAction 7: 807-875

by ilTM + Selkis

Like a transplanted tree
Adam the chloro-filius was
abducted from Damascus
[810] to breathtaking Eden
as its part-time gardener
since he was not conceived
as a turd and time waster—
even if no fertilizers were
needed to Mother Nature
then much more active
whose mammae gave milk
poured in profusion,
a prosperous Pandora
[820] with a very big box
full of pleasant presents.
But a more generous job
was allotted to Adam:
to improve his mind
especially spirituality
that plays the main part
as the inner and true cult
towards heaven’s Emperor.
According to various Rabbis
[830] (who handed this tenet
generation after generation
making it wider and wilder
in several languages even
in Christian countries)
when Man was still single
without his future wife
alas the demon’s victim,
the garden he resided in
was unlike the Great Lakes
[840] in fact our forests
host no sentient plants
though numerous species
have evergreen leaves—
others show green gems
only when spring reigns
and like a young lady
the season puts on T-shirts;
some fruits fit our taste
some appeal to animals.
[850] But in God’s garden
trees with superior senses
could think and talk too.
Oh the Maker’s marvels
where fiction functions
as a thesaurus of truths!
They believed the globe
was to newborn Antrho
a limitless Metropolis
but not built by concrete
[860] not controlled by cameras
not damned by mosquitos.
There he lived happily
as the lord of the jungle
piranhas included
all honestly obeying,
they loved their leader
and served peacefully.
The City Civil Code
was more respected than
[870] our United Nations.
Some clear citizens
were actually angels
though their own homes
of high-quality light
were set in the stars.

(to be continued on Apr. 22)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Turin-Paris: Destiny's child

Adonis' death, collage with elements from
Antonio Ligabue, Edmund Dulac

In the field of astrology, G. B. Marino exhibits the typical 17th century hypocrisy. Astrology was never officially accepted within the Christian theology, but during the Counter-Reformation process the attack against it was clear and 'definitive.' So, while Dante could peacefully deal with the influences of the constellations, even upon himself (Paradiso 22.112-4), the Catholic authors of the late Renaissance must declare that the stars had no power whatever. At the same time, they usually did believe in astrology -- Roman Popes included -- that led them to use twisted phrasings: under certain conditions, in some circumstances, to a limited extent, and without forcing human freedom, etc. Here Marino rejects any belief in astrology as if it were a venomous snake. But some years later he would write his masterpiece, the long poem Adone, whose main character is the Adonis of Greek mythology. The teenage lover of Venus will be made not one horoscope, but two, warning him that he will die, killed by a wild boar during a hunting party, "if," "if," RPT: "if" he does not follow good advice. He will die precisely like that, due to the negligence of the same goddess who had warned him so carefully. Marino anyway was not in trouble with the Church because of astrology; they would find heavier reasons to condemn him!

Dicerie sacre, III. Il cielo, 75, 77
But what about the most fruitful power of the sky, the father of influences, that, through those golden canals we call stars, rains and springs in all lower bodies some dunno-what by which every begotten thing is first generated? That the stars have such power in us, it has been the opinion of not only mathematicians and Platonists—who boldly affirm that the human bodies receive shape and qualities from the stars, and their souls from their souls, so the human beings are like the stars by which they have been formed—but the great Master of physicists himself openly teaches that the lower world is ruled by the upper world; and that after God, on whom both the world and Nature depend, the sky is the universal cause of all that is moved and created among us.
. . .
Far, far be it from me to share the wicked impiety of those who grant them [the stars] an absolute power and authority over our lives, as if they [the astrologists] were the arbiters of fate and judges of destiny! . . .